Done the classic Europe thing? Already been up and down and round and round that traditional tourist trail? Looking for something a bit new, a bit different, a bit… undiscovered? Cool. Let us throw you a travel curveball: Georgia. No, not the one in America. The other one. The one that’s about as far east as Eastern Europe goes. ‘Cause you know what? We go there now.
Yep, this one-of-a-kind country is a place to reallllllly sink your teeth into. It’s a travel anomaly that’s still fresh and untapped – where you can immerse yourself in unique culture, get lost amidst mountains and lakes, meet incredible locals, go to town on world-renowned wine… the list goes on. And to help demonstrate our point, here are some of the SERIOUSLY soul-nourishing things you’ll get to experience if you come travel with us (psst: dooooo it).
Ditch the map in Tbilisi
Who’s ready to find out why they call this place the ‘Rome of the Caucasus’ (not catchy, but accurate)? Get a load of this: dramatic valley setting that could almost bring a tear to your eye. Colourful, characterful architecture (ft heaps of balconies). Nightlife that’s so good, it’s become legend.
From the 13th-century Metekhi Church to the mind-boggling 4th-century Narikala Fortress, Tbilisi is a. packed to the rafters with treats for the eyes, and b. so culturally rich it’s impossible not to overindulge. DW though – after a day of exploring, the historic sulphur baths have got the R ‘n’ R thing covered. Mmmm, warming.
Take a look around 3,000-year-old Mtskheta
Not the easiest to pronounce (go with ‘M’sketta’ and hope for the best). Despite its lack of vowels, this 3,000-year-old former capital city is a must-see – and it’s rammo with ancient wonders. Just two examples: the UNESCO-listed Jvari Monastery and Svetiskhoveli Cathedral.
Did you know? Svetiskhoveli Cathedral is said to be the place where the Robe of Christ is buried – so it’s kind of a big deal. And with amazing views over the city, there’s no better place to transport yourself back to medieval times than Jvari Monastery. Long story short: if you wanna get versed in Georgian history, Mtskheta’s the way to go.
Hike to Gergeti Trinity Church
Sure, Gergeti Trinity Church looks good on Google Images. But in real life? Holy sh*t. We’re not kidding when we say that seeing it in all its earthly glory is nothing short of MIND-BLOWING. Especially after a bracing, invigorating hike. Let us talk you through it…
Step out from Stepantsminda and soon enough you’ll find yourself on the drop-dead gorgeous climb to the iconic Church. Meandering through hills, valleys and woodlands, your path will carry you up to an altitude of 2,170 m (and it takes about an hour and a half to walk it). Pro tip: bring modest clothing with you if you actually wanna go inside the Church.
Visit the remote village of Juta
Cut off from the outside world for most of the year, the teeny-tiny village of Juta is as remote as it is mysterious. Let us paint you a picture: verdant, wholesome, framed by staggering mountains, filled with cows and horses living their BEST life… it’s a little slice of paradise. But how do you get there?
Why, through Sno Valley, of course – the greenest place you ever did see. We’ll follow the dirt road track in the mini-coach, winding through our Sound of Music-style surroundings as we make our way up to the village (one of Georgia’s highest settlements). Take a moment to appreciate that mountain air – it doesn’t get any fresher than this!
Go wine tasting in Kaspi
According to the stories, dark horse Georgia is the place where a miraculous event took place around 7,000 years ago: wine was invented. And the traditional way of making this delicious grape-y nectar? In a big ol’ earthenware jug called a kvevri. It’s so unique, it’s even on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
So… will we be trying it? Heck yes, we will. As if you even had to ask! At our winemaking demo in the quaint town of Kaspi, we’ll have the chance to knock a few back – and if that wasn’t enough for you, we’ll also be stopping off at a winery in the Kakheti region for even more of the good stuff later on in the trip.
Wander the ‘cave town’ of Vardzia
Cave town. Sounds cool, huh? And trust us – it doesn’t disappoint. Vardzia is a network of caverns and tunnels that goes on for over half a kilometre. A bit like a uniquely Georgian version of Petra, this mountain/monastery mash-up was completed wayyyyy back in the late 12th century – and it’s been waiting for you to come visit ever since.
Back when it was new, the cave town extended over 13 levels and had 6,000 individual chambers. Today, 300 of the apartments and halls are still accessible – including the subterranean Church of the Dormition, which is packed to the brim with Golden Age frescoes.
Have lunch with a local family
Experiences don’t come more Georgian than this. ‘Cause check it out: our once-in-a-lifetime lunch comes complete with traditional homemade food, wine (obvs), a drop or two of chacha (aka brandy) and some of the most awesome hosts you could ever hope to meet.
But that’s not all. While we’re here, we’ll even get the opportunity to have a go at making a local delicacy – Churchkela sweets (nope, they’re not candles) – AND we’ll get a Shoti bread baking demo thrown in for good measure. Long story short? Experiences like this = what memories are made of.
Feeling the love for Georgia? Take a look at our all-new, all-amazing Georgia Explorer trip. It’s got all this, and MORE.