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Architecture City Tour
At the crossroads between Europe and Asia within close proximity to the lucrative Silk Road, Georgia’s advantageous position has not only defined much of its turbulent past, but it has created a distinct cultural blend that has influenced its religion, language, arts, cuisine and, of course, its architecture. Tbilisi, in particular, has a hodgepodge of different styles from medieval to neoclassical, beaux arts, art nouveau, stalinist and modern. To get your head around it, a meander through the city with an architecture expert is just the ticket. Make sure to ask for Alex, the chief guide at Adjara Hospitality Group.
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Tour Mound Udzo
For a day out, take a leisurely hike up the nearby Mount Udzo. Head through the forest to the ruins of Kojori Fortress, which dates from the 11th century and offers commanding views of the whole region. Start at Turtle Lake and make sure to stop off at the Udzo Monastery to savour the peaceful vistas and tumbledown hills below. An easy 12km trek that should take about five hours, if you leave early enough you’ll be back in time for a well-deserved lunch.
Escape to Rooms Kazbegi
Georgia nails it in the scenery stakes: rolling vineyard-swathed hills and the towering snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus Range. If you have time to venture beyond the city, the best place to wallow in that fresh mountain air is Kazbegi – or Stepantsminda, as it’s now known – about three hours north of Tbilisi. Here, stay at the original Rooms hotel and spend your days biking or hiking before making your way back to sip on a glass of red wine against dramatic, rugged views.
- +99 532 271 0099
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Take the cable car
The terrain of Tbilisi is historical, magical and best admired from above, but if you’re not booking a helicopter through Stamba Hotel (or similar), the city’s cable car is a pretty great (and more wallet friendly) alternative. Although it’s only a short trip, the cable car takes you from the Rike Park, over Mtkvari River and the Old Town, before ascending to Narikala Fortress. If it’s uninterrupted views of the city that you’re after, this won’t disappoint. At the top, pay a visit to the botanical gardens for a momentary escape from the capital. Here you can also get up close and personal with Kartlis Deda, or Mother Georgia, who stands proudly on top of Soloki hill. The colossal statue stands as a classic metaphor for the Georgian character. With a glass of wine and sword in hand; our kind of lady.
A distinct part of Tbilisi’s landscape, the dome-shaped sulphur baths in the city’s ancient Abanotubani district are a great addition to any itinerary. The baths, with their distinct eggy odour, are believed to have healing powers – not least for brushing away the cobwebs after too many shots of homemade chacha the night before. For a little extra luxury, book one of their beautifully refurbished marble-tiled baths at one of the many bath houses across the city and soak up the healing sulphur in private. For an Instagrammable experience, head to Orbeliani Bath House where a colourfully-tiled exterior, houses newly restored private rooms.
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Take a trip to Kazbegi
Any trip to Tbilisi should include a detour to Kazbegi, a quaint town which sits close to the Russian border. Take the local shuttle or book a taxi, and be sure to keep an eye out of the window on your way; an endless wilderness is punctuated by snow-capped peaks providing shelter to tiny churches and houses scattered across the landscape. While you can experience the town on a day trip, it’s worth an overnight stay – Rooms have another hotel here, and it’s excellent.
Once you arrive there’s plenty to explore. If you’re up to it, hike to Gergeti Trinity Church, which has an exterior is akin to the cover image of a fairytale. The hike takes about two hours from the centre of town or alternatively you can rent a horse (not for the faint hearted) or take a taxi. For those interested in the country’s history (we recommend reading up a bit before travelling), the crescent-shaped Georgian and Soviet Russia Friendship Monument erected in 1983 marks a crucial moment in time and has since been transformed into a colourful masterpiece. Once at its apex you’ll also take in some incredible views of the surrounding Devil’s Valley. If you visit Kazbegi in winter, skiing is on the cards.
Kolchos Flower Market
Like any flower market, it’s a case of the earlier the better at Kolchos. A long-standing tradition in what used to be Kolchos Square, early mornings see flower vendors setting up their booths and transforming the square into a lush garden of fresh-cut flowers, potted plants and saplings – as you’d expect, the aroma is heavenly. If you’re only in Tbilisi for a short while, it’s unlikely you’ll be buying any houseplants but a morning spent browsing the bustling stalls among locals is still worth the early wake-up call.
Dry Bridge Market
A sprawling labyrinth of junk and treasure, Day Bridge Market opens everyday from 10am until 7pm. Our advice: spend all day sifting through the former in search of the latter. You’ll find the market in full swing around the afternoon and much busier on the weekends, but part of the fun is the atmosphere so don’t be put off by a crowd. From people selling their possessions for a little cash to others who use the market as their main business, you’ll find everything and anything here; it’s a haphazard collection of old toothbrushes, ceramic dishes and antique jewellery, tableware and accordions. There’s even a real-estate section, signalled by property photos strung up on clothing lines. For history buffs, you’ll find soviet paraphernalia like pistols and binoculars galore.
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