Since it is a new travel destination and a former Soviet nation state, infrastructure is not amazing. There are a few public transport options but it’s a small country so I thought I would try my hand at doing day trips from Tbilisi. It was tough to find enough information that I felt comfortable booking anything before I arrived so figured I would just wander the streets and see if I got lucky as I have in other former Soviet states.
On my early morning wander while most people were still sleeping, I spied a travel agency on the main street, Rustaveli Ave 14. Once I got into my room and had a short nap, I repeated my journey and found that Holidays in Georgia now had brochures on the sidewalk so I took one and sat on a bench reviewing the options. In the end, I hadn’t allocated enough time to Georgia as I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to find day trips and more than five days in Tbilisi was likely too much.
There are quite a lot of tour options in the Old Town. I tried to find the website for Holidays in Georgia but without success so here is some contact info per their brochure: (+995) 32 230 53 30; email@example.com. It seems very easy to organize day trips once you arrive in Tbilisi. The only challenge you will face is that most tourists will speak Russian so they will likely get more information and attention from the tour guide but both tours I did were also done in English.
The quality of your tour guide will also impact how much you enjoy the day. My first tour guide was exceptional while the second was just adequate. Both tours were inexpensive so I felt that I got my monies’ worth even with the sub-optimal tour guide.
There are places worth spending more time than a day tour will allow. The time we spent in
Mtskheta and Telavi felt very rushed but we did see some highlights. Mtskheta was the first capital of Georgia and a cradle of Christianity first settled in the 5th century BC. Telavi is also an ancient city (it boasts a 900 year old tree) and the capital of the Kakheti, the wine state. Georgian wine is also off the radar but the country is in an ideal physical setting for growing grapes and there is both cheap decent wine and slightly more expensive excellent wine.
So where should you go? My first day trip was Mtskheta-Jvari Gori-Uplistsikhe – the original capital, some stunning scenery, an ancient city on the Silk Road and a cave city. The second day I went to wine country Kakheti-Sighnaghi-Bodbe. Had I stayed a bit longer, I would have also gone to David Gareja, a monastery complex hewed out of rock and to the Prometheus Caves. There is also the coastal city of Batumi on the Black Sea.
The country is physically blessed with mountains, cliffs, rivers as well as ancient history so there is an abundance of spectacular sights – and tour companies happy to take you there if you are too lazy to figure out how to get there yourself 😉