Samtskhe–Javakheti
UNESCO Sites

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Our most recommended Samtskhe–Javakheti UNESCO Sites

From Tbilisi: Vardzia Cave Tour with Guide

1. 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.

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From Tbilisi: 2-Day Tour to Vardzia

2. 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.

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From Kutaisi: Day Trip to Rabati, Vardzia, and Borjomi

3. From Kutaisi: Day Trip to Rabati, Vardzia, and Borjomi

Wander around the biggest cave city in Georgia, and experience the astonishing Rabati Castle. Then, breathe in the fresh air of Borjomi Forest, and taste its famous spring water. Depart from Kutaisi and head to the first stop, Rabati Castle. Explore the Asian-style 13th century Rabati Castle in Akhaltsikhe, with its striking and varied architecture. Enjoy its modern amenities like cafes and shops, or explore its ancient area including the Ahmediyeh Mosque, Jakeli Castle, and Historical Museum. Take a break for lunch, before heading to the next stop. Next, continue your trip to the 12th-century Vardzia Cave complex. Follow the upper Mtkvari River as you pass through narrow canyons. See the monastery with its ancient paintings, and marvel at other features like the bell tower and wine cellars. Visit the hydro-thermal health spa resort of Borjomi. Enjoy strolling through the forest and taking in the fresh air, before tasting the award-winning local spring mineral water with its unique healing qualities. Spend some time in Borjomi Central Park and enjoy the surrounding nature.

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What people are saying about Samtskhe–Javakheti

Overall rating

5.0 / 5

based on 2 reviews

Wonderful Day

Everything worked very well, except of that we did not have a guide at Rabati fortress. All in all it was a wonderful experience and you can see a lot in only one day. We were a small group and the tour guide told us a lot about Georgia. Lunch was tasty and cheap, the bus was comfortable, the sights breathtaking. Highly recommended!

The castle of Rabati and the cave of Vardzia were a very nice discovery, which is worth it if you are not afraid of the 8 hour drive in total. For my part, it didn't bother me at all: very good atmosphere on board the bus, great guide and short breaks that punctuate the trip. I highly recommend !

Great experience

The tour with WST was professionally organized. The bus was comfortable with enough legroom. Our guide explained all the things we needed to know in detail. We had enough time to explore the different sites we visited.

Transportation is great. Tour guide is really cool and our driver is great. Great experience. Need to be prepared for Vadzia Cave (eat and drink at short stop).

The tour was very good but it is a long day and you just need to be prepared for that. Guide was excellent. Lunch was good but very late in day