Georgia is at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. The former Soviet republic is home to Caucasus Mountain villages and Black Sea beaches. Renowned for Vardzia, a sprawling cave monastery dating to the 12th century, and the old wine-growing region Kakheti. The capital, Tbilisi, is famous for wonderful architecture and a maze of cobblestone streets in the old town.
It heralds an intricate history. Throughout the classical era, several independent kingdoms became established in what is today modern Georgia, such as Colchis and Iberia. In the early 4th century, the Georgians officially adopted Christianity. The Georgian Orthodox Church was a significant element in the spiritual and political unification of early Georgian states.
The Golden Age of the unified Kingdom of Georgia occurred during the reign of King David the Builder and Queen Tamar the Great in the 12th and early 13th centuries. The kingdom subsequently declined and dissipated under the dominance of various regional powers, such as the Mongols, the Ottoman Empire and successive dynasties of Iran.
The eastern Georgian Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti developed an alliance with the Russian Empire in the late 18th century. This directly annexed the kingdom in 1801 and in 1810 conquered the western Kingdom of Imereti. Eventually Russian rule over Georgia was acknowledged in peace treaties with Iran and the Ottomans. Through the course of the 19th century, the remaining Georgian territories were sporadically absorbed by the Russian Empire.
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Georgia's varied landscapes are reason enough to visit — Europe’s highest mountains, fertile plains, semi-tropical coastlands, and arid steppes create an inspiring backdrop to this country’s elaborate history.
UK: British nationals don’t need a visa to enter Georgia for visits of up to one year.
USA: U.S. citizens may enter and stay in Georgia without a visa for up to 365 days. Visit the Embassy of Georgia's website for the most current visa information.
The Orthodox Church is dominant in Georgia and has its own patriarch. Due to ethnic minorities in Georgia, there are also a number of minority religious groups – predominantly Armenian Orthodox and Muslim.
Georgia’s religious diversity lends itself to conservatism. Foreign women should dress modestly, especially in rural areas. Women can dress in normal western-style modest clothing, and comfortable clothing is advisable. Men should only wear long trousers. A raincoat is advisable and it's ideal to pack layers as there can often be very changeable weather conditions.
While visitors don't have to adhere to strict clothing rules, women should wear head and shoulder coverings at all religious sites. T-shirts are acceptable, however they must cover the shoulders (no vests). Men cannot wear shorts and must always remove their hats in religious buildings.
Georgia is a country of ethnic minorities. The largest groups are Armenians and Azeris although there are also Russians, Turks and Greeks. There is a saying in Georgia that "a guest is a gift from God". They like to ply foreign visitors with food and drink, but be warned when they declare "a toast!" as out will come a bottle of chacha – the lethal Georgian schnapps – or a large plastic bottle of homemade wine, both of which should be consumed cautiously!
Tipping is accepted in Georgian culture, but it’s not expected. Georgians will, however, appreciate a few laris to reward good service. In restaurants, the bill often includes a 10% service charge. So, it’s up to your discretion if you want to tip extra. Andante Travels will take care of gratuities to restaurant staff, local guides and drivers.