Georgia, a country located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, spans a long history, with ancient architecture, lush nature, and a delicious culinary scene. Before a unified kingdom of Georgia was established in the 4th century BC, the territory was governed by early Georgian states – Iberia and Colchis. The geographical location of the country made it favorable for many invaders to concur and rule. That is why you will see the influence of Persia, Russia, Byzantium, and Greece in almost everything but especially in architecture, arts, and cuisine.
Georgia is still considered an undiscovered destination for many, where you’ll be able to experience a diverse climate, hike the lush and wild nature, ski in the mountains and swim in the Black Sea on the same day, and visit century-old family defense towers in the highland parts of the country. Here are best things for you to do and see on your trip to Georgia.
The biggest trade road, the Great Silk Road, passed through Georgia’s capital Tbilisi and made it an important place for many centuries. This also played a significant role in the development of the city where the cultural interchange of both regions made Tbilisi a unique place. However, it also brought many invasions over the period of its existence.
The capital has been burned down and rebuilt several times. And despite its violent past, Tbilisi succeeded in maintaining its charm and authenticity. Narrow cobblestone lanes, old residential houses with wooden balconies and Art Nouveau buildings perfectly show its history, culture, and traditions.
The western part of Georgia bounded by the Black Sea is a go-to summer destination for locals, where Batumi is the central city of the coast. Located in a subtropical zone, the weather here varies – it’s quite hot in summer and gets covered in snow in winter.
Besides being a bustling seaside resort, Batumi is an important sea port. In the past seven years, the city has changed drastically, bringing high-rise buildings, world-known hotel brands, a gambling scene, modern architecture, and restoration of the 19th-century buildings in its Old Town.
Georgia has three cave towns scattered across its territory. They are all different and worth a visit. The closest to Tbilisi is Uplistsikhe, famous for a unique blend of various styles of rock-cut cultures from Iran and Anatolia.
Another remarkable cave town is Vardzia. Often called the Georgian jewel of medieval architecture, the city is carved into a steep wall of the mountain at the altitude of 1300 meters.
The David Gareji monastery complex, located in a desert in Kakheti region, was established in the 6th century by St. David Gareji, one of the 13 Assyrian Fathers to spread Christianity in the country. The complex includes 13 monasteries built on the hills bordering with Azerbaijan.
The country has three ski resorts, but Gudauri is most famous among locals and visitors, due to its well-developed infrastructure. The resort faces the Greater Caucasus Mountains, bringing you magnificent views while enjoying your favorite winter sport.
Hills of Gudauri are tree-free compared to the country’s another ski resort – Bakuriani – therefore Gudauri is a perfect resort for free-riders where the season lasts to April. Besides, it’s avalanche-safe so more adventurous travelers can try heli-skiing here.
Khinkali is number one Georgian dish every visitor should try. It originated in the mountain regions of the country, where each region has its own variety. And Tbilisi has its own. The original meal comes from the Khevsureti region and is called Khevsuruli. The recipe calls for only minced meat, onions, salt, pepper, and cumin. The modern version, called Kalakuri, the one you’ll eat in most restaurants in Tbilisi, uses fresh parsley and cilantro.
Dumplings have their own way of being eaten – you need to eat them with your hands. First, take a small bite and suck the broth out, so you don’t spill a single drop on the plate. It surely needs some practice.
Georgia is a perfect place for wild nature lovers. It offers many interesting hiking trails, national parks, lakes, and much more. Here you can find trails for both, the beginners and experts, and it might be difficult to choose which trail to take, as there are so many, all with different landscapes.
The most popular ones are Chaukhi Pass, Omalo to Shatili, Mestia to Ushguli, Abudelauri Lakes, Tobavarchkhili Lakes, Svaneti to Racha, and the Black Rock Lake, to name just a few.
Once here, you need to try Georgian wine. The country is considered to be one of the oldest wine-making regions in the world. Georgians have been producing wine for at least 8,000 years and have their own unique wine-making technique that caught the attention of UNESCO, which listed the Qveveri wine-making method in its Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Traditional wine is made in egg-shaped clay jars, Qvevri, that are buried underground for fermentation, storage, and aging of the wine.
Georgia is also known for having the highest settlement in Europe at an altitude of 2,100 meters above the sea level near the foot of Shkhara Mountain, one of the highest summits of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. Ushguli is one of the villages in Svaneti inhabited by approximately 200 people. The area is covered by snow for six months of the year. Therefore, heavy snow blocks roads to central towns of the region.