To be completely honest, Georgia was never anywhere near top of my list of places to visit, or anywhere on the list at all. I believed it was just a poor, war-stricken country where I would be totally unsafe. Wow, Was I completely wrong. After visiting, I can’t help but rave about how amazing it was. It was also so safe. Honestly, everyone should go at some point, if they’re in Europe. The landscape is so beautiful and the architecture is stunning, too. The food is great as well. I wish I had remembered to take more photos of it. I had such an amazing experience in Georgia. I made some lifetime friends who I still keep in touch with. The people in Georgia have the most amazing hospitality. They love their country so much, and they want you to love it just as much. I did. I cried when I left Tbilisi. No joke. It was such a beautiful place and so unlike any place I’ve been. The wine was incredible as well. A lot of the people living there, make their own red wine. They sent me home with two big jugs, yes jugs, of red wine. Georgia is known for their red wine and beautiful vineyards.
The churches were also so grand and in such a new style compared to what I’m used to seeing. They are beautiful. I got to witness a wedding there also. In Georgia, people just walk into weddings and baptisms without invite and it’s totally ok. It was cool to see how a wedding is celebrated there.
One of my favorite travel stories happened there. Mari (my beautiful Georgian friend) and I were on route to see a vineyard. We ended up blowing two tires in the van that was driving us there. This was at sunset, so it got dark quickly. We had to hitchhike, as we were an hour or so from the Capitol. After a few cars drove by, we had some luck and ironically one of Mari’s childhood friends lived in the village nearby and her and her father picked us up. They took us to their home. We had dinner and a lot of red wine and waited until we could find a ride back into Tbilisi. Only Mari and her friend spoke a little English, but it was such an amazing experience. Their kindness and hospitality to a total stranger was incredible. They did many toasts to me while drinking wine. They said so many nice things about me and the whole experience and it made me cry. The kindness was just overwhelming and really touched my heart. It is such a special memory that I’ll keep forever. I promised Mari when I left, I would come back, and I truly mean to keep that promise. Georgia was such a special place and I really would love to go in the summer, to see much more of the country and see my new friends again.
There are honestly so many things to do, but to spare you some time, let me tell you the top 5 things to do on your trip to Tbilisi and Georgia.
Also if you’re looking for a great hotel that is gorgeous with lovely rooms and stunning views, then The Tiflis Palace is the place for you. It is a luxury boutique hotel, that is perfectly located in old town, and is close to all the main attractions. It has great sized, beautiful rooms. It has a rooftop restaurant, bar, and patio, with amazing views of the city in all directions. Like I said, it is also in the perfect location of Tbilisi. This is where I completely recommend staying! The prices are super fair as well and really worth it.
Now what to see in Tbilisi and Georgia.
1. Visit the Batumi Botanic Gardens and The National Botanical Garden of Georgia
When I tell you the gardens at Batumi are magical, I mean they are really mind blowingly gorgeous. Like, wow. I loved the beachiness and quirkiness of Batumi anyway, but the gardens just outside the city were like a little wonderland, hidden away. The flowers and plants that grow there were all so different and lush, it really was like being whisked away to another place. The place is laid out really nicely, and offers beautiful views of Batumi, if you can manage to turn your gaze from all the lush greenery surrounding you. You can pack a picnic for when you get hungry during your wandering, and you can even camp out in the gardens overnight! In the Summer, I can’t even imagine what it’s like.
2. The Chronicle of Georgia
Just outside of Tbilisi, there is an absolutely massive monument, and it’s honestly one of the most impressive things I’ve seen. It’s dubbed The Stonehendge of Georgia. The big pillars are carved with the the story of Georgia’s history, and the detail really is incredible to look at. The monument sits on top of a hill overlooking the Tbilisi Sea, so if the monument isn’t nice enough for you, the views are definitely a lovely sight. You can get up to the monument by metro and a short walk, or you can take a taxi. Most tourists either skip this or just don’t know about it, so you can take in the monument’s splendor without any disruption.
3. The Georgia-Russia Friendship Monument
While we’re on the topic of monuments, this is another one you’ll want to see. A short journey from Tbilisi will take you to this huge monument covered in colorful mosaics. The monument recently underwent a facelift renovation, so the the beautiful semi-circle looks shiny and new, and there’s now a parking lot for tour buses. This monument also boasts stunning views of the mountains and valleys surrounding it.
4. Visit the ancient Georgian capital, Mtshketa
Just a 30 minute drive from Tbilisi will take you to this stunning city seemingly frozen in time. It is a very small town, and you’ll really only need a day to explore. While there, you’ll want to stop and took a look at the 10th century cathedral, Svetitskhoveli. Featuring fragments of paintings from as far back as the 11th century, a visit to this cathedral will leave you in awe of the ancient architecture. Legend has it that there is a seamless robe belonging to Jesus Christ hidden somewhere within the temple. There is another legend that King Giorgi ordered the amputation of the architect’s hand so that he could never again create anything as beautiful.
If, like me, you love your wine, then there are two can’t miss stops in Mtshketa. First is Chateau Mukhrani, the Georgian royal family estate built in the 19th century. This place is filled with wine cellars and 30 minute tour of the place will only set you back $5 USD! Georgian wine is some of the finest in the world. Their grape cultivation techniques are centuries old, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you’re a wine lover, then you’ll definitely want to buy a bottle of Georgian wine from the winery, but only have you’ve tasted them all to to see what you like!
Stop number two for my wine-o’s is Gvinis Palata, the Wine Chamber. Each of the four floors has a different unique experience, all involving wine. On the ground floor, you’ll experience traditional Georgian storytelling about the grapes and wines unique to the country. The next floor up is where the tasting begins while you also enjoy traditional Georgian folk music and dancing. The third floor is my favorite, you can continue sipping the rich Georgian wine while taking in stunning views of the city. It really is a can’t miss experience.
While you’re visiting Mtshketa, it would be very worthwhile to make the hike up to Jvari Monastery. Its name means “The Monastery of the Cross”, probably because the building is actually shaped like a cross. While you’re up checking out the beautiful ancient architecure of the monastery, you’ll also get to see a birds eye view of the city as well as the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers.
There really is no way to include a list of anything to do in Georgia without mentioning the food. Seriously. It is so good. And while I could rattle off different places and things to eat, I’ll save it for another time. Because now, I need to tell you all about Kachapuri. It’s a local delicacy that’s basically just bread filled with a ton of melted cheese. Bread and cheese; what’s not to love? The most common variety is Adjaran Kachapuri, which is boat shaped bread filled with cheese, and topped with an egg…yum.
Other things to see in Tbilisi are; Kartlis Deda, Tsminda Cathedral, Mount Mtatsminda, Walk around old town, Go up to the TV tower, Stroll by the State Museum of Theatre. Karalashvili’s Wine Cellar, Anchiskhati Basilica, Narikala Fortress, The Bridge of Peace, Walk around Agmashenebeli Avenue, Metekhi Cathedral, Monument of King Vakhtang Gorgasali, Kashveti Church, Enjoy the restaurants and nightlife in Tbilisi. It’s incredible and so cheap!
Other places in Georgia to see are; Kazbegi, Jvari Monastery, Ananuri, and Gudauri. Also check out Kakheti which is cute and has nice restaurants. It also has cool ruins. Drive to Gergeti. There are so many gorgeous areas of Georgia to see. Make sure you have ample time to explore this amazing place!