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travel georgia Archives • Cook the Beans

Mtskheta Georgia’s spiritual heart

The small city of Mtskheta was once the ancient capital of the Eastern Georgian Kingdom. Nowadays is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the oldest cities of Georgia. A perfect stop to any trip to Georgia.

The city is a 40-minute drive from the capital Tbilisi. Making Mtskheta an easy and enjoyable day trip from the capital.

There are several historical monuments which together make up the world heritage site.

Must-see Places in Mtskheta
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

Svetitskhoveli is the biggest cathedral in the country, dates back to the 11th-century and is a UNESCO World Heritage listing.

Samtavro Church

A large church now part of a nunnery.

Armaztsikhe-Bagineti

An archaeological site of the residence of Iverian rulers.

Jvari Monastery

The 6th Century “ Monastery of the Cross” is the oldest Christian Monasteries in the country

Located on a mountaintop with a great view of the meeting between the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers as well as the city of Mtskheta.

Jvari Monastery is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Bebris Tsikhe

A castle located on a mountaintop in northern Mtskheta with great views, seven minutes drive from the town.

How to get to Mtskheta

You can either travel by marshrutka or train, both options are affordable

Marshrutkas depart regularly from Didube Bus Station which is located right next to the Didube Metro Station.

Mtskheta lies on the Tbilisi-Kutaisi railway and all trains connecting these cities stop at Mtskheta.

The train station lies 2 km from the city centre. It’s possible to walk, or you can take a marshrutka from the station to the centre.

Have you ever been to Mtskheta or other places in the Mtianeti region?

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Gori Travel

Gori is a small town on the confluence of the Kura and the Liakhi in the picturesque Kartlia valley, 80km west of Tbilisi.

A day trip to Gori from Tbilisi is easy and cheap but is better to stay overnight to visit the ancient cave city of Uplistsikhe that is located about 10 km from Gori.

Gori is a quiet town where you can wander through the streets and have a great chillout time eating out at one of the many restaurant terraces. 

Top sights
Stalin Museum

The town is best known for being the birthplace of Stalin the former Soviet leader. While he is not exactly a hero by any means, the town preserves memories of his life and displays them in the Stalin Museum.

The town has two other smaller museums. The War Museum and the Ethnographic Museum.

Goristsikhe fortress

The Fortress is free and offers some nice views the town and surrounding hills, especially during sunset. This oval citadel stands at the heart of Gori on top of a hill.

Churches

There are a few churches to be found around Gori. Mary’s Church is quite impressive.

Stalin Avenue

The main street is called Stalin Avenue. I don’t know how I feel about Gory having so many tributes to Stalin.. but … I believe (and hope) they don’t see him as a national hero but a local famous historic figure.

At the top end of the avenue you have the Stalin museum and the gardens. There is some impressive architecture along the street including the city hall.

How to get to Gori from Tbilisi

From Tbilisi, you can either take a train from the main station or a marshrutka (minibus).

To go bt marshrutka head to Didube bus station and look around for a van labelled ‘Gori’, they leave when full usually every 20-30mins. The journey takes around 1.5 hours.

All trains from Tbilisi going to Kutaisi and/or Batumi stop at Gori. 

How to Get from Gori to Uplistsikhe

At the bus station, you can find a minivan heading to Uplistsikhe. The journey takes around 25 minutes.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Kazbegi Travel Guide

Kazbegi, is located in the high Caucasus mountains, an unmissable place to visit while travelling in Georgia. Definitely, a key part of any itinerary if you are into hiking, mountains and beautiful scenery. Kazbegi is now officially named Stepantsmunda.

Kazbegi is part of the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, a 3-hour drive from the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi and one hour from the Russian border.

The main town is called Stepantsminda, where you find accommodation and some basic tourist facilities.

Kazbegi – Stepantsminda village 

There is a slow pace to this tiny traditional village and a rural feel that gives you a sense of isolation. A place to contemplate, and relax.

Everything here including accommodation is in easy walking distance.

Perfect to spend time in nature, away from the hustle and bustle, go hiking, chill and enjoy the mountain air and views.

Tsminda Sameba Church

The famous 14th-century holy trinity Church sits on top of a hill directly in front of the great Mount Kazbek.

You need a good level of fitness to walk up the mountain. The walk is amazing, there are marked trails (you will not get lost) through stunning valleys. It is a 1 to 2 hour walk.

The visit to Gergeti Trinity Church can be combined with a longer hike up to the Ortsveri Glacier.

Hiking to Gergeti Glacier

For more adventurous travellers trekking to Gergeti Glacier is one of the most popular things to do in Kazbegi. It’s a tough trek but the landscape makes it worthy. The round-trip trek takes around 8-10 hours.

For people that take trekking and climbing more seriously, you can continue your way over the glacier to the top of Mount Kazbek.

Other day trips from Stepantsminda

Truso Valley, a landscape dotted with ancient towers and unspoiled villages.

Sno valler and Juta village, a stunning valley with great hikes. It’s also the link to Roshka.

Gveleti Waterfalls, both waterfalls are beautiful.

How to Get to Kazbegi from Tbilisi

From Tbilisi Didube Station there are shared minivans (called mashrutkas). You’re likely to hear people yelling “Kazbegi” trying to fill up their vehicles.

This is the easiest, cheapest (~10 Lari) and quickest way to get there, anywhere between 3.5 – 5.5 hour.

From Kazbegi to Tbilisi you just to the inverse. Getting a mashrutkas from the same central area in Stepantsminda. They depart when they are full.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha