Georgia 5 Day Travel Itinerary
Georgia is still largely untrodden by tourists. With its jaw-dropping mountain scenery, historic cities, hearty food and welcoming people, it will only become more popular.
It's an all-weather country; equally in its pomp in both the snow laden winters, when the cities bring a warming appeal, or in the hot summers, when verdant hues capture the countryside.
Here’s how to make the most of 5 days in the country:
Kutaisi - Day 1 & 2
Served by incredibly cheap flights from Europe Kutaisi, a charming microcosm of the Caucuses, is the perfect entry point into Georgia.
Begin your first day by zig-zagging over the many bridges crossing the Rioni River, for refreshing views across the bank. Wind your way up to Green Bazaar, one of Georgia’s most vibrant marketplaces, replete with verdant vegetables, mellifluous spices, Khachapuri (Georgian cheese bread), and plenty of smiling vendors, always eager to share a glass of local wine. Take a stroll around Kutaisi Park observing the old-town architecture, including the imposing city hall, theatres, and the Colchis Fountain.
(River Rioni, Kutaisi, Georgia Image Credit: Tej Parikh)
Dine heartily in Baraqa, a cosy Georgian delicatessen, to summon up the energy to climb the steep steps up to Bagrati Cathedral. Explore the vast grounds and ruins surrounding the impressive cathedral, taking in the stunning panorama of Kutaisi and the Rioni below. Warm-up for the evening in one of several quaint coffee shops along Shota Rustaveli Avenue, before indulging at El Depo, the locals’ favourite Khinkali (dumpling) joint.
To make your way east to Tbilisi, grab a marshrutka, a small minivan, for a cheap, though quintessential, Georgian, 4 hour plus, road trip experience through some of the country's most impressive landscapes.
(Bagrati Cathedral, Georgia Image Credit: Tej Parikh)
Day 3 - Tbilisi
(Tblisi, Georgia Image Credit: Tej Parikh)
Georgia’s capital is an underdiscovered gem, boasting Georgian, Soviet, Byzantine and Neo-Classical European architecture.
Start by walking down Shota Rustaveli Avenue, the city’s busiest street, taking in the Opera Theatre, Parliament of Georgia, and Voronstov’s Palace, all the way down to Freedom/Liberty Square. Then wander around the maze of cobbled and rugged streets of Old Tbilisi, marvelling at some of the abandoned, yet mesmeric, buildings. Shuffle your way toward Sioni Cathedral, and cross the Mtkvari River over the Bridge of Peace. Explore Rike Park, and walk up to the steep cliff edge steps for the best views across the river.
(Old Tbilisi, Tbilisi, Georgia Image Credit: Tej Parikh)
Make your way toward Kote Afkhazi Street, passing Meteki Church and the Statue of King Vakhtang Gogasali, for Tbilisi most iconic hillside views. Then ride the cable car up to the ancient Narikala Fortress, which will give you a stunning birds eye view of the city’s churches and cathedrals. After exploring the botanical gardens, wind town hillside for an ever-stunning panorama of the city. Rest off with a coffee in the quaint Prospero bookshop, before dining over warming Georgia cuisine in Shkhara. End the day with a beer or two in the edgy shack-like Dive Bar.
Day 4 - Jvari, Mtskheta & Uplistsikhe
(Jvari Monastery viewpoint, Mtskheta, Georgia Image Credit: Tej Parikh)
Tbilisi is an ideal base with numerous sites within a day-trip from the city. Its easy and cheap to book on a tour ($30 for a round-trip), and totally worth it to draw upon a local guide’s knowledge.
You’ll usually begin at Jvari, a 6th Century Georgian Orthodox monastery, which is set against a stunning backdrop of emerald hills and the meeting of the turquoise Argavi and Mtkvari Rivers. In Uplistsikhe you’ll visit a abandoned rock-carved town, which was one of Georgia’s most important trading centres, and see numerous spectacular rock formations, before arriving at Mtskheta, one of Georgia’s oldest cities, where you will explore the old cobbled market streets, and the Svetitskoveli Cathedral.
(Uplistsikhe Caves, near Gori, Georgia Image Credit: Tej Parikh)
Day 5 - Kazbegi (Gergeti), Ananuri & Gudauri
The Kazbegi tour is one of the most popular, and weather dependent, so keep tabs on your arrival in Tbilisi.
You will likely begin at the Jinvali Water Reservoir along the Georgian Military Highway, where you’ll take in views of the vast, yet perfectly blue, lake. The next stop will be Ananuri, a picturesque castle complex with misty views across the wide Aragvi River. Next, strap yourself in for winding journey into the stunning mountainscapes of northern Georgia. Depending on the weather, you may be transferred to snow jeeps to make the incline up to Kazbegi. Here you will get one of Georgia’s most iconic views of Gergeti Trinity Church, perched on a hilltop, surrounded by the imposing mountainsides.
(Stephansminda town, Georgia Image Credit: Tej Parikh)
If you’re lucky your tour guide will take you for a traditional family lunch at homestay in nearby Stepantsminda in the valley—including warming, yet punchy, shots of Chacha (Georgian brandy). On the route back you will drive through snow-capped mountains and at Gudauri, you’ll get a wonderful view of the snowy valleyside alongside the colourful and cylindrical Russian Georgian Friendship Monument.
(Russian Georgian Friendship Monument, Gudauri, Georgia Image Credit: Tej Parikh)
By Tej Parikh
Tej is an international affairs and travel journalist. His work is archived at The Global Prism. He tweets @tejparikh90 and @theglobalprism. If you have ever been to Georgia and have any recommendations to share your thoughts in the comments section below.