From Wine Country to High Country
Georgia, rising from the shores of the Black Sea to encompass the peaks of the Caucasus Mountains, is a small wonder. Though not well known to North Americans, it’s a world-class travel destination with fascinating historic sights, spectacular natural beauty, legendary hospitality, sophisticated culture, and food and wine that are becoming international stars. Sitting at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Georgia melds the best of both worlds. Now is the time to discover it.
Travels to: Georgia
Days 1-2: Tbilisi (Georgia)
Start your Georgian experience with a tour of hip, picturesque Tbilisi, the country’s capital and by far its largest city. Follow the winding streets of the red-roofed Old Town; stroll down broad Rustaveli Avenue, the Tbilisi’s main thoroughfare; and stop at three historic churches: Anchiskhati Basilica, Metekhi Church of the Virgin, and Sioni Cathedral. In the surrounding hills, the 4th century Narikala Fortress and the Mother Georgia monument are inescapable presences towering over the city. In the afternoon, pay a visit to the State Museum of Fine Arts, which holds a vast collection of Georgian artwork, from ancient to contemporary.
- The elaborately carved balconies of Tbilisi’s Old Town
- Ancient cloisonné enamel pieces – one of Georgia’s signature artistic achievements – on view at the State Museum of Fine Arts
- The frescoes of 6th century Anchiskhati Basilica, Tbilisi’s oldest church
- People-watching and window-shopping on Rustaveli Avenue
Days 3-4: Signagi
Head into Georgia’s most esteemed wine region, Kakheti, and visit the estate of Alexander Chavchavadze, a 19th century aristocrat and poet who was also groundbreaking winemaker. Tour and taste at two leading wineries, Schuchman and Pheasant’s Tears, both of which use traditional methods and local varietals to create exceptional, distinctly Georgian wines. Overnight in the hill town of Signagi and visit the 9th century Bodbe Monastery.
- The beautifully restored mansion of Alexander Chavchavadze
- Experiencing Georgian wine at its best
- A picnic lunch at Schuchman Winery
- The basilica and gardens of Bodbe Monastery
Days 5-6: Ananuri, Gudauri, Kazbegi
Ascend into the heart of the Caucasus Mountains along the scenic Georgian Military Highway, built in the early 19th century and still the main road through the region. Along the way, stop at 17th century Ananuri Fortress Complex and at Gudauri, the highest village on the highway. The next day visit the village of Kazbegi, situated at the foot of one of the Caucasus’s highest peaks, Mt. Kazbek, and hike or drive to the Church of Tsminda Sameba (the Holy Trinity).
- Ananuri Fortress and neighboring Zhinvali Reservoir, which together make one of Georgia’s prettiest settings
- Gorgeous mountain drives on the Georgian Military Highway
- Fresh mountain air and exceptional views at the alpine village of Gudauri
- The remote 14th century Church of Tsminda Sameba silhouetted against towering mountain peaks
Days 7-8: Gori, Mtskheta, Tbilisi
Visit Gori, best known as the birthplace of Georgia’s most infamous native son, Joseph Stalin. Next, explore UNESCO-listed Mtskheta, capital of the eastern Georgian kingdom of Iberia from the 3rd century BC through the 5th century AD. Return to Tbilisi and toast the pleasures of Georgia at a sumptuous farewell dinner.
- The Stalin House Museum, located in the wooden hut where the Soviet ruler spent his first years
- Mtskheta’s two exceptional early Orthodox churches
- A supra – an indulgent traditional Georgian feast
Dates & Prices
- 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:
- Shared accommodations as noted in the itinerary. Contact MIR for hotel upgrade prices.
- Meals, as noted in the itinerary.
- Restaurant tips for included meals.
- One arrival and one departure 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 or not we make your air arrangements.
- Ground transportation throughout itinerary by private vehicle (Type of vehicle depends on number of travelers in your group).
- Services of experienced, English-speaking local guides, drivers, and other staff, as noted in the itinerary.
- Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees, as outlined in the itinerary.
- Special events, excursions, and cultural performances, as outlined in the itinerary.
- Complete pre-departure information including detailed packing list, reading list, and Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
- Final document packet, including luggage tags, final updates, and more.
- Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements, on request. (Please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost).
- International airfare and taxes/fuel surcharges.
- Meals and drinks not specified as included in the itinerary.
- Single supplement if requested or required.
- Baggage handling.
- Gratuities to local guides, drivers, porters, and other service personnel.
- Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification, or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s control.
- Travel-related insurance including cancellation, medical, and evacuation insurance.
- Visa fees, excess-baggage charges, airport departure taxes, vaccination and other medical costs.
- Optional pre- or post-tour extensions.
- Items of a personal nature such as phone calls, email, laundry, and alcohol.
Level 3: Medium, but Customizable
This ‘Essential’ itinerary designed for private travel features long days walking and standing, some long days of overland travel, some stair climbing, cobblestones or 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 a mile a day comfortably. 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.
Past travelers have also encountered challenges with bureaucratic service, plumbing in and out of hotels, and availability and quality of public restrooms.
Accommodations in the basic program are generally small, moderate, three-star to four-star hotels, some quite small with basic amenities and services. Upgrades may be available in some cities, please call for details.