A Visitor’s Guide To Georgia
This historic country is generally considered to be a part of Eastern Europe, although it is located on the boundary between Europe and Asia, which is certainly a feature that can be seen in the country’s culture. Georgia was one of the first countries to adopt Christianity as the state religion in the fourth century, and has many attractive religious buildings and sites to visit. With fertile soil and a favourable climate, grapes are one of the most important crops in the country, and during its period as a part of the Soviet Union it supplied wine that was served on many of the finest tables in Moscow.
Like most countries, the US State Department advises visitors to steer clear of any public demonstrations that can lead to disorder. It also warns visitors to avoid traveling to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the two border areas that have been occupied following a dispute with Russia, as they are quite dangerous parts of the country.
Top Attractions To Enjoy In Georgia
Akhaltsikhe – This town is the base from which to explore two of the most interesting sites in Georgia, the Sapara Monastery which is nestled in a beautiful location in the hills, and the Khertvisi Fortress with its strong walls and a lovely mosque located within the fortification.
Narikala Fortress – Located on a hill overlooking the capital city of Tbilisi, this castle offers a nice walk up from the city, and is home to the newly renovated St Nicholas Church, which offers some spectacular views out over the city.
Bagrati Cathedral – One of the most distinctive buildings in Georgia, this historic eleventh century cathedral is currently being restored, and is a remarkable building with a separate bell tower that has become a symbol of the city of Kutaisi.
Stepantsminda – Situated in the north of the country this town is nestled among the highest mountains of Georgia, and is a great base for hikers, paragliders and also those looking to enjoy rafting on the nearby river.
Tbilisi’s Old Town – Combining the architectural styles of Europe, the Middle East and local Georgian influences, the old city of Tbilisi has several historic churches and is an attractive place to explore.
The Georgian Military Highway – One of the main routes linking Georgia and Russia, this stunning road takes people through some of the best mountain scenery in the country, and also past historic sites such as the Gergeti Trinity Church and the Ananuri Fortress.
Svetitskhoveli – There has been a church on this site in the town of Mtskheta since the fourth century, but the current cathedral is a spectacular building dating from the eleventh century, and is the most important religious building in the country.
Uplistsikhe – This ancient abandoned town is situated around a nucleus of caves that were inhabited as early as the fourth century, and along with the buildings such as the church that were added to the site, it is a fascinating place to explore and offers an insight into early life in the region.
Vardzia – This cave monastery is located on a cliff face above the Mtkvari River and is a remarkable complex of caves that have been added to in the years since it began to grow in the twelfth century, and boasts a series of important religious paintings on the walls.
Batumi – Located on the coast of the Black Sea in the south of the country, Batumi has several popular beaches and offers a vibrant culture with an attractive old town to explore too.
Where To Stay In Georgia
No12 Boutique Hotel – This pleasant hotel offers comfortable and stylish rooms, with many having access to balconies that offer some nice city views, while the location is near many of the sights in the city center.
Hotel Shine – An attractive and modern hotel that has sleek and classy communal areas, guests can enjoy affordable yet spacious rooms with attractive bathrooms, while the hotel also has good access to the transport links to the city center.
Piazza Boutique Hotel – This impressive hotel with a tall tower at the center of the building is a lovely place to stay in Batumi, offering a good central location and bold, modern rooms with lovely luxurious bathrooms.
Premier Hotel – Offering guests spacious rooms decorated in a traditional Georgian style at a good price, this hotel has modern features such as flat screen televisions and wi-fi internet, along with a fine location just a short walk from the waterfront.
Edemi Hotel – Offering impressive rooms with large welcoming beds and bathrooms with large bathtubs, this hotel is a great place to stay in Kutaisi, which is just a short walk from sights including the Bagrati Cathedral.
Hotel Maxcomfort – This hotel is a great choice for the budget traveller visiting Kutaisi, and provides guests with clean and comfortable accommodation including features such as televisions and a downstairs bar and restaurant.
Hotel Villa Palace – This modern and well designed hotel provides guests with attractive surroundings with pleasant rooms and attractive bathrooms, while leisure facilities include a games room, swimming pool and jacuzzi are available.
Hotel X – Offering visitors comfortable and simple rooms at a good price, the accommodation has attractive rooms with televisions and a communal area including a bar, with a central location in the town.
Like many other aspects of Georgian culture, the food in the country combines the influences of Europe and the Middle East. One of the most common dishes worth trying during a visit to the country is Chakapuli, which is a stew of lamb chops that are combined with white wine, plum sauce and a mix of herbs and spices. Another popular dish is Chikhirtma, which is a chicken soup of Persian origin where the chicken broth is thickened with egg yolks and white wine.
Wine plays an important role in Georgian cuisine, and with a variety of wineries in the country many visitors will pay a visit to the different wine producing areas of the country to try a glass of these lovely local tipples.
Currency And Visa
When it comes to visa arrangements, Georgia is one of the most welcoming countries in the world, as visitors from the United States do not need to arrange a visa unless they plan on staying for over 360 days. The local currency is the Georgian Lari, and visitors from the United States will usually be able to exchange their dollars for around 1.66 Lari per US Dollar.