Diversity reigns in the landscapes of Georgia. The west has lowland marsh and temperate rain forests, swamps, permanent snow and glaciers, while the east has a small portion of semi-arid plains and dramatic mountain ranges dominate the skyline. The result? Some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet. If you’re ready to explore, here are the most picturesque natural landscapes in Georgia.
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Carved into the side of Erusheti Mountain is Vardzia, a cave monastery complex dating from the 12th century. It was first founded as a fort by King Giorgi III, but his daughter Queen Tamar added the monastery complex to his original plans. It has 13 levels, 15 churches and around 400 rooms. In 1283, a large earthquake badly damaged Vardzia, but you can explore the (still remarkable) site today on a monk-led tour.
In need of a get-away-from-it-all break? Head to remote Ushguli in the Svaneti region, a collection of four villages embraced by rippling mountains and jagged peaks. Recognised as the Upper Svaneti Unesco World Heritage Site, Ushguli is the highest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe. And from here, you can admire the highest summit in the country (and the third highest in Europe), Mount Shkhara.
A heritage village in the Tusheti region, tiny Dartlo is dominated by medieval defence towers. Beautiful, yes, but Dartlo is deserted for most of the year. Due to the harsh climate, the village inhabitants head into the lowlands during the winter months and only return in summer.
The Dashbashi Canyon, home to a rich biodiversity, is formed by the Khrami river cutting through the Dashbashi volcanic plateau. The flora on the steep slopes of the canyon and impressive waterfalls have created several micro-landscapes and photo-worthy vistas. Better yet, it’s just two hours’ drive from Tbilisi.
Abastumani, a small town on the Meskheti Range, is a perfect spot for a romantic break. The coniferous forests are gorgeous, but if you want an out-of-this-world view, visit the Astrophysical Observatory. It was opened in 1932 and built here to take advantage of the stable weather conditions and absence of air pollution. You can now visit the museum and gaze into space using the old telescopes.
Bakhmaro is a small mountainous resort in the Guria region with dark pine forests and sun-dappled alpine meadows. Its unique climate of sea and fresh mountain air is said to have healing properties, while the untouched nature of its surrounds are a true treasure of the region. It’s also as great for skiing as it is for incredible sunsets, with powdery peaks and sensational views over almost the whole of the country, including the Black Sea.