We’re about to change your life. Big promise huh? Stay with us though, because by the end of this article, you’ll have fallen in love with a wonderful country. You might want to check the expiry date on your passport too.
Christmas vacation is always an exciting prospect but with so many places to consider, planning it can be a chore. Do you want skiing or warmth? Do you want to keep it budget-friendly or have you been saving up?
Most importantly, are you in the mood for an adventure that you’ll never forget?
When we talk about Christmas in Georgia, we’re not talking about the US state (although we’re sure it’s lovely). We’re talking about the beautiful country on the border of the Black Sea.
With mountains and lakes, cities and sights, Georgia is becoming a huge tourist destination. It’s filled with friendly people who love a good celebration and give a warm welcome.
Let’s take a look at why Georgia is a fantastic winter holiday location.
A Unique Christmas Vacation Destination
Christmas happens on December 25th, right? Not in Georgia! In fact, the Georgians love celebrating this time of year so much that festivities take up weeks rather than days.
Christmas falls on January 7th in Georgia but it’s not the first celebration. Georgians celebrate New Year’s on January 1st and continue the feasting into January 2nd. The 2nd is called Bedoba, the day of luck. Here they forget their worries and spread happiness and positivity for the forthcoming year.
But this is only the beginning.
Christmas comes on the 7th when the towns and cities are covered in decorations and lights. Huge processions take place across the country where everyone gets involved in costume and song.
But even Christmas isn’t the last day of the winter celebrations. On January 14th, Georgia celebrates a second New Year. This is Old New Year from the Julian Calendar and it’s a day for friends, family, and feasting.
Georgians welcome visitors on their Christmas vacation with open arms. No matter where you are in the country, you’ll see the traditions first hand.
So as you can see, they do things a bit differently in Georgia and always with enthusiasm.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know for the winter holiday of a lifetime.
Where Is Georgia?
First of all, where is Georgia anyway?
A small country with around 4 million people, Georgia has four neighbors. These are Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. It also has a 310km coastline on the Black Sea which is dotted with stunning resorts and beaches.
Georgia’s location is partly what’s made it such a unique destination. Sitting on the divide between Europe and Asia, this country has been heavily influenced by both continents.
Georgia is also easy to reach thanks to its major international airport in the capital, Tbilisi. From Tbilisi, you can travel easily throughout the country using trains, buses, or Marshrutkas (minibusses).
Quick Facts About Georgia
When you head to Georgia, there are a few essentials you need to know to hit the ground running.
- Currency – Georgian Lari
- Language – Georgian
- Winter Temperature – Tbilisi: 32F (0C) to 46F (8C) Gudauri: 28F (-2C) to 7F (-14C)
- Time Zone – UTC +4
Why Spending Christmas in Georgia Is So Amazing
Thanks to Georgia’s diverse geography, winter can be both snowy or milder depending on where you visit. If you’re looking for a Christmas vacation that’s heaped with snow, you can head up into the mountains.
For milder weather and bigger celebrations, soak up the culture and cuisine in Georgia’s capital. Did we mention the food is a serious national obsession?
There are plenty of options for your Christmas vacation in Georgia. Here are a few of the things you could do.
With Europe’s highest mountains, Georgia sees snowfall from September onwards. The ski resorts are considerably cheaper than in Western Europe and draw keen skiers and snowboarders every winter.
While Georgia has always had brilliant snow, it’s only in recent years that the ski industry has gone into overdrive. Now that so many visitors are realizing the quality of the snow here, resorts are developing quickly. Backcountry skiing is excellent too, for advanced skiers.
Gudauri ski resort is the largest and one of the easiest to reach from Tbilisi, just 75 miles north of the capital. With almost 40 miles of ski trails and a peak of 3250m, you can ski every day and not get bored.
Bakuriani ski resort is small and beautiful in the foothills of the Caucasus mountain range. This is an amazing place to ski and go on a tour to Borjomi via the Kukushka train. This is a trip through the perfect winter woodland on a track that’s well over 100 years old.
Skiing holidays are the stuff of dreams but can be too expensive for your Christmas vacation. You don’t need to worry about that in Georgia’s ski resorts though thanks to their amazing affordability.
With plenty of mountain lodge hotels in each resort as well as equipment hire shops, you’ll be able to turn up, get your skis, and hit the slopes.
Traditional food is a big deal in Georgia and forms an important part of Christmas and New Year traditions. The unique thing about the cuisine at Christmas is that each region has its own traditional dishes. There’s a lot to try and Georgians are so friendly that you’ll never go hungry.
Satsivi is one of the most popular dishes over Christmas vacation. Rich and hearty, Satsivi is turkey in a delicious walnut sauce. Fried pork is never far away at Christmas either, often with a warming spicy sauce.
In mountain regions, you’ll come across Khinkali, a meat dumpling that’ll refuel you after a long day on the slopes. For cheese lovers, Khachapuri and Chvishtari are out of this world.
If you’re keen on dessert, you won’t be disappointed in Georgia. Baqlava is the name of sweet pastries which might seem tiny when served but they pack a flavorful punch.
You won’t get far in Georgia without seeing a bottle of chacha. It’s brandy in essence but many Georgians distill their own to varying degrees of success. Unless you don’t drink alcohol, you must try a shot to really get into the Georgian spirit of Christmas.
Sweet liquors have also become popular around Christmas time in Georgia thanks to the influence of Western Europe. If you need a break from the alcohol, order a pot of Georgian tea, grown in the country’s perfect climate.
When it comes to drinking in Georgia, there are only two things to remember. Always toast before you drink and the word for cheers in Georgia is guamarjos!
Georgia’s history is a fascinating one and you can see it through the nation today. Influenced by ancient kingdoms and empires before being under Soviet rule, the country only regained independence in 1991.
The cultural identity of Georgians is bigger than its country name and they tend to be traditional and religious people. There’s a saying in the country that ‘a guest is a gift from God.’ It’s clear how true this is from the moment you land as you’ll find smiles and help wherever you go.
Museums and churches are plentiful and offer a deep insight into the historic Georgian culture. Folk dancing is also popular and the Georgians are expert traditional choral singers.
The majority of Georgians consider themselves Orthodox Christian which is the reason why Christmas falls on January 7th instead of December 25th. Orthodox Christianity is responsible for many of Georgia’s wonderful traditions.
On Christmas Day in Tbilisi, you can witness a vast Alilo procession that ends at the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Watch thousands of Georgians take part and see the children dressed up as angels. Adults will be in robes and you’re guaranteed to catch the sound of religious carols.
Wherever you go in Georgia for your Christmas vacation, you’ll experience the full scope of local traditions. From festivities and food to songs and dancing, you’ll leave feeling like you were truly a part of the nation.
It might be chilly in Georgia in winter but that doesn’t mean you have to be cold. In the heart of Tbilisi, you’ll find the sulfur baths where you can lie back and let any tension melt away.
Tbilisi is usually a safe place to explore and you’ll be welcomed warmly in any bar or museum you walk into. The shopping is a wonderful mixture of big brands and local boutiques so it’s easy to find gifts for your family.
Very affordable, a relaxing way to enjoy the capital at Christmas is by wine tasting. Georgia produces a lot of unique wines and the best way to enjoy them is by taking a tasting tour.
If you’re spending your Christmas vacation in Georgia’s ski areas, you can book into a hotel with a jacuzzi. Is there any better way to relax than that?
Winter Tours in Georgia
This country is one of the best places to go on holiday because there’s a huge amount to do. Thanks to its small size, many different landscapes are within easy reach of Tbilisi and you never have to travel far to have an unforgettable experience.
Taking a tour is a perfect way to get to know Georgia like a local and see all the most amazing places. When you sign up to a tour or book a bespoke one, everything you need is taken care of. From hotels and transport to attractions and tickets, you can rest assured that your trip will be relaxing.
For a true dive into Georgia’s history, take a tour to the Samtskhe Javakheti region. Here you can marvel at Tbilisi old town, travel to the extraordinary Rabati Fortress, and drink mineral water in Borjomi.
Mestia is excellent for skiing and a tour here will show you the incredible sights of the region. With museums, spectacular views, and traditional local food, this mountainous region has tons on offer.
Georgia is famed for its outdoor activities and whatever you want to do, it’s here. On your Christmas vacation, you can explore beautiful towns, go on chacha tasting tours, or of course, head to the slopes.
Accommodation for Your Winter Holiday
Wherever you choose to spend your Christmas vacation in Georgia, you’ll be well taken care of. From mountain lodges in ski resorts to boutique hotels in Tbilisi, Georgians really know how to treat their guests.
Ski resort hotels have everything you need for a relaxing stay and once those boots come off, you can rest in an indoor pool or curl up by the bar’s fireplace.
In Tbilisi, you’ll find every type of accommodation. It’s still very affordable despite being a capital city and you’ll always be able to find a room for your budget over Christmas. If you want to spoil yourself, check in to one of Tbilisi ultra-trendy hotels and see why it’s becoming a tourist hotspot.
Head to Georgia for Your Christmas Vacation
We said this article would change your life. Georgia has only recently transformed into a tourist destination and it’s still a relatively unknown place for a lot of travelers.
Now that you can see what an incredible country it is and the variation of activities on offer, you too can join those in the know. Taking your Christmas vacation in Georgia will be a life-changing adventure you’ll never forget.
Whether you’re a keen skier looking for winding forested trails or love the idea of tucking into hearty food in Tbilisi’s old town, Georgia will find a place in your heart.
Check out this well-organized travel guide to find out more about booking a winter holiday in Georgia. This might well help you to get the trip of a lifetime.