Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, is a wonderful place to visit! In fact, this is one of the most interesting, unique and beautiful cities in Europe and you won’t be bored there for sure.
This is also one of my very favorite places, I’ve been returning there at least once a year since 2011 and each time it surprises me with even more great things to do in Tbilisi.
One of the main reasons why you should allocate a bit more days for Tbilisi trip in your Georgia itinerary is the variety of amazing day trips from Tbilisi. You can easily go to some of the best places to visit in Georgia as side trips from the capital only to return to the city in the evening to enjoy more of Tbilisi attractions.
The places you can visit as Tbilisi day trips are diverse and that’s what makes them so great. You can see the breathtaking landscape of the Caucasus mountains, tour centuries-old cave towns and monasteries, or visit interesting towns with Soviet legacy. You might even hop across the border and visit the UNESCO sites in Armenia!
All of these are available as day trips from Tbilisi and it would be a pity if you miss them when visiting the capital of Georgia.
Table of contents
- 1 How to go for day trips from Tbilisi
- 2 Best day trips from Tbilisi
- 3 Final thoughts on Tbilisi day trips
- 4 Further reading
- 5 Travel Resources
How to go for day trips from Tbilisi
Some of the places are reachable by public transport however this might be a bit time-consuming, uncomfortable, and challenging to navigate (but definitely not impossible!).
If you rent a car you can easily visit all the sites independently and spent as much time as you wish in each of them. However, Georgian roads and especially Georgian drivers are a bit crazy so if you are not a confident driver you might want to rethink this option.
The best option seems to be day tours from Tbilisi, either group ones or private ones. Since Georgia tourism is booming there are numerous companies offering tours to each of the popular destinations and you can easily find the one that suits you best.
I’ve been to a few organized day trip from Tbilisi and it was just fine, I have no complains. This was a really efficient and often affordable way of sightseeing in Georgia as I could visit more places than I would independently, using public transport (I don’t have a driver’s license so renting a car is not an option for me, unfortunately). As a bonus, I met some great people on my day trips from Tbilisi and we are still in touch.
Below I will include info on how to get to each place and share some of the best tour options if that’s what you would like to opt for too.
Best day trips from Tbilisi
And now, let me tell you about all the best day trips from Tbilisi.
You probably have seen iconic pictures of the tiny old church with the dramatic mountains in the background – that’s Gergeti Trinity Church in Kazbegi (or Stepansminda as that’s the official name of the town).
The church was built in the 14th century and has a separate bell tower, inside you can find some old frescoes as well as the newer addition to the interior. In the turbulent times, the precious relics from Mtskheta were brought to Gergeti Trinity Church to keep them safe.
While the church itself is a beautiful example of the medieval sacral architecture in Georgia, the main reason to come here is the breathtaking view over the Caucasus mountains, including the famous Mount Kazbek – the third-highest peak in Georgia. It is believed that in the mythology Prometheus was chained to this mountain for stealing the fire from gods and giving it to people.
Gergeti Trinity Church and the surrounding panorama is a truly remarkable place, probably the most spectacular one you can visit in Georgia but there are a few more fabulous stops along the way that will make this day trip from Tbilisi an unforgettable one. Not to mention the road itself – the famous Georgian Military Highway – is one of the most scenic roads you will ever see so be sure to score a window seat.
Almost halfway from Tbilisi to Kazbegi you should stop at Ananuri – the fortress complex originally built in the 13th century. Not only this is a wonderful place but it also has a picturesque location at the shore of Lake Schinvali, with green rolling hills around.
Another picturesque stop is at the Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument (known also as Gudauri View Point) – a masterpiece of Soviet art located literally in the middle of nowhere. The concrete structure from 1983 is placed above the Devil’s Valley and is known for its beautiful Soviet mosaic, showing the history of both Georgia and Russia. But even if you are not a fan of Soviet art you will appreciate the place for the mindblowing views of the Caucasus mountains.
Some people might want to add a stop in Mtskheta to this Kazbegi tour from Tbilisi – if you have time that’s fine but Mtskheta can be easily visited on another occasion too.
Distance from Tbilisi: 150 km / a bit over 3 hours drive
How to get there: You can go to Kazbegi independently, there are marshrutkas (minibusses) leaving from Didube station at least once an hour.
Once in Kazbegi you can hike up to the church and back, it’s around 2 hours hike one-way with an elevation change of around 500 meters. You might also ask one of the local taxi drivers to drive you there and back – there will be hanging out at the bus stop for sure, offering their services to all the guests.
The downside of this option – you will go directly to Kazbegi and then back to Tbilisi, without stops along the way.
There are also plenty of tours available that will take you from Tbilisi to Kazbegi as well as other destinations along the way. If you want to see all the places in one day I believe this is the best option.
- Full day tour to Kazbegi
- Private Tour Tbilisi-Gudauri-Kazbegi
- Kazbegi Full Day Trip The Best Experience
- Kazbegi and Gergeti full day trip to the Caucasus with lunch
Another popular one day trip from Tbilisi is the David Gareja monastery, located right at the border with Azerbaijan. To be honest I wasn’t very much impressed with the place when looking at the pictures but once I got there it was amazing!
The monastery was founded in the 6th century by David – one of the thirteen Assyrian monks that arrived in Georgia. At first, he just inhabited one of the caves but eventually the first monastery – Lavra – was built. Over the centuries the complex grew and developed and was one of the most important religious and cultural centers in Georgia.
Due to its location, the place was often a target of numerous invasions and has been uninhabited for years. These days there are only a few monks living there, taking care of the place.
Until recently it was possible to hike up to the actual border with Azerbaijan and even cross it to see the most valuable part of the complex with cave paintings. However, the row over the border between the two countries left that area not accessible for tourists (huge pity, those views were mindblowing).
But it is still worth visiting the David Gareja monastery and see at least part of the complex and admire the beautiful landscape around. On the way, you can stop in the nearby Udabno settlement for lunch and some rest.
Distance from Tbilisi: 75 km / around 2 hours drive, the roads closer to the monastery are in a pretty poor condition.
How to get there: Between April 1st to October 31st, there is a shuttle service called “Gareji Line”, departing daily from Tbilisi. You don’t need to book it in advance, just show up at the meeting point, buy the ticket and you are free to go.
With this shuttle you will have some 2-3 hours in David Gareja and on the way back there is a lunch stop in Udabno. You can find more details about the Gareji Line on their Facebook page.
There is no public transport to the monastery complex so if Gareji Line is not running you can either rent a car or go on the tour – fortunately, there are plenty of them to choose from.
- Tbilisi: David Gareja Monastery Full-Day Tour
- David Gareja Monastery and Sighnaghi Tour
- Explore Kakheti – David Gareja Monastery And Sighnaghi
Uplistsikhe and Gori
Uplistsikhe is another impressive cave site located not too far from Tbilisi. The oldest buildings of this ancient cave town date back to the 5th century BC and the place was in use until the Late Middle Ages.
Uplistsikhe is a remarkable example of the influence of rock-cut cultures from Anatolia and Iran where the pagan and Christian architecture stood next to each other. This is also one of the oldest settlements in Georgia.
Once Mtskheta and Tbilisi became the centers of Christianity in Georgia, Uplistsikhe lost its importance and eventually was left abandoned. The 1920 earthquake destroyed the remnants of the town a bit more but still today it is an impressive place to visit.
The complex is divided into three parts – lower, central, and upper. You will find most of the houses and attractions, including the 9th-century basilica, in the central part. From Uplistsikhe you can also admire the beautiful panorama of the surrounding landscape with the Kura river flowing through the area.
Uplistsikhe is located only 15 km away from Gori so you can combine the visit to the cave complex with the city. Gori is known as the birthplace of Joseph Stalin – the infamous Soviet dictator. You can visit the Stalin Museum where, besides numerous memorabilia, you might see his personal train carriage or the house where he was born. It’s somehow a weird yet interesting place to visit.
If you still have some time head to the Gori fortress for the great view of the city and beyond.
Distance from Tbilisi: 85 km / a bit over 1 hour driving on the highway to Gori
How to get there: you can easily get from Tbilisi to Gori by marshrutka – they depart frequently from Didube station. There are also a few trains per day between Tbilisi and Gori.
In Gori, you can either find a taxi driver that will take you directly to Uplistsikhe or get a local marshrutka to Kvakhvreli and walk around 1 km to the cave complex.
You might also take the local train from Tbilisi to Kvakhvreli or Uplistsikhe stations and walk a bit to the caves.
- Georgia: Day-Trip to Mtskheta, Stalin Museum & Uplistsikhe
- Uplistsikhe and Stalin’s Museum in Gori: Full-Day Tour
- Day Tour to Gori, Uplistsikhe and Mtskheta from Tbilisi
Kutaisi and surroundings
Even if Kutaisi, the second-largest city in Georgia, deserves more than just one day (especially if you want to go for all the day trips from Kutaisi), you can also visit the city as a day trip from Tbilisi.
Just like Kazbegi, Kutaisi also is known from the mythology – this is where the Argonauts were supposed to find the Golden Fleece. And so today on the main square you can find the beautiful fountain showing 30 golden statues of animals – the copy of the statues from the times of the ancient kingdom of Colchis.
There are plenty of things to do in Kutaisi but fortunately, most of them are located in the central part of the city and you can visit all the Kutaisi attractions in a few hours. The most important one is Bagrati Cathedral from the 11th century, towering above the city – until 2017 it was a UNESCO site but after too modern restoration it was removed from the World Heritage List.
Kutaisi is a really pleasant city to wander around, be sure to stop at the local market too and admire the amazing Soviet bas-relief on the side of the building.
If you still have some time you can head to the nearby town Tskaltubo – a former spa town where Stalin used to spend his holidays, today this is a real treat for those who like exploring abandoned places.
Other interesting sites near Kutaisi include Gelati Monastery (a spectacular UNESCO site), Prometheus Cave or Okatse and Martvili canyons. If you leave Tbilisi early enough you have big chances to see many of these places in one day.
Distance from Tbilisi: 230 km / less than 4 hours
How to get there: there are frequent marshrutka departures from Didube bus station, the journey should take around 4 hours. Once you arrive in Kutaisi you need to take the local bus no 1 from the bus station to the center of the city.
If you would like to visit Tskaltubo you need to take a marshrutka from either the center or the bus station – they depart every few minutes and the trip takes around 20 minutes.
Further places are not accessible by public transport but you can find a taxi driver in Kutaisi to take you there.
- Tbilisi: Kutaisi with Prometheus Cave and Martvili Canyons
- Caves , Waterfall and Canyons in 1 Day
- Private Tour from Tbilisi to Kutaisi -Martvili canyons-Prometheus caves-Kutaisi
Mtskheta is probably the easiest Tbilisi day tour since the town is located right outside of the capital.
Mtskheta was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Iberia between the 3rd century BC and the 5th century AD – during that period Georgia adopted Christianity in 334 making it one of the oldest Christian countries in the world. Today Mtskheta is one of the most important places for Georgians and a popular tourist destination, part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The most important attraction of Mtskheta is Jvari Monastery from the 6th century, located hight above the city – not only this is a wonderful example of the early Christian Georgian architecture, but the view from up there is pretty amazing too, you can see the whole town and the confluence of Kura and Aragvi rivers.
Other places to see in Mtskheta include Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (built in 1010 on the site where the first church in Georgia was located), Samtavro’s Convent (where, according to the legend, St. Nino used to live) or ruins of the Bebris Tsikhe fortress. There are even more old monasteries around the town.
Mtskheta itself is a nice place to visit and a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Tbilisi.
Distance from Tbilisi: 20 km
How to get there: There are frequent marshrutka departures from the Didube station but you need to ask around which one goes to Mtskheta.
You will arrive in the center of the town so you will need to find a local driver to take you to Jvari Monastery since it’s too far away to walk – there should be taxi drivers at the bus stop willing to drive you there. Be sure to agree on the way there and back and ask a driver to wait for you at the monastery.
If you want to visit only Jvari Monastery you can find a driver in Tbilisi or use the Yandex Taxi app.
- Mtskheta: Ancient Capital of Georgia Private Half-Day Tour
- From Tbilisi: Private Full-Day Tbilisi City & Mtskheta Tour
- Mtskheta: Day Tour to Oldest City in Georgia
Kakheti region, located east of Tbilisi, is known mostly for its wine – 70% of the Georgian wine production comes from this area.
The Georgian wine gets more and more recognition all over the world and it is popular for a reason since the wine-making tradition in Georgia is thousands of years old. The wine is kept in kvevri – large earthenware vessels in the shape of an egg that are hidden in the ground to keep the temperature steady.
If you would like to get to know the winemaking tradition in Georgia and taste the local wine there is no better place to do it than the Kakheti region.
While wine is the main reason to visit the area there are also a few interesting places worth stopping at.
Sighnaghi is one of the smallest towns in Georgia but it is full of attractions. Sighnaghi is known as the city of artists and indeed you can find numerous art galleries all over the place The charming old town is surrounded by the city walls from the 18th century, with 6 gates and 23 towers. From the city walls, you can admire a beautiful view of the surrounding area and the Caucasus mountains in the background.
Not far from the city (around half an hour walk) you will find Bodbe Convent – one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Georgia, with the burial place of St.Nino (who brought Christianity to Georgia).
Another interesting religious place in Kakheti is Alaverdi Monastery from the 11th century near Telavi. You can visit them all as a day trip from Tbilisi.
Distance from Tbilisi: 110 km / 2 hours drive to Sighnaghi; 95 km to Telavi
How to get there: If you would like to learn more about wine and visit local vineyards the best option is to go for the tour.
If you plan to visit Sighnaghi only you can easily do it by public transport – there are marshrutkas from Samgori metro station at every odd hour between 7.00 and 17.00. Once you arrive in Sighnaghi you should book a seat for the trip back to Tbilisi as minibusses might get full – you can do it in the kiosk at the bus station.
- From Tbilisi: Kakheti Wine Region Full-Day Group Tour
- Full-Day Georgian Wine Tasting Tour
- Tbilisi: Kakheti, Signagi, Telavi & Alaverdi Full-Day Tour
Vardzia caves and Rabati castle
Vardzia is the third caves complex you can find in Georgia and this one is probably the most impressive one. The good news is you can also go there as a day trip from Tbilisi.
The works on the cave town started at the end of the 12th century. During the Mongol invasions in the Middle Ages up to 60 thousand people could find shelter in the caves of Vardzia. The site is really huge and impressive – the caves are cut in a steep Erusheti Mountain and the whole cave town stretches for around half a kilometer and has up to nineteen tiers.
Visitors can see around 300 chambers as well as the Church of the Dormition with the 12th-century mural paintings. You need some 2-3 hours for visiting Vardzia. Be sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes as some of the passages are steep and narrow.
Not far from Vardzia you can visit Akhaltsikhe town with a beautifully renovated Rabati castle (originally from the 9th century). The city itself is pleasant for a stroll too and has more interesting sights (like the Turkish baths) but all of them are in the shadow of a marvelous Rabati castle.
If you still have time you might stop in Borjomi spa town along the way but I believe it deserves a separate day trip.
Distance from Tbilisi: 240 km / 4-hour drive
How to get there: since it is quite a journey from Tbilisi I would not recommend trying to do it by public transport, especially that there is no direct connection from the capital. The best option, besides driving yourself, is to go on the tour.
- From Tbilisi: Vardzia Cave Tour with Guide
- From Tbilisi: Full-Day Tour of Vardzia, Rabati and Borjomi
- From Tbilisi: Vardzia, Rabati, and Borjomi Private Tour
Borjomi and Bakuriani
Borjomi, the famous spa town, is well-known all over the world thanks to its popular mineral water that you can easily buy outside of Georgia too. But this is not the only reason to visit the place.
It is such a pleasant place, perfect for walking around and relaxing from the hustle and bustle of Tbilisi. There are a few interesting landmarks in Borjomi, such as Romanov Palace, Blue Palace “Firuza” or Central Park. When you are in Borjomi be sure to taste the local mineral water as it’s much stronger than the one you can buy.
The town is also a getaway to the nearby Borjomi Kharagauli National Park with its beautiful mountainous landscape.
One of the biggest attractions of Borjomi is taking the local narrow-gauge train “Kukushka” to the nearby ski resort Bakuriani. The journey takes 2,5 hours and the railway line climbs from 820 meters above sea level to the elevation of 1700 meters above sea level. Along the way, you can enjoy a beautiful landscape with gorges and forests.
Distance from Tbilisi: 160 km / 2,5 hours drive
How to get there: You can take a marshrutka from Didube bus station to Borjomi, they depart hourly from 7 in the morning. There are also trains from Tbilisi but they take up to 5 hours so not really suitable for a day trip.
If you want to combine Borjomi with Bakuriani and the train journey it’s better to go on a tour.
- Borjomi & Bakuriani: Small Group Full-Day Tour from Tbilisi
- Bakuriani Borjomi full day tour from Tbilisi
- Borjomi – Bakuriani – Kukushka
Chiatura, a popular alternative tourist attraction in Georgia, is an easy place to visit from Kutaisi but can be done also as a day trip from Tbilisi.
The city is known for its old cable-car system that works as public transport between lower and upper parts of Chiatura (the central part of the city is located in the deep valley). There are 17 cable cars in and around Chiatura and while many of them are not working or are under renovation you can still ride a few of them.
They are not for the faint of heart though, you might have doubts when looking at them as they are old and rusty. But that’s part of the experience. Besides, it’s worth going to the upper parts of Chiatura to see beautiful views of the city and surroundings.
Chiatura itself is a nice, although a bit sad city and a keen eye will notice remnants of the Soviet past (like the mosaic with Lenin and Stalin).
Near Chiatura you can also visit the Katskhi pillar – an impressive 40-meters high monolith towering above the area. What makes it special though is a small church and the hermitage located on top of the pillar. It’s not possible to visit the church (a local monk lives there and goes down only every two weeks), this is still a wonderful place to see.
Distance from Tbilisi: 180 km / 3-hours drive
How to get there: Getting from Tbilisi to Chiatura by marshrutka is time-consuming and requires a change in Zestaponi, you can count some 4-5 hours one way so it’s not very practical (plus you might not have time for Katskhi pillar). Taking the tour seems like the best option.
- Chiatura: Soviet Cable Cars Full–Day Tour
- Soviet past – Day trip to Chiatura cable cars town and Katskhi pillar
- One Day Private Tour To Chiatura and Katskhi Pillar
If you would like to hop across the border to Georgia’s southern neighbor but don’t really have time for a proper trip to Armenia you still can visit the country as Tbilisi to Armenia day trip. Some of the best places to visit in Armenia are located just across the border and even with the border crossing procedures you can reach them in around 2 hours.
Armenia was the first country in the world that adopted Christianity as a state religion, in 301 AD, and you can find really impressive centuries-old monasteries all over the country. Two of the most beautiful (and my personal favorite ones) – Haghpat and Sanahin – are located just across the border, near the industrial town of Alaverdi (that is the Armenian version of Chiatura) in Lori Province.
Haghpat was built between the 10th and 13th centuries and in the Middle Ages was an important religious, spiritual, educational, cultural, and scientific center. Sanahin is even a bit older (as that’s what its name means) and currently is a bit more decayed but that what makes it more beautiful. Both monasteries are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
If you want to see more of Armenia you might go for a different day trip from Tbilisi (although it will be a long one) and visit Lake Sevan with Sevanavank Monastery located on the hill overlooking the beautiful area as well as the vibrant capital Yerevan.
I personally believe those further places in Armenia deserve more attention than just a day trip from Tbilisi but if you are running out of time this is a fine option too.
Keep in mind that day trip from Tbilisi to Armenia requires you to have a valid passport. You should also check visa requirements for visiting Armenia.
Distance from Tbilisi: 110 km / 2-hour drive to Haghpat
How to get there: for this Tbilisi day trip, I would recommend going on a tour. You can get to Alaverdi by marshrutka but this can be problematic as the minibusses depart when they get full (I once had to wait for an hour) and they are going to Yerevan so the driver might not want to take you only halfway or you might need to pay the fee for the whole journey. You might also have problems with returning to Tbilisi.
- Tbilisi: Full-Day Armenia Tour
- From Tbilisi: Private Day Trip to Armenia
- From Tbilisi: Small Group 1-Day Tour to Armenia with Lunch
- Discover Armenia (Group tour)
Final thoughts on Tbilisi day trips
As you can see your options for day trips from Tbilisi are pretty good and you can easily find something for your taste.
If you only have time for one or two trips I would recommend Kazbegi and David Gareja monastery complex or Uplistsikhe and Gori (try to add Mtskheta to this day trip too). But of course the more, the better!
But no matter what you choose you are in for a treat as Georgia is a wonderful and stunning country, and discovering it is a pure pleasure!
As you can guess Georgia is one of my favorite places to visit and therefore you can find many articles about the country on my blog. You might find them useful and interesting when planning your own trip to Georgia. Here are the best ones:
- 15 reasons to visit Georgia – the amazing emerging destination
- 49 Awesome Things to Do in Tbilisi, Georgia
- Tbilisi guide – 21 Tbilisi travel tips to make your trip easier
- 20 Cool Things to do in Batumi, Georgia
- Is it worth to visit Kutaisi? Best things to do in Kutaisi, Georgia
- 10 Amazing Places You Can Visit As Day Trips From Kutaisi, Georgia
- and many more!
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