Georgia makes for a stunning & extremely affordable road trip. Here is everything you need to know about planning a road trip in Georgia – from budgeting to hotels to a day-by-day guide to a road trip in Georgia. We had planned to combine this trip to Georgia with our trip to Azerbaijan a few years ago but couldn’t for some reason.
Visa formalities and Covid protocols for Georgia
In Apr/May 22 there are no quarantine requirements when entering Georgia. You must be fully vaccinated. If you’re not, then you must carry an RT PCR test (taken within 72 hours of departure) to show upon on your entry into Georgia. Indian citizens need a visa to enter Georgia for a short stay, however if you have a valid visa or residence permit for USA / UK / Schengen / UAE / Australia etc., then you don’t need to apply for a visa. The best way to know whether you need a visa for Georgia is to use the Visa eligibility checker here.
Suggested Itineraries for visiting Georgia
Georgia is a small country so it is possible to cover most of it by doing day trips from Tbilsi. If you have 5 days or less, we suggest basing yourself in Tbilsi, renting a car, and doing 2-3 day trips. You can also book these day trips with a local tour agency if you are not comfortable driving.
If you have 6+ days, then we definitely recommend spending a few nights in places such as Kazbegi & Sighnaghi. Here are 2 recommended itineraries for Georgia
4 day itinerary for Georgia
Day 1 Fly to Tbilsi and explore Old Tbilsi
Day 2 Day trip from Tbilsi to Sighnaghi
Day 3 Day trip from Tbilsi to Kazbegi
Day 4 Explore Tbilsi and fly back
7 day itinerary for Georgia
Days 1 & 2 Fly to Tbilsi and explore the city
Days 3 & 4 Drive along Georgia’s wine route
Days 5 & 6 Explore Kazbegi & mountain villages
Day 7 Day Trip To Armenia/Drive to Batumi
Day 8 Fly back from Tbilsi
Renting a car in Georgia
Driving in Georgia is a bit different from the rest of Europe as drivers can occasionally be a bit more aggressive or not as rule-abiding. However if you are comfortable driving, we would highly recommend renting a car to explore this beautiful country at your own pace.
We booked our car from Tbilsi Auto Rent after reading amazing reviews on Google & Trip Advisor. Their service was seamless and one advantage over other car rentals we checked was that we did not have to deposit any money (or leave a credit card imprint as this rental price included all insurances) at the beginning of the trip. In terms of exact costs, we paid $50 per day for an automatic 4×4 (Mitsubishi Outlander Sport) and $20 each way pick-up and drop-off from the airport. We picked and dropped our car at the airport but you can also pick your car after exploring Tbilisi (free pick-up and drop-off in this case). There’s also someone answering your queries over Whatsapp, so all in all a great car rental experience.
Budgeting for your trip to Georgia
Georgia is an extremely affordable country, one of the most affordable in Europe-Middle East. For this reason, it is easy to plan this road-trip on a budget. The cost of flights will depend on the city you’re based. But once you get there, you can expect to spend approximately INR 12000 per day. Here’s the cost breakdown you need to keep in mind:
•Good mid-range Hotels and apartments cost approximately INR 5000 per night. You can choose ones based on your preferences
•Car Rental : INR 3000-3500 per day (with full insurance coverage)
•Fuel: INR 1200 per day for the itinerary below
•Meals & groceries : INR 2000 per day approximately
Day-by-day breakdown of your itinerary for Georgia
Days 1-2 Explore Tblisi
Tblisi is a busy but charming capital city. There is so much to see and do, so we suggest setting aside at least 2 days to take it all in.
If you have not rented a car, try to stay in Old Tbilsi – hotels such as Hotel Mercure and The Rooms Hotel are ideal! However if you have rented a car, then make sure you stay in a hotel that offers free parking.
Some of the things you must do in Tbilsi include
- Visit the Dezerter bazaar – it is overflowing with fresh produce and a great place to sample local delicacies like Khinkali (dumplings)
- Visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral – it’s beautiful
- Take a walk along Rustaveli Avenue – it is one of the prettiest roads in the city. You will cross book sellers in the open, vendors, and plenty of European facades. Do make a pit stop at the Opera and the Ballet Theatre
- If you haven’t rented a car and want to escape the city try visiting Tbilisi Sea, Turtle Lake or Lisi Lake as they are all easily accessible using public transport
- The Chronicles of Georgia is gorgeous on a summer day. One of Tbilisi’s off-beat attractions, the Chronicles is an impressive monument by Georgian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli. Its location on top of a hill overlooking the Tbilisi Sea makes it a great spot for panoramic views.
- Tbilisi has some stunning viewpoints. Tabor Monastery is not very well known but it is one of our favourites. It offers a great view of the entire city and is so beautiful at sunset
Mtatsminda is the city’s most well-known and accessible viewpoint. However do beware it can get quite crowded as both locals and tourists like to visit
- If you enjoy the hipster and urban sides of cities, then you must visit Marjanishvili – the area here has some amazing murals and street art. You can also take a tour here to learn more about the artists and the area
- Have a laid back brunch in a speciality coffee shop such as Coffee Lab or a local hole-in-the-wall eatery such as Asi Khinkali or Zakhar Zakharich
Days 3&4: Kakheti wine country
It is easy to do a day trip to Kakheti from Tbilisi. But if you have some time on you while planning a road trip of Georgia, we would definitely recommend staying for a night in the area. There are vineyards, wine cellars, and shops everywhere in the Kakheti area. We definitely suggest doing these 3 things
- Sighnaghi / Signagi, aka the city of love is one of the most charming places in Kakheti. The cobblestoned village overlooks the Alazani Valley and offers beautiful views everywhere you look. Spend some time walking around the village and make sure you have lunch in a restaurant with gorgeous views. The Terrace is an affordable restaurant that offers amazing views of the area. Since it is a 10 minute drive from the village, not many people know about it. However it is stunning
- Allaverdi , one of the tallest orthodox monasteries in Europe is also a wine cellar. It is a great pitstop for wine tastings & views! It is a bit of a drive from Signagi, so you can include it in your itinerary if you have 2 days in the area
- Visit vineyards and take a wine-tasting tour. You can take a guided tour of the prominent wineries. Make sure you try local delicacies like Georgian draft wine and Imeruli cheese. Once you have explored the area to your heart’s content you can drive back to Tbilsi or straight to Kazbegi
Day 5 Driving to Kazbegi
The drive from Tbilsi to Kazbegi is a scenic one. However there are several narrow and winding roads as soon as you start nearing the mountains. So make sure you undertake this drive if you are comfortable with hill driving.
Here are some places you must stop along the way:
- Jinvali / Zhinvali Water Reservoir is the first stop on this route. It is especially scenic on a hot summer’s day
- Make sure you stop at the gorgeous Ananuri Fortified Castle. There is plenty of parking available here and it makes for the ideal photo opp. It tends to get crowded at the Castle, so do walk to the neighbouring bridge to escape the crowds whilst getting great views of the Castle
- By this time it is time for lunch. Pasanauri is perfect for lunch as it is home to many local restaurants. We recommend the truly special Guda – it’s a modern restaurant that serves delicious home-made specialities like Khinkali (Georgian dumplings) and Khachapuri (Georgian bread stuffed with local cheeses). Try the lamb or mushroom khinkali for a real treat!
- As you start driving towards Kazbegi after lunch, you will cross Gudauri and spot the Friendship monument. The monument offers incredible views of the area. Take a short walk around the monument and you’ll see amazing views everywhere. It is also possible to go paragliding during summer time in Gudauri.
Days 5 & 6 Exploring Kazbegi & Gergeti
Kazbegi is an area of outstanding natural beauty. In peak summer mountains are green while in winter (all the way to the beginning of May) you can expect snow-laden views. Stepantsminda is a good base as the mountain town has facilities like supermarkets, restaurants, and ATMs. Kazbegi View and The Rooms Hotel Kazbegi are 2 great places to stay in the area. They offer amazing views and a truly experience-based stay
Spend your days doing the following
- Drive to Gergeti Trinity Church: It is the first stop of most tourists for a reason. Perched on a hilltop, it might be the most spectacularly located church we’ve seen on our travels. Definitely worth it! And we’d strongly suggest going there early morning or late evening after the tourist buses have departed.
- Drive to Truso Valley to soak in the views and drives the area has to offer
- Sno is home to giant sculptures of some of Georgia’s most prominent writers and artists. They make for a surreal sight against the mountains.
- Try to visit Juta village in Sno Valley, located 21 kilometers from Kazbegi. It is a great base for some pretty hikes in the area. The road there can be a bit tricky but the views are gorgeous 🙂
- If you enjoy extreme hikes, You can spend 1 day hiking to the Gergeti glacier – this 21 km hike takes about 10 hours. Make sure you carry good hiking shoes if you intend on doing this on your road trip in Georgia.
Once you are done exploring Kazbegi, you can drive back to Tbilsi
Day 7 Day trip to Armenia/Beach getaway in Batumi
If you’re craving beach views and have 2-3 days to spare, then head to Batumi on your road trip in Georgia. Alternatively it is easy to hop over to neighbouring Armenia for a few days. If you are an Indian passport holder, you can apply for an evisa, which takes approximately 3 days to come. If you are self-driving you also need a special pass to drive to Armenia.
However if you have just 1 or 2 days to spare, you can apply for the evisa and book a day/two-day trip to Armenia with one of the many tour companies that offer this trip. This day trip covers many highlights of Northern Armenia such as some of the most ancient monasteries in the world including the stunning monasteries of Haghpat, Sanahin, and Akhtala.
Even if you’re in Armenia for a day, make sure you try the local cuisine, bursting with fresh flavours inspired by neighbouring countries such as Turkey! Tabouleh, Armenian breads, dolma (minced meat steamed in cabbage leaves), and baked potatoes.
That’s it. That concludes your incredible road trip of Georgia. Whether you base yourself in Tbilisi or drive around the country one thing is for sure – you will leave the country having experienced history, culture, incredible panoramas, and some great wine 🙂 Have fun. And if you have any questions, leave them below – we’ll answer them asap
And if you want to see a raw behind-the-scenes look at this road trip, check out our vlog of driving in Georgia on our Youtube channel