Must-Visit Attractions in Georgia

Sighnaghi, in the Kakheti region of Georgia, is known as the City of Love, and with views like this its easy to see why
Sighnaghi, in the Kakheti region of Georgia, is known as the City of Love, and with views like this it's easy to see why | © Shutterstock

With its incomparable mountain landscapes, prime position at the intersection of Europe and Asia, and fascinating if turbulent past, Georgia is becoming a popular holiday destination. Despite its small size, this former Soviet republic offers snow-covered peaks, seaside spots, scenic hiking trails and centuries-old defence towers. Read on to discover the best places to see on your next trip to Georgia.

Want to visit Georgia but not sure where to begin with planning your itinerary? Culture Trip has you covered with our specially curated nine-day Georgia tour.

1. Telavi

Building, Architectural Landmark, Natural Feature

In its long, 2,000-year history, the city of Telavi has been moulded by the preferences of Kakheti kings, Roman leaders, Eastern invaders, Russian Tsars and Georgian monarchs, resulting in a breadth of cultures and architectural styles throughout the city. Start your visit by admiring the defences of the Dzveli Galavani, the fortress of the first Kakhetian kings, then head for the Batonis Tsikhe, one of the few well-preserved medieval royal palaces in Georgia. Also you should visit the city’s 900-year-old sycamore tree, where you can make a wish: it’s said that any wish made near it will come true. If you have more time, head out of the city to the Alaverdi monastery, home to one of the largest cathedrals in Georgia.

The impressive Alaverdi monastery, a historic sight in Telavi, is home to one of the largest cathedrals in Georgia

2. Sighnaghi

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark

Sighnaghi, also known as the City of Love, is a popular wedding destination. High up a steep hill, it offers views over the Alazani valley, making it one of the most charming places in the country. Take your time to enjoy the city’s beauty and stroll hand in hand with your loved one down cobblestone streets and past pastel-coloured houses. Look up and you can admire the view of neatly ordered red rooftops against the impressive Great Caucasus mountains.

Stunning views of the ancient city of Sighnaghi

3. Tusheti National Park

Park

Tusheti National Park, a protected area in northeast Georgia, with scenic terrain and protected species such as the wild goat, is a must-see for nature enthusiasts. Awaiting Unesco World Heritage Site designation, the larger region of Tusheti is one of the most ecologically unspoilt regions in the Caucasus. Known for the scenery, old defence towers, warm hospitality and fascinating folk culture, the park and the surrounding region are well worth a stop on your itinerary.
Tusheti National Park and the wider region offer beautiful scenery, old defence towers and fascinating folk culture

4. Uplistsikhe

Natural Feature

Tucked away in the hills of the Shida Kartli region, the ancient town of Uplistsikhe has been identified by archaeologists as one of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia. The town is believed to have been strategically located in the heart of the kingdom of Kartli, a late medieval monarchy that ruled eastern Georgia, and to have been a major political and religious centre. Visitors today can explore the town’s unique cave residence complex and discover its architectural significance.

You can explore a unique cave residence complex in Uplistsikhe

5. Gudauri

Natural Feature

In recent years, Gudauri has become Georgia’s prime winter destination. Situated 2,196m (7,204ft) above sea level and just two hours’ drive from the capital, this ski resort offers views of the Greater Caucasus range and, of course, a variety of ski runs to suit all levels. The area has also become well-known for heliskiing, and comes with all the facilities you’d expect at a European ski destination.

Gudauri is emerging as a popular ski destination

6. Jvari Monastery

Cathedral, Monastery

Just a short drive from Tbilisi is the Jvari Monastery of Mtskheta, a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the only early medieval Georgian churches to have survived almost unchanged to the present day. Legend notes that in the early fourth century, Saint Nino converted King Mirian III of Iberia to Christianity and erected a large wooden cross on the site of a pagan temple. The cross was reportedly able to work miracles and a small church was later erected over its remnants; named the Small Church of Jvari, it can still be seen from within the monastery complex next to the main church. Take time while you’re here to also visit the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and admire the medieval frescoes.
Jvari Monastery is a sacred landmark that you can visit from the ancient city of Mtskheta

7. Stepantsminda

Natural Feature

Named after Stephan, a Georgian Orthodox monk who built a hermitage in the region, Stepantsminda makes for a scenic stop on your road trip through Georgia. Popular with mountain climbers and rafters, it also offers activities such as hiking through the Kazbegi Nature Reserve and visiting cultural sights such as the Kazbegi Ethnographic Museum and Gergeti Holy Trinity Church – which you can visit as part of Culture Trip’s immersive small-group Georgia adventure, led by our local insider.
Expect dramatic mountains and impressive landscapes in Stepantsminda

8. Vardzia

Natural Feature

Vardzia is a notable ancient cave city and monastery complex in southern Georgia dating back to the 12th century. Though it was abandoned after the Ottoman takeover of the country in the 16th century, it is a rich cultural site and awaiting future inscription on the Unesco World Heritage List. According to legend, the name of the cave city derives from Tamar the Great, Georgia’s first queen, who reigned over the region from 1184 to 1213. When a young Tamar became lost while exploring the caves, she called out to her uncle “Aq var dzia” (I’m here, uncle). When she was found, the affectionate name Vardzia stuck.

Vardzia is a monastic complex dating back to the 12th century

9. Rabati Fortress

Historical Landmark

The Rabati Fortress is a prominent landmark in southern Georgia built in the ninth century and renovated in 2011. Originally known as Lomisa Castle, its modern name, Rabati, is of Jewish and Arabic origin, meaning a fortified place. The fortress is unique due to the myriad cultures – Georgian, Ottoman, Jewish – that influenced its development over centuries.

Rabati Castle in Akhaltsikhe

10. Mestia

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail

At an elevation of 1,500m (4,921ft) in northwest Georgia, is the small town of Mestia. Preserved by its isolated geographical position, this mountain landscape of the Upper Svaneti region is dotted with medieval villages and tower houses; it’s also featured on the Unesco World Heritage List. Its residents are mostly Svans, a distinct subgroup of Georgians, and you can learn more about them and their unique culture at the Mestia Historical-Ethnographic Museum. Museums not your thing? Try your hand at mountaineering, a popular activity in the region.
Historic Svan tower houses are a feature of Mestia

11. Zugdidi

Natural Feature

Zugdidi, in Samegrelo province in the west, is a quaint, charming city with impressive architecture. For your daily dose of culture, head to Dadiani Palace, where you can get lost exploring the 19th-century structure and the grounds. Make your way to the capital, Tbilisi, where you can see the rare death mask of Napoleon Bonaparte on display at the Zugdidi Historical Museum. If you’ve had enough of the city sights, head out of town, take to the water and find your sense of adventure in Martvili Canyon.

Dadiani Palace in Zugdidi

12. Ushguli

Church

Located at the foot of the Shkhara summit, one of the highest peaks in the Greater Caucasus mountains, Ushguli is a remote Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the highest villages in Europe. Its 200 residents live at an altitude of 2,100m (6,900ft).
The Mestia to Ushguli trek takes 3-4 days and is an ideal trek for all levels of hikers

13. Batumi

Natural Feature

The coastal city of Batumi, one of Georgia’s largest cities, has in recent years gained popularity as the Las Vegas of the Black Sea. Its bustling summer nightlife, neon lights, modern architecture and cultural festivals make it a popular spot and you can easily spend a few enjoyable, action-packed days here.

Batumi is dubbed the Las Vegas of the Black Sea
landscape with balloons floating in the air

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