The attractions of Georgia (the country) and the beauty of its inhabitants have been acclaimed for millennia: the word “Caucasian” was originally created by anthropologist Johann Blumenbach to describe the people living around Mount Caucasus, i.e., Georgians, considered to be extremely beautiful. 

The country’s landscapes are no less so — stone villages tucked among the Svaneti Mountains of northwest Georgia; the World Heritage site of Kutaisi in central-west Georgia, one of the oldest cities in Europe; the beaches of the Black Sea in the southwest; the ski resorts of Gudauri (north of the capital, Tbilisi) and Bakuriani (west of Tbilisi); and the sprawling wine region of Kakheti in eastern Georgia. 

And then there is the wine region. Winemaking developed here 7,000 years ago, and good food follows good wine. Khachapuri is everywhere; each kitchen has its own combination of this leavened bread stuffed with local cheeses, meats, and vegetables. The same for khinkali (meat-filled dumplings) and churchkhela (a sausage-shaped sweet made from fruits, nuts, and grape juice). 

All that rich food has to burn off somewhere, and Georgia makes it easy – wandering its UNESCO-recognized monasteries, exploring its troglodyte cave towns, skiing its world-class slopes, scaling its mountains, riding its horses, and camping in its pristine landscapes. 

Best Time to Go

produce market storefront in tbilisi georgia
Courtesy of IStock/dszc

Georgia is a four-season destination, so when to go is dependent on interests — hiking in summer, skiing in winter, and sightseeing anytime (especially shoulder season). Since Georgia has the world’s oldest winemaking culture, the fall wine harvest festival (Rtveli) in Kakheti is manna for oenophiles. Exact dates change each year. Tbilisoba is the country’s biggest cultural festival, held yearly in Tbilisi. In 2024 the dates are September 30-October 1. 

What the Locals Recommend

Georgia is a country of constant contradiction and fascination, starting with Tbilisi. Within a 15-minute radius, you can find a synagogue, a mosque, a Georgian basilica, an Armenian church, a Catholic church, and a Zoroastrian Fire-Worshipper’s temple. (The mosque is unique in that it serves both Sunnis and Shiites). The city’s famed statue of Mother Georgia (Kartlis Deda) holds a jug of wine in one hand and a sword in the other, while — ironically — she overlooks the Bridge of Peace.

For a sensorial encounter with Tbilisi, try one of the sulfur baths, complete with sauna, scrub, soaping, shower, and, oh yes, the stink of rotten eggs. 

You will be invited for chacha everywhere. Be forewarned: it is NOT a dance, though you may want to dance after drinking a glass or two of this grappa-like vodka, ranging from 50% to 85% alcohol. 

After a night of chacha, you will know why Georgia is still a macho country. However, one of its most revered monarchs was Queen Tamara, so esteemed that she was given the title of “mepe” or “king,” the only queen to be so honored. She spearheaded the building of Vardzia, a sophisticated hill town built in the 11th-12th centuries, and worthy of a visit if you are sure-footed and not claustrophobic. 

Where to Stay: Hotels, Villas, and Home Rentals 

stacked houses in the old town of tbilisi georgia
Courtesy of IStock/Xantana

Stamba Hotel

The sprawling rooms at Stamba are designed for aesthetics as well as comfort, with brass bathtubs, brick or wood paneling, and some floor to ceiling windows overlooking a green courtyard. Standout features are the café with farm-to-table breakfasts, an amphitheater hosting cultural events, a photo museum, and a library in the lobby. 

(Mtatsminda District, 14 Kostava Str. Tbilisi, 0108 Georgia)

Unfound Door

Take a Baroque-style building in the center of town, update its facilities while leaving intact the character of the host structure, and you have Unfound Door — a gorgeous place to rest your head in restless Tbilisi. Wood-paneled floors, ornate gold walls, modern marble bathrooms, and a choice of spacious suites are among the attractions. 

(111 Davit Aghmashenebeli Avenue, Tbilisi, 0112 Georgia, +995 595 111282)

Where to Eat: Restaurants, Bars, and Bakeries

traditional georgian cuisine with wine
Courtesy of IStock/ArtMarie

Café Littera

Already Café Littera’s elegant location in the Writer’s House of Georgia tells you it’s going to be a special experience, the menu confirms that initial impression. Spinach dip with pomegranate, mussels Chakapuli on celery root puree, passion fruit Pavola all display the mixture of East and West that is Georgian cooking at its most creative. Garden dining in season. Reservations recommended.

(13 Ivane Machabeli St, 0105 Tbilisi, Georgia, +995 585 892989)

Caravanserai Bakery 

Hard to find (go down the stone steps), Caravanserai Bakery is worth the treasure hunt. Especially for its khachapuri — Georgia’s iconic dish — a flat cheese bread in a variety of iterations (cheese, meat, veggies, fish, egg). 

(13/40 Sioni St. MRR4+9X Tbilisi, Georgia)


It’s impossible to single out one Tbilisi nightspot in a city that vibrates with them, but Lolita is emblematic of the best: a house that once belonged to aristocrats, usurped by the Soviets, then transformed with floor tiles, wooden bar, rattan chairs, serving fab food as well as libations in a buzzy atmosphere. Open till 2 am.

(7 Tamar Chovelidze St., Tbilisi, Georgia, +995 32 202 0299)


Cozy, homey, and rustic, Doli offers a stylish setting, gracious service, and authentic Georgian dishes like pork Mtsvadi, khinkali dumplings, regional fruits and veggies, and local wines. An outdoor pool for atmosphere in season. Reservations recommended.

(Cholokashvili Street 11, 2200 Telavi, Georgia , +995 577 941212)

Mala’s Garden

As the name implies, outdoor eating is a big attraction. You could almost do a tapas dinner with the wide range of appetizers including eggplant with walnuts, pkhali (pounded cooked veggies with walnuts, garlic, and spices), and local cheeses – sulguni, guda, and pungent imeretian. Reservations recommended.

(N4 Rustaveli St, Telavi 2200, Georgia, +995 599 104105)

Magnolia Restaurant 

It helps to be an unrepentant carnivore at this cavelike, kitchy eatery, since many versions of barbecue are featured. But vegetarians won’t starve, with beets and walnuts, millet in mint, and Georgian cornbread, among other temptations, on the vast menu. Inviting and hospitable. 

(Kudaisi 4600, Georgia, +995 514 778877)

Things to Do 

the holy trinity cathedral of tbilisi in georgia
Courtesy of Unsplash/Max Letek

Rezo Gabriadze Marionette Theater

Yes, the actors are puppets in this tiny theater, but the plays are not meant for children. They were written by the theater’s eponymous founder, a Georgian intellectual who used marionettes to get around then-Soviet censorship. Gabriadze also built the tower attached to the theater, where an angel strikes a bell each hour.

(13 Ioane Shavteli St, Tbilisi 0105, Georgia, +995 577 556594)

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

This 11th-century church, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, is allegedly the resting place of Jesus’ robe. According to the story, it was purchased by a Jewish merchant in Jerusalem in the first century BC and brought back to Georgia. One of the seven interior pillars has supernatural powers as a result. The town itself is considered to be the birthplace of Christianity in Georgia. 

(RPRC+V9W, Narekvavi-Mtskheta-Railway Station, Mtskheta, Georgia) 


This cave town dates back to the Iron Age; its history is both pagan and Christian. Bring good shoes to explore, since it is perched on a cliff and extends eight hectares with tunnels and passageways through the rocks. One temple is carved between a bakery and a winery, underscoring the relationship between bread and wine in religion way before Christianity. A good guide is a must. 

(Uplistsikhe Complex Road, Kvakhvreli, Georgia)


Another imposing troglodyte town at an altitude of almost 4,000 feet, Vardzia was hewn by hand to hide an army that would protect the country from invaders. It worked for a century, till an earthquake dislodged the façade in 1283. Spectacular but not recommended if you suffer from vertigo or claustrophobia. 

(97JM+CMH, Gogasheni, Georgia)

Where to Shop

numbis winery
Courtesy of IStock/Maleo Photography

Numisi Winery 

A traditional winery known for its chacha as well as red and white wine. Qvevri clay vessels are still used for fermentation and storage, though you can buy wine made from European techniques as well. While shopping, visit the museum showing Qvevri storage from the 16th century, as well as other artifacts of Georgian history. 

(RQ52+46V, Kvareli-MukuzaniVelistsikhe, Georgia, +995 599 561031)

Dry Bridge Market 

Al fresco flea market displaying varied wares daily, from housewares to coins to carpets to Soviet memorabilia. The latter are especially noteworthy. The market spans 105 feet at its longest. Prepare to haggle but language barriers may limit your negotiations. 

(PR23+96X, Tbilisi, Georgia, +995 555 69 68 96)

Origin Carpets

Many different Georgian styles of carpet are on display here, and the store is used to dealing with visitors and shipping its merchandise abroad. High-quality products for a high-end clientele. 

(8/10 Erekle II Street, Tbilisi, Georgia, +995 577 405 311)

Tsinandali Estate

the tsinandali estate in the heart of georgias renowned wine country
Courtesy of IStock/saiko3p

You can buy wine anywhere in the country, from tiny shops to supermarkets, but if you want a full immersion experience, buy it at this well-regarded winery, formerly the home of a Georgian prince. Sleep at the adjoining hotel, eat at the restaurant, work out at the spa, and luxuriate in the gorgeous gardens.

(Tsinandali Village Kakheti Region Telavi, Tsinandali 2217 Georgia, +995 32240 2222)


Showcases the best in local crafts – hand-dyed felt scarves, lurji supra.tablecloths, intricate cloisonné jewelry, ceramic sculptures, and more. 23 Giorgi Akhvlediani St, (near Rustaveli Metro Station).

Tbilisi, Georgia, +995 593 90 68 48)

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash/Neil Sengupta

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