In just over a decade, Georgia has gone from being a backpacker’s secret to going mainstream. And for good reason: this traveler’s dream has everything. From picturesque cities to breathtaking landscapes, Georgia has something for everyone.
First, start by getting there. Flights from the United States to Tbilisi leave daily, though you’ll probably have to have a layover somewhere, such as Moscow. From there, it’s just a short hop (comparatively speaking), and you’ll be sitting in a café with a glass of tarragon soda and a khachapuri in no time at all. Speaking of Tbilisi, it is quickly turning into the most happening city in the Southern Caucuses region. With its hipster vibe, techno scene, and fascinating history, it is the place to be.
While we’re on the topic of history, one of the best museums in that part of the world is the Georgian National Museum. Unlike many such institutions that only highlight the glorious parts of the country, the Georgian equivalent is all about telling it like it is, and it does so in a wonderfully diverse fashion. The basement is all about architectural treasury, showcasing gold and ancient artifacts from the region. The top floor is all about Soviet history and is rich with items from that era, particularly propaganda. Among the most surprising finds are the hominid skulls on the ground floor, which are essentially rewriting the story of humanity.
No visit to Tbilisi is complete without a gastronomical tour, even an informal one. The city is chock full of small cafés where you can sample some traditional foods like khinkali dumplings. Georgian baked goods like the aforementioned khachapuri are something exceptional that are not to be missed unless you’re being careful about your waistline. Because food is so important in Georgian culture, it is a good idea to indulge in a tour in order to not miss out on any of the delectable delights.
But it isn’t all about the capital city now is it? The landscapes in Georgia are extraordinarily lush and dotted with monasteries, fortresses, and churches. One monastery is particularly unique: Vardzia. This amazing cave city once housed over two thousand monks, twenty-five wine cellars, and thirteen churches. Unfortunately, much of it was destroyed due to a nasty earthquake in the thirteenth century, but it was sufficiently repaired for it to become a private residence for many monks today.
If hiking is more your thing, take a day trip to Svaneti and explore the many small villages and beautiful mountain trails. This haven for outdoor lovers features a variety of flowered meadows which provide a superb backdrop for wandering around. Interestingly enough, this region was never conquered and instead boasts a number of koshkebi (defensive stone tower) that was designed to house the nearby villagers in times of difficulty. About 175 of them still dot the region today.
Batumi also makes a great place to visit if you are a fan of uniquely Georgian nightlife. This city, the second-largest in Georgia, is set among stunningly snowcapped mountains and chilling mist-wrapped hills. Because it is right on the Black Sea, the city is highly popular in the summer, though spring is also a nice time to visit. Along with its many clubs and music venues, Batumi is undergoing a significant tourism boom, as is shown by the new hotels and tower blocks being built along the waterfront. Though not the nicest sight to see at the moment, the new builds will help the local economy. Some sites to note are the Batumi botanical gardens, the Ali and Nino sculpture, and the Dancing Fountains.