Introducing the essential places to go in Georgia.
The Caucasian Challenge will reach Georgia on the 17th of August, and we’re already excited. There’s so much to explore, from the seaside sun of Batumi to the bustling energy of Tbilisi. Our list of essential places to go in Georgia includes the most famous sights, but also some hidden treasures.
The best known place in Georgia, Tbilisi is an obvious destination for any visitor, and and we love it so much that we spend our rest day here. You can chill in the ancient baths, climb up to Narikala fortress, and wander through the winding streets of the old town. Take the chance to practice your Georgian by ordering khinkali in one of the city’s many traditional restaurants. And then, of course, there’s the welcoming and lively nightlife.
Our first stop in Georgia, Batumi is a seaside paradise. There’s plenty to do, even if it’s tempting to spend all day tanning on the beach. Popular activities include visiting the Botanic Gardens, taking the cable car to experience the view high above the city, or marveling at the weird and wonderful architecture. Best of all, this part of the country is home to what many consider Georgia’s most delicious khachapuri.
Svaneti, a mountainous region in the North of Georgia, is simply magical. For centuries the locals were virtually cut-off from the rest of society, and so developed their own unique culture and architectural style. Mestia, the area’s largest town, is famous for its many stone towers. Not far away, Ushguli is the highest continuously-occupied village in Europe. The roads aren’t always in great shape, but the nature you’ll see while driving Zagar Pass makes it more than worth it.
Several hours drive north of Tbilisi is Stepantsminda, a picturesque town featuring Georgia’s most stunningly-located Church. The hilltop Gergeti Trinity Church can be seen for miles around, and we highly recommend walking up to visit. If you have more time, drive to the not-too-distant village of Juta.
Part of Georgia’s appeal is its beguiling history, and nowhere is this more apparent than the ancient cave city of Vardzia. Much remains of the twelfth-century construction, once home to thousands, in the South of the country.
A lesser known landmark, Chiatura makes for a fantastic day-trip. Once a thriving industrial hub due to the mining of manganese, the Soviets installed cable cars to ease workers’ journeys down to the town center, located at the bottom of a giant gorge. Decades later the town has seen much decay, but the cable cars still run, for no charge, every day. The nearby Katskhi Pillar, is a geological oddity reminiscent of Meteora in Greece.
Georgia is home to so much beauty and history, any list of essential places to go in Georgia will be insufficient. The generosity of the people and richness of Georgian culture mean that a lifetime exploring the country would be time well spent. However, our final recommendation for a short trip is Gori, and in particular the Joseph Stalin Museum. His hometown’s mixed emotions towards its most famous son pose interesting questions to any visitor and provide a fascinating insight into the history of the Soviet Union.