Georgian Food Signagi, Georgia

Culinary Georgia

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

After his trip to Georgia in 1946, John Steinbeck said: “In these terrific Georgians we had met more than our match. They could out-eat us, out-drink us, out-dance us, out-sing us. They had the fierce gaiety of the Italians, and the physical energy of the Burgundians. Everything they did was done with flair."

Georgian hospitality, food and wine is renowned and has been recognized for many years and is one of the main reasons to travel through the country, meeting locals and connecting over food and drink.  Join Exeter International on a special culinary tour through Georgia.

Featuring Extraordinary Experiences:

  • Private khachapuri making class
  • Traditional Georgian Evening at Local Winery
  • Contemporary Georgian cooking class
  • Khinkali making class
Day 1
Arrival in Tbilisi | Tbilisi

Upon your arrival in Tbilisi today, you will be met by your driver and guide and transferred to your hotel.

Although Tbilisi is a capital city, it is surrounded by mountains, has a river at its heart and is green and verdant, giving it an air of leisure that is unusual in a major city.

Enjoy the rest of your afternoon at leisure.

Exeter Services: Airport Transfers (Individual Arrival Transfers)

Hotel: Rooms Hotel Tbilisi (Or Similar)

Meals: None

Day 2
Tbilisi | Tbilisi

Your guide will meet you this morning for an overview tour of some of the city’s highlights including elegant Rustaveli Avenue, the Governor’s Palace and the Parliament Building. You will also see the Paliashvili Opera House, with its dramatic Moorish architecture, while you continue down towards Vera Park.  Later, tour the Museum of Georgia, a modern and well curated museum covering all periods of Georgian history. Of particular interest is the moving museum of the Soviet occupation, located on the fourth floor.  You also will visit some of the city’s many religious highlights, including the Anchiskhati Basilica, the oldest church in Tbilisi, and Metekhi Temple, a major landmark that can be seen from many vantage points in the city.  Your guide will take you to visit the Narikala Fortress, dating back to the Persians of the 4th century. While exploring the fortress, you may visit the Church of St. Nicholas and the Folk Art Museum.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

This afternoon you will be invited into one of the leading restaurants of the city for a khachapuri making class. Khachapuri is the national dish of Georgia and it is delicious- a hot, freshly baked bread filled with warm cheese. Learn about the different styles and traditions of making khachapuri while you watch your creation baking in the brick ovens. An afternoon feast that you will never forget will follow!

 

Spend the remainder of the afternoon exploring the Maidan or the Old Town. Your guide will show you the Abanotubani, the sulfur baths, which were frequented by Pushkin and Dumas. One of the most prominent structures in the Maidan is the Armenian Cathedral of St. George. As you walk up Leselidzes Kucha, the main thoroughfare, you will see Tbilisi’s main synagogue, right next door to the 16th century Jvari Georgian Church and the Norashen Armenian Church. Ancient and fascinating Tbilisi is at its finest in this district.   Apart from visiting the historical sites, one of the most enjoyable things to do in Tbilisi is to experience Georgian café culture relaxing over a tea and soaking up the local atmosphere.

 

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Rooms Hotel Tbilisi (Or Similar)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3
Mtskheta & Uplistsikhe | Mtskheta & Uplistsikhe

This morning you will travel through the Georgian countryside to Uplistsikhe (literally “Lord’s Fortress”), a cave town covering an area of nearly 10 acres.  Founded around 1000 BC and inhabited until the 13th century, this rock-hewn town was once one of the most political and religious centers of Kartli.

At the top of the complex you will see a Christian stone basilica, dating to the 10th century.  These structures include a large hall, pagan places of sacrifice, dwellings, a pharmacy, bakery and prison. 

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

A light lunch will be served at the Chateau Mukhrani along with a wine tasting. You will experience a private performance of Khridoli, Georgian martial arts, a centuries old tradition that has been now enjoying a great revival and is even taught in the Georgian Army.

Next, your guide will take you a little outside the main city limits to visit Mtskheta, the spiritual heart of Georgia. Mtskheta has an almost mythical significance to many Georgians as this was the first capital of the nation, and was also where Christianity was first introduced into the country.  Mtskheta’s monuments date back to the 6th Century including the Jvari Monastery, the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and the Samtavro Church.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

Tonight, enjoy an evening highlighting some Georgian traditions at a local winery. Dinner will be accompanied by a master class in the making of shoti (bread), churchkhela (traditional Georgian candle-shaped candies), khinkali (dumplings) or chacha (Georgian brandy) distilling.  

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (6-8 Hours); Dinner Transfers

Hotel: Rooms Hotel Tbilisi (Or Similar)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4
Sighnaghi | Sighnaghi

This morning, you will meet your guide and driver for the transfer east of the capital city. This historic region, called Kakheti, is famous for its stunning landscape, independent spirit, rich fertile soil, and tiny villages specializing in wine making.

You will reach Sighnaghi – a small but extremely charming town which is a must-see in this part of the country. The perfectly preserved Old Town with narrow streets and the 18th Century fortifications that once had 23 towers and several gates, makes for a wonderful place to stroll around and take in the relaxed ambiance and gorgeous views of the Greater Caucasus mountains.

For lunch, you will visit one of the best traditional wineries in the region.  Georgia is considered to be the cradle of wine-making as archaeological finds suggest that wine production may have begun here as early as 6,000 BC, long before it reached the Mediterranean and Western Europe. You will meet with a local wine expert and taste some regionally-produced wines.

Afternoon arrival back in Tbilisi and transfer to your hotel.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

Today you will have an opportunity to discover and partake in Georgian cuisine, where traditional meets contemporary.  You will have a cooking class at Culinarium, Georgia’s first cooking school for food and wine lovers located in the heart of Old Town Tbilisi.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (6-8 Hours)

Hotel: Rooms Hotel Tbilisi (Or Similar)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5
Tbilisi - Kazbegi | Tbilisi - Kazbegi

After breakfast, meet your guide and driver for your transfer from Tbilisi to Kazbegi. On the way, you will stop and visit the Ananuri Castle with another stop for lunch at a local tavern.  About 99 miles north of Tbilisi, at the foot of Mount Kazbegi, you will stop in the little town of Stepantsminda. Locals of the village live at one of the highest inhabited points in the Caucasus which leaves them somewhat isolated from the outside world. This however, has allowed them to preserve the uniqueness and authenticity of a bygone era. They are very hard-working, decent, and fearless peoples yet extremely hospitable at the same time.

Situated high on the Aragvi River, not far from the Zhinvali Reservoir, is the Ananuri Castle. Actually, a fortress complex, the oldest part dates back to the 13th century. The complex is split into two parts, the northern tower (“Sheupovari”) which is open for touring and the southern tower which is mostly in ruins. There are two churches on the property, the larger of which is covered in intricate carvings and inside houses ancient vibrant fresco paintings of religious figures. By the eastern wall lay several tombstones, some of which belong to the former Dukes of Aragvi.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

This afternoon for lunch, you will participate in a khinkali master class with a local family, where you will be making Georgian dumplings. Also called kalakuri, the dish consists of minced meat, usually lamb, beef or pork (or a mix of those three) traditionally spiced with onions, chili pepper, salt and cumin. However, modern day khinkali can be just about any spiced, minced meat wrapped in dumpling dough.

Upon arrival at your hotel, check-in, where the rest of your evening is at leisure.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (7-8 Hours)

Hotel: Rooms Hotel Kazbegi (Or Similar)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6
Kazbegi | Kazbegi

After meeting your driver and guide this morning, you will head outside of the Kazbegi town, and head to the top of Gergeti Mountain. Here you will have the opportunity to visit the 14th century Gergeti Trinity Church, called “Tsminda Sameba“. Built on the right bank of the river Chkheri, at 7,120 feet above sea level, from the top is an unbeatable panoramic view of the Caucus Region. The astounding view from Gergeti Mountain onto Kazbegi town and the surrounding area is truly unforgettable. If the weather permits, you will be able to hike to the Sameba church. Its isolation from the rest of the world and total engulfment of its surrounding natural wonders has made it a symbol for Georgia. In times of danger and unrest, precious artifacts and relics would be stored there for safe keeping. Even during the Soviet Era, though no religious functions took place, it was still a sanctuary in the heavens, untouchable, unsullied, and able to weather the storms of time.

Enjoy lunch today at a local tavern.

The trek up the steep mountain face takes approximately 3 hours, but on the way you are able to see some of the most beautiful natural features the world has to offer.

Later, you will return to your hotel for an evening of well needed, and well deserved, leisure.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Rooms Hotel Kazbegi (Or Similar)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7
Kazbegi - Tbilisi | Kazbegi - Tbilisi

After check-out this morning, you will meet your guide and driver for your journey back to Tbilisi. On the way, you will make a visit to the Gveleti waterfall. The water from mineral rich glaciers high in the mountains funnels down to the cascading falls. To get there one must travel through Dariali Gorge, and after that it is only a short walk up a narrow footpath that leads to Gveleti waterfall. In Georgian “Gveleti” means snake, so keep an eye out for the natural wildlife!

If time allows, you might wish to make a stop at Kazbegi National Park for a greater view of the Caucus Mountains and their rolling, rugged foothills. Covering the tallest peaks, valleys and gorges carved by the Tergi River, the park has an area of roughly 8,707 hectares. Boasting not just natural beauty, the park is also dotted with numerous churches, fortified villages, and stone towers dating back to the medieval era.

Enjoy lunch at a local tavern before heading back to Tbilisi.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

Tonight, you will enjoy a farewell dinner full of Georgian traditions at a local restaurant.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (6-8 Hours)

Hotel: Rooms Hotel Tbilisi (Or Similar)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8
Departure from Tbilisi | Departure from Tbilisi

Check-out of the hotel and meet your driver for the transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (Please note the cost of your flight is not included in your program).

Exeter Services: Airport Transfers (Individual Transfers)

Meals: Breakfast

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