I’m a travel expert who’s lived in Georgia and in this guide, I’ll point you to the best day trips from Tbilisi!
This article covers Tbilisi day trips for history buffs, outdoor enthusiasts, wine connoisseurs, and more. I also detail how to get to each destination and share key tips for making the most of your excursion.
There are always lots of things to do in Tbilisi, but this comprehensive guide will help you discover the many wonders of Georgia on those days you want to get outside the city!
Table of Contents
- 19 Best Day Trips from Tbilisi
- Kazbegi and Gergeti Trinity Church
- Uplistsikhe Cave City
- David Gareja Monastery Complex
- Tbilisi National Park
- Algeti & Trialeti Planned National Park
- Ananuri Fortress Complex
- Lake Paravani and Javakheti
- Diamond Bridge
- Chiatura and Katskhi Pillar
- FAQs About Tbilisi Day Trips
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19 Best Day Trips from Tbilisi
Kazbegi and Gergeti Trinity Church
Stand in awe of the majesty of one of Georgia’s most iconic locales.
Gergeti Trinity Church stands before the lofty Kazbegi Mountain. It must be seen to be believed. You’ll understand why it’s the most photographed place in the country. Few locations show the grandeur of the Caucasus Mountains as well as this site in the village of Stepantsminda.
Take the Georgian Military Highway to the village of Natakhtatri to get here. You’ll pass noteworthy destinations along the way, such as Ananuri Fortress. The Georgia-Russia Friendship Monument is also worth stopping at to observe the unique Soviet-era mosaics.
Note that the road leading here can be tricky, so it may be better to go with a local driver. This top-rated tour will visit all the aforementioned sites and more.
Uplistsikhe Cave City
Visit a semi-subterranean city that dates back to around 1000 BC.
The ancient cave town of Uplistsikhe stands carved in the cliffs east of the city of Gori. Scientists believe it was first inhabited in the early Iron Age. The name of this place comes from Uplos, grandson of Kartlos (the legendary founder of Georgia). Tsikhe in Georgian means fortress or castle.
The cave town consists of several chambers, as well as the “royal room” featuring an arched walkway. This is a good place to bring the family but exercise proper caution around the edges, of course.
Uplistsikhe is best reached by private tour, or via the railroad connecting Tbilisi’s Station Square to Gori. Take a taxi from Gori, or reach Uplistsikhe by boarding a bus or marshrutka. These depart from Gori’s Didube Station.
👉 Local Tip: Marshrutkas, or minibusses, are a little more expensive than buses but faster, and they’re cheaper than taxis. They run intracity and intercity routes and are one of the best ways to get around.
Medieval fortresses and modern monuments mark the birthplace of one of Georgia’s most “notable” sons.
🗺️ Distance from Tbilisi: 1 to 1.5 hours | 📍 Google Maps
Gori has several sites worth visiting besides Uplistsikhe. Gori Fortress keeps watch over the town. A haunting memorial (pictured above) honors victims of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War. It stands at the eastern foot of the fortress hill.
Gori also offers a rather unusual day trip in the vein of dark tourism: the Stalin Museum. The former leader of the Soviet Union was born in Gori in 1878. His legacy is, even today, a prickly issue. Some remember him as a much-slandered, benevolent ruler, associating him with nostalgia for when life was simpler…
Visit the Stalin Museum if you will. No one will blame you if you don’t, though.
A solemn alpine ghost town stands as a testament to the rugged heritage of the Khevsureti region.
The mountains east of Kazbegi hold another of Georgia’s most iconic landmarks: the village of Shatili. This tiny village has been the subject of many folk songs and poems. Life was always difficult in the remote alpine with harsh weather, limited resources, and feuding tribes. Seeing this imposing stone village gives you just a little taste of this lost world.
This small village in the heart of Georgia’s wine country is big on charm.
Wine lovers will want to add Sighnaghi to the top of their itinerary. Georgia is famous for its wines, but the Kakheti region is the “wine country” of this wine country — and one of the best places to visit in Georgia.
Sighnaghi is worth a visit even if wine isn’t your thing, though. Cobblestone streets wind their way through this cozy village overlooking the Alazani Valley. The city walls here are a great place to enjoy the view. The tranquil Bodbe Convent outside town is the final resting place of St. Nino, who brought Christianity to Georgia in the early 4th century.
Day trips from Tbilisi to Sighnaghi are best made via marshrutkas departing every two hours (from 7 am to 5 pm) from Samgori Metro Station. You can also reach Sighnaghi on an organized day trip, such as a wine-tasting tour.
📚 Related Reading: Georgia Travel Insurance (5 Best Sites to Compare for 2023)
David Gareja Monastery Complex
Rugged landscapes and medieval monasteries comprise one of Georgia’s most beloved heritage sites.
The David Gareja Wilderness is one of the best day trips from Tbilisi if you want to get a taste of Georgia’s geographic diversity. The “rainbow mountains” here feature rolling multi-colored layers of stone.
The area is named for a hermit who lived here in the 6th century. The site grew into a virtual monastic city, at one time having 21 separate monasteries. Davit Gareja lies on the border with present-day Azerbaijan and disputes exist about where the actual border lies.
This dispute is one of the milder ones in the Caucasus, so the site remains safe for visitors.
The Udabno Monastery here is now off-limits, but St. Davit’s Monastery (aka Lavra) is open. Keep in mind that there is a dress code; a handful of monks still live here. Coverings are available to borrow upon arrival.
No marshrutkas run here, but private transport can be hired or you can take your own vehicle.
Dive deeper into Georgia’s wine country with a day trip to Telavi’s wine chateaus.
Telavi is the administrative center of the Kakheti region. It’s also a must for wine lovers, even if it’s not as polished as Sighnaghi. Telavi feels more authentic for that very reason. Tsinandali Estate is the oldest and largest winery in Georgia and lies right outside of town.
The city itself has a lot of history. The Batonis Tsikhe Fortress and the Royal Palace are some of the best places to take a look back in time. Some homes along the main streets sport elaborate balconies. The central bazaar in Telavi is an awesome place to peruse local produce.
Telavi is also the closest major settlement to the towering Alaverdi Cathedral. The monastery here has also produced award-winning wines in the past. Marshrutkas for Telavi depart Tbilisi from Isani and Ortachala stations. You can also book a fantastic wine-tasting tour with our friends at Eat This!
The “Second Jerusalem” of Georgia holds many of the nation’s most sacred spiritual treasures.
The town of Mtskheta is the closest day trip from Tbilisi. It’s the former capital of the Georgian nation and the cultural heart of Georgia.
Here, Jvari Monastery overlooks the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers. It’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (as is all of Mtskheta). Jvari Monastery is also one of the most revered places for the Georgian Orthodox Church.
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral lies beneath Jvari Monastery. Faded frescoes adorn its interior, worn by time and vandalism. Many of the nations that conquered Georgia sought to erase the faith and heritage of the Georgians — but to no avail.
The charming old town of Mtskheta is worth a stroll after visiting Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. There are plenty of souvenirs available, if somewhat pricier than you’d find in less prominent areas. Restaurants here offer delicious food and lobio, a savory bean dish, is a local specialty.
Mtskheta is best reached via the Didube Bus Station, like many places on this list. Eat This also operates tours to Mtskheta.
Discover the source of Georgia’s most famous mineral waters.
🗺️ Distance from Tbilisi: 2.5 to 3 hours | 📍 Google Maps
Borjomi is one of the lesser-known Tbilisi day trips and well worth adding to your Georgia itinerary. You can’t fail to notice the abundance of sparkling mineral water when you step into any store in Georgia. Several brands offer their best, but the most popular are those bottled in Borjomi. This brand also has the auspicious boast of being Stalin’s favorite.
Borjomi offers visitors the chance to drink straight from the source and bottle their own mineral water. Downtown Borjomi has a unique blend of buildings from modern, Soviet, and Tsarist times. The forested hills around town are a great place for a hike. The area west of town is zoned as part of the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park.
One of Georgia’s favorite ski resorts offers an easy alpine escape from Tbilisi.
🗺️ Distance from Tbilisi: 3 hours | 📍 Google Maps
Bakuriani is one of the most popular ski resorts in Georgia. It lies further up in the mountains outside Borjomi. A ski trip here is one of the most popular day trips from Tbilisi in winter.
It’s also worth a day trip from Tbilisi in summer. The evergreen forests here are peaceful and even a little chilly during this season. Tbilisi is one of the hottest parts of the country (especially with all that concrete), so having a cool place to escape to is always desirable.
Taking a marshrutka to Borjomi and then transferring to another marshrutka or taxi is the easiest way to get here. The Kukushka slow train that used to go between Borjomi and Bakuriani is currently no longer operating.
Tbilisi National Park
Lush forests and endless trails make this national park near Tbilisi a perfect place for day hikes.
The hiking trails in Tbilisi National Park are one of the best Tbilisi day trips for outdoors enthusiasts. It’s also worth visiting at any time of the year. The forests here are cool in spring and summer. The fall colors are fantastic. A covering of snow and frost gives it an enchanted atmosphere in winter.
No public transport runs directly to the park. Your best bet is to find a marshrutka to the village of Saguramo from Didube. Renting a car is another viable option.
Algeti & Trialeti Planned National Park
Wander the rugged backcountry of Kvemo Kartli and discover the remains of a medieval fortress.
These twin national parks in the Kvemo (Lower) Kartli region are another excellent day trip from Tbilisi for outdoor exploration. Algeti is home to the Samepo Ridge hike, a 16 km trail (about a 7-hour walk). It offers spectacular views and is one of the best day hikes in the Tbilisi area. There’s also a rope park for children and adults in Algeti.
Trialeti also has awesome hiking trails. The most well-known route here goes to the Birtsvisi Fortress in the canyon of the same name. Getting to these parks is best done via public transport to the village of Manglisi or by private transfer.
Ananuri Fortress Complex
Stop for a spell to take in the natural and manmade beauty of this remote, yet historic fortification.
🗺️ Distance from Tbilisi: 1 to 1.5 hours | 📍 Google Maps
This medieval fortress and cathedral stand along the Georgian Military Highway on the road to Kazbegi. Visiting Ananuri can be combined with Kazbegi but is, in itself, worth a day trip from Tbilisi. The Ananuri Fortress encompasses three churches, famous for their frescoes and inscriptions. Exploring these sites is one of the best things to do in Georgia.
The fortress stands on the shores of the Zhinvali Reservoir. It’s a nice place for a picnic on your Georgian road trip. The nearby village of Pasanauri, however, has a reputation for excellent khinkali — the flagship food of Georgian cuisine.
Lake Paravani and Javakheti
A less-explored, but remarkably beautiful corner of Georgia stands in the southern highlands.
Lake Paravani is a lesser-known day trip from Tbilisi and shows you a whole different side of Georgia. The Javakheti region’s rolling highlands are strikingly beautiful and have a historical significance for Georgians. Here, St. Nino first entered Georgia in the early 4th century, introducing Christianity to the country.
Flowers cover the meadows here in summer, which is the best time to visit. Javakheti’s higher elevation gives it harsher winters and even in summer, the nights are cool.
I’d advise booking a private tour or taking your own car if you want to make a same-day return trip. Public transportation is infrequent. Akhalkalaki is the nearest significant settlement and about 45 minutes away by car.
Overcome your fear of heights at this one-of-a-kind attraction near the village of Tsalka.
The Diamond Bridge is a great day trip from Tbilisi if you want to see one of Georgia’s modern marvels. The “diamond” is a huge glass structure featuring a bar and observation platform. It’s suspended over the Dashbashi Canyon. It’s also the longest and tallest free-hanging structure in the world (about 780’ long and 900’ high).
Thrill seekers will enjoy the zipline bicycle rides running parallel to the bridge. There’s also a giant three-person swing perched on the edge of the canyon (of course, featuring harnesses).
Those less inclined to adrenaline rushes can simply enjoy walking the bridge for a small fee.
The canyon lies a two-hour drive west of Tbilisi. Marshrutkas run from Didube, but private transfers are also available for group tours.
Get a glimpse of the past at the newly-restored Rabati Castle in the city of Akhaltsikhe.
Akhaltsikhe is another awesome day trip from Tbilisi. The city is famous for its Rabati Castle which was restored in recent years. It’s an appropriate attraction because the city’s name in Georgian means “new castle.” It bore that name long before the recent renovations, though.
The grounds of the Rabati Castle contain a mosque, an Orthodox Church, gardens, and much more. A walk here is especially charming around sunset. Akhaltsikhe takes a few hours to get from Tbilisi. A private tour is one of the best ways to experience this day trip.
Wander the halls of this towering cliffside city in Javakheti.
🗺️ Distance from Tbilisi: 3 hours | 📍 Google Maps
Like Uplistsikhe, Vardzia is another of Georgia’s rock-cut towns. Evidence of its earliest habitants dates back to the Bronze Age. The site blossomed as a monastic center in medieval times (12th century). Recent studies discovered that this complex consists of 641 chambers spread over 13 levels!
Vardzia is one of the more remote Tbilisi day trips. It’s best reached via a private tour or your own vehicle. It’s one of those places in Georgia that feels more fantastic than the everyday reality most of us are familiar with.
Chiatura and Katskhi Pillar
See the relics of a former Georgian mining town, as well as a natural monolith far more ancient.
Chiatura is not well-known outside Georgia, but well worth a day trip from Tbilisi. The small town is famous for its Soviet cable cars. They once shortened the commute for workers in the local manganese mines. The old cars have since fallen into disuse, but a new series of modern gondolas operate here as of 2021.
Katskhi Pillar is a remarkable geological anomaly and another easy day trip from Tbilisi. A monastery stands at the foot of the pillar with a small Orthodox church at the top. You can’t climb to the top of the pillar. The Georgian government prohibited it out of fear for tourists’ (and locals’) safety, especially given its gradual deterioration.
Katskhi and Chiatura are in close proximity to each other. Both are accessible via a single private tour.
History buffs will be enthralled by this city which pays homage to the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts.
🗺️ Distance from Tbilisi: 3 to 3.5 hours | 📍 Google Maps
Kutaisi can be visited as a day trip from Tbilisi, but I recommend taking another day or two here. Still, you can take a quick tour of the local highlights if you choose to pay a briefer visit. This city is a must for history buffs.
Kutaisi was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Colchis, which figures into the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts. There are tons of fascinating monuments and statues around town. They range from epic depictions of the past to portrayals of life’s everyday joys.
Bagrati Cathedral towers above the town and offers great vistas from its courtyard. Gelati Monastery stands a little further north of Kutaisi and has remarkable frescoes. Kutaisi can be reached by bus or marshrutka from Didube in Tbilisi, and also by trains departing from Station Square.
FAQs About Tbilisi Day Trips
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Thanks for reading my guide to the best day trips from Tbilisi. Check out my article on where to stay in Tbilisi to find a great home base for your adventures in Georgia!
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