Back in April 2020, my friend and I had planned to travel to Georgia and had booked everything. However, for reasons known to the whole world, the trip was cancelled. It took awhile to reschedule but luckily I was able to go finally in 2023. One of the main reasons I was curious to visit Georgia was because I have tried the food and wine from there. Khinkali dumplings and khachapuri breads are amazing! And the wine is under-recognised but very tasty, especially the reds. In addition, I had heard from friends that Tbilisi, the wine region and mountain areas are all beautiful. I was not disappointed!
Unfortunately, from London it is not very easy to travel to Georgia. I had to fly at odd hours via Athens so I lost two days of sleep, one in each direction. However, it was definitely worth it! The capital Tbilisi is amazing and there is such varying landscape in the mountainous north and wine country to the east. Next time I hope to visit the Black Sea beach on the west.
- Tbilisi the capital with its beautiful architecture, parks, river and hills
- Tbilisi cable car
- Tbilisi concert hall
- Gergeti, Kazbegi and Gudauri to the north – beautiful mountain landscapes
- Gergeti Trinity Church
- Gergeti and Kazbegi or Stepantsminda towns
- Georgian Russian friendship monument with panoramic views
- Gudauri Viewpoint
- Views from the Gudauri ski lifts
- Aragvi River of Two Colors Viewpoint, where the black and white waters merge
- Ananuri Fortress Complex
- Zhinvali Water Reservoir
- Kakheti wine region
- Bodbe’s St. Nino’s Convent
- Ziplining over the Alazani Canyon
- Signaghi and the old fortress and walls
- Wine tasting
- Georgian foods such as khinkali and khachapuri
- Beautiful orthodox Christian monasteries and churches
- Diamond Bridge unique bridge not for those afraid of heights
- Batumi for the west coast beaches along the Black Sea
Before you go
- US and UK citizens can enter Georgia without a visa for up to one year
- Ladies need to wear headscarves and long skirts in Georgian orthodox churches. Short trousers for men are also forbidden
- There is no Uber but Bolt works well; don’t take the people saying Taxi but order one via Bolt so the price is fixed and cheaper
- Tbilisi cultural events such as concerts can be found on the TKT website
- Many people speak English, but a translation app is useful. The Georgian alphabet is Mkhedruli and is a very curvy script
- Plugs in Georgia and Armenia are the standard C plug like the EU
- Best mobile coverage by Magti and you can buy a sim card at Tbilisi airport arrivals door or in the city
- One Georgian Lari GEL is 100 tetri
- Tbilisi metro rides are with contactless cards for 1.50 lari. Buying a ticket costs 1 lari
- Tbilisi old town has lots of cobblestones and is very hilly
- People smoke a lot but luckily usually outdoors
- Lunchtime is often really late around 15:00
- Most public toilets cost around one lari and usually have toilet paper
- Tipping is not mandatory but is appreciated in cash
- 9th April is the national independence day
- There are three international airports in Georgia: Tbilisi, Batumi and Kutaisi
- Tbilisi airport is located about 20 minutes by taxi from the city centre if there isn’t traffic. Bolt is the best way to find a taxi at a fixed rate. The pick up location is just outside of the departures terminal. I flew Aegean Airlines from Athens to Tbilisi and Georgian Airways from Tbilisi to Yerevan
- Bolt is an easy and relatively cheap way to get around quickly in the city by taxi. It’s also convenient since you know the price in advance and can pay by credit card
- The Tbilisi metro system is cheap and quick. The stations are very deep and nicely decorated in Soviet style. However, it doesn’t reach the airport on either of the two lines. A refundable plastic card costs 2 GEL and it can be reloaded for the metro, bus and cable car
- For trips outside of the city, it’s best to get a driver/ guide or book a tour. There are a lot of mountain roads, and not many signs
- While in Georgia, I only stayed overnight in Tbilisi. The Central Gate Hotel is conveniently located in the Old Town on a quiet street.
- Prices are very reasonable. My room was comfortable and clean. It was quite small but big enough for a few days. The hotel doesn’t serve breakfast but there are many places nearby
- The staff were friendly and helpful. They answered questions before I arrived and during my stay. In fact, they told me honestly that a Bolt taxi would be cheaper than them booking me a taxi.
- Although the area seems safe, it was nice to have a person at reception 24/7 and the front door was locked at night.
- Cleaning is only every three days or you need to pay a small fee. That was fine with me as I don’t need to change towels and sheets daily. Often I think that’s a bit wasteful as I wouldn’t do that at home!
The official currency of Georgia is the Lari or GEL. The coins below 1 lari are called tetri. As of April 2023, one british pound is equal to 3.15 Lari
I recommend to check the currency conversion just before you leave as this fluctuates
This is a brief overview of Georgian foods and beverages. In the specific city and region posts, I will recommend some specific restaurants and bakeries to try.
First, the khinkali are one of the favourite Georgian foods which can be found in many other countries. They are dumplings shaped in a circle with radiating folds from the centre. I’ve enjoyed eating them many times and cooking them a couple of times. While in Tbilisi, I took a cooking course with Irina at Chakandrila. In addition to being a lot of fun, I was glad to learn some more techniques for making khinkali and khachapuri.
Khachapuri is possibly the second most famous Georgian food outside of Georgia. It is a bread which can be filled with different ingredients. One of the most popular is Adjaruli, which has cheese and egg. It’s delicious and also not too difficult to make.
In addition to the khachapuri, there are many other types of breads. There is a thin bread used to wrap kebabs. And in Kakheti, there is a traditional long, flat and crispy bread cooked on the walls of a wood-fired stone oven.
There are many grilled kebabs and meat dishes in the Georgian cuisine. Although these are not specific to the country, the spices used give a unique taste. Stews are also very popular. Shkmeruli or Chkmeruli is a delicious chicken dish in a garlic and milk sauce. We tried this at a restaurant in the mountains, and the flavour was amazing!
Cheese is very popular in dishes and also on its own. There are fresh, raw cheeses, and also hard and smoked varieties.
Finally, there is a big variety of salads. Some salads resemble Greek salads with tomato and cucumber. My favourite combination was cabbage, apple and dill.
Unfortunately for me, because I can’t eat them, walnuts are used in many dishes. They are key ingredients for sauces, marinades, salads and desserts.
Churchkhela were the sweets I saw the most often in Georgia. They are hanging in shops, along the side of the road and can also be found in the supermarket. Easily mistaken for sausages or even candles, these sweets are strings of nuts coated in a grape juice mixture. They are not too sweet and are a little chewy. Traditionally the nuts are walnuts, but hazelnuts are also often used.
Another popular sweet was a pressed dried fruit that is called Tklapi. The ladies selling it were calling it fruit paper, because it is rolled very thin. I liked the taste because it was more sour than sweet.
Finally, the cakes were delicious and had an endless variety. Many had walnuts so I had to choose carefully. However, I always found something I could eat from the bakeries.
Wine and Spirits
Although many people in the UK are not very familiar with Georgian wine, I have found it here in London. However, it tends to be the sweet red wine, which in my opinion is not the best stuff. I prefer the dry red wines and some of the white wines. The white wines are also known as amber wines, because the traditional pottery gives them a darker colour.
Luckily, I had a chance to sample some of the wines while in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. During this trip, I took a day trip to the Kakheti region which is the most famous wine area of Georgia. The traditional Georgian way of aging wine is in pottery buried in the ground. It was fascinating to see this and our tour guide told us about how as a child he used to be responsible for cleaning them. As in, they actually lowered him into the clay vessel and he scrubbed it.
Finally, for a stronger drink the Georgians have chacha, which is a liquor made from grapes. It comes plain or with various fruit flavours.
Q: Do I need a tour guide?
A: Yes for travel outside of Tbilisi it is helpful to have a driver and/or guide
Q: Do people speak English?
A: In Tbilisi, most people spoke English. And even in the smaller towns, many people at the tourist sites and restaurants spoke English.
Q: Can I travel solo?
A: Yes it’s quite safe and I saw a lot of solo travellers
Q: How easy is it to send postcards?
A: It was easy to find postcards in the tourist souvenir shops in Tbilisi. The post office people were helpful for buying stamps. However, the cost was quite expensive! See Sending Postcards from Abroad for details on cost and the time it took to reach the USA.
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