Something you learn if you do a lot of travelling is that the world never stands still. Many places that wouldn’t have been safe to visit in the recent past have since found a measure of stability and opened up to the tourism industry, including a number of countries in the former Soviet Union.
Take Georgia, for instance. This small country at the hub of Europe and Asia was rocked by conflict as recently as 2008, but today it ranks among the safest countries in Europe for travellers, and a decent RFID wallet should be all the security you need. In 2017, the International Crime Index actually named Georgia the seventh safest country in the world, and it is one of our personal favourites as far as holiday destinations go. In this blog, we share our top five reasons to visit Georgia.
1. Stunning Natural Landscapes
The first thing that has to be said about Georgia is that it offers incredible natural beauty. For lovers of the great outdoors, the Caucasus Mountain Range should be at the top of your list. This natural wonder stretches 1200km in length and features peaks of over 5000m. If it’s hiking you’re into, we suggest visiting in late spring to early summer; in winter, many of the mountains are covered in snow, and ski resorts cater to those who come to enjoy the slopes.
Georgia is also home to a staggeringly diverse array of other climates and landscapes, from arid deserts to serene lakes and surging waterfalls.
2. Magical Caves and Caverns
We could have thrown this in with “natural landscapes,” but Georgia’s underground caves really deserve to be in a category of their own. The Prometheus Caves Natural Monument, also known as Kumistavi Cave and Tsqaltubo Cave, is located in the Imereti region of Georgia. The cave is 1.8km long and 40 metres deep. Stalactites, stone curtains, and petrified waterfalls create an otherworldly atmosphere, and you can even travel by boat along the river that flows through its centre.
3. The Food Is Next Level
Drawing influence from the Mediterranean region as well as Turkey and the Near East, Georgian cuisine has to be one of the world’s best kept culinary secrets. From piping-hot Kinkali (Georgian dumplings) to melt-in-your-mouth Kachapuri, a Georgian meal will always leave you satisfied. Georgia is also believed to be the birthplace of wine, with evidence indicating that drink from fermented grapes was produced there over 8,000 years ago. The huge, earthenware vessels or Kvevri employed by ancient winemakers are still used in many parts of Georgia today.
4. World Heritage Towns and Villages
For a truly unique world heritage site, you can’t go past the cave monastery complex of Vardzia, which was carved out of the slopes of the Erusheti Mountain by Georgian monks in the 12th century. But in Georgia, you don’t need to leave the city to get a taste of ancient cultures; the city of Kutaisi in the country’s west is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, all the way back to the 6th Century BC when it was the capital of the Colchi people.
5. One of Europe’s Best Value Holiday Destinations
Tourism is growing in Georgia, but compared to other European countries, it’s still very affordable to travel there. Unless you’re doing something particularly lavish (and those options are available as well), you can expect to get by on about $30 a day. Compare this to a country like France, with daily costs well in excess of $200.
Like we said, the world never stands still, and it might not be long before Georgia is transformed by a booming tourism industry or some other, unforeseen event. Take our advice and enjoy it while you can!
On a final note, check out this awesome playlist of various place in the former Soviet Union.