Caucasus UNESCO Sites Tour

Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia

Caucasus UNESCO Sites Tour is an unbeatable journey through three nations and more than a dozen landmarks officially inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List. Armenia’s Garni Temple and Etchmiadzin Cathedral, Georgia’s Gelati Monastery and Ushguli Architectural Complex and Azerbaijan’s Sheki Khans’ Palace and Gobustan Petroglyphs combine to create a colorful montage of history resurrected.
Vivacious, wine-loving Georgia, hospitable Azerbaijan and pious, friendly Armenia form the backbone of Eurasia’s Caucasus Mountains. Each land is permeated with eccentric religious relics, medieval masterpieces and jaw-dropping landscapes that will delight the eye and refresh your soul.

Arrive in Yerevan, capital of Armenia. Our driver will meet you for transfer to the hotel, where check-in begins at noon. Begin your private 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.
  • Cascade Complex, whose 500 steps serve as a modern city symbol and house the Cafesjian Center for the Arts.
  • Republic Square and Vernisaj Market, the largest souvenir bazaar in Yerevan.
  • Holy Mother of God Katoghike Church (13th century), one of the city’s oldest churches which is famous for the historic engravings on its walls and for its mysterious disappearance from the public eye on two occasions.
  • Megerian Carpet Museum, where you can observe the production of rugs firsthand and see colorful carpets from each region of Armenia.
Transfer back to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Yerevan.
Meals provided: none

In the morning, your guide and driver will pick you up at the hotel. Drive to Vagharshapat, commonly known as Etchmiadzin (20km, 30min), where Etchmiadzin Cathedral and Zvartnots Archaeological Complex were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000. Upon arrival, discover the following sights:

  • 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.
  • 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

In the morning, meet your guide and driver. Drive to Garni in Kotayk Province (30km, 45min), to tour:

  • Garni Temple (1st century AD), ancient Temple of the Sun and UNESCO World Heritage Site which strongly mirrors Greco-Roman architecture.
  • Garni Fortress (3rd-2nd centuries BC), the summer residence of Armenian kings which overlooks the Azat River from a height of 300 meters.
Depart Garni and drive to Geghard (10km, 20min). Explore Geghard Monastery (4th century), also called Ayrivank Monastery. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is famous for its bas-reliefs and stunning scenery. Explore its tunnels and see the spear believed to have pierced Christ's body.
Drive to Dilijan (135km, 2hrs 20min). Visit Haghartsin Monastery (10th-13th centuries), hidden in a wooded corner of paradise, to tour its three churches and refectory. Overnight at the hotel in Dilijan.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, meet your guide and driver for a drive to Alaverdi (95km, 1hr 45min).
Stop in Lori Region at Odzun Monastery and Church (6th century), famed for its arches and colorful frescoes.
Cross a 12th-century bridge on your way to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites near Alaverdi:

  • 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 the Armenia/Georgia border. Cross the border and transfer to Tbilisi, capital of Georgia. Overnight at the hotel in Tbilisi.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, your guide and driver will meet you at the hotel for a private tour of Tbilisi to the following:

  • Holy Trinity Cathedral (Sameba Church) one of the largest houses of worship in the world.
  • 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), an area filled 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.
Transfer back to the hotel or continue exploring Old Tbilisi on your own. Overnight at the hotel in Tbilisi.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, your guide and driver will meet you at your hotel. Drive to Mtskheta (25km, 30min) to explore two UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

  • Jvari Orthodox Monastery (6th century), a unique remnant of the early Georgian church, it overlooks the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi Rivers and 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 the stunning architecture and frescoes as you learn various 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.
Transfer to Kutaisi (170km, 2hrs 30min). Tour Gelati Monastery (12th century), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the center of medieval Georgia’s spiritual and scientific life. See the tombs of Georgian kings, three churches and a bell tower. Overnight at the hotel in Kutaisi.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, visit Bagrati Cathedral (11th century), defined by medieval architecture and detailed paintings.
Drive (50km, 1hr) to Martvili Canyon (closed Mondays). Travel by boat through its beautiful ravines, which tower up to 40 meters. Walk through the canyon to discover waterfalls, bridges and observation decks. Head for Mestia (210km, 4hrs) to visit:

  • Nesguni Church (9th century), an unassuming chapel with intricate wood carvings.
  • Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography, including an original Svan house (machubi), tower (koshki), and a collection of regional artifacts.
Overnight at the hotel in Mestia.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, drive to Ushguli Village (50km), one of the most remote settlements in Georgia (2200 meters). Located in the ethnically unique Upper Svaneti Region, Ushguli highlights include:

  • Exploration of the village and Ushguli Architectural Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with stone houses, turrets, churches and castles from the 10th-14th centuries.
  • Visit to Lamaria Church (12th century) to admire its wall frescoes and learn its history.
  • Tour of Ushguli Ethnographic Museum to experience life as a rustic medieval villager.
Return to Mestia. Overnight at the hotel in Mestia.
Meals provided: breakfast
Depart Mestia and drive to Zugdidi (140km, 3hrs). On the way, view Enguri Dam, the world’s second-largest concrete dam.
Arrive in Zugdidi and visit Dadiani Palace (19th century), which once belonged to the prominent Dadiani family and now serves as a historical museum (closed Mondays).
Catch a late afternoon train to Tbilisi (340 km). Overnight at the hotel in Tbilisi.
Meals provided: breakfast

Free time in the morning before transfer to the airport for a flight to Baku. Arrive in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital. After transfer to the hotel, begin your private city tour to the following:

  • Icheri Sheher, Baku’s ancient city center which houses several historical monuments:
    • Maiden Tower (date unconfirmed), ancient fortress and UNESCO World Heritage Site believed to have once been a fire temple. It is now a city symbol and affords a great view of Baku from the top.
    • Palace of the Shirvanshahs (15th century), a UNESCO World Heritage Site 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.
Transfer back to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Baku.
Meals provided: breakfast

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.
On the return trip to Baku, visit Bibi Heybat Mosque (dates vary) to see a central piece of Azerbaijani architecture, the tomb of the prophet Muhammad’s descendent Ukeyma Khanum.
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

In the morning, drive 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 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 Lahic History Museum to learn about the lifestyle of Azerbaijan’s people throughout the centuries.
Continue 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 World Heritage 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
Free morning. Check out of the hotel by noon and transfer to Heydar Aliyev International Airport for your departure flight. End of Caucasus UNESCO Sites Tour.
Meals provided: breakfast
  • Round-trip airport transfers;
  • Private local guides;
  • Entrance fees to the sights as per itinerary;
  • Transportation throughout the tour;
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room at hotel (13 nights, with breakfast);
  • Bottled mineral water (1 liter per person per day);
  • One-way train ticket from Zugdidi to Tbilisi;
  • One-way economy class flight ticket from Tbilisi to Baku.
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour;
  • 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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