Discover the culture and cuisine of Georgia as this individual itinerary travels through the wine-growing region of Kakheti and up the Georgian military highway to the soaring peaks of the Caucasus Mountains. Share traditional home-cooked meals with local families and taste delicious creamy cheese made by the Nuns at Poka Monastery. Learn about ancient Georgian wine-making and its role in today’s viticulture. This holiday is guaranteed to increase your knowledge of Georgia, as well as your waist band!
Fly via Istanbul to Tbilisi.
Arrive early morning in Georgia’s attractive capital and transfer to the hotel. Enjoy a full day city tour of Tbilisi. Visit Metekhi Church—an iconic landmark of Tbilisi , occupying a strategic rocky outcrop above the Metekhi Bridge with a 1960s equestrian statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasali beside it. Continue with a walking tour through the cobbled streets of the Old Town, where you can see typical old Georgian houses with wooden, curved balconies. Visit Sioni Cathedral (7th -19th cc) and Anchiskhati Basilica (6th -18th cc) – the oldest surviving church in Tbilisi. See Narikhala Fortress (travel one-way by cable car), the main citadel of the city, with its fabulous views of Tbilisi. See the blue domed Sulphur Baths before strolling along Rustaveli Avenue, where a large number of governmental, cultural and business buildings are located. After lunch in a local restaurant visit the Georgian National Museum (closed Mondays). (B,L)
Today drive to Kakheti - the main wine growing region of Georgia. The history, culture and lifestyle of Georgians are embodied in its wine and the Georgians believe that wine is a symbol of their hospitality, friendship, tolerance and a key to the mystery of Georgian longevity! The first stop is Bodbe Nunnery. Next, travel to the picturesque town Sighnaghi perched on a hilltop with far reaching views over fertile plains. It is famous for its wine and carpet making culture. Take a walk along the narrow cobbled streets under elaborate wooden balconies. Enjoy wine tasting in Sighnaghi at a local winery. Lunch is at a local house in the small town of Gurjaani. Here our host, Simon Ruaze and his family will tell us about Georgian polyphony and traditional music. Mr Ruadze, his oldest son and their friends will perform a short polyphonic concert and explain the secrets of the Georgian musical instrument Panduri. Mr Ruaze will “lead the table” as Georgians used to say in explaining the history of toasting in Georgian. After a leisurely lunch proceed to Tsinandali Family Estate and the wine cellar of one of the most beloved and notable Georgian families, Princes Chavchavadze XIX c. The final stop is in Telavi for dinner and overnight at a local guesthouse. (B,L,D)
This morning visit a local farmers market in Telavi and wander amongst stalls selling a large variety of fruit and vegetables, meat, cheese and many other delicious things. Drive to the village of Vardisubani to meet with a local master who makes Qvevri – theses huge clay jars buried underground for storing the wine. Continue to Alvani and visit a craft workshop, where traditional colours are revived in carpets, knitted socks, felt and embroidery. Continue to the Twin Wine Cellar in Naprauli, the first and only museum in Georgia dedicated to Qvevri and Qvevri wine. See these huge clay pots and learn about how they aid the fermentation of grapes. Be a part of Georgian life and learn how to make their delicious bread, as well as ‘Churchkhela’, traditional Georgian sweets, made from walnuts and grape juice and see how to barbecue meat to prepare ‘Mtsvadi'. On the way back to Tbilisi visit Gremi an architectural complex from the 16th to 17th century. (B,L)
This morning visit Mtskheta, ancient capital of Georgia, Jvari Church, a 6th century cross-shaped monastery built on the top of a cliff, overlooking the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers and the Cathedral of Svetitskhoveli, which is known as the burial site of Christ’s mantle,. Continue up the Georgian Military Highway to Ananuri Fortress, former residence of the Eristavis (dukes) of Aragvi beautifully located overlooking Jinvali Reservoir. Overnight and dinner in a local guesthouse in Kazbegi. (B,L,D)
Explore Kazbegi a small town with breathtaking views of Mountain Kazbek. According to Greek mythology Prometheus was chained to Mt Kazbek, because he stole fire from the gods and gave it to mortals. You can take an optional hike to Gergeti Holy Trinity Church (takes around 3 hours). Lunch is with a local family, where the hostess will demonstrate how to make Georgian cheese and meat dumplings, called ’Khinkali’. Rest of the afternoon is free to relax and enjoy the mountain air. (B,L,D)
Return to Tbilisi and visit the house museum of famous Georgian painter Elena Akhvlediani. She was known for her colourful pictures of Georgian towns. A year after her death, a museum was established in the house that she lived in. In the afternoon visit the Open Air Ethnographic Museum of Tbilisi, which displays examples of folk architecture and craftwork from various regions of the country. (B,L)
Drive to the mountainous Samtskhe-Javakheti region with its green, heavily forested slopes, waterfalls, deep river gorges and ancient villages. En route visit an enamel art studio at Poka Monastery and enjoy tasting cheese made by the nuns. Visit the Vardzia Cave Complex which was founded by Queen Tamar in the 12th century, as protection from the Mongols. Lunch is with a local family who own a small trout farm. En route to Akhaltsikhe visit Khertvisi Fortress. A fortification was first built on the site in the 2nd century BC but was reputedly destroyed by Alexander the Great. The present fortress dates from the fourteenth century and from the eastern wall two tunnels lead down to the river, one served as a water supply route, the other for communication. Dinner and overnight at a local guesthouse. (B,L,D)
This morning visit the magnificent Rabati Castle, developed under the influence of different cultures and includes a Church, Mosque, Minaret and Synagogue. Visit a project managed by Elkana, where they are growing endemic plants including traditional grape varieties, which have previously disappeared from Georgia over many years of planting imported species. Established in 1994 in Tbilisi, Elkana Rural Tourism Network unites farmers from different regions, who have opened their farms to tourists. They offer comfortable accommodation, healthy food, good wine and the opportunity to learn more about Georgian culture and traditions. Taste locally made bread made from an endemic grain called ‘Dolis Puri’. Dinner and overnight at a local guesthouse. (B,L,D)
Visit Bagrati Cathedral, built in the 11th century during the reign of King Bagrat III and known as ‘the symbol of united Georgia’. Visit the fairytale-like Gelati Monastery, founded in 1106 by the famous king of Georgia, Davit the Builder. Drive to Tbilisi. En route stop at the Stalin Museum in Gori dedicated to the life and legacy of Joseph Stalin. This museum features a comprehensive collection of artifacts, documents, and exhibits related to his life, political career, and the era in which he lived. It provides a thought-provoking glimpse into the complex history and controversial impact of this iconic Soviet leader. Overnight in Tbilisi. (B,L)
Transfer to the airport for flight back to the UK. (B)
This is an example itinerary staying at our favourite three-star boutique hotel in Tbilisi and in en-suite rooms in guesthouses throughout, accompanied by a guide price. If you would like alternative options staying in more upmarket hotels, or if you have a higher or lower budget than the guide price, please ring one of our travel specialists on 0207 666 1290 and we can tailor this trip to suit your precise requirements.
For single room supplements and solo travellers please contact us for prices