Exploring Georgia: A Road Trip Itinerary for Two Weeks

Kazbegi – Caucasus Mountains Georgia road trip itinerary and guide

Georgia, where the rugged Caucasus Mountains meet the Black Sea, offers beautiful, ever-changing landscapes and environments.

From verdant valleys and dramatic snow-capped peaks to the serene coastline, Georgia has a disproportionate wealth of natural wonders packed into the relatively small country.

It’s the perfect place to explore overland, with the old-world charm of its historic cities, scenic rural villages, and famous Georgian hospitality.

This post will guide you through an unforgettable Georgia road trip itinerary focused on outdoor adventures and nature exploration.

We’ll dive into experiences that take you away from the crowded tourist spots and focus instead on connecting with Georgia’s breathtaking natural beauty.

Getting Ready for a Road Trip Through Georgia

Getting Around

A few things to consider before you hit the road;

Driving in Georgia

Major roads around urban centers like Tbilisi, Batumi, and Kutaisi are generally modern and in good condition, although traffic congestion and parking can be challenging in these areas. Rural roads can be narrow and sometimes poorly shaped in areas with heavy snow or rainfall.

Mountain roads, such as the Georgian Military Highway, can have steep inclines and sharp turns and may be busy and shared by transport trucks.

Winter can bring heavy snow and frequent road closures to some regions, four-wheel drive cars are recommended while winter tires and snow chains are required at this time of year.

Drivers in Georgia are…assertive. Be prepared for other drivers to merge without warning, overtake at high speed, and use their horns liberally.

Car Rental in Georgia

Renting a car allows you to explore Georgia at your own pace. It’s important to get comfortable with local driving customs and ensure you have all the necessary documentation, including a valid driver’s license from your home country.

Most rental agencies do not require an International Driving Permit (IDP), but it’s best to check beforehand. The International Drivers Association provides a fast, simple, and affordable way to get International Driving Permits. Valid in 150+ countries and translated into 12 languages, they’re essential for international driving.

Localrent.com is the best place to discover cheap local rental agencies, while discovercars.com allows you to search and compare among the larger agencies.

Georgia Rail

Georgia may not have the most advanced rail network, but it is possible to travel between major destinations by train.

See Georgia Rail for schedules and to download the app.

Bus

Limited intercity coach services are running between major cities in Georgia. See City Bus Georgia for schedules and information.

Marutshuka

Local and economical, the Marutshuka network is the most authentic way to travel the country, but it is chaotic, often uncomfortable, and can take a long time. Marutshukas are local minibusses that leave from each town’s central bus station.

Often, drivers wait to get a whole load before leaving. To get accurate information about timetables and schedules, you may need to visit the station in advance and ask around.

Private Transfer

A convenient and comfortable way to travel between towns and cities in Georgia is a private transfer. While more expensive than public transport, private transfers can be surprisingly economical (especially for larger groups).

Transfers often start around 100 GEL per hour of travel. You can compare and book private transfers with GoTrip.

Transport Apps

To navigate short distances and get around within cities like Tbilisi, local ride-sharing and taxi apps like Bolt and Yandex are both convenient and affordable ways to get around.

Connectivity

Staying connected is key to navigating Georgia’s winding roads and picturesque landscapes. Consider grabbing a local SIM card upon arrival in Tbilisi or any major city.

Georgia offers affordable and reliable mobile data plans, ensuring you can use maps, translation apps, local guides, and overall all the essential travel apps you need at your fingertips.

While it is possible to purchase a tourist sim at the airport, grab a pre-paid sim directly from mobile company retailers in major cities and towns for the best value. Look for operators like Magti, Geocell, or Beeline for the best coverage nationwide.

Best Travel Times

To fully enjoy Georgia’s outdoors, timing is everything. Late spring (May to June) and early fall (September to October) are ideal for exploring the mountains and the coast, offering mild weather and the beauty of seasonal transitions.

That being said, both summer and winter reveal different sides of Georgia.

Summer is the perfect place to head for the coast, experience the wine harvest, or enjoy the cooler weather in the mountains.

The colder months feature snow-capped mountains, winter festivals, and affordable skiing. Be aware that traveling in winter comes with its own challenges; many roads in the mountains are regularly closed following snowfall, and winter tires and snow chains are required.

Packing Essentials

Alongside hiking boots and weather-appropriate clothing, pack a first-aid kit, sun protection, and a power bank. Georgia’s varied terrain and climate mean you’ll transition from coastal relaxation to mountain hikes, so be prepared for all scenarios.

The Ultimate Georgia Road Trip Itinerary

Day 1-3: Tbilisi and Surroundings

Tbilisi is Georgia’s cultural and historical heart, offering a unique blend of history and tradition with an incredible vibrancy as their cultural revival continues. Spend the first few days of your road trip exploring the natural and cultural highlights of the city and its surroundings.

Outdoor Activities

  • Hiking in Turtle Lake Area: Enjoy the tranquil trails around Turtle Lake, perfect for all fitness levels. The area is ideal for picnics and offers swimming opportunities in warmer months.
  • Visiting the National Botanical Garden of Georgia: With its extensive collection of flora and scenic trails leading to waterfalls and stunning views, the garden is a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle.

Recommendations in Tbilisi

  • Sulfur Baths in Abanotubani: A visit to Tbilisi wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the soothing waters of its famous sulfur baths, a perfect way to unwind.
  • Fabrika: Visit this converted sewing factory now serving as a multifunctional urban space with cafes, shops, co-working spaces, and art studios, symbolizing Tbilisi’s transformation and creative energy.
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA Tbilisi): Discover works by emerging Georgian and international artists.
  • Exploring the Culinary Scene: Dive into Georgia’s culinary delights at local favorites:
    • Shavi Lomi: Known for its innovative take on traditional Georgian cuisine.
    • Barbarestan: Offers a menu inspired by a 19th-century cookbook, creating a unique dining experience.
    • Usakhelouri: Situated in the historic old town, Usakhelouri has one of the best wine lists in Tbilisi to accompany their local Georgian cuisine.

Experiencing Georgian Culture

  • Georgian Folk Dancing and Polyphonic Singing: Attend a performance at the Georgian National Ballet or a local venue to witness the mesmerizing folk dances and harmonious polyphonic singing, integral parts of Georgian heritage. Many restaurants, such as Ethno Tsiskvili, offer evening performances for diners.
  • Visit an Orthodox Church: Tbilisi is dotted with beautiful Orthodox churches, such as the Sioni Cathedral and the Holy Trinity Cathedral. These sacred sites offer a glimpse into the spiritual heart of Georgia.
  • Rezo Gabriadze Marionette Theater: Don’t miss a show at this unique theater, where puppetry and storytelling come to life in enchanting performances.
  • Visiting the Chronicles of Georgia Monument: Explore this lesser-known monument for a dramatic view of Georgian history and the surrounding landscape.

Day 4-6: Kazbegi and the Georgian Military Highway

The journey north from Tbilisi to Kazbegi, along the Georgian Military Highway, is as breathtaking as the destination. This historic route winds through the heart of the Caucasus Mountains, offering stunning landscapes and a glimpse into the region’s agricultural roots.

Take a few days to discover the natural beauty and cultural significance of Kazbegi and its surroundings.

Scenic Drive

Start your journey early to enjoy the panoramic vistas and must-stop attractions. Ananuri Fortress, overlooking the Jinvali Water Reservoir, offers a stunning mix of history and natural beauty. The fortress complex dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries and provides a glimpse into Georgia’s feudal past.

Kazbegi Highlights

  • Gergeti Trinity Church: Positioned against the backdrop of Mount Kazbek, this iconic church is accessible via a moderate hike from the town of Stepantsminda. The trail offers breathtaking views of the valley below and the towering peaks of the Caucasus.
  • Gveleti Waterfalls: Venture further into the wild beauty of the Kazbegi region with a hike to the beautiful Gveleti Waterfalls, located just a short drive from Stepantsminda.

Detours Worth Considering

  • Vardzia Cave Monastery: While this detour requires a bit of a journey from the main route to Kazbegi, it’s worth considering if your itinerary allows it. The cave monastery complex, carved into the side of a mountain, is a remarkable example of medieval Georgian architecture and offers a unique glimpse into the country’s rich his

Day 7-8: Svaneti Region

The Svaneti region in northwest Georgia is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its medieval watchtowers, ancient culture, and stunning natural landscapes.

Mestia, the region’s hub, serves as the perfect base for exploring the surrounding wilderness and immersing yourself in the unique heritage of the Svan people.

Journey to Mestia

Prepare for a scenic drive from Kazbegi or Tbilisi to Mestia. The route is an adventure in itself, showcasing Georgia’s diverse landscapes. Consider stopping in Zugdidi for a quick visit to the Dadiani Palaces Museum, which houses a collection of historical artifacts, including a death mask of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Adventures in Svaneti

  • Hiking to Ushguli: A series of small villages located about 2 hours from Mestia, Ushguli is one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe. The journey there is filled with breathtaking views of the Caucasus Mountains, and the village itself is a testament to the enduring Svan culture. Hiking in the area provides not only stunning natural beauty but also insights into traditional Georgian mountain life.
  • Exploring the Koruldi Lakes: The Koruldi Lakes offer an unforgettable experience for those seeking a challenging hike. The trailhead starts near Mestia and leads to alpine lakes that reflect the surrounding peaks. It’s strenuous but rewards adventurers with panoramic views and serene landscapes.

Detours Worth Considering

  • Martvili Canyon: If you’re driving from Tbilisi to Svaneti, a detour to Martvili Canyon offers a refreshing stop. Here, you can take a boat ride through the canyon’s emerald-green waters, surrounded by lush vegetation and waterfalls. It’s a peaceful escape that showcases the natural beauty of Georgia’s lesser-known regions.

Day 9-10: Kutaisi and Surrounding Areas

Kutaisi, Georgia’s legislative capital and its third-largest city, is a blend of charming streets, historical sites, and lush surroundings, making it an essential stop on your road trip.

This area serves as a gateway to some of Georgia’s most significant natural wonders and historical monuments.

Exploring Kutaisi

  • Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery: Visit these UNESCO World Heritage sites. The cathedral and monastery are architectural marvels and offer insight into Georgia’s medieval history and spiritual life.
  • Prometheus Cave: Just a short drive from Kutaisi, this natural wonder is one of Georgia’s most popular attractions. The cave is filled with stalactites, stalagmites, and underground rivers, making it a magical experience. Boat tours are available along the subterranean river, providing a unique perspective on this geological masterpiece.

Outdoor Activities in Kutaisi

  • Sataplia Nature Reserve: Known for its dinosaur footprints and extensive cave system, Sataplia is perfect for families and nature enthusiasts alike. The reserve also features a glass walkway offering panoramic views of the surrounding area.
  • Okatse Canyon: Offering breathtaking views from its hanging bridges and pathways, Okatse Canyon is a thrilling destination for hikers and nature lovers. The canyon’s trail leads you through dense forests to viewpoints overlooking the gorge’s dramatic depths.

Detours Worth Considering

  • Martvili Canyon: While, also a potential detour on the way to Svaneti, Martvili Canyon is also accessible from Kutaisi and makes for a wonderful exploration of Georgia’s natural beauty. The canyon’s turquoise waters and lush vegetation offer a tranquil setting for boat rides and leisurely walks.

Day 11-12: Batumi and the Black Sea Coast

Batumi, a seaside city on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, offers a unique blend of modern architecture, subtropical flora, and vibrant nightlife.

This city is the perfect contrast to the mountainous regions explored earlier, providing a blend of relaxation and cultural experiences by the sea.

Exploring Batumi

  • Batumi Boulevard: Begin your visit with a stroll or cycle along Batumi Boulevard, a verdant beachfront promenade lined with cafes, sculptures, and gardens. The boulevard is the heart of Batumi’s social life, stretching along the coast and offering stunning views of the Black Sea.
  • Batumi Botanical Garden: Located just north of the city, this vast botanical garden is one of the largest and most diverse in the world. The garden’s unique climate zones showcase plant species from around the globe, making it a peaceful retreat for nature lovers.
  • Water Sports: Kayaking, SUP, and even diving are all available from Batumi.

Nature Experiences in Batumi

  • Chorokhi Delta: A significant site for birdwatching, especially during the migration seasons in spring and autumn. It’s a habitat for various bird species, making it a haven for ornithologists and nature lovers.
  • Makhuntseti Waterfall and Adjarian Wine House: A short drive from Batumi, this area offers a combination of natural beauty and cultural experience. The waterfall is a serene spot for relaxation and picnics while visiting the Adjarian Wine House introduces you to the region’s winemaking traditions.

Culinary Delights and Nightlife

  • Taste the Local Cuisine: Batumi’s culinary scene reflects its coastal location, with an emphasis on seafood and Georgian dishes with a unique Adjarian twist. Be sure to try Adjarian khachapuri, a boat-shaped bread filled with cheese and topped with an egg.
  • Enjoy the Nightlife: Batumi comes alive at night with its array of bars, clubs, and beachfront lounges. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to enjoy a drink or a lively venue to dance the night away, Batumi has something for everyone.

Detours Worth Considering

  • Mtirala National Park: Just a short drive from Batumi, this lesser-known national park is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. Known as one of the wettest areas in Georgia, its dense forests, waterfalls, and hiking trails offer a cool retreat from the seaside heat. It’s an ideal spot for bird watching, trekking, and experiencing Georgia’s rich biodiversity.
  • Gonio Fortress: Located about 15 kilometers south of Batumi, near the Turkish border, this ancient Roman fortress is steeped in history and legends. Its well-preserved walls and archaeological remains make it a fascinating detour for history buffs. The fortress also offers beautiful views of the sea and surrounding landscapes.

Day 13-14: Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park

A visit to Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park offers a return to the serene beauty of Georgia’s natural landscapes. One of the largest national parks in Europe, Borjomi-Kharagauli is renowned for its diverse ecosystems, ranging from lush forests to alpine meadows, and its extensive network of trails caters to hikers of all skill levels.

Exploring Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park

  • Hiking Trails: The park offers several well-marked trails that vary in difficulty and length, allowing visitors to choose their adventure. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely walk through the forest or a challenging trek to one of the park’s higher peaks, there’s a trail for you. The Lomi Mountain trail is particularly recommended for its breathtaking vistas.
  • Natural Springs: Borjomi is famous for its mineral water, and within the park, you can taste this natural bounty at its source. The springs are not only a highlight for their health properties but also for the connection they offer to the natural world.

Cultural Experience

  • Borjomi Town: Before or after your foray into the national park, take some time to explore the town of Borjomi itself. It is known for its spa resorts and the Borjomi Mineral Water Park, where you can try the famed Borjomi mineral water directly from the spring.

Detours Worth Considering

  • Rabati Castle in Akhaltsikhe: Located about an hour’s drive from Borjomi, Rabati Castle is a historical fortress that showcases the diverse cultural influences that have shaped the region. The castle complex includes a mosque, a church, and a museum, offering visitors a comprehensive look at the area’s history and architecture.
  • Vardzia Cave Monastery: Though it requires a bit of a journey, the Vardzia Cave Monastery is an impressive sight. This sprawling cave city, carved into the side of Erusheti Mountain in the 12th century, provides a unique window into Georgia’s medieval past. It’s a fascinating detour for those interested in history and architecture.
  • Bakuriani: Just a short drive from Borjomi, Bakuriani is a haven for hikers, mountain bikers, and nature enthusiasts. In the winter months, Bakuriani is a popular ski and snowboard destination, with well-groomed slopes suitable for all levels. The area is also known for its thermal springs, adding another layer of relaxation to your visit.

Final Thoughts on a Georgian Road Trip Itinerary

From the vibrant streets of Tbilisi, across the majestic peaks of the Caucasus, through the lush landscapes of Svaneti, Kutaisi, and the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, and to the subtropical charm of Batumi, Georgia has an abundance of experiences and landscapes waiting to be explored.

This Georgia road trip offers a glimpse into the country’s rich tapestry of culture, history, and natural beauty. From ancient fortresses and serene monasteries to breathtaking natural parks and lively city scenes, Georgia presents a unique blend of experiences that cater to every traveler.

But this itinerary is just a glimpse of a country of hidden gems and uncharted paths, inviting you to explore beyond the well-trodden routes and discover your own personal favorites.

Whether it’s finding a secluded beach along the Black Sea, a small vineyard in Kakheti, or a hiking trail that’s not on the map, there’s always more to uncover in Georgia.

Eddie is the author and creator of The Vanabond Tales, a travel blog focused on slow travel and minimalist travel adventures that are budget-friendly, outdoor-focused, and environmentally conscious. You’ll currently find him and his wife Kelli, aboard their little sailboat, Whisper, sailing the Mediterranean.