Culture and Nature of Georgia Tour

12
Days
Tbilisi, Mtskheta, Telavi, Tsinandali, Sighnaghi, Gori, Borjomi, Akhaltsikhe, Kutaisi etc.

The Culture and Nature of Georgia Tour is the ultimate introduction to magnificent Georgia. Delve into its natural resplendence at such diverse sites as Chalaadi Glacier, Uplistsikhe Cave Town, Batumi Botanical Garden and Martvili and Okatse Canyons, while plunging into the rich historical jewels of Ushguli Village, Rabati Castle, Vardzia Cave Monastery, Khertvisi Fortress and more on this extensive 12-day tour.
The spirit of Georgia is personified through its lively and exotic culture and astonishingly varied natural formations. In every direction, Georgia’s distinctive flavor can be enjoyed: the wine culture of Sighnaghi, Tsinandali and Telavi, the imprint of Stalin in Gori, the beauty engulfing Borjomi and Akhaltsikhe and the minority ethnic groups of Mestia all enhance the beauty that is Georgia.

Arrive in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital. Transfer to the hotel, where check-in begins at noon. Have a rest, followed by a private walking tour of Old Tbilisi. Your tour begins at Metekhi Bridge and includes the following sights:

  • Metekhi Church (13th century), guarded by a statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasali.
  • Cable car ride from Rike Park up to Narikala Fortress (4th century). Nearby stands the 20-meter-high statue of Kartlis Deda, also known as the Mother of Georgia.
  • Old Tbilisi’s narrow winding streets, on which you’ll see the famous Jumah Mosque.
  • Bridge of Lovers, situated near the cooling waters of the 22-meter-high Legvtakhevi Waterfall.
  • Historic Abanotubani District, where you’ll pass by the famous 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, a cartoonish landmark next to the city’s famous Reza Gabriadze Puppet Theater.
  • Anchiskhati Basilica Church (6th century), the oldest house of worship in Tbilisi.
  • Bridge of Peace, which spans the Kura River into Rike Park.
Overnight at the hotel in Tbilisi.
Tour duration: 3-4 hours
Meals provided: none

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

  • Jvari Orthodox Monastery (6th century), a remnant of the early Georgian church built at the top of a hill. The church amazes its visitors with simple yet beautiful facades.
  • Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (11th century), where one of the holiest items of the orthodox Christian world - the seamless robe, or chiton, worn by Jesus Christ at crucifixion - is believed to be buried. Admire its stunning architecture and frescoes as you learn the legends connected with the church.
  • Samtavro Monastery (11th century), former center of the Georgian Orthodox Church and burial site of Queen Nana and King Mirian. The complex attracts many religious pilgrims and includes several churches, bell towers, frescoes and an active convent.
  • Take a walk on the lovely streets of Mtskheta to admire the homes and balconies, or shop for Georgia’s famous national sweet, churchkhela.
Drive west (13km, 20min) to visit Shio Mgvime Monastery (6th century), an active hermitage that attracts many religious pilgrims. Enjoy the magnificent view as you explore the cave church, bell tower and chapels.
Continue to Mukhrani Region (33km, 40min), stopping for wine tasting, lunch and exploration at Chateau Mukhrani Winery. The winery is a castle with wine cellars and gardens belonging to the royal family of 19th century statesman Ivane Mukhranbatoni.
Afterward, drive back to Tbilisi. Overnight at the hotel in Tbilisi.
Meals provided: breakfast, lunch and wine tasting
In the morning, drive from Tbilisi to Georgia’s wine country, Kakheti Region, via Gombori Pass (95km, 1hr 30min).
On the way, visit Akhali Shuamta Monastery Complex (5th-16th centuries), site of two monasteries reflecting distinct architectural styles.
Continue driving to Telavi through picturesque rivers and valleys. Take a short 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, a historical complex 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 the Shumi Georgian Winery and Museum, an ancient winery that boasts of a unique collection of Georgian and European varieties. All wines are made according to traditional winemaking methods in centuries-old qvevri vessels.
Continue to Sighnaghi, a small Silk Road town in east Kakheti surrounded by 23 towers and defensive walls and known locally as The City of Love.
In Sighnaghi, explore Bodbe Monastery Complex (9th century). Also known as St. George’s Monastery, it’s one of Georgia’s most significant religious sites, for St. Nino, credited with converting Georgia to Christianity in the 4th century, is believed to be buried here.
Return to Tbilisi (110km, 1hr 40min). Overnight at the hotel in Tbilisi.
Meals provided: breakfast, lunch and wine tasting
After breakfast drive to Gori (90km, 1hr 30min), a town built by King David the Builder in 1089-1125 and placed on the map by Joseph Stalin, who was born here in 1920. Learn more about the Soviet leader at the Stalin Museum, which includes the house in which Stalin was born, while enjoying the panoramic view of Gori.
Continue your tour to Uplistsikhe Cave Town (60km, 1hr) to explore a cave fortress built entirely from rock and inhabited from the 1st millennium BC. Trace the various civilizations that inhabited the town as you climb through homes, churches and even a secret tunnel.
Drive to Borjomi (90km, 1hr 30min). Upon arrival, begin your private tour in Borjomi Central Park, where you can taste the famous “BORJOMI” mineral water from the spring itself. Ride the cable cars and enjoy the fresh air of the Borjomi forest.
Drive to Akhaltsikhe (50km, 45min). Overnight at the hotel in Akhaltsikhe.
Meals provided: breakfast
In the morning, begin with an excursion to Rabati Castle (dates vary). Climb the walls and watchtowers of the old stone fortress, which stands on a hill along the shore of the Potskhovi River, and tour the castle quarters, houses of worship and gardens.
Visit the Samtskhe-Javakheti History Museum, where informative exhibits will walk you through Georgian history from the BC era up to the 19th century.
Drive to Vardzia (60km, 1hr), stopping along the way at Khertvisi Fortress (10th-13th centuries), a Silk Road post and one of the oldest citadels in Georgia.
Arrive at Vardzia Cave to wander through the tunnels, stairwells, chambers and temple of the largest cave city in Georgia. Erected in the 12th century by King George III and Queen Tamar, this cave monastery resembles a fantasy kingdom from Lord of the Rings.
Drive to Kutaisi (220km, 3hrs 40min). Overnight at the hotel in Kutaisi.
Meals provided: breakfast
In the morning, your driver and guide will meet you at the hotel to begin your tour.
Drive to Martvili Canyon (48km, 55min) to take a boat ride through its beautiful rock crevices, which tower up to 40 meters. Walk through the canyon to discover waterfalls, bridges and observation areas.
Drive to nearby Martvili Monastery (7th century). Also known as Chkondidi Monastery, its distinctive windows and colorful murals speak of its rich history.
Depart Martvilli and drive to Okatse Canyon (25km, 30min). Admire its stretch of ravines, up to 100 meters deep, as you walk an 800-meter-long suspension bridge to reach an observation deck dangling above the canyon depths.
Head for Prometheus Cave (40km, 50min) in Tskaltubo. Also called Kumistavi Cave, it’s the largest cave in Georgia with six caverns open for exploration. Walk through a 1400-meter-long tunnel, enjoying the stalactite formations accentuated by colored lights and music.
Drive back to Kutaisi (20km, 30min). Overnight at the hotel in Kutaisi.
Meals provided: breakfast, picnic lunch
Note: The canyons and cave are closed to visitors on Mondays.

Meet your driver and mountain guide in Kutaisi to start your three-day tour in Svaneti. Depart Kutaisi in the morning and drive to Ushguli Village (170km, 4hrs 30min). Explore the mysterious and ethnically unique Upper Svaneti Region as you drive a scenic mountain road.
Take an off-road to Zagari Pass (2620 meters), passing through the wild nature of the High Caucasus in a region nicknamed the “Land of a Thousand Towers”. Enjoy spectacular views and a picnic lunch along the way.
Arrive to Ushguli (2200 meters), one of the most remote settlements in Georgia. Ushguli highlights include:

  • Exploration of the village and Ushguli Architectural Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with medieval stone houses, turrets, churches, castles and watchtowers from the 10th- 14th centuries.
  • Visit to Lamaria Church (12th century) to admire its wall frescoes and learn its fascinating history.
  • Tour of the Ushguli Ethnographic Museum to experience life as a rustic medieval villager.
Continue driving to Mestia (50km, 2hrs), where you’ll enjoy a delicious local dinner upon arrival. Overnight at the guesthouse in Mestia.
Meals provided: breakfast, boxed lunch, dinner

Wake up early to watch the sun rise above Mount Ushba and Mount Laila. After breakfast, take a guided tour of the following:

  • Nesguni Church (9th century), an unassuming chapel with intricate wood carvings.
  • St. Nicholas Church, a newly built chapel flanked by a postcard-worthy background.
  • Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography, where you can see an original Svan house (machubi), tower (koshki), and a collection of regional artifacts.
Hike to Chalaadi Glacier (1850 meters), from which you’ll have a panoramic view of Mestia. After a short rest at the glacier, hike back down to Mestia to further explore its ruins and get a taste of village life. Overnight at the guesthouse in Mestia.
Meals provided: breakfast, boxed lunch, dinner
Depart Mestia and drive to Zugdidi (140km, 3hrs). On the way, view Enguri Dam, the world’s second-largest concrete dam which runs along the border of Georgia and Abkhazia.
Arrive in Zugdidi and visit Dadiani Palace (19th century), which once belonged to the prominent Dadiani family, who were known for their close ties to Napoleon Bonaparte. The palace now doubles as a historical museum (closed Mondays).
Transfer to Batumi (130km, 2hrs 30min), stopping on the way at Petra Fortress (6th century). Built by Justinian I, it offers a great view of the Black Sea.
Arrive in Batumi and check in to the hotel. Free time to rest or go for a stroll in the city. Overnight at the hotel in Batumi.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, your driver and guide will meet you at the hotel to begin your Batumi city tour to the following sights:

  • Batumi Botanical Garden, one of the largest botanic gardens in the Caucasus from which you’ll have an amazing view of the Black Sea.
  • Gonio Fortress, the oldest fortress in Georgia (1st century AD) which spans 4.5 hectares and two millennia of buried history.
  • Europe Square with its famous Medea Statue and nearby Italian Piazza Square.
  • Batumi Boulevard, including a dancing fountain and the famous Ali and Nino Monument.
  • Seaside Miracle Park, a delightful promenade featuring the Panoramic Wheel, Chacha Tower, Alphabetic Tower, Batumi Lighthouse and Nurigeli Lake.
  • Church of St. Nicolas (1871), one of Batumi’s key historical monuments built by the Greek community.
  • Holy Mother Virgins Nativity Cathedral (1897), a gothic-style church with large stained-glass windows.
  • Argo Cable Car, which you’ll ride up to the city’s peak to enjoy a panoramic view of the area.
Return to the hotel or walk the shores of the Black Sea and explore the other side of Batumi’s coast, a modern area of chic glass buildings. Overnight at the hotel in Batumi.
Tour duration: 5-6 hours
Meals provided: breakfast
Catch an early morning train to the capital, departing from Batumi at 07:55 and arriving in Tbilisi at 12:50 (390 km). You’ll be met at the train station for transfer to the hotel, followed by a free afternoon in the capital. Overnight at the hotel in Tbilisi.
Meals provided: breakfast
Free morning to pack and prepare for your return flight home. Check out from the hotel by noon. Transfer to Tbilisi International Airport. End of Culture and Nature of Georgia Tour.
Meals provided: breakfast
  • Private guide on days 1-10;
  • Entrance fees to the sights as per itinerary, including cable car rides;
  • Transportation throughout the tour;
  • Train ticket from Batumi to Tbilisi;
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room at hotel (9 nights, with breakfast) and guesthouse (2 nights, with breakfast);
  • Bottled mineral water (0.5 liter per person per day);
  • Meals – lunch and wine tasting on days 2 and 3; boxed lunch on days 6,7 and 8; dinner on days 7 and 8.
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour;
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Lunches and dinners not specified in the itinerary;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • All other charges and services not mentioned under Inclusions;
  • Tips are not included but are appreciated.

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