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Highlights of Georgia

In Perun Tours, we were impatient to visit Georgia for a long time – and we took the chance as soon as the pandemic travel restrictions were relaxed enough. We started our journey with a 3-day stay in the isolated wine resort of Akhasheni, located in the Kakheti region of Georgia. The resort itself is outside the city, in the midst of Kakhetian fields and vineyards, and offers a beautiful, relaxing and serene presence. Its modern amenities (restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, spa) are given a traditional treatment and provide a great blend of Georgian tradition and modern hospitality.

resort and pool

Akhasheni resort and outdoor pool


Surrounding vineyards with backdrop of Caucasus mountains

Kakheti Region and the wine tours

Although the purpose of this visit was to relax and spend 3 days in the serenity of Kakhetian nature, we could not resist the offered activities and we took the wine tasting tour, where the guide took us through the modern Akhasheni winery and its process of winemaking, while offering a taste of their wines and spirits. This tour, however, was just a light preparation for the later Kakhetian wine tour which took us through the wider region, visiting a location of one of the largest most traditional wineries in Georgia.

winery entrance

Entrance to the underground winery

ground barrels

Ceramic wine barrels in the ground, with tools

Georgians are very proud of their winemaking tradition, with many sources advocating that the winemaking originated in Georgia itself. In the underground depths of this winery (which is so cold that we were offered blankets along the way), we were introduced to their 4000-years old wine making process: from crushing the grapes, through storing them in deeply buried ceramic pots of 500-1000 liters, the fermentation and bottling – all of it was explained and demonstrated by the patient local guide. In addition to this, we also took part in making some traditional Georgian sweets (churchkhela) and bread.

After the wine tour, we headed for the capital city – Tbilisi. We started the trip early in the morning, so on the way we visited some of the most important sights in Georgia. First among them was the city of Sighnagi whose ancient medieval walls attract many tourists, especially since a portion of these walls is walkable. The city itself is perched on a hill, so the walk on these walls (and many points in the city as well) will offer some breathtaking panoramic views of the surroundings.

sighnagi walls

Natalia and family at the walls of Sighnagi

bodbe gardens

Beautiful gardens of the Bodbe monastery

This city also hosts one of the most holy and revered religious sites in Georgia – the Bodbe monastery – which, aside from the beautiful church and gardens, contains the tomb of St. Nino, the saint woman from the 3rd century who brought the Christianity to Georgia. The monastery complex is so beautiful that we could not resist spending a couple of hours just walking around the gardens and enjoying the views and the relaxing greenery of the place, before heading on to Tbilisi.

Tbilisi - Capital of Georgia

The capital of Georgia since the 12th century, Tbilisi is a city of contrasting yet intertwining contradictions. In this place, one can witness the remains of its early greatness, roots of the Christianity mixed with the picturesque remains of the long Persian / Iranian rule and the boxy, grey buildings that the last 200 years of Russian domination have left behind, just to be amazed with the ultra-modern creations such as the Bridge of Peace and the Rike Park Exhibition Hall. It is not a surprise that almost all these elements can be found in the small, walkable center of the city – from the Freedom Square, down to the Rike Park and the Europe Square over which stands the imposing Metekhi church.

tbilisi aerial

View of Rike Park with the Music and Exhibition Hall and Bridge of Peace

old tbilisi

Tbilisi Old Town


Narikala Fortress on top of Old Town


View of Metekhi Church from a boat on the Kura river

A short walk on Metekhi bridge across the river takes you into the vibrant Old City with the famous Sulphur baths and colored buildings, just crammed with small hotels, restaurants and shops and crawling with visitors. On top of the city, like an eternal guardian, stands the Narikala Fortress with the statue of Mother Georgia. This whole area can be walked in a manner of 3-4 hours, and along the way, there are some great highlights: you can take the cable car ride from the Rike Park to the Narikala Fortress and back down, take a rest in some of the very friendly cafés in the old city, and stroll by the Sulphur baths through the Abanotubani district all the way to the waterfalls and back. Do not forget to have a couple of meals in the traditional restaurants that are all around.

mtskheta market

Market stall in old Mtskheta market

mtskheta panorama

Panorama of Mtskheta with two rivers, taken from the Jvari monastery

natalija ice cream

Natalia eating wine ice cream

A very short drive from Tbilisi is another small but lovely city worth visiting: Mtskheta lies on the confluence of the rivers Mtkvari (Kura) and Aragvi. The way to the city passes by the ancient monastery of Jvari, which is a short stop on the way and offers a beautiful panorama of the city on the bank of the two rivers. Mtskheta, though small, is a very important city for the Georgian history. Indeed, it is not only one of the oldest cities in Georgia, but also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. To top it all, it was a capital of the early Georgian kingdom (also called Iberia) until the 6th century, and it is the place where the Christianity in Georgia was made an official state religion in the 4th century – very worth of its status as an UNESCO World Heritage city. Some of the most important landmarks in this small city include the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, built by the legendary king Vakhtang Gorgasali, which hosts the tombs of a large number of Georgian kings; the vibrant city market offering all kinds of souvenirs, traditional food and sweets, and what surprised us the most – the ice cream made of wine!

Mountains of Gudauri and Kazbegi

After we got familiar with Tbilisi and its surroundings, it was time to take a trip up the Caucasus mountains. We started from Tbilisi in the morning and took the road to the north. It is a scenic road that takes you through the beautiful nature of Georgia. One spot that caught our attention was the Zhinvali reservoir, where we stopped for a short break, and has magnificent views of the huge artificial lake and surrounding mountains. The road also passes by the Ananuri fortress, which is perched on one end of the artificial lake, and through the Gudauri ski resort.


Panoramic view of the Zhinvali reservoar

The highlight of our Kazbegi visit was the trip up to the Gergheti St. Trinity church, which is located high up the mountains, on an altitude of 2170 meters, atop a steep hill that can only be climbed by a special offroad vehicle through an extremely narrow, winding, rocky road with climbs and descends that make it impossible for standard vehicles and even SUVs. The short, 10-minute drive to the church is an adventure in itself – be ready for a lot of bumps! And once at the top, one wonders how all the building materials were hauled up in the 14th century when the church was built! After such adventure, the nearby small resort village of Stepantsminda and its many hotels and restaurants come as a very much needed refreshment.


Natalia and family at the Gergeti church


Paraglider taking advantage of beautiful Kazbegi mountains

The food in Georgia

Any description of Georgia would be incomplete without some insight into its unique and amazing food. Our hearts were captured by the khachapuri, which is usually a circular pastry filled with amazing Georgian cheese, although it comes in several forms: Adjarian khachapuri with cheese and egg on top, Imeretian khachapuri with cheese inside the dough, Megrelian with cheese both inside and on top … variations abound. Another famous staple is the khinkali, which are large dumplings with meat and vegetable filling, and also containing some of the broth inside, so be careful when eating this delicious appetizer. Also, Georgia being a very green country, the cuisine is full of fresh fruits and vegetables – our absolute favorite was the fresh salad with walnut dressing. It is mostly made of cucumber and tomato with fresh parsley, and topped with a dressing made of crushed walnuts, a bit of garlic, olive oil and lemon or vinegar. Apart from these, there are many unique dishes – stews, roasts, bakes – and they differ from one restaurant to another. We encourage you to try everything. For the travelers insisting on Halal food, it is also very easy to find – having in mind that not only around 10% of Georgian population is Muslim but there also is a significant tourist influx from the Arabian Gulf countries, there are all kinds of restaurants offering halal food.


Imeretian Khachapuri


Khinkali dumplings


Georgian salad with walnut dressing

The Georgian people have immense pride in their history and unique culture. Big part of that culture is their early Christian heritage, and naturally they are emphasizing their churches and monasteries which are tens of centuries old. However, if the amount of churches is simply too much for you, there is no shortage of other attractions and activities to capture your fancy: take a boat trip on the river (we absolutely enjoyed it), take a ride on one of many open electric cars whose drivers are semi-guides and, amidst the blaring music, they will explain to you the sites, parks and buildings that you are passing; and do not forget that Georgia is also a heaven for active sports such as hiking, kayaking and paragliding.

Our trip was too short to include some important places – such as the seaside resort Batumi, the Kolkheti National Park, cities of Kutaisi and Gori, and the wonderful Prometheus caves. The next journey to Georgia will be dedicated to places we missed out, and we are looking forward to that!

Georgia offers visa on arrival for many nationalities and UAE residents. It is easily reachable from UAE with affordable flights from Fly Dubai and Air Arabia. Perun Tours provides various travel packages to Georgia ranging from 4 to 13 nights, with different itineraries and visits to different cities and regions, inclusive of flights, accommodation, tours and activities. For more information, head to our Georgia offers to see and book our packages, or just ask for a trip quotation.