Georgia Travel Guide
The Best 5 days Itinerary to Georgia
Written by Sivan Mila
Plan a vacation in Georgia? It is important to go through the information on the site to understand what is the most recommended route for you as a tourist in the country. It is important to decide how many days you plan on staying in every city, the season of the trip and the type of trip you are looking for (capital city vacation, a cultural trip, nature and landscape trip, a summer vacation, and more) before you start building the best route for your Georgian holiday. We made it easy for you as we have planned an amazing 5 days itinerary to Georgia with all the most recommended sites around the country divided by days including secret tips to make it extra special and different from the standard route all travelers usually do. As we wanted to make sure you won't miss the most important as you travel to Georgia, the schedule is quite busy. You can definitely slow things down by eliminating one of the days that looks less relevant for you.
If you were wondering about the most worthwhile itinerary for a 5 day trip in Georgia, here it is:
Day 1 - Tbilisi - The capital and the BEST city in Georgia (can be easily split into two days)
Day 2 - Authentic shopping - the most amazing markets in & around Tbilisi
Day 3 - The Military Road - Ananuri Fortress and Dam (on the edge of the Ginbali Reservoir), Georgia-Russia Membership Memorial Observatory, Kazbegi
Day 4 - White city - Godauri Ski Town
Day 5 - Culture Day - Former Georgia Capital - Mtskheta, Jawari Monastery and Observatory, Cave City of Uplistsikhe
Read in detail about every single day to make sure you visit all the most recommended sites during your vacation in Georgia. You will also find secret tips throughout the article that will expose you to special places that not everyone knows.
The capital of Georgia - Magical Tbilisi
Day 1 starts at Marjanishvili metro station. Turn left when exiting the station and stop for coffee or breakfast at Entree cafe which is across the square. After breakfast, continue by foot on Aghmashenebeli Avenue until you reach the beautiful pedestrian part of it which is probably the most amazing street in Tbilisi in terms of architecture full of restaurants, shops, and more. The street was renovated by the government about 3 years ago and is fun to visit during the day and in the evening as it is full of lights and a great atmosphere. Continue in the same direction towards the famous Dry Bridge.
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Cross the river through Saarbrucken bridge and reach the flea market and the artists' market. The flea market is full of wonderful items and there is room for negotiation. You can find souvenirs from the Soviet period, vintage appliances, copperware, original pictures, cameras, and lots of other surprises.
Continue to April 9 Park where you can sit for a short rest or walk around and enjoy the beauty of the buildings that were renovated in September 2019 by the Government of Georgia. After exploring the area, go up the park until you reach Shota Rustaveli Avenue, and turn left to walk towards Freedom Square. Some of the most iconic buildings in Tbilisi located on Rustaveli street so make sure you open your eyes looking up to see the Opera House, Georgian Parliament, and other impressive buildings. Before you reach Freedom square you walk through "Galleria Mall" which is the newest mall in Tbilisi where you can find all the biggest brands such as H&M, Levi's, GUESS, and more.
Tip 1 - You can go to the food court in the mall and eat a snack/drink a beer on the balcony which overlooks Freedom Square.
Tip 2 - If you are up for another coffee break with a delicious pastry on the side, you MUST visit the amazing french PAUL cafe at Galaktion Tabidze street.
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Head towards Tbilisi's oldest part via Kote Abkhazi Street and enjoy the magical atmosphere around the street which is full of cafes, restaurants, boutique shops, and travel agencies that will offer you tours all over Georgia (worth negotiating or use our help). The street ends in the Meidani area which is pretty much where it all started in Tbilisi. You can be photographed next to an I Love Tbilisi sign that tourists usually tend to like. You can take a walk in the neighborhood around its ancient houses and beautiful Arabic architecture.
Tip - You can find different day trips and tours in travel agencies located on Kote Abkhazi street or you can contact us and we will help.
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The next big thing is the sulfur baths which are located 3 minutes from where you stand on Abano Street. You should spend some time in the area because it is just full of magic. You can enter the baths and book a treatment for the next day or just walk in along the water and explore this wonderful area.
Tip - Consider a lunch a stop at the Culinarium or a cocktail on the terrace of the Tiflis Palace (special view).
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After you have rested eating some food or drinking a cocktail, it is recommended to walk to Rike Park. That is probably the most amazing park in Tbilisi which you can get to by crossing the river using the Bridge of peace. while walking on this impressive bridge, enjoy the beauty of the park along with the special buildings and the scenery around it. There are a couple of shops and cafes in the park, where you can sit and relax for a moment as well as activities of renting electric scooters, boating on the river or using the cable car that offers a great view of the city center to get to Narikala Fortress (This is a MUST). When you reach the top, you will witness an amazing panoramic view of Tbilisi so it is worth taking a camera. Next, head over to see the Mother of Georgia statue, explore the fortress area or even sit and have a glass of beer on a terrace overlooking the view under the cable car.
Tip - the cable car works until the night and is worth boarding again after sunset to get a magical picture of the city with all the lights below.
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After exploring the upper part, it is time to go down. One option is to return using the cable car to Rike Park. The second and more recommended option is to walk down through the botanical garden located on the backside of the hill. The botanical garden is very beautiful containing waterfalls, bridges and various plant species from around the world. After you walk down the botanical garden, you will reach the Sulfur baths area again.
Tip - You can enjoy a zip line next to Narikala Fortress right before you enter the botanical garden..
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If there is still something in you and you want one more attraction before you wrap it for the day, you should reach the lower station of the funicular (a kind of train that will take you to the highest point above Tbilisi on Mount Mtatsminda). The funicular offers 2 stops and our advice is to stop at the upper station only if you are not into sacred historical places. There are different attractions on the upper station of mount Mtatsminda including a restaurant overlooking the city, a TV broadcast tower, and the famous Mtatsminda Park facilities and exhibits that surround the mountain and are open most seasons.
After the sun goes down and you have rested, it's time to visit the most recommended bars in the area, to enjoy a gambling night in the casino, or just to go eat in one of the restaurants and a walk to see the city lit up after sunset.
Tip - For those of you who choose to take it easy, it is recommended to divide the first day into two days.
Best accommodation in Tbilisi
Recommended hostel - Gallery Hostel Tbilisi
Sameba Cathedral + Shopping in the best places in Tbilisi
Before we get to shopping it is highly recommended to get to the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi or by its other name, Sameba Cathedral. You probably saw this beauty during the day/night because it cannot be ignored as it is seen from almost anywhere in Tbilisi. Located in the Avlabari neighborhood in its highest part, the cathedral rises to a height of 84 meters. It is the largest landmark of the Georgian Orthodox Church in the country and despite its ancient appearance, it was built between 1995-2004. It is the third tallest cathedral in the East among the Orthodox cathedrals and one of the largest religious buildings in the world in terms of area size.
Tip 1 - If you want to get the full experience you should visit it on Sunday service.
Tip 2 - The small restaurant located on the left side after the entrance offers great local khachapuri.
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After leaving the cathedral area, we head out to conquer the best shopping centers of Tbilisi. We will use a taxi (to read more about transportation in Tbilisi click here) to get to Lilo Market, which is a 25-minute drive from the city center. This is the largest and most interesting market in Georgia and it is said that all the roads and products in the country lead to Lilo. There are an endless amount of items in the market including housewares, clothing & footwear (with a lot of fake brand clothing), toys for children, home lighting, textiles, electrical appliances, design accessories, building materials, and many other surprises. A paradise for those of you who enjoy strolling and touring the markets. The market is enormous so you can walk around it for about half a day easily. There is no proper food in the market so you should invest in a full breakfast before you arrive. The market opens early (08:00) and closes around 16:00-17:00 so you should arrive before 11:00 to get to see the most out of it.
Tip - If you want to know more about Lilo Market - click here
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If you still have enough energy for more shopping and you are looking for a modern experience, it is recommended to reach the open shopping complex called East Point which is located about 7 minutes drive from the market towards the city center. You can find all the major brands around the complex including ZARA, ALDO, NIKE, and more.
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It is a good time to head back to your hotel/apartment and get rid of all the new bags you just bought. Take some time to rest. We recommend the roof of the Ibis Hotel (5th floor) near Liberty Square for a stylish dinner. If you are looking for something more authentic, we can recommend Bernard restaurant which is located in front of the same IBIS hotel and offers a nice interior, fair prices, and great Georgian food. If there is energy left in you, try Tbilisi's nightlife scene, visit Art Cafe for a night drink.
Image by accorhotels.com (IBIS)
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Military Road - North of Tbilisi
Departure first thing in the morning with a rented car or with an organized tour (with other people or a private tour) heading north on the Georgian Military Road. The first stop is about 55 km from Tbilisi at the Zhinvali Dam at the end of the reservoir. The reservoir was created after the construction of the dam by the Soviets in the 1980s to supply more energy and water to Tbilisi. In the process of building the reservoir, a flood almost destroyed all of the history and buildings in the area. It is said that an ancient church from the 12th century (King Tamari period) sank under the water and when the water level drops, the church is revealed. Legend has it that anyone who can dive and touch the church bell will be able to fulfill a wish. This is one of the most amazingly beautiful water reservoirs with blue-green water. At this stopping point, there are small stalls of locals (quite expensive). Don't forget your camera!
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The next stop is at Ananuri Fortress (about 15 km from Zhinvali Dam), the seat of the Dukes of Aragvi which was a feudal dynasty that ruled the area from the 13th century. The castle went through many battles until the 18th century, the dynasty ended with the invasion of rival duchies from the area. The castle was in use until the 19th century with several churches, towers, and other buildings. The castle is located above the Zhinvali water reservoir and provides an impressive view of this wonder. The name of the castle originates from a legend that tells of the invasion of the Tatar army towards the castle. They believed that if they laid siege to the Georgians who fortified themselves in the castle they would quickly surrender and hand over the castle. Little they know that the castle has a secret tunnel. During the siege, the people in the castle throw fishes at the enemy outside the gates, making them realize that there was an exit to the castle which they soon began searching. The long search didn't reveal anything so they caught a woman named Anna from a place called Nuri and try to get this information using tortures until she finally killed hence the origin of the name Ananuri Fortress And recognized the place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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The third stop is the Russian-Georgian Friendship Monument. The monument, which is located on the famous military road, was created by the Soviets in 1983 and consists of a round stone structure full of arches and small balconies. Its spectacular location, above the Devil's Valley, provides a stunning view of the natural environment that surrounds the monument. Inside the monument, you will be impressed by ceramic works with scenes from Georgian and Russian history. The monument is located between the ski town of Gudauri and Gergeti.
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The next stop will be the town of Stepansminda or Kazbegi in its second name. The main reason so many tourists visit the place is to see the Gergeti Trinity Church or otherwise known as Holy Trinity Church. The church is located at an altitude of 2170 meters above sea level in front of an amazing valley and Mount Kazbeg which is the seventh highest peak in the Caucasus mountain range. The church is 10 km from the Russian border and provides one of the most impressive views you will get to see in Georgia. You can reach the church in a 2-3 hour trek (round trip) going uphill most of the way which starts at Gergeti Cafe where you can park your car. Another way is to get there by 4*4 vehicle from the town below (Stepansminda) while the route takes about half an hour. The legend tells that Prometheus from Greek mythology was imprisoned in a cave on Mount Kazbeg which is in front of the church 4,000 meters above sea level as punishment for teaching humans to light a fire.
Tip - If you want to complete the trek to the Holy Trinity Church mentioned above, read these instructions.
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Accommodation in Kazbegi
The very best hotel in the area - Rooms Hotel
On a budget? - Hotel Stancia Kazbegi
Best apartments in Kazbegi - Kazbegi View, Kazbegi Cabins
Godauri - A paradise for skiers and snow lovers
It is recommended to take a day or two to spend some time at the largest ski resort in Georgia - Gudauri. The picturesque town offers its visitors great winter activities that include snow sledding, ski trails for all levels, snowmobiles, and more. the prices here are pretty fair and the views are unbelievable. During the summer, you can stay in the area for one day to enjoy bike rides, paragliding, hiking trails, breathtaking views and more. Gudauri is a must-visit location if you find yourself in Georgia during the winter season!
Tip - information about Godauri ski resort and the surrounding area on Gudauri travel guide.
Accommodation in Godauri
Budget hotel - Tsar Bani Spa Resort
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Culture Day in Georgia - Mtskheta + Jvari + Uplistsikhe
Leave Godauri towards Mtskheta which served as the capital of the country from the 3rd century BC until the 3rd century AD. First, stop at Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which legend has it that the rope of Christ is buried there. Enjoy a nice local market (and more expensive than average in Georgia) of souvenirs, cafes, decorative rugs, traditional sweets, and more around the cathedral and take a coffee break.
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Continue by car (about 15 minutes drive) to Jvari Monastery or the Monastery of the Cross which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jvari Monastery located on a hill overlooking the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers. The monastery will take you back in time to an ancient period where you can see the architecture of the Middle Ages.
Tip - Read the Mtskheta travel guide to get the best recommendations for this area.
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The next point is the cave city of Uplistsikhe which is located about 60 km west of Mtskheta on the left bank of the Mtkvari River. It is one of the oldest settlements found in Georgia which served as a spiritual-cultural-commercial center that connected the West with India and China. Pagan elements found at the site lost its importance with the adoption of Christianity in Georgia in the 4th century. The city was finally abandoned in the 14th century when the successors of Genghis Khan conquered the area. It is recommended to use a guide (for an additional fee) to get a better understanding of different rooms used for various purposes such as, bakery, prison, wine production, residence, etc. You will see a short movie with English subtitles about the history of the cave city as well as a museum. Enjoy a cafe inside and outside the complex in case you want to rest for a few minutes. It is recommended to arrive before 15:30 as the place closes at 17:00 during the winter and 18:00 during the summer.
Tip - the city has a secret tunnel that is connected to the river (recommended to see as the last stop before you leave the place as it is close to the exit so it will save you time). Admission fee will be charged.
Return to Tbilisi in the afternoon or evening, depending on how you came here (tour/rental car).
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