There is a certain kind of traveler who will revel in the unpredictability of Georgia. Exploring this magnificent little country bounded by the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea can be awe-inspiring, frustrating, baffling and exhilarating, but it is rarely boring. International-level service has not fully taken hold in Georgia, which means that one guide might arrive in a smart white shirt and black trousers, while another might proudly show you stains on his T-shirt acquired at a birthday party the night before. In a world that is increasingly globalized and standardized, Georgia has not yet been polished smooth, a quality we found refreshing and grew to love.
Wineries are everywhere, as are centuries-old Orthodox churches and hilltop monasteries. An ideal itinerary of 12 to 14 days would include time in the chic, crumbling capital of Tbilisi, the world-class wine region of Kakheti and the breathtaking Caucasus Mountains in Kazbegi.
Georgia is probably the birthplace of wine — 8,000 years ago, winemakers were already at work in a village 20 miles south of Tbilisi. To this day, the country makes thoroughly unique and delicious wines. Of Tbilisi’s many wine bars, Vino Underground (15 Galaktion Tabidze Street) was among my favorites.
While I recommend visiting Tbilisi’s major sites such as the Narikala fortress and the Abanotubani neighborhood, home to its sulfur baths, don’t miss Rooms Hotel Tbilisi’s “Insider’s Guide” tour. Our private guide showed us numerous places we would have never found on our own, taking us inside former embassies and mansions.
Nine hours ahead of New York (EST).
To phone hotels and restaurants in Georgia, dial 011 (international access) + 995 (Georgia code) + city code and local numbers in listings.
It’s best to visit in May, June, September and October, avoiding chilly winters and crowded summers.
Lari (GEL). Fluctuating rate valued at GEL2.98 = US$1.00 as of November 2019. Note: Our suggested hotels quote rates in US$.
Tbilisi, Tel. (995) 32-227-7000.