Georgian wine is slowly making a name for itself world wide and is acknowledged as being one of, if not the, earliest form of wine making in the world. A trip to Kakheti, Georgia’s stunning wine region is a great way to learn about the wine making traditions, discover adorable old towns and picturesque monasteries and, of course, drink some wine!
Kakheti region consists of several towns and lots of wineries and monasteries. If you’re going at a relaxed pace you can easily spend a week enjoying the food, wine and culture of the region. But not many travellers have the luxury of our liberal schedule so below are ideas for exploring Kakheti in one, two or three days.
If you have more time in Georgia check out our itinerary suggestions here.
Transport to Kakheti
We’ve seen this region several times including with our own van, public transport, hire car and organised driver. Having your own vehicle and/or driver definitely makes the area more accessible as many of the vineyards and monasteries aren’t in the towns. However, for budget travellers there are public transport options between the towns.
Here is some basic information that will help with getting around the region:
Tbilisi to Telavi
Driving time: 1.5 hours
Shared taxi: 10 GEL per person (leave next to Isani metro station)
Telavi to Signagi
Driving time: 1 hour
Taxi: 10 GEL per person (negotiable)
Marshrutka: 5 GEL (only one per day, rumoured to be at 3 pm)
Tbilisi to Signagi
Driving time: 2 hours
Marshrutka: 6 GEL per person (leave and return approx every 2 hours)
Tbilisi to David Gareja Monastery
Driving time: 2.5 hours
Marshrutka: During the summer months there is a marshrutka running once per day from Freedom Square. It costs 25 GEL. However you can only then return to Tbilisi so visiting David Gareja as part of your Kakheti itinerary is really only possible with your own car or a driver.
Best Places to See in Kakheti
Telavi is a small, peaceful town in the heart of Georgia’s wine region. It’s home to a large fortress and a 900 year old tree and is a great base for exploring some of the vineyards and monasteries surrounding it. There is a small old town area with restored balconies similar to old town Tbilisi. We enjoyed dinner at Nadikvari Terassa Restaurant situated in a park with views out over the valley and Caucasus mountains in the background.
Where to stay in Telavi
We stayed here twice and can recommend both places. For a home stay style accommodation with large, bright rooms in the city centre have a look at Tinikos Guest House.
If you’re wanting a bit more luxury, Hotel & Wine Cellar Arge has lovely rooms, a swimming pool and an onsite restaurant and wine cellar – book now.
There are plenty of monasteries in Georgia but this is one of the nicer ones. The grounds have been carefully manicured and parts of the buildings have been restored. There is a small restaurant across the road which serves the best Georgian food.
Alaverdi is about 20 minutes drive from Telavi. There are regular marshrutkas going there from the bus stand behind the market in the town centre.
Twins Wine Cellar and Museum
From Alaverdi you can drive a further 18 km (or hitchhike/flag a taxi for 8 GEL) to this vineyard. They offer tours of the museum and a wine tasting for 22 GEL per person. We really enjoyed the museum and also had lunch there which was decent. However, the staff were really unfriendly and didn’t seem interested in showing us around at all. We would recommend going here only if you’re in the area and don’t have time to go to a different one.
Between Telavi and Signagi
This monastery is a popular stop and is pretty beautiful perched in top of a hill. There is a wine cellar where the monks used to make their own wine but this was unfortunately closed both times we visited. There is a small museum and a tower you can climb which cost 5 GEL per person. The monastery is only a short drive from Telavi but makes a good stop on the way to or from Signagi.
This monastery is at the top of a super steep hill and although it’s only about 1 km I don’t recommend walking. Unfortunately cars aren’t allowed up either so you’ll need to take the little electro shuttle which supposedly goes every 15 mins. There was no one else around when we were there so the guards let our driver take us up. The monastery itself is nothing too special but the views are really beautiful.
Kindzmarauli Corporation Wine Factory Tasting and Tour
This is a large wine factory which offers really informative tours in English. They make wine using both the traditional Georgian method and the European method. The tour shows you the giant Bulgarian tanks used for keeping the wine at a constant temperature, the room used for storing the qveri (clay pots) and the cellar of vintage wine bottles and barrels.
The tour is free and ends with a tasting which costs 2 GEL per glass. It is best to go earlier in the day to avoid the larger tour groups that often stop here. If you want to take some wine with you they also have a shop selling their extensive range of wines.
Signaghi is affectionately called ‘the city of love’ and is really worth seeing if you’re planning to visit the Kakheti region. The red roofs of the old town look gorgeous when viewed from afar and walking the cobbled streets and ancient walls is a lovely way to spend an afternoon. There are a few good restaurants in the town but Pheasant’s Tears comes highly recommended if you’re looking for a top class option.
Just a short walk out of Signaghi town is Bodme Monastery which has really beautiful grounds and is especially nice in the mornings before the tour groups arrive. On the way back to the town is a Café with nice views over the town which is a great place to stop for a cool drink or a coffee.
Where to stay in Signagi
For an amazing hotel complete with a pool for the summer months book a room at Hotel Brigitte. It’s located right in the old town and comes very highly recommended. Make sure you book in advance though as it’s very popular.
If you’re on a budget check out Zandarashvili Guesthouse. It’s a little more basic but gives you a taste or true Georgian hospitality with friendly hosts, homemade food and free flowing wine and chacha.
David Gareja Monastery
This monastery is almost impossible to get to without your own transport or a tour. It’s located not far from Udabno village between Signagi and Tbilisi but the roads surrounding it are terrible and a 4WD is advised. They had started resealing some of the roads recently though so there may be plans to do more.
The ancient monastery is built into the rocky cliff face and is nestled in some beautiful surroundings. The best views of the monastery are from the hill behind if you walk up a little further. It’s possible to visit the monastery complex in less than an hour but if you’re looking for a more rewarding experience and have some time, stop a night at the Oasis Club Udabno for a place to stay (Hotel Khutebi) with amazing Georgian food. From there you can hike to the monastery which takes around two hours.
One Day Tour of Kakheti
One day is going to be a whirlwind but there’s no reason you can’t get a taste of the area (and the wine) if a day is all you have. I would suggest you book a tour or hire a driver to maximise your time but if you want to do it by public transport you can definitely get to Signagi and back within a day.
I would suggest driving towards Telavi, stopping there and at two monasteries on the way to Signagi. In Signagi take a wander before stopping for lunch (and a wine tasting if you’re not driving) at Pheasant’s Tears. You can then see Bodme Monastery on the way back to Tbilisi.
Along the streets of the old town in Tbilisi you will find plenty of tour agencies offering day tours to the region or you can book in advance online.
Two Day Kakheti Itinerary
An overnight trip is a great way to see the Kakheti region and there are lots of brilliant accommodation options to choose from including guesthouses, hotels and even a couple of hostels popping up.
I would recommend staying in Signagi as it is a little more atmospheric than Telavi and also has some nicer accommodation options. You can begin your day by getting to Telavi and taking some time to explore the town. From there you can visit Alaverdi and grab some lunch at the restaurant opposite before starting the route past Gremi, Nekresi and a wine tasting at Kindzmarauli Corporation.
Make your way to Signagi in time for sunset and dinner at one of the many local restaurants. The following morning you can wander the cobbled streets of the old town in Signagi and head to Bodme Monastery to admire the grounds and the newly built church. If you’re feeling brave there is even a zip line to take you back over to the town.
After a delicious lunch (and more wine) at Pheasant’s Tears it will be time to head back to Tbilisi either with your car, driver or by jumping in the marshrutkas which leave from behind the police station at 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 4 pm and 6 pm (6 GEL per person).
*We paid 100 GEL for a driver to take 3 of us from Telavi to Signagi stopping at 2 monasteries and a winery.
Three day Kakheti Itinerary
Giving yourself three days in Kakheti will allow you to slow down the pace and truly soak in the vibes of the region and maybe indulge in a few extra glasses of the local tipple. Complete the two day itinerary as suggested above but there is no need to hurry and you can take your time between places or even check in to Hotel Brigitte in Signagi and relax by the pool.
On day three of your trip you can take the scenic drive to Udabno and grab lunch at the café at Oasis Club before heading further to visit David Gareja Monastery. If you’re into hiking you could also do the drive on day two, stay at Oasis Club’s Khutebi Hotel in their affordable dorms or private cabins and then hike to the monastery. It’s an easygoing but beautiful hike and the landscape here is very different to other areas of Georgia.