david gareja day trip tbilisi

Best (short) Day Trips from Tbilisi

Tbilisi is fun and there are a lot of things to do in the capital. But it is also a good starting point to do on a day trip or half day trip adventure. There are some really cool out-of-town destinations which can be traveled easily within one day by car, motorbike or organized mini-bus tours. Here are some Tbilisi day trip ideas for your short Tbilisi escape.

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Tbilisi to Mtskheta, Gori and Uplistsikhe

If you don’t have a lot of time in Georgia (e.g. if you are just on a 7 day or 10 day itinerary) we suggest to do a “power day” and visit 3 places in one day. That sounds a lot but it is totally doable, because the distances are not too far away.

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

Mtskheta

Your first stop will be Mtskheta, which is just 20 kilometers north of Tbilisi. Historically it is one of the most important cities in Georgia as Mtskheta was the exact place where Christianity was firstly announced as an official religion in Georgia. So there are some essential and historically significant cathedrals dating back to the 6th and 10th centuries. In the center of this small town you will find the big Svetitskhoveli Cathedral that has a history of its creator with the family name of Arsukidze. His name is engraved on the east facade of the temple, below the middle arch, in medallions on two stones, between which is the third stone where is a relief image of the creator’s hand with a carpenter’s square. The inscription is as follows: “The hand of the slave Arsukidze.” The cathedral, considering its illustrious architecture is listed among UNESCO World Heritage.

Around Mtskheta are some monasteries which are worth visiting, for example the famous Javri Monastery from where you have great look over the city and the river. In our blog post Monastery Hopping in Mtskheta you can read more about this monasteries and how to get there.

Gori

The next stop is the capital of Shida Kartli – Gori, which is 64 km away, and heading from Mtskheta a 55-minute ride with a car or motorbike. The city is known for being the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. Hence, there is the dictator’s museum. Mainly there are Russian and Georgian writings, but you can ask for English and German-speaking guides.

Uplistsikhe

The next stop is the capital of Shida Kartli – Gori, which is 64 km away, and heading from Mtskheta a 55-minute ride with a car or motorbike. The city is known for being the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. Hence, there is the dictator’s museum. Mainly there are Russian and Georgian writings, but you can ask for English and German-speaking guides.

Uplistsikhe, located 10 km east of Gori, is known as a cave town and a highlight to see on your Georgia travel itinerary. The town name in literal translation means “ the lord’s fortress”. Various constructions date back from the Early Iron Age to Late Middle Ages. It is considered to be one of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia.

Tbilisi Day Trip to Sighnaghi

Sighnaghi is a tiny city in Kakheti wine region and a perfect choice for a one-day trip. It’s the smallest city in Georgia. Late in the twentieth century, in the period of the Soviet Union, the town was considered to be an agricultural center. At the present time, it is considered to be the most romantic tourist destination in Georgia. So it’s a must-go place for couple travelers. Sighnaghi is also the hometown of the Georgian primitivist painter Niko Pirosmani, also known as Nikala. He is often compared with Pablo Picasso with his manner and genre of painting. As a matter of fact, Picasso even painted a portrait of Pirosmani after seeing Georgian artist’s artworks. Depending on that fact one of the must-see places in town is the “Sighnaghi National Museum”  where your can get a close look at the famous paintings of Nikala, Elene Akhvlediani, and Lado Gudiashvili as well as some contemporary artists.

free wine tasting tbilisi

If you are more interested in wine than in art you will love Sighnagi as well. located in the most important wine region of Georgia you can visit many wineries and do a wine tasting.

In the streets of the city, you can meet with local folk handicrafts, who sell traditional felt shoes and knitted socks.

Another fun activity in the city of love is climbing up and down the hills and following the eighteenth-century fortress wall till the end where a beautiful sight unfolds. It is also called The big wall of Sighnaghi.

Fun Fact

Besides Las Vegas, Sighnaghi is the second place in the world where couples can get married 24/7. Considering the above mentioned, foreigners will get married in two languages in Georgian with English translation. 

Half-day trip Tbilisi to Telavi

Like Sighnaghi, Telavi is also located in the Kakheti region, 95 km and 1 hour and 46 minute ride from Tbilisi. One of the most memorable places to visit is the Georgian writer Alexander Chavchavadze house museum which is also named as “Tsinandali Museum Complex”. Being a 19th century building, garden and wine cellar, it has a significant history of “father of Georgian romanticism”, who at the same time was a poet, military figure and a public benefactor. This is a place where he spent his last living days until 1846.

In the 18th century “Tsinandali Museum Complex” was a summer residence for Romanov family members, but after the sovietization of Georgia it was metamorphosed into a hotel. Later, since 1946 Giorgi Leonidze, Georgian poet, implemented the idea of opening the house-museum. 

Half-day trip Tbilisi to David Gareja

david gareja day trip tbilisi

One of the most popular day trip from Tbilisi or at least a half day trip is visiting the David Gareja Orthodox monastery cave complex. It takes about 1,45 hours by car or motorbike to get there and it is located right at the border to Azerbaijan. You will even see some armed border patrol, but no worry 🙂

The way to the monastery is almost as interesting as the monastery itself. You drive through the stone desert and you will feel like you are in the middle of nowhere (what you actually are). It’s worth it to make a stop here and then to take some pictures. 

You will arrive at a parking lot with a small shop and toilets. From there it is a short walk to the monastery. If you like (and I would recommend it) you can take a short hike up to the border and back. You have a great view from up there.

The David Gareja monastery was grounded in the early 6th century by one of the thirteen Assyarian monks. In the 11-12th centuries, the monastery was a home to a school of fresco painting. Throughout the centuries the David Gareja complex remained to be a crucial architectural, religious and cultural centre. 

Half-day trip Tbilisi to Ananuri Fortress

Located 67 km from Tbilisi, it takes just an hour and 16 minutes to visit the Ananuri castle complex, which was built on the Aragvi River in the 13th century. This place is specifically captivating for history and middle century battle lovers as Ananuri fortress has been a battleground for many centuries. To get a better image of the ancient place, make certain to hire a guide for the authentic stories. 

There always is more and more to explore when it comes to travelling, but all of the upper described places are the ABC of Georgian culture and history. Also, while travelling to different cities of Georgias do not forget to try national cuisine on the way. 

Did you take a day trip from Tbilisi?

Share your recommendation with other travelers in the comments. ⬇️⬇️

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