Things to do in Samtskhe–Javakheti

Our most recommended things to do in Samtskhe–Javakheti

From Tbilisi: Borjomi Central Park and Vardzia

1. From Tbilisi: Borjomi Central Park and Vardzia

Explore southern Georgia and see the most important monument, Vardzia Cave Complex. Visit the world-renowned Borjomi Resort. Start your tour at Borjomi Resort, a hydro-thermal health spa resort in the southern region of Samtskhe-Javakheti. Walk in the Borjomi Central Park and taste Borjomi mineral water with unique healing qualities. After visiting Borjomi Central Park, you head toward Akhaltsikhe, stopping at a local restaurant and having lunch with traditional Georgian dishes. In the south of the country, not far from the famous cave town of Vardzia, there is a popular attraction, the fortress of Khertvisi. The ancient fortress perfectly matches nature: Surrounded by mighty mountains, the muscular walls look even more powerful. Follow along the upper Mtkvari River, traversing narrow canyons at Aspindza along a stunning valley with rocky hillsides. Arrive at Vardzia, famed for its paintings and unique architecture. Tour the bell tower, main church, cave dwellings, rooms, chapels, pharmacy, and wine cellars.

Borjomi & Bakuriani: Small Group Full-Day Tour from Tbilisi

2. Borjomi & Bakuriani: Small Group Full-Day Tour from Tbilisi

Meet your guide in front of Avlabari metro station at 8:30 AM and head off for Bakuriani ski resort, one of the best resorts in Georgia. The first stop is Bakuriani, where you will hop aboard the Kukushka, a special, mini train which navigates this lovely place. There are two trains and each of them includes two wagons, each with a carrying capacity of up to 23 people. Today, Borjomi-Bakuriani railway and the legendary "Kukushka" are on Georgia's cultural heritage list. The whole train journey is fantastic and peaceful. Bakuriani ski resort is situated 1,700 meters above sea level on the northern slope of Trialeti Range, at the foot of the breathtaking Caucasus Mountains. For skiers and snowboarders, there are 29 kilometers of slopes available and 15 lifts. The winter sports area is situated between the elevations of 1,740 and 2,702 meter. Due to the long winters of 4-5 months, the resort is a paradise for skiers and snowboarders. It is also a superb venue for children to engage in winter sports and activities. The modern developed ski area, Didveli (1,861 meters), and the oldest ski area, Kokhta (2,155 meters), are the beauties of Bakuriani. Different ski routes cater to all levels of skiers and ensures maximum pleasure. Also, there are lots of hotels, hostels, family guest houses, restaurants, and cafes serving up healthy, local food. Bakuriani is the perfect place to have an unforgettable time with family and friends. The resort is an ideal destination not only for recreational purposes but also for sport and nature lovers. Depart Bakuriani at 4:30 PM for the last stop at Borjomi Park, internationally known for its spring mineral water. Take a walk in Borjomi Central Park, taste Borjomi mineral water, and enjoy the beautiful natural scenery. Return to Tbilisi at 9:00 PM.

From Tbilisi: Vardzia, Rabati, and Borjomi Private Tour

3. From Tbilisi: Vardzia, Rabati, and Borjomi Private Tour

From Tbilisi, transfer to Borjomi and visit the Balneological health resort, situated in the southeast of Georgia in the Agura river gorge. Discover this picturesque place and its large-leaved and coniferous forests surrounded by the majestic Caucasian mountains. Borjomi is well known for its mineral waters, the source of which is situated in Borjomi Central Park, where those who wish may sample it.  Then, head towards Akhaltsikhe which is cosily situated on both banks of the small river, Potskhovi. Take a tour of this ancient city and visit Rabati castle, a complex consisting of many historical castles, towers, and churches. Pay special attention to the halls and marvel at the ancient Georgian architecture. In the lower part of the fortress, you will find a tourist information center, a restaurant, café, and gift shops which you may visit as you please.  Next, visit Vardzia, a cave monastery site which delves into the rock half a kilometer and rises up thirteen tiers, which are connected to each other with a complex system of tunnels. Here, see the preserved large reception hall, living quarters, book depository, wineries, water, and spring water baths. Visit the Church of the Dormition, the central spiritual and monumental focus of the site. On the same north wall are ancient portraits of the royal founders, King Giorgi III and his daughter Queen Tamar. Then, return to Tbilisi.

From Tbilisi: Private Tour to Rabati Castle-Vardzia-Borjomi

4. From Tbilisi: Private Tour to Rabati Castle-Vardzia-Borjomi

Explore southern Georgia and see the most important monuments, including the Rabati Castle complex or the fascinating Vardzia cave complex. Visit the world-renowned Borjomi Resort. Start your tour at Rabati Castle, a 13th-century medieval castle complex, and admire the influence of different cultures reflected in the architecture. See a mosque, orthodox church, catholic church, and a synagog. Follow the upper Mtkvari River through narrow canyons at Aspindza along a valley. Arrive at Vardzia, famed for its paintings and unique architecture. Tour the bell tower, main church, cave dwellings, rooms, chapels, pharmacy, and wine cellars. Finally, arrive at the Borjomi Resort, a hydro-thermal health spa resort in the southern region of Samtskhe-Javakheti. Walk in the Borjomi Central Park and taste Borjomi mineral water which has unique healing qualities.

From Tbilisi: Vardzia Cave Tour with Guide

5. From Tbilisi: Vardzia Cave Tour with Guide

Discover the historical Vardzia Cave, excavated from the slopes of the Erusheti Mountain, which dates back to the 12th century. Explore the wonders of the cave including monk cells, a grand foyer, a treasury and even a cathedral. Trace the steps of Georgia’s first female sovereign, Queen Tamar, as you learn about the many battles that took place there. Then explore the Rabati Castle, a complex Asian-style military building that was erected in the 13th century. Learn about the sieges over the centuries that have destroyed the castle, and how it has absorbed the traces of different cultures and religions.  Continue on to the picturesque town of Borjomi to marvel at the beautiful natural landscapes of this National Park and taste the mineral water, Georgia’s number one export, that Borjomi is famous for.

From Tbilisi: Georgian Highlights in One Day Private Tour

6. From Tbilisi: Georgian Highlights in One Day Private Tour

Your guide will pick you up in the morning in a comfortable car and head first to the Tbilisi sea. You might be surprised by the existence of a sea in the Georgian capital, but in fact, the Tbilisi sea is the unofficial name of the reservoir created in 1952 to serve the city with water. The Tbilisi reservoir is located at a height of more than 500m above sea level and it is a pleasure to spend time here during the summer heat. Here, you’ll also visit a monument that amazes with its size. Known as the Georgian Stonehenge, the monument is officially titled the Chronicle of Georgia and was created by the Georgian-Russian painter, sculptor, and architect Zurab Tsereteli. The memorial was erected in order to celebrate 3,000 years of Georgian sovereignty and 2,000 years of Christianity in Georgia. The next stop will be the Jvari Monastery, the 6th-century Georgian Orthodox monastery built on a hill opposite Mtskheta at the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers. Jvari Monastery is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Continue to the Shida Kartli region where you’ll visit Uplistsikhe, an ancient cave town and one of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia. Uplistsikhe — literally “Fortress of God" — is an ancient town that played a significant role in Georgian history over a period of approximately 3,000 years. Archaeological excavations have revealed extraordinary artifacts dating from the late Bronze Age all the way up to the late Middle Ages. The next stop will be at Borjomi Central Park, home to the most remarkable virtues of Borjomi with its striking nature and unique mineral waters. One of the best places to experience this is Mineral Water Park. The park itself dates back to the 1850s and is an attractive destination throughout the year. Here you can taste the natural Borjomi mineral water and relax in a beautiful environment, or you can try riding the cable car up to the top of the park. After this last stop, your guide will drop you off in Borjomi or Bakuriani, or you can return to your accommodation Tbilisi.

From Tbilisi: 2-Day Tour to Vardzia

7. From Tbilisi: 2-Day Tour to Vardzia

1 Day: Tbilisi-Paravani Lake - Vardzia - Rabat Fortress - Borjomi (Driving distance 250 kilometers) Begin the tour from Tbilisi and have a stop at Paravani Lake (2.073 meters). Get pleasure from delightful views at Paravani, the largest and deepest lake in Georgia. Next stop will be Vardzia, grandiose cave city, one of the favorite destinations of Queen Tamar. Here, not far from the border with Turkey, see all the splendor of this tiered cave city where there are hundreds of dwellings, transitions, ladders, churches, library, dining, warehouses, workshops and where urban residents had running water and entertainment. Fifty thousand persons were able to live in this cave city. Continue your way towards Rabat fortress in Akhaltsikhe. The complex of the 9th-century was developed under the influence of different cultures over subsequent centuries and this is reflected in its architecture such as rare examples of traditional Georgian houses from the 13th-century, a mosque from 1752 and the ruins of a medrese (Islamic school). The Rabati also has a synagogue, an Armenian church and a Catholic church. Rabat was reconstructed in 2012. At the end of the day, arrive and overnight in Borjomi in either a family type guesthouse or 3-star hotel. 2 Day:  Borjomi - Gori - Uplistsikhe - Mtskheta - Tbilisi (Driving distance 250 kilometers) Tour starts from Borjomi - a spa resort famous with mineral water springs. This place is known far beyond the borders of Georgia. Go on a 1-hour walk in Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, located in central Georgia and creates an eastern border with the lesser Caucasus Mountains. Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park is one of the oldest and largest of the protected areas in Georgia and became a member of the European network of protected areas. In the beginning of the 20th-century, the Russian Tsar Nikolai II built in the park his summer residence. On the way to Uplistsikhe, you will visit Joseph Stalin Museum. There is also a small house where one of the cruelest world tyrants of 20th-century was born and raised. Everything is still kept. After Gori, your next stop will be Uplistsikhe - an ancient rock-hewn town in eastern Georgia, built on a high rocky left bank of the Mtkvari River, it contains various structures dating from the early Iron Age to the late Middle Ages, and is notable for the unique combination of various styles of rock-cut cultures from Anatolia and Iran, as well as the co-existence of pagan and Christian architecture. At the summit of the complex is a Christian basilica built of stone and brick in the 9th to 10th-centuries. Uplistsikhe cave city is the oldest populated place in Georgia. On the way back to Tbilisi, visit Mtskheta, the old capital of Georgia. Some monuments of the city are UNESCO World Heritage Site listed. In Mtskheta, visit Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, built in the 11th century, the main church of Mtskheta is a sacred place where the robe of Christ is being kept. Visit Jvari Monastery (6th to 7th-century), located on top of a hill above Mtskheta. The monument for its architectural and historical importance is included into the UNESCO list. Located at the precipice of a vertical cliff, Jvari Monastery is a remarkable sacred landmark visible from the ancient city Mtskheta. The building techniques and high standards of engineering, as well as the diverse decorative program of the landscaped monastery exemplify exceptional centuries - old Georgian building practices alongside a wide range of Eastern and Western aesthetic traditions. The church represents the peak of this architectural typology and serves as a model for numerous other churches. Jvari has been an important pilgrimage site since its founding and is considered one of the most sacred places in all of Caucasus.

Tbilisi: Private Uplistsikhe and Borjomi Hot Pools Day-Trip

8. Tbilisi: Private Uplistsikhe and Borjomi Hot Pools Day-Trip

Enjoy a day trip to the most scenic sight of central and southern Georgia, visiting a local family in their countryside house for a traditional dinner. After the pick-up from your hotel at 9:00AM, you will soon reach the ancient cave town of Uplistsikhe. Here you can walk through the ruins and beautiful rock formations and see the remains of formal ancient glory of what used to be once the center of Pagan culture. Right next to Uplistsikhe lies Gori, the town known as the birth place of Stalin, where you can still see the house where he grew up. After about 1.5 hours, you will reach the cozy resort town of Borjomi, surrounded by the largest national park of Georgia. You can wander through the beautiful central park, taste the legendary mineral water of Borjomi directly from the springs and take a bath in the open air thermal pools in the middle of the forest. You can reach the pools by hiking through the forest or taking a ride with a local car operating this route (at own expense). Enjoy a day full of history and nature.

Tbilisi to Borjomi - Kharagauli National Park Day Tour

9. Tbilisi to Borjomi - Kharagauli National Park Day Tour

Start your tour after breakfast from your hotel in Tbilisi. During the tour, you will visit the ancient capital of Georgia – Mtskheta. Here you will see wonderful UNESCO heritage monuments. the first being Jvari Monastery from the 7th-century, where the beautiful view on the confluence of two rivers Mtkvari and Aragvi can be seen from. Then go to the Svetisckhoveli Cathedral from the 11th-century – the architectural masterpiece of Georgian Renaissance. Then drive to Borjomi, which is situated in the central part of Georgia. The city is well-known for its mineral waters. You can taste natural mineral waters from the spring in the central park of Borjomi. After Borjomi Park, you will visit the beautiful forest of pine, hornbeam, and beech in Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park. Explore one of the easiest trekking routes – “National Park Information Tail”. The route starts from the administration building. After an initial hard ascent, the trail straightens out allowing for an easy trek that takes about 1.5 hours to complete.

Tbilisi: Guided Gori Fortress, Uplistsikhe and Borjomi Tour

10. Tbilisi: Guided Gori Fortress, Uplistsikhe and Borjomi Tour

Take the chance to visit Uplistsikhe, a cave town fortress situated on a rocky massif on the left bank of the river Mtkvari. Dating back to the 1st and 2nd millennium B.C., Uplistsikhe was an important religious, political and cultural center in the Hellenistic and late Antique periods. The place was founded in the late Bronze Age, around 1000 B.C., and continued to be inhabited until the 13th century A.D. Between the 6th century B.C. and the 11th century A.D., Uplistsikhe was one of the most important political and religious centers of pre-Christian Kartli, one of the predecessors of the Georgian state. Visitors can still walk among the ancient streets, rock-carved theater, royal halls, pharmacy, pagan temples and Christian churches, while the remains of granaries and large clay wine vessels give us some clue as to the daily life of the inhabitants. You can also visit Joseph Stalin’s Museum in Gori, Stalin (originally Georgian) was the secretary general of the Communist Party during World War II. The museum features Stalin’s house (a hut where he was born), his armor plated railway carriage and a statue that was controversially standing in the main square of Gori up until 2010. Afterwards, discover Gori Fortress, a medieval citadel in Georgia which stands above the city of Gori on a rocky hill. Following this, you will venture to Borjomi, a picturesque resort town in south-central Georgia located on the edge of the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park. It is one of the districts of the Samtskhe-Javakheti region and is situated in the northwestern part of the region in the picturesque Borjomi Gorge, on the eastern edge of the National Park. The town is famous for its mineral water, which is the number one export of Georgia. Borjomi is also home to the most extensive ecologically themed amusement park in the Caucasus. Due to the supposed curative powers of the area's mineral springs, it is a frequent destination for people with health problems.

Top sights in Samtskhe–Javakheti

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What people are saying about Samtskhe–Javakheti

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 334 reviews

Fantastic tour and guide. The check-in was well organized, Borjomi park was stunning and 30 minutes was enough to enjoy it. Then, we stopped for lunch and I couldn't have asked for a better break. Stunning restaurant with views and delicious food. Then we went to Vardzia and it was fun and interesting. Our guide Metro knew pretty much everything about Georgia's history and culture. Highly highly recommended

Due to strong fires in Borjomi the host replaced the tour with travel to Kazbegi. the travel was comfortable, the guide was wonderful, well-educated, friendly. the travel was very well organized. the guide was helping and directing everywhere.

Lenny was the perfect travel guide- conscientious driver, amazing depth and breadth of knowledge plus a sense of humor! We learned so much and enjoyed the trip. Communication with the company was seamless- highly recommend.

Excellent tour to Vardzia. Shuti our guide was very knowledge and full of enthusiasm for Georgia. It's a long trip, but the stops on route break up the journey

A fantastic trip with a fantastic guide. Vardzia in particular is stunning and really shouldn’t be missed.