Georgia, sweet Georgia. I am obsessed with Georgia. Seriously obsessed. I wrote my thesis about Georgia. My best friend lives in Georgia. I celebrated my marriage there. I’ve been there 6 times. You get the picture. There is a very good reason Georgia is always on my mind. It’s an absolutely magical country. One visit will stay with you forever.
Here is a short guide to some of my favorite places, I suggest contacting Wild Georgia for a complete itinerary (plus, you’ll get to meet my best friend, Eka who runs the company. She’s just as compelling as the country).
Flight to Tbilisi from the United States requires a layover, unless your flying a PJ. We love planning our layovers in Munich, because you can get a gym/spa pass at the Kempinski Airport Hotel and enjoy the pool, sauna, gym, and delicious meals while waiting. You’ll feel rested, which is good considering most flights land in Tbilisi around 4am. If you are awake when you arrive, book a private room at the historic Gulos bathhouse. This has become our ritual. The kids will love it. From there press through till at least 8pm and you’ll be well on your way recovering from jet lag.
I suggest planning a few days in the beautiful Tbilisi either in the beginning or end of your trip. It is a vibrant city with a stunning combination of modern architecture and ancient ruins. There are plenty of shops, museums, and activities here to keep everyone engaged.
From there, pick two or three regions to really spend some time in. Below are three of my favorite regions and what I recommend doing there.
Stay- Tbilisi Marriott
Soak- Gulos Bath House, Spa, and Hot Spring
Visit – Georgian National Museum
Shop – Wanderer around and enjoy the shops and charming restaurants in Old Town Tbilisi. Be sure to stop by the rug shops! Kiln rugs can easily be folded and brought home in your suitcase.
Art- Visit our friend and famous painter, Berdia Geliashvili. My husband and I love collecting his pieces. They are the most commented on paintings in our house.
Kakheti Wine Region
The best way I can describe Kakheti is Napa Valley with more donkey carts then BMW’s. There are hills and vineyards, tiny villages where each home makes their own wine, and lots of beautiful Monasteries. Kakheti is also home to a horseback racing club, so you’ll likely see people racing by on beautiful stallions.
Stay – Chatau Mare or Hotel Kabadoni
Eat– Traditional Georgian dishes from the beautiful Chatau Mare
Visit- Monasteries. A few or my favorites are Alaverdi Monastery (pictured above), Gremi monastery, and Nekresi monastery.
Shop- The many roadside vendors who make clay wine bowls, sheep skin hats, and bake fresh bread.
Tusheti is home to numerous villages that date back to the 3rd and 4th centuries. Spending time here is like stepping back in time. There was no way to get in and out of Tusheti until the 1970’s when the Soviets built a road here. This road remains the only way in and out (except by helicopter) and is an adventure in and of itself. The drive takes about 4 hrs and crosses rivers, waterfalls, Shepard houses, and passes breathtaking views.
Stay- Darejan’s Geusthouse (Book through Wild Georgia) in Sheniko. Darejan is known as the Georgian Professor of Love. She will stay in your heart forever.
Eat – Local food from the many guest houses. Don’t be surprised if you’re invited to a Supra, or traditional feast. This often includes slaughtering a goat and many hours of heart felt toasts and poetry.
Drink – “Chai” or herbal tea made from local mountain plants and flowers. “Cha-Cha” or the potent home-made alcohol that will be offered to you everywhere you go.
Do – Hire horses and book stays at guesthouses through Wild Georgia. They can take you on horseback riding trips from village to village, over mountain passes, and glaciers, and you will have an experience that will change you forever. In my opinion, Tusheti is the most magical place in Georgia.
Shop- Don’t leave home without a pair or two of the incredible hand made shoes and socks made here.