Georgia is a country of contrasts, with ancient history, stunning natural beauty, and a vibrant culture. From the bustling streets of the capital, Tbilisi, to the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus Mountains, there is something to offer everyone in Georgia. At just a three-hour 30-minute flight from the UAE, Georgia has become an increasingly popular spot for a long weekend or holiday, from a vibrant city break in the capital or Black Sea resort destination of Batumi to the up-and-coming ski destinations. Georgia is home to the Caucasus’ ski capital, Guadauri, along with rising star ski destination Bakuriani, where a trendy new design hotel has opened, marking a new era for luxury hotels. Read on to discover our long weekend guide to Georgia.
The Long Weekend Guide to Georgia
Day One – Explore the venerable town and its awe-inspiring monuments in Tbilisi
Begin your day by strolling through the Old Town (Altstadt) Tbilisi, where you can marvel at the quaint cobblestone streets, wooden balconies, and vibrant houses. You can also see some of the oldest and most remarkable monuments of the city, such as:
• The Falcon & Pheasant Fountain: This is where Tbilisi was established in the 5th century by King Vakhtang Gorgasali, who witnessed a pheasant being slain by a falcon near a hot spring.
• The Anchiskhati Basilica: This is the oldest surviving church in Tbilisi, dating back to the 6th century. It has a simple but graceful design and a splendid fresco of Christ inside.
• The Metekhi Church of Assumption: This is a 13th-century church that stands on a cliff overlooking the Mtkvari River. It was once the residence of Georgian kings and the scene of many historical events.
• The Sameba Cathedral: This is the largest and most modern cathedral in Georgia, completed in 2004. It is also known as the Holy Trinity Cathedral and has a dazzling golden dome that can be spotted from afar.
After discovering the Old Town, cross the Bridge of Peace, a futuristic glass and steel bridge that links the old and new parts of the city. On the other side of the bridge, you can find Rike Park, a green haven with fountains, sculptures, and playgrounds. From Rike Park, you can take the aerial cable car to the top of the hill, where you can enjoy a scenic view of Tbilisi and visit two more attractions:
• The Narikala Fortress: This is an ancient fortress that dates back to the 4th century. It was once a formidable defensive structure, but now it is mostly in ruins. You can walk along the walls and see some old cannons and towers.
• The Mother Georgia Statue: This is a 20-meter-high statue of a woman holding a sword and a cup of wine. It symbolizes the Georgian spirit of defending their land and welcoming their guests.
Another interesting way you can explore the Old Town is by booking yourself a Photoshoot Walk, this will not only allow you to traverse the labyrinthine streets and discover hidden gems, but it will also provide you with an indelible collection of digital prints to cherish forever.
Day Two – Savor the refined calmness of Kakheti
The Kakheti region of Georgia is a land of stunning beauty and rich cultural heritage. Nestled amidst the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, Kakheti is renowned for its rolling vineyards, ancient monasteries, and charming villages. A day trip to Kakheti from Tbilisi is a perfect way to experience the best that this region has to offer.
Start your day by visiting the Bodbe Monastery, a 9th-century complex perched atop a hill overlooking the Alazani River. The monastery is home to the tomb of St. Nino, a revered figure in Georgian Christianity. From there, head to the town of Sighnaghi, known as the “City of Love”. Take a stroll along the town’s ancient walls and enjoy the panoramic views of the Alazani Valley.
No journey to the sublime region of Kakheti would be complete without savouring the fine wines for which the area is famous. Explore one of the many wineries and taste local varietals such as Saperavi and Kisi. In the afternoon, head to the Gremi Castle, a 16th-century fortress that once served as the royal residence of the Kakhetian kings. Uncover the castle ruins and witness the stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
For dinner, pamper yourself to a traditional Georgian restaurant and relish some of the local cuisine. Be sure to try khachapuri, a cheese-filled bread, and khinkali, a meat-filled dumpling. After dinner, take a leisurely drive back to Tbilisi, admiring the starlit sky and reflecting on a day well spent in the heart of Georgia.
Day Three – Head out to the scenic Kazbegi
A day tour from Tbilisi to Kazbegi is a wonderful way to experience the stunning splendour of the Caucasus Mountains and the traditional Georgian village of Stepantsminda, nestled at the foot of Mount Kazbek. The drive from Tbilisi to Kazbegi is itself a scenic adventure, winding through the mountains and offering breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
Upon reaching the charming town of Stepantsminda, nestled amidst the breathtaking Caucasus Mountains, embark on a spiritual journey to the Gergeti Trinity Church, a 14th-century architectural masterpiece perched atop a hilltop. As you ascend the winding road, let the serenity of the surroundings wash over you. Embark on a short and invigorating hike to the Gveleti Waterfall, a hidden gem tucked away in the mountains. Listen to the symphony of cascading water and revel in the lush greenery that envelops you.
Take a refreshing dip in the cool waters or enjoy a picnic lunch amidst the tranquil ambience. travel back in time to the 6th century as you visit the Jvari Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site perched atop a hill overlooking the ancient city of Mtskheta. Admire the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and immerse yourself in the rich history and spiritual significance of this sacred site.
Embark on a culinary adventure as you sample the delectable delights of Georgian cuisine. Stop at roadside cafes and restaurants along the way to indulge in hearty dishes like khinkali (dumplings filled with meat or vegetables), khachapuri (cheese bread), and mtsvadi (skewered meat). Make a night of it by booking into ROOMS Kazbegi – a cool, boutique hotel from homegrown brand ROOMS (in Tbilisi, Kokhta, and Batumi) with a beautiful mountain-view spa, chic bar, lounge with a roaring fireplace and the Kazbegi Kitchen – serving contemporary Georgian cuisine.
Day Four – Have A Pampering day in Tbilisi by Venturing To the Best Spas and Eateries in Tbilisi
For the last day, embark on a rejuvenating journey through the vibrant city of Tbilisi, Georgia, where ancient traditions intertwine with modern luxuries, creating a haven of relaxation and culinary delight. Indulge in a day of pampering, where you’ll uncover the hidden gems of Tbilisi’s spa scene and savour the tantalizing flavours of its culinary landscape.
Begin your day of pampering at Chreli Abano, a historic bathhouse nestled amidst the tranquil Abanotubani district. Immerse yourself in the therapeutic waters of the natural sulfur springs, renowned for their healing properties. Surrender to the expert hands of skilled masseurs who will expertly knead away tension and leave you feeling refreshed and revitalised.
After your rejuvenating spa experience, embark on a culinary adventure to Keto and Kote, a charming restaurant that epitomises Georgian hospitality. Keto and Kote is the ideal destination for those who wish to savour a modern reinvention of Georgian cuisine. Situated in the central part of Tbilisi, the restaurant presents a creative and innovative menu based on the finest quality of products sourced from local producers. You can relish dishes such as Roquefort and hot pepper sauce on meat, and bright pesto sauce on khinkali, and more while enjoying the views of the city from the terrace. The restaurant captures the spirit of the opera, with its romantic atmosphere and charming decor. Keto and Kote is a must-visit for anyone who wants to experience the magic of Georgian cuisine and culture.
In the late afternoon, step back in time at the Orbeliani Baths, a historic gem that exudes the charm of bygone eras. Relax in the traditional sulfur baths, enveloped by the warmth and tranquillity of the surroundings. Let the skilled natakhtaris, traditional bath attendants, guide you through the ancient bathing rituals, leaving you feeling utterly pampered and rejuvenated.
As the day winds down, indulge in a culinary symphony at Café Stamba, a cosy haven where Georgian flavours meet modern culinary innovation. The Café is a celebration of the rich culinary heritage of Georgia, with a modern twist on the country’s classic dishes. The Café embraces the farm-to-table concept, sourcing fresh produce and other ingredients from local Georgian farmers. Guests can watch the chefs prepare their dishes in an open kitchen with a rotisserie, and see the fresh ingredients on display. Savour in some of their best-selling dishes, such as their Pumpkin pkhali, a traditional Georgian appetizer of mashed pumpkin mixed with walnuts, garlic, and herbs, Ghbezhalia, a creamy and tangy dish of cottage cheese and mint wrapped in thin slices of boiled beef and for dessert, make sure to indulge in their popular Le Paris Brest, a French pastry with a ring of choux dough filled with praline cream and topped with almonds and powdered sugar.
As you bid adieu to Tbilisi, you’ll cherish the memories of a day replete with relaxation, rejuvenation, and culinary delights. The city’s ancient traditions and modern luxuries have woven together a harmonious tapestry of pampering experiences, leaving you feeling refreshed, revitalized, and ready to embrace the world with newfound energy and zest for life.
The quick guide to Georgia
- Currency: Georgian Lari (GEL)
- Time zone: Georgia Standard Time (GET), UTC+4
- Airports: Tbilisi International Airport (TBS), Batumi International Airport (BUS), Kutaisi International Airport (KUT)
- Getting there: There are several airlines that fly directly from Dubai to Tbilisi as well as to Batumi and Kutaisi, including flydubai, Air Arabia, and Georgian Airways. Flight time is approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to Tbilisi, 2 hours and 30 minutes to Batumi and 2 hours and 45 minutes in Kutaisi, respectively.
- Getting around: All cities in Georgia have a well-developed public transportation system, including buses, metro, and taxis. Taxis are relatively inexpensive, but it is important to agree on a price with the driver before you get in. You can also book your cab using apps such as Yandex and Bolo. You can also rent a car, but be aware that driving any part of Georgia can be challenging, especially during rush hour.
- Best time of year to visit: Georgia has a continental climate, with hot summers and cold winters. The best time to visit is during the spring (May-June) or fall (September-October) when the weather is mild and pleasant.
- Tipping guidelines: Tipping is not as common in Georgia as it is in some other countries, but it is appreciated. A tip of 5-10% is customary for good service.