Two Months in the Caucasus: Our Draft Itinerary for Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan

Just like that, our month in Tbilisi is almost over. From the moment we arrived in Georgia’s capital city we’ve felt right at home. (We’re already scheming ways to come back to Tbilisi for even longer.) Aside from day trips to Mtskheta, David Gareja and Gori (upcoming), we haven’t seen much of the country at all. Lucky for us, we have eight more weeks up our sleeves before we fly back to Brisbane.

Before we see more of Georgia, we’re off to Azerbaijan. We’re also planning a short side-trip into Armenia to round-out our tour of the Transcaucasus. As usual, I’ve done a fair amount of advance planning to make sure we take the most logical route and use our money wisely. With the sheer number of places to visit in Georgia particularly, I’ve found organisation pretty essential if we want to make sure we see everything we set out to. We prefer travelling as slowly as possible, so two months is barely enough.

Our draft itinerary has a few missing links, but it will give you an idea of the overall structure of our trip. When all is said and done I’ll post an updated itinerary to reflect our actual movements. It’s still relatively difficult to find information about travelling in the Caucasus (particularly the transportation side of things), so I’ll do my best to investigate and report back. At the end of this post you’ll find some other resources to help you plan your own trip through Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

 

Week One – Baku

Once our Airbnb lease in Tbilisi is up, we’ll take overnight train #37 to Baku. Travelling to Azerbaijan is easier than ever with the new e-visa system. I’ll talk more about the train and visa process in another post.

We figure a week is a good amount of time to spend in Baku, with day trips to Qobustan, Yanardag and the Caspian coast thrown in.

Week Two – Quba, Xinaliq & Lahic

Although it’s not exactly off the tourist trail, I’m really excited about visiting some of Azerbaijan’s more remote villages. We’ll have a full day in Quba to visit the carpet workshops that make this town famous before overnighting at a homestay in the tiny community of Xinaliq. To get to the next village, Lahic, we first have to loop back to Baku.

Week Three – Sheki, Zaqatala & overland to Georgia

Sheki, billed as Azerbaijan’s prettiest mountain village, will be a rest stop for us. We’ll probably spend four nights here, hopefully in the caravanserai hotel I’ve been reading so much about. From Sheki we’ll continue north to Qakh and Zaqatala, spending a night or two in each, depending on how we feel. A short bus ride should deliver us to the Georgian border and back into Kakheti.

Week Four – Signaghi, Telavi & overland to Armenia

Once we cross the border, we’ll spend three or four days in Signaghi and Telavi in Georgia’s wine-making Kakheti region. Then we’ll take a short bus back to Tbilisi to board the overnight train to Yerevan.

Week Five – Yerevan, Lake Sevan & Dilijan

We’ll spend at least four days in Yerevan, including day trips to nearby Khor Virap and the Geghard Monastery. Following Yerevan, we’ll spend a night at Lake Sevan and a few days at Dilijan, Armenia’s ‘little Switzerland’, for some hiking.

Week Six – Borjomi, Akhaltsikhe, Vardzia & Borjomi

This is where our itinerary gets a bit sketchy. The idea is to travel back to Georgia from Armenia by bus (fully possible as far as I can tell), visiting Borjomi, Akhaltsikhe and Vardzia, which are all pretty close to the border. We’ll then head for the Black Sea coast for a few days in Batumi.

Week Seven – Zugdidi & Svaneti

From Batumi, we’ll take a three-hour bus ride north to Zugdidi, the gateway to the northern Caucasus. Svaneti is probably the place I’m most looking forward to visiting in Georgia. We’ll base ourselves in Mestia with a side trip to Ushguli if the road is open.

Week Eight – Kutaisi, Tbilisi & Kazbegi

From Mestia it’s only a short bus ride to Kutaisi, Georgia’s third-largest city. We’ll stay here for two or three nights before heading back to Tbilisi by train. In Tbilisi, we’ll tick off anything we missed the first time around and do a quick overnight trip to Kazbegi.

Helpful resources & links:

As I mentioned, it’s still pretty tricky to find practical information about travelling around the Caucasus. Aside from Lonely Planet, there are a few resources I found helpful when planning our trip:

Georgia Starts Here
Seat 61
Travel with Pedro
Lost With Purpose

If you have any tips for our two-month itinerary in the Caucasus, please leave them in the comments below!

4 comments on “Two Months in the Caucasus: Our Draft Itinerary for Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan

  1. Hi Emily,
    I’m planning a two-week trip to Georgia as a solo female traveler and have found your posts incredibly useful! Not many people seem to travel to Georgia and blog as extensively about it as you do, so thanks for this resource. Are there any towns that you would recommend to not miss in a two week itinerary? And how much time to spend in each one? Am tentatively thinking of renting a car, since other bloggers seem to have done so with success and for better control of my schedule. Any other tips you have are appreciated!

    Best,
    Nicole

    • Emily Lush

      Hi Nicole! That’s very exciting! I have done many road trips overseas but honestly, the traffic and road conditions in Georgia made me glad that we didn’t hire a car. I only met one traveller who was self-driving – it’s possible, but I think it would be difficult. The buses and marshrutkas are so cheap and frequent that I would suggest using public transport.

      I would definitely recommend Tbilisi, Kazbegi, Signaghi, Kutaisi and if you have time, Mestia.

      I’m glad you’ve found these posts helpful! I am working on a post now about our final itinerary so keep an eye out for it in the next week or so. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with!

      • Thanks for your reply Emily. These suggestions are all very helpful! I’m going to aim for Tbilisi, Kazbegi, Kutaisi, Signaghi, and possibly another town or two in between (want to ride the Soviet cable cars at Chiatura 😉 I wish I were going to Svaneti/Mestia but don’t think there’s enough time… hopefully sometime in the future, though – it sounds incredible. I envy you for having 3 months in the region!

        Friends in Tbilisi said a car should be OK, so I will attempt it in a 4WD and report back here (they said the highway to Kutaisi is brand new, and the road to Kazbegi is only unpaved in some areas but that their little Honda Fit could handle it).

        Also, thanks for your recent post on the bathhouses in Tbilisi – I definitely want to try that. Very helpful to have all your tips in one spot so I’m glad to have found your blog!

        • Emily Lush

          Thanks Nicole! Definitely try the baths! It’s a lot of fun.

          I hope you have a wonderful trip!

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