South Caucasus & Turkey

Essential Georgia & Armenia

Photo credit: Ann Schneider

14 Days
From $7,995
Trip Type
Group Size
Your choice
Activity Level
Flexible Private Trip — Book Your Dates for You & Yours

Between Two Capitals: A Journey to Cave Towns & Mountain Villages


Neighboring Georgia and Armenia have dual natures: they’re both largely remote and mountainous with rich, complicated histories due to their crucial location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Filled with lush valleys, towering mountains, medieval fortresses, and even older churches, they are fascinating places to visit. The gregarious people and present-day culture make the experience complete. Both countries are famed for their openhearted friendliness, and Georgia in particular has world-class food and wine. This is a destination where you can be wowed by the sights and indulged by the hospitality, while still feeling off the beaten path.

  • National Geographic Traveler honored this MIR Georgia & Armenia itinerary as a “Tour of a Lifetime

Travels to: Armenia, Georgia


Essential Georgia Armenia Map.


  • Days 1-3: Yerevan (Armenia), Garni, Geghard, Echmiadzin, Khor Virap

    Armenia’s capital, Yerevan – a city older than Rome – is the base for day trips to some of the country’s most fascinating sights: the pagan Temple of Garni; UNESCO-listed Geghard Monastery, carved into the side of a mountain; Echmiadzin, seat of the Christian Armenian Patriarch and another UNESCO World Heritage Site; and the little monastery of Khor Virap, which has fantastic views of Mt. Ararat.


    • Yerevan’s Cascade, a massive, magisterial staircase in the center of the city, adorned with waterfalls and a world-class sculpture garden
    • The pagan Temple of Garni, situated on a cliff and built from huge basalt blocks
    • The intricately carved, distinctly Armenian khachkar stone crosses of Geghard Monastery
    • The Cathedral at Echmiadzin, a major pilgrimage site that dates from the 4th century
    • The view of looming, snow-capped Mt. Ararat from Khor Virap
  • Days 4-7: Vardzia (Georgia), Akhaltsikhe, Borjomi, Tskaltubo

    After a morning crossing into Georgia, visit the massive stone Khertvisi Fortress and the cave monastery of Vardzia. Near the Turkish border, wander the 1,000-year-old town of Akhaltsikhe, which once sat at a junction of the old Silk Road, and then head to the spa town of Borjomi to sample its famous waters. Your final stop before heading up into the Caucasus is Tskaltubo, a recently revitalized Soviet-era resort area.


    • Khertvisi Fortress, built from the 10th to the 12th century and famed for its secret tunnels
    • The frescoes of Vardzia cave monastery, once inhabited by more than 2,000 monks
    • The Old Town of Akhaltsikhe, where medieval Christian, Jewish, and Islamic structures testify to the multicultural influences brought by the Silk Road
    • Borjomi, a spa town situated on a beautiful gorge and known for its healing mineral water
  • Days 8-10: Svaneti Region

    Head to the remote, mountainous region of Svaneti, which earned a UNESCO World Heritage listing for its massive medieval watchtowers. As a result of their isolation, Svanetians are considered the “most Georgian of all Georgians.” Get a chance to meet some of them at Ushguli, at 6,900 feet the highest continually inhabited village in all of Europe. Short walks, and time for more extensive hikes, provide opportunities to take in the gorgeous mountain views.


    • The steep, remote mountains of Svaneti, studded with medieval watchtowers
    • Meeting Svanetians, the most tradition-bound of Georgians
    • Medieval artifacts at the ethnographic museums in the towns of Mestia and Ushguli
    • Hilltop Lamaria Church on outskirts of Ushguli, with its spectacular views of mighty Mt. Shkhara
  • Days 11-14: Kutaisi, Tbilisi

    Descend from the mountains to Imereti, a region of small farms, vineyards, villages, and orchards. Overnight in Kutaisi, Georgia’s second-largest city (though just a 10th the size of Tbilisi); it’s best known as the site of Jason’s mythical quest for the Golden Fleece. Experience the region’s spicy cuisine and crisp wine, and visit the UNESCO-listed 12th century Gelati Monastery. From here it’s on to Georgia’s vibrant capital, Tbilisi, to explore the colorful Old Town, the art nouveau Sololaki District, and sulfur baths dating back to the 8th century. Toast your Georgian adventures with a farewell supra, a traditional feast.


    • The frescoes and mosaics of Gelati Monastery
    • Sights in and around Tbilisi, including the elaborately carved balconies of the Old Town, the restored mansions of the Sololaki District, and the millennium-old sulfur baths
    • Georgia’s exceptional cuisine, including regional Imereti dishes, dinner at a star chef’s café in Tbilisi, and a farewell supra

Dates & Prices

Please note:

  • Private trip prices vary by season and are subject to hotel availability for your travel dates.
  • Listed prices below are based on double occupancy and a 2 traveler minimum.
  • Hotel upgrades, additional nights, and solo traveler prices are available on request.

Land tour price, per person, starting from:

  • 2024 Dates
    Available: April - October
    Tour, double occupancy
    Single supplement

What's Included

  • Tour Includes
    • Accommodations as noted in the itinerary. All room types, even in upgraded properties, are standard entry-level doubles or twins; please call for room category upgrade pricing and information.
    • Meals, as noted in the itinerary: 14 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 4 dinners.
    • Restaurant tips for included meals.
    • One arrival and one departure airport transfer. (Additional arrival and departure transfers available at additional cost.) MIR will arrange for travelers to be met upon arrival and seen off on departure, whether we make your air arrangements or not.
    • Ground transportation throughout itinerary by private vehicle (size of vehicle depends on number of travelers in your group).
    • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees as outlined in itinerary.
    • Services of experienced, English-speaking local guides, drivers, and other staff.
    • Complete pre-departure electronic document that includes detailed packing suggestions, reading list links, country-specific information, maps, travel tips and more.
    • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements (on request; please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost).
    • Electronic final update bulletin, with any late news, updates and important information.
  • Not Included
    • International airfare or taxes/fuel surcharges.
    • Meals not specified as included on the itinerary.
    • Single supplement charge, if requested or required.
    • Items of a personal nature (phone calls, email, laundry, alcohol, excess baggage, etc).
    • Baggage handling.
    • Gratuities to local guides and drivers.
    • Visa/passport fees, airport departure fees.
    • Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s control.
    • Travel and trip cancellation insurance.

Activity Level

Level 4: Rigorous, but Customizable

This ‘Essential’ itinerary designed for private travel features long days walking and standing, some day hikes with hill climbing, some long days of overland travel, significant stair climbing, unpaved sidewalks and streets, uneven surfaces and steps, absent handrails, and lack of elevators. While some of these challenges are inherent in the destinations and sites, as one of our Essential Series programs this trip can be modified as needed for those travelers who are looking for a less challenging (or more challenging) program.

There is a significant amount of touring on foot, and those travelers planning to take the program as written should be able to walk at least two miles a day comfortably. During day hikes, travelers will be expected to carry a day pack with their personal belongings. Some long drives are an inevitable element of the routing this tour uses, and road conditions in the region can be bumpy and rough. Some attractions are only accessible via steep staircases with tall, uneven steps, and handrails are not always in place. Interior staircases may involve steep steps inside narrow passageways with limited light. Touring will be over a variety of surfaces, such as cobblestones, bricks, packed or loose dirt, or gravel, including uphill or downhill sections.

This tour maintains a focus on cultural interaction and the natural beauty of the Caucasus. You will be visiting private homes, sharing meals with local residents, and taking advantage of several opportunities for day hikes. It is therefore important that tour members have a desire to involve themselves in the local culture and be up for hiking/walking in order to enjoy this trip.

Please note, some Orthodox churches enforce fairly strict dress codes. Women may need to have head coverings (scarves) with them, and men and women may need to have their arms and legs modestly covered. Your guides will advise you when this is the case.

Past travelers have encountered challenges with bureaucratic service, plumbing in and out of hotels, and availability and quality of public restrooms. Accommodations in the basic program will vary from three-star hotels to basic guesthouses. Upgrades may be available in some cities, please call for details. Air-conditioning is a luxury and rarely available outside the capitals.


Traveler Reviews

  • "The guides in Georgia and Armenia were excellent. Excellent trip. Well planned and well completed."

    I. & V. Antola

    Los Angeles, CA

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