At the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Georgia can seem a bewildering blend of influences. The elegant capital, Tbilisi, now has a burgeoning cafe and theater scene, while Batumi on the Black sea cost is a dynamic boomtown where limousines cruise down palm-line boulevards. Yet the country more than lives up to its reputation as a wild frontier, from its time-warp Svan villages crowned with defensive towers to the pagants of Khevsureti who still speak in verses. And ranged above it all is the beautiful High Caucasus, a seventh heaven for walkers ans climbers.
Given the difficulties and unpredictabilities of travel in Georgia, some visitors will confine themselves to Tbilisi, with brief excursions to places such as Mtskheta and Davit-Gareja. However, the rewards for venturing outside the capital are great for those prepared to make the effort.
WHILST IN GEORGIA DO NOT MISS TO:
- Explore the remotest reaches of the High Caucasus
- Discover wild landscape and ancient villages along the georgian Military Highway
- Sample wine in the vinyards of Kakheti
- Tackle a traditional Georgian feast
- Marvel at frescoes in the spectacular monastery at Vardzia
- Catch a performance of polyphonic singing in Guria
When to visit
Georgia may not suffer so much from energy shortages these days, but winter is still not the smartest time to visit, unless you are just interested in Tbilisi and the ski resorts. High summer can be too hot and humid, but spring and autumn are ideal times to visit; in particular the golden autumn colours can be spectacular, and the wine harvest makes this a great time to visit Kakheti.
To the east, Kakheti is ideally placed for an outing of two to four days, sampling wines and churches, and to the north the Georgian Military Highway leads into the heart of the High Caucasus. The country's main axis is the highway from Tbilisi to Kutaisi and on to Poti or Batumi, or to Zugdidi and Abkhazia; this begins by following the Mtkvari and then crosses into the Rioni Basin in the west of the country. Batumi is one of the most pleasant and laid-back cities in Georgia, although the Black Sea's beaches are not really worth visiting. From Zugdidi it's also possible to head north into the heart of the Caucasus, to the region of Svaneti, where unique architecture and semi-pagan customs are preserved.