Gorgeous Georgia: A Silk Road Adventure
Tbilisi: Fortresses and Churches on the Silk Road
Vineyards stretch across lush green valleys, rocks house secret cities and isolated monasteries perch on mountain tops. Experience Georgia – a country with a rich heritage of art and architecture due to its complicated and often troubled history. Tbilisi is an exciting fusion of tradition and modern development. The proud Narikala Fortress, established in the 4th century, watches over the leafy squares and mysterious winding lanes of the old town. The picturesque town is modernising and developing a lively arts and culture scene. Elegant squares and plazas, new galleries and museums, are all sprinkled throughout the city merging the old and the new. Tbilisi’s stunning Bridge of Peace is an example of the modern investment in the city, metaphorically connecting to the old town. It bridges the gap between the traditions of old Georgia and the modern world with its elegant, wave-shaped design.
Georgia’s Whimsical Towns Capture the Imagination
Experience Georgia’s history by visiting the religious sites, strewn across valleys and perched upon mountains. An early adopter of Christianity, Iberia (Kartli) has an abundance of churches and monasteries. Visit the Svetitskhovel Cathedral which is built on the site of Georgia’s first church and the Georgian pilgrimage site of Bodbe. Weave your way along the mountains passes between traditional villages and admire the calm landscapes on your journey. If the mountain-top churches weren’t impressive enough, the stunning cave towns will amaze and captivate. While Vardzia looks like the setting for a fairy story complete with dwarves and pixies, the extensive city was built hidden inside a mountain for defence from the Mongols. Equally breathtaking is the ‘City of Love’. Iron-wrought balconies in pastel hues overlook winding cobbled lanes. Stop to admire views of the Alazari Valley’s vineyards – after all, Georgia claims to be the birth-place of wine.
Georgia offers vistas of immense nature, delicious local wines and modern restaurants. As a result, this Eurasian nation has a lot to offer – take the time to experience Georgia.
Dates on request
Suggested Itinerary by Air
Arrival in Tbilisi
Fly from your UK airport to Tbilisi International Airport. Transfer to the hotel and stay in Tbilisi overnight.
Following breakfast in your hotel, explore Georgia’s capital on a city tour. Founded in the 5th century and lying on the historic Silk Road at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Tbilisi is an industrial, social and cultural centre. Visit the historic neighbourhood of Metekhi, the domes of the sulphuric baths in Abanotubani, the Narikala fortress and the Sioni Cathedral. The Holy Trinity Cathedral towers over the city. At 105.5m tall is among the largest Orthodox churches in the world. Discover the modern side of Tbilisi by wandering down Sharden Street, a narrow pedestrian lane lined with coffee shop, or admiring the glow of the Bridge of Peace. This structure’s graceful shape evokes thoughts of waves and white lights create a mesmerising light display which illuminates the river beneath. Visit Shota Rustaveli Avenue, named for the greatest contributor to Georgian literature, and Freedom Square. Hunt for treasures and souvenirs in the flea markets before returning to your hotel.
Mtskheta – Gori – Uplistsikhe – Bakuriani
After breakfast, transfer to Mtskheta. Mtskheta was capital of the Kingdom of Iberia during the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD and was the site of early Christian activity. Visit Svetitskhovel Cathedral, which is built on the site of Georgia’s first church, and the Jvari Monastery. The monastery stands atop a hill offering breathtaking panoramic views. Below the colours of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers mingle as they converge. Drive on to Gori, best known as Stalin’s birthplace where you will visit the Joseph Stalin State Museum. Continue to Uplistsikhe which translates as ‘the Lord’s fortress’. This ancient settlement, carved into rocks, dates from the Early Iron Age to the Late Middle Ages. Owing to its location at the heart of Iberia, it developed as a key political and religious centre. Finish your day in Bakuriani, a popular ski resort with stunning year round views.
Vardzia – Akhaltsikhe – Bakuriani
After breakfast at your hotel, 1700m above sea level, depart for Vardzia. Vardzia cave town seems to have been lifted out of a fantasy novel. The settlement was built for Queen Tamar to resist the Mongol hordes. The complex extended 13 levels underground and consisted of over 6000 apartments and even a throne room. While it withstood the Mongols, the underground fortress was no match for Mother Nature and was devastated by an earthquake which exposed the secret within the mountain. Depart from the mysticism of Vardzia and view the Khertvisi Fortress en route to the grand Rabati Fortress at Akhaltsikhe. Return to your hotel in Bakuriani.
Borjomi – Ananuri – Gudauri
Following breakfast in your hotel, travel to Borjomi – a town known for its water with supposed healing properties. Taste Georgia’s number one export – mineral water – and visit the beautiful Borjomi Park. Proceed to Ananuri and visit the castle, cradled by the turquoise waters of the river Aragvi. Tour along the historical Georgian Military Road and arrive at the Southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus mountain range. You will overnight 2000m above sea level in Gudauri.
Kazbegi – Gergeti – Tbilisi
Enjoy breakfast before crossing the Jvari Pass. Enjoy spectacular views from the town Kazbegi which crowns a hilltop. Transfer to 4x4s to travel to the Gergeti Holy Trinity Church. The church stands isolated on a mountain peak, with glorious uninterrupted nature surrounding it. After soaking up the views and tranquillity, travel to Tbilisi.
Sighnaghi – Bodbe
After breakfast, travel to the area known for its vineyards – Kakheti region in eastern Georgia. Sighnaghi is dubbed ‘City of Love’ and it’s not surprising. Cobbled streets are overlooked by carved balconies, painted in pastel shades. The 18th century fortifications surround the town and provide a viewing platform for the vineyards of the Alazani valley. Visit the monastery in Bodbe, now functioning as a nunnery and a Georgian pilgrimage site. Drive to the village of Velistsikhe to visit a peasant house with a wine cellar. Enjoy a wine tasting and have dinner in the house’s grounds. Eat shashlik while Georgian songs are performed by musicians in national dress. Return to your hotel in Tbilisi.
After breakfast transfer to Tbilisi airport for your return flight to the UK.
With summers hot and humid, and winters very cold, the best time to visit is perhaps the spring or autumn. Don’t forget to pack your umbrella as rain is to be expected at any time of year.
British Passport holders do not need a visa to enter Georgia, you can stay for up to a year.