Georgia has been in my personal travel bucket list for a while and finally got the chance to visit it this year! It’s a really interesting country to explore and I personally loved it! I have to admit that this is the kind of trip you really need to organize wisely before heading there, since it’s not a very well-known destination yet and it could be difficult to communicate since English is not spoken in many areas. I started my journey in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Then, on my way to Kazbegi, I stopped in Uplistsikhe to admire the cave villages. Would love to share my trip with you step by step!
USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT GEORGIA:
- Language: Georgian. Russian is well spoken everywhere. In some areas might be difficult to communicate in English
- Visa: on arrival (for most of the countries). It is free and it lasts for 90 days. Service is very fast and efficient
- Capital: Tbilisi. Population: 1,5 million people
- Currency: Georgian Lari (commonly referred as GEL or simply LARI)
- Getting to Tbilisi from the airport: 20-30 minutes by taxi. Price: around 50 Lari
- Time Zone: UTC/GMT +4
- Country Code: +995
- Emergency number: 112
- Population: 3,720,400 people
I arrived in Tbilisi at night, in April. The temperature was a bit chilly. I took a taxi to the magnificent city center and I reached the boutique hotel in 25 minutes. I really enjoyed the ride as I was enchanted by the beauty of the buildings, the lights and the streets at night. Such a magical atmosphere in town!
Where to stay in Tbilisi?
There are many boutique hotels and nice places to stay. I would like to recommend:
- JW Marriott
- Rooms Hotel
- Shota@Rustaveli Boutique
What are the best things to see and the best restaurants?
On my first day I started my city tour. Firstly, I’d like to share that I was really amazed by the cleanliness of every area, which made my discovering time even more pleasant.
Starting from the Georgian Parliament, near by Shota@Rustaveli Boutique where I was staying, I have been walking for a while, till I reached the Holy Trinity Cathedral (Sameba), located on top of the hill across the Kura river (Mtkvari) from the city center. The church was built between 1995 and 2004 and it is amazingly prominent!
After visiting this Orthodox cathedral, I walked down the hill through very narrow streets, and I saw -from outside- the Presidential Place.
When I got back to the city, I decided to spend some time at the lovely Rike Park, very clean and full of white cubic benches where you can spend some time to rest. In this park it is possible to admire the extremely modern architecture of the Bridge of Peace, which is one of the most famous attractions of the city, together with the Music Theater and Exhibition Hall.
The Bridge of Peace was designed by Italian architect Michele De Lucchi and brought to Georgia from Italy in 200 unassembled components in May 2010. The bridge is lit on daily, 90 minutes before the sunset, thanks to more than 10,000 LED bulbs built-in for its whole length (156 meters). The lighting system has been designed by Philippe Martinaud.
I had a pleasant walk under the sun and afterwards I took a taxi to Barbarestan Restaurant, a very cool place in the city. I enjoyed a traditional Georgian meal with great local wine and fresh squeezed juices. The service was excellent and the food truly delicious especially the Kachapuri (sort of cheesy pizza) my favorite local dish! I would highly recommend it, either for lunch or dinner!
Following this great meal, I took another taxi to the Old City (Sololaki) to visit the local colorful markets. Once there, I was astonished by the discovery of Churchkhela! What I thought was a salami, turned out to be a candle-shaped candy made by repeatedly dipping a long string of nuts in “tatara” – a mixture of flour, sugar and Badagi (concentrated fresh grape juice). A real explosion of colors in the streets of Tbilisi!
After eating Churchkhela in Old Sololaki I took the funicular to reach the top of the hill to admire the city from above. There was an incredible view from the Kartlis Deda‘s perspective indeed! This prominent aluminum monument was erected in 1958 to celebrate the 1500th year of Tbilisi. It is a Georgian woman who holds a bowl of wine in her left hand greeting those who come as friends, and a sword in her right hand for those who come as enemies. The statue is 20 meters tall.
For dinner I went to another cool place which I would love to recommend as well: Tsiskvili restaurant. The location is very particular, the food is local and delicious, the atmosphere is cheerful as there is a band who plays songs both classic with violin and piano, as well as commercial and pop. Some people started to dance near the tables and to have lots of fun! From the balcony an amazing waterfall can be seen, enlightened by a colorful neon. You need to take a taxi to get there as it is not very close to the city center, but definitely worth the ride!
MUST VISIT: UPLISTSIKHE
When I left Tbilisi on my way to Kazbegi, I decided to stop in Uplistsikhe. This town is well know for its cave. It is an ancient rock-hew town in the East part of Georgia 10 km away from Gori, the town where the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was born.
Uplistsikhe, whose name is translated ‘Fortress of the Lord’, played a significant role in Georgian history over a period of approximately 3,000 years and it was built on a high rocky left bank of the Mtkvari River.
When I arrived there I was shocked by the strength of the wind and how cold it was! I could barely stand, but it was so interesting hiking up and see the caves inside that I did it anyway!
GETTING TO KAZBEGI
Getting to Kazbegi takes at least 3-3:30 hours from Tbilisi and it is very important to keep in mind that there is only one street to get there. Keep in mind that due to the huge amount of tracks that comes from both directions, the police stops one or the other way for about 30-40 minutes to let the tracks pass without causing any problem to other vehicles, especially in the small dark tunnels through the mountain. It is crucial to remember it, as on the way back you might miss the flight if you miscalculate the time!
When I arrived at the Rooms Hotel in Kazbegi, I was astonished by the breathtaking view of the mountains. I would definitely recommend to stay there: the rooms are clean and tidy, the spa is fantastic and the food is great!
The hotel is located on the mountain, near the Russian border. The panorama is pretty overwhelming and it is so nice to spend time in the main common area, that looks like a big fancy living room of a mountain house.
In winter you can ski and in spring and summer you can enjoy other activities like horse riding and paragliding. I loved my morning horse ride from the hotel to a small monastery!
Horse riding costs approximately 50 GEL per hour, Paragliding around 399 GEL for 30 minutes. For this activity you need to be lucky with the weather!
I really enjoyed this trip, hope my post will help to organize yours!
And you.. Are you lusting for the sublime?