Jaw-dropping landscapes and wine to rival Tuscany, there’s something for everyone in this ancient country of the Caucasus.
In a land of mountains and monasteries, history is etched upon lyrical landscapes in hand-chiselled stonework. A balmy breeze wafts the scent of fresh puri (Georgian bread) down cobbled lanes. A spirited gentleman waves as he whistles a Georgian pop song. The clinking of glasses reverberates around 4th-century walls. This is Georgia.
Tbilisi feels modern yet medieval, European yet foreign. The changing of the guard is marked by a hodgepodge of architecture. Soak up life down by the river, feast at fantastic restaurants, and get a good scrub at a traditional bathhouse.
Cradled in the Caucasus mountains, ancient watchtowers stand guard over picturesque villages, roads twist toward snowy peaks, and pine-scented air laps against meadows of wildflowers. Pack your walking boots, the trails are calling.
- Travel deep into Svan heartland to Ushguli which stands at 2200m is the highest permanent village in Europe!
- Take a cable car ride up Mt Zuruldi where exceptional views of the Caucasus Mountains can be enjoyed.
A spectacular stop on the Georgian Military Highway – the ancient passage from Tbilisi over the Caucasus to Russia. Explore the high-altitude town, and enjoy a superb hike to Gergeti Trinity Church, its silhouette glowing against the breathtaking towering backdrop.
Georgia’s premier wine region, where sleepy towns perch on hilltops clad in vineyards. The sound of laughter echoes around cellar doors, sidewalk cafes and rustic share-tables, as kindred spirits form friendships in a grape-powered haze.
Explore the old town and visit Rabati castle. Built in the 13th century and recently restored, the contradictory architectural flourishes depict a turbulent history. Nearby Vardzia, is a mesmerising cave complex carved into a cliffside. An earthquake exposed the secret city, once completely hidden and accessed through tunnels.
Capital city: Tbilisi
Population: 3.719 million
Currency: Georgian Lari (GEL)
Time zones: GMT+04:00
Electricity: Type C (European 2-pin)
Dialing code: +90
A number of nationalities do not require a visa to enter Georgia, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK, United States and countries that are members of the EU. Please check entry requirements to determine whether visa-free arrangements are applicable for your nationality. http://www.mfa.gov.ge/?sec_id=96&lang_id=ENG
If you are a citizen of a country that requires a visa to enter Georgia, you will need an invitation letter. Invitations are provided for arrangements booked with Sundowners Overland. Please refer to the website for more details: http://www.mfa.gov.ge/?sec_id=96&lang_id=ENG.
Entry Fee: Please refer to the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia for details on visa fees: http://www.mfa.gov.ge/?sec_id=96&lang_id=ENG 3
Travel Insurance is mandatory for all group journeys and Sundowners Overland strongly recommends travel insurance for all other journeys. You must ensure that your insurance policy covers you for the entire duration of your journey, for all activities you will be participating in and that you have purchased the highest level of cover available to you for medical emergencies (including repatriation/evacuation cover) which are relevant to ALL the destinations that you will be visiting. Contact us for further information and quotes.
Georgia has a very strict anti-drugs policy, which can also cover prescription and non-prescription drugs or medicine. If you are taking special medication, it is a good idea to carry a letter from your doctor to show authorities if necessary. For more information check Georgia’s regulations on the Ministry of Health Website or contact your nearest embassy/consulate.
Since some medications can also be affected by changes in temperature or require special care, we recommend you discuss this with your doctor before departure.
Georgia is an incredible year-round destination, though spring and autumn are often regarded as the best times to visit Georgia, each season offers its own uniqueness. Thanks to its geographical location, it enjoys a varied climate, which is mostly sub-tropical.
Summers can be very hot and humid in however it is a great time to venture into the cooler temperatures of the Caucasus Mountains and gorge on delicious cheese at the Cheese festival in Mtskheta (July). Winters can be quite cold, while the northern mountain peaks are permanently blanketed with snow, the west coastal areas by the Black Sea enjoy year-round balmy weather.
The local currency is the Georgian Lari (GEL). Foreign currency is easily exchanged in hotels, banks and money exchange offices. The Euro is the most recognised and accepted of all foreign currencies.
Credit cards are widely accepted throughout Georgia and access to ATM’s is reasonably good in most towns and cities.
- Coke USD$0.45
- 2 course meal & a drink in a decent restaurant USD$25
- A cup of coffee USD$1.50
- Bottle of local beer USD$1
*Prices are approximate average costs based on prices at 11/03/17 and are based on the equivalent amount of local currency.
As far as border crossings go these ones should be reasonably quick and painless, with very limited paperwork and some rather lovely scenery!
If you are arriving or departing by train all immigration procedures will be carried out on board. A border official will come and collect all passports and return them around 20 minutes later with your relevant entry/exit stamps.
- Georgians consider guests a gift from God, and if you’re invited into a local family home be prepared for lots of wine and at least three toasts from the tamada (toastmaster) to accompany a feast of local cheese, meaty stews, walnuts, eggplants and seasonal vegies. Beer is only used to toast the enemy, don't toast with beer – wine or vodka only!
- If you are invited into a family home it is customary to bring a gift – flowers, chocolates or alcohol are a good idea.
- To say that you have a hangover is not recommended since the local remedy is more alcohol, or you run the risk that they will start preparing the ultimate hangover cure of soup that is made from cows feet and stomach!
- Tbilisi is a cosmopolitan city, but more conservative attitudes exist in rural areas. You should dress and behave modestly in these areas and avoid open displays of affection.
- A handshake is the common way to greet someone.
- It is considered rude to blow your nose in public.
- Language is important in Georgia, the more words you know and effort you make to use them, the better.
- When entering religious sites women are expected to cover their heads and men to remove their hats. Men are forbidden to enter in shorts.
Mobile phone coverage is good in most areas. Ensure you have global roaming activated with your service provider or purchase a local SIM card. You will need to make your device is unlocked to accept a foreign SIM card.
Internet access is readily available in Tbilisi however can be harder to find outside of major cities and in remote areas.