Georgia is the country of various landscapes – mountains, deserts, canyons, gorgeous lakes, and many more. Traveling to this jewel of the Caucasus will keep you amazed at every region. While the capital, Tbilisi, the little town of Mtskheta, the remote mountainous region of Svaneti, and the seaside resort Batumi, are some of the main attractions of the country for tourists, Georgia has much more to explore. And this post is dedicated to right that, showing you not only some of the famous and best places to visit in Georgia but also it’s lesser-known destinations that lack many tourists and are kept unspoiled.
How to get to Georgia
Getting to the country is not a big deal at all. Currently, we have three international airports serving both small and big airline companies. Depending on where you want to start your journey, you can either fly to Tbilisi, Kutaisi, or Batumi. If you are somewhere in Europe, the best way to get to Georgia is to fly to Kutaisi via Wizzair or Ryanair. Otherwise, the best option is to arrive in Tbilisi.
Best places to visit in Georgia: Popular Cities
Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, is the first stop for many tourists coming to the country. The city boasts of modern and ancient architecture, narrow streets, Art Nouveau-style buildings, and sulfur baths to name just a few.
All the major landmarks are in Abanotubani or the Old Town. Climb or ride a cable car to the Narikala Fortress which dates back to the 4th century and have panoramic views of this part of the city, then continue your way towards the statue of Mother of Georgia, the woman who has a sword and a bowl in her hands. The figure is a symbol of Georgian character; we welcome friends with a bowl of wine and protect ourselves by the sword against enemies.
From here, you can visit the Botanical Garden, nestled right beneath the Narikala Fortress, or come back to Abanotubani to explore its narrow cobblestone streets of Betlemi and Gomi and admire colorful wooden curved balconies. The old town also hides some of the secret Instagrammable spots too.
Apart from Abanotubani, you can stroll down Rustaveli Avenue, visit Freedom Square, pop in some museums to learn more about the culture and history of Georgia, taste wine in various wine bars, and indulge yourself in Georgian cuisine at some of the best restaurants. The possibilities are endless so check out all of my Tbilisi posts to plan accordingly.
The former capital of Georgia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mtskheta is in just a 20-minute drive from Tbilisi. The main attraction here is Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, a jewel of the Early Middle Ages and the second largest religious building in the country after Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi. It’s believed that Christ’s mantle is buried here, bringing lots of pilgrims to the site.
Another famous landmark is to visit Jvari Monastery, nested on top of the hill on the opposite side of Mtskheta. When St. Nino from Cappadocia brought Christianity to the country, she put her wooden cross on this hill, around which people built the church. For some time, that original cross was inside and now is replaced with a much bigger wooden cross. Word “Jvari” in English means cross, and the monastery’s name comes from its cross-shaped structure.
Gori is a small town close to Tbilisi, making it a great day-trip option form the capital. The birthplace of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, Gori is home to his house-museum displaying his memorabilia, photographs, documents, death masks and personal train carriage he used to travel by. You can also see his actual house where he grew up.
Tourists usually add another site to their Gori itinerary – a cave town of Uplistsikhe, located just 14 km from here. More detailed information on Uplistsikhe is below, under the cave towns of Georgia.
Similar to Mtskheta, Kutaisi used to be the capital of Georgia. Now, it’s the second-largest city in the country and home to another UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Located in the Imereti region, Kutaisi is an excellent base for exploring some of the natural wonders of the country. Even though the town is big, there are few historical sites to explore here.
Visit Bagrati Cathedral, one of the UNESCO sites, learn more about the town in History Museum, relax at one of its parks, and visit the futuristic building of the Parliament. The other essential landmarks like Gelati Monastery, Sataplia Nature Reserve, Motsameta Monastery and Prometheus Cave are around the town.
Sataplia is known for its karst caves and dinosaur footprints, while Prometheus lures tourists with its illuminated karst cave.
This central town of the Kakheti region used to be the seat of Kakhetian Kings. You can explore Batonis Tsikhe, or Castle of the King, visit the museum to learn about King Erekle II, who was responsible for uniting the kingdoms of Kartli and Kakheti and signing the treaty of Georgievsk to gain protection from Russian Empire.
After wandering around the city, make sure to visit Tsinandali Estate, a gorgeous mansion of Prince Alexander Chavchavadze with its stunning garden and house-museum. If you have time, you can also visit monasteries of Gremi and Nekresi, some of the most important Christian religious landmarks.
Another jewel of the Kakheti region, the town of Sighnaghi is another short ride from Tbilisi and one of the best places to visit in Georgia. This fortified town is known for charming houses with wooden-carved balconies, a city wall that spans for around 40 km, and breathtaking views of Alazani Valley and the Caucasus Mountains.
Located in the Adjara region, Batumi is a go-to summer resort for many locals and foreigners. The city went significant renovations in the past decade or so and drastically transformed into a cool town on the Black Sea coast.
Here, you’ll find some of the unique landmarks like Alphabet Tower, non-functioning Chacha Tower (chacha is a robust local spirit, similar to vodka), a Ferris Wheel inside a building, gorgeous Catholic Cathedral, awesome street art, and 12 km long boulevard featuring unique, and funny sculptures to name just a few.
Best places to visit in Georgia: Cave Towns
Close to the town of Gori, Uplistsikhe is another day-trip option from Tbilisi. Being one of the oldest cave towns in Georgia, Uplistsikhe was an entirely inhabited city since the 1st Millenium BC. The city is distinguished by a unique mixture of various rock-cut cultures, like Persian, Iranian, Christian, and Pagan.
The area is quite massive with lots of cave dwellings to explore, including residential buildings, cave churches, a bakery, theater, etc.
Unlike Uplistsikhe, Vardzia is of a later period. Built in the 12th century, Vardzia is the biggest cave town of them all. Commissioned by Queen Tamar (locally known as King Tamar), Vardzia served as a fully-functioning city during the invasion. There were 13 floors and about 6,000 rooms, including dwellings, a throne room, churches, wine cellars, and a bell tower, to name a few.
In the church, you’ll find one of the few remaining frescos of King Tamar along with other gorgeous paintings of that time Georgian artists.
David Gareji Monastery Complex
Compared to Vardzia and Uplistsikhe, David Gareji is a monastery complex made in the rock and not a cave town. Located in the Kakheti region, in the half-desert of Georgia, David Gareji complex includes churches, refectories, hundreds of cells, and beautiful frescos.
One of the Assyrian monks, David, founded the monastery here in the 6th century. For many years it served as an essential cultural and religious center of the country. The best time to visit the monastery is in spring, autumn, and winter. Avoid summer as there are lots of snakes wandering through the desert. Also, women should dress appropriately when visiting the monastery. It’s a big chance you won’t be allowed with trousers and uncovered body parts.
Unique Places to Visit in Georgia
This natural limestone is one of the unique places to visit in Georgia. Located 62 km from Kutaisi, this 40-45 meters tall natural wonder does attract many tourists who stay in the former capital of Georgia. The name comes from one of the three languages spoken in Georgia, Svan language, where ‘katskhi’ means ‘peak.’
Chiatura makes the top of my list of one of the best places to visit in Georgia. It was a flourishing manganese town during the Soviet Union; it’s the city of cable cars with dozens of ropeways connecting different neighborhoods and mines. It was built to ease the commute of workers to their workplaces.
Today, the city still produces manganese, but not in large quantities as it used to. Consequently, many of those cable cars are not working, and those which are, haven’t been renovated since its construction in the 1950s. Riding those cable cars are free and offer a high adrenaline boost!
Kobuleti Nature Reserve
This is one of the places I have recently discovered. The town of Kobuleti, located on the Black Sea coast, not far from Batumi, is nothing more than a small settlement full of hotels and guesthouses. There are no sites to explore, except its Nature Reserve.
What makes it a unique place? Maiden sphagnum moss peat bog – the rarest and only filtering sphagnum bog in the world! It’s also very sensitive to pollution and water never covers it. During the rainy season in Kobuleti, the sphagnum absorbs water and acts like a sponge. You can rip it off and squeeze to see the cleanest water drip from it. Don’t worry, though, you are not ruining the ecosystem; put it back, and it will regenerate. How cool is that, right?!
Travertines in Kazbegi
Georgia is home to many locations where you can find travertines. One of them is the Kazbegi Municipality that creates a stunning landscape. Travertine is a form of limestone collected by mineral springs, especially hot ones. Travertine exists in white, brown, cream, and rusty colored. In 2012, as a result of construction works, these travertines were considerably damaged. A year later, they were declared as a natural monument.
Udabno – Semi-desert
Udabno in Georgian means a ‘desert’ and refers to a semi-desert area in Ivris plateau, towards David Garetji Monastery Complex. There’s a village called Udabno in the region. There’s a shortage of water, small vegetation, and a dry terrain lacking soil covering. Due to a suffocating heatwave in summer, squashed grass, dried springs, and an overabundance of reptiles, it’s not recommended to visit the place during hot summer days.
Nokalakevi used to be an ancient royal capital of Egrisi Kingdom in the 4th-8th centuries. It’s an excellent example of medieval Georgian architecture. The complex spreads on 20 ha of land and has two divisions – lower city and the citadel.
High walls surrounded the town and included several rectangular towers of various sizes. Additionally, there are early Christian and Roman-style royal baths, and a tunnel leading to the river in case of an emergency.
Abastomani is known for its astrophysical observatory founded in the 1930s. Scholars chose the location for the observatory due to the area’s natural conditions – hilly landscape with coniferous forest, far from the air pollution and sky illumination. If you are a star’s lover or traveling to Georgia with your loved one, this is the most romantic place to have a picnic under a starry night! However, remember to contact the observatory in advance and ask them about weather conditions.
There are dozens of karst-caves in Georgia, but only a few are open to the public. One of them is Prometheus Cave near Kumistavi village. The cave is rich in stalagmites, stalactites, suspended stone curtains, and helictites, to name a few. The pathway is 1420 meters long, and you are only allowed in the cave with a guide. The whole cave is illuminated by colorful lights, making it quite an impressive sight.
Sataplia Cave is part of the Sataplia State Reserve. It’s 900 meters long and 10 meters deep. It was the very fists karst cave to have tourist infrastructure and open for the public. Additionally, it’s home to the footprint of a dinosaur.
Navenakhevi Cave reopened in 2018 with a lighting system and a proper pathway. Located in Terjola, the cave boasts with stunning and unusual stalactites and stalagmites.
Bakhmaro is an alpine resort in Chokhatauri Municipality at 1926-2050 meters above the sea level. Pine and fir forests surround the territory of Bakhmaro; therefore, it has a unique curative characteristic and is an excellent place for a vacation for those you have tuberculosis or bronchitis. The climate here is quite low during the summer. Most mornings, the area is covered with fog making it a breathtaking scenery. Moreover, there’s a hill to watch a jaw-dropping sunrise above the clouds.
Gomis Mta or Gomi Mountain is another alpine resort in Ozurgeti Municipality at 2100-2755 meters above sea level. It has similar characteristics as Bakhmaro, where winter is snowy and cold, while the summer is moderately cool. Here as well, you can witness a stunning sunset that makes you feel to be above the clouds. If you’d like to explore the area, there’s a Chinchao lake close to Gomis Mta.
Best places to visit in Georgia: Canyons
Located in the Samegrelo region, Martvili boasts with emerald green water flowing through the canyon. It’s often visited as a day-trip from Kutaisi. The highlight of the place is a small boat ride through the canyon, which, in my humble opinion, is too short. However, very scenic and breathtaking. There is a short walking trail through the moss-covered forest once you finish the boat ride.
Okatse, on the other hand, offers a much longer walking trail along the canyon. Like Martvili, tourists coming to Georgia add this to their Kutaisi itinerary. While you walk on the hanging walkway, you enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding gorge. The canyon itself is 16 km long and is 35-50 meters deep; however, you only walk about 1.5 km of it.
Dashbashi is a Turkish word meaning ‘a stone-head.’ Located in Tsalka Municipality, Dashbashi canyon, built on volcanic deposits, is 30 km long. This rare canyon-like gorge stands out with its biodiversity formed on the lava-made hill across the river bed. Plants grow on the tilting inclines of the canyon, and spectacular waterfalls create a different and fantastic micro-landscape.
Mountainous Regions of Georgia
Tusheti, part of Akhmeta Municipality in the Kakheti region, is the most untouched mountainous region of Georgia. At the elevation of 1900-2400, the area consists of several villages, from which Omalo is the central one.
It’s also home to well-preserved medieval defense towers built from shale stone. Besides towns and fortresses, Tusheti is also home to several glacier-originated lakes and the highest settlement village, Bochorna, in Europe at 2345 meters above the sea level.
Svaneti is another gorgeous mountainous region in western Georgia. Home to another type of defense towers, Ushguli village – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and four highest peaks of the Caucasus Mountain Range, Svaneti is the most visited area among many tourists. It’s also a great destination for hiking lovers, and if you are one of them, here’s the guide for hiking in Svaneti.
With its spending nature landscape and lakes, there is no wonder why. Make sure to visit the History and Ethnography Museum in Mestia to learn more about Svan traditions, culture, and way of life, and see some of the best-kept treasures of the country.
Khevsureti, situated on the northern and southern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains, the area consists of three gorges: Mogmakhevi, Shatili, and Arkhoti.
For many centuries, Khevsureti has been a political and administrative center of several Georgian kingdoms and an important military checkpoint for defending the lowlands from marauding northern tribes. Here, you can find cultural monuments of the medieval period such as Kakmati, Akhieli and Lebaiskari fortresses, villages of Shatili, Mutso, and Khakhabo, as well as churches of Gudani and Anatoria, to name a few.
Stepantsminda is an administrative center of the Kazbegi Municipality. The road towards it follows Georgian Military Road running between Tbilisi and Vladikavkaz in Russia.
The road is a bit curvy but offers excellent views of mountains and natural landscapes. The main reason why people visit this town is the Gergeti Trinity Church, located at 2200 meters above the sea level with a backdrop of Mount Kazbegi. Absolutely gorgeous scenery! And, here’s a guide to other things t do in Kazbegi once there
The region of Adjara occupies a territory of the Black Sea Coast and near the base of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. While the lowlands of the area are well-traveled, the upper one is less touristy and untouched. The village of Beshumi is marvelous, located at 2000 meters above the sea level and offers a stunning natural landscape, lakes, mineral springs, healing mud, and a combination of alpine and coniferous plants.
Ski Resort in Georgia
Gudauri, situated in Kazbegi municipality, on the southern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains at 2196 meters above sea level, is a go-to destination for many ski lovers due to its proximity to Tbilisi. It’s an excellent place for downhill skiing up to 4,200 meters, freeriding, and the finest powder snow makes it an awesome heliski destination. It has trails for any level skiers whether you are a beginner or a professional.
Bakuriani is more of a family-friendly destination. Located at 1700-2000m above sea level, the ski resort is an excellent place for adventurous skiers. However, you can find slopes for beginners as well. The most famous hills are Kokhta, Didveli, and Tatra. And if you want to experience a snow-covered scenic ride, definitely try the Borjom-Bakuriani train journey.
The central town of Svaneti, Mestia is another destination for adventurous skiers who’d love to ski and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the snow-covered Caucasus Mountain peaks. The resort is pretty wild; not as well developed as Bakuriani or Gudauri. Apart from Mestia ski resort, there’s another one in Svaneti – Tetnuldi. Slopes of Mount Tetnuldi are at altitudes from 1600m to 3165m and offer three main ski-lifts.
Goderdzi is the latest addition to ski resorts of Georgia just two hours drive from Batumi. At the elevation of 2000 meters above the sea level, you can enjoy skiing at Goderdzi for three seasons; snow remains from November till April.
Some of the Best State Reserves and National Parks in Georgia
Sataplia State Reserve
Sataplia State Reserve in Tsaltubo Municipality stands on the so-called Sataplia Mountain at 500 meters above sea level. The name comes from the bees and beehives found on the mountain; ‘tapli’ is ‘honey’ in Georgian, and the name would translate as ‘the place of honey.’ The reserve offers a karst cave, a bio-speleological museum, and a footprint of a dinosaur.
Lagodekhi Protected Areas
Lagodekhi is one of the first protected areas in Georgia, and home to some of the most unique and diverse ecosystems of the Caucasus – 121 species found here are endemic to the whole region, from which nine are to Georgia. There are four hiking trails for hiking-lovers, from which Ninoskhevi Waterfall and the Black Rock Lake is the most famous ones.
Mtirala National Park
Mount Mtirala lies at 1381 meters above sea level. It is the wettest place in the country, therefore comes the name – ‘mtirala’ means ‘crying’ in Georgian. Due to such climate, the National Park is pretty foggy, making it look quite mystical. There are two trails to take and a zip-line if you’d like to experience something new.
Kolkheti National Park
Kolkheti National Park consists of the eastern coastline of the Black Sea and Paliastomi Lake. It’s rich in flora and fauna, deciduous wetland forests, swamp forests, and coastal marshes to name just a few. It doesn’t have walking trails and to explore the place you need to hire a boat ride or kayak on your pace.
Javakaheti Protected Areas
Javaketi Protected Areas is part of a volcanic origin highlands of Georgia, Armenia, and Turkey. It often serves as a resting place for Europe-Asia-Africa migrating birds. There are several lakes to visit in the area: Kartsakhi, Khanchaki, Madatapha, Bukhdasheni, Saghamo, Paravani, and Tabatsuri.
Vashlovani Protected Areas
Vashlovani, located in 160 km from Tbilisi, offers a splendid natural landscape. The climate here is somewhat humid and subtropical; there are semi-deserts and forests. There are seven hiking trails to take, however, do note that in summer months the area is full of reptiles. The trails are well-marked, while the area has bungalows to stay, as well as designated picnic and camping areas.
Borjom-Kaharaguli National Park
This is the biggest national park by the territory in the whole of Europe, covering 85,083 ha, which is more than 1% of the land of the country. You can do one or several-day hikes in the park. There are 12 trails in total, which starts at 400 meters above sea level and continues to 2642. There are shelters, picnic, and camping spots along the way.
Spa Resorts in Georgia
Borjomi is a famous resort town known for its mineral water springs. During Soviet times, Borjomi was one of the most popular destinations for those looking to treat some of their health problems.
The sparkling mineral water Borjomi, the ones you’ll see in every shop across the country, comes from here. Nowadays, it tries to revive its former glory with new high-class hotels and renovated infrastructure.
Tskaltubo used to be a go-to spa resort during the Soviet Union. The mineral water springs of the area have healing properties; therefore the town used to have tens of sanatoriums and resorts back in the day. Today, many are either deserted or inhabited by IPDs of the Georgia-Abkhaz war of the 1990s.
So if you like visiting abandoned, yet stunning, buildings, Tskaltubo is a place to be. Additionally, there are public baths of those mineral waters to try. And, if you plan on going to Prometheus Cave, you’ll be driving through Tskaltubo anyways.
Sairme resort, located in 245 km from Tbilisi and an hour drive from Kutaisi, is the only resort in Georgia with four different water springs and one thermal water. All of them have therapeutic purposes and treats several diseases.
Slopes and forests of pine, fir, lime, beech, and chestnut trees surrounding the resort. The place is great even if you are not planning on any treatment; it’s a perfect getaway for a weekend in lush greenery and tranquility.
Breathtaking Lakes in Georgia
Colorful lakes of Abudelauri in Khevsureti, near the village Roshka, feature three lakes – Green, Blue, and White. All of them are within walking distance from each other. Six months of the year, snow covers the lakes and only melts in May.
Green Lake gets its color because of a significant amount of vegetation near it. The water of Blue Lake is pure, fresh and doesn’t get inflows during the summer, which gives a slightly tinted blue color. The White wan was formed several decades ago at the foot of Abudelauri Glacier. The muddy stream melting from the glacier flows into the lake, hence the name.
Tobavarchkhili lakes are the jewel of the Samegrelo region. Located on the Egrisi gorge, Tobavarchkhili is a general term of six transparent lakes of the area. Additionally, the name comes from the Mergelian language and translates into Silver Lakes in Georgian.
Didi (Big) Tobavarchkhili is the most beautiful and spacious situated near the glacier mountains. Due to their remote location and a bit steep trail, the lakes are unspoiled. Traveling with a guide is highly recommended. Absolutely impressive and one of the best places to visit in Georgia.
Zhinvali Reservoir located on the road to Stepantsminda and Gudauri, it’s a man-made reservoir with an area of 11.5 sq. Kilometers. It’s part of the Zhinvali Hydro electrical Plant which supplies Tbilisi with a considerable amount of electricity.
Paliastomi is the third largest lake in Georgia, situated in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Guria regions. It has unique scenery and landscape, making it one of the best places to visit in Georgia if you like birdwatching. It’s a resting place for many migratory birds coming from Eurasia to Europe and vise versa. With its marshlands and boggy forests, Paliastomi is also part of Kolkheti National Park.
Situated in Zemo (Upper) Adjara region, the Green Lake gets the name from a lush green forest surrounding it. The water of the lake is slightly mineralized, pure, and clear water makes it suitable for drinking. Within a few kilometers, there are other lakes in the area.
A lake made by a landslide near the remains of the village of Bateti is an absolutely gorgeous place. About a hundred years ago, a mudslide collapsed from the southern slopes and blocked the pathway of the river Betistskali. As a result, a fresh and transparent water reservoir formed over the years. Pine and nut-free forests surround the water, making it a picturesque landscape. From December to March, ice covers the lake creating a true winter wonderland, while fall is even beautiful when leaves start changing color.
Black Rocks Lake
In the alpine zone of Lagodekhi Protected Areas, there is a gorgeous lake of glacier origin – the Black Rock Lake. At the altitude of 2900 meters above sea level, it’s a natural border between Georgia and the Republic of Dagestan in the Russian Federation. The trail leading to the lake is also wonderful, as you start with dense forests and go up to alpine zone with no plants but just views of the Caucasus Mountains. Definitely one of the best places to visit in Georgia.
Paravani is the biggest lake in Georgia territory-wise. Located in the Javakheti region, the lake is at 2073 meters above the sea level. The lake is beautiful all year round, but if you are looking for a picturesque landscape, then come here during the winter months, when the whole lake turns into ice and creates a winter wonderland landscape.
Best Hiking Trails in Georgia
Georgia is like a heaven to those who enjoy hiking. There are plenty of trails taking you either in national parks, high mountain peaks and glaciers, from one remote village to another, or even from one mountainous area to another. It’s hard to choose which ones are the best hiking trails in Georgia as so many of them offer gorgeous, breathtaking scenery. There’s a whole website dedicated to hiking in Georgia – Caucasus Trekking. Here you can find all the essential details on a chosen trail. It’s like a bible for hikers who want to conquer the mountains and remote areas of the country.
Best Beaches in Georgia
When it comes to beaches in Georgia, I should state that do not expect white or golden sand beaches here. The Black Sea coastline is rather pebbly. However, there are some areas where you can find sand, but they are magnetic with curative purposes.
There are two regions of Georgia with a coastline at the Black Sea – Guria and Adjara. The beaches and cities of Adjara are much famous than of Guria, especially Batumi. However, do note that summer is very packed and crowded in Batumi, with both foreign and local tourists. If you are looking for a quieter holiday at sea, I would suggest coastline of Guria with Ureki, Shekvetili, and Grigoleti. These are the ones that have a sandy coast.
Otherwise, if you’d like to stay closer to Batumi, consider Sarpi, Kvariati, or Mtsvane Kontskhi.
Prepare for the trip
To ease your travel planning, check out all the posts about Georgia travel. Additionally, here are some of the websites and services I use when preparing for my next adventure anywhere in the world.
– Book affordable flights on Kiwi.com, a platform that shows the best routes and flight deals to your destination. There’s a money-back guarantee if you miss the flight!
– Check iVisa to see if you need a tourist visa to visit Georgia, how to apply online if applicable, or where’s the nearest embassy or consulate
– Find budget-friendly deals on all sorts of accommodation types on Booking and Agoda, or find a cool apartment on Airbnb and get $34 off on your first stay (my invite expires in 30 days after you sign up! )
– Pre-book a private car transfer from Tbilisi Airport to your hotel
– Buy the most flexible and budget-friendly travel insurance, SafetyWing, to cover all sorts of health problems on the road