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11 Things to Do in Georgia

Author: Charlotte Boswell

Nestled in the heart of the Caucasus Mountains, Georgia has a fascinating historical and cultural heritage. As one of the world's oldest Christian nations, Georgia still retains much of its traditional charm and character as well as being extremely beautiful. Our Senior Travel Consultant Lucy recently travelled to Georgia, "my trip to Georgia was fascinating, it has so much to offer. The delicious food, the generous hospitality, the beautiful scenery, the warm people, but most importantly – the fabulous natural wines!" Here are Lucy's top 11 things to do in Georgia.

1. Soak up the atmosphere of Tbilisi’s Old Town

Set against a dramatic hillside in a river valley, Tbilisi is  Georgia’s delightful capital city that superbly blends striking modern architecture with the old and ancient. Tbilisi’s Old Town is a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets, hidden courtyardsand dainty wooden-balconied houses. Throughout history, Tbilisi’s old town area has passed through the hands of the Persians, Byzantine Empire, Arabs, Mongols and Russians and now is a melting pot of architecture and culture. Spend an afternoon meandering through the winding walkways and admire the intricately caves and colourful balconies stopping for some Georgian wine at a local café. 

tbilisi old town
Tbilisi Old Town
lucy winery
Lucy at a winery in Tsinadali

2. Go wine tasting in the Kakheti region

Georgia has a long history of wine production, many believing it to be the world’s oldest wine producer with evidence dating back 8000 years. An integral part of culture and everyday life in Georgia, many locals produce wine at home for their own consumption. A visit to a marani, a traditional Georgian winery, is a must on any Georgia itinerary. Wines are made in qveris (large clay pots) and are buried underground for some months to allow prolonged skin contact. This method produces the famous amber wines and fabulous deep reds, of which are available to taste during a marani tour. During my trip I worked at Schumi winery in the Kakheti region. Highlights included helping get the Kisu (Schumi’s fortified wine) directly from the barrel to serve to their customers, setting up Schumi’s first sparkling wine for riddling and seal the qveris with clay and sand ready for six months maturation. 

gelati monastery
Gelati Monastery / Image credit: sunriseOdyssey

3. Visit the UNESCO listed Gelati Monastery

A masterpiece of the Georgian Golden Age, the Gelati Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located northeast of Kutaisi in western Georgia. This medieval monastic complex remains one of the country’s most important churches and many Georgian rulers are buried here including David the Builder, the great 12th century king who founded Gelati in 1106. The highlight of Gelati is the fascinating frescoes that are so intricately decorated and beautifully coloured. These can be found in the main Cathedral of the Virgin and are most appealing when rays of sunshine fill the room through the arched windows.

ananuri fortress
Ananuri Fortress

4. Discover the riverside fortress of Ananuri

Ananuri, a spectacular fortress, castle and civic centre perched above the turquoise waters of the Aragvi River, acted as the seat of the Aragvi feudal dynasty who ruled the region from the 13th century. Although it’s now a shell of what it once was, it is a miracle that this 17th century complex is still standing having witnessed centuries of bloody battles, peasant revolts, fires and the massacre of its ruling clan – the Aragvi’s. About 45 miles out of Tbilisi, Ananuri can easily be seen as a day trip from the capital and it really is worth a visit if only for the intriguing history, blended architectural style and beautiful views. 

Local Georgian delicacy 'churchkhela' 

5. Sample Georgia’s famous delicacies

A real highlight during any trip to Georgia includes sampling the local cuisine and delicacies. Influenced by Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, Georgian cuisine mainly comprises of delicately spiced meat kebabs, hearty soups, stews and dumplings, however one of the country’s most famous dishes is khachapuri. This boat-shaped yeast bread is stuffed with different kinds of cheese and topped with a fried egg and is delicious. Another of Georgia’s delicacies includes churchkhela – strands of juice-soaked nuts and dried fruits encased in jewel-coloured edible wax that can be found in shops and markets throughout the country.

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6. Enjoy beautiful views from Jvari Monastery

As the ancient capital and spiritual centre of Georgia, Mtskheta is a well-worth a visit whilst in Georgia. As the headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Mtskheta is home to Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, a sacred place where Christ's robes were kept in the 11th century, and the 6th century Jvari Church. This UNESCO-listed medieval masterpiece sits atop a hill overlooking the town and offers fabulous views of the cathedral, rivers and surrounding countryside.

jvari monastery
Jvari Monastery

7. Hike to Gergeti Trinity Church from Kazbegi

Often said to be one of the most beautiful places in Georgia, the ancient Gergeti Trinity Church stands at 2,170 metres tall atop a peak, framed by the mighty Mount Kazbek. Dating back to the 14th century, this Orthodox and Apostolic church can be reached by a one-hour gentle hike (each way) from the village of Kazbegi. During the hike there are multiple photo opportunities including a beautiful shot of the church sitting on the green hill with the contrasting snow-capped mountain looming in the background.

gergeti chuch
Gergeti Trinity Church

8. Relax in Tbilisi’s hot sulphur baths

What better way to spend a few hours in the capital than to soak and relax in Tbilisi’s famous sulphur springs, especially between October and March when the winter weather hits Georgia. Built on top of thermal springs, Tbilisi is dotted with bathhouses, especially within the Abanotubani district. One of the city’s most popular is the Orbeliani Bathhouse with its beautiful mosque-like exterior dotted with blue mosaics and minarets. Inside, private bathing rooms are available where visitors are able to soak, scrub and even enjoy a traditional massage. Besides being incredibly relaxing after a day of sightseeing, the sulphur baths also are good for eczema, arthritic joints and digestion problems.

sulphur baths
Orbeliani Bathhouse

9. Go skiing in Gudauri

A decade ago, skiing in Georgia was a well-kept secret only known by the locals, however as the country’s popularity grows so does its reputation for excellent ski opportunities. Gudauri in the north of Georgia is the country’s main ski resort offering an ever-expanding 75km of snowy slopes and a fabulous range of off-piste activities including paragliding, snowmobiles, tubing and hiking. Mid-December to mid-March is the best time to visit where the slopes are fully covered in powder and the weather is often clear and sunny making for beautiful ski conditions.

skiing gadauri
Gudari Mountains 

10. Visit the ruins and caves of Uplistsikhe

Situated in eastern Georgia, the abandoned rock-cut town of Uplistsikhe dates back to the first millennium BC and has played an integral role in Georgian history. During the 6th century BC and the 1st century AD, Uplistsikhe was one of the most important religious and political centres of pre-Christian Kartli and also a trade centre on a main caravan route between Europe and Asia. As one of the oldest places of settlement in the Caucasus, Uplistsikhe is a very interesting site to explore. Highlights include the sun goddess temples, various rock-cut structures with decorative carvings and a stone basilica dating back to the 10th century.

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koruldi lakes
Koruldi Lakes

11. Trek to the alpine lakes at the foot of Mount Ushba

Located in the Caucasus Mountains, Georgia is known for its wonderful trekking and hiking opportunities. One of the most popular hikes is between the highland town of Mestia and the picturesque Koruldi lakes. This moderate hike takes about 7 hours (round-trip), however if this is too long your driver or a local taxi can dramatically reduce the trek. On arrival to Koruldi, whilst the lakes aren’t the most spectacular, the surrounding stunning mountains and the way they beautifully reflect in the water, is definitely worth the effort.

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