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Traveling through Georgia, it’s hard to believe that this welcoming nation, abounding as it is with culture and sweeping landscapes, suffered through decades of civil strife. After years of tumult, Georgia achieved full democracy in the peaceful “Rose Revolution” of 2003—and tourism has been steadily growing ever since. Newcomers are delighted to discover the traditional architecture and historic legacy of Tbilisi, the alpine meadows and medieval villages of the Svaneti region, and the ancient cave city of Vardzia.
When is the best time to visit?
Summers are very hot here, and winters very cold—so we recommend visiting during spring months to enjoy milder weather that’s great for outdoor excursions. September is another ideal month—and if you happen to visit during autumn you’ll be there for harvest time, perfect for vineyard tours and tastings in the Kakheti region. After all, Georgia has proudly declared that their country is the official birthplace of wine (so you’ve officially been put on notice, Italy and Greece).
Where should you go?
In the southeast, amid the Greater Caucasus Mountains and the banks of the Kura River, you’ll find Georgia’s ancient capital city: Tbilisi. It dates back to the 5th century, and its streets are filled with architectural remnants of rising and falling kingdoms, ephemeral republics, and foreign domination by Roman, Byzantine, and Russian empires.
Stroll Tbilisi’s historic Old Town and you’ll be struck by how much it still looks and feels like an ancient outpost on a Eurasian trade route. And no other site exudes this history more than the Narikala Fortress, which dates to the 4th century and overlooks over the whole city. For great hiking and mountain biking, head to the northeast of the country, where amid the valleys and snow-capped mountains you’ll find ancient churches, medieval villages, running rivers, and cascading waterfalls. Then there’s Mt. Erusheti, the site of the 12th-century cave monastery of Vardzia, which was carved into the mountain and was once home to 2,000 monks.
How many days do you need?
Even though Georgia is a relatively small country, we recommend allotting 7-14 days. This may seem like a lot, but many first-timers fall in love with both the nation’s capital and its nature—give yourself time to experience as much as possible. In a week or two, you could enjoy Tbilisi, plan several outdoor excursions, and even make it to a Black Sea resort town like Batumi. If you only have three or four days, that will still give you time to soak up the culture of the capital with a day trip to nearby mountain towns like Kazbegi or to the vineyards of Kakheti.
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