The best national parks in Georgia the country for hiking, mountain landscapes, off-road adventures, and wild camping.
About the author: Originally from the UK, Rebecca Blackmore has lived in Georgia with her partner since September 2020. She loves pub quizzes, superhero movies, and documenting her travels through photography and writing.
Due to its geographic location and variety of landscapes, Georgia is one of the most ecologically diverse countries in the world. With 12 different climatic zones ranging from subtropical to alpine, the country is a paradise for flora and fauna – including many species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
The history of protected landscapes in Georgia dates back to the Russian Empire when the Lagodekhi region was designated a strict nature reserve in 1912. There are now 10 national parks and many more protected areas and managed reserves around the country.
Whether you’re interested in alpine hiking, birdwatching or off-roading through semi-desert landscapes, there is something for everyone. Here are 9 spectacular protected areas and national parks in Georgia to add to your travel itinerary.
Related: The best day hikes in & around Tbilisi.
9 of the best national parks in Georgia
1. Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park
Established in 1995, Borjomi-Kharagauli is one of the largest national parks in Georgia, covering 1.5% of the country’s total territory. The park has quintessential scenery (alpine forests and beautiful meadows) and several hiking trails ranging from half-day to multi-day excursions. The easiest hike is the 3km Information Trail which is well signposted and takes around 90 minutes. It is also possible to explore the park by bicycle or on horseback.
The town of Borjomi is famous for its mineral water, and visitors can sample it straight from the source in the lovely central park. Be warned, it has a very unique flavour and it comes out of the spring warm! There are open-air thermal baths inside the park and a cable car.
Good public transport connections and an abundance of accommodations and amenities makes Borjomi National Park very easy to visit from Tbilisi.
The park is open year-round and each season has something special to offer. Visit in May and June to see the spectacular Caucasian Rhododendrons bloom, or during winter (December-February) for an unforgettable snowshoe adventure.
2. Mtirala National Park
Located on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, a short drive from Batumi, Mtirala was designated a national park in 2007. In 2021 it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands, a habitat unique to Georgia.
There are two hiking trails in Mtirala, the 7km Tsablnari Trail (ideal for a day trip from Batumi) and the two-day Tsitskaro Trail. In addition to hiking, visitors can enjoy the 220m zipline and the rope park, which has routes designed for both adults and children.
Mtirala is accessible year-round but spring and autumn are the best times of year to visit.
3. Algeti & Trialeti National Parks in Georgia
Originally protected in 1965, Algeti was made a national park in 2007. The park is located in Kvemo Kartli region and can be reached in around an hour from Tbilisi, making it an ideal destination for an adventurous day trip from the capital.
There is one trail that visitors can hike independently called Samepo Ridge. The 16km hike takes around seven hours and offers incredible views of the park and the opportunity to see wildlife such as rabbits, deer and birds.
Algeti park also has a rope park for adults and children. In under an hour’s drive from Algeti, you can also visit Kldekari Fortress and Dashbashi Canyon. Trialeti Planned National Park borders on Algeti to the north and east and offers more hiking opportunities, including the popular trail to Birtvisi Canyon and Fortress.
Algeti is open year-round but the best time to visit is May-September when the weather is warm.
4. Tusheti Protected Areas
Established in 2003, the Tusheti Protected Areas contain Tusheti National Park, Tusheti Strict Nature Reserve, and Tusheti Protected Landscape. One of the most remote destinations in Georgia, Tusheti can only be reached by traversing the 2850m high Abano pass, a high-altitude mountain road. As a result, it was visited by just 15,000 tourists in 2018.
There are several hiking trails in Tusheti ranging from one-day to six-day excursions. Detailed information can be found here. Once in Tusheti, you can arrange tours and rent equipment from the Visitor’s Centre in Omalo.
Tusheti is a culturally unique area of Georgia and it’s worth doing a little research before you visit. This excellent guide provides information on the history and customs of the Tush people.
Tusheti is inaccessible for most of the year because the road is closed due to snow. The pass is usually open from late May until mid-October, but it’s best to visit during the high season (July-September) when all facilities are open. For safety reasons, you should go with an experienced driver who knows the roads and weather conditions well.
Tusheti can also be reached on horseback from Pankisi Valley.
5. Vashlovani National Park
One of the more unusual national parks in Georgia, Vashlovani was first protected in 1935 and consists of a nature reserve, a national park, and three natural monuments – Eagle Gorge, Takhti-Tepa Mud Volcanoes, and Kaklisyure Alazani floodplain forest.
There are seven short hiking routes in the park, but a 4×4 vehicle is required to travel between the starting points. If you don’t want to hire a car, jeep tours can be arranged through the visitors centre or several private operators. Read a detailed guide to visiting the park here.
The best time to visit Vashlovani is spring and autumn. Summer can be unbearably hot in the semi-desert climate and, due to the nature of the terrain in Vashlovani, rainfall will make driving almost impossible. You should plan to spend several days in the area in case of bad weather.
6. Javakheti Protected Areas
Established in 2011, the Javakheti Protected Areas cover 14,200 hectares and encompass Javakheti National Park, Kartsakhi Managed Reserve, Sulda Managed Reserve, Khanchali Managed Reserve, Bugdasheni Managed Reserve, and Madatapa Managed Reserve. The dry, woodless area contains many extinct volcanoes and lakes, including the largest in Georgia, Lake Paravani.
There are several hiking routes within the protected areas, ranging from easy to difficult. You can get more information from the Agency of Protected Areas. Like Vashlovani, Javakheti is a large park and a vehicle is necessary to fully explore the area.
As well as hiking, there are opportunities for cycling, fly-fishing, and birdwatching. The park is home to 140 species of birds and is the only place in Georgia where it is possible to see wild flamingos.
The best time to visit Javakheti is in spring, summer or autumn. It is possible to visit Javakheti in winter, but it is one of the coldest places in Georgia! Snowshoe trails are open and the lakes freeze over. If you don’t mind the cold, it’s an incredible experience.
7. Kobuleti Protected Areas
Located 28km from Batumi, Kobuleti was given protected status in 1998 in recognition of its unique habitat, the Ispani Sphagnum Peatlands. The sphagnum dome found in Kobuleti is one of the best examples of this phenomenon in the world and is the reason the area is on the RAMSAR Convention List of Wetlands of International Importance.
As a managed reserve, Kobuleti has no hiking trails as such, instead attracting birdwatchers and ecologists. Raised boardwalks linking wooden viewing platforms allow visitors to get a glimpse of the marshes. It is possible to walk on the sphagnum moss, but you must rent special skis from the administration building.
The best time to visit is during spring or autumn to observe the migrating birds.
8. Machakhela National Park
Located in Adjara region just 30km from Batumi, Machakhela National Park was established in 2013 to protect the precious Colchic forests.
There are three hikes within the national park; more information can be found here. Getting around Machakhela is much easier with your own car or as part of an organised tour. If you are feeling adventurous, you can take a tour of Machakhela by moped.
There is a rich history of gunsmithing in Machakhela and it is possible to visit a local workshop to see the traditional method of gun production. There is also an ethnographic museum housed inside a beautiful wooden mosque and two fortresses, Gvara and Chkhutuneti, in the park.
The best time to visit Machakhela is May-June or September-October. Try to avoid the summer months as it gets extremely hot and humid. Cabin accommodations and restaurants can be found in the park’s villages.
9. Lagodekhi Protected Areas
The oldest nature reserve in Georgia, Lagodekhi was first protected in 1912. Located deep in Kakheti region close to the borders with Azerbaijan and Daghestan, it’s a beautiful area of mountains and lakes, and is considered one of the most biodiverse places in Georgia.
There are five excellent trails in the park, ranging from a 600m Nature Interpretation Path to the three-day Black Rock Trail, which is ideal for horse riding. Though most of the trails are relatively short, they are steep and could be challenging for less experienced hikers. If you’re not excited about hiking or horse riding, I’d suggest giving this one a miss as there’s very little else to do.
Lagodekhi can be accessed between May and October but is best experienced in June-September when the weather is warmer. The steep trails can be dangerous in wet weather so don’t attempt the climb if the weather is bad.