As a person who already knows something about the Georgian tourism, I can tell you for sure that most people usually travel here for our great food, for affordable natural wine accompanied by Borjomi water afterwards, for this weird mixture of old and new, and for the Black Sea. Then, maybe, there are mountains and couple of important churches in the list.
To me, it is SO SAD! Without a doubt: milky cheeses, variety of fruits and herbs, flavorous spices and fresh hot khachapuri can make you hungry even as you read about them. Seaside is also good, especially in Gonio and Kvariati, and a trip to the foot of mount Kazbegi is a trip to beauty and greatness. But it not everything, not at all! Sometimes I am about to cry, grab people and bring them to some other places.
If you are reading this post, then you are virtually grabbed by me, and we are already on our way! Let’s start with Tbilisi.
1. Bike rental and bath house at Lisi Lake
I wonder how many guests of Tbilisi are heading to Lisi at all. I suppose it’s rather locals who go there now – and that’s wrong, because the recreation zone of Lisi is becoming better and better! You can walk, chill on a small beach or in a lounge, rent a bike and explore the area. If you are there on one of summer weekends, you might be lucky to attend an electronic set Mzesumira Ezo. And yes, it’s definitely worth it to go to a new sulfur bath house! A room for 4 people costs 56 GEL ($24), for 8 people – 80 or 97 GEL.
2. Ethnographic Museum and Kus Tba (Turtle Lake)
For some people going to a museum sounds boring. What about an open air museum, where you can just walk, enjoy the weather and take a look at life of Georgians from different regions, as it used to look like before? You can also go further uphill (on foot or with a taxi) walk around the lake, stay at the beach or have a lunch or a coffee in one of the cafes. Now Kus Tba became favourite spot for joggers of Tbilisi, so you can join them too.
On the way to Kus Tba, there is Vitamin Club, also a place to stay for the whole day and the whole night, if you are into electronic music and open air.
3. Sulfur baths of the Old Town
Everyone who knows about Tbilisi, also knows that it was founded on the sulfur springs. But not everyone has been to sulfur baths! Meanwhile, this smelly water influences the skin and general well-being pretty good. I am going there at least once per month, because I do like the effect.
And yes, if your night out caused some poor morning, you may add a visit to the baths to drinking of Borjomi, and you’ll recover pretty soon!
4. Water Park
There are two water parks in Tbilisi: Europa Park and Gino Paradise. Both of them are not central, but if you want to escape out of tiny streets and ancient walls and swim, you should definitely go there. I’ve been to Gino only, so my word is for this water park. Several pools and slides, spa, cafes, rope complex and volleyball pitch… Sounds good, huh?
My advice: if taxi drivers try to convince you that it costs more that 13 GEL to go there from city center, they are wrong. From Vake or Saburtalo districts it is no more than 10 GEL.
5. Enduro and Safari
I’ve written a post about this recently, but I can’t stop being excited: in Rustavi there is a company KTM Georgia, which organizes off road trips with motorbikes, jeeps or buggies to the steppes, mountains and the seaside of Georgia. Read, look and try it! The company’s director, Slava, has genuinely German approach to his business: everything is organized really thoroughly. And you can be sure you’ll see Georgia from a totally different angle!
Photo: Spitfire Media
6. Rafting at Aragvi River
Another kind of active leisure, which basically made my June: an opportunity to move, see beautiful places and interact with mother nature! And another great example of the German approach to a touristic project: the founder of Aragvi Adventure Center, a man I can call a friend, has lived in Germany for a long time, and has learned a lot. The base camp, equipment, organization of rafting, cycling tours and cross Georgian tours are of the best quality.
Rafting itself goes in different ways: depends on the skill of the participants. Can be extreme, can be just fun. For those who want more action, there are off road bikes, for lazy or tired ones – hammocks and food.
7. Paragliding in Gudauri
I was flying this winter in Gudauri, and in summer it is also possible in Kazbegi. To feel like an eagle observing mountains and valleys, you should contact those guys: FlyCaucasus and Paragliding Federation of Georgia. Better to call them in advance!
8. Boat trip in Martvili Canyon
Can’t stop repeating: Martvili is one of my favourite spots in Georgia! Rocks and cliffs, clear water, small waterfalls, grottos… Floating there, in the epicenter of this beauty, enjoying cool air and water, making a swimming stop – loved it so much!
9. A trip to depths of Georgia
There are at least two well maintained caves in Georgia, where you can walk inside the dry riverbed of an underground river, take a look at impressive stalactites and stalagmites, breathe the air rich with mineral elements… In Sataplia cave you can also see the preserved footprints of real dinosaurs, and in Prometheus cave there is a chance to undertake a boat trip along the underground lake and even get married in one of the halls!
10. Horseback riding
It is quite easy in Georgia. Not that I would advise you to take a first, best horse in any random village and gallop towards the horizon, but in general, renting a horse is not a big deal. In Tbilisi you can do it at Lisi Hippodrome. In mountainous regions like Kazbegi you should ask local guides – usually there are “Horse Rental” shields, or people offer it themselves.
I tried it in Ushguli, the highest settlement in Europe, and it was great: there are places which cannot be reaches with a car or on foot, but a horse can do it. The price was around 20-25 GEL ($8-10) for three hours… Well, it really depends on your negotiation skills!
Of course it is not the full list of activities which can be a great alternative to a beach vacation.