- Lifestyle & Sports
- 24 Feb 20
Not just Ireland’s perennial soccer nemesis, Georgia also boasts gorgeous scenery, great historical attractions and vibrant nightlife.
Where is it?
Georgia lies at the base of the Caucasus mountains. Situated between Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Black Sea, it’s nestled between Europe and Asia. As a result, it’s a compelling mix of cultures.
How do I get there?
Getting to Georgia takes a while. It’s a long flight with a layover and a total travel time of about 10 hours. Turkish Airlines fly there with a break in Istanbul, and Lufthansa takes a pitstop in Munich, before you finally land in the capital Tbilisi. The plane tickets might be your biggest investment on this trip, with the cheapest ones costing around €300.
How do I get around?
Georgia has invested a lot in public transport and boasts great railways that will get you from hub to hub. Driving in Georgia is only for the brave of heart! Stay away from the potholes and keep one hand on the horn. Luckily, taxis are cheap and minibuses are the main mode of transportation. For a real taste of the country, it’s best to hire a 4x4 and head out exploring.
What language do they speak?
Georgian and Russian. English isn’t an option for anyone above the age of 30, but luckily extravagant hand gestures will get you pretty far. Bear in mind that Georgia has its own unique alphabet consisting of strange scribbles, so you might have a difficult time figuring it out!
Why should I go?
The number of European tourists is on the rise, but it’s been the vacation destination for its neighbours for years. Recently, Georgia has become a popular choice for young backpackers, who likes its off-the-beaten track vibe. The country might be the most unique way to experience an authentic taste of the Soviet era, with a rich history and culture. It offers everything, from grand museums to snowy mountains and a Saint Tropez seaside. Another big plus is the price tag – Georgia won’t quickly burn a hole in your pocket.
What are the most touristy things to do?
Most tourists reside in the capital Tbilisi, at the hotspot coastal city Batumi or in the mountains. Georgia offers such a wide variety of tourist attractions that it might just be the perfect tourist destination. If dark tourism is your thing, you can visit a museum dedicated to Joseph Stalin in his hometown. The official brochures, meanwhile, will guide you towards the ancient monasteries on the Unesco World Heritage list.
What is the food like?
Georgia is the proud inventor of wine – and not a meal goes by without a glass! The wine itself has a peculiar flavour that might leave you dizzy in the head after a sample. Be warned: the Georgians will keep pouring as long as you keep drinking. Walnuts are also a staple, with street vendors dangling them on wax-covered string.
You’ll find the best restaurants in Tblisi, where you can get a full course meal for about €10. Of all the traditional Georgian restaurants, Kakhelebi – just outside the city centre – is a must. There you can find delicious khinkali, which are little soup dumplings with a wide range of different fillings.
Where should I go at night?
Nocturnal Tblisi has a significantly different vibe – it buzzes with young people and vibrant nightlife. There’s a big clubbing scene and an array of great bars to explore. One highlight is Drunk Owl, in the older part of the city, boasting live performances and a wide choice of cocktails. Warszawa offers vodka shots for less than a euro, while there’s also chill atmospheric spots like Black Dog and a smattering of Irish bars.
Where can I stay?
There’s a good range of hotels in Tbilisi to suit all budgets, with the more luxurious ones costing as little as €50 a night. Georgia has also taken advantage of the surge in young travellers by offering quirky Airbnb options. For example, there’s Fabrika Hostel, a former sewing factory filled with pop-up shops, restaurants and start-ups. And for something different, try one of the many Georgian guesthouses on offer.
When should I go?
Since the summer months are scorching hot, the best time to visit is early spring or autumn. There’s a still a nice temperature on the coast, offset by the snow-covered mountains. If you prefer chilly weather, give Georgia a visit in the winter. It never drops below zero in main parts of the land, and you’ll get by with a scarf and a hot coffee. If you do want to get a suntan, starting from June, the temperatures reach around 30 degrees, going up to the 40s. It’s the ideal time to go wandering in the mountains, or take a dip in the Black Sea.
Don’t be afraid of trekking outside the city, with places such as Kutaisi, Chiatura and Svaneti definitely worth a visit. So rare are tourists here, you might just find yourself invited to a ‘Supra’ – a big party filled with third-removed cousins and loads of wine.
Best Time to Go:
It’s best to avoid the height of summer, but if you do go – try and find some snow.
Throughout the year, Georgia ranges in temperature from 0 to 30 degrees; in particular, summer can be sweltering. Be sure to check what regions you’ll be visiting beforehand
Top Five Things to Do:
• Catch a puppet show in the old Tbilisi centre
• Grab a traditional bite to eat and give the wine a try
• Hike around the mountains of Mestia
• Go swimming in the Black Sea
• Visit the beautifully painted hilltop monasteries
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