Sighnaghi, a small town in the Kakheti region, makes a perfect spot for day trips from Tbilisi. With its narrow cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and wooden carved balconies, the town does attract many tourists. Situated on the steep hill, the town overlooks Alazani Valley with a Caucasus mountain range on its background. And despite the fact that town is relatively small, here are my recommendations on things to do in Sighnaghi for a full day.
How to Get to Sighnaghi
Traveling from Tbilisi to Sighnaghi is not hard at all. There are daily minibusses, marshrutkas, going from Isani and Navtlughi bus stations every 2 hours – The first one leaves at 9 a.m. However, if you’d like to travel more comfortably, take a shared taxis near Isani Metro Station. They run daily towards various cities of Kakheti. You can wait for the taxi to get full (4 people), or pay the whole price.
Marshrutka from Signaghi to Tbilisi is the same, leaving every two hours daily. The last one leaves at 6 p.m. The price for a one-way ticket is 6 GEL
A short history lesson of Sighnaghi
Sighnaghi, or Signagi, is one of the oldest towns in Georgia, which received the status of a town in 1801. The name comes from the Turkish word and means ‘shelter’. The fortified city of Sighnaghi exists from the 13-14th century built by Kartl-Kakheti King Erekle II.
He moved 100 families of merchants and handicraftsmen to settle down here and built defensive city walls made from stone and brick around the city.
In 2005-2008, the whole town underwent a major renovation which resulted in infrastructure development, fixing the roads, and refurbishing houses according to its former state to name a few.
What to do in Sighnaghi
Wander through Sighnaghi City
As I already mentioned, the town was renovated a decade ago, giving it a charming look. Wander through its narrow streets, admire the ancient residential houses with wooden curved balconies, and pay respect to the heroes whose names are carved on a special wall.
During the renovation process, the 24-hour working Civil Registry office opened in the very center of the city. It enables couples to get married at any time of the day or night. Therefore, the city got its second name – The City of Love!
Make sure to walk behind the Sighnaghi national museum for picturesque views of the town, its wall, and Alazani Valley.
Walk on Sighnaghi Fortress
The main thing to do in Sighnaghi is to visit its very well preserved defensive fortress, one of the largest ones in Georgia. The fortress walls span around 4km and cover 40ha of land. The wall has two floors, 23 towers, and 5 gates. There is a walking trail on the wall, enabling visitors to enjoy panoramic views of Alazani Valley and the Caucasus mountains.
Visit Sighnaghi National Museum
Make sure to stop by the Sighnaghi museum to learn more about the history and culture of the town. The museum displays several permanent exhibitions including ethnographic collections of 5,000 artifacts, archeological finds medieval period, and works of famous Georgian painters like Niko Pirosmani and Lado Gudiashvili.
Occasionally, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, for instance, on my last visit to Signaghi, I had a chance to see photo archives of Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera.
- Opening hours: 10 a.m – 6 p.m every day, except Mondays.
- Entrance Fee: 5₾ for adults, 1₾ for students, 45₾ for guided tours
Take a small tour at Bodbe Monastery
Bodbe Monastery is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Georgia. Located only 2km away from Sighnaghi, the monastery was built around the tomb of St. Nino, the evangelist who brought Christianity to Georgia in the 4th century. The garden of the monastery complex is very beautiful and well taken care of. There’s a new, bigger church that has been built within the territory. Additionally, the pilgrims come here to take a bath in miraculous waters.
Where to Eat in Sighnaghi: Pheasant’s Tears
While Sighnaghi has plenty of restaurants, the very best one is Pheasant’s Tears. They have delicious and healthy meals made from seasonal ingredients. Opened by John Wurdeman, a winemaker and a painter, who together with his Georgian partner has established a natural wine company of the same name. The restaurant boasts with finger-licking Georgian cuisine and has a slight twist to it.
The restaurant offers a wide choice of the wines made in their winery. The company specializes in natural qvevri wines, which means that they don’t use any chemicals on their vines nor add anything during the fermentation process. They can also take you to their vineyard and cellar and offer you a wine tasting package. However, do note that it’s better to book the tour in advance.
I wrote an article for Georgia Starts Here, on how to spend not so a typical weekend in Sighnaghi.
Other Things to Do in Sighnaghi: Visit Telavi
If you are traveling to Sighnaghi by car, you can easily add Telavi to your itinerary. Located only around 1:20 hour from Sighnaghi, Telavi offers historical and cultural sights for you to explore. The main attraction of the city is Batonis Tsikhe, a former seat of Kakhetian Kings back in the day. Today, it houses a museum showcasing historical artifacts of the region.
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