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Georgia (Caucasus) Travel Guide

Georgia (Caucasus) Travel Guide

On the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, lies the country of Georgia (not to be confused with the US state), which many say is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Its cities are filled with stunning old churches and watchtowers. History resonates through the walls of its gorgeous castles, and its countryside boasts majestic mountain sceneries like nowhere else in the region. Georgia is one of the less explored yet truly fascinating places in Eurasia, and with tourism developments underway, it is now easier than ever to discover the roads less traveled in this country. A growing number of hidden attractions are becoming readily accessible from the mountain towns around the Caucasus Mountains to the subtropical region of Southwestern Georgia.

Georgia is renowned for its Mediterranean feel, lavish architecture and rich nature. Many are surprised to find a wealth of mineral hot springs in the depths of the national parks. In the Tori region, the little town of Borjomi is acclaimed as one of the best spa towns in this part of the world. In addition to its mineral-rich waters, Borjomi has a wonderful hillside that is perfect for outdoor pursuits. Scenic drives on the Georgian Military Highway await those who want to witness some the most majestic mountain anywhere.

The capital city of Tbilisi will not fail to charm you either with its contrasting cosmopolitan downtown and old-worldly atmosphere full of stone-house neighborhoods. Elsewhere in the country, enjoy sunny resorts on palm-fringed beaches enhanced by the aromatic breeze in what can only be described as delightful salty sea air mixed with a whiff of eucalyptus. Venture to the far side of the country and you’ll find yourself in Kakheti, a fertile wine region close to the borders of Azerbaijan and Russia. This area is known for its sprawling vineyards, beautiful churches and monasteries.

Even the drab and monotonous Soviet-built portions of town add to the unique charm of the country and Georgia was not a holiday haunt for the elite for nothing. Not only is it blessed with impressive architectural landmarks, but its high valleys and natural lands boast enticing waterfalls, mystic caves and forests strewn with an impressive collection of flora and fauna.

Tourism is a relatively new venture for Georgia and major hotel chains are just starting to be built. In the past, resorts were largely owned and operated by the state. Now, more and more private and international brands are popping up, especially in the main cities. In the countryside, the best option is a private homestay. The experience is very enjoyable as Georgians are warm and high-spirited people, not to mention obsessively hospitable hosts.

The country has a highly developed transportation system, even in small towns. Taxis are abundant everywhere you go. Minibuses with established routes are convenient to use, even when traveling from city to city. The rail network is extensive and a more practical choice when traveling long distances because buses can take a long time to reach to far-flung places. Cycling is a rewarding means of getting around if you are active and mountain bikes are readily rentable in big towns. Consider joining a tour group if you wish to explore remote regions, as public transportation can only take you so far.

Highlights

  • Explore the cosmopolitan, glitzy and quaint capital of Tbilisi
  • Walk the old streets of the very Turkish Batumi
  • Bird watch in the mountain steppes and wetlands of the south near the Armenian border
  • Discover the subtropical seaside resort of the Black Sea coast with its citrus groves, high mountains and tea plantations
  • Enjoy the royal treatment and relaxation in the spa town of Borjomi
  • Admire the centuries-old remains of Mtskheta, the center of Georgian Christianity and a recognized World Heritage site
  • Hike up glaciers and trek through the wilderness of the Roshka Valley
  • Marvel at the ancient caves which have been turned into sophisticated arcades of Uplistsikhe with theaters, wine cellars and dungeons
  • Watch wildlife in the national park and nature reserve of Vashlovani, known for its populations of Egyptian and griffin vultures, lynx, brown bears, and hyenas
  • Sample a variety of wines in the grape-growing region of Kakheti
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