The capital city of Tblisi (TBS) is most travelers' introduction to the beautiful and mysterious Caucasus region. Stroll the grand boulevards, reminiscent of European capitals, then wander into Tblisi's Old Town to admire old houses, some built by Armenian merchants, while you dream of the mix of cultures that made Tblisi, long a key stop on the Silk Road, the true crossroads of Europe & Asia. Stop in to one of the many restaurants to sample Georgia's famous cuisine and wine. Be sure to try Khinkali (huge soup demplings stuffed with minced meat) and don't miss Khatchapuri, cheese filled flat bread that is the staple of many Georgian households. And no meal would be complete without learning about the history of Georgian vinticulture. Archaeologists have found evidence of wine making dating back 6000 years, and there are more than 500 varietals of wine to sample. Be sure to try wine made in the traditional Qvevri - clay jars buried underground that lends a deep orange color to Georgian white wines like Rkatesiteli.
While no US carriers offer direct flights to Georgia, Air France, Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa both offer regular service from their hubs in Paris, Munich and Istanbul respectively. These flights can often be booked using miles with Delta SkyMiles (for Air France), or United MileagePlus (for Lufthansa and Turkish). Most airlines consider Georgia as part of Europe so mileage rates can be reasonable.
Georgia is a relatively small country, so domestic flights (for example from Tblisi to Batumi on the Black Sea) are better booked with cash than miles. Similarly, nearby destinations such as Yerevan in Armenia or Baku in Azerbaijan are generally a few hours' drive from Tblisi so better via road than air. To the north, Georgia's contentious border with Russia is best avoided unless you're a Russian citizen.
While the major chains such as Marriott have hotels in Tblisi, we recommend staying in non-chain hotels while in the region. In Tblisi, the trendy Stamba Hotel is in a renovated former Printing Shop. Outside of the capital, we highly recommend a trip north to the Caucasus Mountains even if just to spend a night in the extraordinary Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, a former Soviet Sanatorium near the amazing 14th century Gergeti Trinity Church.
We have 3 tips for what not to miss in Georgia.
Tip #1: Georgia is the birthplace of wine, and a key part of Georgian culture & hospitality. The region of Kakheti, east of Tblisi, is the heart of Georgia's wine country, and has many lovely small vineyards and tasting rooms to try. We particularly recommend visiting the walled town of Signagi, perched high on a hill with amazing views.
Tip #2: Georgian traditional dance & music is an amazing cultural experience. A pleasant spot to enjoy this experience in Tblisi is the restaurant Kolkheti for food and traditional dance.
Tip #3: Hire a private driver to take you around the countryside and learn about the fascinating region and it's history.