Best time to visit Georgia

Best time to visit Georgia


TEMPERATURE & RAINFALL

For a relatively small country, Georgia’s climate is quite diverse, with the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea both playing a part in the differing conditions. In general, it’s drier yet colder in the east, and wetter but warmer in the west. The best time to visit Georgia is May, June or September, especially in the lowlands around Tbilisi, as you’ll avoid the summer heat and humidity as well as the freezing winter. Autumn harvest time is well worth a mention, especially around the vineyards of Kakheti. You’ll need to pack quick drying and waterproof gear no matter when you visit as weather can change in an instant.

Things to do in Georgia


WHAT TO DO IN GEORGIA & WHAT NOT TO

Things to do in
Georgia…


Whether it’s the country’s heroic version of Prometheus, Amirani, or Jason’s trials with the Golden Fleece, the advent of Christianity did next to nothing to dampen the myths, legends and Slavic folklore tales recounted on Georgia vacations. New Shuamta Nunnery, Alaverdi Church and Davit Gareja Monastery and caves all hold their own fascinating stories, whilst Stalin’s birthplace and museum in Gori offers an authentic glimpse of life back in the USSR.
The idea that Georgia invented wine is an appealing one and visits to the wine growing region of Kakheti will more than extol the virtues of the ancient winemaking method of Kvevri as well as a semi-sweet Saperavi or dry deep red Mukuzani. Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Kazbegi, in the High Caucasus, provide an excellent starting point for cultural discovery tours with stone watchtowers, medieval monasteries and perilously positioned places of worship all adding to an eclectic itinerary where religion meets mountains.
Meet the neighbours. Exploring the Southern Caucasus needn’t stop at the border. If you get the chance to tiptoe into Armenia and Azerbaijan you’ll be treated to some of the former Soviet Union’s most revered cultural and spiritual centres, including the Erebuni Fortress and Etchmiadzin Cathedral in Armenia and Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, and the stone age rock paintings in Gobustan National Park.

Things not to do in Georgia…


Mention the war. Relations between Georgia and Russia have always been slightly fraught with Tskhinvali, Gori, Tbilisi and Poti witnessing substantial damage during the Russo-Georgian war of 2008. Even after the EU and US-backed peace deal, thousands of Ossetians and Georgians remain displaced whilst the people of Tskhinvali continue to suffer under the uncertain banner of a ceasefire.
Forget your hiking boots. It’s nigh on impossible to escape the Caucasus, with the Upper Svaneti region in the northwest and Tusheti in the northeast offering extremely attractive ‘must tramp’ locations. Hiking in the presence of Chalaadi Glacier, Mount Shkhara and the UNESCO sites of Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is just a joy and securing the services of a local guide or going on an organised vacation is just as advisable as remembering your stoutest pair of walking boots.
Decline the hospitality. Georgians love to drink, it’s just in their nature, and if you’re invited into a local family home be prepared for at least three toasts from the tamada (toastmaster) to accompany a feast of local cheese, meaty stews, walnuts, aubergines and seasonal veg. Of course, when you're on an organised tour drinking isn't a prerequisite and it's perfectly acceptable to sit out a round of cha cha shots or a toasting ceremony if you’d prefer to take it all in with a clear head.

Georgia travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS IN GEORGIA

Itinerary advice


Jim O'Brien, director of our supplier Native Eye, shares his Georgia travel advice: “The Tusheti region in the northeast is one of my favourite places to visit in Georgia as it has remained somewhat hidden from the outside world. It presents a much more low key and simplistic approach to life as opposed to what you'll find in the cities.”

Cultural tips


Jonny Bealby, from our supplier Wild Frontiers: “When you consider Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, has been sacked over 20 times through Turkish, Arabic, Russian and Crusader invasions, it's no surprise that local people are fiercely independent when it comes to their national identity which manifests in everything from the food and wine to the singing and language. Georgians are well known for their longevity and whether it's the healthy food or the fresh air, there are numerous accounts of people living to well over 100, including a choir made up purely of centenarians.”
Jim O'Brien, from our supplier Native Eye: “Georgians take religion a lot more seriously than many other European countries and their Georgian Orthodox church services are very involved and often quite lively.”

Literature & legend


Jim O'Brien, director of our supplier Native Eye: “One of my favourite legends associated with Georgia centres around the Golden Fleece that was said to be held in Colchis, the ancient kingdom of the Southern Caucasus. Although the fleece is an integral part of the Jason and the Argonauts story, another theory is that people used to place sheepskins into rivers to catch grains of gold – hence a golden fleece. And a great book to read if you're visiting Georgia is Bread and Ashes by Tony Anderson. It details Anderson's walk through the Caucasus and intertwines his experiences with local people and the history of the region.”

Outdoor activity tips


Jonny Bealby, founder of our supplier Wild Frontiers, shares his recommendations and personal experiences related to Georgia: “Kazbegi in the far north of Georgia is a fantastic region for outdoor activities with great walking, mountain biking, horse riding and white water rafting to be found in and around the foothills of Mount Kazbegi, Georgia's third highest mountain. Two great snacks for a hiker's backpack are khachapuri (cheese bread) and shahlik (the Georgian equivalent of a Snickers bar).”
Photo credits: [Temp chart: Yevgeniy Shpika] [Helpdesk: Tdway] [Itinerary advice: Alsandro] [Outdoor activity tips: tomasz przechlewski] [Cultural tips - Jim O'Brien: Yevgeniy Shpika]

Written by: Chris Owen
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