Georgia is a fascinating little country that lies on the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. I was lucky to visit the country this April and have a few things to share. There are many, many reasons to visit this small nation in the Caucasian region, but below I have compiled top five points that should give you enough reasons to visit Georgia! 🙂
Georgia is a gorgeous country. Despite its small size, the country is anything but boring. Georgia boasts many diverse, breathtaking natural wonders in its different regions. Mesmerizing rolling green hills, snow-capped mountains, beautiful, green highland pastures, gorgeous waterfalls, creeks, canyons, magnificent caves: Georgia has it all. While Georgia is perhaps most known for its heavenly mountainous scenery, the country also has a sub-tropical zone on the coast of Black Sea where you will find pretty seaside towns such as Batumi and Chakvi. Be prepared to be wowed by Georgia’s pristine natural beauty no matter which part of the country you go to!
Ah, Georgians. A bunch of friendly, welcoming and passionate people who are more than delighted to tell you about/show you around their beautiful country. During my short stay, I met many friendly locals who made for some great impressions. The hotel owner in Kutaisi where we stayed was so friendly and helpful that he didn’t mind sharing his homemade vodka, chacha, with us, twice a day! Similarly, once when we asked a local man for directions, he summoned a young woman for help and both of them tried their best to give us directions with their limited English skills while maintaining their smiles! A friendly Georgian driver of the jeep my friends had hired in Tbilisi showed them around the city in his off-hours. Even immigration officers were smiling and friendly to me at the airport, probably wondering what a girl from Nepal was doing in Georgia! There are other examples of friendly locals that we have from the short trip. You are very likely to receive a warm welcome from friendly, hospitable and kind Georgians if you do make it to their country!
Georgia makes for a very interesting mix of culture and cuisine due to its geographical position. Straddled between Russia to the North, Azerbaijan to the East, Turkey and Armenia to the South, the influences can be seen on both Georgian culture and cuisine. The country is a heaven for food lovers as its cuisine consists of variety of mouth-watering, unique specialties. The cuisine is heavily meat and dairy based, while also offering fair amount of vegetarian dishes. Wine culture is strong and Georgian wine is well-known throughout Europe. ChaCha, also known as Georgian vodka, is a typical Georgian liquor, mostly made of grapes that is traditionally home-brewed. We tried and greatly savored some of the most well-known Georgian dishes, which you must try too if you’re in Georgia: khachapuri– large, oven-baked cheese-filled bread, Ojakhuri – fried potatoes and pork served with Tkemali sauce, soko kecze – mushrooms topped with soft Georgian cheese served in a clay pot, khinkhali- large dumplings filled with spiced meat and its juice typically eaten by grabbing the dumpling by its topknot and the most interesting I found of all: churchkela, candle shaped chewy Georgian candy. In short, food in Georgia will keep you interested and satisfied!
Georgia is a country of incredible history, culture and proud people. It is also one of the oldest Christian countries in the world, where the majority of population practice Georgian Orthodox Christianity. The country is dotted with ancient monasteries in the most dramatic natural landscapes. Such monasteries alone should be the reason to visit Georgia. You will find them everywhere in the country and for me it was a completely new experience entering one for the first time. Gelati Monastery, Bagrati Cathedral and Jvari Monastery are all listed as UNESCO world heritage sites.
Georgia is an incredibly budget-friendly destination. I live in Poland, which has one of the lowest living costs in the European Union, and Georgia was cheaper than Poland. That makes things a lot easier to freely explore the country without worrying about the costs too much. Eating out, accommodation, traveling around the country are all very reasonably priced (read cheap if you live in Western Europe/North America/Australia). The local currency is called Lari and money exchange offices can be found in most towns and cities.
Some tips that might come in handy for those looking to travel to Georgia:
- Check the weather before going. Nature is one of the best parts of visiting Georgia so you don’t want bad weather ruining the holiday in such a stunning country. I was told by Georgians that September is one of the best times to go.
- Keep in mind that many people do not speak English but the knowledge of Russian will get you around. Of course learning basic phrases and words of the unique Georgian language is the best way to go!
- Consider hiring a vehicle (for example, a car or jeep with a driver) to go to different places in the country as public transportation might not be reliable or reachable everywhere and the roads to the most remote and beautiful places are not in the perfect condition.
- Along with many nationalities that are exempt from a Georgian tourist visa, third country nationals holding a Schengen multiple entry visa or resident permit can now enter Georgia for up to 90 days too! Make sure to find out about the exact conditions for visa exemption from official source before going if you’re in doubt.
So, is Georgia worth visiting? Undoubtedly yes! Just go!