Expert-Led Group Tour

Georgia Group tour - Highlights of Transcaucasia

Departing 10th - 23rd May 2020

14 days

from £3,995pp
  • Sample the region's delicious food and innumerable wines, along with its renowned hospitality
  • Explore ancient cave cities, hilltop monasteries and examine exquisite ancient frescoes
  • Enjoy the dramatic landscapes of the snow-capped Caucasus Mountains and stunning desert vistas
  • Discover exceptional religious art and architecture from a diverse range of archaeological sites

Encompassing unique Caucasian cultures, a rich Christian heritage, dramatic mountain scenery, fine wines and tasty food; Georgia is a country in need of exploring. A deep-rooted tradition of generous hospitality means that the warm and friendly Georgian people welcome the chance to share their culture and history.

Travelling through the Caucasus accompanied by expert guide, Ian Colvin, providing genuine insight into the history, architecture and rural lifestyle of many Georgians.

Why should I travel to Georgia?

From its lush green valley’s spread with vineyards to its deep-rooted churches and watchtowers balanced in spectacular mountain scenery, Georgia is one of the most beautiful countries on earth and a marvellous canvas for walkers and travellers of every kind. Its proud, high-spirited, cultured people are the soul of this stunning country.

Why should I join this group tour to Georgia?

This Georgia group tour allows you to get off the beaten track and traverse the lush mountains and explore the beautiful churches and watchtowers, some of which are not discoverable by road.

Is this group tour suitable for solo travellers?

Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places does provide security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a tour lecturer.

We have a no mandatory single supplement policy on most of our group tours, meaning that we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you do not have to pay for a single room.

If you would prefer the privacy of your own room and would like this guaranteed, then the single room price supplement will apply.

What is the accommodation in Georgia like?

Georgia hotels range from cosy boutique options to modern design accommodation and to the more unique.

How fit should I be to enjoy this Georgia group tour?

General overall fitness is required. There will be a number of walks to monasteries, and sites with a certain number of stone steps and uneven surfaces, as well as some hill climbs, however, this is done at a leisurely pace. We would suggest that you bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes.

What is the food in Georgia like?

Georgian food is considered an expression of the culture. Warm, gooey comfort food like khachapuri (cheese-stuffed bread) finds balance with matsoni (sour yoghurt). Herbs like tarragon, flat parsley, dill and coriander combine with walnuts and garlic for rich fillings and sauces.

What will the weather be like in Georgia in May?

May is an ideal time to visit Georgia, with warm sunny days and cooler nights. Average temperatures range between 18.0°C and 27.0°C.

Can I extend my time in Georgia before or after the tour?

Yes, this can easily be arranged at the end or the beginning of the tour. Private travel arrangements with a car and driver will be provided and a private guide arranged for sightseeing. Speak to one of our experts for possible suggestions on what extensions would complement this tour.



Departing on:
  • 10th May 2020

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour ExpertStatus 
10th May 2020 23rd May 2020 £ 3,995 £ 475 £ 785 Ian Colvin Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Accommodation (as indicated)
  • Accompanied by a local English speaking guide throughout
  • Accompanied by Ian Colvin throughout
  • All transfers and transportation throughout
  • Early check-in on day 1
  • Entrance Fees to sites mentioned
  • Gratuities for local guide, driver and porters
  • Meals (as indicated)
  • Transportation (as indicated)

what is excluded

  • Dinner on days 1, 5 and 9
  • Drinks with meals
  • International flights
  • Visa's (when necessary)

TO ALLOW FLEXIBILITY, OUR GROUP TOURS DO NOT INCLUDE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS AS STANDARD. WE CAN ARRANGE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS ON YOUR BEHALF AND THE ABOVE IS AN INDICATION OF COST, BASED ON RETURN FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM LONDON. ALL INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS FROM THE UK ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Rooms are available for immediate occupancy. Remainder of day at leisure.


No meals included today.


You will be staying at Gallery Palace Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Tbilisi full day city tour

Start your city tour of Tbilisi with a visit to the Old Town, the original settlement of Tbilisi with winding roads, alleys and wooden balconies. Visit Metekhi Church, standing proudly above the river on a cliff-top. Continue to the Sulphur baths (Abanotubani) and onto Narikala Fortress, these impressive ruins are located above the Old Town and are a landmark of the city and offer excellent views of the swirling river Mtkvari (Kura) and the Old Town. Afterwards, visit Sioni Cathedral, the beating-heart of Georgian Orthodoxy.


After lunch, visit a local flea market, Sameba Holy Trinity Cathedral and the recently built Cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Walk along Agmashenebeli Avenue, the main shopping and dining street on the right bank of the town. The street is refurbished and mostly restored to its former grandeur.


End the day with a visit to the Funicular, Mtatsminda (Holy Mount or Father David’s Mount) Pantheon and Park. The railway was built in 1903 with two stations, the lower stopping at St. David's church and the Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures and the upper station takes you to the Panoramic Park which provides spectacular views of the city.



The largest city in Georgia by a considerable distance, Tbilisi can justifiably claim to be the heart of the country. Squeezed between mountain ranges, the city fills the Mtkvari river valley. Having been the capital of Georgia for more than 1,500 years, in some form or another, Tbilisi is rich in history. However, as a city that hints at a new-found wealth, Tbilisi is undoubtedly changing. New building projects have added a touch of glamour to this historic city and contrast with the narrow streets, unchanged religious buildings and caravanserais of the old town.


Breakfast, lunch and welcome dinner included.


You will be staying at Gallery Palace Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Tbilisi to Signagi, Tsinandali and Kisiskhevi

This morning, drive to the centre of Georgia’s largest wine growing region, Kakheti. This famous wine district lies due east from Tbilisi in a land dotted with fine old churches and vineyard after vineyard.


Visit Bodbe Monastery which was originally built in the 9th Century but was significantly remodelled in the 17th Century. The monastery now functions as a convent and is one of the major pilgrimage sites in Georgia due to its association with St. Nino, the 4th  Century Christian evangelist, whose relics are enshrined there. A short distance from the monastery is the fortified walled hill-town of Signagi. Weather permitting, there are fine views of the Kakheti area and eastern Caucasus summits. It is an eclectic mix of old and new. The old section has narrow cobbled streets lined with typical houses complete with wooden balconies and shuttered windows.


Enjoy lunch with a local family - a traditional home-cooked meal, complete with Georgian wines. Learn to make ‘churchkhela’, a traditional Georgian sweet made with grapes and various nuts.


Continue your visit to the Tsinandali Estate the Chavchavadze family and sample a glass of Tsinandali wine.


Arrive in Kisiskhevi in the late afternoon. The driving time takes approximately two hours between Tbilisi and Kisiskhevi.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Schuchmann Wine Chateau and Spa, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Kisiskhevi to Telavi, Alaverdi, Kvareli and Tbilisi

After breakfast, proceed to Telavi, the capital of the Eastern province of Kakheti. Take a brief walking city tour of Telavi. Visit the recently restored King Erekle II Palace and almost 900-year-old Giant Plane tree, one of the oldest and most unusual attractions of the city.


Continue to the Alaverdi Cathedral 11th Century, the tallest cathedral of Kakheti and see the Gremi Architectural Complex, which consists of the 16th Century Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, a three-story castle, a bell tower and a wine cellar.


Then, continue to see a unique wine cellar, ‘gvirabi’ (tunnel) of the ‘Khareba Winery’ carved into the rock. These tunnels are several kilometres long and were opened in 1962 to host the World Wine Congress.


Return to Tbilisi.




Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Gallery Palace Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Tbilisi

In the morning, walk along Rustaveli Avenue, the main 1,500-metre-long artery of the city, decked out with elegant Renaissance and Neoclassical buildings. Here you find the city’s most important theatres and the Opera House. 


Continue your tour with a visit to the State Museum of Georgia, which houses an extraordinary collection of gold filigree work dating from the 6th century BC among other items of repoussé work and jewellery.


If of interest visit the Open-Air Museum of Ethnography as well. Covering 52 hectares and encompassing 14 ethnographic zones it displays around 70 buildings and more than 8,000 items including examples of folk architecture and craftwork from various regions of the country.


Afternoon at leisure.


Breakfast and lunch included. Dinner not included.


You will be staying at Gallery Palace Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Tbilisi to Mtskheta, Ananuri and Kazbegi

In the morning, head north up the Georgian Military Highway towards Kazbegi. After 45 minutes drive, stop en route at the town of Mtskheta which lies in a lush valley on the confluence of two rivers, the Aragvi and the Mtkvari. It was founded in 2,000 BC and was the capital of the Georgian Kingdom of Iberia between 500 BC and 500 AD. Georgians adopted Christianity in the 4th Century and thereafter Georgians, Byzantines, Persians, Arabs and Mongols traded control of the territory until the Russian annexation in the 19th century. It is overlooked by the marvellously simple church of Jvari, a perfect example of early Georgian Christian architecture.


Also, visit Svetitsikhoveli Cathedral, Georgia’s largest remaining cathedral and burial place of the Georgian kings, notable members of the Bagrationi family. It has an extraordinary interior combining paintings, frescoes and a domed chapel used for the Christmas service. They are both UNESCO sites.


Continue to Ananuri Fortress, a further 40 minutes drive, which sits in a green valley overlooking the Aragvi Valley and Zhinvali Reservoir.


Drive a further 40 minutes through the dramatic Aragvi River Valley, and continue over the Jvari Pass, rising up to 2,395 metres above sea level, and down into Kazbegi.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Porta Caucasia Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 7

Kazbegi

Surrounded by gigantic mountains, Kazbegi is a picturesque settlement overlooked by one of the highest peaks of all, Mount Kazbek, at 5,047 metres above sea level, and one of the six 5,000 metre peaks of the Caucasus.


Drive to Sameba Trinity Church at Gergeti, the main attraction in the area. It takes approximately 30 minutes to drive each way. Fine views of the mountains can be seen from the church including the snow-capped mountains in the distance.


After lunch drive to Sno Valley to see the stone carved heads and then drive to Dariali Canyon down to the Georgian-Russian border.




Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Porta Caucasia Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Kazbegi to Gori, Uplistsikhe and Kutaisi

Depart this morning for Gori, known as the birthplace of Stalin. Visit Stalin’s Museum, dedicated to the life of Joseph Stalin, who was born in Gori. 


From Gori, drive approximately two and a half hours to via Uplistsikhe, also known as ‘the Lord's citadel’, a cave town hewn into the living rock, eight kilometres south-east of Gori. The citadel dates back to the 7th Century BC. It served as a strategic point on the ancient Silk Road from ancient times until the 15th Century AD. It contains a large central hall for pagan rituals, living rooms and a 9th Century church.


Continue to Kutaisi.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Best Western Hotel Kutaisi, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Kutaisi

Kutaisi dates back to the Argonauts’ time (13th - 12th Centuries B.C). Formerly the capital of old Colchida, Kutaisi then ruled all of Western Georgia.


Visit Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery, founded in the 12th century by Georgia’s most famous king, David the Builder. Its walls are covered in splendid floor-to-ceiling murals of Georgia’s saints and monarchs. These sites are listed as World Cultural Heritage sites by UNESCO. Also, see the Motsameta Monastery, the present-day church dating back to the 11th Century, but historical records show that a church was constructed in this spot as early as the 8th Century.


Afternoon at leisure.



As Georgia's second largest city and the capital of western Georgia, Kutaisi's rivalry with Tbilisi is age-old. Dating back over 3,000 years, the city has a rich history. Two UNESCO World Heritage sites are found within the city, while more attractions pack the surrounding area.


Breakfast and lunch included. Dinner not included.


You will be staying at Best Western Hotel Kutaisi, bed and breakfast

Day 10

Kutaisi to Nokalakevi and Mestia

Today you are driven to Mestia, a journey of approximately five hours. En route stop at Nokalakevi, an archaeological site consisting of the remains of 4th - 6th Century A.D fortress. Occupying some 20 hectares, the site was known to early Byzantine historians as Archaeopolis, and to Georgian chroniclers as Tsikhegoji. Though the fortifications and structures visible today mainly date from the 4th - 6th Century A.D., there is evidence of several earlier phases of occupation from before the 8th Century BC. Ongoing excavations are being carried out by the ‘Anglo-Georgian Expedition to Nokalakevi’ and provide archaeological training for both international and Georgian archaeology students.


Pass Colkhida lowlands, with nice villages, drive along Enguri River valley and stop at the Enguri Reservoir. Through the mountain road arrive at Mestia, located at 1,400 metres above sea level, the provincial centre of Svaneti. Mestia is a small provincial settlement surrounded by huge Caucasian Mountains, the most impressive of which are Mountains Ushba, 4,710 metres and Tetnuldi, 4,975 metres, some of the most severe and beautiful summits of the Caucasus.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Chalet Mestia, bed and breakfast

Day 11

Mestia to Ushguli

Today, drive to Ushguli, Europe’s highest permanently inhabited village located at 2,400 metres above sea level. Visit the village, its medieval towers and Lamaria Church. Enjoy the views of Mount Shkhara, the highest summit in Georgia, at 5,201 metres.


Return to Mestia and visit the Mestia Museum. The museum houses more than 4,000 items including archaeological objects discovered in Svaneti region, unique samples of engraved and painted icons, religious objects, manuscripts from Adishi, Labskaldi, Ienashi, Mestia, weapons and armour, iron and copper items, wooden ethnographic objects, adornments, silverware and textiles. 



Famous for its defensive watchtowers, Mestia was where people ran to in order to escape the ravages of the Mongol Hordes. Dotted in between these medieval Svanetian towers, the houses of Mestia look out towards the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus Mountains.

Despite being the administrative capital of the Svaneti Region, Mestia itself is tiny. In fact, it is officially referred to as a 'daba' or 'townlet', due to its small size.


You will be staying at Chalet Mestia, bed and breakfast

Day 12

Mestia to Zugdidi and Batumi

This morning drive to the Black Sea coast down to Ajara region. En route stop in Zugdidi to visit Dadiani Palace, one of the most eminent palaces in the Caucasus.  


Proceed to Batumi, the capital of Ajara region, a major seaport with a glorious boulevard beside the Black Sea. The city is changing dramatically and now has several international class hotels and hosts many cultural events. This is a journey of approximately five hours. 


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Divan Suites Batumi, bed and breakfast

Day 13

Batumi

Morning city tour of Batumi including the old city, Batumi Piazza, squares and the main cathedral.


Visit the Gonio-Apsaros Fortress located 12 kilometres south of Batumi. Due to its strategic location, Gonio-Apsaros became a citadel first for the Romans and later to the Byzantines and Ottomans along the eastern Black Sea coastline. Respectively, the fortress has several layers from differing historical eras, the Roman layer, the Byzantine layer and the Ottoman layer. The history of Gonio-Apsaros fortress references the myth of Jason and the Argonauts. According to the legend, King Aeetes buried his son Apsaros, who was killed by Jason as he fled, in the territory of Gonio. According to some sources, Mathias, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ, is believed to be buried here. 


End the day with a visit to Batumi Botanical Garden. Botanists, gardeners and just about everyone enjoys spending time in this 100-year-old garden set on cliffs overlooking the Black Sea. Located nine kilometres north of Batumi, the gardens are a 113 hectares paradise containing over 2,114 species of flowers and plants.



Set in the south-western corner of Georgia, against the eastern coast of the Black Sea, the region of Ajara spans a wide variety of landscape, from high forested mountains to lush sub-tropical hills, all set beside the balmy Black Sea coast.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Divan Suites Batumi, bed and breakfast

Day 14

You will be transferred to the airport.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Georgia

Joe Parkes, Travel Expert

"It was extremely helpful to work in conjunction with Joe and his much more up to date knowledge of India and arrive at an itinerary which we were happy with. We enjoyed the whole trip and probably what made it special for us was the fact that all the arrangements worked so well and we really didn’t have to worry about anything at all. Even when we decided to make a small change it was dealt with efficiently and promptly. We can't think of anything that would have made our trip more enjoyable."

"The service from start to finish has been excellent. Joe was very quick to respond to any queries and put together an excellent itinerary at short notice."

"A pleasure to deal with Joe. Efficient, helpful, knowledgeable and fun!"

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Thomas Frost, Travel Expert

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour expert

Ian Colvin

Ian Colvin
Ian Colvin is a historian and researcher at the University of Cambridge who works on the South Caucasus, Byzantium and Sasanian Iran. Alongside work for the School Classics Project, he is Director of the Anglo-Georgian Archaeological Expedition to the important site of Nokalakevi in Samegrelo, West Georgia--a project he established in 2001 in collaboration with the Georgian National Museum. He speaks and reads Georgian and has been known to supervise for the Near East in the Age of Justinian and Muhammad course (History Faculty).

Other tours by this lecturer:

Enquire about this Expert Led tour:

Group Size:

Min 6 / Max 15

Tour Expert:

Ian Colvin

Departure Date (S):

  • 10th May 2020

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