5. From Tbilisi: 2-Day Tour to Vardzia
1 Day: Tbilisi-Paravani Lake - Vardzia - Rabat Fortress - Borjomi (Driving distance 250 kilometers)
Begin the tour from Tbilisi and have a stop at Paravani Lake (2.073 meters). Get pleasure from delightful views at Paravani, the largest and deepest lake in Georgia. Next stop will be Vardzia, grandiose cave city, one of the favorite destinations of Queen Tamar. Here, not far from the border with Turkey, see all the splendor of this tiered cave city where there are hundreds of dwellings, transitions, ladders, churches, library, dining, warehouses, workshops and where urban residents had running water and entertainment. Fifty thousand persons were able to live in this cave city. Continue your way towards Rabat fortress in Akhaltsikhe. The complex of the 9th-century was developed under the influence of diﬀerent cultures over subsequent centuries and this is reflected in its architecture such as rare examples of traditional Georgian houses from the 13th-century, a mosque from 1752 and the ruins of a medrese (Islamic school). The Rabati also has a synagogue, an Armenian church and a Catholic church. Rabat was reconstructed in 2012. At the end of the day, arrive and overnight in Borjomi in either a family type guesthouse or 3-star hotel.
2 Day: Borjomi - Gori - Uplistsikhe - Mtskheta - Tbilisi (Driving distance 250 kilometers)
Tour starts from Borjomi - a spa resort famous with mineral water springs. This place is known far beyond the borders of Georgia. Go on a 1-hour walk in Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, located in central Georgia and creates an eastern border with the lesser Caucasus Mountains. Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park is one of the oldest and largest of the protected areas in Georgia and became a member of the European network of protected areas. In the beginning of the 20th-century, the Russian Tsar Nikolai II built in the park his summer residence. On the way to Uplistsikhe, you will visit Joseph Stalin Museum. There is also a small house where one of the cruelest world tyrants of 20th-century was born and raised. Everything is still kept. After Gori, your next stop will be Uplistsikhe - an ancient rock-hewn town in eastern Georgia, built on a high rocky left bank of the Mtkvari River, it contains various structures dating from the early Iron Age to the late Middle Ages, and is notable for the unique combination of various styles of rock-cut cultures from Anatolia and Iran, as well as the co-existence of pagan and Christian architecture. At the summit of the complex is a Christian basilica built of stone and brick in the 9th to 10th-centuries. Uplistsikhe cave city is the oldest populated place in Georgia. On the way back to Tbilisi, visit Mtskheta, the old capital of Georgia. Some monuments of the city are UNESCO World Heritage Site listed. In Mtskheta, visit Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, built in the 11th century, the main church of Mtskheta is a sacred place where the robe of Christ is being kept.
Visit Jvari Monastery (6th to 7th-century), located on top of a hill above Mtskheta. The monument for its architectural and historical importance is included into the UNESCO list. Located at the precipice of a vertical cliff, Jvari Monastery is a remarkable sacred landmark visible from the ancient city Mtskheta. The building techniques and high standards of engineering, as well as the diverse decorative program of the landscaped monastery exemplify exceptional centuries - old Georgian building practices alongside a wide range of Eastern and Western aesthetic traditions. The church represents the peak of this architectural typology and serves as a model for numerous other churches. Jvari has been an important pilgrimage site since its founding and is considered one of the most sacred places in all of Caucasus.