Are you looking for fun activities to enhance your experience in Georgia country? Well, situated at the heart of Kakheti, Telavi is a center for many of Georgia’s cultural heritages, not to mention historical monuments, ancient temples, and monasteries, that greatly accentuate the sight-seeing experience for any tourist looking for a good time.
Apart from plenty of sightseeing destinations that Telavi has to offer, you can also find some of the best art galleries and wineries in the world. This makes the nightlife of Telavi quite the spectacle. Whatever your preference is, Telavi will probably have things for you to do to ensure you have a pleasant adventure.
The following list compiles some of the sites and activities that you may be interested to try out during your adventure in Telavi.
1. Visit the Nadikvari Park
This park is a great recreational center offering an incredible view of the Alazani Valley. The park has playgrounds that children can enjoy. It also has walking and biking trails that lovers or friends can find very enjoyable. Having been recently refurbished, the park now also has a concert arena that has made it one of the most popular tourist attraction sites in Kakheti.
2. Visit the Giorgi Chubinashvili Telavi State History and Ethnography Museum
This museum was founded in 1927 in the halls previously inhabited by King Erekle II who was a Georgian monarch and ruled as the king of Kakheti from 1744 to 1762. The museum was named after the great Art Historian Giorgi Chubinashvili.
There are many things to do in the museum; starting with checking out the legendary art gallery, to the large gates that surround the structure. There are the ruins of a theological school built by the king during his reign, the king’s bathhouse, and the Royal Palace in the premises.
As a tourist interested in historical, archaeological or textile artifacts, this is one of the ideal places to visit in Telavi vicinity.
3. Giant Sycamore Tree
During your time in Telavi, visit the surprisingly big plane tree that stands as a great representation of Telavi history. The historical significance of this special tree is so great that the natives believe that every wish made near the tree comes true. Being over 900 years old, the sycamore tree is treated with the respect it deserves by being provided with the conditions it requires continuing thriving and attracting tourists. Imagine a tree being 12 meters in width and 46 meters in height, who would not want to have it in their books that they have seen it with their own eyes?
4. Take a walk along Cholokashvili Street
If you happen to be traveling with a spouse, or some friends who you can enjoy evening walks with, make sure you got through Cholokashvili Street. The newly refurbished street is extremely beautiful with narrow roads with cozy ancient pavements, beautiful houses with rail balconies and wooden railings that are extremely pleasant to the eye.
The street is located at the center of Telavi so whenever you are looking for things to do, taking a stroll along Cholokashvili street should be at the top of your priority.
5. Visit the Alaverdi Cathedral
Named after its founder, Monk Joseph Alaverdeli, this historical monastery is the center for the Alaverdoba annual religious celebration which makes it a great tourist attraction center during the festival. It also has the advantage of being located at the heart of the world’s oldest wine-producing region. The cathedral monks even make own wine known as Alaverdi Monastery Cellar.
While visiting the Alaverdi Cathedral, you will enjoy a tour of the second tallest religious building in Georgia, second only to the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi. This will give you a distinct view of medieval Georgian architecture.
You will be taken through the history of Georgian literacy as recorded in one of the oldest manuscripts in Georgia. You will also enjoy a wine tasting tour of the cathedral’s winery and get a brief introduction to the winemaking Telavi culture.
6. Visit the Old Shuamta Complex
Still, on famous historical religious sites, make sure you take some time to visit the legendary architectural cluster that is the Shuamta Monastery. This complex is surrounded by mountains. It was constructed on a ravine found in between three mountains, hence, the derivation, “Shua MTA,” which means, “in-between mountains,” in the Georgian language. The complex consists of one 5th century Basilica and two domed churches.
Tourists visiting this location will be impressed by the picturesque scenery of the area, owing to that it is over 1000m above sea level. They will also love the carved stone architecture of the churches and get to learn the great history that is associated with the Shuamta complex. In brief, the churches were carved between the 5th and 7th century but abandoned in the 16th century. King Lewan II’s wife then built a new Shuamta monastery and Erekle II renovated and reopened the old complex in 2008 bringing them to the shape they are today.
7. Visit Ikalto Village
This is a historical village found about 10Km west of Telavi town. It consists of the famous Ikalto Academy and Monastery Complex. This area is regarded as the most iconic cultural-scholastic center when Georgia tourism heritage gets mentioned.
The Ikalto monastery was created first by a 13th century Assyrian Father known as Saint Zenon in the 6th century. The academy came later, during the time of King David.
The Monastery and academy made the Ikalto Village a significant center for education for the people of Georgia offering lessons in religion and theology, astronomy, geometry, among other skills.
During a visit to Ikalto, you will be treated with a historical tour whereby you will be able to see the Cobblestone-created academy, the remnants of manuscripts and articles of the 13th to the 18th century, ancient ceramics, medieval architectural concepts, and even ancient winemaking culture.
A visit to Ikalto village is especially ideal for education, religion, and history enthusiasts.
8. Visit the Alexander Chavchavadze Museum
This historical site was the house of a renowned Georgian politician and poet by the same name, Alexander Chavchavadze. Alexander was a member of the noble family who was involved in the war of the sixth coalition against Napoleon of France before he was wounded and forced to take up other roles in the political struggle. He started expressing his political sentiments through his writing, lamenting over the loss of Georgian independence and eventually the loss of his son-in-law.
A visit to the Chavchavadze Museum will take you through the great history of this nobleman in terms of his political career, poetry and national writings and their significance to Georgian history. You will also get to see and experience the architectural culture of ancient royal Georgia through the structure of Alexander’s house that has been maintained as it was since the time of his existence.
The compound is also home to one of the oldest and largest wineries in Georgia which serves as a major tourist attraction as Telavi and Georgia are considered the earliest places that wine was ever made.
9. The Monument of King Heraclius
Also known as King Erekle II, this was the King of Kakheti who ruled from 1744 to 1762. His monument can be found in the center of the city and is a great site for tourists to visit. One can learn the History of ancient Georgia, the achievements that the prosperous King accomplished and the reasons as to why his reign is regarded as the swan song of the Georgian monarchy when he or she visits the site.
The monument is quite beautiful and offers an ideal location for you and your friends to take photos to carry Telavi memories with you home.
The fact that it is located at the heart of the town also makes it easy for you to move from one place to another area of interest easily and swiftly when you are done.
10. Visit Wineries
As mentioned above, when you are in Telavi town, you can maximize your adventure by combining the things to do especially if the activities are in town, or otherwise close to one another. The most obvious activity for most tourists visiting Georgia is wine tasting.
Telavi has a rich winemaking culture. Winemakers and sellers are found almost everywhere when you are at Telavi. Spice up your educational or historic tour with a visit to any of the many local wineries found in the town.
The 10 things to do above give you a brief overview of the experience that you can have in Telavi. However, if you are looking to maximize your experience, consider the collective adventure options below.
11. Take a full day Kakheti tour
Visiting one place at a time might give you ample time to enjoy the specific locations in Telavi, however, for a small charge you can sign up with a tour company to get a 12-hour complete tour that involves but is not limited to the town center of Telavi. Ideally, you will be picked from your hotel in the morning and maybe start at the Ujama fortress. You will then go through the Gombori Pass to get to the Alaverdi Monastery. After the monastery you can come back to Telavi town, go to the Bodbe monastery and finish up at the Shighnagi ‘city of love.’
During this trip, you will enjoy stunning views, including the Georgian orthodox cave monastery and several other historical sites. You will get numerous chances to take photos. You will visit several wine museums like Twins Wine Cellar. The best thing with collective trips is that you will get the chance to enjoy your trip with other tourists.
12. Take a tour to East Georgia
Another awesome thing to do if you find yourself in Telavi and you have some time on your hands is to take a tour to East Georgia. This tour is similar to the Kakheti tour, but, it involves visiting more places and therefore, takes more time. Most tour companies offer the tour in a 2-day package.
The journey starts from your hotel room to David Gareji Cave Monastery then to Badiauri village where you will learn how Georgians make their bread. Tourists then have the opportunity to see the classic building styles of the town of Signagi. You can spend the night here while enjoying the panoramic view of Alazani Valley.
You can start the second day by visiting the Alaverdi cathedral which one of the greatest Georgian monuments. You can then drive to the nearby Napareuli which is home to the Twins Wine Cellar and Wine Museum. You can then head to Eniseli, where they make local wine and visit the Chavchavadze palace on your way back to Tbilisi and Telavi town.
During this trip, you also get to enjoy the company of other visitors. You also get to save petrol costs, as opposed to the idea of driving on your own to these locations.
13. Take an Exclusive Wine Tour of Tbilisi Region
Tbilisi is the capital of the Country of Georgia. Being the hub of wine history, a tour of Tbilisi will provide you with knowledge of the ancient Georgian winemaking methods. You can also learn more about the culture of Georgia and its relation to wine by exploring historic towns and small villages.
Ideally, this unique wine tour would start in the morning at around 9:00 AM in Telavi. Here you can visit Batonis Tsikhe and Alaverdi Cathedral where you will learn Georgian history, culture and also sample wine from the wineries. You can then visit the Qvevri, Gremi, Kindzmarauli wineries, and finally the famous Tsinandali museum as you complete the tour.
14. Take a minivan tour through the Shighnaghi-Tsinandali-Telavi route
If you are not up to booking a predetermined tour, you can take a minibus or a van through the route of Telavi to Shighnaghi and then come back to Telavi. During that journey, you can choose to visit the famous Shighnaghi town, which is considered a nice place for couples and friends to visit. You can also discover the Alexander Chavchavadze museum gardens during your trip. On your way, make sure to visit the several family-owned local winemakers to learn about the different winemaking techniques the natives use.
15. Visit the Narikala Fortress and the Georgian National Museum
Although located a distance from Telavi town, if you are a fan of Georgian history, do not let your Telavi adventure end without you heading out to Tbilisi to explore the Georgian National Museum and the Narikala Fortress.
All Georgian medieval works are represented in these two locations. Works of art, architecture, archaeological treasures that date back to the 3rd century can be explored by visiting the National Museum and the Fortress.
Georgia country is well known for its wonderful scenery and its abundance of tourist attraction sites. Telavi is at the heart of Georgia and therefore, is the perfect destination for a traveler looking for a good holiday. The political and archaeological history coupled up with the rich cultural history of winemaking that Telavi has gets tourists overwhelmed with the many things to do and the places to visit while on holiday in Georgia.