The perfect 5-day itinerary for Georgia

A lot of history, amazing nightlife, charming cobbled stone streets, the lovely Caucasus mountains, lush verdant lakeside and riverside towns, exquisite churches and great wine- these are some of the few reasons to visit Georgia, the Asian/ European country increasingly becoming a popular tourist destination. Hardly a 3-hour flight from where I live (Dubai), it is one of the places that I had heard so much about but was waiting to get a long weekend off to book a last-minute flight. A whirlwind trip to a pretty country aspiring to be European, placed at the crossroads of Asia and Europe geographically as well as culturally, it was an interesting and unique experience. Here is the perfect 5-day itinerary for Georgia.

There were things I missed out on, which I would have loved to do, given more time. If you’re planning a trip, here are a few things you need to keep in mind:

-       For those holding a residence visa of any of the GCC countries, the visa is granted upon arrival and is free of charge (they just stamp your passport) and the only document required is a return ticket and travel insurance.

-       If you’re not a resident of the GCC countries and are required to pre-apply for a visa as per your nationality, you can still get visa-free entry into Georgia if you hold a valid US visa.

-       In case none of the above requirements are fulfilled, it is easy to apply for an e-visa online which takes about 5 days to be processed.

-       Although there are a lot of blog posts and TripAdvisor posts warning against self-drive, I would recommend renting a car if you plan to explore the countryside. Outside Tbilisi city, the roads are quite open and traffic organized.

-       If you’re not comfortable driving on your own, there are several taxi (private) operators that offer car along with a driver/guide on a daily rate basis (for up to 10 hours). I had a wonderful experience with Day Trip Georgia in a private 3-day tour from Tbilisi at USD 330.

You can plan your itinerary for Georgia according to your interests and because I wanted to make sure I experience the diversity of the country, I decided to cover a little bit of everything- from old towns and historical churches to beautiful landscapes and peaceful countryside. Here’s my recommended itinerary for 5 days (with alternative plans and options, should you decide to spend more time).


Day 1: Tbilisi Old Town

On the first day, spend some time exploring the lovely old capital city, Tbilisi. Ancient churches, monasteries, cobbled stone streets and charming architecture will come alive with street art, music, cafes and bars, funky shisha places, clubs and friendly people. A strong Asian influence comes in cahoots with European culture, creating a vibe that is unique, fun and full of energy.

Although modernization is visible, the soul of the city lies in the old town, where the zigzagging lanes, street markets, colourful houses and al fresco cafes maintain a certain charisma. Walking is the best way to explore this area and many historical structures will be found at a stone’s throw from each other.

In your itinerary for Georgia, I would recommend to spend 2 days in Tbilisi.

Tbilisi

Suggested read: How to spend 48-hours in Tbilisi


Day 2: Mksheta, Gori &  Uplistsikhe

Mksheta is the old capital of Georgia and is hardly a 20-minute drive from Tbilisi city. It is the birthplace of Christianity in Georgia and houses beautiful cathedrals with medieval architecture, a touristy cobbled-stone street with shops and food stalls, and a monastery perched on top of the hill which sets an amazing backdrop to the town, which is on the banks of the rivers -Mtkvari and Aragvi.

The tourist market was one of my favourite places on this trip. It surrounds the famous Svetitskhoveli cathedral and has winding lanes and stone houses, which are gorgeous and take you back in time. This is the perfect place to buy souvenirs and get pictures clicked, with an ancient feel. The  Svetitskhoveli cathedral, a grand building located in the middle of the market, is said to date back to the 11th century and have magical healing powers. Christ’s robe (?!) is said to be buried under this place of worship which is also the burial place of many monarchs. Keep about 1.5 - 2 hours to explore this place.

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral , Mksheta

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral , Mksheta

Cobbled stone streets of Mksheta

Mksheta Tourist Market

From here, head to Jvari Monastery on the hilltop. Not only is this ancient Orthodox church a marvel in its architecture and design, the views from its terrace are breathtaking. You can see the old city of Mksheta with the confluence of the two rivers below, and houses with red roofs that stand in stark contrast to the sprawling greenery around them.

View from the top near Jvari Monastery

View from the top near Jvari Monastery

From here, head to Gori, a town famous for one reason – this is where Stalin was from! The most popular place to visit here is the Stalin museum, our driver wasn’t very happy to bring us to this town (or the museum for that matter) and seemed quite restless and uncomfortable till we were ready to leave and move to our next destination.

The museum, although interesting, is hard to make sense of unless you have a guide. Most inscriptions are not in English which makes it tough to understand much. The town is home to Stalin’s supporters and admirers, and thus the museum does not display much of his negative or bad deeds.

Stalin Museum, Gori

Stalin Museum, Gori

Stalin Museum, Gori

Another popular place to visit, which is a 40-minute drive from here, is the ancient cave city of Uplistsikhe. It is known to be one of the oldest settlements in Georgia, dating back to the 2nd century BC and many temples have been unearthed here which are from before the arrival of Christianity in the region. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes as climbing these rocks is not an easy task and the area is quite large to be explored. During the summer, the arid landscape can make you very dehydrated so make sure to carry water with you as you go up, the cafes are only at the bottom.  Keep about 1-1.5 hours to explore this place.

Ancient cave city of Uplistsikhe

Ancient cave city of Uplistsikhe

Ancient cave city of Uplistsikhe

Drive back to Tbilisi which is at about 2.5 hours distance.


Day 3: Annanuri, Gadauri & Kazbegi

This was the best day in my itinerary for Georgia because although I really wanted to explore a variety of things including historical and cultural places, the mountains are what captured my heart in Georgia. All the three towns were equally charming. As you begin your trip from Tbilisi, in about 30 minutes, you will witness some of the most amazing, green landscapes. Stunning valleys and rivers with take your breath away and hidden spots such as cafés and restaurants serving locally-fermented wine are scattered across the area, so go slow and find your little treasure of a place.

I found a cute little river-side bar and although nobody spoke English, the setting amidst nature was so serene, I almost spent an hour just taking a dip in the cool waters and sipping on some great white wine.

As you drive through the winding mountain roads, known as the Georgian Military Highway, you will come to a gorgeous blue lake, the only one I saw in my trip to Georgia. Jinvali Lake or reservoir as they sometimes call it, continues along the driving road until you arrive at the Ananuri complex, featuring a fortress, churches, and towers from the 13-16th centuries. Set in the backdrop of the Caucasus mountains, the architecture is enchanting and walk inside the fortress is a must! You might also want to take a dip in the waters behind the complex, in the summer.  A souvenir market just outside the complex is a great place to strike some good bargains.

Ananuri Fort Complex

Ananuri Fort Complex

Ananuri Fort Complex

After Ananuri, head to Gadauri, where the landscapes get even lovelier. This is where the ski resort is located, however, during the summer, it is hard to find any snow at all. You may, however, want to try the para-gliding from here because of the amazing views over the valley. A viewing platform decorated with mosaics, located on the edge of the hill is a popular place for tourists to stop and take some amazing pictures.

Gadauri

Georgian Military Highway

After some mountain activities and lovely pictures, proceed to Kazbegi, specifically to a town called Stepantsminda, from where the trek/ off-road tours to Gergeti Trinity Church begin. This is one of the prettiest churches I visited in Georgia, perched on a hill and with snow-capped peaks in the backdrop. If you choose to hike to the church, keep about 1.5 – 2 hours for it else you can take a tour (in a 4-wheel drive) from the village below. Be prepared for an extremely bumpy ride! The views from the top, however, are worth it.

Gergeti Trinity Church, Kazbegi

Kazbegi

Kazbegi

Drive back to Tbilisi in the evening.   


Day 4: Kakheti (Sighnaghi). Optional: Davit Gareji

In our itinerary for Georgia, we decided to keep one day to visit the wine capital, Kakheti and on our way, we took a detour to Davit Gareja Monastery, having heard of very good reviews about this cave monastery. However, the drive was through very bad roads and took us about 1.5 hours one way (and another 1 hour back to the main road to proceed towards Kakheti), which made me question the worth of visiting this monastery.

The arid landscape on the way to Davit Gareja Cave Monastery

Davit Gareja Cave Monastery

Davit Gareja Cave Monastery

Davit Gareja Cave Monastery

Although the ancient cave monastery itself is beautiful, complemented by the arid, semi-desert landscape that surrounds it, it may not be worth braving the bad roads and spending that extra time in getting there. If you do plan to, however, take this detour, make sure to wear good shoes as climbing up is not easy, through the tough stone and mud paths.

Kakheti is the primary wine-producing city in Georgia. Two major towns form the center of all activity – Sighnaghi, and Telavi.  We chose to spend our time in the picturesque old town of Sighnaghi.

Red brick houses with contrasting mint green rooftops and balconies adorn the landscape of this little town. The architecture is stunning in its ancient grandeur, and the cobbled stone streets lined with lamp posts, vintage cars, and old city walls form the perfect little postcard. You can just walk around the town or rent a buggy or ATV to explore it in an adventurous way.

Sighnaghi Town from the road

Sighnaghi Town

Sighnaghi Town

Sighnaghi Town

Sighnaghi Town

Wineries in Sighnaghi Town

Do visit a winery while you’re here. One of the most popular ones (as per TripAdvisor) is the Pheasant’s Tears Winery. If you plan to have a meal with your wine, you might need to make reservations in advance as the place usually gets very crowded. The selection of wine is brilliant and the service is great. If you do not know what to have, feel free to ask their knowledgeable sommeliers for recommendations. For wine enthusiasts, they also offer tours to their vineyards, might be an interesting experience to go for!


Day 5: Tbilisi city & return


Alternatives:

If you have more than 5 days in Georgia, there are several things that you can do. Some of the cities that I personally would have loved to visit if I had more time to spare but unfortunately, could not be included in our 5-day itinerary for Georgia are:

1.     Svaneti: A lot of great reviews of this region made me regret not having gone here at all. Villages set amidst the lush green hills and the snow-capped Caucasus in the background, meandering rivers tearing through the valleys, and mountain towns like Mestia make for breathtaking scenery. Hikers, nature-lovers and photography enthusiasts must consider this destination. Due to its distance from Tbilisi city, it is recommended to spend a night here (if not more) instead of covering it on a day trip from the capital.

2.     Tusheti: Tusheti National Park seems like yet another mountain city that deserves to be explored. However, due to the rough terrain, it is considered ideal for hiking enthusiasts who are looking for tough adventure and not just the laid-back type. There are horseback rides for the lesser adventurous. Yet again, due to the distance from Tbilisi city, it is recommended to spend a night here (if not more).  

3.     Batumi: When we think Georgia, it is the ski slopes, mountains, historical churches and streets, and wineries that come to our minds. However, there is also a very popular beach city here located on the coast of Black Sea. Batumi is home to gorgeous beaches and waterfalls and is very well-developed in terms of its infrastructure. 

95 thoughts on “The perfect 5-day itinerary for Georgia”

  1. My husband and me were planning to Georgia and came across your article.Thank you for sharing your experience, knowledge and lovely photos.

  2. I have to say the architecture of Tbilisi is something, and the scenery there and in the likes of Ananuri and Gadauri is beautiful too. Georgia is not a place that has been on my radar as a destination, but my mind has been changed after reading this 🙂

  3. 3-hour flight from Dubai is something I did not know, this seems like must-visit destination.It has everything a perfect vacation is required to have. How many days do you recommend to visit here?

  4. We had been to Georgia in March, but unfortunately, We could not visit Mksheta, Gori & Uplistsikhe. It was still snowing in Gadauri and roads to Kazbegi closed due to snow.
    We had a great time in Georgia! I love the country <3

    1. Yeah March is cold, but a great time to visit the ski resorts and try some snow sports. Georgia has some great ones I’ve heard.

  5. Once again Medha a great trip itinerary 😀 I love your short trips you take as it’s mostly to places I haven’t been to yet but now want to go after reading your guides 😀 The Uplistsikhe ancient caves look like they have my name on to go and explore and Sighnaghi looks like your walking through a fairy tale town 😀 – I can imagine the Stalin museum is quite educational? –

    1. The Stalin Museum is certainly interesting but they do not have English descriptions so it makes sense to go with someone who can translate for you 🙂 Luckily I had a local who was driving me around and explained a lot of things in places where language was an issue. The locals of Georgia aren’t very happy that Stalin has been depicted in such a positive light, in that museum. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the museum in the earlier years.

  6. Georgia seems like a place from the movies with all those old buildings and beautiful hills and fields. I would love to visit here some day, it is interesting to me that they believe a robe of Christ is buried in the old cathedral. It must be an important site for many people.

  7. Oh my goodness, I can’t stand it! You already had me really wanting to go to Georgia after reading one of your previous blog posts, but NOW???!!! Well, geez, you included so many amazing pictures here with great tips, clearly I’m going to have to allocate even MORE time to Georgia! I’m pinning this for future reference now! Thank you!!! 🙂

  8. Beautiful pictures .. We missed caves monastery on our trip .. Looks quite interesting .. Yeh and I agree svaneti area was just beautiful … And kazbegi was beautiful too ..

  9. I was so confused at first because I was thinking of Georgia, the state in U.S. but your first photo is so fairy-tale like, nothing like that state. $330 for a private 3-day tour sounds not bad at all! Will definitely have to look into Day Trip Georgia. And your photos are just stunning! I’m very much tempted to just book a flight over here!!!

  10. Tblisi looks so cute. I always imagined to be a lot more high rise so it’s lovely to see such great photos of it. It looks like you had a wonderful five days. I think I would loved that little bar by the water, it sounds lovely.

  11. This really is a wonderful and very detailed post! I’d really love to visit Georgia next year, so this was a useful read. I won’t attempt to spell out the names of the town or place names, but it all looks spectacular. Nice you got to leave Tbilisi too!

  12. I love how Georgia’s landscape change as you progress through your trip.. 🙂 The ancient cave city of Uplistsikhe sounds like an intriguing place to visit.. Are there any guided tours to take you around it? And the views at the Gadauri and Kabegi are absolutely breathtaking! I could spend hours just looking at the landscape..

    1. There are several guided tours but I didn’t see one specifically for Uplistsikhe. Most of them are for a whole day which includes a visit to Gori (Stalin’s museum) too. That’s not a bad idea either – both of them require some amount of local guidance and explanation.

  13. Beautiful pictures, especially the first one with the turquoise lake, I would love to visit! The Svetitskhoveli cathedral looks stunning too. Georgia is definitely a place I need to visit

  14. Georgia looks lovely. I love visiting places like Tbilisi which have rich history and vibrant culture. The ancient cave city of Uplistsikhe is totally my kind of place. You make me want to head to Georgia asap.

  15. I really want to go here now! I’d love to see the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral – I can’t believe they claim to have Christ’s robe and it’s from the 1100s! How special.

  16. Jimminy Christmas…you sold me on Georgia by day 2. So I think I would love to explore Tbilisi of course. But your Day 2 is really awesome. The Caves look really cool. But I think Darcee would love seeing the Svetitskhoveli cathedral. I have never heard of Christ’s Robe but I am going to research it and the lore behind it.
    All of those monastaries are right up my alley and the hiking and views look amazing! Definitely adding Georgia to my Bucket List Project!

  17. Georgia was not even on my radar before reading this! You did a great job of showing the wide range of things to do for 5 days. It is always good to get feedback that you can drive safely and easily. I would definitely want to see the views fro the mountains and Jvari Monastery. The cave city of Uplistsikhe reminded me of Matera in Italy. If you haven’t visited, you might like that. Thanks for sharing this new destination!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion of Matera, Linda. I’ve been to Italy but not Matera, will take a note for next time. Cheers x

  18. What a comprehensive guide. I haven’t been to Georgia though I have done a lot of Natural Wine tasting including plenty of Georgian wines (the orange ones!). Now I want to go visit for myself, even if I get no further than Tblisi

  19. I’ve heard that Georgia is an amazing place to visit, and your post definitely makes me want to go there! There are many cultural sites, which is perfect for me (I’m an archaeologist). I’d love to explore the Ananuri Fort Complex, and especially the cave city of Uplistsikhe Davit and the Gareja Cave Monastery! The views from the Jvari Monastery looks stunning, and that from Kazbeki too! So thank you for this awesome itinerary! 🙂

  20. I have been thinking about visiting Georgia for quite awhile now. The views from Jvari have me SOLD!! It looks like a cross of Norway and Prague, with the beautiful rooftops and the blue water. So gorgeous!

    1. Yeah, the Jvari Monastery does have amazing views, perched on the hilltop, overlooking the entire city of Mksheta. I loved that most of their iconic sites are located in such majestic settings 🙂

  21. Georgia is somewhere that is coming up for me again and again so I really need to make plans to visit myself. Tbilisi was included in my recent list of 100 Favourite Cities of travel bloggers and looks full of history. Mksheta seems very charming and historical also. I would definitely visit Stalin museum, uncomfortable or not, as it was one of the eras I studied in History, at school and college. I didn’t know about the cave city at Uplistsikhe before. Then the entire scenic landscape would be gorgeous to drive through.

  22. This is so beautiful ! Am speechless looking at your stunning pictures. I will be honest, we were planning a trip to Georgia a couple of months back, but since we never heard much about it we finally jumped to Istanbul for vacation. Looks like it wasn’t really a great move by us. Nevertheless we shall visit here someday soon and the reason would be you. Loved how beautifully you have portrayed the beauty of this country. Keep up the good work !

  23. Your photos show beautiful landscapes and lots of historic buildings. The Davit Gareja Cave Monastery sounds particularly interesting and Sighnaghi is a must since it’s the centre of a wine area. I’m looking forward to visiting Georgia when we start our journey through Europe next year. Your description of the visa requirements confused me a little though.

    1. Visa requirements differ for different nationalities but as UAE residents, we get a visa on arrival. Also, if your nationality is on the list of those that require a pre-approved visa for entering Georgia (such as Indians), you can still get one on arrival if you have a valid US visa. Hope that made it a little clear 🙂

  24. We would not have thought about Georgia as one of our next places to visit. But after reading this and looking at your photos, you’ve certainly made us interested.

  25. I really want to go here, it really looks beautiful and your description of Georgia is perfect. I have to start booking my holidays for next year and definitely, I have to go to this beautiful country

  26. Georgia is a great country to experience the rich history, culture and beautiful landscapes. The old town Tbilisi really attracted me and the views from Javari monastery are just spectacular. The 2nd-century city Uplistsikhe city too looks like a wonderland. Views from Ananuri Fort complex are amazing. We will love driving through these gorgeous landscapes. Great write-up and pictures Medha.

  27. This somehow makes me regret that I did not go to Georgia last time when I was in Qatar. I don’t need a visa if I am staying in a gulf country and now that I am in Southeast Asia, it is a bit more difficult to get a visa to Georgia. But of course, I will not stop and I will still give it a try! I am targeting winter season. Have you been to Georgia on a winter? Which season would you recommend?

  28. I get why they want to present only the positive side of Stalin but I am disappointed that they only present one side. I would love to spend a couple days wandering around Uplistsikhe. The ancient city looks really amazing.

    I feel like I could spend a month exploring here

    1. There was a lot of uproar about that in the past and the museum was even shut down for a while. Seems like they reached some sort of agreement and it’s open again now. There are so many places that I couldn’t explore, a month would’ve been good 🙂

  29. Georgia isn’t somewhere I’ve ever really considered visiting! But boy it looks so pretty 🙂 and thanks for the useful tips about the visas, I didn’t realise I’d need to apply for one beforehand x

  30. I have been dreaming of Georgia for the last few months and your post makes me want to go right now!! This is such a beautiful part of the world with incredible history and those views, oh my!

  31. Wow, I really had never heard anything about Georgia but your descriptions and photos have fascinated me! Especially your picture of Gadauri, it looks like it is a fairy tale!

    I also had no idea there were still places that honored Stalin. At first I thought it was strange that the driver was uncomfortable in his hometown, but when you mentioned there are still many of his supporters there, it makes sense.

    1. I didn’t know it either till I visited the place and then later read about it 🙂 Gadauri is beautiful, my favorite place in Georgia (from whatever I’ve seen, of course).

  32. We are planning to visit Georgia in the near future, so part of your post was really useful. But if you include ‘Travel tips” please write them so they don’t confuse the reader! “If you’re not a resident of the GCC countries and are required to pre-apply for a visa as per your nationality, you can still get visa-free entry into Georgia if you hold a valid US visa.” This only left me confused! What are GCC countries? Does it mean we need a visa (I thought not!)? So you send me of to Google. And I was right: Australians do NOT need a visa!

    1. It means that if your nationality is NOT in the list of those exempt from requiring pre approved visa, you can still get visa on arrival if you are 1) resident of GCC countries (i.e. Gulf) or 2) if you have a US visa. As an Australian, you’re already exempt from requiring a pre approved visa. But for example an Indian national requires a pre approved visa unless he’s a resident of GCC or has valid US visa. I hope that makes it a bit clearer !

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