Things to do in Georgia
Weather and Seasons
Georgia is an all weather country. With each different season, there is something different to experience in this country. The summer is perfect for visiting Georgian vineyards and lakes with comfortable temperatures of 20-30 degrees Celsius and the winter is perfect for the ski trips up on the mountain where temperatures can range from -5 to 4 degrees Celsius.
Places to visit
Tblisi- Capital of Georgia
Vineyards day tour
Must have the Khinkali at Pasanauri restaurant in Georgia
Gergeti Trinity Church
Ali and Nino Statue
The travel story
Every woman must once experience the thrill of travelling alone. But in the world we live in, this might not always be a safe experience. For my first solo travel experience I picked Georgia. The country is totally safe and offers a varied choice of travel experience from snowy mountains to the black sea.
I travelled in the month of February as the weather was improving but there was still plenty snow on the mountain. The temperature was ranging from -9 to 4 degrees Celsius. With my snow boots and thermals packed, I hopped aboard Fly Dubai for a 3 hours flight to Tbilisi- the capital of Georgia.
Georgia is located in Eurasia region. The moment I landed at Tbilisi airport, I was in deja vu from my Russia trip as you can still see remnants of Soviet architecture amidst Georgian way of life. I stayed at the Betsy Hotel in centre of Tbilisi which provides a beautiful view of the city.
There are a few places that is touristy in Tbilisi and it takes about half a day to visit all the locations. To start off, I visited the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi. The cathedral is also known as Sameba (the Georgian term for trinity) and is the main Orthodox church of the city.
From the cathedral I went to the most famous area of the city- Liberty Square. Its a pleasant walk around the European inspired cobbled stone streets of Meidan all the way through buzzing Shardeni street. Across the Mtkvari river is a cable car point which takes you up tp Narikala fort and gives panoramic view of the city. It costs 3 Gel for a ride up to the fort and 3 Gel for a ride back down (cash only). The fort itself is a great place to see the see the city from as well as spend some time trying to climb up the walls of the ruins of this once symbol of Tbilisi defence. You can take a walk along the Narikala Tourist route, a 1500 metre trail that runs from near the Mother Georgia statue, around the fortress and down into Old Town to near the entrance to the Botanical Gardens. It offers stunning views at every turn and is a particular delight at night when the city lights shine below.
Other areas to explore in Tbilisi are a botanical garden in Mtasminda Park. It is a steep tram ride up the mountain and costs 8 Gel for a ride to the park and back. A short 20 minutes drive away from the city is Turtle lake. It is a decent place for a picnic and the lakeside cafes are a great place to relax. The Station Bar and Grill is a quaint picturesque cafe beside the lake and I completely loved watching the sun set over the distance from this cosy pretty cafe.
As it was winter, the vineyards were mostly non functional and so I decided to visit the snowy peaks of Gudauri and Kazbegi.
It is a 3 hour drive from Tbilisi to Gudauri. The landscape dramatically changes from the cityscape to plains to small green hills to giant snow capped majestic mountains.The weather on mountains is always unpredictable. It was expected to snow a little bit during the day but when we reached Guduari weather was not convenient for paragliding. That did not dampen my spirits as this was my second ever experience of snow fall and I was quite delighted to walk on fresh snow and try to maintain my balance on slippery roads.
There are times when you wish you were not alone, and this was one of those moments for me. There was snow all over and people all around but I couldn't roll a ball of snow and throw at anyone or lie on the snow and make an angel as that would have been weird. I mentally noted to arrange a trip with my friends just to achieve this dream of throwing snow at someone.
I came back the following day for paragliding. Guduari is the ski destination of Georgia and very popular for paragliding. It costs 250 Gel and there are lot of companies offering this service in Gudauri. I booked it on the spot next day with XGudauri and was able to immediately go for my flight.
Kazbegi is another 2 hours of drive from Guduari, but it takes much longer if the weather is bad. There are also a lot of cargo trucks that cross this region to go into Russia and there can be long waits for letting trucks pass or for getting a chance to bypass the trucks. There are local policemen who control the traffic as the roads are narrow with chances of small avalanches. The road to Kazbegi has a lot of scary tunnels built by Russian army. The tunnels are dark and long and requires experience and expertise to manoeuvre through them.
Kazbegi is mostly famous for two things- The Gergeti Trinity church and Mount Kazbeg. Although it is a little expensive, I would advice to stay at Rooms Hotel Kazbegi. This hotel provides a fantastic view of the landscape from everywhere in the hotel including from your bed.
Due to heavy snow I could not visit the Gergeti Church, but it is a must visit if you are in Kabegi. The views are breathtaking from there. I could only manage a glimpse of the church from my hotel.
Cozy cafe is a great place to eat during the summer in Kazbegi. Rooms Hotel however is a must visit for a great lunch on the outer deck with beautiful views. You can even opt for a helicopter ride for a spectacular view of Mount Kazbeg. A 15 minute ride costs $375 for 3 passengers.
If nothing else suits your day, you can always soak in the sun on the hotel deck while gorging on delicious local food and beer.
My first solo trip could not have been better. The time for myself, the hauntingly beautiful silver mountains at night, the unbelievably gorgeous daybreak and stunning landscape is just what I needed to escape from the reality of corporate life. Georgia is a country which made me feel safe and at peace and has taken a permanent residence in my heart. I cannot express in words what a humbling experience it was to travel out alone as a woman and see the world on my accord.
“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” – Jennifer Lee
It's very convenient to book a car for the duration of the stay with a driver. I booked a car with driver for my 4 days there and it cost me 250 Gels per day inclusive of petrol and driver's overnight stay.
In winter the roads can get dangerous towards Kazbegi and it is recommended to check weather updates before heading to the mountain. Ski, paraglide and other activities are subject to proper weather conditions.
Local restaurants and local food and alcohol is very cheap in Tbilisi and a must experience. Restaurant- Pasanauri, Bar- Lolita.
Must try Georgian food- Khachapuri (cheese on flat bread), Khinkali (meat dumpling).
Must try Churchkhela which is a Georgian Candy made of flour, grape must and nuts like almond/walnut/hazelnut.