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Georgia

Georgia Hot Destination 2020

Little-visited with a fledgling tourist industry, Georgia is a small country that makes a surprisingly big impression.

Georgia lies at the intersection of Europe and Asia, bordered by Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and the Black Sea.

The gateway is through its capital city Tbilisi, layered in history and now buzzing with cool cafes and wine bars. From here, discover a land largely untouched by tourism, where caves reveal mysterious monasteries and dramatic, forested mountains are topped with snowy, mist-swirled peaks.

The Lowdown

  • Getting there

    You can fly direct to Tbilisi in under 5 hours, but we recommend Turkish Airlines via Istanbul.

  • When to go

    April to October are considered the best months. Visit in September and October for the wine harvest in areas such as Kakheti.

  • Getting around

    There are local minibuses known as Marshrutkas but we recommend a chauffeur-driven car plus a private guide for sightseeing.

  • Top tip

    If you are interested in food then you will appreciate the tasting menu at Culinarium, a Tbilisi restaurant run by Tekuna, Georgia’s most well-known chef.

OLD AND NEW TBILISI

Your introduction to Georgia will start in Tbilisi – a gorgeous melting pot of history, bordered by the River Mtkvari and surrounded by craggy mountains. Explore the atmospheric Old Town where Soviet-style buildings sit cheek by jowl with Moorish structures and 13th century churches.

A flurry of stylish new hotel openings adds another reason to visit this charm-laden city and we recommend a few days to wander Tbilisi’s labyrinth-like streets, stopping for bowls of dumplings or a glass of Georgian wine. For an overview, take a ride on the cable car which gives sweeping views over Tbilisi including Narikala – an ancient fortress that dominates the Old Town skyline.

Tsminda Sameba - Holy Trinity Church Near Village Of Gergeti In Georgia.

    Monasteries and Wine

    Leaving the city lights behind, there are adventures to be had around the mountains and rivers of Georgia.
    But first – wine! Not many people know that Georgia was the birthplace of wine and at famed wine estate Tsinandali the vines have been cultivated for centuries – and you can taste a variety of wines including Saperavi and Rkatsiteli.

    The fertile plains of the central Kartli province reveal Uplistsikhe – an ancient rock-hewn town and monastery embedded in a network of caves. It has religious significance dating as far back as 645 AD, housing Kartlis, Arabs and Christian kings along the way and at one point 20,000 people lived here. Marvel at this archaeological feat and soak up the views that stretch for hundreds of miles.

    Mountain Welcome

    The ever-present Caucasus Mountains that run from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea deserve further explorations. You can reach them by travelling along the Georgian Military Highway – one of the Caucasus’ most spectacular journeys, on a road that snakes through hilltops reaching a high of 2,000 metres.

    You’ll discover a scenery not unlike the Himalayas, and this snow-capped panorama will accompany you all the way to Stepantsminda. Here mountain adventures await. Hike to picturesque churches that are cradled in the grasp of icy mountains or take a steep climb to the Chaukhi Massif which will give you an awe-inspiring vista of its seven peaks. The mountains are the place to experience typical Georgian hospitality with an opportunity to learn about its cuisine.

    A hands-on lunch could see you creating dishes that are thousands of years old including khachapuri, a rich cheese-filled bread, and khinkali (meat-filled dumplings). On your way back to Tbilisi, stop at the Ananuri Fortress, a turreted fairy-tale castle that sits above the jade-hued River Aragvi. This arresting sight, alongside many others, will stay with you long after you leave Georgia.

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