Looking for the very best day trips from Tbilisi, Georgia? This guide features independent Tbilisi day trips and organised Tbilisi day tours for every interest and budget – from hiking and cycling to medieval cave monasteries, castles, wine tasting, and much more.

I could happily spend a lifetime walking Tbilisi’s charming streets and hopping between cafes and restaurants. But for first-time visitors to Georgia’s capital, I recommend incorporating a few day excursions into your itinerary as well.

There are mountains, monasteries and wineries waiting to be discovered right on Tbilisi’s doorstep – and many can be visited in a day using budget-friendly marshrutka minivans and affordable private transfers to get around.

As someone who has travelled all around Georgia and now lives here full-time, I’ve experienced almost every day trip option that exists. This curated list brings together 15 of my personal favourite Georgia day tours, including typical day trips and more adventurous alternatives.

I’ve chosen to only include realistic day trips with an absolute maximum of 4 hours driving each way (most are in the 1.5-2 hour range).

Transport information and prices have been updated for 2024.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.

Top 7 best-rated Tbilisi day tours

Best private tour: Half-day tour of ancient Mtskheta with Friendly.ge (from $119 per group – use the promocode wanderlush to save 10%)

Top-rated group tour: Kazbegi & the Georgian Military Highway with Gamarjoba Georgia Tours (from $39 per person)

🍷 Best day trip for wine lovers: Vines & Mountains immersive wine tour with Eat This! Tours (from 400 GEL per person)

🛂 International day trip from Georgia: Day trip to Armenia with Gamarjoba Georgia (from $79 per person)

⛰️ Best day trip for adventurers: David Gareja Monastery & off-roading in Udabno (from $70 per person)

Best combo day trip: Gori, Uplistsikhe, Mtskheta & Jvari (from $34 per person) OR Vardzia, Rabati & Borjomi (from $59 per person)

Best alternative day trip: Manglisi, Paravani Lake, Gorelovka & Asureti (from $112 per person)

Map of day trips from Tbilisi, Georgia.

How to organise a day trip from Tbilisi

There are 4 main transport options available for taking a day trip from Tbilisi: public transport (marshrutka/train), organised day tour, private transfer, and hire car. Here is a quick overview of the pros and cons for each.

Train or marshrutka: the affordable option

There are a variety of day trips you can do from Tbilisi using ‘public transport’ – i.e. marshrutka minivan or train. Marshrutka is definitely the most affordable way to travel, but schedules are limited and it can be slow going. The approach to road safety in Georgia is questionable (more on this in a moment), so I generally only recommend using marshrutka vans for shorter day trips.

Tbilisi’s main bus terminal is Didube – prepare for your trip by watching my video tour of the station.

Western Georgia has a good railway network, but be warned that many short-distance trains from Tbilisi are slow and not particularly comfortable. There are only one or two day trips from Tbilisi I recommend doing by train.

Check train times on the Georgian Railways website and pre-purchase tickets for some routes via TKT.GE (not available for all trains).

Organised day tour: the efficient option

Private or small group tours are an affordable and efficient way to get around. Having a local guide will enrich your experience immensely, especially if your day trip is focused on culture or history.

Most day trip itineraries combine multiple stops, so you can fit a lot more in. Some places in Georgia (such as the wineries in Kakheti) are simply not accessible without your own vehicle, making day tours the only realistic option for day trippers.

I personally use Get Your Guide to find and book day tours in Georgia. It’s a reliable platform with a huge range of offerings and a generous refund policy. Viator is also popular in Georgia and has a big range of itineraries.

My preferred tour company is Friendly.ge. They have creative itineraries, thoughtful guides, and consistently great reviews. I have partnered with them to offer my readers a 10% discount on all tours – use the promocode wanderlush at checkout.

Shuttle services – by which I mean transport with a van and driver, but without a guide – are slowly becoming more popular. Currently there is only one worth mentioning: Gareji Line (Tbilisi to David Gareja cave monastery).

Finally, for social-focused day trips, Weekend Travelers Georgia organises regular day trips from Tbilisi geared towards expats and long-stay travellers. It’s a great way to meet people and explore places away from the usual tourist path.

Private transfer with GoTrip: the most flexible option

GoTrip Georgia is a godsend for travellers who want more flexibility, but prefer to travel independently rather than with a guide or group. It’s essentially a long-distance Uber – you use the website to book a transfer (one-way or return) with multiple stops, and you have a 24-hour window to complete the trip, meaning you can make as many pit stops as you like. Drivers and cars are vetted for safety, and prices are fixed in advance so you never have to worry about negotiating.

GoTrip is perfect for longer day trips and routes where there are lots of points of interest along the way, such as the Georgian Military Highway up to Kazbegi. Read my personal review of GoTrip here.

Hire car: DIY option

A final option is to hire a car and drive yourself. Generally, I only recommend this if you’re a confident driver. If there’s mountain roads or long distances involved, it’s much safer to go with an experienced driver who is familiar with conditions.

If you do decide to hire a car in Tbilisi, I recommend using the Local Rent website to find an affordable rental from a local agent. Many come with insurance included and don’t require any deposit. Read up on my tips for driving in Georgia here.

A quick note on road safety in Georgia

Road safety is a serious issue in Georgia and something you should be mindful of at all times – both when using marshrutka vans and when selecting day tours.

There are local tour companies in Tbilisi that are notorious for pushing their drivers to the limit, overfilling vans, and cutting corners. Combined with treacherous mountain roads, this can be a recipe for disaster. There is usually at least one tragic accident every season involving tourists.

However you plan to travel, I highly recommend you avoid travelling after dark whenever possible, avoid very long day trips (4 hours on the road is the maximum distance covered here), and consider private cars or tours for longer journeys and more challenging roads.

Due to long travel times and demanding roads, I do not recommend visiting these places on a day trip from Tbilisi: Khevsureti, Tusheti, Vashlovani National Park.

Popular short day trips from Tbilisi (under 3 hours travel)

These 7 easy day trips from Tbilisi are all popular itineraries:

1. Mtskheta – Georgia’s ancient capital
2. Kazbegi & the Georgian Military Highway – Caucasus mountains adventure
3. Sighnaghi & Kakheti – Georgian wine country
4. Telavi & Kakheti – Alternative wine country route
5. David Gareja & Udabno – Cave monasteries and rainbow hills
6. Gori & Uplistsikhe – Stalin’s hometown
7. Borjomi & Bakuriani – Thermal pools, hiking and a scenic railway

1. Georgia’s historic capital: Day trip from Tbilisi to Mtskheta

  • Distance from Tbilisi: 24 km (15 miles)
  • Travel time: 30-45 minutes one-way
  • Recommended transport: Marshrutka or day tour
  • Best time to visit: Year-round
  • Highlights: UNESCO World Heritage Listed Svetitiskhoveli Cathedral, views from Jvari Monastery
  • Read my guide: 10 things to do in Mtskheta
A city on the edge of a river in Georgia.
Overlooking the town of Mtskheta, Georgia – where the Mtkvari and Aragvi Rivers meet.

Why visit Mtskheta?

Mtskheta is by far the most popular day trip from Tbilisi. Georgia’s former capital, this small city is home to a collection of UNESCO World Heritage monuments (one of four UNESO sites in Georgia) and is absolutely dripping with history.

Svetitiskhoveli Cathedral and Jvari Monastery, two of Georgia’s most important religious sites, are both located in or near Mtskheta, making this a must-visit for history buffs and cultural travellers. This day trip also features stunning river views, an optional hike, a collection of smaller monasteries and fortresses to explore, plus lunch and/or a boat trip on the river.

Mtskheta is located on the highway between Tbilisi and Gori so you can easily combine it with Gori and Uplistsikhe to make this an extended day trip.

The interior of a monastery.
Frescos and morning light inside Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Mtskheta.

Things to do in Mtskheta

Mtskheta is a small city that’s easily explored on foot. Start by visiting the centrally located Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, one of Georgia’s oldest Orthodox churches and its second-largest after Sameba Cathedral in Tbilisi.

The structure was completed in the 11th century at a location chosen by St. Nino – Georgia’s patron saint – herself. Some of the country’s most important kings are buried here, and the cathedral also houses a relic of Christ’s mantle and a Holy wooden pillar. The frescoes and stone carvings are gorgeous.

A woman lights candles inside a church.
Sunday morning worship inside Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta, Georgia.

Further up the road, just outside of Mtskheta proper, the 4th-century Samtavros Convent is celebrated for its intricate bas-relief carvings. Climbing the crumbling ramparts of Bebristsikhe affords lovely views of the Aragvi river and the city.

The high point of a day trip to Mtskheta is visiting Jvari Monastery, one of Georgia’s most iconic houses of worship. Perched high on a hill overlooking Mtskheta, you can either hike up or hire a taxi to drive you. Drivers wait around Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (if in doubt, consult the staff at the tourist information office outside the cathedral). The going rate is ~30 GEL per car return, and you can pool with other visitors to save cash.

Drivers usually give you an hour at the top, which is plenty of time to see the inside of the petite monastery and take in the amazing views from the yard. The church looks directly over the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers that meet in a mix of turquoise and inky blue waters, perfectly framing Svetitskhoveli and the rest of the city.

Jvari Monastery in Mtskheta, Georgia.
Jvari Monastery.

If you have a car, drive deeper into the hills around Mtskheta to visit Shiomgvime Monastery and Zedazeni Monastery, two more hilltop monasteries established by the 13 Assyrian Fathers.

Back in Mtskheta, there are a number of small cafes and restaurants dotted around the town square, but I always prefer to eat on the terrace at Ornament Express overlooking the cathedral. There’s also a market outside the cathedral where vendors sell souvenirs (knitted socks, fridge magnets), mulled wine and churchkhela. It’s a bit touristy but worth having a quick poke around before you head back to Tbilisi.

If you have time on the way back to Tbilisi, stop at the cult-classic Salobie for dinner.

See my full list of things to do in Mtskheta.

A Tbilisi Mtskheta minivan waiting for passengers at Didube Station.
A Tbilisi Mtskheta minivan at Didube Station.

How to get to Mtskheta from Tbilisi by marshrutka

Marshrutka minivans leave from Tbilisi’s Didube Station for Mtskheta every 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day, starting from around 8am. Most continue on to Gori and fill up fast for this popular route. Tickets cost 2 GEL per person and can be purchased at the cash desk located here. Vans stop in the centre of Mtskheta, near Svetitiskhoveli Cathedral. The trip takes around 45 minutes.

To get back from Mtskheta to Tbilisi, you can simply flag down a van travelling the opposite way. One spot where they definitely stop is this bus shelter near the Liberty Bank on Agmashenebeli Street (see the location here on Google Maps).

Vans fill up fast, so if you want a seat, I recommend walking further north up the same road, towards Samtavro Monastery, and flagging down a marshrutka from there. Just gesture for a van when you see one. Signs propped in the window sometimes have place names written in English, but I recommend you note down the Georgian characters for Tbilisi (თბილისი).

Organised day trips from Tbilisi to Mtskheta

Top choice: Friendly.ge offers an in-depth private half-day tour to Mtskheta from Tbilisi that includes door to door transfers and an expert guide. I love this itinerary because it focuses exclusively on the ancient capital for a more in-depth look at the UNESCO monuments. The 4-hour itinerary has an option for lunch on the river, and concludes with a visit to the Chronicles of Georgia monument on the way back to Tbilisi.

Book direct and use the code wanderlush to get 10% off

Book here through Get Your Guide

→ Tip: Friendly.ge also offers a combined Mtskheta-Gori-Uplistsikhe tour

Group tour: If you’re on a budget or you prefer to explore with other travellers, Gamarjoba Georgia Tours offers a full-day Mtskheta-Jvari Gori-Uplistsikhe tour. It’s a packed itinerary and more superficial because it only visits two spots in Mtskheta. But if your aim is to see a lot in one day, it’s an option.

→ Check prices and availability here on Viator

DIY day trip: For independent travellers, GoTrip also offers an unguided transfer to Mtskheta starting from just $25 per car with Jvari, Svetitiskhoveli and Samtavro, plus transfers to and from your accommodation in Tbilisi. Design your own Mtskheta itinerary or customise this one to add more stops using GoTrip’s Trip Planner.

2. Into the Greater Caucasus: Day trip from Tbilisi to Kazbegi via the Georgian Military Highway

  • Distance from Tbilisi: 152 km (94 miles)
  • Travel time: 2.5-3.5 hours one-way
  • Recommended transport: GoTrip or day tour
  • Best time to visit: Spring or fall (winter is beautiful but there’s a small chance the road between Gudauri and Kazbegi will be closed)
  • Highlights: Gergeti Trinity Church, Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument, epic mountain views, authentic khinkali in Pasanauri
  • Read my guides: Things to do in Kazbegi & Georgian Military Highway travel guide
Snow-capped mountains in Georgia.
The town of Kazbegi – epic!

Why visit Kazbegi?

It just wouldn’t be a trip to Georgia without an up-close look at the impressive Greater Caucasus mountains. While it’s far better to spend at least one night and go hiking in the nearby Juta and Truso valleys, it is possible to visit Kazbegi (often referred to by its new name, Stepantsminda) as a full day trip from Tbilisi.

Laying eyes on the magnificent Gergeti Trinity Church, the symbol of Georgian tourism, and eating lunch at one of the country’s best boutique hotels are highlights of a day trip to Kazbegi.

But the real fun is in the journey. The Georgian Military Highway, the road that connects Tbilisi and Russia, is one of the most picturesque roads in the entire country and is dotted with viewpoints, monasteries, hot springs, small villages, and other points of interest to stop off at along the way.

The Georgia-Russia Friendship Monument.
The Georgia-Russia Friendship Monument.

Things to do in & around Kazbegi

The Georgian Military Highway that leads to Kazbegi from Tbilisi is an attraction in itself. The further you drive up into the mountains, the better it gets. Your jaw will be on the floor. 

Ananuri Fortress, Pasanauri village (allegedly the birthplace of khinkali – I recommend Restaurant Korbuda) and the Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument at Gudauri are all must-sees. There’s also mineral water springs, viewpoints, the intriguing stone sculptures in Sno, hot springs and waterfalls to see just off the highway.

I recommend springing for a private car for the Tbilisi-Kazbegi journey so that you can make as many stops as possible.

→ My full guide to the Georgian Military Highway covers 9 epic places to stop.

Stone head sculptures in the village of Sno, Georgia.
Stone heads in Sno. Georgia’s Easter Island?

Once you reach Kazbegi, you’ll get your first look at Gergeti Trinity – perhaps Georgia’s most iconic Orthodox church – perched high in the mountains above town. (Then again, you might not – locals call Gergeti ‘The Bride’ because she’s often enveloped in a veil of fog.)

The winding route up to Gergeti is hands down Georgia’s best short trek. If you’re on a day trip, you might not have enough time to hike up to Gergeti from town, so you’ll need to travel up by Delica taxi. Expect to pay around 15 GEL per person round-trip (for a full car), including wait time at the top.

Must read: Map for hiking from Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity Church.

A church sits on top of a green mountain in Kazbegi, a day trip from Tbilisi.
Gergeti Trinity.

After visiting the church, I recommend spending the remainder of your time in Kazbegi at Rooms Hotel. Rooms has a ski lodge vibe (it’s actually an old Soviet sanatorium), with wood fireplaces inside and a balcony overlooking the valley and Gergeti.

The restaurant is open to walk-ins and serves Kakhetian wine and Georgian fare. For a budget-friendly alternative, a home-cooked meal from Kazbegi Good Food can’t be beat.

Gergeti Trinity Church viewed from below.
Gergeti Trinity.

How to travel from Tbilisi to Kazbegi via the GMH

While it’s possible to take a marshrutka to Kazbegi from Tbilisi, this isn’t really suitable for a day trip. The journey is long, giving you limited time in Kazbegi – and vans don’t make photo stops, so you won’t actually see much along the way either. In summer there are a limited number of ‘tourist vans’ that stop at Gudauri and Ananuri but again, it’s not a comfortable journey and you’ll have limited time in Kazbegi.

A much better way to travel to Kazbegi and experience all the Georgian Military Highway has to offer is by organising a round-trip transfer with GoTrip. This is exactly what I did on my most recent visit, and it was terrific. There’s full flexibility to stop wherever you want for however long you need – handy, because this is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful roads in the entire region.

This GoTrip itinerary I designed includes stops in Ananuri and Pasanauri. You can easily edit the route or add additional stops. Prices start from a very reasonable $70 per car, including door-to-door pickup and drop-off in Tbilisi. Use GoTrip’s Trip Planner to customise this itinerary or design your own.

Day tours from Tbilisi to Kazbegi via the GMH

There are plenty of guided day tours to Kazbegi from Tbilisi. Most stop in Ananuri and at the Friendship Monument in Gudauri at a minimum, and some also include transport up to Gergeti Trinity.

Top choice: My pick is this private tour to Kazbegi that includes pickup in Tbilisi, a professional guide, and transport to Gergeti. You also get to ride the lift in Gudauri ski resort for amazing views, and go all the way to the Russian border to visit the Gveleti Waterfalls and Dariali Gorge – two spots that most itineraries miss. Lunch is also included. This tour is excellent value for money and of all the many itineraries available, it’s my top choice.

→ Check prices and availability here on Viator

Alternative private tour: Friendly.ge offers a very comprehensive Military Highway tour that includes most of the stops mentioned in my guide. It’s a little pricier, but it’s the most comprehensive itinerary I’ve been able to find.

→ Book direct here and use the code wanderlush for 10% off

4×4 tour with Truso Valley: If you want to soak up even more of the spectacular scenery around Kazbegi, this small group 4×4 tour to Juta and Truso with Friendly.ge is great for adventure and off-roading. It visits abandoned villages, ancient watchtowers and hidden mineral springs. If you’re travelling with family or a group, it is also available as a private tour.

Book here and use the code wanderlush for 10% off

Budget-friendly group tour: If you’re on a budget, this affordable group tour with Gamarjoba Georgia departs from Avlabari Metro Station and includes several stops on the way to Kazbegi plus a visit to Rooms Hotel. Transport to Gergeti, though, must be paid for separately.

Book through Get Your Guide

3. Georgian wine country: Day trip from Tbilisi to Sighnaghi, Bodbe Monastery & Kakheti wine region

  • Distance from Tbilisi: 110 km (68 miles)
  • Travel time: 1.5-2 hours one-way
  • Recommended transport: GoTrip or day tour
  • Best time to visit: Year-round (best in spring or fall)
  • Highlights: Georgian qvevri wine tasting, Sighnaghi walled old town, Bodbe Monastery
  • Read my guide: Things to do in Sighnaghi & Kakheti region
View of Sighnaghi, Georgia.
View of Sighnaghi from the road to Bodbe Monastery.

Why visit Sighnaghi?

You may have heard that Georgia is the cradle of wine. Georgians are incredibly proud of their winemaking heritage, which is intimately intertwined with local culture even today. Qvevri winemaking, the traditional technique of fermenting wine in clay amphora underground, is even recognised by UNESCO.

Grapes are grown and pressed all over the country, but Kakheti in Eastern Georgia is considered the heart of the wine industry. The medieval walled town of Sighnaghi – AKA the ‘City of Love’ – is a great base for exploring the Wine Route and visiting the many monasteries that dot the southern end of the Alazani Valley.

Sighnaghi itself is all charm: Cobbled streets, outdoor cafes and sweet museums. Further afield, there are countless wineries you can visit, ranging from family-run maranis to commercial cellar doors.

Old town walls in Sighnaghi, Georgia.
Pretty Sighnaghi.

Things to do in & around Sighnaghi

Explore the central part of Sighnaghi on foot, including the old city walls and the town square. At the Sighnaghi National Museum you’ll find a permanent display of artworks by Georgia’s national painter, Pirosmani, who was born nearby. Don’t miss the stunning views from the back of the museum.

Bodbe Monastery is located just outside Sighnaghi and can be reached by foot in around 20 minutes. An active convent with ties to Georgia’s patron saint, this is one of the most beautiful religious complexes in the country. The flower gardens overlooking the valley are just magnificent. Don’t miss walking down to St. Nino’s Spring.

A garden at Bodbe Monastery, a day trip from Tbilisi.
The grounds of Bodbe Monastery, just outside Sighnaghi, Georgia.

There are a couple of wineries in Sighnaghi itself, including the popular Pheasant’s Tears, but to see qvevri wine-making up close and enjoy a proper degustation, you’ll need to travel outside the town with a driver. Winery Khareba, a massive subterranean cellar set inside 13 interconnecting tunnels, is one of the more interesting wineries to visit.

→ For a full Sighnaghi itinerary, refer to Day Two of my 72-hour Kakheti Guide.

A table laid out for a wine tasting in Sighnaghi, Georgia.
Ready for a wine degustation at Chateau-Marani Giuaani, halfway between Tbilisi and Sighnaghi.

How to get to Sighnaghi from Tbilisi

If you’re happy to just spend a day in Sighnaghi without venturing further to the monasteries and wineries in the valley, you can quite easily travel there by marshrutka from Tbilisi. A shared taxi costs slightly more but is worth considering to save on time.

Full details, including schedules and fares, can be found in my full transport guide for getting to Kakheti from Tbilisi. Once you arrive in Sighnaghi, you can either just explore the town on foot or hire a local driver to take you around for the day.

A private transfer with GoTrip is an affordable alternative, and you’ll definitely see more if you have a car. This pre-designed itinerary includes Bodbe, Sighnaghi, Winery Khareba and Gremi church, and costs $70 per car including transfers to and from Tbilisi. Design your own itinerary and book a car using GoTrip’s Trip Planner.

Day tours from Tbilisi to Sighnaghi & Kakheti

Top choice for wine-lovers: Eat This! Tours is a boutique company that works with small, family owned wineries and professionally guides to offer in-depth, immersive wine tours from Tbilisi. Groups are small (max 7 people) or you can request a private excursion. I highly recommend them.

Eat This! offers a few pre-designed itineraries including a 1-day excursion to Sighnaghi and the wine region packed with amazing wine and food. If you happen to be travelling in late autumn, they usually organise special Rtveli wine harvest tours and events.

Book the Vines & Villages Tour here and mention Wander-Lush to get a discount off your booking.

Private tour: Friendly.ge’s Grand Kakheti Tour (from $120 per group) covers a huge number of wineries, churches and monuments in the Sighnaghi area and around Telavi. It’s fast-paced, but if you only have a day in Kakheti, it could be the best option for you.

Their Sighnaghi Tour focuses more on Sighnaghi and includes a picnic lunch. Use the code wanderlush for 10% off when you book either tour direct.

Budget-friendly group tour: If you don’t mind visiting the bigger commercial wineries, this group tour from Tbilisi includes some of Kakheti’s most popular cellar doors. There’s also time to visit Bodbe Monastery and walk around Sighnaghi. I have personally done this tour with Gamarjoba and I quite enjoyed it – guides definitely focus on bringing the fun, which explains the huge number of positive reviews!

Book here through Get Your Guide

→ Or compare prices here on Viator

4. Georgian wine country (alternative route): Day trip from Tbilisi to Telavi, Alaverdi Monastery & Tsinandali Estate

  • Distance from Tbilisi: 94 km (58 miles)
  • Travel time: 2 hours one-way (via the Gombori Pass)
  • Recommended transport: Marshrutka, GoTrip or day tour
  • Best time to visit: Year-round (best in spring or fall)
  • Highlights: Wine tasting at family maranis, monasteries, Telavi fortress & bazaar, Tsinandali Estate
  • Read my guide: The best things to do in Telavi
A beautiful house with balconies in Georgia.
The exquisite Tsinandali Estate outside Telavi, Georgia.

Why visit Telavi?

Also located in Kakheti, Georgian wine country, Telavi is an alternative base for exploring the wineries and churches in the area. This is Kakheti’s biggest city and main transport hub – so while not as picturesque as Sighnaghi, it is convenient. I personally love Telavi and encourage you to spend the night here if you have time.

In reality you can visit any combination of the wineries and monasteries mentioned here from either Sighnaghi or Telavi. It’s not possible to see everything in one day though (or even in 3 days), so I’ve tried to divide the major points of interest logically into two separate day trips.

A wine cellar in Kakheti, Georgia.
Wine bottles and an underground Qvevri at a winery outside Telavi, Georgia.

Things to do in & around Telavi

There are a few family maranis in the centre of Telavi, so it’s actually quite easy to do a wine tasting without venturing outside the city. Family Wine Cellar Rostomaant Marani and Togonidze’s Wine Cellar are both recommended.

Beyond Telavi, Vazisubani Estate and Tsinandali Estate are both worth visiting – especially the latter, which doubles as a museum and luxury hotel. Shumi and Brothers are also located closer to Telavi than Sighnaghi. Alaverdi Monastery and Ikalto Academy, two of Kakheti’s most important historical sites, are also within easy reach of Telavi.

Nekresi Monastery in Kakheti, Georgia.
Nekresi Monastery.

It’s worth spending a couple of hours in Telavi city itself to see the beautiful balconied houses in the old town, pay pilgrimage to the Giant Plane Tree, roam the incredible Telavi Bazaar – a massive fruit and veg market – or pop over to Marleta’s Cheese Farm on the outskirts of the city for an unforgettable meal.

→ See my Telavi city guide for more ideas of what to see and do.

View of Telavi city in Kakheti, Georgia.
Beautiful Telavi city.

How to get to Telavi from Tbilisi

If you’re happy just to visit Telavi city (there’s plenty to do to justify a visit), you can feasibly do this day trip by marshrutka. It’s also possible to hire a local driver once you arrive in Telavi to visit the other places mentioned here.

There are two routes to Telavi from Tbilisi: the Gombori Pass takes around 2 hours, so it’s preferable to find a marshrutka/shared taxi that will follow this route. See my guide to travelling to Telavi from Tbilisi by marshrutka or shared taxi here.

A more efficient option is to book a car and driver on GoTrip to take you around Telavi from Tbilisi then back. This itinerary I designed with Alaverdi Monastery, Tsinandali and Telavi city costs $65 per car. Customise it or plan your own day trip itinerary using GoTrip’s Trip Planner.

Day tours from Tbilisi to Telavi

A guided tour from Tbilisi to Telavi will give you a more in-depth look at the region’s history while visiting smaller wineries that are difficult to get to without a guide.

Top choice: Eat This! Tours offers pre-designed itineraries for Telavi, or you can write to them for a customised day trip that focuses on this part of the valley. I visited Telavi with Eat This! one summer and had a ball – the Vines & Mountains tour strikes the perfect balance between wineries and non-wine sightseeing, including visiting the Telavi Bazaar and meeting a clay qvevri maker.

Book your Vines & Mountains tour here and mention Wander-Lush to get a discount.

5. Cave monasteries and rainbow mountains: Day trip from Tbilisi to David Gareja & Udabno

  • Distance from Tbilisi: 100 km (62 miles)
  • Travel time: 1.5 hours one-way
  • Recommended transport: Day tour or Gareji Line shuttle
  • Best time to visit: Spring or fall (avoid visiting in summer)
  • Highlights: Cave monasteries, hiking, spectacular scenery
  • Read my guide: Things to know before you visit David Gareja
David Gareja cave monastery in Georgia.
The incredible David Gareja Monastery, a perfect day trip from Tbilisi, Georgia.

Why visit David Gareja?

If I could recommend just one day trip from Tbilisi, it would be David Gareja. The 6th-century Orthodox monastery complex located east of Tbilisi on the border with Azerbaijan really is a sight to behold.

When I first visited David Gareja, I followed a hiking trail up a steep ridge for an amazing view of Georgia’s neighbour. As of 2024, the upper part of the complex is unfortunately still closed off to tourists. It’s still worth visiting to see the lower Lavra Monastery and unusual semi-desert countryside around Udabno.

Read my recent Davit Gareji trip report here to see what’s still open and what’s closed.

A group of people walk along a ridge at Udabno in Georgia.
Walking along the ridge at David Gareja Monastery.

Things to do in & around David Gareja

Lavra Monastery, the lower monastery, consists of dozens of chambers, living quarters and prayer rooms hewn from a rock wall. There’s also a chapel, a grassy courtyard and some beautiful Kakhetian wooden balconies to see.

Udabno Monastery, the upper monastery that’s currently off-limits, boasts more alcoves and some beautiful frescoes including a rare portrait of King Tamar. Many of the paintings were damaged in Soviet times, when David Gareja was used as a military base. At the top of the ridge, there’s also a small chapel that overlooks the border zone. A new Visitor’s Centre sells honey, icons and souvenirs crafted by the resident monks.

Udabno Rainbow hills.
Hiking in the rainbow hills around Udabno.

There are dozens of monasteries in the David Gareja complex spread across Georgian and Azerbaijani territory. Natlismtsemeli Monastery isn’t as well-known as Lavra/Udabno but the caves are even more impressive. There’s no paved road, so you need a 4WD to get there.

The territory around David Gareja offers some amazing hiking opportunities. The Udabno ‘rainbow mountains’ – hills painted in different shades by mineral deposits – are very very cool. The most colourful hills are around Mravaltskaro Reservoir, but you can also hike near David Gareja.

There aren’t any marked trails, so be very careful if you go without a guide (use Wikiloc or Maps.Me for navigation). It’s essential to wear good shoes and bring lots of drinking water for this day trip – and it’s not advisable to visit this part of Georgia in summer because of the extreme heat.

Finish your day with a meal at the Oasis Club in Udabno, a Polish-run hostel/restaurant that serves a wonderful array of international dishes made with local ingredients plus homemade wine.

Lavra Monastery at David Gareja in Kakheti, Georgia.
Lavra Monastery.

How to get to David Gareja from Tbilisi

There is no marshrutka service to David Gareja. The most convenient way to travel to the monastery from Tbilisi is using the Gareji Line shuttle. Vans depart Pushkin Park every morning at 10.45am in the high season (usually from May 1 until the end of September) and on-demand during low and shoulder season.

No reservations are required, but you can message them on Facebook to enquire about availability if you wish. They need a minimum of 2 people to run, so if you’re a solo traveller, definitely contact them in advance. A seat costs 40 GEL return.

This isn’t an organised tour – there is no guide, and when we travelled, the driver didn’t speak English. It is simply a hassle-free way to travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi and back. Guests get an A4 map of the complex with some basic information, which is useful given there’s no signage onsite. The itinerary allows for around 3 hours at David Gareja and includes a stop at the Oasis Club for dinner on the way back.

Alternatively, a private car and driver for the day starts from $63 when booked through GoTrip. The road to David Gareja is now fully paved, so there’s no issue with driving there in a sedan. This GoTrip transfer itinerary I created also includes Udabno and pick-up/drop-off in Tbilisi.

Day tours from Tbilisi to David Gareja & Udabno

Top choice: If you prefer to experience Davit Gareja with a guide or you want to explore the beautiful Udabno landscape while you’re there (not possible with Gareji Line), Friendly.ge offers a few options. The popular Off-Road Tour goes to David Gareja via unpaved roads and is great fun. It also includes hiking in the Rainbow Hills (around 4km).

→ Book direct (group tour or private tour)

→ Compare prices for the group tour on Get Your Guide

Kakheti combo tour: Alternatively, Friendly.ge’s David Gareja Sighnaghi Tour leads with a visit to the monastery and optional hike up the mountain before continuing to Sighnaghi for a short walk around town and a spot of wine tasting.

→ Book direct or through Get Your Guide.

Budget-friendly group tour: This 10-hour small group tour includes David Gareja, Natlismtsemeli, Mravaltskaro Reservoir, and hiking in Udabno. It’s a terrific itinerary and highly recommended for budget travellers. Use the code wanderlush for 10% off when you book direct.

6. Dark tourism: Day trip from Tbilisi to Gori & Uplistsikhe

View of the city of Gori, Georgia.
Gori, Georgia.

Why visit Gori?

Gori is a small city located in Georgia’s Shida Kartli Region, just west of Tbilisi. There are two main reasons for tourists to go to Gori: Firstly, to explore the ancient cave city, Uplistsikhe, and secondly to visit the birthplace of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. 

It might not be for everyone, but visiting the Stalin Museum is a very unique experience – especially if you opt for the guided tour, which I highly recommend. (If this kind of thing interests you, don’t miss out on visiting Stalin’s Printing Press in Tbilisi.)

On my second visit to Gori, I realised there’s a lot more to this city than just its connection to Stalin. This was once a stop on the Silk Road and you can find some fascinating reminders around the city, most notably in the very unusual Gori Fortress which cascades down one side of the protruding sandy hill that gave the city its name.

Pictures of Stalin in a museum in Georgia.
Inside the Joseph Stalin Museum in Gori, Georgia.

Things to do in & around Gori

Joseph Stalin was born in Gori in 1878. Many attractions and civic landmarks still bear his moniker, including the Stalin Museum, which is dedicated to chronicling his life (albeit quite selectively).

There’s not much information in English, but a guided tour is now included in the price. You can also visit Stalin’s armoured train carriage and see the house where he was born, both of which have been relocated onto the museum grounds. There’s a Stalin statue in the museum courtyard with an interesting history all of its own.

Despite its dark modern history, Gori is a very pretty city with trellis-lined streets and a big central park. Climb to the top of Gori Fortress for a view of the Mtkvari River. Wander the charming old town, and drive up to St. George’s Church for a view. A meal at Shin Da Gori, the city’s most delightful restaurant, is a must.

A Free Walking Tour of Gori with local guide Zhana is the best way to learn about Gori’s complicated character and see more hidden gems, including the Gori Synagogue. Even better, book in for Zhana’s Soviet Gori Tour to see monuments, museums and the ‘other’ Stalin Museum – you even get to drive around in a Lada!

Essential reading: 15 things to do in Gori besides the Stalin Museum.

Uplistsikhe cave complex.
Uplistsikhe, the ancient cave town located just outside of Gori, Georgia.

Uplistsikhe cave city is located just 14km from Gori, so it makes sense to combine the two. Thought to have been founded during the Bronze Age, Uplistsikhe is a fascinating landscape of chambers and grottoes cut into the mountainside not dissimilar from David Gareja or Vardzia.

It was once a fully functioning ‘cave town’, with living quarters, churches and municipal services. Uplistsikhe is better set up for tourists than David Gareja, with information placards, roped walkways and an audio guide.

→ For opening hours, ticket prices and tips, see my detailed guide to visiting Uplistsikhe.

How to get to Gori from Tbilisi

A marshrutka from Didube Station to Gori costs a couple of GEL. Vans leave regularly throughout the day, starting from 8am. It’s preferable to take a shared taxi from Didube for 5 GEL because the driver will drop you directly in front of the Stalin Museum (as opposed to the Gori bus station). The ride takes a little over an hour depending on traffic.

To get back to Tbilisi, marshrutka vans depart from Gori’s main bus station, a 5-minute taxi ride from the Stalin Museum, every half hour until late. You can find taxis to Tbilisi at the bus station and in front of the theatre. The price is the same.

There are at least four trains to Gori from Tbilisi every day. The journey takes 60-70 minutes, and tickets cost 8-12 GEL (or 24 GEL for the faster train). Note that Gori’s railway station is located on the opposite side of the river, quite a walk from the Stalin Museum, so you will need to take a taxi into town. Tickets can be purchased at Station Square in Tbilisi on your day of travel or online via TKT.GE.

How to get to Uplistsikhe

The easiest way to get to Uplistsikhe from Gori is by hiring a taxi from behind the Stalin Museum or the bus station. It should cost 30-50 GEL round trip (including waiting time). There are two buses to Uplistsikhe from Gori Bus Station at around 9am and 12pm, returning at 3pm. Double check times locally.

Day tours from Tbilisi to Gori & Uplistsikhe

Top choice: This 10-hour itinerary departing Tbilisi with Gamarjoba Georgia includes a walking tour of Uplistsikhe and a guided tour of the Stalin Museum. On the way, you also visit Mtskheta and Jvari Monastery. It’s like two day trips rolled into one. There’s also the option to stop for lunch at a family wine cellar near Gori.

Book through Get Your Guide

Private tour: This private tour to Gori, Mtskheta and Uplistsikhe with Friendly.ge follows a similar itinerary and also includes a stop at the Chronicle of Georgia monument in Tbilisi.

Book direct and use wanderlush for a 10% discount

→ Compare prices and book through Viator

7. Fresh air and healing waters: Day trip from Tbilisi to Borjomi & Bakuriani

  • Distance from Tbilisi: 183 km (114 miles)
  • Travel time: 2.5-3 hours one-way
  • Recommended transport: Marshrutka or day tour
  • Best time to visit: Year-round (best in fall or winter)
  • Highlights: Borjomi Central Park, Romanov history, hiking in Borjomi Nature Reserve
  • Read my guide: The best things to do in and around Borjomi
Two kids walking in the leafy Borjomi Central Park.
Borjomi Central Park.

Why visit Borjomi & Bakuriani?

If you’re craving some fresh air and green space, Borjomi might be the best day trip from Tbilisi for you. Borjomi is famous for its mineral water springs which were once heralded as the best in the Soviet Union. Borjomi Water is still bottled here and exported all over Georgia and the region.

In Soviet times, Borjomi and the nearby town of Bakuriani were used as summer health retreats to escape from hot and sticky Tbilisi. There are still a few sanatorium-style resorts operating in the area.

Adventure lovers should note that Borjomi offers hikes and horse riding in summer, rafting and other water sports in spring, and skiing in the wintertime at the nearby Bakuriani Resort.

Things to do in & around Borjomi

Start your day trip with a wander around Borjomi Central Park, stopping off to visit the gorgeous Golden Tulip Hotel (originally built for the Iranian consul). Inside the park, fill up your bottle with volcanic spring water at the original Ekaterina Spring, and maybe even a dip in the public hot springs which can be reached by hiking through the park. There’s also a cable car that you can ride up to Borjomi plateau overlooking the park.

Break for lunch at Cafe Iggy, one of my favourite restaurants in Georgia, before heading further down the highway to Likani, home of the pretty Romanov Summer Palace (currently closed for restorations until further notice) and an amazing Soviet mosaic.

Follow one of the trails behind the house into Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park and track down the green-tiled Mtsvane Monastery, which is hidden inside the park.

Mtsvane Monastery, a beautiful stone monastery near Borjomi, Georgia.
Mtsvane Monastery near Borjomi.

To get to Likani from Borjomi, take a minibus from the main street (look out for vans with Likani on the front). The fare is a few tetri per person, and the trip takes under 30 minutes.

If you really want to unwind, head to Rooms Kokhta in the hills above Bakuriani, just 25km down the road from Borjomi. This summer-retreat-slash-winter-sports-mecca is beloved for its mountain air and healing waters.

You can travel between Borjomi and Bakuriani by taxi – or better still, take the scenic train. Known as the Kukushka (‘Little Cuckoo’ in Russian), this is an historic narrow-gauge railway that first opened in 1902. It leaves Borjomi twice a day at 7.15am and 10.55am (10am and 2.15pm return) and takes about 2.5 hours. The fare is 1 GEL for second class and 2 GEL for first.

Along the way, you’ll pass over the Tsemistskhali River viaduct, designed by Gustave Eiffel himself. It’s especially beautiful in winter when the whole area is a frosty wonderland of ice crystals and snow blankets.If you have a car, you can add on a visit to Tabatskuri Lake from Bakuriani.

Update: Sadly the Kukushka is suspended until further notice and will not run in winter 2023/2024.

A man pouring a bottle of sparking water into a glass.
When in Borjomi, drink Borjomi!

How to get to Borjomi from Tbilisi by marshrutka

Marshrutka vans going to Borjomi depart from Tbilisi’s Didube Station throughout the day, starting from as early as 7am (this day trip is quite a packed schedule, so I recommend getting an early start if you want to fit everything in). A ticket costs around 12 GEL per person and the journey takes 2.5 hours.

Vans back to Tbilisi depart from Borjomi Bus Station every hour on the hour until 6pm. Double check times locally.

See my detailed Borjomi Transport Guide for more tips.

How to get to Borjomi from Tbilisi by train

Another option is to travel to Borjomi by train. It takes a little over 4 hours, but you will see some beautiful scenery along the way. The train departs from Tbilisi in the evening at 6.20pm and costs around 2 GEL. This is a very old Soviet electric train – it’s not very comfortable, and tickets can only be purchased from the machine on the train. In Borjomi, the train terminates at the Borjomi Park station, which is central to the city and Central park.

Organised tours from Tbilisi to Borjomi & Bakuriani

Top choice: This Borjomi and Vardzia Tour with Gamarjoba also includes Khertvisi Fortress and a local lunch in Akhaltsikhe.

Book here through Viator

Hiking in Borjomi: If you want to explore the gorgeous Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, this alternative hiking-focused day trip includes transfers from Tbilisi and a guide who will accompany you on the popular Footprint Trail (13km).

Book through Viator

Alternative short day trips from Tbilisi (under 3 hours travel)

If you’ve ticked off the big-ticket day trips or you’re looking for unconventional alternatives, this section covers 4 alternative Tbilisi day trips.

8. Kvemo Kartli Region – German heritage, canyons, archaeological sites and hiking
9. Paravani Lake & Javakheti – Georgia’s lake district
10. Rustavi – Socialist city planning and Soviet throwbacks
11. National Park of Tbilisi – Hiking near the city

8. Canyons and culture: Day trip from Tbilisi to Kvemo Kartli Region

  • Distance from Tbilisi: ~ 92 km (57 miles)
  • Travel time: 2-3 hours one-way
  • Recommended transport: GoTrip or day tour
  • Best time to visit: Spring or fall
  • Highlights: German villages, Manglisi Cathedral, Birtvisi Canyon, Didgori Battle Memorial
  • Read my guide: Things to do in Kvemo Kartli region
Asureti German church in Kvemo Kartli region.
Asureti, one of Georgia’s historic German towns.

Why visit Kvemo Kartli region?

Kvemo Kartli region south of Tbilisi is one of the least-visited but most magnificent parts of the country. There are a ton of day trip opportunities here for all interests, from canyon hiking to the world-class archaeological museums at Bolnisi and Dmanisi (where some of the world’s oldest hominid skulls were unearthed).

The area is best known for its Swabian German villages, established in the early 1800s. Katharinefeld (now Bolnisi), Alexandershilf (now Trialeti) and Elisabethtal (now Asureti) all boast gorgeous churches and original Fachwerk half-timbered houses with deep basement cellars.

Tsalka Canyon (formerly Dashbashi Canyon) is the big ticket item in this area, with a new glass sky bridge and cascading waterfalls. Tsalka, the nearest city to Dashbashi, is also very culturally diverse – you can visit an Adjarian mosque and an Armenian church before eating lunch at a Pontic Greek restaurant.

One of the most epic battles in modern Georgian history, when David the Builder faced off against the Seljuks, took place on the rolling hills of Didgori at the region’s north-eastern corner. The Didgori Battle Memorial is truly one of the most impressive places I’ve visited in Georgia.

Tourism in this part of the country is still developing so infrastructure is quite limited, but the close proximity to the capital makes it relatively easy to visit. If you want to get off the beaten path for an alternative day trip from Tbilisi, this is a great option.

Aerial view of the Didgori Battle Memorial, a large stone monument on a hill in Kvemo Kartli, Georgia.
The Didgori Battle Monument.

Things to do in Kvemo Kartli

Visit the German towns of Asureti and Trialeti to admire the stunning Lutheran churches and half-timber houses. Eat a German lunch in the garden at Station, a new restaurant and beer garden in Asureti set inside a beautiful heritage house.

Visit the 6th-century Manglisi Holy Dormition Cathedral then drive the ribbon road through the hills to the Didgori Battle Memorial. The landscape is plastered with wildflowers in late summer.

A heritage German house in Bolnisi in Georgia.
German architecture in Bolnisi.

Walk across the new ‘Diamond’ viewing bridge at Dashbashi (Tsalka) Canyon to see the cascading Dashbashi Waterfall up close. Have a picnic by Tsalka Reservoir, visit the smaller canyon at Beshtasheni and hunt down the petroglyphs in Trialeti.

Note: Since the diamond bridge at Dashbashi Canyon opened in summer 2022, the feel of this place has changed a lot. If you’re looking for something more nature-focused and less commercial, better hiking trails are available at the lesser-known Samshvilde and Birtvisi canyons, and around Trialeti National Park.

Fall colours at Dashbashi Canyon.
Dashbashi Canyon.

Kvemo Kartli was critically important to the spread of Christianity through Georgia and is home to some of the oldest Orthodox monasteries in the country, including Bolnisi Zion Cathedral and Manglisi Sioni.

In the small city of Tsalka, the colourfully painted Tsalka Mosque is a must-visit. Finish your day with a meal at Restaurant Pontia, a local institution run by a local Pontic Greek family.

If you’re travelling by car, consider stopping at Kojori Fortress on the way back to Tbilisi for sunset.

→ See my complete guide to Kvemo Kartli region for more ideas.

A spread of Georgian food on a table at Restaurant Pontia in Tsalka.
Lunch at Restaurant Pontia in Tsalka.

How to get to Kvemo Kartli from Tbilisi

Parts of Kvemo Kartli can be reached by marshrtuka van, but you’ll need your own car to get around once there. Some spots including Didgori can only be visited with a car.

Vans to Tsalka (for Dashbashi Canyon or Manglisi) depart from Central Bus Station (Ortachala) at 9am and cost 13 GEL. Double-check times and fares here. If you’re visiting Dashbashi, ask the driver to drop you off at the Wisol Petrol Station. From there, it’s a 2km walk to the start of the canyon via a signed path. There is no official timetable for the return trip so you’ll need to ask the driver when the last van leaves for Tbilisi.

If you want to see more of the area, I suggest booking a car and driver through GoTrip. This itinerary I designed for Didgori, Asureti, Tsalka and Manglisi starts from just $55 with transfers to and from your accommodation. Customise your trip and book here.

Alternatively, a round-trip transfer to the Didgori Memorial costs around $35.

Organised tours from Tbilisi to Kvemo Kartli

Top choice: This private day tour with Friendly.ge focuses on German heritage and nature. It visits Asureti, Tsalka, Manglisi and Dashbashi, and is the only trip I know of that also includes Didgori. Transfers from Tbilisi plus a private guide (English, German or Russian language) are included in the price.

Book here and use wanderlush at checkout for 10% off

Combo tour with the Javakheti lakes and Gorelovka: This day trip visits Tsalka Canyon and Asureti then continues deeper into Southern Georgia to visit Poka Nunnery, the Javakheti Lakes (Tsalka, Paravani, Saghamo, Bugdasheni and Madatapa), and the Doukhobor village of Gorelovka (see the next section). You can add on an organic lunch and wine tasting. It’s a really fantastic itinerary – definitely one of my top choices for an alternative day trip from Tbilisi.

Book through Viator

Diamond Bridge: If you just want to visit the Diamond Bridge at Dashbashi, there are budget-friendly group transfers available every day from Tbilisi

Book through Viator

9. The edge of the Georgian Arctic: Day trip from Tbilisi to Paravani Lake & the Javakheti Plateau

  • Distance from Tbilisi: 130 km (80 miles)
  • Travel time: 2.5 hours one-way
  • Recommended transport: GoTrip
  • Best time to visit: Summer or early fall
  • Highlights: Stunning scenery, walking or bike riding, birdwatching, Poka St. Nino convent & shop
  • Read my guide: Things to see in Javakheti
Fall colours at an alpine lake in Georgia's Javakheti Protected Areas.
The Javakheti Plateau.

Why visit Paravani & Javakheti?

Nicknamed the ‘Georgian Arctic’ because of its high elevation and long, hard winters, the Javakheti Plateau is probably the most underrated destination in all of Georgia. I was blown away by this region the first time I visited and I’ve been back for more several times since. There’s something magical about the landscapes here – and the harshness – that’s difficult to put into words.

The Javakheti Protected Areas is a chain of national parks and lakes on the plateau. In the warmer months, migratory and endemic birds – including grey flamingos – nest on the lakes, making this world-class birdwatching territory.

Even if you’re not into birdwatching, the lakes are stunningly beautiful and offer opportunities for short hikes and cycling. Combined with some beautiful churches and small villages, it’s a really fascinating area to explore.

A monastery on the edge of a lake in Georgia.
Paravani Lake.

Things to do around Paravani Lake

There’s not much to do on the shores of volcanic Paravani Lake other than sit and gaze in awe at the sheer beauty of the landscape. Poka St. Nino Monastery on the southern tip of the lake has a lovely shop attached where you can buy natural beauty and food products crafted by the resident nuns.

Just down the road, the smaller Saghamo Lake has a strong Norwegian fjord vibe, while Bughdasheni Managed Reserve, a tiny, marshy lake near the border with Armenia, is probably the prettiest of the lot. There are several other lakes to visit in the area, including the larger Kartsakhi which is shared between Georgia and Turkey.

Bring a bicycle and cycle around the shorelines or just explore on foot, driving between the lakes and jumping out wherever you fancy. Stop for lunch at Family Corner near Saghamo Lake, a cosy tavern with incredible Armenian food that’s run by the one of the sweetest families you’ll ever meet.

The nearby village of Gorelovka is home to members of the Doukhobor community, a religious sect with a fascinating history.

→ For more ideas of what to see and do around Tsalka, refer to my guide to Tsalka and Javakheti.

A blue house in Gorelovka, Georgia.
The Doukhobors House in Gorelovka.

How to get to Paravani Lake from Tbilisi

Marshrutka services are limited and there are no day tour offerings to Paravani at present so to travel to this part of Georgia from Tbilisi, your best option is to either hire a car or organise a driver for the day. The road out of the city is quite steep and windy – but once you reach the plateau, it’s straight and flat, which makes driving quite straightforward and enjoyable.

A GoTrip transfer to Paravani Lake and back starts from $65. Customise your own day trip itinerary here.

Organised tours from Tbilisi to Javakheti

Dashbashi Canyon, lakes and Gorelovka: This day trip starts with a visit to Tsalka Canyon and Asureti then continues deeper into Southern Georgia to visit the lakes and Gorelovka.

Bookings through Viator

Fishing tour: If you’re an eager angler, this fishing-focused day trip visits two of the lakes, Paravani and Saghamo. All permits are included, along with transfers to and from Tbilisi.

Bookings through Viator

10. Soviet city planning at its finest: Day trip from Tbilisi to Rustavi

  • Distance from Tbilisi: 33 km (21 miles)
  • Travel time: 45 minutes one-way
  • Recommended transport: Marshrutka or day tour
  • Best time to visit: Year-round
  • Highlights: Socialist-style architecture, Soviet mosaics, the steelworks
  • Read my guide: 12 things to do in Rustavi
The Soviet Rustavi Metallurgy Plant, an industrial building with arches and bas-relief sculptures in Rustavi, Georgia.
The Soviet-era Rustavi Metallurgy Plant.

Why visit Rustavi?

Rustavi is a purpose-built Soviet industrial city south of Tbilisi. While it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I highly recommend it to fans of Socialist architecture and Soviet history.

Rustavi has all the trimmings: Hulking apartment blocks, Soviet mosaics, and a magnificent steel works. It’s a populous city with good local restaurants, a cool social enterprise cafe, leafy parks and street art.

Things to do in Rustavi

Rustavi is a playground for fans of Soviet history. The colourful 9-story Socialist apartment buildings that dominate the northern part of the city give Rustavi a spectacularly surreal skyline.

The other half of Rustavi features grand Soviet architecture, including the Mayor’s Office and Theatre, beautiful parklands, a History Museum, and a vibrant Old Market.

The Metallurgy Factory cuts an imposing figure at the southern end of the city and features some breathtaking (and very well preserved) mosaics on the facade. Topped off with a meal at Cafune social enterprise cafe, you have one unconventional yet memorable day trip from Tbilisi.

How to get to Rustavi from Tbilisi

Rustavi is a major city in Georgia – many people commute to/from Tbilisi for work. Marshrutka vans and shared taxis leave from outside Tbilisi Central Railway Station (Station Square) and other points around the city throughout the day, starting from as early at 7am. The fare is 2.5 GEL.

In Rustavi, you can ask the driver to let you out when you reach the newer part of the city. The roundabout with the Shota Rustaveli Monument is a good place to start. To get back to Tbilisi, you can simply flag down a van from the street if you don’t want to go all the way back to the main bus station.

If you prefer to go by car, a one-way transfer to Rustavi with GoTrip starts from $25.

Organised tours from Tbilisi to Rustavi

Soviet-themed tour with David Gareja: This day trip is the only one I know of that visits Rustavi and includes a walk around the city centre to explore the old Soviet-era buildings and uncover history from the period. Since Rustavi is close to David Gareja, it also includes a trip to the cave monastery.

Book through Viator

11. Hiking and biking: Day trip from Tbilisi to National Park of Tbilisi & Martkopi Monastery

  • Distance from Tbilisi: 40 km (25 miles)
  • Travel time: 30 minutes one-way
  • Recommended transport: Marshrutka or taxi
  • Best time to visit: Year-round
  • Highlights: Hiking, fall foliage
Sabaduri Forest, Georgia.
Fall foliage in Sabaduri.

Why visit National Park of Tbilisi?

This large swathe of green space on the north-east edge of Tbilisi, close to Mtskheta, is a great spot for hiking and dirt biking close to the city. There are a few monasteries hidden in the foliage, including the gorgeous Martkopi which can be reached via a hiking trail from a nearby village.

Things to do in & around National Park of Tbilisi

Start by taking a marshrutka to Norio village where you’ll find the trailhead for the Martkopi Monastery hike. This is an asphalt track that takes about 4 hours to complete. Martkopi Monastery was founded in the 6th century on the side of a mountain slope. It’s very picturesque, especially when viewed from above from the church tower.

If you have your own car, make a detour to nearby Sabaduri Forest on the way. The road through the forest is one of Georgia’s prettiest drives, especially in fall and winter. Also in this area, the Zoological Center is a not-for-profit animal shelter that rescues brown bears. Visitors are welcome by appointment.

Alternatively, you can combine a trip to National Park of Tbilisi with a visit to Tbilisi Sea and the Chronicles of Georgia. Marshrutka vans stop here on the way to and from Norio.

How to get to National Park of Tbilisi from Tbilisi

Vans to Norio depart from outside Tbilisi’s Samgori Metro Station regularly throughout the day. The fare is around 2 GEL, and the journey takes roughly 30 minutes. Jump out here to start the hike.

You also have the option to take a Bolt taxi to the trailhead.

Extended day trips from Tbilisi (over 3 hours travel)

If you have limited time in Georgia and you want to see more of the country on a side trip from the capital, these 4 extended Tbilisi day trips.

12. Vardzia & Rabati Fortress (Akhaltsikhe) – Cave cities and castles
13. Kutaisi & Tskaltubo – UNESCO monasteries and Soviet sanatoriums
14. Chiatura & Katskhi Pillar – Soviet mining town with cable cars
15. Northern Armenia – UNESCO monasteries and another stamp in the passport!

12. Castles and cave cities: Day trip from Tbilisi to Vardzia & Rabati Fortress (Akhaltsikhe)

  • Distance from Tbilisi: 265 km (165 miles)
  • Travel time: 4 hours one-way
  • Recommended transport: GoTrip or day tour
  • Best time to visit: Year-round
  • Highlights: Vardzia cave city, Rabati Fortress, Meskhetian cuisine & culture
  • Read my guides: Tips for Vardzia & city guide for Akhaltsikhe
The grounds of a beautiful castle in Akhaltsikhe, Georgia.
The gorgeous Rabati Castle in Akhaltsikhe, Georgia.

Why visit Vardzia & Akhaltsikhe?

Vardzia is disputably the most iconic and impressive of Georgia’s three ‘popular’ medieval cave monasteries. Comprising thousands of small compartments cut from a sheer stone wall, it’s both an admirable feat of engineering and a completely immersive, almost spiritual experience.

The closest city to Vardzia, Akhaltsikhe, is home to the weird and wonderful Rabati Fortress. These two sites combine to make an ideal day trip for anyone who’s interested in Georgian history and culture.

Be warned that this is a long day trip from Tbilisi that involves a lot of time on the road. It’s preferable to visit this part of the country from Western Georgia unless you’re really pushed for time.

Things to do in & around Akhaltsikhe

Samtskhe-Javaheti is one of the most underrated regions in Georgia with dozens of unique things to see and do. If you’re visiting on a day trip from Tbilisi, you should focus your time and energy on Vardzia.

Excavated from the side of Mount Erusheli in 1185 on the orders of Queen Tamar, the site was originally built to protect a community of 2,000 monks from invading Mongols. It once consisted of more than 6,000 separate apartments in a thirteen-story complex; however, much of the city was later destroyed by an earthquake and looting.

The complex is navigated via a series of marked trails, tunnels and steep staircases.

Vardzia Cave Monastery.

If Vardzia is a snapshot of pure history, Rabati Fortress in Akhaltsikhe, 50km away, is something else entirely. The complex dates back to the 9th century but underwent some heavy handed restorations in 2011. It’s a bit difficult to tell where history stops and creative license begins – but there’s no disputing that the grounds are beautifully kept, and there are numerous towers to climb up for different views.

We visited Rabati in summer (peak season) and were among the few tourists there – the peace and quiet is a welcome alternative to other tourist attractions in Georgia.

The castle is open from 10am daily. If you want to visit the Samtskhe-Javakheti History Museum located inside the castle (highly recommended), it will cost you a bit extra. Note that the museum is closed on Mondays.

Rabati Fortress in Akhaltsikhe, Georgia.
All alone at Rabati Fortress!

If you want a view looking down over the castle, continue up the hill to St. Marine Church. For lunch, I recommend Restaurant Mimino on Akhaltsikhe’s main street (Georgian fare) or Old Bar (for Meskhetian regional food – try the snails and the tatarberaki ‘Georgian pasta’).

Because of its close proximity to the border, Akhaltsikhe has always had a large Armenian population. Gyumri, Armenia’s third-largest city, is just 160km to the south. This part of Georgia also has an interesting Islamic history, with many of the buildings (including mosques and bath houses) in Akhaltsikhe erected when the Ottomans conquered the region in the 1570s. The twin Akhaltsikhe Synagogues adds another layer to the mix.

If you have time, Atskuri, Saro village and Khertvisi Fortresses are also worth stopping at on the way from Vardzia to Akhaltsikhe. A view of the latter is all you need to satiate your appetite for beautiful medieval castles.

View of a green landscape and river valley from the ruins of Khertvisi Fortress in southern Georgia.
Views from Khertvisi Fortress.

→ For more things to do and restaurant recommendations, see my Akhaltsike city guide.

Stone arches and a fortress in the background.
Inside Rabati Fortress.

How to get to Vardzia & Akhaltsikhe from Tbilisi

Visiting Vardzia in a day from Tbilisi using public transport is possible, but you have to time it perfectly. You might (no, will) feel rushed to make the tight connection, and you won’t have time to visit Rabati or Akhaltsikhe either. For this reason, I recommend either GoTrip or a day tour.

If you do decide to do this DIY, the best option is to take one of two direct vans to Vardzia from Tbilisi’s Bus Station Nige (located inside Didube, to the left as you exit the metro). See full details and prices here.

Alternatively, you can take an earlier marshrutka to Akhaltsikhe (every 40 minutes starting from 7.40am; 15 GEL) then connect to the midday marshrutka from Akhaltsikhe bus station to Vardzia. This will get you to the caves at around 2pm, giving you just 60 minutes to walk around before the last van back to Akhaltsikhe leaves. You can buy yourself a bit more time by taking a round-trip taxi from Akhaltsikhe to Vardzia, but in my opinion, this still doesn’t give you enough time to appreciate the caves. See my full Vardzia transport guide for more information.

If your budget allows, a better option is to book a car all the way from Tbilisi with GoTrip. A round-trip transfer to Rabati and Vardzia starts from $100. You’ll have more time and flexibility, and the benefit of a comfortable car (it’s a loooong drive – 10 hours return at a minimum). Plan and book a transfer from Tbilisi to Vardzia here.

Day tours from Tbilisi to Vardzia & Akhaltsikhe

Guided day tour is a good option for this route as both Vardzia and Rabati Castle have a lot of history behind them and not much information onsite.

Top choice: This private day tour with Friendly.ge gives you the option to start bright and early at 8am – highly recommended for a day trip that involves so much driving.

Book direct and use wanderlush at checkout for 10% off

Book through Get Your Guide

Budget-friendly group tour: This full-day trip from Tbilisi starts with Rabati before visiting Vardzia. It includes a stop in Borjomi to stretch your legs as well. Note that entrance fees are not included.

→ Book this Gamarjoba Georgia trip here through Viator

→ Or compare prices here on Get Your Guide

13. UNESCO heritage and Soviet sanatoriums: Day trip from Tbilisi to Kutaisi & Tskaltubo

  • Distance from Tbilisi: 243 km (151 miles)
  • Travel time: 4 hours one-way
  • Recommended transport: GoTrip
  • Best time to visit: Year-round
  • Highlights: UNESCO-Listed Gelati Monastery, Tskaltubo semi-abandoned spa resort, Imeretian cuisine
  • Read my guides: Complete guide to Tskaltubo & best things to do in Kutaisi
A dog sits in front of Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi, Georgia.
Making friends at Bagrati Cathedral.

Why visit Kutaisi & Tskaltubo?

Kutaisi, Georgia’s second-largest city, deserves several days of your Georgia itinerary all to itself. On a long day trip from Tbilisi, you can see some of the highlights – including the UNESCO-Listed Gelati Monastery – enjoy a brisk walk around town, and visit the nearby spa town of Tskaltubo.

This day trip is ideal for anyone who’s on a tight itinerary that only covers Eastern Georgia. Otherwise, I recommend visiting this area separately and spending at least two nights in Kutaisi.

Things to do in Kutaisi & Tskaltubo

Start with the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Gelati Monastery, a masterpiece of stone carving and tile work. Wreathed in foliage, the nearby Motsameta Monastery is every bit as lovely. You can drive between the two or hike to Motsameta through the forest.

Closer to the city, the formerly UNESCO-recognised Bagrati Cathedral is definitely worth a look in as well. Note the addition to the exterior that UNESCO poo pooed, admire the frescoes inside, then wander out back for a stunning view of Kutaisi city.

In town, visit the Kutaisi Synagogues, the city market (one of my absolute favourites in Georgia) and the Colchis Fountain before taking a walk in the park. Duck down to the Rioni River to cross the White Bridge and ride on the Soviet cable car if you have time. If not, head straight to one of Kutaisi’s best restaurants for some Imeretian fare (Sisters and Lilestan are my top choices).

→ For more things to do in Kutaisi, see my complete Kutaisi city guide.

A decorative sculpture on the wall of the main market in Kutaisi, Georgia.
Kutaisi’s main market.

The nearby town of Tskaltubo is one of Georgia’s more unusual dark tourism sites. Home to a slew of Soviet sanatoriums – some abandoned, others repurposed and a few still operating – it’s a dreamland for urbexers. Explore the nooks and crannies of the crumbling architecture and step inside Stalin’s personal bathhouse and former suite. Just take care not to trespass on private property, and be mindful that families live inside some of these buildings.

If you’re travelling by car, stop at the wonderful Lia Deida for a meal and in Ubisa to buy some handmade pottery on your way back to Tbilisi.

→ If you’re thinking of visiting Tskaltubo, don’t miss my mega guide to the 25 best sanatoriums, hotels and bathhouses.

An abandoned sanatorium in Tskaltubo.
The abandoned Sanatorium Imereti in Tskaltubo.

How to get to Kutaisi & Tskaltubo from Tbilisi

There aren’t any organised day trips to Kutaisi and Tskaltubo at present – and with the long distance, it’s not really feasible to travel by van. Thus your best option is to book a car and driver through GoTrip.

This quick Kutaisi/Tskaltubo itinerary that I designed costs from $85 with transfers to and from Tbilisi. Customise your own itinerary and book a driver here.

Other popular spots to visit near Kutaisi are Okatse Canyon, Martvili Canyon and Prometheus Cave. Personally I don’t think it’s worth visiting these spots from Tbilisi – it’s a very long distance to travel, and I don’t think the scenery warrants it. If it’s something you’re interested in, this day trip from Tbilisi to Okatse Canyon and Prometheus Cave includes a dinner stop in Kutaisi for a taste of Imeretian cuisine. Note that the tour price doesn’t include entry to the canyon or cave, which is quite pricey.

Alternatively, a transfer from Tbilisi to Okatse and Prometheus starts from $100 per car when booked through GoTrip. This option is unguided but more flexible, so you can make as many stops along the way as you like. If you leave early enough, you might be able to squeeze in some Kutaisi sightseeing as well. Customise and book a transfer here.

14. Stalin’s rope roads: Day trip from Tbilisi to Chiatura & Katskhi Pillar

  • Distance from Tbilisi: 185 km (115 miles)
  • Travel time: 2.5-3 hours one-way (via the new Sachkhere road)
  • Recommended transport: Day tour or GoTrip
  • Best time to visit: Year-round
  • Highlights: Soviet-era cable cars, Katskhi Monastery
  • Read my guide: Detailed guide to visiting Chiatura
A rust-coloured cablecar and a street art mural in Chiatura, Georgia.
A cablecar station in Chiatura, Georgia.

Why visit Chiatura?

Chiatura is an ex-mining town nestled in Imereti region, around 200km west of Tbilisi. The main attraction here is the network of cable cars that criss-cross the valley floor, apparently built on Stalin’s orders to boost productivity in the manganese mines.

My visit to Chiatura was one of the most memorable parts of my first trip to Georgia. It’s a bit offbeat, but there’s so much interesting history and atmosphere wrapped up in these small ‘forgotten’ towns – it’s a really fascinating side of Georgia. Of course Chiatura isn’t really forgotten at all – people here are incredibly kind and eager to meet tourists. We’re a rare sight in these parts!

Katskhi Pillar near Chiatura is an 8th-century monastery built atop a limestone stylite, Meteora-style. It’s unreal and an incredible sight to behold in the flesh.

The entire area around Chiatura and Katskhi is lush and verdant – a total contrast to Eastern Georgia.

A Soviet-style mural in Chiatura, Georgia.
Soviet retro in Chiatura.

Things to do in & around Chiatura

Fancy a ride in a ‘steel coffin’? Chiatura’s cable cars date back to the 1950s. Up until a few years ago, a dozen or so lines still criss-crossed the river valley, ferrying women with bags of groceries and school children instead of miners.

The old cable cars are now closed and the carriages gone, replaced with a new network of ropeways. However, the station buildings live on as a blast from the Soviet past – awesome concrete creations with cantilevered arms and hammer-and-sickle insignia above the doorways. 

The former Pioneer's Palace in Chiatura, Georgia.
Chiatura Pioneer’s Palace. Unfortunately this monument is now fenced off.

The Pioneer’s Palace is another Soviet gem that will make architecture buffs weak at the knees. Just walking around downtown Chiatura is a treat – the architecture is very retro, and people are very kind and welcoming.

→ For the latest info on the cable cars and more things to do in Chiatura, see my comprehensive Chiatura travel guide.

Katskhi Pillar is located 11km west from Chiatura just off the main road. The sky-high monastery’s sole inhabitant, monk Maxime, recently passed away after spending a quarter of a century atop the pillar in solitude. View the column from afar before following a trail to the base. (Note that visitors aren’t permitted to ascend the ladder to the monastery.)

Katskhi Pillar monastery in Imereti, Georgia.
Katskhi Pillar.

How to get to Chiatura from Tbilisi

The better option for independent travellers is to visit Chiatura and Katskhi on a day trip from Kutaisi.

It’s definitely possible to visit Chiatura and Katskhi in a day from Tbilisi, but you’ll need to join a group tour or book a private transfer. Unfortunately the marshrutka times from Tbilisi to Kutaisi/Zestaphoni then onwards to Chiatura just don’t line up. Thankfully this journey is now much quicker thanks to the new highway through Sachkhere.

If you prefer to go unguided, a transfer from Tbilisi to Chiatura and Katskhi starts from $75 per car when booked through GoTrip. This includes door-to-door transfers from Tbilisi and as many stops along the way as you like. Customise and book a transfer to Chiatura here.

Day tours from Tbilisi to Chiatura

Top choice: I recommend this day trip from Tbilisi to Chiatura and Katskhi because it gives you the option to start early at 8.30am. The guides really bring the history of Chiatura to life. Book direct through the Friendly.ge website and get 10% off your tour when you use the code wanderlush.

Special interest Soviet history tour (including the Stalin Museum): This alternative itinerary is suitable for history buffs and anyone who wants a more in-depth Chiatura experience. The day trip includes plenty of time for urbexing in Chiatura, a visit to Katskhi, plus a stop at the Stalin Museum in Gori along the way.

Book through Viator

Budget-friendly group tour: Gamarjoba Georgia offers small group tours to Chiatura and Katskhi. At the end of the day you visit Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi for sunset. They give you the option to stay overnight or return to Tbilisi.

Book through Viator

15. Another stamp in the passport: Day trip from Tbilisi to Northern Armenia

  • Distance from Tbilisi: 120 km (75 miles)
  • Travel time: 2.5-3 hours one-way + border crossings
  • Recommended transport: Day tour
  • Best time to visit: Year-round
  • Highlights: UNESCO Monasteries, Armenian food, another stamp in the passport!
  • Read my guide: Day trip to Armenia from Tbilisi – is it worth it?
Sanahin Monastery, Armenia.
Sanahin Monastery in Northern Armenia.

Why visit Northern Armenia?

Armenia is more than worthy of a place on your Caucasus itinerary (I recommend at least three days for Yerevan alone). But if you’re eager for another stamp in your passport, you can take a day trip across the border to touch on two of the country’s UNESCO-listed monasteries, Haghpat and Sanahin, which lie just 100km south of Tbilisi.

Debed Canyon is one of the most beautiful parts of the Caucasus and on a day tour from Tbilisi, you’ll be driving through the area.

Old buildings framed by mountains in Alaverdi, Armenia.
Alaverdi and the beautiful Debed Canyon.

How to get to Northern Armenia from Tbilisi

There are regular marshrutka vans between Tbilisi and Yerevan – but given the travel time and border crossing logistics, there’s no way you could do a day trip to Northern Armenia independently. An organised group tour is the best option.

Top choice: I recommend this full-day trip with Gamarjoba Tours to the monasteries and Alaverdi town. I have done this tour personally – read about my experience here. Guides are great, group sizes are small, and it includes a delicious Armenian meal for lunch.

Book this day trip through Viator

Alternative Armenia: It’s also possible to visit Lake Sevan and Dilijan from Tbilisi in a day. Friendly.ge offers three terrific Armenia itineraries plus overnight options. Browse their Armenia offerings here and remember to use the code wanderlush for 10% off.

Before you go, be sure to read up on the border crossings and entry/visa requirements for entering Armenia and Georgia overland.

More Tbilisi day trip ideas

Pankisi Valley, an alternative day trip from Tbilisi

Pankisi Valley is a great alternative day trip from Tbilisi. Home to members of the Kist ethnic minority group, whose ancestors migrated to Georgia from Chechnya in the 18th century, the area is still relatively unknown to tourists. This is partly because of misconceptions surrounding the community.

The Pankisi Valley Tourism and Development Association, a wonderful grassroots tourism initiatve, is working to change perceptions about Pankisi and bring more tourists to the area. Read more about the initiative and my visit to Pankisi here.

Pankisi Gorge is made up of a string of small villages that run along the valley floor. Each one has its own attractions, including mosques, an ethnography museum, and house workshops where you can visit Chechen felt-makers and other artisans. On Fridays, visitors can watch Kist women perform a traditional Sufi ceremony.

New marked trails in the hills above Jokolo Village are perfect for short hikes. For a longer itinerary, visitors can use Pankisi Gorge as a departure point for visiting Tusheti Nature Reserve.

It’s best to explore the area with a local. See the top 20 things to do in Pankisi here. Guides – and perhaps lunch at one of the homestays – can be organised through the Association. Contact Nazy of Nazy’s Guest House well in advance to organise your trip. Tourism is still developing in Pankisi, so watch this space for more developments!

Oni (racha), mountain scenery & Jewish history

Thanks to the new road through Sachkhere in Upper Imereti, it’s now possible to get to the town of Oni in Racha in around 4 hours. This underrated mountain region is incredibly picturesque. Oni is a gorgeous town with fascinating Jewish history and an impressive synagogue. Up the road in Shovi you’ll find ‘Stalin’s dacha’ and a range of abandoned buildings and sanatoriums.

It’s only possible to do this day trip by car with GoTrip (from $95 per car). Make sure you stop off in Sachkhere to see the historic railway station and Modinakhe Fortress.

Juta & Truso, mountain trekking

While there are plenty of hiking routes around Tbilisi (including urban day hikes within the city limits), more avid trekkers can visit the Truso and Juta valleys north of Tbilisi near Kazbegi. This is a long day trip that can only be done with private transport. Hiking is not possible in winter, so it’s only suitable for late spring to early autumn.

See more here in my guide to the best Kazbegi day trips.

Rkoni village, hiking & biking near Tbilisi

Just 76km (47 miles) from the capital, Rkoni village is a great off-the-beaten-track location for dirt biking and hiking around Tbilisi.

This day trip from Tbilisi to Rkoni Village involves less than two hours’ of driving, making it a convenient option if you want to escape the city without travelling too far afield. This is an active tour, combining cycling with ruins and stone Tamara bridges.

I haven’t been to Rkoni yet, but it’s top of my wish list!

Georgia essentials

Here are the websites and services I personally use and recommend for Georgia. Check out my full list of travel resources for more tips.

FLIGHTS: Search for affordable flights to Tbilisi, Batumi or Kutaisi on Skyscanner.

TRAVEL INSURANCE: Insure your trip with HeyMondo, my preferred provider for single-trip and annual travel insurance (get 5% off when you book with my link).

SIM CARD: Magti is my preferred provider, with prices starting from 9 GEL/week for unlimited data. See this guide for all the details about buying a Georgian SIM card.

AIRPORT TRANSFERS: Most flights into Georgia arrive in the early hours. For ease, pre-book a private transfer from Tbilisi Airport to your hotel (from $17) or from Kutaisi Airport to Tbilisi (from $90) with my partners at GoTrip.ge.

ACCOMMODATION: Booking.com is the most widely used platform in Georgia. Use it to find family guesthouses, private apartments, hostels and hotels around the country.

CAR HIRE: Find a great deal on a rental car in Georgia – use the Local Rent website to book through a local agent (prices start from $20/day).

DAY TRIPS & CITY TOURS: Use Viator or Get Your Guide to browse a range of day trips and city tours. For off-beat programs, I recommend Friendly.ge (use the promocode wanderlush for 10% off). For in-depth day trips to Georgia’s wine regions, I recommend Eat This! Tours (use the promo code wanderlush for 5% off).

PRIVATE TRANSFERS: GoTrip.ge is a terrific service for booking a private professional driver and car for the day. Use it for A-to-B transfers, a customised round-trip itinerary, or a multi-day trip. You can stop wherever you like for as long as you like without the fixed price going up.

NEED SOME HELP?: Need feedback on your itinerary or personalised travel tips? I offer a one-on-one consultation call service for Tbilisi and Georgia. More information and bookings here.

What are your favourite day trips from Tbilisi? If you’re planning a trip to Tbilisi in the future, which day trip/s would make your list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Day trips from Tbilisi: Save it


  1. Hi Emily..
    Heading to Georgia in August.. we trying to make the most out of our trip.. would you recommend driving direct from Bakuriani (after a 2 night stay) to Kazbegi (for a 3night stay) or stopping over in tbilisi first to breakup the trip? Have heard it might be a rough drive with altitudes etc.. however if we do the direct trip i’ll get extra time in Kakheti

    1. Hi Mish, I would definitely recommend breaking up the journey, not because of the altitude (I don’t think this is an issue anywhere in Georgia to be honest) but because of the long distance. You definitely don’t want to be driving up to Kazbegi after dark and/or feeling fatigued.

  2. Hello! We’re headed to Georgia next week. Our itinerary includes the mountains – Kazbegi and Tusheti, then Kakheti, and lastly, a few days in Tbilisi. Wish we had longer to explore even more areas! We’re considering taking a day trip to Mtskheta and Uplistsikhe. Though, given our limited time in Tbilisi, we aren’t sure about going all the way to Uplistsikhe. What would you do in your opinion: short trip to Mtskheta only or a longer one to include Uplistsikhe too, given the short time we have in Tbilisi?

  3. thanks for the great writing am heading there next month a d you have given SO much info. brilliant. kris

  4. We’re actually going this April and I’m using your blog to help me plan our trip! I’m so glad I found you 🙂 Is April a good time for DG or would it be rainy?… We’re crossing the border that day from Sheki and I would like to stop by either Sighnaghi or DG on the way to Tbilisi. No, we’re not wine drinkers but might choose a “pretty village feel” over “a lot of walking” 😉 But I’m only judging from what I can see in photos …and yes, I plan to do Uplistikhe another day.

  5. Hi Emily, I can only make two day trips from Tbilisi with my limited schedule. I’ve decided one day would be for the combined Mtskheta and Uplistsikhe – Gori. For the second day, I can’t decide between David Gareja and Sighnaghi. Which one do you think I should do?

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Cathy!

      What time of year are you travelling? DG is incredible, but it involves walking so if it’s going to be rainy or very dry, Sighnaghi might be a better choice. If the weather is nice, though, I’d choose DG. Unless of course you are particularly interested in wine. Are you also planning to go to Uplistsikhe?

      I hope this helps! Enjoy!

  6. Hi Emily,
    I am visiting Tbilisi in February 2019 with my husband. I’m most certainly going on the day trip to Kazbegi and Gudauri ski region.
    The hotel is so inviting…must have lunch there.Planning to book a private taxi. Waiting to read more about your travels.

    1. Hi Aashiya! Sounds like a wonderful trip you have planned. I loved Kazbegi, and lunch at Rooms was definitely a highlight. Great choice booking the private taxi, that will allow you to make the most of the day.

      Happy travels, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s anything I might be able to help you with!

  7. Hi Emily , at this moment I’m in Georgia travelling alone and I closely followed your directions . And I’m must say I’m not disappointed a single time , it’s pretty informative and helpful . Thank you for such a great post ,it really makes travelling Georgia much better without any need of a guide or agency .

    1. Hi Smita, I’m really so glad to hear that. I hope you’re enjoying Georgia as much as I did! Please don’t hesitate to reach out here or via email if there’s anything specific I might be able to help with.

      Safe and happy travels!

  8. So many interesting sights to choose from! I think Mtskheta would be my first choice – gorgeous, easy to get to, and historically important. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  9. wow I actually had no idea Georgia is so beautiful. I remember I had one friend from there and every time someone asked her where she’s from she says ” I am from Georgia but not that one in America”. I feel like the Georgia you showing now here is still a little bit of hidden gem of the world. But wow I cant stop looking at your stunning photos! Those trips from Tbilisi seems so wonderful! Especially to Mtskheta and Kazbegi!

    1. Ah yes, people often say Georgia (the country) to avoid confusion. It certainly is a gem—and getting more and more popular. I hope you get to visit one day!

  10. This was amazing! Its my first time hearing about Tbilisi. OMG! Your photos are great I am encourage to visit this. saving this for future use. thanks for sharing!

  11. Wow that architecture and landscape is insane. I had no idea Georgia looked anything like this. I cant imagine that Stalin museum. It sounds heartbreaking.

  12. I absolutely love the Georgia’s semi-desert landscape. Combined with so much history and wineries I believe it’s time I finally visit 🙂 Amazing photos!

  13. Georgia is one of those countries I never thought much about visiting until after I associated with more travelers. Now? I get more curious with each new post. Your photos are beautiful–enjoyed the day trip to David Gareja

  14. I can’t believe I knew so little about Georgia and just what a huge variety of things there are to see within reach of Tbilisi. I would LOVE to visit Gori. I am such a dark tourist and the Stalin Museum sound just up my street, plus slightly dangerous cave exploring…perfect day trip. Plus, the green hills of the wine country sound delightful…I mean it’s wine!

  15. To be honest Georgia has never been on my bucket list but your post and photos have made me reconsider.

  16. A few weeks ago, my partner and I were discussing if we were to go to Georgia. We were unsure what to do as we’re both haven’t been. And it’s also one of the few countries where I don’t need a visa. ( haha! ) Upon reading your blog post, now I’ll have enough information to tell my partner about this place. The landscape and sceneries are stunning. We’d love to visit the cave if ever, and not missing out the wineries and cafes!

  17. I read many articles and heard so many people talk about Georgia – this year alone! Sounds like somewhere I really should visit. And Uplistsikhe looks amazing!! thanks for sharing!

  18. Georgia is my favorite place as it has lots of nature, ancient historic sites and lovable people. I think more people should know about this hidden gem in Caucasus mountains.

  19. Georgia seems like one of those places that is still not that popular on the tourist front but has so many interesting things to see. Great post!

    1. Thanks, Kelly! Georgia is hugely popular among tourists from Eastern Europe, the Middle East… And growing more and more popular among tourists from the West, too. It’s a very special place!

  20. What a great post! I would love to go to Georgia and these trips seem awesome. Such great photography and very clear instructions! Would be helpful!

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