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5 Reasons Why You Should Visit The Incredible Country Where Wine Was Invented

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Now that days are getting warmer and longer, and new Transatlantic flights to a host of exciting destinations are launching, Europe is back to being the go-to spot for culture buffs, but trust me, unpleasant surprises await those who are headed for Spain, France, Italy and the like:

From the Paris Olympics, which look set to disturb travel plans significantly starting in July, to the blatant anti-tourist measures enacted across different cities in Italy—not to mention the soaring prices—these may not be the best picks if you're keen on a stress-free vacation.

Amphora Room In Hotel Qvevrebi, Kakheti Region Of Georgia, Eurasia

Having traveled extensively around the continent, I can attest it is best experienced when crowding is minimal, and you’re not being squeezed dry for subpar food and services.

Now, if you're enthusiastic about castles, gastronomy and nature, and you're looking to get more bang for your buck while being treated like royalty, forget the Mediterranean trio:

Kutaisi Georgia

It’s the offbeat Georgia that should be at the top of the list, where I was recently hosted by Hotel Qvevrebi (where the stunning photo above was taken!).

Tucked away in the Eastern fringes of Europe, it has a fascinating History spanning thousands of years, and unbeknown to most, it is where wine was invented

Still, very few Americans are visiting, but here are 5 reasons why you should:

First Of All, Where Even Is Georgia?

Georgia is a tiny, cross-continental country in the Caucasus, where the European-Asian border runs along: it is east of Türkiye and south of Russia, but not particularly sympathetic towards neither, and despite its geographical location, it is staunchly European in character.

If the mass demonstrations that have been staged across national capital Tbilisi in recent weeks, Georgians know their future lies in Europe, and their pro-America, pro-Western attitude makes it incredibly welcoming towards U.S. nationals.

Gremi Citadel In Kakheti, Georgia, Eurasia

It has diversity at the core of its tourist offer, with towering jagged peaks bounding it to the north, a long Black Sea Coast interspersed with resort zones and quaint fishing settlements, and verdant, vineyard-dotted hinterlands as far as the eyes can see.

What Is Georgia Known For?

It is characterized by a temperate climate, and though it is Europe's Easternmost boundary, and that would perhaps make it cold based on the misinformed assumptions of some, it is in fact flaming hot in the summer months, with temperatures averaging 95°F across parts of the country.

It's precisely the balmy temperatures, and the long sunny season that extends from May into September that make Georgia a particularly popular alternative to the jam-packed Mediterranean: that, and the fact it is a cultural behemoth, and the birthplace of wine.

Holding a status as important as language, blood ties and the intricate, one-of-a-kind Georgian script, wine-making has been at the core of Georgian nationhood, as vital a part of family relations and conviviality, both in the city and the countryside, for over 8,000 years.

Glass Of Saperavi Wine Served In The Kakheti Region Of Georgia, Eurasia.jpg

Whether you're a devoted connoisseur, or an amateur wine lover like me, prepare to have your mind blown, as Georgian wine is the best in the world, and all your Bordeaux, Côtes du Rhône, Barolo and Rioja variants, no matter how scarlet, pale in comparison.

If you're yet to be sold on the idea of flying halfway across the world to a mysterious country that somehow shares its name with the Peach State, these might just convince you:

It Has A Gorgeous Capital City

As you know already, a capital is not always the most exciting place to be, especially when they're but administrative centers with little to offer, or just plainly overrated, but in Tbilisi's case, it is the heart and pulse of Georgia.

A sprawling metropolis revolving around a picturesque historic center, it somehow combines medieval, oriental, Imperial Russian and Soviet architecture without seeming incongruent, and it's fair to say it has a skyline like no other:

Panoramic View Of Old Town Tbilisi, Georgia, Transcontinental Caucasus Region Between Europe And Asia

Picture a sea of brutalist buildings sprinkled with ancient Orthodox churches, cut through by a meandering river, with cable cars hovering above a busy traffic, transporting tourists from the urban mess to an imposing, hilltop Narikala Fortress, and art-filled districts that rival Berlin's edginess.

Tbilisi is one of the coolest capitals I've been in Eurasia, and I've been to all of them, and much like London, Paris or Rome, it offers endless activities, and with its high concentration of work-friendly cafés and walkability, it's no wonder digital nomads have been flocking here lately.

You Can Sleep In A Giant Wine Jug Between Europe And Asia

Hotel Qvevrebi In The Kakheti Region Of Georgia Seen At Night, Eurasia

No trip to Georgia is complete without a stopover in Kakheti, a historically-charged province the southeast that's home to all of the country's most reputable wineries, as well as a landmark new hotel where rooms are shaped like amphoras.

Being aware their wine is the export Georgians are most proud of, I figured Hotel Qvevrebi would be the perfect base for not only exploring, but sampling the culture, if you know what I mean.

Nestled amid the verdant landscape of Kakheti, this boutique listing is within driving distance of all of the region's main points of interest, and I don't know about you, but I'll never not be excited to tell fellow travelers I once slept in a giant wine jug in no man's land between Europe and Asia.

Make sure you scroll through the pictures below to see Hotel Qvevrebi in detail:
  • Young Blonde Man With Long Hair Admiring The View From The Balcony Of His Amphora Shaped Room In Hotel Qvevrebi, Georgia, Eurasia
  • Room In Hotel Qvevrebi, Georgia, Eurasia
  • Room In Hotel Qvevrebi, Georgia, Eurasia
  • Room In Hotel Qvevrebi, Georgia, Eurasia
  • View Of The Caucasus Mountains From Hotel Qvevrebi In Kakheti, Georgia, Eurasia
One Of The Most Unique Hotel Stays In The World

Jokes aside, the amenities here truly are the major attraction, and I'll be honest with you, I was a tad worried I would feel claustrophobic sleeping in one of these giant, round receptacles until I realized they're all equipped with massive floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening up to views of the Caucasus.

Though minimalistic, the interior is surprisingly comfortable: there are no artsy touches to the decor, and it favors simplicity over ostentation, setting it apart from its richly-decorated, four-star Tbilisi counterparts.

There's a king bed, a smart TV set, an air conditioner for the particularly hot summer days, a mini bar equipped with snacks and drinks, and a walk-in shower; my favorite part was waking up in the mornings to views of the mountains to the north revealing themselves amid the mist.

It's worth noting Hotel Qvevrebi is equipped with an outdoor pool, a restaurant specializing on Georgian cuisine, but that serves other mainstream dishes, and as a new property that's already received rave reviews, they're continuously building on and improving.

Psst… I heard from staff that spa facilities and an indoor, heated pool are on the cards.

Expect Some Amazing Food

Don't forget to scroll through the pictures below again…

  • A Plate Of Humus Served In Hotel Qvevrebi, Georgia, Eurasia
  • Veal Liver Served With Pomegranate Sauce In Hotel Qvevrebi, Georgia, Eurasia.jpg
  • Veal Liver Served With Pomegranate Sauce In Hotel Qvevrebi, Georgia, Eurasia.jpg
  • Young Blonde Man With Long Hair Admiring The View From The Balcony Of His Amphora Shaped Room In Hotel Qvevrebi, Georgia, Eurasia

The food is another obvious highlight:

Georgian cuisine has recently ranked among Taste Atlas‘ top 30 best in the world, and as a huge foodie myself, I was most certainly not disappointed.

There's an entire subset of delicacies to try, but if you're wondering where to start, Adjarian Khachapuri, Georgia's signature dish, is a solid pick: it is an open, buttered bread stuffed with various types of cheese and topped with runny yolk.

As the Qvevrebi kitchen is overseen by Kakheti cooks, not some stuck-up Western-trained chef, Hotel Qvevrebi does some of the best, authentic Khachapuri I've tried anywhere in the country, and don't get me started on their Khinkali dumplings.

Traditional Georgian Wine And Kakheti Dumplings Served In Hotel Qvevrebi, Kakheti Region Of Georgia, Eurasia.jpg

In case you're feeling more adventurous, I would recommend their veal liver with pomegranate sauce, and remember, this is a haven for wine aficionados: do trust the sommelier's advice when it comes to pairing.

For instance, Khinkali is best served with the hotel's own Ksi Qvevrebi, a beautiful amber-colored vino, and before you try and eat it conventionally with a fork and knife, I'd suggest you ask staff for a demonstration in advance or you risk spilling soup all over yourself.

Breakfast Spread Served In Hotel Qvevrebi, Georgia, Eurasia.jpg

As I learned during my stay at Qvevrebi, the easiest way to eat Khinkali is biting off a tiny bit of the bottom, slurping the meaty broth through the hole, and then fitting the entire dumpling in your mouth (like a true Georgian!)

It Is The Perfect Base For Exploring Georgia's Wine Country

Kakheti is a stand-alone destination in its own right, famous for its fairytale castles, ethnic villages with origins lost to time and lake-dotted nature reserves, and lucky for avid explorers who are unsure about driving in a foreign country, Hotel Qvevrebi offers personalized day tours of the wider region.

From Qvevrebi, you can visit:

  • Gremi, a citadel that once served as the capital of the defunct Kingdom of Kakheti, housing the landmark, frescoed Church of the Archangels
  • Shumi Estate, one of the largest wineries, where you can taste the iconic Saperavi red, Georgia's pride and joy, and take part in cooking workshops
  • Nekresi, a hilltop monastic complex dating back to the Middle Ages, with preserved towers and defensive forts, boasting breathtaking views of the Kakheti plain
  • Alaverdi, possibly the most beautiful castle and monastery in all of Georgia, dominated by the Cathedral of Saint George
  • Telavi, the quaint capital of the Kakheti Province, with a maze-like Old Town full of protruding, covered balconies, and surrounded by medieval walls
  • Sighnaghi, the most romantic town in Georgia, with pastel houses, cobbled streets and rolling, Tuscan-like vineyards
  • Alaverdi Monastery In Kakheti, Georgia, Eurasia.jpg
  • Cows Grazing By The Caucasus Mountains Between Eastern Europe And Western Asia, Kakheti Wine Region Of Georgia, Eurasia.jpg
  • Hilltop Monastic Complex In Nekresi, Kakheti, Georgia, Eurasia.jpg
  • Nekresi Citadel In Kakheti, Georgia, Eurasia
What Were Some Of The Downsides?

Among the aspects I wasn't too thrilled about was the unstable WiFi during my stay—even though each amphora has its own, streaming or even watching YouTube videos eventually became challenging—and the occasional lack of privacy.

You see, unless the curtains hanging over the glass front of the amphora are not drawn during the day, you're fully exposed to passersby and workers roaming the fields, so if you want to let some sunlight into the room, I'd recommend you keep some clothes on.

Room In Hotel Qvevrebi, Georgia, Eurasia
What Did I Love About This Hotel?
  • English-speaking staff
  • Lots to see and do in the area
  • Concierge service
  • Sumptuous breakfast

On the other hand, I was positively surprised that staff speak perfect English: English speaking levels in Georgia are generally low, especially among the older populace, who are far more likely to be well-versed in Russian instead.

In Qvevrebi, however, they're fully ready to host international guests, and not once did I have issues communicating, be it during check-in, while dining at the restaurant, or contacting my concierge, who helped in arranging transportation to and from Tbilisi and organizing daily activities.

Young Blonde Man With Long Hair Admiring The View From The Balcony Of His Amphora Shaped Room In Hotel Qvevrebi, Georgia, Eurasia

Overall, my short two-day stint at Qvevrebi, and the Kakheti Wine Region as a whole, was nothing short of lovely, and I have good news for you if you're on a budget: overnight stays here start from only $138 (check out Google Hotels here), including the generous breakfast spread.

Georgia Has A Stunning Black Sea Coast

Enotourism aside, Georgia is equally trendy to visit this summer thanks to its Black Sea Coast, the so-called New Mediterranean.

We've covered the Black Sea enough times so you know it can feel just summery as Europe's most famous body of water, and there's no doubt stretches of coast like the Bulgarian Black Sea and Türkiye's have got just as trendy as of late, but on the other hand, Georgia's remain largely overlooked.

It extends for a whopping 190 miles, and between the bustling resort city of Batumi, and the quaint coastal towns of Kobuleti, Kvariati and Gonio, bounded by strips of pebble-and-sand that unfold along bright-blue seas, there's plenty of beachy spots to choose from.

Modern Development Zone In Batumi, Georgia, A City On The Black Sea Coast

Other than boasting similar temperatures, with an average 86°F at the peak of the season, summers in the Georgian Black Sea are also incredibly affordable by European standards: you can find beachfront stays in Batumi for as cheap as $32 per night on Booking.com.

One Of The Most Affordable Destinations In Eurasia

Speaking of room rates, you might have noticed already accommodation in Georgia is fairly inexpensive by Western standards: I mean, just reiterating, you get to stay in a giant amphora at the foot of the Caucasus, pampering yourself rotten with world-class food and wine, for only $138!

Cable Car In Tbilisi, Georgia, Eurasia, Eastern Europe

Besides remarkable (and budget-friendly) listings like Qvevrebi Hotel, the total costs of traveling around Georgia are comparatively low.

I'll tell you exactly how much I've spent in a week myself:

  • $150 on round-trip flights from Europe* (check Google Flights here)
  • $30-40 on meals daily, usually three-course meals at mid-range restaurants
  • $40-70 per night on three-star hotels, excluding the higher-end Qvevrebi
  • $90 on guided tours, museum entry fees and other attractions
  • $50 on transportation, including all trains, buses, taxis and private transfers
  • $30 on souvenirs and other personal daily expenses
*I flew to Georgia from Paris-Beauvais with European low-cost carrier WizzAir, which I highly recommend for the cheapest possible fares
Hand Holding US Passport

The values above have been rounded up, but in total, my trip to Georgia set me back roughly $985, or less than a thousand bucks; if you're flying straight from America, that's likely to be considerably higher due to the Transatlantic journey (and potentially multiple flights).

There are no nonstop flights from the United States to Georgia, so Georgia-bound travelers departing from the States will require a stopover in a third hub, that's typically Istanbul in Türkiye, or any major European airport.

With its stunning nature, unique amphora hotel and award-winning wine, Georgia is still worth discovering, so if you're based in America, my advice for you is to first fly into a major European hub, like Athens, Barcelona or Paris, and use them as base to fly to-and-fro Georgia.

Georgia Is Extremely Safe To Visit

Finally, you may be wondering how safe Georgia is to visit, considering it is tucked away in the easternmost edge of the European continent, close to, hem, Russia.

Ancient Gergeti Church On A Mountain Top Near Stepantsminda, Georgia, In The Caucasus Region Of Eastern Europe

The answer is, perfectly safe: the current conflict plaguing parts of Europe is nowhere near Georgian shores, and though there's animosity between the Eurasian country and its giant of a Slavic neighbor over unsettled territorial disputes, Georgia is not at war.

In fact, it is considered one of the safest states in Europe, up there with Iceland, Finland, Switzerland and the like: you don't need to take my word for it, I'm basing it on the U.S. State Department's own classification of what constitutes a safe country.

Telavi, A Historic City And Regional Capital Of Kakheti, Georgia, Eurasia

According to them, the highest authority on this matter, Georgia is a Level 1 destination, meaning it poses the least danger to visiting Americans, due to its low rates of crime and terrorism: as a tourist, you're highly unlikely to be affected by violence, or even pickpocketed.

That being said, there have been a series of protests rocking the country as of late, especially in and around Tbilisi, regarding the Government's introduction of a controversial law parts of Georgian society deem to be anti-democratic.

Clashes with security forces have been common, but as long as you steer clear of mass demonstrations, you have nothing to worry about. On that note, I'd advise you to also avoid traveling to the Russian-controlled regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as safety risks there are significantly elevated.

Travel Off Path was a guest of Hotel Qvevrebi, who helped with the creation of this itinerary by hosting some of our accommodations and attractions. Our opinions, recommendations, and suggestions remain our own.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.