City culture and charming countryside - that’s the country of Georgia in a nutshell. From the capital of Tbilisi, with its Silk Road history, to the rugged Caucasus Mountains, rustic vineyards and Orthodox cathedrals, there are so many reasons to love this border country between Europe and Asia. Here are the main reasons we love it.
Want to feel welcomed? Visit Georgia. This is a country where there’s a saying that “a guest is sent from God,” so expect to be treated with the same warmth as would a family member. You may find yourself with an invitation to dinner in a local home or offered a private tour of local attractions, along with a narrated history of the nation. (We can arrange for both of these as part of a tailored, small-group tour.)
If guests are sent from heaven, well, the food is, as well. Reflecting the country’s diverse landscape, the cuisine is varied - from meat- and dough-based options to vegetarian specialties. A definite must: the national dish of khinkali, a meat dumpling with a little broth inside, or filled with potato, mushroom or cheese. Another favorite: khachapuri, a cheese pie served in many different variations for dinner throughout the country.
A Way with Wellness
From rural spa retreats to lake resorts in wine country, Georgia knows how to do wellness. At an outdoorsy, chateau-style resort in Kakheti, you can sink into a milk and honey bath or thalassotherapy treatment. Or, stay at a slick city hotel with an even slicker spa and outdoor pool deck in Tbilisi. (Also in the capital, visit the sulphur baths in the Abanotubani neighborhood.) In the forested area of Borjomi, famous for its sparkling spring water, soak in the hammam and indulge in treatments inspired by the Silk Route.
Start your architectural tour in Tbilisi, where you’ll see examples of Soviet structures and art nouveau masterpieces. Then, head to the David Gareja Cave Monastery complex, a two-hour drive from the capital, but worth it to explore this sixth-century cave system. It was discovered by St. David Gareja, one of 13 Assyrian monks who spread Christiainty throughout Georgia.
We’ve mentioned it, but now we give it its due … Tbilisi is as captivating a capital city as they come. Tour the ancient Old Tbilisi district, with its old Georgian and Armenian churches, mosques and synagoges. The first settlement in Tbilisi is said to have been in the 4th millennium BC. Later, it became a multicultural crossroads on the Silk Road - an eclecticism you can see today reflected in the old and new.
Europe’s Highest Village
Here’s something fun to have on your bucket list - visiting Ushguli, Europe’s highest village. Sitting up in the Caucasus Mountains at 7,217 feet above sea level, Ushguli is the continent’s highest continuously inhabited settlement. Medieval defense towers are connected to each house, all of which sit at the foot of Mount Shkhara, the highest point in the country. At one time, the Svaneti region was cut off from the rest of Georgia, cementing its unique and timeless culture that you’ll see evidence of when you visit. Ushguli and the region of Upper Svaneti are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Sure, France, Italy and Greece are your go-tos when talking about European wines, but did you know that Georgia is actually one of the world’s oldest wine regions? Archaeologists have discovered that the Stone Age settlements here were producing wine up to 8,000 years ago! The Georgian tradition is to ferment grape juice in clay vessels called kvevris. Expand your palette here, where there are hundreds of indigenous grape varieties. While not all homemade varieties are winners, there are a number of excellent Georgian vineyards producing great wines. Try the oak barrel-aged red wine made from Saperavi grapes in the Kakheti wine region, or the white Tsinandali, made from a blend of Rkatsiteli and Mtvani grapes.
Have we convinced you that Georgia is a must-see European gem? Let’s chat. You can sign up to schedule a consultation or sign up for my weekly newsletter for more inspiration.