For a country the size of Scotland, with a population smaller than Rome, Georgia can feel like a vast place.
That’s partly because on some of its wild and uncompromising roads, even a journey of a few kilometres can turn into an expedition. The other reason, though, is how many different worlds fit inside Georgia’s borders. The country sits on two mountain ranges, has almost 200 miles of beach-covered coastline, and still has space for cities and wide grasslands. These regions are home to different groups of people: the cliché goes that Georgia is a bridge between Europe and Asia, but many more cultures meet here as well.
It’s the mountains that bring many people to Georgia. The Caucasus Mountains, spanning the northern border with Russia, and the Lesser Caucasus range in the south, close to Turkey and Armenia, have some of the highest peaks and most breathtaking trails in Europe. Visitors braving it to the remote and windswept mountain villages have always been treated to Georgians’ outsized hospitality, but now there are homestays and local tour companies in every region, so guests can fit the maximum number of experiences into their stay, while investing in these communities.
Just like its people, Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, is an energetic and warm little city. A decade perfecting its food & drink scene, along with other entertainment, has made it one of Europe’s most captivating cities for a short break. A stay in Tbilisi offers something for everyone, from exploring ancient churches and centuries-old streets to trendy restaurants, and from busy bars and clubs to tranquil sulphur baths.
The first issue of Made in Georgia has the Black Sea region of Adjara as its feature, and its biggest town, Batumi. Between relics from its Byzantine, Ottoman and Soviet legacies, this south-western corner of the country is Georgia’s modern and creative heart, with events and festivals arranged all year round. Adjara is also where Georgians themselves go for their holidays: in summer, the sea around Adjara’s beach resorts is tropical, while inland, ski resorts are appearing in the Lesser Caucasus mountains for winter breaks. These locations, too, are fuelled by local communities.
Besides its mountains and food, Georgia’s calling card to the world is its wine. Georgians lay claim to being the first people to make wine, fermenting grape juice underground in clay qvevri pots over 8,000 years ago, which is still done today. In Georgia, you are never far from a vineyard, especially in its eastern region of Kakheti, and Adjara in the south-west. In both of these places, visitors can not only sample Georgian wines, but explore and even stay at the vineyards.
That’s not all. Stay long enough in Georgia, stray far enough off the beaten track, and you might end up in Udabno, which is almost a desert, or in the farmland in the south, by Marneuli. Wherever you go, Georgia is a straightforward place to spend time in, with no hidden risks (whenever lists of the safest countries on earth are made, Georgia is usually in the top five). All of these regions are great in their own ways, and ready to welcome guests, as soon as we can travel again.