At the boundary between Europe and Asia, Georgia has a growing reputation as the place to go for travelers who love exploring the fringes of the travel map. The oldest wine-producing nation in the world has a timeless quality that permeates its thriving cities, its bucolic mountain villages and its rugged mountain terrain.
Georgia is emerging as the most popular and most accessible gateway to the Caucusus, helped by the growing buzz surrounding its energetic capital city, Tbilisi.
To help ease you into this fascinating corner of Europe, here’s a guide for first-time visitors to Georgia.
The best time to visit Georgia
Despite its mountainous topography, Georgia is a year-round destination. Late spring and early autumn are ideal times to visit Georgia’s cities, the central plains and the low ridges of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains in the south. Summer (July and August) can get uncomfortably hot and humid in the major cities but this is the peak holiday season on the Black Sea coast. With rising temperatures at higher elevations, summer is also the perfect time to visit the remote valleys and ridges of the Greater Caucasus Mountains in the north.
November to April is the low season in Georgia, with temperatures dropping to below freezing, particularly at higher elevations. However, the chilly weather can start as early as October and last until mid-March. The winter months see heavy snow, particularly in the north of the country, attracting both on-piste skiers and free-riders to the slopes of ski resorts such as Gudauri, a two-hour drive north from Tbilisi.
Visa requirements for Georgia
Visiting Georgia is usually easy for travelers from most countries.
Despite being on the fringes of Europe, Georgia is relatively accessible from most parts of the world. The international airports at Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi are served by numerous carriers – including the national airline, Georgian Airways.
The list of budget airlines serving Georgia changes regularly, but Tbilisi and Kutaisi are the main budget hubs. The seaside resort town of Batumi is served by a handful of airlines, with regular flights to Turkey, Ukraine and the Middle East.
Learn at least 2 words in Georgian
If I could have one superpower, it would be to speak and understand every language in the world. I truly believe language has the power to enhance your travels in a foreign country. Any language efforts you make during your travels in Georgia will be much appreciated by locals on the receiving end of your attempts. Start with the two words you’ll be saying the most: Hello and thank you.
HELLO Sounds like gamarjoba THANK YOU Sounds like madloba.
Georgians really are the friendly
The rumors are true: Georgians are some of the most hospitable locals you’ll come across during your travels.
For centuries, Georgians have developed a tradition and reputation as a friendly nation. The hospitality is seen at home, in the village and on the street. Georgians even have a national monument, Kartlis Deda (Mother of Georgia), that overlooks the capital and is a symbol of friendship and hospitality.
Food, Glorious food! with plenty of veggie options
Georgia is the kind of place where the humble heirloom tomato is transformed into a masterpiece with the simple addition of spices and salt, where walnuts and eggplants are ground, grilled and intertwined to create a melt-in-your-mouth symphony of flavours, and where an arm long boat of airy, slightly salted, oven-fresh bread is the perfect afternoon snack.
Whether you’re in a homestay in a remote corner of the mountains or in a top-notch restaurant in Tbilisi, you’re virtually guaranteed a filling and lip-smackingly good feed that will have you holding out your plate for more. Seriously, the food is fantastic!
In Georgia, meals are also often a communal affair. The supra – feast – is a huge part of the culture and it’s not uncommon to sit down to family dinners at homestays or find menus filled with smaller dishes that are designed to be shared amongst a group.
Enjoy fully with Cradle of Wine
Whether it’s red, white or amber, Georgia sure knows how to do wine.
Home to the oldest wine region in the world and with a reputation for excellent produce.
Georgian wine is famous across the region, and it’s well worth sampling local vintages from the Kakheti region when you come. Be sure to try Qvevri wines, which are generally organic and unfiltered and have a very distinctive taste. For something stronger, Chacha is a traditional Georgian spirit made from fermented grape skins.