Georgia - 1 to 13 June 2024
Armenia - 13 to 17 June 2024

Imagine a land almost as old as time itself, and from where, according to anthropologists, the Caucasian race began. It’s a land where mountains higher than the Alps tumble into a warm blue sea, and where also, those verdant lower slopes were the birthplace of fine wine. A land whose contours house many charming Orthodox Monasteries adorned with frescos of former monarch David the Builder, and patron saint St George. That land is of course Georgia, once a vassal of the Soviet Union, and now a country paving its own way, whilst looking westward to Europe for its future. This is the land where Jason and his Argonauts once sailed in search of the Golden Fleece and also where Joseph Stalin began his early revolutionary life.

There are attractive valleys between the mountains and, many of these valleys, together with the sea-shore are graced with railway tracks of the Russian five-foot gauge. Passenger services are Spartan, but we will aim to travel on every piece of the Georgian Railway that offers a service using both traditional slow trains and also on modern Stadler speedy connections. There is one snaking narrow gauge mountain train to a ski resort at Bakuriani, which we will ride and also photograph on Gustave Eiffel’s dramatic bridge. We will also ride one funicular railway and provide opportunities for the adventurous to use some of the nation’s cable cars. There are no operating steam locomotives but the six or so preserved specimens will be able to be seen. Tbilisi the capital has a rather spacious but crowded metro which can be sampled as desired.

Examine our itinerary and come with us to this charming land where the Georgian language and alphabet may be undecipherable, but the food, wine and beer are delectable and equal to anything found anywhere. Our prime transport will be rail but with an optional paralleling transfer bus containing our luggage.

We also offer an optional extension to adjacent Armenia for a little more of the same.

Tour Manager: Kevin email kevin@ptg.co.uk

From: Gatwick, Heathrow, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh

Availability

Tour Highlights


  • Comprehensive rail travel over the Georgian network
  • Ride and photograph the snaking narrow-gauge Borjormi – Bakuriani mountain line
  • World Heritage sites at Gelati and Mtskheta
  • Unique culture with spectacular landscape and friendly peoples
  • Monasteries and castles in the mountains
  • Most meals included and based on unrivalled local cuisine
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation
Georgia Rail Map
Georgia Rail Map

Georgia Itinerary

Day 1 Saturday 1 June, 2024

There are daytime flights from many UK airports via Paris, Amsterdam or Istanbul, to the Georgian capital city of Tbilisi. As most flights arrive late there will be taxi transfers to our city centre hotel and our welcome dinner will be tomorrow.

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Tbilisi

Day 2 Sunday 2 October (B,D)

We will start our day with a visit to Mt. Mtatsminda by funicular railway to take views of the city. We then return from the heights to spend some time in the Old City where lunch may be taken. In mid-afternoon we will visit Mushtaidi Garden, close to the main station where a preserved diesel offers a train ride.  An early dinner will be taken nearby followed by either a return to our hotel or an evening hour-long rail journey on the daily train to Gardabani on the Azerbaijan border.

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Mushtaidi Park railway

 

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Tbilisi old town at night

Day 3 Monday 3 June (B,L,D)

It’s a relaxed start today taking the modern cable car to the Narikala Fortress overlooking the dramatic riverside cliffs to the south of the city.  We then transfer north to Mtskheta to where Svetitkhoveli Cathedral sits at the confluence of two rivers, overlooked by Javari Church.  We will return to Tbilisi for the solitary 2.5hr. tea-time train to Sadaxlo, high on the plateau on the Armenian border. If there is no service train we will have a special charter train. Our return by road will only take an hour for a late dinner.

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Narikala Fortress

Day 4 Tuesday 4 June (B,D)

The day commences with a return to Tbilisi station to take a 1-hour train to Gori.  Here, in the morning, we visit the fascinating Stalin Museum followed by the grim War Museum housing some exhibits from the 2008 war.  There will then be free time with the possibility to walk up to the 17th century citadel and after have some lunch.  In the afternoon, we will visit the nearby 6th century cave city of Uplistsikhe.  Dinner will be in Gori.

Uplistsikhe,Aerial,Panoramic,View.,Uplistsikhe,Is,An,Ancient,Rock,Hewn
Uplistsikhe

Day 5 Wednesday 5 June (B,L,D)

It’s a brisk transfer today to Gori station for the 2.5-hour slow train to Borjormi where we immediately transfer to the narrow gauge mountain train to Bakuriani for another 2.5 hour ride.  We need to take packed lunches as we will follow the train by road down the mountain, watching its progress over the Eiffel Bridge and through Daba station before a tea-time arrival at our Borjormi hotel. There may be time to visit the monastery at Tsagveri on our descent of the mountain. If the mountain railway is not open, and we can’t have a charter train, we will instead have a charter train and the freight only line bejond Borjomi down to the industrial complex at Akhaltsikhe.

Borjomi,,Samtskhe javakheti,,Georgia.,Suburban,Electric,Train,Near,Borjomi,Parki,Railway
Borjomi
Old locomotive on the narrow gage railroad between Borjomi and ski resort town of Bakuriani, Georgia, Caucasus region
Old locomotive on the narrow gage railroad between Borjomi and ski resort town of Bakuriani

Day 6 Thursday 6 June (B,L,D)

For our programme today we follow the Mtkvari river valley with its freight only railway to Akhaltsikhe near the Turkish border and visit the Rabati Castle.  We continue upstream with the river to the Cave City of Vardzia and the Khertvisi Fortress. If the mountain railway is open (and we travelled on it yesterday) then we will have a charter train to Akhaltsikhe and back to Khashuri.

Interior of the Rabati Castle, Akhaltsikhe, Georgia
Interior of the Rabati Castle, Akhaltsikhe
AKHALKALAKI, GEORGIA 06 AUGUST 2017: bridge made from old abandoned train car situated between Akhaltsikhe and Akhalkalaki towns
This unusual bridge has become a bit of an internet sensation. It is near Akhaltsikhe and we will try and pay it a visit.

Day 7 Friday 7 June (B,D)

Leaving at 08:30 we transfer north to Sachkhere for the train which takes a 3-hour ride along the branch to Zestafoni, the main line to Rioni and finally the branch to Kutaisi, Georgia’s second city.  We will pause for an hour here in the city centre where some lunch may be taken before our charter train to Kutaisi’s second station to take the branch line to the spa town at Tskaltubo, where we stay for a relaxing evening.

View,On,Kutaisi,From,River,Rioni
Kutaisi from River Rioni

Day 8 Saturday 8 June (B,L,D)

After breakfast, we transfer back to Kutaisi’s main station for a 3-hour scenic branch line journey, probably by charter train, to the old coal mining town of Tkibuli in the foothills.  After lunch we visit monasteries at Gelati and Motsameta in spectacular settings, followed by the Cathedral and Citadel in Kutaisi before our return to Tskaltubo.

Tourist,Visiting,At,Motsameta,Monastery,Near,Kutaisi,,Georgia.
Motsameta Monastery

Day 9 Sunday 9 June (B,D)

We can have some free time in Kutaisi where the large market can be visited, cable car ridden, and a snack lunch taken, prior to a transfer to the main-line at Rioni for the lunchtime train to Zugdidi (arriving 14:21) near the border with breakaway Abkhazia and as far west as Georgia Railway operate. We have time for lunch and a visit to the Dadiani Palace. We then take the 17:20 train back east to the junction at Senaki. We have two options this evening. Free time and stay at the hotel in Senaki or for those wanting the branch line to Poti you take the 22:17 train (there is only one) to Poti and stay in a hotel there for the train out again the next morning.

Dadiani,Palaces,Historical,And,Architectural,Museum,Located,Inside,A,Park
Dadiani Palace

Day 10 Monday 10 June (B,L,D)

For those staying in Senaki we depart on the 08:08 train and alight at Samtredia Junction. Those coming from Poti depart at 07:20. We are all on the same train forward to from Senaki to Samtredia Junction (arriving 08:40) where we can view some of the rail facilities before taking lunch. Additional attraction will be added today once the summer timetables are known. We leave on an afternoon train (14:28) southward along the coast which will take the Ozurgeti branch (arriving 17:30), from where we will transfer to the coastal resort of Batumi to arrive early evening. These are the current train times as of December 2023.

Cityscape,With,Beautiful,Architecture.,Europe,Square,In,Batumi.
Batumi

Day 11 Tuesday 11 June (B,L,D)

Today we will take an inland mountain road journey to Khulo via attractive scenery and over old stone bridges. Lunch will be taken at Khulo, from where a cable car may be taken over the valley to the village of Tago.  We will return to Batumi in time for a seafront promenade and the opportunity for a cable-car ride to Anuria Hill overlooking the harbour.

Old,Cableway,In,Khulo,Village,,Adjara,Region,,Georgia.,Amazing,Caucasus
Cablecar in Khulo Village

Day 12 Wednesday 12 June (B,L,D)

Our departure from Batumi is planned for the 8:10 fast Stadler train to Tbilisi in first class – arriving 13:17. For the first hour the line hugs the coast before heading in land. We will take a late lunch on arrival and after visit the Folklore Centre.  In the evening will be our final dinner.

Train,Station,In,Batumi,,Georgia,,With,Train,Ready,To,Depart
Batumi

Day 13 Thursday 13 June (B)

For those who may wish to complete their rail-track coverage there is a 7:50 train to the airport station.  If you are leaving us, there will be some free time before an early afternoon transfer to the airport for our tea-time flights back to London – or on to Armenia. Note: As of December 2023 the airport train is not operating. We will try and get a charter train if it is possible.

Armenia Add-on

Day 13 Thursday 13 June (L,D)

Hopefully you can join us in Armenia, with our journey commencing by road immediately after the airport train arrival. After an hour we will cross the border to follow the route of rail and river along the historic Debed Canyon stopping as necessary for photos.  We travel by road but will return along here by rail.  In the canyon, the heritage-listed monastery at Haghpat is visited then we continue to Dilijan in the ‘Switzerland of Armenia’ for our hotel.

Armenia, Debed Canyon, Dzoraget, Tufenkian Avan Dzoraget Hotel
Debed Canyon
The,Ancient,Haghartsin,Monastery,Is,Located,Near,The,Town,Of
Haghartsin Monastery
Tourist,Town,Of,Dilijan,,Armenia.,Little,Switzerland,Of,Armenia’’.
Dilijanm, Armenia, Little Switzerland

Day 14 Friday 14 June (B,L,D)

We will cross the Sevan Pass and descend to the 80km Lake Sevan at almost 2000m above sea level.  We will visit 2 monasteries on the lakeside then to Shorza on the north bank to take the 3-hour weekend late pm train to Yerevan.

Lake Sevan Temple Complex,On,The,Peninsula,Of,The,Lake
Lake Sevan Temple Complex

Day 15 Saturday 15 June (B,L,D)

Track riders might wish to take our early morning transfer to Yeraskh on the Iranian border to return to the city via a 2-hour daily train.  We spend the remainder of the day in Yerevan with visits to the Garni Temple, another monastery, the Children’s Railway and the Genocide Museum.

The,Hellenic,Temple,Of,Garni,In,Armenia
The Hellenic Temple of Garni
The,Little,Train,On,A,Station,At,Chidren?s,Railway,Park
Children’s Railway
The,Little,Train,On,A,Station,At,Chidren?s,Railway,Park
Children’s Railway

Day 16 Sunday 16 June (B,L,D)

The morning train is taken to Gyumri for lunch, a look at rail operation, the city and Marmashen Monastery close to the Turkish Border.  We take the evening train to Georgia via the Debed Canyon and alight at Sadakhlo (Georgia) for a transfer to our hotel in Tbilisi.

Tbilisi, Georgia Train No.371 Tbilisi Yerevan, International train at Tbilisi Railway station in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Tbilisi, Georgia Train No.371 Tbilisi Yerevan, International train at Tbilisi Railway station in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Day 17 Monday 17 June (B,L,D)

There is free time in Tbilisi in the morning before an early afternoon transfer to the airport for our tea-time flights back to London.

Holiday Prices (per person)*

  • Flight prices via Istanbul: from £375
  • Flight prices with Air France via CDG: from £585
  • Full 12-day Georgia tour, joining in Tbilisi: £2,750

* prices may increase by up to £500 depending on how many private charter trains are needed. If you don’t accept any increase you can of course cancel for a full refund.

Options

  • 4-night extension in Armenia: £1,250
  • Single room supplement: Georgia £675, Armenia £190

Deposit

  • Georgia: £500 plus any flight costs
  • Armenia: £300

Recommended Flights

AF1681/1052 09:00 Heathrow – Paris – Tbilisi (arr 19:45). Total flight time 6hrs.

AF1053/1780 08:40 Tbilisi – Paris – Heathrow (arr 13:45)

Indirect flights available from all the major UK airports.

Georgia is 4 hours ahead of the UK.

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Recommended Flights

AF1681/1052 09:00 Heathrow – Paris – Tbilisi (arr 19:45). Total flight time 6hrs.

AF1053/1780 08:40 Tbilisi – Paris – Heathrow (arr 13:45)

Indirect flights available from all the major UK airports.

Georgia is 4 hours ahead of the UK.