Exeter’s Perfect Week in Georgia

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Masterfully designed by Exeter's Georgia expert, Jody Ricottone, this is her perfect week in Georgia.  Please contact Exeter International to customize and tailor your perfect week in Georgia.

Download a PDF itinerary here.

 

ITINERARY

PRICING FROM

$4,525 per person, based on two guests traveling together. Please contact Exeter International for specific pricing and availability.

Day 1
Arrival | Tbilisi - Borjomi Shashlik, Georgia

Arrival in Tbilisi. You will be met by your private driver and guide and begin a two-hour journey to Borjomi.

Borjomi is a town located in the Borjomi Gorge, located in the south-central part of Georgia. Here you will find the largest export of Georgia, Borjomi mineral water. This beautiful spa town was used as a recreation destination and summer residence for the Romanov royal dynasty as well as state and cultural figures like Maxim Gorky, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Joseph Stalin.

Check in to your beautiful hotel and enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure or, time permitting, you may choose to take a walk to the Borjomi Park to sample their water from the source.

Exeter Services: Airport Transfer; Half-Day Guide

Hotel: Crowne Plaza Borjomi

Day 2
Vardzia & Rabati | Vardzia & Rabati

This morning, after meeting with your guide and driver, you will transfer south about an hour to Rabati Castle. Destroyed and rebuilt many times since the 13th century, the fortress site received a major restoration in 2011. Inclusive of an 18th century mosque, a 19th century Orthodox church, the Djakeli palace remains and a history museum, the top portion of Rabati fortress offers great viewing sites in the towers.

After lunch (payable locally), you’ll drive about an hour to Aspindza to tour the Vardzia Cave Monastery.

In the 12th century, as the kingdom of Georgia was trying to defend itself from the Mongols, Queen Tamar reportedly ordered construction of a sanctuary. In 1185, digging began on the side of Erusheli mountain. At completion, this underground fortress had more than 10 levels, a throne room, a church and nearly 6000 apartments. Sadly, just 100 years later, an earthquake destroyed more than two-thirds of the city, exposing the inside of the mountain. It remained in use by the monastery until 1551, when it was raided by Persian troops. Today, about 300 rooms and halls remain open to visitors.

Before returning to Borjomi for the evening, you may also stop at Khertvisi fortress, situated on a rocky hill above the Mtkvari and Paravani Rivers. The fortress was built in the 2nd century. The church dates to 985 and the present walls were built in 1354.

Transfer back to Borjomi for the remainder of the evening at your leisure.

Special Note: Much of today’s touring is on foot and involves both walking and light hiking. Please wear comfortable footwear.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: Crowne Plaza Borjomi

Day 3
Gori & Stepantminda | Gori & Stepantminda Gori, Georgia

This morning, after a breakfast at your hotel, you will transfer East towards the town of Gori, best known for being the birthplace of the former Soviet dictator Josef Jughashvili – Stalin. Stalin’s modest home still stands and is set against the backdrop of the Stalin Museum’s buildings. The Stalin Museum is worth visiting and details his life from his youth all the way to the Yalta Conference after the Second World War.

Perched on a rock above the town, the medieval Gori citadel is still an impressive sight even though it was damaged in an earthquake in the 1920s. The easy walk to the top offers rewarding views over the town and the valley.

Just a few miles away from Gori, you will also stop in Uplistsikhe – a once-inhabited rock-hewn city. The impressive complex of halls, temples, passages, streets, wine pressers and tunnels cut in the rocky river bank was used in the 6th – 1st century BC when it was a pagan center before Georgia adopted Christianity. Later, when Tbilisi was taken by the Arabs, Uplistsikhe became the de-facto seat of the Georgian kings. In the following centuries, it gradually lost its importance but was still used by the local population as a shelter in times of foreign invasions. The town is fascinating as its architecture is a testimony to the ingenuity of the ancient builders from the period when the Hellenistic traditions strongly influenced the early-Christian culture.

Later, you will experience an introduction into Georgian wine at Chateau Mukhrani. We have selected this unique winery for its history, beautiful vineyards and restored castle. In 1875 Prince Mukhranbatoni visited Champagne and Bordeaux to learn about European winemaking. He returned to Georgia and combined traditional Georgian winemaking methods with European methods, creating a successful and internationally recognized quality wine. Today, you will tour the vineyards, cellars and castle and taste some delicious wine.

You will then continue to Mtskheta, the spiritual heart of Georgia and a city that has an almost mythical significance to most Georgians as this was the first capital of the kingdom and the coronation and burial place for most Georgian kings. It was also where Christianity was proclaimed the state religion in 337. Mtskheta is still the religious center of the Georgian church.

Mtskheta contains some of the oldest churches in the country – monuments dating back to as early as the 6th Century such as the exquisite early-Georgian-style Jvari Church, the huge Sveti Tskhoveli Cathedral (the largest functioning cathedral in the country and the archbishop’s seat) from the 12th century, and the Samtavro Church.

While in this area, you also can stop in and visit local craftsmen who are known in the region for their intricate basket-weaving and colorful pottery.

The last stop of the day is at the foot of Mount Kazbegi where 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. Checking in to your hotel you then have the remainder of your day at leisure.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: Rooms Kazbegi

Day 4
Gergeti | Gergeti Kazbegi, Georgia

This morning after breakfast you will meet your guide to continue with your exploration of the region. You will head slightly outside Stepantsminda, to the top of Gergeti Mountain via an off-road vehicle. Here you will have the opportunity to visit a beautiful 14th century Trinity church. The astounding view from Gergeti Mountain on Stepantsminda and the surrounding area is truly unforgettable.

Afterwards you will travel north of Stepantsminda into Kazbegi National Park to see Darial Gorge. Located on the Russian border the gorge is one of only two passes through the treacherous Caucasus mountains making it a strategic location throughout history. You will also see Mount Kazbek, classified as a stratovolcano, it is one of the largest mountains in the Caucasus.

Before returning to Stepantsminda you will travel to the very picturesque Juta valley stopping in the small town of Sno to see Sno castle ruins along the way. After today’s touring you will be transferred back to your hotel in Stepantsminda where you have the remainder of your day at leisure.

Optional: This evening you will participate in a khinkali master class at the local tavern, 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.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: Rooms Kazbegi

Day 5
Stepantsminda - Tsinandali | Stepantsminda - Tsinandali Georgian Food

After meeting your driver and guide in your hotel lobby you will then begin your transfer to Sighnaghi, a breathtakingly beautiful journey of about four hours. On your way you will stop at Ananuri Fortress. In use until the beginning of the 19th century, this fortress was built by the Dukes of Aragvi and dates to the 13th century.

Then, continuing your trip into the Kakheti province, you will pass by quaint towns and vineyards. 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.

The Kakheti region is Georgia’s main wine-producing area. The valleys of the Alazani and Lori Rivers and the slopes of the Caucasus, combined with a mild climate, have provided ideal conditions for winemaking for centuries.

Upon arrival in Tsinandali, check into your hotel and enjoy your evening at leisure.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: Radisson Collection Tsinandali Estate

Day 6
Sighnaghi | Sighnaghi Caucasus - Radisson Collection Tsinandali, Georgia

This day will be dedicated to the exploration of the Kakheti Region and its tiny villages.

You’ll meet your guide and driver and start your day by touring Sighanghi – 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.

Next, you’ll visit the Gremi Fortress, a 16th century royal citadel and the Church of the Archangels before heading to Napareuli for lunch and wine tasting.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

Today for lunch, you will visit one of the best traditional wineries in the region. Georgians are proud of their grapes, their wine, and their natural wine-making process. You will meet with a local wine expert and taste some regionally-produced wines. Note: Lunch is included in the cost of the program this day.

After lunch, you return to Tsinandali, to tour the Tsinandali Estate, the House Museum of Prince Alexander Chavchavadze. Chavchavadze, known to be a linguist and poet, has been credited with bringing the piano, horse drawn carriage and billiards to Georgia. After, you’ll head to another popular winery in the area to sample some of the other wine varieties the region has to offer.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

Tonight, you will be able to experience an evening full of Georgian traditions at a local Georgian home. A traditional Georgian dinner with wine and chacha will be accompanied by traditional singing and Georgian toasting.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: Radisson Collection Tsinandali Estate

Day 7
Departure | Tbilisi Sulfur Baths 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: Departure Transfer

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