Verdant landscapes, plentiful churches, mystic rivers, serene valleys and mighty mountains are seamlessly woven into the rich tapestry of this Caucasian Country. Georgia is undoubtedly the perfect summer bounty to tourists.
Nestled at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, this former Soviet nation is a must-visit place for travellers. Home to the great Caucasus, Georgia is breathtakingly beautiful and a hotspot for tourists. The country is lush with monasteries, scenic rivers, snow-covered mountains, intriguing caves and surreal canyons. From the alluring mountains of Kazbegi to the vivacious city of Tbilisi, the country teems with tourists across the world. Here are few things to do and places to visit in Georgia this summer.
Tbilisi, the capital, is a city brimming with tourists. The city tour covering top attractions like the Narikala fortress, Sameba Church, Metekhi Bridge, Sulphur bath and Chronicles of Georgia can be done in a day.
Holy Trinity Church or the Sameba Church is a popular tourist attraction that needs no special mention. The Sulphur baths are nothing but traditional bathhouse where you can pay for a sulphur-loaded medicinal bath, the Georgian way.
The panoramic view of the Metekhi River looking gleefully at the towering Narikala Fortress (atop a hill) is best experienced through a cable car ride.
For those seeking adventure, you can hike up to the Fortress on the left and Mother of Georgia Statue on the Right. Sandwiched between is the Botanical Garden of Tbilisi. If you are travelling with a child, it is best to use the cable car for it is less exhaustive yet captivating. Aerial view of the city is simply astounding.
Chronicles of Georgia is a sculptural marvel that chronicles the history of Georgia. Despite its uncanny resemblance to the Stonehenge, Chronicles of Georgia is severely underrated. The monument stands atop a hill overlooking a water body. Climbing the flight of stairs to experience the grandeur of the monument is enthralling much. Do not miss this place if you ever visit Georgia.
Kazbegi, Gergeti Trinity Church
Stepantsminda or popularly known as Kazbegi is a picturesque mountain village in Georgia. From cattle grazing the meadows to the sparkling river trickling down the valley, the tranquil landscape of Kazbegi is a visual treat.
Home to the mighty mountains of Caucasus, this little hamlet is legendary to one of the most beautiful churches in Georgia – Gergeti Trinity Church. The church is seated below the Mountain Kazbek yet at a certain elevation that makes the view jaw-dropping. Festooned with snow caps and hues of green cloaks, the mountains cast a spell on the onlookers. Clouds hover around the mountains like a halo emanating ecclesiastical power. Kazbegi is not be missed if you plan a trip to Georgia
Paragliding in Gudauri
Have you ever dreamt of being a bird, embracing the wind and relishing the beauty beneath the sky? Well, try paragliding to live the dream. Paragliding is a popular activity in Georgia. Gudauri, a small town near Kazbegi is the happening place for paragliding. There are a lot of unlicensed centres. Be cautious to choose the licensed ones. Since we had our guide it was easy to find a good flying centre. It costs 250GEL for a 10-minute flight with a pilot. But the sheer thrill of striking one off the bucket list made us forget the money part and we didn’t regret doing it.
For those seeking a subtle adrenaline rush, I strongly recommend paragliding. I am afraid of heights; however, I conquered my fear through this activity. Imagine being able to get cuddled by the cold air and fly devoid of wings. And experience the blustery wind echoing boisterously down the valley. Isn’t it enthralling to see an infinitesimal view of the ground (from several metres high) and take respite amidst the aesthetic delight of the sky? Apparently, tourists from Russia and other countries of the Caucasus visit Georgia simply to do paragliding.
Canyons and Cave in Kutaisi
Kutaisi is another lively city of Georgia reminiscent of the Soviet past. The buildings and landscape reek of soviet era and this was the only place that felt a tad similar to Azerbaijan. The city’s exuberance camouflages the ancient treasures of human civilisation. Prometheus cave and the canyons (Martivilli and Okatse) are examples of a lost civilisation and natures marvel, respectively.
Prometheus cave is a five million-year-old cave that was discovered in the late 20th Century. An intriguing guided 3km trip inside the cave gives you an insight into the prehistoric age. The formations inside the cave are awe-inspiring and take you back in time. The boat trip inside the cave is a perfect culmination to a fascinating trip replete with ancient living methods.
Canyons are always my personal favourites. The one in Martivilli never ceases to appease the mind. You can explore the canyon on a raft; wallowing the beauty of the moss-filled gorge and turquoise blue water. Children below two are not allowed so we took turns to raft. The canyons were splendid, albeit the solo ride.
If natural gas is to Azerbaijan, wines are to Georgia. Georgian wines are something to drool for. Winemaking is a common practice and you will stumble upon plenty of wineries across Georgia. We chose the one in Kutaisi and we quite liked it. Wines from the winery will cost you a bomb so if you plan to tantalise your taste buds to the piquant wines of Georgia make sure you do research prior. Our benevolent guide gifted us a wine bottle from his trustworthy sources, also we bought some from the market and the winery too.
The former capital of ancient Georgia, Mtskheta is a bustling old city amidst cathedrals and Fortress. You can take a stroll through the cobblestone roads thriving with souvenirs markets that lead up to the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. This stupendous 11th-century cathedral is an architectural marvel.
You can see Jvari Monastery overlooking this ancient Georgian city. That being said, Jvari is a must-see Georgian orthodox church located on a cliff at the confluence of Mtkvari and Aragvi Rivers. You can kill two birds with a stone by visiting Jvari. Indulge in the holiness of the mountaintop Church while relishing the beauty of the two rivers embracing each other.
Conclude it by hiking up to the Ananuri Castle seated in the Georgian Military Highway and take delight in the view that it offers.
Uplistsikhe and Gori
Uplistsikhe is a cave town closer to Gori City. Located on a rock along the banks of the swiftly flowing Mtkvari River, this mystical cave city is worth exploring. Dating back to the Bronze Age, humans once made this rock their home.
Gori Castle en route to Gudauri is yet another Fortress to explore in Georgia. The castle was closed when we visited. Nonetheless, the view from the ruins of the castle is engaging enough.
Mtskheta, Uplistsikhe and Gori can be covered in less than a day and we did the tour while returning from Kutaisi. There are obviously more fortresses and monasteries in this region but I reckon these are the top places to visit in this Georgian belt.
Georgia was one fine conclusion to our travel spree this summer. We are glad we chose Gira Travels through Aram. Travelling with a child is no joke and we don’t regret doing it with them. They are adaptable and accommodative to your needs which is what I liked best. Overall, they fitted into our budget and was flexible with our itinerary. Hope to cover Armenia real soon with the same agency.
We missed Vardizia and Batumi due to time constraint. That apart, six days in Georgia and we covered most of it. Georgia is forever etched in our memories for giving us a slice of Europe on budget travel.