Telavi is the center of the Kakheti which is considered to be the mother of winemaking because of its world-famous wineries. In fact, there are so many wine shops and vineyards scattered throughout Telavi from where you can have tastings.
I even got to taste organic wine in a wine shop near the Tourist office and it tasted delicious!
Do you want to experience these wine tastings too? What about the Tsinandali estate or the Nadikvari park? I’ll help you on your journey through Telavi. Let’s go!
- 1 How to Get to Telavi
- 2 Where is Telavi
- 3 What to See in Telavi
- 4 Where to Eat in Telavi
- 5 Where to stay in Telavi
How to Get to Telavi
There are two (2) main ways to get from Tbilisi to Telavi – by taxi or by marshrutka.
Fee: 10-15 GEL per person
Travel Time: 2 Hours
Tbilisi to Telavi by marshrutka
Fee: 10 GEL per person
Travel Time: 3 Hours
In my experience, though the route the marshrutka takes from Tbilisi to Telavi is only a short distance, it is still quite slow.
Where is Telavi
I just had a 3-day hiking adventure in Kazbegi, and I wanted to check out Telavi on my way to Omalo.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to commute directly from Kazbegi to Telavi. But if I really wanted to, I can book a private car to get there. However, I don’t find it very practical.
So I decided to take a marshrutka (a Georgian minibus) back to the capital city Tbilisi, from where I can make my way towards Telavi. I was on the road for quite some time, but Telavi was worth the road trip especially if you are heading to Tusheti.
What to See in Telavi
Location: 20km from the City Center
Opening times: 10 AM – 7 PM
Fees: 1- GEL
How to Get to Tsinindale Estate
Since I wanted to go visit the Tsinandali museum, I went to the tourist center to ask for assistance in booking a car. They were extremely helpful and they speak good English, which made everything so much easier.
I say it is always best to visit a tourist office first so they can help you and guide you in your planned destinations. So if you want to visit Tsinindale estate, it’ll be best if you were to get a taxi too.
The Tsinandali Estate
The Tsinandali Estate is primarily a manor house that once belonged to the princely family of Chavchavadze, who played a great role in the history of Georgia. In my short stay there, I can tell you immediately that there is probably no other family as famous as theirs.
The most known member of the family is Alexandre, who was credited with wine-making that ultimately shaped the Georgian culture.
Today, the estate has been converted into a museum where Georgians and tourists alike can explore the historical place.
What you will see in the museum are the personal belongings the family once owned. For example, you will see the working desk of Alexander or the picture of Imam which was painted by Anna. You will even find their books, clothing, piano, and furniture that have stories of their own.
I found the tour really interesting because of the guide who was very knowledgeable and open to questions.
Oh, I think the gardens outside are worth mentioning because they were carefully well-maintained. Some were even shaped into hearts!
Going Back Home from Tsinandali Estate
It’s quite easy to get a taxi going to the estate. However, going home from the estate is a different story because it is quite far from the main road, and so getting a ride can be difficult. Plus, not many people in the estate know how to speak English which made it hard for us to ask for assistance.
Thankfully, the bar tender understood a bit of English and he helped call a taxi for us. It costs the same 10 gel, so basically its 20 gel for a return trip. When the taxi arrived, I found it hard to explain to the driver where I wanted him to bring me to. So I just told him to drop me in the city center of Telavi. I just walked from there because where I was staying wasn’t far so a car wouldn’t be necessary.
2. Shuamta Monastery
Location: Shaumta Village
Opening times: 9:00 AM to 7 PM
The Shuamta Monastery is known as the Georgian architectural cluster because it is composed of several churches. The 3 original churches are made of cobblestones and pumice stones, which I find very amazing. By the way, its name means “between the mountains” in the native language because it is indeed located between mountains.
Overall, the place is very suitable for deep prayer and reflection because of the perfect silence and tranquility that you will experience the moment you enter the monastery. So if you wish to have a quiet time for prayer, this is the perfect place to do it.
There is even a fresh and clean spring from which you can drink from. The water tastes absolutely tasty!
3. Batonis Tsikhe
Location: Center of Telavi
Opening times: 24 Hours
Batonis castle or the Castle of Batoni is an impressive fortress with stone walls as high as 5m. It served as the residential area of the royal family of Kakheti in the 17th-18th century.
The first thing you’ll most probably notice when you enter the castle is the statue of the king. When you enter the gates, you will see the ruins of a former school, two churches, the king’s bath, and also a museum where you can learn many things about history and the royal family.
4. Ikalto Monastery
Location: 2km from Telavi-Akhmeta road
Opening times: 9 AM to 6 PM
The 6th-century monastery set amidst a cypress grove is a beautiful sight, especially for nature photographers. To give you a bit of its fascinating history, it was actually the very first monastery to be built in the Kakheti region by a Christian preacher called Zenon of Ikalto. He was one of the missionaries who came all the way from Assyria to preach Christianity to the locals.
But what makes the monastery truly famous in the country is its important part in the life of Georgia’s national hero whose name is Shota Rustaveli. Accordingly, the religious Academy during the reign of David the Builder was the place where he studied and it used to be a part of the monastery.
So if you want to take part in Georgia’s important background, you can take a walk in the monastery, preferably in the morning while there are not many people around yet, so you can appreciate the calming silence and beauty of the place.
5. Plane Tree
Location: Eastern part of Old Telavi City
Opening times: 24 Hours
The Plane Tree is a gigantic, ancient tree that has been standing for 900 years! It is an utterly unique attraction because not many places can boast of having such a living monument. It is a huge tree that is 46 meters high and 12 meters thick.
6. Nadikvari Park
Location: City Center
Opening times: Anytime
Nadikvari Park is probably one of the favorite go-to places of the locals for family time and leisure, especially during evenings and summer times. When you go to the park, you will find many locals enjoying the open-air theater, walking trails, and playgrounds for the children.
Where to Eat in Telavi
Cafe Bravo is true to its name because it deserves a shout of approval for their incredibly delicious and affordable meals! I really loved the massive meal we had consisting of 5 huge dishes and a whole bottle of wine. All these cost me 60 GEL or 20 USD. Talk about affordable and filling meals!
The servings were so large that we couldn’t even finish them all. The wine was also very good!
In fact, I loved Cafe Bravo so much that I ate there again on our way back from Omalo to Tbilisi.
Where to stay in Telavi
There are several lodgings you can choose from if you want to stay in Telavi. To help you find some, I’ll give you a budget-friendly, mid-priced, and a luxury option so you can have a wide range of choices.
Budget-friendly: Tamari Guesthouse (check rates and availability)
Tamari Guesthouse is an awesome, pet-friendly place that you can easily feel at home in. The host, whose name is Tamar, was very helpful and friendly. The meals are delicious and the wine superb. The best part for me was the location because it was very close to the center of town!
The place is clean, cozy, and well-equipped – with free WiFi and parking space.
Mid-priced: Twins Wine Cellar (check rates and availability)
Twins Wine Cellar is a 3-star, pet-friendly hotel complete with modern amenities to make your stay comfortable, like air-conditioned rooms, private bathrooms, and free WiFi. From here you get a magnificent view of the Caucasus mountains perfect for picture-perfect photos for your Instagram.
There are several activities you can do during your stay. You can participate in their wine tastings fresh from their very own vineyard and wine cellar, hence its name. You can also enjoy their pool and their barbeque facilities with your loved ones. When you feel like taking hikes, their garden and the Georgian countryside near the hotel can help you relax and unwind.
I’m sure you will enjoy their breakfasts which consist of traditional Georgian dishes! You can have them in the hotel restaurant.
The Twins Wine Cellar is 23 km away from the Telavi city center. So if you want to take a break from the bustle of city life, this is the perfect place for you.
Luxury Hotel: Lopota Lake Resort and Spa (check rates and availability)
Lopota Lake Resort and Spa is located right beside a beautiful lake located in the Lopota valley and surrounded by many vineyards, numerous spa complexes, and the Caucasus mountain range. It is a 4-star hotel that is known by many to be a little piece of paradise because of the gorgeous place, well-maintained gardens, delicious meals, and excellent service.
Not to mention the large rooms with flat-screen TVs, private balconies, and minibars. Plus, their huge pool even has a sauna complex!
There are also childhood, family-friendly activities you can participate in to enjoy your stay even more. It is quite expensive but definitely worth every penny!
Don’t forget to bring your best camera when visiting Telavi. There are simply too many beautiful opportunities for taking picturesque photos that you wouldn’t wanna miss!