From the glorious ancient capital of Mtskheta to the soaring peaks of the Greater Caucasus, Mtskheta-Mtianeti is Georgia at its finest. The legendary Georgian Military Highway, one of the world’s most beautiful roads, winds its way up this region, through steep wooded valleys, up knife-edge ravines and over high mountain passes.
The epic journey through one of Georgia’s most picturesque regions takes visitors to the amazing Kazbegi area, home to glaciers, beautiful gorges and Mount Kazbek, as well as the cultural treasure trove of Khevsureti, and Gudauri, the Georgia’s best ski resort.
PLACES TO VISIT IN MTSKHETA-MTIANETI
Mtskheta-Mtianeti is a region in eastern Georgia country, whose capital is the city of Mtskheta. Mtskheta-Mtianeti comprises of the historic provinces of Khevsureti, Mtiuleti, Khevi, Pshavi and Ertso-Tianeti. The region is further divided into 5 municipalities: Kazbegi, Mtskheta, Dusheti, Akhalgori and Tianeti, all of which offer some worthwhile places to go in Georgia.
Remarkable for its scenic setting in the Greater Caucasus, Stepantsminda is one of Georgia’s key mountain climbing hubs. History buffs can explore the Stepantsminda Historic Museum, located in the childhood home of Alexander Kazbegi, which contains the writer’s library and memorabilia, as well as artifacts from the Khevi region, archaeological findings, religious items, local artworks and books.
Gergeti Trinity Church
Surrounded by the vastness of Georgian nature, the isolated location of Gergeti Trinity Church has made it the iconic symbol of the Caucasus. The 14th century church rests on an epic location high above Kazbegi and Gergeti towns, with the magnificent slopes of the Kazbegi Mountains as a backdrop.
From Gergeti Trinity Church, avid trekkers can go hiking farther up to the stunning Gergeti Glacier. The breathtaking landscape provides uninterrupted views of the Kazbegi Mountains from various vantage points. Start early in the morning as this roundtrip trek takes about 8 to 9 hours.
Mount Kazbegi is a peak of the Greater Caucasus range, and a popular mountain climbing destination in Georgia. Located at the Georgian altitudinal zone of 5,047m above sea level, Kazbegi is the third highest mountain in Georgia. For the best panoramas of Mount Kazbegi, hike up to Gergeti Trinity Church.
In the prominent cultural hub of Sno, centuries-old stone masonry and carpentry are still practiced and taught by master craftsmen. The 16th century Sno Fortress is situated on a stony hilltop, surrounded by a circular wall with a pyramidal tower in the middle. There is also a small church in Sno.
Juta is situated within the beautiful, lush green Sno Valley. Nearby is the Artkhmo Gorge which offers pleasant hiking. Another hike from Juta leads southeast up Chaukhi Valley to the foot of Mount Chaukhi (3,842m), a dramatic multi-pinnacled peak. Nature lovers can also enjoy horse riding in Juta.
Dariali Gorge stretches 11km from Stepantsminda to the Russian border. With verdant slopes and tumbling streams set against a backdrop of towering cliffs, Dariali is one of the most stunning gorges along River Tergi. Nestled at the base of the Kazbegi Mountains, the river gorge boasts medieval towers, waterfalls and wildlife.
Gveleti Waterfalls & Lake
From Gveleti Village, visitors can hike to 2 refreshing waterfalls nestled among verdant grasslands and little streams. The bigger Gveleti Waterfall is ideal for having a picnic. Visit during the late morning hours when the sun is shining into the gorge, and you can swim in the nearby Gveleti Lake. In winter the waterfall freezes over and offers a great spot for ice-climbing.
Truso Valley is a gorge that offers the ideal combination of gorgeous valleys and landscapes dotted with unspoiled villages. The gorge is famous for deposits of colorful mineral water sediments, glaciers and rivers. Be sure to visit Abano, a tiny village with a few houses and ancient towers. Truso is covered with birch forests and offers numerous opportunities for trekking.
Gudauri Ski Resort
Winter sports fans can visit Gudauri Ski Resort – the most beautiful skiing resort in Georgia, for some great skiing and snowboarding. Or go paragliding on an unforgettable experience that will have you soaring like an eagle in the air over misty powdered peaks.
Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument
The Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument is situated 4km north of Gudauri. It was built in 1983 to celebrate the bicentennial of the Treaty of Georgievsk that established Eastern Georgia as a protectorate of Russia. Also known as the Gudauri View Point, the Georgian monument boasts beautiful tiled murals and stunning valley vistas.
Kazbegi National Park
Kazbegi National Park boasts an amazingly diverse ecosystem of woody plants, wild herbs, and alpine and subalpine flora. Common animals include the chamois and brown bear, martens, wild cats, and shrews, while endemic bird species include large birds of prey.
The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral complex comprises the church, a palace and the 11th century gates of the Katolikos Melchizedek. Crowned by a high cupola, the interiors of the cruciform cathedral feature fragments of wall paintings and rich sculptural decoration. Along with the Samtavro and Jvari monasteries, Svetitskhoveli is included on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
Samtavro is a monastery complex that comprises the Samtavro Transfiguration Church, along with the Nunnery of St. Nino. The small domed 11th century church holds the tomb of Mirian III, the Iberian king who made Christianity the official Georgian religion. Excavations at the nearby Samtavro Necropolis have unearthed Georgian artifacts such as archaic pottery, gold jewelry and stone tools.
Dating from the 6th century, the Holy Cross Monastery of Jvari is a unique example of an Early Medieval Georgian church. From the observation deck near Jvari Monastery, visitors can admire Mtskheta’s stunning Georgian nature, within a gorgeous river valley bordered by magnificent mountains.
Shio Mgvime is a gorgeous medieval monastery complex dating back to the 6th century. Built within a limestone canyon, the complex features 5 churches, a bell-tower, refectory, reservoirs, rock-cut caves and clergy houses.
Armaztsikhe is an ancient Georgian fortress dating from the 3rd century BC. The fortress comprises of the former residence of Iberian rulers, a bathhouse, wine cellar, tower, temple and tombs. While the buildings are mostly ruined, the tower has been well-preserved.
Zedazeni is a Georgian Orthodox monastic complex, nestled on the densely forested mountains of Saguramo. The complex comprises of the Church of St. John the Baptist, a fortress and monastic cave cells. The monastery was founded in the 6th century by Saint John, one of the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers.
Ilia Chavchavadze Saguramo State Museum
The Ilia Chavchavadze Saguramo State Museum complex comprises of Chavchavadze’s residence, auxiliary buildings and family vineyards. Exhibits include the Georgian writer’s memorabilia, manuscripts, as well as photos of famous Georgian public figures of the 19th century.
State Archaeological Museum-Reserve of Great Mtskheta
The State Archaeological Museum-Reserve of Great Mtskheta showcases archaeological artifacts uncovered in Mtskheta. On display are relics from the Bronze Age, the late Middle Ages, and a variety of ethnographic pieces, including jewelry, pottery, metalwork, glass perfume bottles, and writings in Greek and Aramaic.
Chateau Mukhrani is an estate built in the 19th century by Ivan Mukhranbatoni, an heir of the Georgian royal family. Surrounded by breathtaking gardens, the chateau boasts several unique wine cellars. Visitors can learn about Georgian wine-making, as well as taste and purchase Georgian wine.
The Gvinis Palata (Chamber of Wine) is dedicated to the love of wine and Georgian cuisine. Visitors can learn about rare Georgian grapes and wine, taste various wines and learn how to bake traditional Georgian bread inside a clay oven, all while enjoying performances of Georgian music and dance.
In Shatili Village, visitors can admire a unique collection of medieval stone watchtower houses. For an off-the-beaten-path experience, go hiking over Chaukhi Pass down to Roshka Village in Khevsureti. From here, walk to the colorful Abudelauri Lakes. Also visit the beautiful Tanie Lake in Arkhoti Valley.
Dating from the 17th century, Ananuri Fortress comprises a circuit wall with turrets, the Church of the Virgin, the minor Church of Gvtaeba, the single-nave Church of Mkurnali, Sheupovari tower, a tower with a Svanetian type stepped pyramidal roof, a porch, bell-tower, spring and reservoir.
Some of the Eristavis (dukes) of Aragvi are buried Inside the Church of the Virgin. Constructed in 1689, the Church of the Assumption boasts richly decorated facades with the fine relief carvings of human, floral and animal images, including a carved entryway. It also holds the remains of several beautiful wall paintings.
The highland province of Pshavi is famous for dambali khacho, a type of fermented curd that has been included on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Georgia list. The Aragvi River in Pshavi is one of Georgia’s best white-water rafting destinations, which offers technical rafting in beautiful valleys.
Dating from the 14th century, Bebristsikhe is a castle fortress that consists of 2 levels: a citadel and a lower courtyard, both of which are surrounded by towers. The medieval fortress blends effortlessly into the landscape, while its location atop a hill offers amazing panoramas of the surrounds.
Famous for having the best khinkhali (Georgian dumplings) in the country, Pasanauri is the traditional center of Mtiuleti province. Pasanauri is also the starting point for rafting on Mtiuleti’s Aragvi River, which offers big waves when water levels are high.
Surrounded by stunning nature, Bazaleti Lake is a beautiful Georgian lake worth seeing. Fed only by rainfall and underground sources, the lake’s waters mineral-rich and are believed to possess curative properties.
Khada Valley is one of the most beautiful of its kind in Georgia. Many people visit here to enjoy the panoramic views, particularly from Korogho Church. Nestled within the valley is the small Khada Gorge, which is situated at Upper Lars close to the Russian border.
Zhinvali Reservoir is a hydroelectric dam constructed on the Aragvi River. Nestled among lush green hills and boasting turquoise-colored waters, Zhinvali offers picturesque views of the surroundings.
In ancient times, Tskhavati village was famous for its pottery, in particular kvevri (egg-shaped clay pots used in the ancient Georgian wine-making tradition). For a long time, Tskhavati earthenware crockery was in high demand in many towns and villages of eastern Georgia, especially the smaller-sized kvevris. Tskhavati’s poetry tradition has been included on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Georgia list.
Nestled on the Keli Highland within the Caucasus Mountains at 2,914m above sea level, Keli is a beautiful glacial lake fed by snow, rainfall and underground waters.
THE BEST TIME TO VISIT MTSKHETA-MTIANETI
Mtskheta-Mtianeti has a humid climate that varies considerably from north to south but generally, winters are cold with a lot of snow. Summers in the lowlands are relatively warm while the mountainous areas remain cool throughout the year. The best time to visit is between the months of May and September when Mtskheta-Mtianeti weather is pleasantly warm.
HOW TO GET TO MTSKHETA-MTIANETI
For flights to Georgia landing at Tbilisi airport, you may rent a car and drive yourself to Mtskheta-Mtianeti. But driving in country Georgia can be difficult if you don’t understand the Georgian alphabet or speak the Georgian language. A better option would be to get to Mtskheta-Mtianeti via private transfer.
FINAL WORDS AND TRAVEL SUGGESTIONS
Boasting an ancient history rich with cultural monuments and incredible nature, Mtskheta-Mtianeti perfectly unifies fragments of Georgia’s past and modern life. Its beauty unmatched, Mtskheta-Mtianeti never fails to leave an unforgettable impression on its visitors.
Be sure to book Mtskheta-Mtianeti hotels and vacation rentals ahead with our travel planner. If you prefer to drive, we have a modern fleet of Mtskheta-Mtianeti rental cars available for hire. We also organize Georgia tours from Mtskheta-Mtianeti that include private transfers to and from Tbilisi airport.
Even better, create your own custom vacation package that includes the specific places you’d like to see and things you’d like to do in Mtskheta-Mtianeti. Fancy a retreat from the bustle of city life? Order your custom tour to Mtskheta-Mtianeti today and make your dream vacation a reality!