Batumi – Kakheti – Stepantsminda – Tbilisi
Georgia is a beautiful post-Soviet country that today is a blend of ancient traditions and modern solutions. To many people, Georgia is about mountains, Black Sea resorts, food, wine, and hospitality. While all that counts, modern Georgia is not only about exploring its ancient sights and tasting hundreds of types of wines, modern Georgia is about young vibes, development, fashion and design trends, and most importantly it is a place where everyone feels at home.
My Georgian adventure began in Batumi, then I went to Kakheti, Stepantsminda, Ananuri, Tbilisi, and Mtskheta.
Batumi is a new and the second largest city in Georgia, located on the coast of the Black Sea in Adjara region. A typical Soviet city in the past, today Batumi is a modern Black Sea resort and a large port. In 2007 the skyline of the city has changed after the modern buildings of glass and concrete were built along the coast line of the sea. Today, the architecture of the city is a mixture of contemporary and novelty styles. Some parts of the city look like most of the Post-Soviet cities, others look like Nice or Barcelona, and the coast line resembles of Dubai. And together with that, Batumi has unique happy vibes.
Where to stay?
Batumi has a variety of places to stay, beginning from Airbnb’s (get your discount here), hostels, guesthouses, ending with luxury hotels on the coast line.
I chose to stay at Hilton Batumi in a room with a sea view.
I have to mention that the city authorities allowed wild camping in the city. If you scroll down you will see a picture of the wild camping site that I took from my balcony.
Where to eat and drink?
What to do?
How to get around?
From Batumi, I flew to Tbilisi and went to Kakheti with a driver.
Kakheti is a famous winemaking region in Georgia that grows 2/3 of all grapes in Georgia and produces over 300 types of wines. Georgian wines are very different from the Old World Wines because they are produced by traditional Kakhetian winemaking technology.
According to this technology, a clay wine-jar called Kvevri is used to preserve fizzy new wine and wine. Kvevri is an earthenware vessel which may hold from 30 till 3000 liters. The jar is then placed underground for fermentation to preserve the perfect temperature for wine. After the wine jar has been filled, its head is sealed with the mixture of clay and ashes against the fungus disease; the wine can be preserved in the jars for four years. The jar wines are rich in tannins and have a sour cherry flavor, therefore, the taste of Georgian wines is different.
I went directly to Kvareli, a town, and an area in Kakheti to visit one of the two biggest wine-making factories Khareba. Khareba is very popular among tourists and it is a great place not only to see the tunnel where the wine is kept, or to be introduced to the winemaking technology, but also for wine tasting. There is also a wonderful restaurant with great Georgian food and wines and a terrace overlooking endless fields of grapes.
Where to stay?
Kvareli Eden is a beautiful hotel built in chateau style, located at the footsteps of the mountains and surrounded by fruit and grape gardens. Its main theme is wine: wine SPA procedures, wine shampoo, and cream, dark red linen, etc. If you have the time to relax and enjoy the SPA, wines, and nature, I’d recommend staying there for at least 3 days.
Read more about Kakheti (Coming soon…)
After Kakheti, I went back to Tbilisi and went to Stepantsminda to celebrate my Birthday.
Stepantsminda, formerly Kazbegi, is a small mountain town in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region of north-eastern Georgia at the footsteps of Mount Kazbek.
The history of this town goes back to early 1900’s. Back then, the people of this region lived at the footsteps of Mount Kuro. Late at night, when everyone was sleeping, an enormous mudflow was coming from the mountains, which could destroy all the houses in the village. Monk Stepan Pitskhelauri rang the church bells and warned people about the danger coming from the mountains. They left their homes that were destroyed by the mudflow and founded a new settlement Kazbegi at the footsteps of the Mount Kazbek. In 2007 the town was renamed to Stepantsminda in memory of the Monk who saved hundreds of people.
Stepantsminda was a popular mountain resort in the USSR and today it is a place with trendy hotels where the mountain tours and hikes begin.
Where to stay in Stepantsminda?
Rooms Kazbegi hotel is a restored Brutalist building and former Soviet resort that nods to its heritage while offering a warm, contemporary ambiance. It became famous for its terrace overlooking Mount Kazbek, design and, of course, for its SPA facilities.
Read more about Stepantsminda (coming soon)
On our way from Stepntsminda to Tbilisi we saw a beautiful church near a lake, so we just decided to stop there for a day and explore the area.
Ananuri is a castle complex on Aragvi River, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) from Tbilisi.
We decided to spend a night there, but we realized that spending 2-3 hours is just enough to explore the area. There is a hotel nearby, which is a dirty guest house. Just move further to Tbilisi or Stepantsminda.
Tbilisi is a beautiful city that keeps its old traditions and sets new trends in design, cuisine, and fashion. Its vibes are unique. The majority of the travel guides will tell you to explore the Old City, visit its churches, take a ride on a cable car or a funicular, visit sulfur baths and go for traditional dinner. And they would be right, do so! But do it all fast, because Tbilisi is unique and it has much more to offer than just touristic places. I have put together a perfect itinerary if you have only 48 hours in Tbilisi.
Where to Stay in Tbilisi?
I chose to stay at Rooms Hotel Tbilisi.
Fabrika is a multifunctional space in Tbilisi that is a hostel and also a place where travelers meet. It has many cafes and sho ps. Back in the USSR, this place used to be a garment factory called “Nino” that produced women’s clothes. Now you can buy some of those vintage clothes together with designer outfits at Flying Painter store.
Where to eat and drink?
In the evening, when the heat goes down, enjoy a glass of Saperavi in one of the cafes in the Old City and just feel the city’s vibes.
- Barbarestan – Georgian ancient haute-cuisine.
- Shavi Lomi – Expensive, yet cozy and authentic.
- «Bread House» Traditional restaurant.
- Funicular a restaurant with a great view of the city.
Read more about Tbilisi (Coming soon…)
Rooms Hotel in Tbilisi
Rooms Hotel Tbilisi is a former publishing house Samshoblo in the charming Vera neighborhood and is a hub for local and international creatives. The publishing house was renovated and turned into a hotel with a design combines elements of urban New York and Georgian traditions.
Rooms Hotel Tbilisi is set in the vibrant capital that showcases the best of old and new Georgia. It’s the heart of the transformed nation, where visitors will find ancient thermal baths and Byzantine churches equally at home as underground clubs and modern art galleries.
Mtskheta is one of the oldest cities in Georgia located approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Tbilisi at the confluence of the Aragvi river.
Safety – Georgia is a safe country. I felt safe in every city and region.
Smoking – in Georgia people smoke everywhere! In cafes, inside the public toilets, in taxi and marshrutka, next to children and pregnant women. It is absolutely normal in Georgia and we just have to accept that.
Transport in Georgia – Getting from and to
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