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Vardzia

The 60km drive into the wilderness from Akhaltsikhe to the fascinating cave city of Vardzia is as dramatic as any in Georgia outside the Great Caucasus. The road follows the upper Mtkvari River, passing through narrow canyons and then veering south at Aspindza along a particularly beautiful valley cutting like a green ribbon between arid, rocky hillsides. There are several places of interest along the way: taxi drivers are often happy to stop at one or two of them for no extra charge. The star of the show is Vardzia itself, however, with its scores of caves and tunnels, impressive church and dozens of extraordinary frescoes. You can see Vardzia in a day trip from Akhaltsikhe or Borjomi, but the river valley area is a magical one, and an overnight stay is very worthwhile.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Vardzia.