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Author meltwaterfalls
#1 | Posted: 13 Mar 2018 11:06 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
Flights between London Luton and Kutaisi have dropped massively in price since I last checked (It isn't too disimilar to the price of my daily train ticket if I forget my season ticket)

I was just wondering if people had any tips for travelling in Georgia.
-Is a five day itinerary that features Mtskheta, Gerlati and Tbilisi starting and ending in Kutaisi reasonable, too much/ little time?
-What are connections between Kutaisi and Tbilisi like?
-I'm guessing Upper Svaneti is probably going to be off the itinerary as it is more remote, Is that correct or is it different on the ground?
-I literally know nothing about Kutaisi, is there anything worth seeing beyond the obvious trip to Gelati Monastery --[Edit]-- Ah that is where the de-listed Bagrati Cathedral is?
-Has anyone been to David Gareji Monastery, it was the one that stood out when I did the research for the T-List map.
-Where is a good area to stay in Tbilisi, is the area near the station rough and ready or a reasonable central place to be based?
-Any reasonably priced Accommodation recommendations gratefully received (Considering I would be travelling with a 15 month old child, so my previous fondness for cheap hostels near bus stations may not cut it anymore.)
-How much Khachapuri can one person eat before they pop?

Any feedback is much appreciated.

Author elsslots
#2 | Posted: 13 Mar 2018 11:30 
I will be in Georgia in June. Near Kutaisi (2,5 hour away) are Gori and Uplistsikhe Cave Town

Author Walter
#3 | Posted: 13 Mar 2018 17:17 
I was in Georgia two years ago, and will be back next June as well (June 7-13 just in case).
First I should mention that Turkish Airlines also has some very cheap tickets to Tbilissi, less than 300 euros roundtrips (with possible stopover to tick Istambul WHS).
As for tips:
- renting a car is cheap, and driving around is not too difficult, close to southern Europe standard. It facilitates going around on a short time.
- 5 days is enough for Kutaisi, Gelati, Tbilissi, Mtskheta, with stop to Uplistikhe Cave Town (worth it) and Samtavisi Cathedral (500 meters from Kutaisi-Tbilissi highway; you have a quick glimpse to it from the highway).
- connections between Kutaisi and Tbilissi are easy, with numerous bus and marshrutka (collective taxis) or with own car.
- Gelati Monastery is about 8 km from Kutaisi town center, and very worth a visit (take a taxi). De-listed Bagrati is 1 km north of the main square (walk) but is very disappointing, having being restored beyong recognition.
- Davit Gareji Monastery is really worth a visit. It is easy to reach by car or with a travel agency. DO TAKE the road through Sagaredjo, and NOT through Roustavi. That last road appears on google maps, but is very very poor, and without any direction road signs. Once in Davit Gareji, do climb on top of the ridge and go to see monasteries in natural caves on the other side. Trails are easy to find. Cave monasteries are magnificiant. Technically, the other side of the ridge is in Azerbaidjan, but there is no control.
- In Tbilissi, the best areas to stay are around Liberty Square and Metekhi bridge. They are the touristic areas, lively, with shops, restaurant and cafes. I recommend Old Maidan Hotel, or Envoy Hostel.
- Mtskheta, try it on a Saturday, with cathedral full of weddings and baptisms.
- As for Upper Svaneti, it is more difficult to reach. Basically, one day to get to Mestia (5 hours drive), one full day with a guide to travel to the Upper Svaneti village of Chajashi, the only one included in the site (or with own car, but only with 4x4), and then one day to get back.
- To mention also: envoytours, in Tbilissi center, has well-organized day-tours to several destinations, including day-tour to Sanahin and Haghbat monasteries WHS in nearby Armenia.
- As for khachapuri, one is enough ! Do also try khinkali

Author meltwaterfalls
#4 | Posted: 14 Mar 2018 04:01 
Thanks for those responses.

I had forgotten about Gori, it has been on my radar since my school history teacher talked about the Stalin museum, and has had a morbid fascination since.

Thanks for that breakdown Walter, that is perfect. Thanks especially for flagging up envoytours, that day trip to a WHS in Armenia could well end up being a deciding factor, especially as it seems next week they relax the visa regulations for Australians.

On that point Els I just read your review of Haghpat and Sanahin, I like your coda about meeting your drivers family, those encounters always make trips more enjoyable.

Author Sjobe
#5 | Posted: 14 Mar 2018 05:31 
I'm also going to visit Georgia with my wife as a long weekend trip in May. This time the focus is more khachapuris, khinkalis and wine and less WHS and TWHS. We have planned to visit only Mtskheta. Hopefully I'll visit the rest of Georgian WHS some point in the not too distant future, possibly together with Ani and Russian side of Caucasus.

As for Haghpat and Sanahin, it really is an interesting site. I have visited it from Yerevan by public transport. The trip itself was quite rough and took literally whole day. But maybe the roads and terrain is little bit better going from Tbilisi.

Author elsslots
#6 | Posted: 14 Mar 2018 15:48 
I like your coda about meeting your drivers family, those encounters always make trips more enjoyable.

It is one of my best travel memories ever. The driver was given the ride to Haghpat/Sanahin by his colleague that I booked via my hotel. When the original driver heard where I wanted to go, he immediately alerted the other driver as it was an opportunity to drop by his family in Alaverdi. He himself lived in Yerevan to make a living and it was just a happy occasion to meet his family (that's why he bought icecream and cookies etc). Noone in the family spoke any English, except for the youngest boy who could manage a few words. But it was really a warm family that welcomed their father home for a few hours.

Author Zoe
#7 | Posted: 16 Mar 2018 07:11 
You can fly to Mestia if you can't handle the long drive and especially useful if coming from Tsibilisi directly, it's also cheaper considering it saves so much petrol. The flight arrives after all the vans have probably already gone though so you will need to wait for the next day to take them in the morning but I suppose you could try to prearrange something to get going directly from the airport and fly back the next morning already. The drive is considered one of the most dangerous in the world and it takes 2 hours each way. You get a few hours in the village unless you stay overnight. Mestia has some good scenery too but has become very touristy.

If you decide be aware that in Georgia there are cattle in the tunnels quite often. Also the road from Kutaisi is single lane and there are many trucks that never give way, drivers constantly overtaking at both sides including the gravel sides if there is any sign of slowing traffic ahead on the actual paved road.

Author Walter
#8 | Posted: 16 Mar 2018 08:45 | Edited by: Walter 
I considered taking the daily flight from Tbilissi to Mestia. However reservation cannot be arranged from abroad. And more annoying, the flights is often cancelled because of bad weather in Mestia. The plane lands only by visual flying rule, which means it is impossible with fog or clouds.
I went to Mestia by car in October, and I drove back with two fellow travellers who had been stuck in Mestia with flight cancellation for two days.
Maybe that is less a problem in sommer months.

Author Solivagant
#9 | Posted: 16 Mar 2018 12:22 | Edited by: Solivagant 
One of my "WHS travel" regrets was "missing out" on Svaneti. When we were in Georgia in Aug 2000 there had been examples of kidnapping of Westerners in the valley (for ransom rather than for anything more violent - as far as I read at the time those who were kidnapped enjoyed reasonable "hospitality"!) and our car/driver provider in Tblisi wouldn't take us there (The UKFO also advised against travel so our travel insurance would have been invalid as well).
"Instead" we went to another area of tower villages" in NE Georgia - this area was designated as "Tusheti NP" in Apr 2003. Better still, this Forum chat has led to me realising that it is also on Georgia's T List, having been added as a potential "Mixed" site in 2007 ("Mta-Tusheti") - I thus gain an extra TList tick!! I note that the T List entry states -
"The authenticity of Mta-Tusheti vernacular architecture is completely preserved in architectural forms, materials, location and other necessary attributes.
Comparison with other similar properties
At national level, Mta-Tusheti might be compared with Upper Svaneti World Heritage site. Both properties, due to their isolation, make it unique in the region. "

It WILL indeed be "compared with Svaneti" and, from what I have read, it would come out quite well (It certainly gets fewer tourists)- but whether there is enough room for another region of the Caucasus with Tower Houses - I suspect not. It might however gain on its "Natural" aspects - Svaneti was only inscribed on Cultural Criteria.

If you are having problems fitting in Svaneti Meltwaterfalls, then you would find Tusheti even more difficult to get to/from (entry is via Telavi and Omalo) and I am not suggesting it to you - rather this is to register for others its existence as a worthwhile T List site to visit. We were in an old Lada "jeep" and our experiences led me to accept and praise the quality of Lada engineering at that time for that sort of job (Lada was something of a "Western joke" back then) - I have photos of it crossing rivers with water up to the windscreen. In the valley we walked for a couple of days staying with our guide's family, meeting shepherds, eating lots of dumplings, cheese and "porridge" (and there could have been much Vodka - except that we don't drink and were great disappointment to the locals who couldn't understand this)! I remember, way up the valley at a village called Girevi, the OSCE (Operation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) was operating border monitoring operations at which we had to check in - we were only a few kms from Chechnya. (See )

For an indication of what the area looks like see e.g - . Other places we visited included Dartlo and Chesho. Omalo has an Ethnological Museum. . See -

Author Zoe
#10 | Posted: 31 Mar 2018 09:22 
@Walter, I'm surprised you managed to get into Samtavisi Cathedral because when I was there last year it was totally locked down. No way to visit and there was no apparent interest to have tourists around.

Author Zoe
#11 | Posted: 31 Mar 2018 09:29 
Oh, for all who are interested, I went to Vani on my travels but they are constructing a new museum so there is absolutely nothing to see at the site right now.
I'm guessing at least 2019.

Author Walter
#12 | Posted: 31 Mar 2018 10:48 
About Samtavisi, I did not find any information in any travel guide about opening hours. I guess I was lucky, as the compound was open, but also the church.
As you said, there was no interest to have tourists around.

Author elsslots
#13 | Posted: 4 Aug 2018 01:03 

Author christravelblog
#14 | Posted: 24 May 2022 09:53 | Edited by: christravelblog 
Seems I might go to Georgia in August. Affordable flights with Eurowings directly which gives me exactly 11 days.
Will have a 4X4 car. As I arrive in the morning I plan that day a bit for the capital, same on the day of departure in the morning.

anyone suggestion on my itinerary? especially which TWHS should I certainly not miss?
rought idea in this itinerary. but, it's either Dmanisi and Vardzia or concentrate on the north-eastern part.

Day 1: capital
Day 2: Day trip to Mtskheta WHS
Day 3: drive to Kutaisi via 3 TWHS Samtavisi Cathedral (T) and Uplistsikhe Cave Town (T) and i hope can manage to get to Nicortsminda Cathedral (T) still this day as well
Day 4: Gelati WHS and drive all the way to Mestia
Day 5: Early morning to Upper Svaneti WHS (arrive around 11:00, depart again 14:00 and drive to coastal area around Poti
Day 6: morning Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands WHS (i'm not really into these but around Poti i should be able to see something) via Vani to Vardzia
Day 7: see Vardzia TWHS to capital
Day 8: David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage (T) day trip
Day 9: ?? north of capital 2-3 sites TWHS do-able?
Day 10: Dmanisi Hominid Archaeological Site day trip ? worth it? might not be a WHS? better concentrate on north-east?
Day 11: depart

anyone suggestions?

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