I’ve kept myself to a manageable 20 things to do in Georgia but in reality there are thousands. Georgia quickly climbed our favourite country list when we spent five weeks there last year and has had us dreaming of it ever since. So much so that we’ve made plans to completely change directions and head back there this summer. If you have Georgia on your mind get inspired by this taster list of incredible things to do in Georgia.
And then get planning with our ultimate Georgia itinerary guide. Including info about transport, accommodation and the best things to see in Georgia.
1. Eat Khachapuri
A trip to Georgia is not complete without gorging on this local delicacy. Kachapuri comes in a variety of forms and is basically bread and copious quantities of cheese. The most famous variety is Adjaran Khachapuri, a boat shaped bread filled with melted cheese and topped with an egg…delicious!
Georgian food is one of our main reasons for returning, read our list of top Georgian foods to try on your trip.
2. Visit Gelati Monastery
Georgia is full of monasteries and churches, hilltop monasteries, ancient monasteries, painted monasteries, there’s one in every town. One of the most spectacular is the Gelati Monastery outside of Kutaisi. The exterior of the monastery was under construction when we were there but the interior more than made up for it.
Mini buses go here each morning from Kutaisi and from there you can walk to Motsameta monastery which is in a stunning hilltop setting. For more ideas of things to do in and around Kutaisi and a guide for the walk between the monasteries read this.
3. Visit Batumi Botanic Gardens
The Botanic Gardens in Batumi have one the most diverse ranges of flora and fauna in the world. Outside of the quirky buildings and bustling beachside of Batumi is an ecological wonderland. Well laid out and with great views of the city you can spend a relaxed day wandering the gardens and enjoying a picnic. You can even camp in the gardens overnight.
For more fun in Batumi check out - Ten Weird and Wonderful Things to do in Batumi.
4. Hike to the Church in Kazbegi
Kazbegi is a great overnight trip from Tbilisi. From the little mountain town you can do a couple of hours hiking to a little church with some incredible mountain views. For those not into walking you can hire a jeep to the top to see the mountain panorama. There are many guesthouses in the town but if your budget stretches you should consider checking in at the stunning Rooms Hotel for views of the church and mountains from your bed. If, like us, it’s a bit out of your budget you can head there for a coffee or lunch in the amazing café.
5. Fall in Love with Signaghi
Called the city of love, this is the place for all wine lovers. A cute little town surrounded by vineyards it’s a perfect weekend away for wine tastings and vineyard tours. You can also visit as a day trip from Tbilisi.
6. Get a Scrub in the Tbilisi Sulphur Baths
Tbilisi is built on natural sulphur springs and there is an entire district of the city dedicated it underground sulphur baths where you can soak and get a cleansing scrub and massage in traditional Georgian style. Some of the bathhouses have been beautifully restored while more budget options have Soviet era edge to them. A popular attraction is the façade of Orbelliani Baths which includes a plaque quoting Alexander Pushkin after his visit to the baths.
Find everything you need to know about visiting the Tbilisi sulphur baths here.
7. See the Chronicle of Georgia
Often missed off people’s lists of things to do in Georgia is this incredible monument outside of Tbilisi. The immense pillars are carved with the story of Georgia's history and sit on top of a hill overlooking the Tbilisi Sea (lake). Reachable by metro and a walk or with taxi from Tbilisi. There are seldom other tourists about so you can enjoy the gigantic carvings and beautiful lake views without being disturbed. There is no cost to enter.
8. See a Georgian puppet show
In a quirky, crooked building in Tbilisi old town is a puppet theatre. During the season there are different performances every night, usually with English subtitles. Tickets are available outside the theatre and often sell out a couple of days in advance. For a fun and unique evening in Tbilisi head to the theatre to see what’s on.
9. See the Georgia-Russia friendship monument
If you take the trip from Tbilisi to Kazbegi you’ll no doubt stop at the monument. A huge semi-circular structure with colourful mosaics. The monument also has fantastic views out over the mountains and valley. The monument was undergoing a facelift when we were there and should be looking shiny and new with a proper parking area for tourist buses.
10. Go book shopping
Tbilisi has some great English bookshops as well as cute market stands, book swaps and libraries. There are lots of things to keep book lovers busy, so much that we wrote a full article – A Booklover's Guide to Tbilisi.
Get your hands on some Georgian literature at Prospero's Bookstore.
11. Take a flight to Mestia
This is top of our bucket list when we return to Georgia. The mountains in the north west of Georgia have amazing hiking opportunities but they can be a bit difficult to get to. Thankfully flights were introduced and for around $20US you take a short scenic flight to Mestia to begin your hike. If you prefer not to fly you can also get there through a combination of trains or buses and minivans.
12. Stay in an old Soviet sewing factory
For an unique accommodation experience book yourself in to Fabrika hostel. This huge building was once a sewing factory and has been converted into a hostel, café, bar, coworking space and has a courtyard filled with pop up shops, restaurants and startups. For all things hip and arty spend your days and nights at this amazing space. Make sure you get the buffet breakfast, one of the best breakfasts we’ve ever eaten!
13. Drink Chacha
This drink sounds way more appealing than it is. The local spirit is home-brewed and can be anything up to 60% alcohol! Locals drink it by the bottle and if you spend any length of time in a Georgian home or out with Georgians chances are you'll be offered some to try. If spirits are your thing, go for it! If you aren't into being drunk from fumes then maybe steer clear!
14. See Georgia's ancient capital from above
Mtshketa (try saying that three times fast!) is just a 30 minute drive from Tbilisi and is the ancient capital of Georgia. The town itself is small and can be easily explored in a day trip. While there make sure you get a taxi up to Jvari Monastery on the hilltop overlooking the town for some brilliant views of the cathedral and surrounding areas.
15. Visit the Stalin Museum
Did you know Stalin was born in Georgia? In the little Georgian town of Gori, Josef Stalin was born and grew up. Although the town has little else going for it they do have a quirky museum dedicated to the Russian dictator. Definitely an unusual attraction for anyone passing through.
16. See the Ali and Nino statue by night
The story of Ali and Nino is known as the Romeo and Juliet of the Caucasus. A young couple from Georgia and Azerbaijan who just struggle to be together through turbulent times in their countries histories. On the waterfront in Batumi is a huge statue of the couple made from metal plates. Every evening the statue is lit up and the figures begin to move towards each other. Just as they are about to embrace they move through each other. A beautiful statue and a beautiful story.
Get a copy of the book here.
17. Wander the Tbilisi Old Town
The old town of Tbilisi features some of the most stunning balconies and brightly painted window frames. In the centre the houses have been lovingly restored and look great but we far preferred wandering some of the backstreets and discovering the whimsical beauty of some of the more rundown places. Picture spiral staircases, overgrown creeps, ornately carved wooden frames and curious cats!
For more ideas for Tbilisi read our Tbilisi City Guide.
18. Drink Georgian wine
Georgian's pride themselves on their wine and rightly so. Georgia is one of the oldest wine region's in the world and Georgian wine is traditionally made in giant clay pots underground but there is also an increasing market for European style wine. There are wine tastings available all over Tbilisi as well as wine tours to the Kakheti wine region to visit the vineyards, eat delicious food and of course sample some of the finest Georgian wine.
19. Ride Stalin's cable cars
In the mining town of Chiatura the Soviet government built some rickety looking cable cars to speed up the miners trip to work. The cable cars have questionable safety standards but are still in use today. Although rust and disrepair is slowly claiming some of the stations so get in quick if you want to take a hair-raising trip on these little boxes of history.
I didn't think visiting Georgia in winter would be very appealing until I discovered they have a huge ski season. Skiing isn't my thing but for snow enthusiasts Georgia offers cheap, beautiful and quiet ski slopes throughout the winter season. Day passes start from as little as $2 and some of the views look incredible. A few days skiing followed by wine tasting and a soak in the Tbilisi baths sounds like the perfect winter adventure, Georgia really does have it all!
So know you know why we fell in love with this gorgeous little country and can't wait to get back for more! If you're interested in a trip to Georgia have a read of some of our planning and itinerary ideas. Feel free to ask us any questions in the comments below!