Hospitable Georgia – mountains, canyons, reserves
Georgia – a country of majestic mountains, warm sea and the beauty of untouched nature. It should be visited at least once, especially now, when there is a visa-free regime for Russians. I will tell you which places you should visit while you are in Georgia.
The map shows all the main places described in the article.
Ananuri Fortress is the first castle that tourists encounter on the Georgian Military Road. It is impossible not to notice it. Ananuri castle was built in XIII century – as a fortress to defend and protect the Aragvi Estates. Around the fortress there are mountains and river Vedzatkhevi, which was turned into a huge reservoir in Jinvali.
The towers of the fortress offer a panoramic view of the surrounding area, so do not miss the opportunity to go up and take a couple of pictures against the background of mountains and serene water
The fortress is well preserved both outside and inside. You can even climb to the top of one of the towers, look at the interior decorations of several small temples in the territory and take a couple of pictures against the background of mountains and Zhinval Reservoir. Entrance to the fortress is free, and you can visit all the towers and temples for free.
The Gergeti church was built in the 14th century during the attacks of foreign invaders to store the values of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The complex consists of a two-story church and a bell tower.
Admission is free. But you can enter the territory only if you are dressed appropriately. Men – no shorts, women – a headscarf and long skirt (they give out in the courtyard of the monastery for a nominal fee).
To get to the church, first you need to go to the village Stepantsminda. From there is a road to the church. In a car the way will not be easy, but if you are not afraid of serpentine, it is quite possible to pass. Other options are to walk up about 5 kilometers or to ask local cab drivers, who know the peculiarities of the road and drive mostly off-road vehicles.
Jvari Monastery is located in the city of Mtskheta, the first capital of Georgia. It is the oldest city in the country, which was founded in the V century BC.
The monastery is considered one of the oldest in Georgia. The exact year of its construction could not be established – somewhere between 604th and 642nd. The monastery is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Despite the simplicity of its construction, it is annually visited by thousands of pilgrims from all over the world.
The architecture of the temple is ascetic: it looks like a cross, which is inscribed in a square. No decorations or rich finishes. Plain walls of solid stone and simple domes topped with a cross are all the exterior decoration.
It is this temple that Lermontov describes in the poem “Mtsyri”, for which the poet was erected a monument here.
The temple stands on an elevation, on its territory there are several platforms from which a panorama of the city of Mtskheta, a view of the mountains and the confluence of two different in color rivers – the Kura and the Aragvi – opens up.
To avoid crowds of tourists and couples with wedding photo shoots, it is better to come here before 9 am. Everyone is allowed inside. At the foot of the temple there are tents where you can buy souvenirs and national clothing accessories.
In winter, the color of the water in the rivers changes and the contrast between them is particularly noticeable. In summer, because of the rains in the mountains, the color of the rivers is almost the same.
Ali and Nino Monument
The monument to Ali and Nino was erected in 2011 by architect Tamara Kvesitadze and was named after the novel of the same name about the love of Azerbaijani Muslim Ali and Georgian Christian Nino. The monument is a symbol of love between the two peoples, despite the uneasy relations between the states.
The sculptures slowly move toward each other, merge into one, without touching, and then diverge to the maximum distance. The cycle takes twenty minutes, so it is better to settle down on one of the many benches around the sculptures and watch.
Nearby there are many cafes and souvenir shops, right behind the sculptures installed a large Ferris wheel and an observation deck, which offers a view of the sea, mountains, Batumi City and the entire embankment. In the evening there are musicians playing and there is a lot of life.
The Arch of Friendship of Peoples on the Cross Pass
The Arch of Friendship of Peoples is a famous landmark on the Military Georgian Road, which connects Vladikavkaz and Tbilisi. The arch is located above the cliff at an altitude of 2384 meters.
It was built by the famous sculptor Zurab Tsereteli as a symbol of friendship between the Georgian and Russian people. The arch is decorated with a huge mosaic panel depicting the history of relations between the two states.
Through the balconies, which overhang directly over the abyss, there is a view of the valley and a small artificial lake. Gliders are circling among the mountains – there are many instructors in the vicinity of the Arch of Friendship of Peoples, who offer to fly between the mountains.
There is an asphalt road that leads from the main highway to the arch, and there is a convenient parking lot in front of the attraction. Nearby are a few souvenir stalls that sell mountain honey, wine, chacha and other Georgian souvenirs.
The main thing is to keep an eye on the weather before your trip. During rain, snowfall, or strong winds, the pass can be dangerous. In winter there is especially a lot of snow, so it is better to go to the arch in a warm season. Keep in mind that even on a hot day it will be cool and windy.
If you go around the arch, you will get to the flat open area in front of the ledge. From there you can take beautiful pictures with the mountains as a backdrop. But don’t get too close to the edge!
Tsminda Sameba, or Holy Trinity Cathedral, is the main Orthodox church in Georgia. It is located in Tbilisi on St. Elijah’s Hill and can be seen from many points in the capital. Especially beautiful sight in the evening when the cathedral is lit by numerous spotlights.
The cathedral was opened in 2004 and almost immediately moved here pulpit of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
Inside the cathedral are cultural and historical values of Georgia. For example, the cross from the main temple of the first capital of the country, the icon “Hope of Georgia” and other significant church relics.
From the cathedral you can get to the courtyard – there are several small chapels and a bell tower, around which there is a large park with alleys and lawns. There is also a theological seminary, a small hotel and a cafe.
The architecture of the cathedral is in the classical style of the Georgian Orthodox Church – severity and simplicity. The height is more than 100 meters, and there is an underground level for another 40 meters.
The church cafe sells famous drinks “Lagidze Waters. It was the Lagidze Lemonade that Stalin sent to American President Truman in response to a shipment of Coca-Cola in 1952.
Okatse Canyon is located in western Georgia in Imeretia, 50 kilometers from the major city of Kutaisi. The canyon is divided into upper and lower areas. In the upper area there are many high waterfalls, and in the lower area for tourists was built extreme entertainment – a suspension bridge over the canyon at a height of 140 meters above the precipice.
Near the village of Zeda-Gordi and Dadiani Park is the visitor’s center – the main entrance to the canyon. Opening hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (all days except Mondays). There they also sell tickets to the suspension bridge – 7 GEL (about 190 ₽) for an adult and 4 GEL (110 ₽) for a child. Children under 10 years old are not allowed on the suspension bridge.
From the Visitor Center to the canyon leads a paved road of 2.5 kilometers. The terrain is mountainous, so you have to go up and down, but along the way there are often benches, you can rest and take a breath. Along the way there are signs and signs with information in several languages, so you will not get lost.
Before entering the suspension bridge you will be asked to show your receipt, so keep it. The suspension bridge is 780 meters long and ends with an observation deck above the abyss.
If you don’t have the energy to walk back to the visitor’s center, you can take a cab for 35 GEL (950 ₽). Local cab drivers often stand at the checkpoint in front of the suspension bridge.
You should wear comfortable clothes and athletic shoes to the canyon, and be sure to take water and something to eat.
Martvil Canyon is one of the main attractions of Georgia. He is located in the central part of the country, 160 kilometers from Batumi and 280 kilometers from Tbilisi. This is a very picturesque place. Due to its special climate the walls of the canyon are covered in moss, there is a lot of greenery everywhere, lianas descend directly to the water, there are small streams and waterfalls of different heights. The turquoise water reflects the greenery of trees and white rocks, which rise to 20-40 meters. The water is so clear that you can see the bottom and even small fish.
The length of the canyon is just over two kilometers, but you can walk here for a long time, exploring the unusual places created by nature. Here they even organize tours for a few days.
The canyon consists of two parts – the upper and lower, separated by a small bank. At the top of the canyon hire inflatable boats for rafting in the canyon, rental costs from 13 lari (350 ₽). The rental is open every day from 10:00 to 17:00, except Mondays. Don’t spare any money, it’s really worth it.
There are plenty of places to walk and swim at the bottom of the canyon. There are paths, viewing platforms and benches. Walking here is easy and safe, even with children, but do not forget about comfortable shoes and water.
The entrance to the canyon costs 15 lari (400 ₽), you can take a guide for an extra fee.
Botanical Garden of Batumi
The largest botanical garden of Georgia is situated nine kilometers from Batumi and has an area of 113 hectares. This is one of the main attractions of Batumi. There are many well-equipped places for rest and picnics, equipped with free Wi-Fi zones and routes for self-guided visits. You can rent an electric car and rent a room at a local hotel, choose a guide and go on an excursion.
Batumi Botanical Garden has a collection of 1,800 plants. It is divided into nine geographical departments by origin: Himalayan, Australian, Mexican, Mediterranean, departments of East Asia, New Zealand, North, South America and the department of humid subtropics of the Caucasus.
Tourists are eager to see camellias and roses, which feel particularly well in the local subtropical climate: in winter it is warm and humid, like in the Mediterranean resorts.
The entire park is divided into three zones: upper, lower and the G. Gabrichidze Seaside Park. You can enter the garden from either side, there are ticket offices at the entrances. In the upper park are mostly evergreen plants, in the summer here bloom hydrangeas and abelia.
In the lower park are woody plants. Here you can see oaks, hornbeams, magnolias, dracenas, strawberry trees. In spring, Japanese camellias bloom. In this part of the park there are many panoramic platforms with views of the entire garden and the sea.
The Seaside Park has many plants brought from Mediterranean countries – dozens of species of palms, feijoa, rare species of magnolia and other ornamental plants.
Near the exit to the beach are picnic areas, camping, several cafes and bars.
The entrance ticket costs 15 GEL (about 400 ₽), an hour and a half tour is 50 GEL (1320 ₽), a tour by electric car will cost 30 GEL (800 ₽).
There are many mandarin trees in the park. You can’t pick the fruit – it’s forbidden by park rules. But if tangerines have fallen from the tree, you can pick them up and eat them.
Gvelet waterfall is located in Stepantsminda, in one of the gorges of the Kazbek. The water from the mountain river Gveletskali falls from a height of 25 meters – the flow of water is so strong that it was able to make a notch in the rock.
Next to the Great Gweletza waterfall is another one – the Small one. It is easier to get to it, but experienced tourists usually go to the Big one. The way is not easy, through the rocks, lush brushwood, boulders and steep slopes. The route is not landscaped uphill, there are no wide paths, benches and rescue points, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes, do not go alone and hold the hand of children.
Along the way you can admire the views around, so beautiful nature in this place, but be careful, especially near the waterfall. Because of the high humidity, the rocks are very slippery.
The route begins in the village of Gveleti. You can get here by car and leave it in the parking lot. Then go to the coordinates N42 ° 42 “17″, E44 ° 36 “51″ – you will get to the trail, which leads directly to the waterfall. It will take about 20 minutes to walk 1500 meters. You can ask the locals for directions, and they are often willing to take you directly to the waterfalls. For a fee, of course.
It is better to take warm clothes and a raincoat to the falls. Strong wind spreads spray in all directions, so you can quickly get wet through and freeze.
Tips for hikers
1. Do not hesitate to bargain when you pay beyond the bill, especially with cab drivers and at the market.
2. In Georgia there are no policies of OSAGO and Casco, so if you travel in Georgia by car, it is better to get to the nearest point of any insurance company and buy a local policy. 3.
3. You can rent a car from the local rental services, it’s a common service here.
4. The official language in Georgia is Georgian, but almost everyone speaks Russian. You can always switch to English, they know it here too, though at a basic level.
5. It is prohibited to change money from hand to hand.
6. The best souvenirs from Georgia will be cheeses, especially Mingrelian suluguni, rare varieties of spices and a bottle of good wine. For example, Khvanchkara or Saperavi. For tasty treats you should go to the market and look for homemade products.
Georgia – the most detailed information about the country with photos. Attractions, cities of Georgia, climate, geography, population and culture.
Georgia is a state in the southwestern part of the Caucasus. It is a small country in the Transcaucasus on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, which is located at the junction of Europe and Asia. Georgia borders on Russia in the north and east, Turkey and Armenia in the south, Azerbaijan in the southeast. Geographically the country belongs to the Western Asia and the Middle East, although the state is currently considered part of Eastern Europe. Georgia is a parliamentary republic. More than 80% of the population is Orthodox Christian.
Despite its small size, Georgia is a country of contrasts and amazing diversity. Here you can see the stunning mountain scenery, visit wonderful ancient cities, monasteries and churches, relax at the Black Sea resorts. In Greek mythology the territory of Georgia kept the Golden Fleece, and archaeological findings indicate that it is the most ancient wine-making region (samples of wine dating back to the sixth millennium BC have been found). Georgia is an amazingly picturesque country with hospitable people, delicious cuisine, rich history and culture.
Useful Information about Georgia
- The official language is Georgian.
- Currency is Georgian Lari.
- Visa – not required for up to 360 days.
- Population – more than 3.7 million people.
- Area – 69,700 sq km.
- The capital – Tbilisi.
- Time zone – UTC +4.
- There are three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Georgia.
- Georgia is one of the safest countries in the world.
Geography and climate
Georgia is located in Transcaucasia and is washed by the Black Sea. The northern part of the country is the Greater Caucasus Mountains. The south of the country is occupied by the lower ranges of the Lesser Caucasus. The highest peaks of Georgia are Shkhara (5068 m) and Kazbek (5033 m). Closer to the coast, the relief becomes calmer, and the Colchis Depression is formed. The Black Sea coast of Georgia is just over 100 km long. The largest rivers in Georgia are the Kura, the Rioni, the Inguri.
Georgia, the mountains
Because of its location (at the junction of Europe and Asia, subtropical, temperate and arid types of climate) and its altitude zonality Georgia has extremely diverse landscapes (mountain glaciers, alpine meadows, forests and subtropics), nature, flora and fauna. The climate is transitional, from temperate to subtropical.
The best time to visit Georgia
The ideal time to visit Georgia is May-June and September. During this time there is usually great weather, not so many tourists, and the prices for hotels are reasonable. In Tbilisi and some other cities July and August can be quite hot. At the Black Sea resorts it is better to go from July to October.
Winter in Georgia
The first state on the territory of modern Georgia appeared in the middle of the first millennium BC. This was the Kingdom of Colchis, which was located on the east coast of the Black Sea. Georgian historians believe that Colchis was quite a developed state. Polities were founded by the local population, and the Greeks founded trading stations.
In the 4th century BC the kingdom of Kartli was founded, and about 300 BC. – the state of Iberia with its capital in Mtskheta. In the 1st century BC, Colchis was conquered by the Romans. In the 2nd century BC Iberia (Kartli) became independent. In the 4th century, Christianity became the state religion. In the 4-5 centuries, Iberia was dependent on Persia. During the reign of Vakhtang I Gorgasal, Iberia gained independence. Vakhtang also founded Tbilisi, where the capital of the kingdom was moved in the 6th century.
Tbilisi – the capital of Georgia
In the 7th century the territory of Georgia was subjugated by the Arabs, who ruled it until the 9th century. The first mention of the state of Georgia (Kartli) dates back to the 10th century. After the expulsion of the Arabs, feudal states were formed: the Kingdom of Abkhazia, Kartli, Kakheti and Ereti. Georgia was united under Bagrat III of the Bagratid dynasty. The 11-12th centuries is the period of true flowering of the Georgian state. Georgia reached power under David IV the Builder and Queen Tamara and was one of the strongest powers in the region. In the 12th century Georgia established strong relations with Russia.
In the 13th century the country was conquered by the Mongols, who were expelled only a century later. In 1386-1403 Georgia survived several invasions by Timur. In the 15th century the Georgian kingdom fell into decline and broke up into several states. Later the country was divided between Turkey and Iran. In the 18th century, under Irakli II, the Turks were expelled, and Georgia accepted the protectorate of the Russian Empire.
Mtskheta – the ancient capital of Georgia
In 1800 Georgia became part of Russia. Accession to the Russian Empire saved the Georgian people from genocide and assimilation by the Turks and Persians. After October Revolution Georgia declared its independence, but in 1921 it became a part of USSR. In 1991 (after the collapse of the Soviet Union) the country became an independent state.
Administratively Georgia is divided into 9 provinces, two autonomous republics and one city of state importance.
- The Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia – Sukhumi
- Samegrelo-Upper Svaneti – Zugdidi
- Guria – Ozurgeti
- Autonomous Republic of Adjara – Batumi
- Racha-Lechkhumi and Lower Svaneti – Ambrolauri
- Samtskhe-Javakheti – Akhaltsikhe
- Shida Kartli – Gori
- Mtskheta-Mtianeti – Mtskheta
- Kvemo Kartli – Rustavi
- Kakheti – Telavi
- Kartli is the heart of Georgia, the center of Georgian culture. Here are located the ancient cities: Tbilisi, Mtskheta and Gori.
- Rioni is the center of western Georgia and the territory of ancient Colchis.
- Kakheti is a fertile region with a dry climate with picturesque valleys, vineyards and beautiful churches.
- Southwest Georgia – subtropics and Black Sea resorts.
- North-Western Georgia – the ridges of the Greater Caucasus.
- Samtskhe-Javakheti – an area with a large Armenian ethnic population and interesting sights.
More than 80% of the population is ethnic Georgians. Quite large diasporas are Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Georgians are Orthodox Christians. They are hospitable, ambitious and temperamental people. Georgians respect their elders, they adore their traditions, love songs and feasts.
Basic rules of conduct:
- Respect Georgia’s traditions and history.
- Avoid political debates and relations with Russia.
- Avoid parallels with neighboring Islamic cultures.
- Georgians are not so religious, but Orthodoxy is quite conservative here.
Airports are located in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi. The largest airport of the country is of course in the capital. Georgia has regular flights from most major cities in Europe, Asia and Russia, including: Moscow, Kiev, London, Amsterdam, Prague, Istanbul, Riga, Minsk, Vilnius and Warsaw.
Bus service connects Georgia with cities in Turkey, Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Trains regularly run between Baku and Tbilisi.
Cities of Georgia
Tbilisi is the capital and largest city of Georgia, in which one third of the population lives. It is an ancient city of contrasts with charming architecture and several famous ancient sites.
Batumi is the second largest city and resort capital of Georgia. It is an interesting mix of classic and modern buildings, as well as subtropical vegetation.
Borjomi is a picturesque small town, where the famous mineral water is produced.
Kutaisi is the ancient capital of Colchis and the third largest city in Georgia.
Mtskheta – the ancient capital of eastern Georgia, and the center of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
Telavi – the capital of Kakheti, located near vineyards, ancient churches and monasteries.
Gori is Stalin’s hometown, with an ancient rocky city nearby.
There are three sites in Georgia that are included in the UNESCO list.
The ancient monuments of Mtskheta:
- Jvari, an ancient 6th century monastery located at the confluence of the Kura River. Georgia’s first UNESCO monument.
- Svetitskhoveli – 12th-century cathedral and the main religious building of Georgia.
- Samtavro is another ancient monastery at the confluence of the Kura and Aragvi.
Gelati Monastery and Bagrat Temple in Kutaisi. Gelati Monastery is a medieval monastery founded by David the Builder. The Temple of Bagrat is a medieval temple that played an important role in the history of Georgia. Here David IV was crowned.
Upper Svaneti is a picturesque valley on the river Inguri. It is famous for its medieval buildings: residential towers and ancient stone churches.
Kazbek – one of the largest peaks of Georgia and the Caucasus. It is an extinct volcano and has a height of 5033 meters.
Bakuriani is one of the major ski resorts in Georgia, located on the slopes of the Trialeti Range.
Shatili is a picturesque village on the slopes of the Main Caucasus Range on the border with Russia. It is a unique complex of medieval and early modern fortresses and fortified stone houses.
Uplistsikhe is an ancient cave city, founded in the first millennium BC. It was located on the ancient Silk Road. Located 12 km from the city of Gori. This is one of the oldest settlements of Georgia, which was abandoned in the 19th century.
Vardzia is a cave monastery from the 12th century. It is one of the most striking sights of Georgia, located in the south of the country on a rock near the banks of the Kura River.
David-Gareja is an ancient 6th-century cave monastery with beautiful frescoes. It is located 60 km from Tbilisi, right on the border of Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Tourist popularity of Georgia is growing steadily, which contributes to the growth of the number of hotels and tourist infrastructure. Despite the fact that in Tbilisi and Kutaisi hotel prices are often a bit high, and service can often be far from high European standards, Georgia is a place where you can find a cheap hotel or apartment, and feel the warmth and hospitality of their owners.
Georgian cuisine is delicious, soulful and versatile. It includes a lot of meat, spices, and various sauces. You can eat in Georgia very inexpensive. Popular traditional dishes are khachapuri, khinkali, mtsvadi (kebab), pkhali, chakapuli, churchkhela, chashushuli.
Chacha, Georgian wine (saperavi, kindzmarauli, khvanchkara, tsinandali, rkatsiteli), suluguni cheese, mineral water (Borjomi), fruits are very popular.
€180 per excursion
Exploring Kakheti in One Day
Journey to the Cradle of Georgian Winemaking
€163 per tour
Kazbegi: Neighborhood of God
Heading to the high gray peaks of the Caucasus – along the mountain paths to the centuries-old monuments of architecture