Explore ancient cities, delicious food and lively culture in Georgia and Turkey.

See the highlights of Georgia and Turkey on an 18-day adventure through the cultural heart of this region. These two Black Sea bordering nations may be close, but the distinct differences in food, tradition and historic sites will shine on this small-group adventure. From the medieval towns of Kutaisi, lush green slopes of Mestia valley and the ramparts of the Narikala Fortress, to navigating the warrens of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, marvelling at the ancient city of Ephesus and floating over the fairy-tale landscape of Cappadocia, each day will keep you guessing every step of the way. Be intrigued by the landscape and eat as much kebab as you can handle as you have some essential Turkish and Georgian experiences.


Start
Tbilisi, Georgia
Finish
Istanbul, Turkey
Destinations
Georgia, Turkey
Style
Original
Code
ERKFC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Journey to the Svaneti region, a remote and alluring land of snow-capped mountains, where you'll discover medieval tower-houses and a fascinating local dialect.

  • Discover local Georgian wine and overindulge in khinkali (Georgian dumplings), learning from the locals the only way to eat these delicious parcels.

  • Enjoy a free day on the Aegean in the resort town of Kusadasi. You can check out Pamukkale's thermal pools, take a traditional boat trip along the coast or sit on the beach with a cool drink in hand.

  • Get up close and personal with the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia on a valley walk that'll have you exploring rock-cut dwellings in Love Valley or the rose-coloured hues of Red Valley.

  • See the back streets and vibrant bazaars in Istanbul – the continental-straddling metropolis where East meets West.

Is this trip right for you?

  • In order to see as much as possible in Georgia and Turkey, this trip covers a lot of ground and so, there are a couple of flights to take. Please be prepared for long security queues at the airport and the occasional delay. As you have both domestic and international connections, please note the specific checked baggage and carry-on limits before you fly, as it will likely change between routes and airlines.

  • This trip involves an overnight train journey. Accommodation and amenities are shared and basic, but the experience of rubbing shoulders with the locals makes it all worthwhile. Plus, you make the most of your time by travelling while you sleep.

  • Part of travelling with Intrepid means respecting local cultures and sensibilities. That way you get the most out of your interactions with local people and environments. It is important to be aware of cultural sensitivities when photographing churches, mosques and other religious sites.

  • You will reach a significant altitude on this trip (around 2200 metres) at the highest point so a good level of fitness is required for hiking. That said, alternative activities can often be arranged for those who would prefer not to hike.

  • The cobblestone streets, narrow steps and tiny bridges of this region are very romantic. They’re also another good reason to pack light and consider leaving the wheeled suitcase at home. You will need to carry your bags on and off local buses and trains during this trip.

Itinerary

Welcome to Georgia! Your tour leader will leave you a note at reception detailing on what time you will be meeting with the rest of your group. Tonight is free for an optional dinner – there are plenty of restaurants and cafes within a short walking distance of our hotel.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
After breakfast take part in a sightseeing tour of Tbilisi. The locals like to call their capital the "Balcony of Europe", placing it on par with many of Europe's graceful old cities. All the sights in the Old Town are very close to each other and within a few minutes’ walk. We start our visit to Old Tbilisi from Metekhi Church, and then walk to the Synagogue, Sioni Cathedral and Anchiskhati Basilica. From here, visit Narikala Fortress and the Sulphur Baths. Afterwards, you'll have free time to further explore the capital. The evening is also free for you to enjoy. Perhaps indulge in Tbilisi's lively theater scene and witness some of the energetic and acrobatic dance that Georgia is known for.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tbilisi - City tour
Optional Activities
  • Tbilisi - Museum of Georgia - USD5
  • Tbilisi - Museum of Fine Arts - USD2
  • Tbilisi - Sulphur Baths Entry - USD35
  • Tbilisi - Aerial Cable Car - USD1
  • Wine Tour – Kakheti Region (8-9 hours) - USD155
  • Tbilisi - Funicular - USD2
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, drive approximately 1 hour to Georgia's ancient capital and religious centre – the town of Mtskheta, which is over 3000 years old. Visit Mtskheta's top historical sights: Jvari church (6th century) and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (11th century), where the Robe of Christ is said to be buried. Both Jvari and Svetitskhoveli are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Afterwards, continue to the pretty city of Kutaisi, the second largest in the country (approximately 3 hours). Kutaisi is more than 3000 years old, connected to the legend of Jason and the Argonauts, along with his mythical (or is it?) Golden Fleece. Here we visit another significant historical site, the Gelati Cathedral. There may also be time to explore the cobbled streets of the town as you make your way up to the ruins of Bagrati palace and citadel.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse/Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mtskheka - Jvari Church
  • Mtskheka - Svetitskoveli Cathedral
Optional Activities
  • Kutaisi - Bagrati Cathedral & Gelati Monastery - Free
  • Iago’s Winery Tastings - USD5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
After a restful night, visit a local farmers market grab some snacks and ger ready for the next part of your adventurer; a journey to the remote Svaneti region. Svaneti is the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus and is divided in two parts: Upper Svaneti and Lower Svaneti. Arrive into Mestia (approximately 5 hours), the centre of Upper Svaneti. Mestia is surrounded by mountains, medieval-type villages and disctinctive tower-houses. The famous tower-houses were built to accommodate villagers at times of invasion and violence during the 9th -13th centuries. Around 175 towers still stand today, although many are uninhabited. The area is home to the Svans, a proud people with a long history of survival in this isolated part of Europe, who speak their own language. Spend the night in a local guesthouse.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kutaisi - Farmers Market
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
After breakfast this morning we discover how Georgians make their beloved cheese. Cheese is found in many Georgian dishes and is a key ingredient in the famous khachapuri, a traditional Georgian dish of cheese-filled bread which you will no doubt eat plenty of during your time here!

Drive to the village of Lakhiri (approximately 20 minutes) We start our walk today from the village (approx walking time 4-5 hours) in the direction of Mestia. After little uphill walking we descend to the beautiful valley full with blooming flowers and enjoy an amazing view of Chalati Glacier (2300m) and of Mestia Valley with its watchtowers. The paths can be steep and the ground uneven so you will need good fitness and appropriate footwear for this walk. Those not wishing to hike can stay in the village or in Mestia. 
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mestia - Cooking class
  • Mestia - Lakhiri Village Hike
  • Mestia - Georgian cheese making
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Walking Information: Elevation Range = +320m / -500m; total duration between 4 and 5 hours.

Please note that the lunch included for the next 3 days will be lunch boxes prepared by our guesthouse which will mainly consist of simple sandwiches with cheese, egg, tomato and cucumber, fruit and bottled water.
Today, visit the World Heritage-listed village of Ushguli, a town around 50 kilometres southeast of Mestia (approx 3 hours drive). The village is located at 2,200 metres above sea level, and is one of the highest inhabited villages in Europe. Ushguli is most famous for its abundance of watchtowers – this is where you'll see the famous view of the towers set to the highest mountain in Georgia, the snow capped Mt Shkhara (5,068 metres). Visit the 12th-century Lamaria Church and walk to Queen Tamar’s tower. Total walking time is 2-3 hours depending on fitness and trail conditions. Those not wishing to walk may stay and explore Ushguli, where there are a few small ethnographic museums in the watchtowers. In the evening you can walk around the village and become familiar with the daily life of the local people. Spend the night in a family-owned guesthouse with shared facilities.

Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ushguli - Village hike
  • Ushguli - Lamaria Church
  • Ushguli - Queen Tamar`s Tower
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Walking Information: Elevation Range = +250m / -250m; total duration between 2 and 2.5 hours.
Today's walk starts from the guesthouse. The route takes us along the river to the base of Mt Shkhara. Fingers crossed for great weather! We will have a picnic lunch today. The walking trail ends at the Shkhara glacier, where the Enguri river originates below. In the afternoon, return to Mestia and stay overnight in the guesthouse. Approximate walking time is 5-6 hours. If you do not wish to walk, please discuss options with your leader in advance.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ushguli - Shkhara Glacier hike & picnic
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Walking Information: Elevation Range = +320m / -320m; total duration 5-6 hours.

From the mountains to the sea today with a long drive to Batumi (approximately 7-8 hours) on the Black Sea coast. While past its Soviet heyday where it was one of the premiere seaside resorts, it is still popular with holiday makers from all over the region for its waterfront parks and beaches. Stay in a hotel tonight.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning take part in a short tour around the city. The afternoon s yours to relax. Batumi has a relaxed atmosphere, great restaurants and nightlife. Stroll the boulevard, cool off in the musical fountains on the square or see the touching Ali & Nino statue lit up at night. There's also art and ethnographic museums or a cable car to panoramic views over the city.

Highly recommended is the Batumi Botanical Gardens.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Batumi - City Tour
Optional Activities
  • Batumi - Botanic Gardens - USD10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Depart from Batumi and transfer back to Tbilisi (approximately 5-6 hours) by private vehicle. Stop at local winery on the way for tasting and toast our time in Georgia together. Enjoy the rest of the day in the nation's capital, perhaps with group dinner and night out together.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning, transfer to Tbilisi Airport for your 2-hour flight to Istanbul. Please note that your transfer and flight this morning will be very early due to flight schedules, and it will be unaccompanied. On arrival to Istanbul Airport, please look for your name and the Intrepid Logo to connect with your transfer representative. Your room may not be immediately available, but we have organised for you to have some breakfast and store your luggage. At around 1 pm, meet your Turkey group leader at the hotel in Istanbul for another briefing, then head out to explore the Old City of Istanbul. Visit the scene of many a chariot race in the ancient hippodrome, check out the Blue Mosque, take a walk past the wares of the Grand Bazaar and marvel at the jewel in Sinan the Great Ottoman Architect's crown, Suleymaniye Cami. If you're not too exhausted after all that, join your new friends for dinner and bask in the beauty of a real Turkish kebab, not the regrettable 2 am kind.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Istanbul - Old City Walking Tour (Half Day)
Optional Activities
  • Bosphorus Boat Cruise (Public Boat) - TRY25
  • Istanbul - Galata Tower - TRY25
  • Istanbul - Archaeology Museum - TRY30
  • Istanbul - Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts - TRY35
  • Istanbul - Hagia Sophia - TRY60
  • Istanbul - Topkapi Palace - TRY65
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, the travellers in your group and your group leader are likely to change today. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary so please attend, and this is also a great chance to meet the new group. It’s important that you attend the welcome meeting as your new group leader will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

Istanbul Airports are very busy and sometimes it can be difficult to see your transfer representative. If you are unable to locate your transfer, please contact the local team in the ‘Joining Point Instructions’ in Essential Trip Information.
How blue is the Aegean? Find out for yourself as you jump on a local train after breakfast and head to the airport. A one-hour flight takes you to Izmir, Turkey's third-largest city, and from there you'll transfer 1.5 hours to Kusadasi. This resort town lies on Turkey's western Aegean coast and is the perfect jump-off point for visiting the classical ruins at Ephesus. It's also a great spot to soak up the vibes along the seafront promenade, check out the local beaches or have a bit of a fun with the nightlife. Despite being a resort town, Kusadasi isn't all new hotels and marinas. It has a long history and some phenomenal traditional Aegean cuisine featuring fresh seafood and local olive oil.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
There are two airports in Istanbul, internal flights may be from either of these airports depending on carrier schedules. Internal flight will be operated by Turkish Airlines, Anadolu Jet, Pegasus Airlines or Sun Express.  Luggage restrictions of 15kg checked and 8kg hand luggage apply on most internal flights.
Lace up your sensible shoes and charge your camera. Today starts with a visit to Ephesus, one of the best-preserved classical cities in the Eastern Mediterranean and arguably the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world. Once the capital city of Roman Asia Minor, the city has a fascinating history that really comes alive with a local guide to enhance the experience. The ruins are in incredible shape, considering their age, and it’s not difficult to image them in their full glory 2000 years ago. This ancient city was extremely sophisticated with running water, public toilets, a renowned medical institute, a brothel and Roman baths. The theatre is well preserved and regularly hosts concerts, but it's the magnificent library that takes most people's breath away. From Ephesus, drive to Selcuk to feast on the popular gozleme (Turkish pancake) as it's made in front of you, then visit the Isa Bey Mosque, the Artemis Temple and the small village of Sirince to taste the local fruit wine.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ephesus - archaeological site
  • Selcuk - Gozleme making demonstration and lunch
  • Selcuk - Isa Bey Camii
  • Selcuk - Artemis Temple Visit
  • Sirince - Wine Tasting
Optional Activities
  • Selcuk - Archaeological Museum - TRY15
  • Ephesus - Terrace Houses Entry - TRY30
  • Selcuk - Basilica of St John - TRY15
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
It's all about you today. Whatever you want to do, do it. Within reason, y'know? Take a day tour to the famous Pamukkale World Heritage Site, Turkey's 'Cotton Castle' thermal pools that have  been used as a spa since the 2nd century BC. Though you won't be able to bathe in these pools, you can take a walk through them, visit the nearby ancient city of Hierapolis and take a dip in what used to be Celopatras’s old pool. Alternatively, you could take to the Aegean and explore the coastline on a gulet, a traditional wooden Turkish vessel. Swim in the crystal-clear waters of Soguksu Bay, Claros Island and Baradan Beach and enjoy lunch on deck. If you'd rather have a low-key day, there are plenty of beaches in town that have sunbeds, umbreallas and your name on it. Whatever you do, make sure you're ready to head back to Izmir by 6 pm as the Mavi Konya, an overnight train, will be waiting to transport your group through the night to the central Anatolian city of Konya.




Accommodation
  • Mavi Konya (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Overnight travel this evening on the Mavi Konya. Sleeping couchettes are two berth and have excellent facilities including a washbasin, small fridge and plenty of luggage storage.  Fresh bedding is supplied but you are required to make your own bed. Western-style toilets are located in each carriage, but we recommend bringing additional toilet paper.  There is a dining car for breakfast in the morning and if you get hungry during the evening.  You can even enjoy a local beer over a game of backgammon. 
Wake up in Konya, a traditional Turkish city that's closely linked with the whirling dervish sect of Islam developed in the 13th century by Celaleddin Rumi, considered one of Islam's greatest Sufi mystics. Take an opportunity to visit the Mevlana Museum and stretch your legs in town before hitting the road for a three-hour journey to Cappadocia. Keep an eye out for the fairy chimneys, the hallmarks of Cappadocia's otherworldly landscape, as you drive across the Anatolian plains and stop en route at one of the underground cities that once provided a safe haven in times of war or persecution. Arrive in Goreme in the late afternoon and take a sunset valley walk before settling in for the evening. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cappadocia - Kaymakli Underground City
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Notes: Without a doubt, one of the most amazing memories of this journey is a hot air balloon ride over the majestic landscape to see this otherworldly scene at sunrise. Those who are interested in this optional extra will have a truly awe-inspiring experience. The cost of this activity varies depending on what type of flight you choose. This activity can only be booked locally. Please speak to your trip leader on Day 1 to organise this.
This morning you have the option to take a hot air balloon flight, a once-in-a-lifetime experience during which the sun illuminates a skyline dotted with balloons. Even if you'd prefer not to take a flight, it's still worth waking up for this truly incredible sight. Your leader will take you for a walk through one of the nearby valleys, possibly the Valley of Love, which features fairy chimneys, deserted rock-cut homes and churches. Your leader will know a number of fantastic scenic routes and a good walk is by far the best way to experience this unique environment. In your free time today, maybe visit the UNESCO-listed Goreme Open Air Museum, a monastic complex composed of churches, rectories and dwellings cut into the soft cliff face. You could also hire a bicycle and ride to Avanos to check out the Red River, or relax in a Turkish bath. This evening, your leader will give you the option of sharing a meal with a local family in their own home, or alternatively you could grab a local testi kebab, an evening hookah in one of the cafes or a glass of the local wine while overlooking the valley. A perfect last night in Cappadocia, whatever you choose.


Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cappadocia - Valley Walk
Optional Activities
  • Goreme - Hot Air Balloon, Cappadocia Regular Flight - EUR195
  • Goreme - Open Air Museum - TRY45
  • Goreme - Whirling Dervishes - Sema Performance - EUR25
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Wave goodbye to Cappadocia and transfer to the airport for a flight back to Istanbul. Expect to arrive between 1 and 4 pm, then grab your bags and jump on the metro as the group heads to the Sultanahmet District for the final evening of hte trip. Meet up with your travel buds in the evening and take a stroll across the Galata Bridge to one of the city's hippest neighbourhoods, a place of contradictions where tool-selling tradesman share space with chic cafes and galleries. This is the place to be seen. Try a local favourite, Balik Ekmek (fish sandwich), for dinner, then cleanse the palate with a baklava. Maybe check out a few of the bars, or simply enjoy a farewell cay (Turkish tea) overlooking the Bosphorous. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your trip ends after breakfast and there are no activities planned for the day.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

16 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners

Transport

Private Bus, Public bus, Overnight Train, Plane

Accommodation

Hotel (12 nights), Guesthouse (5 nights) Overnight Train (1 night)

Included activities

  • Tbilisi - City tour
  • Mtskheka - Jvari Church
  • Mtskheka - Svetitskoveli Cathedral
  • Kutaisi - Farmers Market
  • Mestia - Cooking class
  • Mestia - Lakhiri Village Hike
  • Mestia - Georgian cheese making
  • Ushguli - Village hike
  • Ushguli - Lamaria Church
  • Ushguli - Queen Tamar`s Tower
  • Ushguli - Shkhara Glacier hike & picnic
  • Batumi - City Tour
  • Istanbul - Old City Walking Tour (Half Day)
  • Ephesus - archaeological site
  • Selcuk - Gozleme making demonstration and lunch
  • Selcuk - Isa Bey Camii
  • Selcuk - Artemis Temple Visit
  • Sirince - Wine Tasting
  • Cappadocia - Kaymakli Underground City
  • Cappadocia - Valley Walk

Dates & availability

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Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 14 (Overnight train) where you will be in shared accommodation, and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.

INCLUDED FLIGHTS 
There are internal flights on this trip and most internal flights in Turkey have a luggage restriction of 15kg checked and 8kg cabin.

The international connection from Tbilisi to Istanbul is unaccompanied.  Luggage restrictions of 20kg checked and 8kg cabin apply on this flight.  The departure from Tbilisi to Istanbul will be a very early departure.

FITNESS LEVEL
Some of the best scenery in the Caucasus Region is in the Svaneti  on day 5, 6 and 7. The included hikes can be quite steep and long. While this trip doesn't require a high level of fitness, it’s essential to be at least moderately fit if you want to take part in all activities. Altitudes experienced during this trip are up to 2200m above sea level.

ITINERARY
Please note there is a chance of potential changes to the itinerary due to heavy rain, flooding and snow at higher altitudes, which often affect roads and bridges, making travel difficult or impossible (particularly in remote areas).

TURKEY
We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest information on travelling in Turkey before your departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas of your itinerary. We have links to prominent government travel advisories and regular updates on issues affecting this trip on our Travel Alerts page - www.intrepidtravel.com/au/travel-alerts

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View Essential Trip Information

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