The world Tbilisi, capital of Georgia, is derived from the world “tbili” meaning “warm”, while “Tbilisi” would translate to “warm location”. Very interesting, isn’t it?
This is a country at the intersection of Europe and Asia – a former Soviet Republic that’s home to Caucasus Mountain villages and the Black Sea beaches. It has 12 different climate zones, ranging from subtropical to alpine to semi-desert which makes the country more ecologically diverse.
Georgia has been producing wines for at least 8,000 years and is considered to be the birthplace of the beverage. In Kakheti, dating way back 12th century, has been famous for its wine-growing in the region and the sprawling cave monastery. For Georgian locals, they call their country Sakartvelo. Archeological studies of the region indicate human settlement in the area early as the 4th millennium BC.
If you haven’t visited this gem of the Caucasus, here’s a guide for you!
POPULAR PLACES TO VISIT IN GEORGIA
- TBILISI - cobblestoned old town, the capital city, reflects a long and complicated history with periods under Persian and Russian rule. The city offers a vibrant night life, affordable accommodation, and accessible transportation going to the outskirts of the country. Looming over the city is Narikala, a reconstructed 4th century fortress and an iconic statue of the “Mother of Georgia”.
- KAZBEGI - or in other name, Stepantsminda is the most recognizable mountain city in Georgia. The town is located along the banks of the Terek River and its climate is moderately humid with relatively dry, cold winters and long and cool summers. The town is a center for trekkers and mountain climbing for its superb scenic location in the greater Caucasus Mountains.
- BATUMI - located on the Black Sea coast, the city personifies all the charm of a southern city and a sea resort. It is suitable for beach goers though the vicinity is stony without sands. It has a waterfront promenade with a park and a seaside observation deck. The old town district is lined with renovated 19th century buildings.
- KAKHETI - the wine making capital of Georgia where locals are easy going and hospitable, their cuisine is diversified and tasty. It is where you can find the city of love too, Sighnaghi. It is famous for great weather, golden hills, century old churches and monasteries.
- MTSKHETA - previous capital and one of the oldest cities in Georgia, located approx. 20 km north of Tbilisi and the most sacred pilgrimage city is a home to Orthodox Christian architecture and has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
BEST TIME TO VISIT GEORGIA
The best time to visit Georgia is May, June or September, especially in the lowlands around Tbilisi, as you'll avoid the summer heat and humidity as well as the freezing winter. Autumn harvest time is well worth a mention, especially around the vineyards of Kakheti.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN GEORGIA
- Take a Full Day Kazbegi Mountain Tour - Explore the incredible nature of Kazbegi region and visit the Truso Gorge, Gergeti Trinity Church, Sno village and admire the overwhelming view of Mount Kazbegi – measuring in at 5033 meters above sea level. This is best done during summer, spring, autumn season where roads are clear of snow.
- The Martvili Canyons and Hot Springs - The Martvili Canyon is a natural wonder. It used to be a bath place for Georgian Nobles – the Dadiani family. People visit the place to enjoy the scenery, its waterfalls and take a boat trip in the river with deep green color. And nearby, there would be a chance to swim in Mountain River that merges with the hot sulphur spings.
- Try the Local Foods - Eat like a local, as they say. Try the Georgian dumplings or “khinkali”, plump and round pouches filled with minced meat, chopped onions and spices. Also, the best known, “Acharuli Khachapuri” or cheese-stuffed bread boat, a traditional comfort food, shaped in a boat flatbread with melted cheese, a runny egg, and generous pat of butter, that usually arrives on your table fresh from the over. And lastly, the Georgian salad which consists of ripe juicy tomatoes filled with slices of onion, cucumber and green pepper, a palmful of walnuts, and drizzle of olive oil. Are you hungry already?
- Ride the Tbilisi Aerial Cable Car - experience a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the stunning Georgia landscapes on comfortable cable cars with tinted glass windows which creates perfect opportunity to take good photos from above. For only a lari or two, you can kill two birds with one stone – where views of the ancient fortress of Narilaka can be seen, including the Botanical Garden, towering Kartlis Deda and fames Bridge of Peace.
- Feel in Love with the Monument of Ali and Nina - located at Batumi, the monument is next to the sea, a literally moving statues stacked with metal giants just continually trying to find each other, is consists of two transparent figures (man and woman), slides toward each other, eventually merging as their segments pass between each other. Familiar of Rome and Juliet? Yes, they have the same love story!
- Do a Tbilisi Hop On/Hop Off Tour - To fully explore the sights of Tbilisi, the most realistic and savvy way is doing the hop on/hop off tour. It will pass through all the famous tourist spots where you can do at your own pace. It usually provides a headset where you can listen the commentary of each stop points.
- Kakheti Wine Tour & Tasting - acknowledged as the “Cradle of Wine” and is believed that wine starts in Kakheti before it spreads all over Europe, this region is a gem in traditional wine making which dated 7000 years ago. With over around 40 grape varieties in the country, no wonder why people are so intensely interested to explore the it’s wine museums, old winery and vineyard sites, and taste the delicious “Qveveri wines”