From its green valleys spread with vineyards to the old churches and watchtowers perched in fantastic mountain scenery, Georgia indeed is one of the most beautiful countries on Earth, perfect for travellers of every kind. But Georgia, just like other underrated countries, may not look appealing unlike the other more popular or preferred tourist destinations in Europe and Asia.
Nonetheless, I dare you to see its uniqueness now.
Sandwiched between the Caucasus Mountains to the north, the Black Sea to the west and dry deserts to the south, Georgia, which borders Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey, is not only a crossroads of cultures, but has a wealth of spectacular landscapes.
Here are 11 things you should include in your itinerary when you go and explore Georgia.
1. Ride the Rike-Narikala Ropeway
Opened in 2012, this 500-m long ropeway connects Rike Park on the left bank of Kura river with the Narikala Fortress. Tourists get the chance to gaze at the fantastic 360-degree views of the city from the large windows of the air-conditioned gondola lifts and have an easy ride to the top of the hill. Though the ride only takes a couple of minutes, it is sufficient enough to see the whole Tbilisi. If you still think it has gone too fast and like to ride again (and again), no worries, it will just cost you one lari (Dh 1.50).
2. Hike the Narikala Fortress
When you reach the top, you can follow routes going to Narikala fortress to the national botanical garden and to the monument “Mother of Georgia”—another symbol of Tbilisi. The fortress was established in the 4th century as Shuris-tsikhe (i.e., “Invidious Fort”). It overlooks Tbilisi and the Kura River.
3. Visit the St. Nicholas Church
This 13 th century church which was restored in 1997 which was destroyed in a fire incident is another sight in the area. It gives an astonishing view of the city and that of the whole Narikala fortress complex.
4. Explore the restaurants near and around Abanotubani
This is one of the best spots to have a good time in Tbilisi. Here you can find the best restaurants with outdoor seating in town. From local eateries, fast food, pubs, cafes and specialty restaurants. This is also the best place to indulge on Georgian cuisine. One of the must try is the meat-filled dumplings, Khinkali. It is considered one of the national dishes of Georgia.
5. Walk across the Bridge of Peace
The Bridge of Peace is a beautiful bow-shaped pedestrian bridge above the Kura river in Tbilisi. During day time, the bridge is tranquil and calm. But at night, it is an overwhelming illumination of majestic proportions.
6. Catch the sunset via Ferris Wheel ride at Mtatsminda Park
Mtatsminda Park is a famous landscaped park located at the top of Mt. Mtatsminda overlooking Tbilisi. The park has carousels, water slides, roller-coaster, and a Ferris Wheel at the edge of the mountain. Also, high above you will find the most stylish center for food and drink in the city, the Funicular Restaurant Complex.
7. Take some cliché tourist snaps with the “I Love Tbilisi” sign in the Meidan Square
Meidan Square is the heart of the touristic center of Tbilisi. It is often the starting point for visitors to the country. Here you can find wine cellars, souvenir stalls, jewellery stores, religious icon stores, traditional bakeries, cafes, bars, nightclubs and restaurants.
8. Get in awe with the mountain views in Kazbegi
Nestled in the southern Caucasus Mountains, Kazbegi is the postcard perfect image of Georgia. Here lies the 14 th century old Gergeti Trinity Church. It was said to be used to protect priceless relics from Mtskheta (a historic religious town close to Tbilisi) and other parts of Georgia. The view over the surrounding valleys and meadows are sensational, perfect for contemplating life.
9. Hit the local pubs
Did you know that Georgia is said to be the birthplace of wine? The earliest archaeological evidence of wine production yet found has been at sites in Georgia (c.6000 BC). So wine tasting session is a must, don’t worry it won’t cost you must. One good bottle of wine just costs 18 Lari ( Dh 27).
10. Say a little prayer at the Holy Trinity Cathedral
Commonly known as Sameba, this main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church is located in the capital. It is just a few steps away from the Presidential Palace. It is the 3 rd tallest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in the world and one of the largest religious buildings in the world by area.
11. Stroll around the vintage European street of David Agmashenebeli Avenue
This avenue is one of the main thoroughfares in the historic part of Tbilisi, known for its 19 th century classical architecture. You’ll find classic European bistros, cafes, places offering contemporary Georgian cooking, as well as some places that are good spots for enjoying the cuisines of other cultures.
These places are based on the itinerary I prepared for a four-day trip. Roundtrip airfare starts around Dh1400 at Qatar Airways but other travel and tours agencies offer a four-day and three-night package which starts at Dh 1200. Filipino expats who have a valid resident visa in the UAE will receive a visa on arrival in Georgia. 1 Lari is equivalent to Dh 1. 50.
Travelogue by TFT Lifestyle Editor Anne Lora Santos