17 October, 2014 seen 2,933Tbilisi airport is airport where my Georgia's experience started more than 3 years ago - when I first landed here. I found that I have made no article regarding to one of the corner stones where most travels starts in Georgia. So a few…
For the second time, I felt like a real tourist in Georgia.
Let me explain - I have been living in Georgia for more than 5 years, thus for the past two years I'm spending the Summer months in Latvia.
This year we were absent from Georgia for about 6 months, and when returned - we had no choice but to travel a lot across the country, as the friends of my partner joined us during our journey back home to Tbilisi.
We booked our flight back to Georgia (Tbilisi) already at the start of August (back then I was still busy with brick-and-mortar things performing home remodeling works). Friends of my partner planned to visit Georgia for the very first time. Our flight was on the same day, on the same plane. Instead of a typical week of doing nothing, after return, we had a very busy first 5 days in Georgia.
Our story starts at Tbilisi airport, I had called before to my driver and asked him to pick us up at the airport, but as it might happen in Georgia, he was late for some 30 minutes, and I had a chance to listen to almost all taxi drivers tempting offers, promising to take us to the city center starting 50 GEL (TIP: the normal fare to pay for a taxi driver from the airport to the city center is about 30 GEL).
Day 1: Arriving in Tbilisi
We have a nice apartment in Tbilisi, and we kept it renting even during our absence, the chances are, if you are a newcomer to Georgia, you will need to find a hotel/hostel, I'm not a hotel export regarding Tbilisi, but take a look on following listings: Top 10 Boutique / Luxury Hotels in Tbilisi (Georgia)
We bought some eggs and sausages at the local Avlabari night shop, during our ride from the airport, and prepared fresh breakfasts at 5:00 AM, gosh, it was good to be home again. After breakfast, we had a sleep for a few hours as we agreed to spend the first day in Tbilisi.
The first sightseeing started at Tbilisi Old Town and of course Narikala fortress. From the fortress amazing pictures can be taken, so we spent here some time, and later climbed down for a lunch, which we had at, probably the most tourist place in the city - Samikitno / Machakhela Restaurant on Meidan Square. I took our guests to another great Chebureki place, run by a lady from Belarus in the Abanotubani district - Sachebureke Abanotubanshi (Cheburek Cafe on Abanotubani)
A must-have activity during our trip to the Old to was to visit the famous Tbilisi Sulphur baths, so we agreed to visit them just shortly after our lunch. One hour at bathhouses will cost you about 30 GEL, and most probably will be enough. (I sometimes prefer to take 2 hours, but it depends).
Now, after bathing in healthy Tbilisi sulfur waters we took a street taxi and headed back to the apartment, to have some rest, as tomorrow promises to be a really long day! Oh, almost forgot - the tasty shaurma on Tamar Mephe street was a dot on I, for this evening.
Day 2: Borjomi, Akhaltsikhe, and Vardzia
Now, let me be clear - this trip is possible in one day, but it's recommended to plan at least two or even three days for this trip.
Our driver arrived early in the morning and we left for Borjomi, making a stop at a Jvari monastery. It was planned to visit Mtskheta also, but since we had a lot to drive today, we agreed to visit Mtskheta in the evening (we didn't make it after all).
The next stop is a Green monastery (skulls and bones). From here a short visit to Borjomi Mineral water park and a drive by the cable car.
The next stop is Akhaltsikhe town and visits the Rabati fortress (entrance fee 5GEL). Plan a few hours here, as there is a lot to see. Prior to Rabati, we ordered shaslik at the nearby roadside cafeteria - Sergo Duqani (trust me..the best shashlik across the country). The owners are simple and friendly people. If you will talk to them a little bit Sergo will make you a little chacha-tasting tour, for sure.
In about one hour's drive from Akhaltsikhe town, there is a Vardzia Cave Town - The caves stretch along the cliff for some five hundred meters and in up to nineteen tiers. The Church of the Dormition, dating to the 1180s during the golden age of Tamar and Rustaveli, has an important series of wall paintings. The site was largely abandoned after the Ottoman takeover in the sixteenth century.
It was dark already, we ordered a few bottles of Georgian wine at a local restaurant near Vardzia (they have ridiculously cheap wine 15 GEL per bottle) and the funniest part of the trip started. We were back to Tbilisi around 2:00 AM, drunk and hungry. The best place to have a meal I insisted was restaurant Tiflis (Saarbrucken square). I have no clue how much we paid here, but we ate a lot, and our guests even started making Georgian tosts. Gaumarjos Sakartvelo!
Day 3: Mount Kazbegi and Gergeti Church
This morning started just as the previous (except a really little hangover) - our driver was at our place around 8:00 AM and we left for Gergeti Church, driving Georgian military road, making stops at Zhinvali Water Reservoir, Ananuri castle complex, and pretty impressive Russia - Georgia friendship monument. At the evening we had a nice Georgian style supra at a very good roadside restaurant near Natakhtari - see Chashnagiri Restaurant Review in Natakhtari.
In the evening before arriving at the apartment we made a stop at Tbilisi Mall to buy some ingredients for breakfast.
The head picture of this article is taken in the footsteps of mount Kazbegi, near Gergeti Church - let's name it - A walk in the clouds!
Day 4: Kakheti trip, Sighnaghi, Wine tasting and more
Today was a pretty cloudy day, and we didn't have a chance to see the true beauty of Kakheti (Alazani valley), but still, we had a route to do. I have crafted this route separately, see Day Trip to Kakheti in Georgia, we did basically the same route with some minor changes.
We took a lovely breakfast at some of the roadside cafeteria somewhere near Sagarejo, after which visited Bodbe monastery near Sighnaghi (bought some souvenirs here). The town of Sighnaghi was covered in mist, and we actually didn't see anything form the beauty of Sighnaghi, I bought a bottle of Georgian brandy and offered to visit at least Sighnaghi museum (Pirosmani works are exhibited here). After few sips of 10-year-old Georgian brandy - I discovered I really like this guy and his naive painting style.
Next stop - impressive wine tunnel near Kvareli, see: Wine Tunnel Near Kvareli in Georgia (Winery Khareba), It features not only exotic manmade tunnel built in the rocks, but it also has a large territory offering interesting attractions related to Georgian heritage. Guests can book a wine tasting tour here and will be provided with best selection wines from winery Khareba. We took the guided tour for 7 Lari without wine tasting here. As we will taste wine in another winery - Kindzmarauli Corporation Wine House in Kvareli, Georgia (here for 8 lari is offered both wine tasting and a short excursion to the winery).
At this point it felt, it's too many impressions already and let's leave back for Tbilisi, but my good old friend - driver insisted let's go to the Nekresi monastery and after to Gremi Church (we had no option, but to agree). Thus we skipped Nekresi, as it was already getting late, and we got scammed a little bit after bought tickets for a minivan (there is a minivan service taking tourists to Nekresi) - we had to wait in the line for more than one hour - the weather wasn't the best, we were just too tired..and we just skipped Nekresi (don't be like us were, take Nekresi - it is one of the most beautiful monastery complexes in Georgia).
From Gremi we headed to Telavi, making stop at local khinkali place Cafe Bari - Zodiako, just khinkali and beer served here. Cheap and tasty. A little bit neglected as well. Paid a short visit to Telavi market (really good market) and returned back home to Tbilisi. The driver was kind of pity we didn't visit Nekresi and wanted to show us something more (but trust me, our batteries were off - and all I could think about was getting back to Tbilisi and have some sleep), and then he proposed - would you love to see the tree? No!, we instantly replied. The driver lowered his shoulders, and did what a real Georgian man does - he took us to the Giant Plane tree in Telavi. Amazing.
Late in the evening we went to the delicious Azerbaijani restaurant Agha near circus in Tbilisi.
Day 5: Last evening in Tbilisi
In was actually planned to have a fishing tour today, but since our guests had a flight back home tonight, we canceled the fishing tour and decided to have a calm day in Tbilisi. For a fishing trip, it was planed go to Jandari lake.
On that day preparations for Tbilisi city festival Tbilisoba started.
In the morning we left for Turtle lake, enjoying morning coffee at Intelligentsia Coffee Bar, after some time we left to another great Tbilisi restaurant - Racha, enjoying finest quality wines and mcvadi (grilled meat). From here on we catch a street taxi, returned to the apartment, had some rest and in the evening made the last sightseeings around Tbilisi Old Town.
The bridge of Piece, Rike Park, are just a few to name.
Book an individual tour in Georgia now!
So here you go - 36 amazing places to visit in Georgia in just 5 days. See All about Georgia for more cool attractions or take a look, why Georgia is the most beautiful country in the World
The Bottom Line
I would name this trip - Georgia on steroids, as instead, we visited a lot in just 5 days, and frankly speaking, it was a pretty good pace for me (as I'm pretty familiar with Georgia already), but speaking of first-time visitors, it might be an overkill. Here is my suggestion - enjoy Georgia slowly! But as it's said - it's possible to squeeze most of the three Georgian regions in just 5 days.
The budget? It depends. You should expect to spend about 200 GEL per day, excluding your hotel (drivers, restaurants an so on)