Another highlight besides Vardzia in the south of Georgia is Rabati Castle which is located in Akhaltsikhe, the capital and biggest town in Samtskhe-Javakheti. If you are at least on a 14 days itinerary it’s worth combining it with the Vardzia monastery.
The name “Akhaltsikhe” means “new castle” in georgian and that’s actually why you will go there. Rabati castle, dominating the town from the north side of the Potskhovi River, was fully restored and reopened in 2012 after it was in a sami-ruined state for decades.
You will enter through the eastern lower part of the complexe, which doesn’t require a ticket. But you should buy one for the upper castle where you will find a mosque, citadel and a museum. A tour is recommended to bring the things alive.
If you plant to stay a night in Akhaltsikhe you may bring your swimwear with you. Inside the castle you will find not just a restaurant but also a hotel with a spa area. You can buy a guest day-ticket and enjoy for 10 USD some hours in the pool or sauna.
Marshrutkas departures from the busy bus station (Tamarashvili) on the north side of the river near the foot of Rabati.
(10 GEL, four hours, at least hourly 6am to 7pm)
(via Khashuri; 25 GEL, six hours, 8.30am and11.30 am)
(5 GEL, one hour, 30 daily, 6am to 7pm)
(10 GEL, 3,5 hours, 10.40am, 3pm, 6.10pm)