The Republic of Georgia in the Caucasus is not to be confused with the State of Georgia in America! This small country borders Russia to the north and Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan to the south and east. It is dominated by stunning mountain ranges, steeped in history, rich in culture, and filled with some of the most hospitable people on earth.
It is difficult to exaggerate just how stunning Georgia is. It boasts a wealth of rugged snowcapped mountains, old cities, and monasteries atop the mountains.
Georgia: The Facts
Population: Around 4 Million
Independence: 1991 (From USSR)
Land Area: 26,900 SQ Miles
When To Go: Late Spring And Summer For Hiking
When To Go: Winter For Skiing
National Currency: Georgian Lari (USD Are Preferred For All Higher Purchase Items)
The capital and largest city is Tbilisi. This hosts the main airport and is the main port of entry for people entering Georgia by air. Tbilisi is a beautiful and exotic city nestled between mountain ranges. The climate here is dry and warm. Tbilisi is the city of innumerable churches. You will be able to enjoy the very best of Georgian cuisine here.
Tbilisi is a great base from which to explore the entire eastern half of Georgia - everywhere in this half of the country is reachable in day trips. Georgia is not a large country, although the western side is too far for day trips from Tbilisi. There are plenty of tours from Tbilisi. One of the most popular is to hire day drivers to drive and guide you to the various attractions. The easiest ways to book these tours is just go to the old city center of the city. There they are all lining the streets advertising their tours. You can book for the next day or even on the same day.
Tbilisi: The Facts
Status: Capital And Largest City
Population: Over One Million
Eat: Traditional Georgian Cusine
Explore: Old City With Innumerable Churches
Over on the Black Sea coast is Georgia's coastal resort city of Batumi. It is full of strange and quirky infrastructure and is a great place to relax and soak in the Black Sea. Batumi is brimming with casinos and Thai massage parlors. Batumi has been Georgia's fastest-growing city and it now boasts a flavor like no other.
Things To Do In Batumi
Eat: Adjarian Khuchapuri (Traditional To The Batumi Area)
Watch: Dolphins Swimming In The Black Sea
Sample: Georgian Wines
Attend: Dophlin Shows At The Dophlinarium
Gergeti Trinity Church
One absolute must is to visit the Gergeti Trinity Church deep in the mountains close to the border with Russia. This church is one of the most popular destinations in Georgia. It is at an elevation of 7,120 feet or 2,170 meters and sits under the gaze of the daunting Mount Kazbeki. The panoramic views from here will leave the most traveled of tourists breathless.
Gergeti Trinity Church: The Facts
Hiking Time: 1.5 Hours
Elevation: 7,120 feet
Status: Active Georgian Orthodox Church
Date Built: 1300s
Mestia / Svaneti Valley
Mestia is the main settlement in the Svaneti Valley. This is an incredibly remote valley, in the past, it was nigh inaccessible. Today it is easily reached by road or even by small flights from Tbilisi. This valley is home to much of Georgia's most spectacular scenery. Historically these valleys had little contact with the outside world, consequently, the Georgian living here are very different from the rest of Georgia with their own language and distinct culture.
The valleys here are lined with innumerable watchtowers. Historically, the various clans inhabiting the valleys were prone to feuding. To protect themselves, every family built a watchtower in which to keep their valuables and to fight or hide. These watchtowers are characteristic all over the deep valleys of the Caucuses. These watchtowers are similar to the medieval "keeps" or single defensive towers too small to be considered a castle.
Visit: Remote Village Of Ushguli
Altitude: 6,900 Feet
Status: UNESCO World Heritage Listed
From your base in Mestia be sure to explore the ultra extremely remote settlement of Ushguli. It is full of extremely hospitable guesthouses. If one considers Georgia to be part of Europe, then it is the highest inhabited settlement in all of Europe. The views are just wow. Majestic. Awe-inspiring.
Skiing In Georgia
In the winter, skiing is the main attraction in Georgia. Georgia has a number of ski resorts and all of them are situated deep in the mountains to the backdrop of some of the country's most stunning views. Georgia boasts around five different ski resorts for you to chose from. All the major resorts have a full range of ski slopes catering for the novice through to the most seasoned of skiers.
Ski Resorts In Georgia
- Costs: Range Approx. $8 - $16
- Gudauri - 21 Miles Ski Slopes, 15 Lifts, Heliskiing
- Bakuriani - 18 Miles Ski Slopes, 20 Lifts
- Tetnuldi – Mestia - 14 Miles Ski Slopes, 5 Lifts
- Goderdzi Resort - 5 Miles Ski Slopes, 3 Lifts
- Hatsvali – Mestia - 3.5 Miles Ski Slopes, 4 Lifts
We can only just scratch the surface of just how utterly stunning and beautiful Georgia really is. It is a destination that every traveler can't help but fall in love with.