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« Georgia Itinerary

Day 1 – Tbilisi, Mtskheta, Gori, Uplistsikhe

 

Planning
Planning & Information
Tips, info & everything you need to know.
 
Day 1
Tbilisi, Mtskheta, Gori, Uplistsikhe
Arriving in Tbilisi & traveling to Kutaisi, via Mtskheta, Gori, & Uplistsikhe.

« Seven days in Georgia

 
Day 2 – NEXT »
Kutaisi
Sights of Kutaisi & traveling to Mestia.

 

After arriving at Tbilisi airport, the immigration process was a breeze and luckily I got my bag quick and I was out of the door in no time. Right before the exit was the GeoCell cellphone operator’s office where they were offering free SIM cards and data-only packages were GEL 5 for 1GB GEL 7 for 2GB, GEL 9 for 3GB and so on. I bought a SIM card for data only (no calls or text messages) that I can use around Georgia and valid for 30 days. It costs GEL 7 for 2GB data.

It was past 6 a.m. when I was out of the airport and bus #37 was waiting right outside. Costing just GEL 0.50, the bus took about 25 minutes to the city center (Freedom Square), from where it was a 10 minute walk to my the hostel my friend was staying – Pomegranate hostel.

 

Tbilisi airport to city – Bus #37

Unlike what is mentioned on WikiTravel page, bus #37 runs between airport and city center (Freedom Square) all the 7 days and 24 hours a day. This update (as opposed to weekdays between 7am-10pm) was implemented a while back.

The frequency may be less in nights than in daytime, it takes about 25 minutes in night time with no traffic and about 45 mins-1 hour in daytime. All in all the bus runs every 15-30 mins and costs GEL 0.50. Make sure to have exact change since it’s an automated kiosk-based ticketing on the bus and the driver will not have change.

Upon paying the kiosk, make sure to get a ticket from the machine, which could be checked by a conductor as you exit the bus. Not having this ticket can result in heavy fines.

 

It took about 25 minutes to Freedom Square and another 10 mins walk to the hostel, my friend was waiting and we headed out to find a taxi waiting at the main road. We though of going to Didube station (metro and bus stations are the same), from where we wanted to take a shared mini-bus to Mtskheta. But the taxi driver offered to take us there for GEL 20, which seemed like a bargain for two people covering about 35 km.

Mtskheta

 
Reaching early around 7:45am at Mtskheta, we were dropped off at the main circle which is right outside the Samtavro church. Although scheduled to open at 8am, the church gates were closed and the locals nearby didn’t know why!

mtskheta1
[Main circle in Mtskheta early morning]

mtskheta2
[Samtavro cathedral from outside]

mtskheta3
[Jvari Monastery on top of hill during sunrise]

 
So we walked to the center of the town to the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. One of the most sacred places in Georgia, it was founded in 1010, built on the site of Georgia’s first church, and contains the graves of the ancient Georgian kings, including Sidonia, who was said to have been buried holding Christ’s robe.

There is a tourist information office just outside the church and adjacent to the wedding chapel and it opens at 10am.

svetitskhoveli1
[Entrance of Svetitskhoveli Cathedral]

svetitskhoveli2
[Front door of Svetitskhoveli Cathedral]

svetitskhoveli3
[Inside Svetitskhoveli Cathedral]

svetitskhoveli4
[Inside Svetitskhoveli Cathedral]

svetitskhoveli5
[Svetitskhoveli Cathedral]

svetitskhoveli6
[Murals inside Svetitskhoveli Cathedral dating from 11th century]

svetitskhoveli7
[Bell tower of Svetitskhoveli Cathedral]

svetitskhoveli8
[Side view of Svetitskhoveli Cathedral]

svetitskhoveli9
[Svetitskhoveli Cathedral]

 
After visiting the cathedral, we wandered around because all shops & cafes open at 10am. We stopped by a small cafe in the center for some coffee and kachapuri.

svetitskhoveli10
[Town of Mtskheta]

mtskheta4
[Varieties of Kachapuri]
 

Heading back to the main circle to find a taxi to Gori, we bumped into Stoyan (who runs Free Sofia Tour) and his mom heading to Gori as well.

One of the taxi driver, waiting near that main circle, offered GEL 20 per person to drive to Uplistsikhe first and then Gori; returning back Mtskheta. Although we were not returning to Mtskheta, the price was fixed to GEL 20 per person! We assumed that taking a private taxi to Gori (and Uplistsikhe) would have been more expensive, we hopped on to that 7-seater car.

The drive from Mtskheta to Uplistsikhe is on paved roads and takes about more than an hour.
 

Uplistsikhe

 
Known as the “The Fortress of the Lord”, Uplistsikhe is one of the oldest existing, and now uninhabited, cities in Georgia. Founded in the sixteenth century B.C. and carved out of rock, this was a bustling city over 3000 years ago and was, before the introduction of Christianity in the fourth century, a major regional hub of Caucasian pagan worship.

A Hellenistic amphitheater overlooking the Mtkvari river, a functioning 9th century church built atop the ruins of an ancient pagan temple, a once pillared seat of kings, and a fun cave tunnel leading out of the city to the riverside are some of the highlights of this place.

Entry fee to the site is GEL 3 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

Uplistsikhe access

Being on the top of a hill, Uplistsikhe can get extremely windy, so make sure to carry a nice wind-jacket.

The entrance to the top of the hill goes via a staircase and does not have any elevators or escalators. Similarly, the exit to the parking lot run through a staircased tunnel. So if you have disabilities, then we do not recommend visiting Uplistsikhe.

 

uplistsikhe1
[Uplistsikhe]

uplistsikhe2
[Inside Uplistsikhe]

uplistsikhe3
[Uplistsikhe]

uplistsikhe4
[Uplistsikhe panorama]

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[9th century church over Uplistsikhe]

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[9th century church over Uplistsikhe]

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[9th century church over Uplistsikhe]

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[Top view of 9th century church over Uplistsikhe]

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[Cave tunnel exit at Uplistsikhe]

uplistsikhe10
[Mtkvari river near Uplistsikhe]

 

About an hour or so at this heritage site, we got out and headed to Gori, which is about 15 minutes drive.
 

Gori

 
Birthplace of Joseph Stalin, Gori’s main attractions within the city are monuments to Stalin and they are all located on or nearby the main square along Stalin Ave.

We stopped right outside the Stalin Museum.

Open from 10am to 6pm and costing GEL 10, the Stalin Museum is an impressive museum filled with paraphernalia and media documenting the life and careers of I.V. Jughashvili. While the exhibits are in English, Russian and Georgian, there is an English guide (free of cost) that will walk you through the museum, explaining the historic events of his life.

stalin1
[Stalin Museum]

stalin2
[Stalin Museum]

stalin3
[Stalin Museum]

stalin4
[Stalin Museum]

stalin5
[Stalin Museum]

stalin6
[Stalin Museum]

stalin7
[Stalin Museum]

stalin8
[Stalin Museum]

 

Train from Gori to Kutaisi

 
At this point we were wondering what was the best way to go to Kutaisi from Gori, and our driver recommended taking a taxi that costs GEL 150 and taking about 2-2.5 hours.

But a quick visit to the tourist information center led us to a train going from Tbilisi to Kutaisi, stopping at Gori at 4pm. The train would take double the time- 4 hours, but would cost GEL 1 per person!

It was almost 2pm by the time we got out of the museum, so we decided to head to the station to get the tickets. We had two options to go from tourist center to station – take a taxi costing GEL 5 or walk for 30 minutes. Unsure of whether we will get tickets or not, we took the taxi to the station, got the tickets and headed out for some snacks.

goristation
[Gori Station]

goristation1
[Gori Station]

gori_snacks
[Fresh bread in the making]

gori_snacks1
[Final product – fresh bread]

gori_train1
[Train approaching Gori station]

gori_train2
[Getting in the train at Gori station]

gori_train3
[Inside the train]

 
The train stops at every station for about 3-5 mins each, sometimes more than 15 mins.

And by the time we reached Kutaisi it was 9pm. Our hotel was a 15 minute walk from the station, so after checking in, and freshening up, we headed out for dinner at the city center’s Almano restaurant.

Called it a day after walking back to the hotel.

 

Costs

Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate of USD 1 = GEL 2.34 at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult.
 

What Cost Notes
SIM card $2.99 GEL 7 for 2GB data only, valid for 30 days.
Bus from airport to Freedom Square $0.21 GEL 0.50. One way.
Taxi from Tbilisi to Mtskheta $8.55 GEL 20 per taxi. One way.
Breakfast in Mtskheta $0.85 GEL 4 for two Kachapuris, one coffee & one tea. Hence, GEL 2 per person.
Taxi from Mtskheta to Gori $8.55 GEL 20 per person. One way.
Uplistsike Entrance Fees $1.28 GEL 3 per person.
Taxi from Gori center to station $2.14 GEL 5 per taxi.
Train from Gori to Kutaisi $0.43 GEL 1 per person, one way.
Snacks & water $4.70 GEL 22 for two persons.
Dinner in Kutaisi $7.05 GEL 33 for two people at Almano restaurant.
Total Costs $33.55 Per person
Overall Costs $940.41 Per person

 

 

Planning
Planning & Information
Tips, info & everything you need to know.
 
Day 1
Tbilisi, Mtskheta, Gori, Uplistsikhe
Arriving in Tbilisi & traveling to Kutaisi, via Mtskheta, Gori, & Uplistsikhe.

« Seven days in Georgia

 
Day 2 – NEXT »
Kutaisi
Sights of Kutaisi & traveling to Mestia.
  • Tina

    I initially thought of booking a group tour to Mtskheta, Gori and Uplistsikhe but after reading your post, I think I’d rather follow what you did. We’ll take the marshrutka + taxi then. Thanks!

    • travelonthedollar

      You’re welcome! Safe travels & enjoy!


SEVEN DAYS IN GEORGIA

 
Planning
Planning & Information
Visa, tips, details of planning.

 
Day 1
Tbilisi, Mtskheta, Gori, Uplistsikhe
Arriving in Tbilisi & traveling to Kutaisi, via Mtskheta, Gori, & Uplistsikhe.

 
Day 2
Kutaisi
Sights of Kutaisi, and traveling to Mestia.

 
Day 3
Mestia, Ushguli
Sights of Mestia & Ushguli.

 
Day 4
Ushguli to Mestia to Tbilisi
Traveling from Ushguli to Mestia to Tbilisi.

 
Day 5
Sighnaghi, Tbilisi
Day trip to the wine country.

 
Day 6
Tbilisi, Kazbegi
Day trip to Mt. Kazbegi.

 
Day 7
Tbilisi
Waterfall, Aghmashenebeli St., Tbilisoba

Expenses
How much did it cost?
List of all the expenses.
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