Kakheti region, located on the east side of the country, is a popular destination for those who are looking for day trips from Tbilisi. The region is famous for its historical sights, wine, and natural wonders. I traveled with my parents to Kakheti and we did a small road trip. Therefore, here are my recommendations on what to do in Telavi and what landmarks to see around the capital.
How to get to Telavi
There are daily marshrutkas going from Tbilisi to Telavi from Isani metro station. However, if you are planning on using public transport, the best way is to share a taxi. You can find them near the Isani metro as well. Sometimes, the drivers are standing right at the entrance of the metro shouting the destinations they are offering a ride. To share a taxi, there should be four passengers, otherwise, you can pay the full price as well. Taxi to Telavi gets full easily, so you may not have to wait for long.
If you are traveling by car, the shortest way to get from Tbilisi to Telavi is via Gombori Pass, which offers beautiful views of the mountainous landscape and shortens the journey time by 40 minutes compared to driving through Gurjaani. The overall time through Gombori Pass is around 1:50 minutes.
A short history lesson of Kakheti
Throughout history, Georgia has been the epicenter of many invasions because of its great geographical location. However, the main focus was on Kakheti as it is closer to the Middle East. Due to this, the landmarks of its original state are a rare find here and inscriptions found on those sights convey the information on how important this area used to be both culturally and historically.
The capital, Telavi, is one of the oldest towns in the region. Scholars believe that the first settlement on this area dates back to the Late Bronze Age. The heyday of the town and the whole region was during the rule of King Erekle II. Telavi grew as an important cultural, industrial, and strategic city.
The King dedicated his life to the cause of the physical survival of the Georgian nation. It was him, who unified two regions of Georgia in the 18th century and held diplomatic relationships with the Russian Empire, leading to the signing of the Treaty of Georgievsk. During his reign, his reforms fundamentally changed the political, cultural, and economic orientation of
What to Do in Telavi: Batonis Tsikhe
Batonistsikhe was the residence of Kakhetian kings in the 17-18th century. Located at the very center of Telavi, it consisted of a palace, fortress walls, two gate-side churches, a tunnel, and a bath. The walls are made of stone and are 5m high. There still are two gates to the complex, but only one is operating today.
Currently, there’s a school and a museum within the territory of the castle. You can visit the museum and learn more about the King, his reign, and the region itself. Outside of the castle, you’ll notice the statue of the king.
As I already mentioned, Telavi is one of the oldest towns in the region, therefore, there are plenty of cultural and historical houses that are protected by the government. Each of such house has a plate which helps you identify them. Wondering through one of the oldest neighborhoods in Telavi, I have discovered that the city has many of those. One of them even has a plate saying that famous Georgian painter, Elene Akhvlediani spend her childhood years in this house.
Nadikvari Park is a go-to destination for many locals to relax during the evenings. You’ll see many families, youngsters, and elderly walking, talking, playing, and enjoying their time. The park also has an open-air theater, a cafe, and a stunning view of the city with a backdrop of the Caucasus Mountains.
Giant Plane Tree
The tree has been standing there for 900 years, making it a popular tourist attraction. The width of the tree is 12 meters, while the height is 46.
According to the legend, there was a plane tree lane right at this spot. One of those trees was so high that its branches looked like as if it reached the blue sky. This made people believe that it was a link between heaven and earth. Locals started to appreciate the tree, gathered around it and revealed their stories and dreams.
Time passed and the plane tree lane was destroyed. Citizens managed to save this tree only. As a sign of gratitude, the tree started to make the dreams of whoever came and wished something to come true. Even nowadays, the tradition is still alive.
Prince Chavchavadze Tsinandali Estate
Located only 9km away from Telavi, there’s a special palace in Tsinandali. Owned by Garsevan Chavchavadze, an outstanding diplomat and a politician of Kartl-
Prince Alexander Chavchavadze also built a winery within the territory of the palace, where he started to produce wine by mixing traditional Georgian methods with the European one. This winery is one of the oldest and largest one, which still produces the beverage today.
The garden that surrounds the palace is also very beautiful featuring the most unique flora imported from all over the world. The palace is a house-museum where you can see the memorabilia of the Chavchavadze Family, documents, photos, furniture, outfits, and even original paintings of Salvador Dali and Picasso!
Opening Hours: Everyday 10 a.m to 7 p.m
Entrance Fee: Adults – 5 GEL (includes visiting the park and the museum
This 16th-century architectural monument is located 20 km away from Telavi. It used to be the sit of Kakhetian kings once, while Telavi was twice. It used to be an important city back in the day, featuring a citadel, church, public baths, and bazaar to name a few scattered inside the walls of several dozens of hectare land.
Today, only the remains of the citadel, church, and ruins of those baths remain. There are two museums on the territory of the monastery if you’d like to learn more about its history.
One is next to the church which showcases the information about the kings of Kakheti and displays some of the very important cultural artifacts of that time. The second one is an ethnographical museum exhibiting items found during the archeological excavations of the city.
On the territory of the citadel and the church, you can find an old wine cellar and see how people made the beverage in ancient times.
Opening Hours: Every day from 10 a.m to 6 p.
EntranceFee to museums: Both cost – 5 GEL
How to get to Gremi: From Telavi, we took the შ42 highway and drove for about 1.5km until we made a turn on left onto შ70. After 11.2 km we drove on შ43 for another 7 km.
Founded by St. Abibos Nekreseli, one of the thirteen Syrian fathers, it’s one of the biggest monastery complexes in the region. The complex, nested on a steep hill overlooks the Alazani Valley, features various types of buildings built at different times. You can wander and visit the Blessed Virgin Church, a two-floor bishop’s palace, a basilica-type church, a four-floor tower, and a wine cellar.
How to get to Nekresi Monastery: We continued our way from Gremi on the შ43 highway. The monastery from here is around 14 km away. Once you drive around 9.8km you’ll need to turn on your left side and continue on Nekresi Monastery Road. You’ll notice the complex sitting on top of the hill from the road.
Do note that cars are not allowed on the territory of the complex, there’s a shuttle bus that takes you from the entrance towards the monastery and back. The ride costs only 1 GEL
Other things to Do in Telavi: Lopota Lake Resort
Lopota Lake Resort, located around a 20-minute drive from Telavi, is a perfect weekend getaway option from Tbilisi. Built around Lopota Lake, the resort features several accommodation buildings, entertainment facilities, and several pools to make your vacation here as relaxing as possible. You can read my honest review of the Lopota Resort in this post: Top 3 Resorts in Kakheti, Georgia
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