Silk Road in the Caucasus Tour

Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan

Silk Road in the Caucasus Tour is an in-depth plunge into the mysteries of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Join us for 16 days of varied activities including winetasting at Shumi Winery, shopping at mountain village Lahic, stained glass workshops in Sheki, exploration of Rabati Castle and Vardzia Cave and guided tours of multiple monasteries and caravanserais.
Vestiges of the Silk Road era are scattered throughout Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, each of which lays claim to dazzling houses of worship standing guard over prized relics and to awe-inspiring landscapes that refuse to be captured through mere photos and descriptive words. A tour of the Caucasus will delightfully engage all of your senses, just as it has done since Silk Road times.

Arrive in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital. Transfer to the hotel, where check-in begins at noon. Your guide and driver will pick you up to begin your private city tour to the following:

  • Nizami Ganjavi Avenue, where you’ll see Nizami Ganjavi Monument, dedicated to the renowned Persian poet, before walking through Fountain Square and Rasulzade Street.
  • Icheri Sheher, Baku’s ancient city center which houses several historical monuments:
    • Maiden Tower (date unconfirmed), an ancient fortress believed to have once been a fire temple. It now serves as a city symbol and affords a great view of Baku from the top.
    • Palace of the Shirvanshahs (15th century), a UNESCO ensemble and Azerbaijan’s finest example of medieval architecture.
    • Multani Caravanserai (15th century), built as a haven for Indian merchants and fire worshipers.
    • Market Square (17th century), a plaza filled with shops selling carpets, souvenirs and antiques.
  • Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum, holding the largest collection of Azerbaijani carpets in the world.
  • Martyrs’ Lane, a memorial to Azerbaijanis who have perished in fighting which overlooks the Caspian Sea and Flame Towers.
Return to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Baku.
Meals provided: none

In the morning, drive to Gobustan National Park (60km, 1hr), located on the west bank of the Caspian Sea.

  • Wander through Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to 10000 BC. Discover 6000 petroglyphs depicting ritual dances, warriors, animals and more.
  • Explore the Petroglyph Museum for an introduction to the park’s cultural and ecological history.
  • Drive (10km, 15min) to the Mud Volcanoes, where underground gases bubble up from the earth in a mixture of mud and methane.
Drive (80km, 1hr 15min) to Yanar Dag (Burning Mountain), a natural gas fire which has been burning for thousands of years.
Continue to Ateshgah Fire Temple (dates vary), a historic center of Zoroastrian worship.
Return to the capital (20km, 30min). Overnight at the hotel in Baku.
Meals provided: breakfast

Early in the morning, transfer to the airport for a morning flight to Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (1hr 30min, 405km). Upon arrival, meet your local guide and driver for a sightseeing tour to the following:

  • Prophet Noah’s Tomb (dates vary), considered one of Nakhchivan’s holiest sites today.
  • Momine Khatun Mausoleum (12th century), the proud symbol of Nakhchivan, also called Atabay Dome, which is known for its intricate red-brick exterior and Quranic inscriptions.
  • Nakhchivan Khan’s Palace (18th century), former residence of the ruler Rahim Khan which now houses the Khan Palace State History-Architecture Museum.
  • Yusif Ibn Kuseyir Mausoleum (12th century), an octagonal brick structure chiseled with geometric shapes and topped with a rare pyramid-shaped roof.
  • Drive to Ashabi-Kahf Cave (20km, 20min), a sacred natural cave which draws thousands of pilgrims each year to its cavern and nearby shrines.
  • Duzdag Salt Mine Cave, a network of tunnels now used as treatment facilities for respiratory illnesses. Explore this former salt mine and learn about the medicinal benefits imparted by its natural properties.
Drive to Nakhchivan International Airport to catch an evening flight back to Baku. Upon arrival, a driver will take you to your hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Baku.
Meals provided: breakfast

Travel with your guide and driver to Shamakhi (180km, 2hrs 30min). On the way, visit Diri Baba Mausoleum (15th century), a two-story monument carved into rock as a unique display of Shirvan-Absheron architecture.
Continue driving to ancient Shamakhi, former seat of the Shirvanshah Empire, to visit:

  • Juma Mosque (8th century), the oldest mosque in Azerbaijan whose architecture is unparalleled in the country.
  • Yeddi Gumbaz Mausoleum (19th century), burial site of the last khan of Shamakhi.
Drive through the breathtaking Girdimanchay River Valley to the alpine village of Lahic (60km, 1hr 15min), situated 2000 meters above sea level. Explore this ancient village filled with traditional workshops and unique homes, shopping for souvenirs as local artisans demonstrate their techniques.
Tour the Lahic History Museum to learn about the lifestyle of Azerbaijan’s people throughout the centuries.
Drive to Sheki (160km, 2hrs 30min). Overnight at the hotel in Sheki.
Meals provided: breakfast

After breakfast, begin your tour of Sheki’s sites:

  • Sheki Khans’ Palace (18th century) – UNESCO Site built without glue or nails and famous for its stained glass and miniature paintings.
  • Sheki Historical Museum – Small but diverse collection of relics and paintings from the region.
  • Shebeki Workshop – Learn the secret of creating shebeki stained-glass windows through a colorful demonstration.
  • Teze Bazaar - Authentic market where you can shop for snacks or local products.
  • Sheki Caravanserai (18th century) – Historical complex which once housed traveling merchants.
  • Gelersen-Gerersen Fortress (Come-and-See Fortress, 5th century) – Once-impenetrable citadel whose history is closely linked with the city.
  • Kish Village –Ancient settlement which includes the Church of Kish, the first Albanian church in the Caucasus dating back to the 1st century AD.
Return to Baku (310km, 4hrs 20min). Overnight at the hotel in Baku.
Meals provided: breakfast

Take a morning flight to Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital. Upon arrival, our driver will transfer you to the hotel, where check-in begins at noon. Enjoy a private city tour to the following:

  • Holy Trinity Cathedral, one of the largest houses of worship in the world.
  • Drive to Tbilisi’s modern quarter, passing the Parliament Building on Rustaveli Avenue before reaching Freedom Square.
  • Metekhi Church (13th century), guarded by a statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasali.
  • Bridge of Peace, which leads to the popular Rike Park.
  • Cable car ride to Narikala Fortress (4th century), Georgia’s oldest citadel and the best spot for a panoramic view of the city. Nearby stands the 20-meter-high statue of Kartlis Deda, Mother of Georgia.
  • Old Tbilisi, the city’s largest district, including the famous Jumah Mosque.
  • Bridge of Lovers, found near the cooling waters of the 22-meter-high Legvtakhevi Waterfall.
  • Historic Abanotubani District, including the Tbilisi Sulfur Baths.
  • Jan Shardeni Street (Jean Chardin), lined with cozy coffee shops, wine tasting bars and souvenir stores.
  • Sioni Cathedral (7th century), with a jaw-dropping interior of gold and turquoise frescoes.
  • Leaning Clock Tower of Tbilisi, next to the famous Reza Gabriadze Puppet Theater.
  • Anchiskhati Basilica Church (6th century), the oldest house of worship in Tbilisi.
Return to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Tbilisi.
Meals provided: breakfast

After breakfast, drive to Mtskheta (25km, 30min), ancient capital of Iberia and a holy pilgrimage site for most Georgians, to explore two UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

  • Jvari Orthodox Monastery (6th century), a unique remnant of the early Georgian church which amazes visitors with simple yet beautiful facades.
  • Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (11th century), where one of the holiest items of the orthodox Christian world, the robe worn by Jesus Christ at crucifixion, is believed to be buried. Admire its architecture and frescoes as you learn the legends connected with the church.
Continue to Uplistsikhe Cave Town (15km, 20min), built entirely from rock and inhabited from the 1st millennium BC. Trace the peoples that occupied the town as you explore homes, churches and a secret tunnel.
Drive to Borjomi (95km, 1hr 30 min). Visit Borjomi Central Park to taste the famous “BORJOMI” mineral water from the spring itself, ride the cable cars and wander the small forest.
Overnight at the hotel in Borjomi.
Meals provided: breakfast
After breakfast, drive to Akhaltsikhe (55km, 45min) for an excursion to Rabati Castle (dates vary). Climb the stone fortress, which stands near the Potskhovi River, to tour living quarters, houses of worship and gardens.
Visit Samtskhe-Javakheti History Museum, whose exhibits span Georgian history from the BC era to the 19th century.
As you drive to Vardzia (60km, 1hr), stop at Khertvisi Fortress (10th-13th centuries), a Silk Road post and one of Georgia’s oldest citadels.
Arrive at Vardzia Cave to wander the tunnels, stairwells, chambers and temple of the largest cave city in Georgia. Erected in the 12th century, this monastery resembles a fantasy kingdom from Lord of the Rings.
Drive to Tbilisi (240km, 3hrs 30min). Overnight at the hotel in Tbilisi. Meals provided: breakfast
In the morning, drive to Georgia’s wine country, Kakheti Region, via Gombori Pass (95km, 1hr 30min).
On the way, visit Akhali Shuamta Monastery Complex (5th and 16th centuries), site of two monasteries reflecting distinct architectural styles.
Drive to Telavi through picturesque rivers and valleys. Take a walking tour through Telavi’s charming streets to see the 900-year-old Giant Plane Tree and a monument of the 18th-century King Irakli II.
Drive to Tsinandali to tour Tsinandali Estate, which includes a garden and the House Museum of Prince Alexander Chavchavadze, the 19th-century poet and stateman who developed the manor.
Enjoy lunch and wine tasting at Shumi Georgian Winery and Museum, an ancient winery with a unique collection of wines that are made according to traditional methods in centuries-old qvevri vessels.
Continue to Sighnaghi, a Silk Road outpost in east Kakheti known as The City of Love.
Explore Bodbe Monastery Complex (9th century), one of Georgia’s most acclaimed religious sites and purported resting place of St. Nino, who is credited with converting Georgia to Christianity in the 4th century.
Return to Tbilisi (110km, 1hr 40min). Overnight at the hotel in Tbilisi.
Meals provided: breakfast, lunch, wine tasting

Transfer to the airport for a morning flight to Yerevan, capital of Armenia. Upon arrival, our driver will drop you off at the hotel, where check-in begins at noon. After a rest, take a private city tour to the following sights:

  • Matenadaran, a.k.a the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, which holds nearly half of the world’s historic Armenian manuscripts, including original texts and early 5th-6th century writings.
  • Holy Mother of God Katoghike Church (13th century), one of the city’s oldest churches which is famous for its engravings and its disappearance from the public eye on two occasions.
  • Republic Square, a famous plaza in the heart of Yerevan filled with fountains and historic buildings.
  • Blue Mosque (18th century), Armenia’s only functioning mosque known for its Iranian-era architecture.
  • Megarian Carpet Museum, where you can observe the production of rugs and see colorful carpets from each region of Armenia.
Transfer back to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
Meals provided: breakfast

After breakfast, depart Yerevan for a scenic drive to Khor-Virap in southeast Armenia (45km, 50min).

  • Discover Khor-Virap Monastery (dates vary), located near Mt. Ararat in Artashat (Artaxata), ancient capital of Armenia. The site includes a monastery, chapel, monks’ cells and an old dungeon.
Drive to Noravank (75km, 1hr 20min).
  • Explore nearby Areni Cave, where the world’s oldest shoe and winery were discovered.
  • Tour Areni Winery, one of Armenia’s most popular wineries, to taste wines distilled from apricots, grapes and pomegranates.
  • Visit Noravank Monastery (13th century), located on a precipice near Zangezur Canyon. The complex includes St. Karapet Cathedral, St. Gregory and St. Astvatsatsin Sepulchers and cross-stone khachkars.
Continue to Jermuk (65km, 1hr), a mountain town famed for its mineral water and hot springs. Overnight at the hotel in Jermuk.
Meals provided: breakfast, wine tasting
After breakfast, visit Jermuk Waterfall, a captivating natural cascade swirling in legend.
Drive to Noratus via Selim Caravanserai (14th century), a major stop on the Armenian Silk Road. Located 2400 meters above sea level at Selim Pass, it provides a beautiful view of the valley.
Arrive in Noratus Historical Village in Gegharkunik Province (12km, 15min) to see Noratus Cemetery, a graveyard filled with thousands of cross stones of various styles and eras.
Drive to Hayravank Monastery (9th-12th centuries), a secluded hermitage on the shore of Sevan Lake.
Continue to Sevanavank Monastery (9th century). Climb hundreds of stairs on this island-turned-peninsula to enjoy the view of Lake Sevan and explore Arakelots and Astvatsatsin Churches.
Descend to Sevan Lake, known as the Blue Eye of Armenia and famous for its Ishkhan trout, a delicacy formerly served to kings.
End the day with a drive to Dilijan (40km, 40min). Overnight at the hotel in Dilijan.
Meals provided: breakfast

After breakfast, visit Haghartsin Monastery (10th-13th centuries) to tour its three churches and refectory.
Drive (20km, 30min) to Goshavank Monastery Complex (12th -13th centuries), formerly a major university and library located in the picturesque village of Gosh. Tour its churches and famous cross-stone khachkars.
Continue to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites near Alaverdi (90km, 2hrs):

  • Sanahin Monastery Complex (10th century), former center of the Kyurikians Kingdom. Explore its university, library, scriptorium, tombs and three churches.
  • Haghpat Monastery (10th century), former science center which sits among deep ravines and holds a rich collection of manuscripts. The site includes churches, a dining hall, scriptorium, bell tower and tombs.
Drive to Gyumri (130km, 3hrs), Armenia’s cultural capital and second largest city. Overnight at the hotel in Gyumri.
Meals provided: breakfast
In the morning, visit Gyumri’s central Vartanants Square and Holy Saviour’s Church (19th century), which survived two major earthquakes.
Drive to Saghmosavan (100km, 1hr 40min) to tour Saghmosavank Monastery (13th century), known for its manuscript collection and dazzling view of Kasagh River Canyon.
Visit the Armenian Alphabet Monument (2005), larger-than-life recreations of local letters created to celebrate the 1600th anniversary of the Armenian alphabet.
Drive (22km, 45min) to Amberd Fortress (dates vary), located 2300 meters above sea level on Mt. Aragats, Armenia’s highest peak. Tour the castle’s bath house, robust walls and 11th-century Vahramashen Church.
Continue to Oshakan (30km, 40min). Visit Saint Mesrop Mashtots Church (dates vary), a popular pilgrimage destination built to mark the grave of Mesrop Mashtots, father of the Armenian alphabet.
Drive to Yerevan. Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, drive to the city of Vagharshapat, commonly known as Etchmiadzin (20km, 30min). Upon arrival, discover the following:

  • Zvartnots Cathedral (643AD), a three-tiered pyramidal church with beautiful carvings and perfect form.
  • Zvartnots Historical-Cultural Museum-Reserve, which holds local artifacts and a replica of the original Zvartnots Cathedral.
  • Saint Hripsime Church (7th century), one of the oldest chapels in Armenia which has served as a blueprint for numerous other churches in the country.
  • Shoghakat Church (17th century), a domed medieval chapel with cross-stone khachkars.
  • Saint Gayane Church (7th century), whose original design has been preserved to this day.
  • Etchmiadzin Cathedral (301AD), the world’s first official church and current center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Participate in Holy Mass, view the architecture and frescoes and tour a small museum.
Return to Yerevan (20km, 30min). Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
Meals provided: breakfast
Free morning for packing or independent exploration of Yerevan. Check out of the hotel by noon and transfer to Zvartnots International Airport for your departure flight. End of Silk Road in the Caucasus Tour.
Meals provided: breakfast
  • Round-trip airport transfers;
  • Private local guide;
  • Entrance fees to the sights as per itinerary;
  • Transportation throughout the tour;
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room at hotel (15 nights, with breakfast);
  • Bottled mineral water (1 liter per person per day);
  • Lunch on day 9;
  • Wine tasting on days 9 and 11;
  • Round-trip, economy class flight tickets between Baku and Nakhchivan.
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour;
  • Flight tickets from Baku to Tbilisi and Tbilisi to Yerevan;
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Lunches and dinners;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • All other charges and services not mentioned under Inclusions;
  • Tips are not included but are appreciated.

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