Georgia brings you to the heart of the Caucasus, where the air is clean and the adventure just starts
Last month two friends and I decided to book a spontaneous trip to one of the most underrated countries in the world: Georgia. This ex-Soviet country may not be too popular among travelers looking for adventure, but thanks to its inexpensive costs of travel, magnificent and untouched landscapes and its delicious cuisine, Georgia has not only become a country I want to visit more often and for a longer period, but also an excellent alternative I can recommend to travelers looking for adventure backpacking.
Visa restrictions are practically non existent for European travelers and flights with WizzAir can be as cheap as 20 EUR one way, so there is practically no excuse to not include this country on your bucket list. Georgia has a wonderful coastline next to the Black Sea, which makes your beach holiday a mix of Ibiza with a Soviet influence; at the same time its large and almost untouched mountain ranges brings you to the heart of the Caucasus, where the air is clean and the adventure just starts. However, I have to say that the biggest gem of not only Georgia but all of Central Asia is located next to the Russian border in the region of Khevi and is called the Gergeti Trinity Church.
This 14th century structure stands at a height of 2100 meters under Mount Kazbek, where incredible landscapes will leave you speechless and the church itself will make you believe in the existence of a God. The church is located very close to the town of Gergeti and the city of Stepandsminda. Stepandsminda is a getaway for Russian and Georgian families with modern cafes, nice restaurants and a cozy atmosphere. While the church is well visible from the town, it is still further away than one might think, located about a one hour walk from the city or 30 minutes by car depending on the weather conditions: A nice hike for a sunny day in Summer and a more adventurous experience for travelers during Winter.
Traveling to Stepandsminda can also be an incredible experience. While a private van or tours are offered by many tour companies all over the old city of Tbilisi, I would totally recommend renting a car and going by yourself. Stepandsminda is located about three hours from the capital city and on the way to the church you will pass beautiful locations like Ananuri, a beautiful castle from the 13th century located only 70 kilometers from Tbilisi with amazing views of the Zhinvali reservoir, or the Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument, a Soviet monument built in 1983 celebrating the good relationships between the two neighboring countries and surrounded by the Caucasus´ most magnificent treasures.
Without a doubt, Gergeti Trinity Church needs to be on your to-do list for Georgia, but I also think this destination is a good excuse to start planning a trip to Georgia and experience the magnificence of the Caucasus by yourself.