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David Gareja Monastery

David Gareja Monastery: Our most recommended tours and activities

Off-road Tour to David Gareja Monastery and Rainbow Mountain

1. Off-road Tour to David Gareja Monastery and Rainbow Mountain

Explore the rainbow mountains of Eastern Georgia on this guided 4-wheel drive safari tour. Feel like Indiana Jones as you speed through the colorful mountains and visit the David Gareja Lavra monastery complex, as well as the St. John the Baptist cave monastery. Departing from Tbilisi, start your journey with a low-difficulty 1-hour walk among the colorful hills around the Mravaltskaro lake. This is one of the best places in Georgia for bird watching, and specialists from all over the world come here during the season. If you don't want to hike, you can just enjoy the beauty of the area and snap some great photos.  Next, head to the monastery of St. John the Baptist, a cave monastery founded in the 6th century in the desert. Get acquainted with the lives of the monks who live here and visit the church and tower which are built in the cave. You can even see the border with Azerbaijan from the tower.  Finally, head to the first monastery in the desert, David Gareja Lavra. On the way back to Tbilisi, stop for lunch at an oasis club restaurant and enjoy a tasting of various Georgian wines.

From Tbilisi: Rainbow Mountain & David Gareja Monastery Trip

2. From Tbilisi: Rainbow Mountain & David Gareja Monastery Trip

Immerse yourself in Georgian history and culture on a guided day trip from Tbilisi. Visit the impressive David Gareja Monastery and Rainbow Mountains. Explore the mountainous region and visit a stunning salt lake. The first place where you can stop to stock up on snacks for the trip. The second stop is at a salty lake, where you have an outstanding possibility to take some nice pictures. After the lake, we continue driving through Udabno Village, which translated as a desert. The area where you will be traveling is the only semidesert Georgia has, and it's more than amazing to see how diverse Georgian nature is. You will start walking toward the famous Rainbow Mountains at the end of the drive. The most impressive feature of the landscape is the mineral-rich sedimentary rock, which looks like it’s been painted with brightly colored stripes. It’s possible to hike through the Rainbow Mountains, which astonish visitors with their colors. You will walk through the Rainbow Mountains, take many mesmerizing pictures, and prepare for the David Gareji Lavra historical tour. David Gareji Monastery Complex is one of the most spiritual places in the country. You will hear the stories of the monastery, do a bit of hiking and see a Georgian soldier at the border of Georgia and Azerbaijan. It’s believed that St. David chose this isolated location because he wanted his Disciples to lead a life of holiness independent from the rest of society. After David Gareji Lavra, you will return to Tbilisi and finish the tour at 5 pm.

From Tbilisi: David Gareja Monastery and Sighnaghi Tour

3. From Tbilisi: David Gareja Monastery and Sighnaghi Tour

In the morning, the guide and driver will pick you up from your accommodation in Tbilisi (if you choose the private option). Then, head to the desert where the main complex David Gareja lavra is located via the Kakhetian highway. The complex was established in the 6th century AD by one of the 13 Assyrian monks and expanded through the centuries. Here, have a tour of the rainbow mountains and monastery. On your way to Sighnaghi, you’ll visit the Bodbe monastery. The monastery is one of the major pilgrimage sites in Georgia, due to its association with St. Nino, the 4th-century female evangelist in Georgia. In Sighnaghi, a small town surrounded by 18th-century defensive walls and remnants of fortifications, take a relaxing walk in the town, explore the defensive wall and fortifications, and enjoy the views of Alazani Valley. In the evening, drive back to your place of stay or Europe Square in Tbilisi.

David Gareji Monastery and Signagi Wine Tasting Private Tour

4. David Gareji Monastery and Signagi Wine Tasting Private Tour

Depart Tbilisi and travel to a dry desert region surrounded by hills and only inhabited by a few shepherds. Arrive at the historic David Gareji Monastery complex, founded by hermits who chose a secluded life in the early Middle Ages. Take an optional hike to the top of the hill separating Georgia and Azerbaijan, and get stunning views of the surroundings as you look for more of the abandoned caves. Continue to the small town of Signagi overlooking the Alazani Valley and Caucasian Mountains. Stroll the narrow streets to buy souvenirs and enjoy lunch at leisure. Sample the local Marani wine and an authentic chacha (brandy) at a traditional winery and learn the history of wine making in Georgia. Visit the nearby convent at Bodbe, famed as an important site of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians. Return to Tbilisi via a village that makes the local churchkhela candies to try some of the best sweet treats in Georgia!

From Tbilisi: David Gareji Monastery Where Time Stands Still

5. From Tbilisi: David Gareji Monastery Where Time Stands Still

The Davit Gareji Monastery complex was founded in the first half of the 6th century by one of the holy Assyrian fathers - David. The settlement of David in one of the caves was the beginning of the foundation of that religious and cultural center, which numbered 12 monasteries once. The complex of Davit Gareji carved into the rock is one of the largest among such carved complexes. The monastery of Bertubani is one of the cave monasteries in the Davit Gareji complex, the painting of which arouses the interest among visitors. The monastery of St. John the Baptist is also located in the Davit Gareji complex, 12 kilometers west from the lavra of David, is a single complex carved into the rock. It was founded in the 6th and 7th centuries by a disciple of David Garedjeli, Lucian. Then, visit the medieval Udabno (desert) Monastery in the Davit Gareji complex. The cave monastery encompasses many cell churches. The main structure of the ensemble is the Church of the Virgin Mary. In the monastery, there is a painting preserved in which the life cycle of David Garedjeli was recorded for the first time. The oldest layer of the main temple painting dates from the second half of the 10th century.    

Tbilisi: David Gareja Monastery Full-Day Tour

6. Tbilisi: David Gareja Monastery Full-Day Tour

Discover some of the most important sites of the historic Kakheti region in eastern Georgia, home to the rock-hewn Davit-Gareja Monastery Complex and the beautiful Alazani Valley. Following an early morning departure from Tbilisi, drive to the Gareja Desert, a distance of approximately 60 miles (100 kilometers). Here, you will discover the rock-cut Davit-Gareja Orthodox Monastery complex, established in the 6th century by David, one of the 13 Assyrian monks that preached the name of Christ. Located in a semi-desert, the complex consists of 19 religious buildings, the oldest being the Lavra Monastery, where St. David is buried. Learn how Mongol invaders destroyed and looted the complex in the 13th century, and how it was later restored by the Georgian kings. Marvel at the hundreds of cells, chapels, refectories, and living quarters hollowed out of the rocks. Then, continue to Sighnaghi, stopping en route at the village of Badiauri to see a demonstration of how Georgian bread is baked. Upon arrival in Sighnaghi, visit the holy Bodbe Monastery, where St. Nino is buried. Learn how she brought Christianity to Georgia in the 4th century, and the legend of her healing properties. Nestled among cypress trees, the monastery affords stunning views of the Alazani Valley. End your tour by exploring the city of Sighnaghi, founded by King Erekle II in 1772. You will see buildings in the style of southern Italian Classicism, with Georgian elements. Known as the “City of Love,” Sighnaghi is one of Georgia’s most compact towns, with delightful red-roof tiles and panoramic views of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. Transfer back to Tbilisi for the end of your tour services.

Other Sightseeing Options in David Gareja Monastery

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What people are saying about David Gareja Monastery

Overall rating

4.9 / 5

based on 157 reviews

The experience was unforgettable and our tour guide Alex was great. He was knowledgeable and kind. Plus, the drive was long, and he didn't let us feel that not for a second. In addition, this tour is unlike others. First of all, the hike was very nice, you don't feel stuck in a car all the time. Second, some of the stops we made were magical as the places were very old, authentic and not very popular to tourists. We also had lunch in a humble restaurant owned by a family, which was actually nice as it makes you experience the kindness and generosity of the people and their tradition. I highly recommend this tour.

It was a wonderful day, I was lucky enough to join the group trip that only has two people, so it feels like a private tour. The weather was beautiful that makes a fun day. Though the lunch was not included in the fee, I really like the restaurant arranged on the way, it’s one of the best I’ve visited in Georgia.

Amazing short trip! The guide Mimi was very passionate and helpful! The rainbow mountains are nice but the history about monastery is great! Worth it

The whole trip went great. Excellent guide, gorgeous views of the mountains, excellent organization of the trip. I advise everyone!

excellent adventure tour combined with Georgian culture and nature