Georgia is the best idea you haven’t heard of yet.
The little nation of Georgia is still relatively unknown for mainstream travel media but slowly and stubbornly it’s getting up there. Fantastic scenery, disgustingly delicious cheese-filled baked goods and vibrant city culture are just a few reasons people who’ve been to Georgia LOVE Georgia – and they can’t stop talking about it.
If you’re still uninitiated about the wonderfulness of Georgia (the country), read on.
Tbilisi is incredibly cool
Georgia doesn’t fit into just one geographical identity: historically and geographically it might be considered Asian, culturally predominantly European. Nowhere do these borders clash as beautifully as in Tbilisi where the decorated terraces of the Old Town evoke an image of a much older and more mysterious nation than the air-conditioned hipster cafés, modern office spaces and Soviet remnants do.
Tbilisi is just cool. It is teeming with history that’s still mostly unknown to many travellers. It has the charm of old European capitals with its funhouse-like steep streets (have you ever seen a Ferrari parked at an angle? Because I have) and cobblestones but without the crowds of Prague, Tallinn and Budapest. But it would do Tbilisi dirty to compare it with any other city I’ve ever been to – it has its own, quirky uniqueness, an air of charm that just makes you want to stay for longer.
And don’t get me started on the sights – there are so many extraordinary things you can do in Tbilisi. How about bathing in sulphur baths, visiting Stalin’s secret underground printing house or hearing a medley of Georgian music through ages?
Do you like mountains with snow-caps? Wild trails with nearly no other tourists or beginner-friendly hikes in a stunning environment? Then you’re in luck – bordered in the North by the Caucasus mountains, Georgia has some dope as hell hikes.
The most popular spot is Kasbegi since it’s the easiest mountain region to get to from Tbilisi: only three hours there, leave at 5 a.m., come back the same night, done-and-done. Or why not stay the whole weekend and explore some waterfalls and glacier hikes, do casual paragliding and eat definitely the most delicious ojakuri* in the whole country in the 5047 café?
Or check out Svaneti and its mega famous defense towers; or if you’re a hiking hipster, head to Tusheti, the most remote part of Georgia. That trip will also earn you some real bragging rights since you can tell people you’ve survived the most dangerous road in the world (well, if you do.)
*Ojakuri is potatoes and (typically) pork cooked in a clay pot and it’s DELISH.
You can also go to the beach
Oh, but if you thought Georgia was just a pile of real tall rocks and casual Soviet mementos, you’d be very mistaken, my dear friend. Because get this – Georgia also has beaches.
Among the resort towns on the Black Sea, Batumi is the centrepiece of sin and fun. (Disclaimer: The amount of both sin and fun depend completely on you.) The town is known for its bizarre architecture: there’s a spinning statue depicting Ali and Nino – the “Romeo and Juliet” of Caucasus -, a rather phallic tower with the Georgian alphabet plastered all over it, a fountain that feeds out free chacha* and a million-dollar skyscraper with a non-functional Ferris wheel.
The best beaches on this bit of Black Sea coast are black-sanded. Coincidence? I think not.
*Real strong Georgian spirit. Experiment at your own risk.
It’s good value for money
Did you know that you can have a whole meal in a rooftop restaurant on the top floor of a five-star hotel for, like, 10 euros? And get a fully-furnished AirBnB apartment in the city centre all to yourself for about 20 euros per night? Or pick up a khatchapuri bread from a street stall for one euro? Why not pick up two. Hell, just get five, it’s really freaking delicious.
Georgia prices are on Balkan levels and as a tourist you’re about to find out just how far your money can go in a place where tourism hasn’t fully taken off yet.
The food is amazing, and I can’t stress this enough, amazing
Georgian cuisine is greasy, hearty, filling, shockingly unhealthy and fatally delicious.
The staple of Georgian food is khinkali which is basically their version of a dumpling but if a dumpling also had hot water in it. Khatchapuri is another popular thing to eat: it’s a pastry filled with sulguni, salty Georgian cheese. Or you could try lobiani, a bean-filled pastry. Or how about eggplant slices filled with hazelnut paste and topped with pomegranate seeds? My mouth is literally watering thinking about that right now.
If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, though, no fear – while you might struggle to survive in the more remote areas, Tbilisi has great options for the Great Salad Nation, like Mama or Kiwi Vegan Café.
And did I mention the wine?
Georgians claim to be the oldest wine-making nation in the world. (Since Armenians claim the same honour, we gotta take this with a grain of salt.) Doesn’t really matter which one of them is right – I’d say 8,000 years of wine-making history under one’s belt is already pretty damn impressive.
Traditionally, wine in Georgia was made in clay pots that were then buried underground; many wineries still use this old technique. Due to the special fermentation process, even dry wine in Georgia is pretty sweet – and absolutely delicious.
You can find wine anywhere but the best way to try it is to befriend a local who probably makes their own wine (or knows someone who does.) The best Georgian wine comes out of unlabelled Borjomi water bottles, percentage unknown, great flavour guaranteed.
Everyone is talking about it
Did you hear that Dave went to Georgia last summer? Oh, you don’t know Dave? Well, he did go and he loved it. You don’t wanna be any less cool than Dave, right?
Georgia is all the rage right now. Major travel publications and big bloggers are gushing about the worst kept secret of the Caucasus, and new low-cost airlines starting operations into Tbilisi this year guarantee that getting there is easier than ever.
So go now so that when your friends ask if you’ve heard about this place called Georgia (the country), you can smugly be like, ‘Oh, Georgia? We go way back.’
Interested? Check out my other posts on Georgia here.
Thanks for reading!
So when are you going?