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Highlights of Georgia & Armenia

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Fully Guided Small Group Scenic
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 Trip Length
14 Days
 Trip Starts
Yerevan
 Trip Finishes
Tbilisi
14 Day Highlights of Georgia & Armenia Itinerary (Exodus)
Countries Explored: Armenia, Georgia
Trip Style
Culture
Budget
Affordable
Max. Group Size
16
Pace
Easy / Leisurely
Guide Level
Fully Guided
Trip Code
AXC

Overview

Book online and enjoy exclusive savings on Exodus 14 Day Highlights of Georgia & Armenia. The monasteries, churches and cathedrals of Georgia and Armenia are among the oldest in the world. Many are built in stunning locations, surrounded by gardens and forests, perched on top of dramatic gorges or silhouetted before snow-capped mountains. The range of scenery is immense, from Mount Ararat towering majestically over the skyline of Yerevan, to the lush valleys of ancient vineyards across the lowlands of Georgia. Here, wine has been produced for almost 10,000 years and there is the opportunity to...read more visit one of its most famous wine cellars.

Itinerary

Our trip begins in the hotel in Yerevan. There will be a welcome meeting this evening, in which we'll meet for the first time as a group and the leader will go over the adventures to come. Stay: Hotel Europe (or similar).

We have the morning at leisure. At midday we take a trip to the Kotayk region to see the Hellenistic temple of Garni and Geghard rock Monastery. Garni was built in the 1st century AD and served as a summer residence for Armenian kings. It is the only pagan temple on the territory of modern Armenia, others were destroyed after the adoption of Christianity. Here in one of the traditional houses we will have the chance to observe the traditional methods of baking national Armenian flat bread called “lavash”.

This demonstration also includes tasting local cheese and greens and is a good opportunity to meet local people. Geghard - was initially known simply as Ayrivank (Cave Monastery). The present buildings, which are carved right into the solid rock, date back to 10th - 13th centuries AD, at which time it was renamed Geghard meaning "lance" in Armenian. The name refers to the biblical lance used by a Roman soldier to pierce Christ's body. The Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Return to Yerevan. Stay: Hotel Europe (or similar) (B/L).

A short drive through the city takes us to the impressive seventh-century ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral, the churches of Hripsime and Gayane and then Echmiadzin. The main cathedral sits among hedges and lawns, where clergy in dark robes sit in theological debate with Mount Ararat as the backdrop. In the gardens, there are many fine khachkars (carved cross stones) and bell towers. Due to renovation works, the cathedral may continue to be closed during 2023 and so we may only be able to view it from outside. Next stop is Echmiadzin cathedral, the religious centre of the Armenian Apostolic Church. We'll have lunch at Machanents House, on one of the oldest streets of Echmiadzin and part of cultural heart of the town.

Back in Yerevan we will have a sightseeing tour of the capital along major avenues and squares visiting the most popular public buildings and monuments. Amongst all the sites visited we will have a short stop at the fruit and vegetable market. Next, we will visit the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial and Museum. The site is dedicated to the victims of the Armenian genocide committed by Ottoman Turks during World War I. The visit will help us understand why a huge Armenian diaspora developed across the world. Stay: Hotel Europe (or similar) (B/L).

Today begins with a visit to Matenadaran Museum - one of the richest book-depositories in the world, and recognized as such by UNESCO. Its collection of about 17,000 manuscripts includes almost all areas of ancient and medieval Armenian culture and sciences as well as manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Greek, Syrian, Latin, Ethiopian, Indian, Japanese and others. We continue the day by heading south to Khor Virap – one of the holiest sites in Armenia, the site of the underground pit where Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned before converting King Tiridat III to Christianity. The monastery has a spectacular view to Mount Ararat.

Next is Noravank – a unique monastery situated in Noravank canyon. The road to Noravank monastery is an adventure itself. The high rocks on both sides of the route almost block out the sky above until the picturesque view of one of the most remarkable monastery complexes in Armenia appears. We'll have lunch in Noravank then head back towards Yerevan stopping on the way for some wine tasting at Vayots Dzor, the best know of Armenia's wine producing regions, home to Areni wine. Stay: Hotel Europe (or similar) (B/L).

Our first visit today is to Noradouz – the "Forest of Khachkars" (cross-stones) which date back to the 10th century. The Khachkar is unique to Armenian tradition, incorporating both pagan and Christian symbols into a spiritual and artistic form that endures to the present day. Noraduz itself is an old graveyard with approx. 900 khachkars from various periods and of various styles. We'll meet a local artisan, a sculptor who carves khachkars. We'll receive a demonstration on how the carvings are made. We continue to Lake Sevan – the largest lake in Armenia and one of the largest high-altitude freshwater lakes in the world. Its surface is at an altitude of 1,950 m above sea level. Along with Lake Van and Lake Urmia, Sevan was one of the three great lakes of the Armenian Kingdom, referred to as the seas of Armenia, and it is the only one within the boundaries of present-day Armenia.

While at Sevan we will visit Sevanavank – one of the most significant historic sites near the lake. We'll have a fish lunch by the shore of the lake. Our next stop is the resort town of Dilijan famous for its thick forests and subtropical climate. Besides being a resort town, it has also gained fame for the streets in its old centre where handicrafts are produced. The last highlight of the day is a stop at Fioletovo village for a tea break with a difference.

Fioletovo is inhabited by an ethnic minority of Russian origin – the Molokans. This small community was forced from Russia centuries ago because of religious conflict. In Armenia they live in villages producing their own dairy products, meat and vegetables and lead a traditional lifestyle. We'll enjoy homemade food and tea served from special vessels called “samovars”. Stay: Hotel Europe (or similar) (B/L).

We check-out of our hotel this morning and drive to Gyumri, Armenia's second largest city. By the end of the 19th century, when the city was known as Alexandropol, it was one of the largest cities of Eastern Armenia with a population similar to that of Yerevan. It was renamed to Leninakan during the Soviet period and regained its name of Gyumri after gaining independence. Gyumri is known for its crafts and art. We will visit the Dzitoghtsyan Museum of Social Life and National Architecture of Gyumri - an old mansion, housing collections related to both history and the everyday-life of Gyumri, as well as paintings and other works of art. We have a brief stroll along the streets of Gyumri and then continue to Lori Region and Haghpat Village where we check into our hotel. Stay: Hotel Qefo (or similar) (B/L).

We make our last stops in Armenia this morning, visiting the two monastic complexes of Sanahin and Haghpat, representing the pinnacle of religious architecture in Medieval Armenia. Both sites are Unesco recognized. Between visits we'll visit a local house and have a drink with the family who live there. We continue to Sadakhlo border, say goodbye to our Armenia leader and driver and walk about 10 minute across the border into Georgia, where we will be met by our new guide, and travel onto the capital, Tbilisi. Our hotel is a short walk from the wonderfully restored historic centre with its relaxing pavement cafes and bars. Stay: Tbilisi Inn (or similar) (B/L).

Much of Tbilisi can be visited on foot. In the morning, we explore the old town to see the ancient sulphur baths, Sioni Cathedral and the beautifully decorated synagogue, built in the early 20th century. We also visit Rustaveli Avenue, the main artery of the city, and the Treasury of the State Museum, which has a fantastic collection of pre-Christian gold artefacts and jewellery. The rest of the afternoon will be free, with time to explore the art galleries, handicraft and painting markets, and the enormous new Holy Trinity Cathedral, all within a reasonable distance of our hotel. Or you may choose to relax in one of the many cafes that line the old town streets. This evening, we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant and a Georgian folk show. Stay: Tbilisi Inn (or similar) (B/D).

We take a long drive up the Georgian Military Highway after breakfast, through the great Caucasus Mountains via Ananuri Church. Our goal is the town of Stepantsminda (formerly Kazbegi) where we walk up through the village of Gergeti after lunch to the landmark Holy Trinity church. The walk takes two to three hours in total; alternatively, you can usually rent a 4x4 for a reasonable cost. If the weather is clear, we have spectacular views of Mount Kazbek, the third highest of the Georgian Caucasus Mountains, soaring to 16,560ft (5,047m). We then drive back to the ski resort of Gudauri, where have dinner and spend the night in a cosy, alpine hut-style hotel. Stay: Hotel Alpina (or similar) (B/D).

Today is our longest day. We drive three hours to Uplistsikhe, once an enormous rock-hewn town with pre-Christian roots. It sits by the Mtkvari River and is notable for its unique rock-cut style and the co-existence of pagan and Christian architecture. Ancient temples and theatres can still be identified, and we walk up sandstone steps for a view across the river and plains. We then take a short drive to the town of Gori, birthplace of Joseph Stalin.

Visiting Stalin Square, where a huge statue of him used to stand, we take a guided tour of the fascinating museum about his life and the role he played in the Soviet Union. Stalin's bulletproof train carriage, which he used to travel to the Potsdam Conference in 1945, lies in the museum grounds. It is worth a visit for its simple but elegant interior. The small wooden house where he was born is also here in a temple-like structure – there are still people in Georgia who greatly admire Stalin. We then continue to Kutaisi where we spend the night. Stay: Kutaisi guesthouse (B/D).

After breakfast, we drive to Sataplia Nature Reserve (about 20-25 minutes to the west), where the footprints of herbivorous and raptor dinosaurs are found. Easy walkways take us to the conservation building of dinosaur footprints, an exhibition hall, unique karst caves, Colchic Forest and the wild bee habitat area. There are also beautiful views of the Imereti region to enjoy. After, we take the road back to Kutaisi and continue to Gelati Academy and Monastery. Founded by King David IV in the 12th century, Gelati was inscribed in the Unesco World Heritage List in 1994. It is no surprise he chose this superb location for this monastery, whose monks were members of the royal court. After, we drive to the lovely mineral town of Borjomi. Stay: Old Borjomi Hotel/Borjomi Palace (or similar) (B/D).

After breakfast, we visit the lovely Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park and take a guided walk (one to two hours). Afterwards, we travel back to Tbilisi, stopping at Mtskheta, the former capital of Georgia, where we can see the 11th-century Sveti-Tskhoveli Cathedral, the largest functioning cathedral in Georgia. However, the main reason people visit Mtskheta is to see the sixth-century Jvari Church, built where Saint Nino set up her cross in the fourth century, which converted the town from paganism to Christianity. Continuing to Tbilisi, we have free time to enjoy this historic capital. Stay: Tbilisi Inn (or similar) (B).

We leave Tbilisi after breakfast, driving east to the wine region of Kakheti, where we visit the recently renovated royal town of Sighnaghi. We have lunch with a local family, who will prepare specialities paired with wine, and we continue with a visit to Tsinandali Family Estate and its wine cellar, which once belonged to the 19th-century aristocratic poet Alexander Chavchavadze. The residence consists of a summer home, garden and winery, featuring several vintages of white wine. We make our way back to Tbilisi for our final night in Georgia. Stay: Tbilisi Inn (or similar) (B/L).

Our tour ends after breakfast. You can begin your return home, but if you'd prefer a little longer to explore Tbilisi, speak to your sales representative about extending your stay (B).

Trip Inclusions

  • See Mount Ararat towering over Yerevan
  • Explore spectacular monasteries in Armenia including Khor Virap
  • Visit Unesco-listed churches and fortresses in Georgia
  • Walk among the pre-Christian cave houses in Uplistsikhe
  • Experience cafe culture in Tbilisi
  • Have the option to add-on an Azerbaijan extension
  • Citizen Science departures available on this trip

  • 12 nights staying in hotels and one night in a guesthouse
  • Travel by private minibus 
  • All breakfasts, seven lunches and four dinners

  • Itinerary and inclusions are subject to change
  • Price is for land, cruise and internal flights as specified. Flights not specified are not included
About Exodus Travels
About Exodus Travels

From classic small group tours & family adventures, to walking holidays, cycling trips and self-guided tours. Read more

Exodus Trip Leaders
Exodus Trip Leaders

Exodus chooses their Leaders carefully. Professional, dedicated and are passionate about sharing their home countries. Read more

Accommodation with Personality
Accommodation with Personality

Wherever possible, Exodus chooses properties that are locally owned and that reflect the area you are visiting. Read more

Prices & Dates

There are currently no departures available on this trip. Either it's the end of the season and new departures will be released shortly, or this itinerary has been changed and will no longer continue. Feel free to contact us for information about when next seasons dates will be released or click here to view the general release dates for all destinations.

Note
Tour & cruises prices are per person. Prices shown have savings applied, are subject to availability and may be withdrawn at any time without notice. Prices and trip information are correct at the time at this point in time, however are subject to confirmation at the time of booking and are subject to change by Exodus. For cruise itineraries, cabin images are sourced from Exodus. These should be treated as indicative only. Cabin inclusions, upholsteries and room layout may differ to the image(s) shown depending on the ship selected and your sailing dates.

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