Arrive Tbilisi, Georgia
Arrive at the Georgian capital, and this evening, join your Tour Director and fellow guests for cocktails.
Tbilisi is a surprising blend of cultures. Your adventure starts with a walk through the cobbled streets of the atmospheric Old Town. Visit the 12th-century Metekhi Church and a 19th-century Jewish synagogue. Admire the old Georgian houses with their distinctive wooden, curved balconies and the Sioni Cathedral. See the oldest surviving church in Tbilisi before getting a bird’s-eye view of the city from the Narikala fortress, which can be accessed by foot or cable car. On the way back down, stop at the Sulfur Baths and the National Museum of Fine Arts. Tonight is a chance to savor some of Georgia’s finest cuisine at a favorite traditional restaurant.
Start the day at the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia with its extraordinary collection of gold filigree work. After lunch, enjoy one of these Design Your Day® activities:
An artisan visit to a local workshop, where you learn about the ancient technique of cloisonné, a decorative enamelwork tradition over 1,200 years old.
Join an architectural expert for an exciting walking tour of a local Tbilisi neighborhood.
Visit a bathhouse for a relaxing soak and scrub, followed by hot tea.
After, enjoy free time at leisure.
Explore the most picturesque part of Georgia — Kakheti — that borders the Greater Caucasus range. This area is the birthplace of viticulture and winemaking. Admire the profusion of vineyards and churches as you drive through. Stop at the ninth-century Bodbe Monastery nunnery before arriving at the pretty, fortified town of Sighnaghi, famous for its wine and carpet making. Meander through the narrow streets before lunch with a local family serving up traditional dishes from the region with matching wines. Before returning to Tbilisi, visit the grand Tsinandali estate, once home to the noble Chavchavadze family and noted for its historic winery.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mtskheta is your first stop today. Georgia’s cultural and religious center, it is also one of the country’s oldest towns. Visit the early medieval Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. Heading along the Georgian Military Highway, take in the Ananuri architectural complex, with churches and towers dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Arrive at the sleepy town of Kazbegi later this afternoon, where views of Mount Kazbek are breathtaking — especially from your hotel room.
This morning, head for the beautifully situated 14th-century Gergeti Holy Trinity Church, perched high atop a hill overlooking the town and the surrounding mountain scenery. Get up close by 4x4 or, for the more energetic, on foot. Enjoy more traditional Georgian hospitality today over lunch with one of the local families. This afternoon, enjoy the stylish Nordic atmosphere of the hotel before sundowners on the terrace.
KAZBEGI, GORI & TBILISI
Today’s adventure is to the fertile Kartli province. Visit the Ananuri architectural complex in the morning, and marvel at its centuries-old castles and churches, bordered by an expansive crenelated wall. For lunch today, enjoy traditional dishes paired with local wine. In the afternoon, stop in Gori, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, where a controversial museum traces his life.
TBILISI & SADAKHLO, ARMENIA
This morning, bid farewell to Georgia as you cross into Armenia at the Sadakhlo border. After a short drive, arrive at Akhtala fortress and church. After lunch, visit the beautiful Haghpat monastic complex, representative of Armenia’s finest religious architectural tradition with a unique style blending elements of Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture and the traditional vernacular of the Caucasus region. Haghpat Monastery is justifiably a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Drive to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.
Travel today to Lake Sevan, the largest body of water in Armenia and the Caucasus region, where a boat trip is included. The capital city stretches along the banks of the River Hrazdan under the wistful gaze of Mount Ararat.
Your introduction to the capital begins with a guided tour of the city, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited metropolises. See the beautiful government buildings, the Central Post Office and banks. Visit the State History Museum as well as the Cafesjian Center for the Arts, which exhibits collections of Armenian and international contemporary artworks. Later, visit the somber Genocide Museum and Memorial. Also in the afternoon, discover why Armenian brandy is world famous at a VIP tasting specially organized for you at the Yerevan Brandy Factory.
YEREVAN, GEGHARD & GARNI
Your morning begins with a spiritual vocal performance in the acoustic hall of the ancient Geghard Monastery. Afterward, pay a visit to the pagan Temple of Garni, which dates to the Hellenistic Era. Built around AD 77, it is the only Greco-Roman colonnaded building in the country. Next, take part in a centuries-old Armenian cultural tradition at a hands-on lavash-making ceremony followed by lunch in a local home. There is also time this afternoon to explore the stalls at the Vernissage flea market, a short walk from the hotel.
YEREVAN, ETCHMIADZIN & ZVARTNOTS
This morning, visit the ruins of the seventh-century Zvartnots Cathedral. Later, stop by Etchmiadzin Cathedral. This ancient cathedral serves as the headquarters for the Armenian Orthodox Church. Explore the museum, and then enjoy lunch at the family-owned Megerian Carpet Armenia’s factory and museum. Get comfortable as you admire exquisite handmade carpets before a traditional Armenian lunch in a rustic and atmospheric restaurant. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure. Tonight, celebrate the end of your journey through the Caucasus with a farewell dinner.
Transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
Program Note: This journey includes travel to high altitudes and active elements such as walking over steep, uneven terrain and visits to sites with limited accessibility for travellers with mobility issues. Accommodations in this emerging destination are the best available in each area.