Georgia

In Georgia

September 7, 2017

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

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?

Elegant Restaurant at Hilton: Restaurant Terrassa Askaneli.
National Adjarian cuisine: Adjarian House.
A restaurant with a beautiful view: 360 Sky Bar |Restaurant  at Sheraton
 
Sky Bar at Hilton
Beach club (also at night) Boom Boom Beach

What to do?

Visit the Batumi Botanical Garden, which is the largest in Caucasus.
Take a boat tour along the coast line of Batumi.
Walk around the city, eat and drink wines.
Spend a couple of days on the beach and enjoy the beautiful sunset.
Watch the moving figures of Ali and Nino a devoted to their sad love story.
Explore the Europe Square.

How to get around?

Most of the distances in the city are walkable. If you don’t want to walk, just use a taxi.
When I travel, I always use offline app maps.me.

From Batumi, I flew to Tbilisi and went to Kakheti with a driver.

Kakheti

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 

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)

Ananuri

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

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.

Shopping

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.

Restaurants:

Read more about Tbilisi (Coming soon…)

Tbilisia Narinala Fortress Veronica Pototska Siniciliya

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

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.

Useful Information

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

Tbilisi – Batumi
There are four ways to get from Tbilisi to Batumi: by car, by bus, by train and by plane.
Train tickets are available here Georgian Railway. There are overnight trains and fast trains.
You can buy bus tickets here Metro Georgia.
 
Tbilisi – Stepantsminda (Kazbegi)
Getting from Tbilisi to Stepantsminda might be an … adventurous experience. First of all, Georgian drivers drive fast and don’t follow the rules. Therefore I just don’t recommend you renting a car and driving on your own. Go with a driver.
Another way to get to Stepantsminda is marshrutka. This is a small bus that is common in all Post-Soviet countries. (Marshrut – means route in Russian, Marshrutka is a private bus that goes by the same route).
These buses leave once they are full, approximately every 20-30 minutes. Once all seats are taken, the driver will give you two extra plastic stools. Some buses are very old so I highly recommend you to wait for the next one and be the first ones to take the best seats, preferably next to the driver. Trust me, the bus will be packed. All buses go from the bus station at Didube metro station.
 
Tbilisi – Mtskheta
Buses from Tbilisi to Mtskheta go from the bus station at Didube metro station.
 
Tbilisi -Kakheti
Buses (marshrutka) to Kakheti go from Okriba bus station. You can go to Kakheti by bus, but it is very hard to get around without your own car or bus. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t recommend driving a car in Georgia, and especially if you go to the wine region. Hire a guide with a car or rent a car at Avis or Herz with a driver.

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Pin this post to save your perfect itinerary in Georgia. 

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15 Comments

  • Reply carmyy September 7, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    Your photos are stunning, I love that shot of you with the horses. Bummer about all the smoking though, I’m still trying to get head around that concept as in Canada, we’ve banned indoor smoking in restaurants!

  • Reply Blair Villanueva September 8, 2017 at 5:34 am

    This is the first time I read about Georgia, and it is beautiful beyond words. You are making me pack my luggage and book a flight to the city 🙂
    I am pretty sold with those vineyard photos.

  • Reply My Travelogue by Bhushavali September 8, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Whoa! You look spectacular in the 1st pic. I love how you’re sitting on a cliff! Just wow!
    Eastern Europe is in my plans for next year. Hope I’ll get to visit Georgia as well.
    Its so beautiful when compared to the over exposed western cities.
    The winelover in me wouldn’t miss Khaketi!

  • Reply Juliette Blackman September 8, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    What a great and comprehensive post! Your photos really make me want to visit each of these places they’re so stunning. I cannot wait to visit eastern Europe I have yet to visit those countries.

  • Reply Jodie September 8, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    I love that I’ve never heard of these places in Georgia before, even the wine region despite working in a drinks company! Looks nice and relaxing. Your photos are stunning! The first one gives me goosebumps!

  • Reply Tom @ Adventurous Travels September 8, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    Thanks so much for this post! I fell in love in Georgia right away and it still remains one of my favourite country! I love your blog as it is one of very few that describes some unique and unusual places like Georgia, Ukraine etc. Amazing post! I can’t wait to return to Georgia and see the mountainous regions in the north of the country 🙂

  • Reply zeefash September 9, 2017 at 11:04 am

    Girl, your pictures are straight up giving me life. From the first image to the last. Georgia looks amazing!

  • Reply Elena September 11, 2017 at 6:30 am

    I LOVE your pictures, they are gorgeous! I like how in the picture where you are holding the grapes you matched them with your bracelet, but my favorite has to be the first one. That’s really breathtaking!

  • Reply Candy September 13, 2017 at 5:59 am

    Your photos are simply stunning and makes me want to visit every single place you suggest! I would love to visit Kakheti as I am interested in wine these days. I have never had wine from Georgia and think it would be a great destination to go wine tasting.

  • Reply abcdefghizzy September 14, 2017 at 2:23 am

    You absolutely sold me on Georgia with your beautiful assortment of photos! Love the coloring and the styling of your shots! Also, your taste in hotels is impeccable. I would love to stay at Hotel Kazbegi in Stepantsminda and Rooms Hotel! This really is the ultimate travel guide to Georgia!

  • Reply Sandy N Vyjay September 14, 2017 at 2:43 am

    Georgia is such a wonderful gem of a place. All the places that you have described are unknown treasures waiting to be explored. I love the fact that most if not all of these lovely places are pristine and relatively untouched by commercial trappings. Of course the photos are stunning and bring alive the beauty of the land.

  • Reply AuthenticTravels September 14, 2017 at 7:22 am

    So wonderful to read about less touristic countries, although Georgia is becoming a well-known destination. I was fascinated to see people with tents in a garden /park from Batumi. Is it really possible and safe to camp there? I am a great tent /camping lover.

  • Reply Ozzy September 15, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Thanks for a great post. Heading to Georgia next month. The pictures and compositions are amazing. Have a couple of camping trips lined up in Tbilisi as well as Batumi.

  • Reply Claire (@clairesturz) September 15, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    I hadn’t realised there was so much to do in Georgia! I have heard great things about Tbilisi, but I would love to go to Kakheti and do some wine tasting there! Actually, Id like to go everywhere!

  • Reply toughcookiemommy September 19, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Georgia really does look like a beautiful place to visit. My brother has been trying to get me to do more traveling with him.

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