Example Itinerary

Essential Caucasus: Two Weeks in Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan

Duration
14 days / 13 nights
Price Per Person
Interests
Heritage, Amazing Landscapes, UNESCO
Destinations
Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan

The Caucasus is a region nestled between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, consisting of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan - also known as the crossroads of Asia and Europe. Named after the Caucasus mountain ranges, the region is covered in some of the world’s most stunning alpine landscapes, as well as vast plains, dramatic gorges and valleys, and lush forests. These ancient lands also share in common a history of frequent conquest by foreign powers and shifting borders, as well as some cultural traditions such as treating guests with the utmost generosity. Individually, these three neighboring countries have distinct identities: Armenia is the world’s first Christian country and home to a wealth of churches, boasts a laid back culture, and cosmopolitan capital; Georgia is the birthplace of wine, and features a diverse landscape and a robust food and drink culture; Azerbaijan is known for its oil-rich reserves, Zoroastrian fire temples, historical palaces, and an intriguing Turkic-Iranian-Russian cultural legacy. Traverse through all three countries, discover their unique flavors, and see all the highlights on this two-week journey around the Caucasus. 

This itinerary is an example. It’s designed to inspire you and provide you with thoughtfully curated ideas. You can choose to do this exact itinerary or completely personalize it. All trips are 100% bespoke.

Highlights

  • Armenia’s Amazing Churches: As the first country to recognize Christianity as its state religion dating back to 301 AD, Amernia is home to around 4,000 monasteries and churches. These beautiful and ancient holy sites are found all over the country, often situated amongst picturesque landscapes, and are among the most striking part of any visit to the country.
  • Georgia’s Culinary Culture: Georgia’s signature hospitality goes hand in hand with its passion for food and wine. Experience the generosity of the locals in Georgia as you travel across the country and indulge in the finest wines straight from the vineyards and hearty traditional dishes. 
  • Azerbaijan’s Handicraft Heritage: The ancient handicrafts of Azerbaijan have not only survived but continue to flourish even in modern day. Each region has its own specialties and designs, often passed down through generations. Meet master craftsmen and artisans, visit studios and workshops, see how these crafts are used in everyday local life, and even try your hand at these traditional arts. 

Day-by-Day

Day 1

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Yerevan »

Your journey across the Caucasus begins in Armenia. Arrive at Yerevan International Airport where you will be greeted off the aerobridge by a representative and escorted to a VIP lounge where arrival formalities will be handled.  Then, you and your luggage will be taken to the arrival hall to meet your your guide and driver. Transfer by private luxury vehicle to your hotel and check in and relax for the rest of the evening. 

Hotel Options

Day 2

Map

Yerevan »

Today is spent exploring Yerevan, Armenia’s capital and cultural center. This attractive city is divided by the Hrazdan River and framed by mountain peaks to the north and across the Turkish frontier to the south. Stroll along the city center’s tree-lined boulevards and take in the scene: traditional taverns, chic wine bars, street fashion boutiques, outdoor cafes, Soviet-era buildings, and modern structures. Stop by the city’s iconic landmarks which include Republic Square, Yerevan Opera Theatre, and the Yerevan Cascade, a giant stairway made of limestone where locals come to congregate for festivals and on sunny days. You may want to grab a cup of coffee and sit on a bench and enjoy some people-watching, as the locals do. After lunch, continue to the Armenian Genocide Memorial, a hilltop complex dedicated to the victims of the Armenian genocide. Next door is the Museum-Institute which features exhibits, a library, and a reading hall. Finally, visit Yerevan Brandy Factory, home of the country’s most famous brand of Armenian brandy called ARARAT. Learn about the spirit’s historical heritage as you walk around the museum, as well as the secrets of modern production in the factory. End the tour and the day with a degustation of a selection of ARARAT brandies. 

Yerevan

Day 3

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Yerevan »

Discover the south of Armenia today. The first stop is Khor Virap, a monastery located on a hillock in the Ararat Plain, beautifully framed by Mount Ararat in the distance over the border in Turkey. Another important pilgrimage site, Khor Virap is notable for holding the man who would become Saint Gregory the Illuminator in a pit for 14 years before he miraculously cured the king, thus helping turn the country into the first Christian nation. Continue onward to Areni village, where in 2011, archaeologists announced the discovery of the earliest known winery. Areni and the surrounding Vayots Dzor region has been the cradle of Armenian winemaking for millennia; the area’s sedimentary and rich volcanic soil coupled with high elevation makes it ideal for vineyards. Here, try a selection of local wines at a winery and have lunch. Finally stop by Noravank, a 13th-century monastery that sits in a picturesque valley, before returning to Yerevan.

Day 4

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Dilijan »

Pack up and depart Yerevan this morning as you make your way to Lake Sevan, a large freshwater lake and the largest body of water in the Caucasus region. Stretch your legs with a walk around the cool lake before visiting Sevanavank, the monastic complex that sits on the peninsula. Continue to Dilijan, a small resort town surrounded by forests and alpine meadows, known for its mild climate, nature trails, wellness resorts, and artisanal arts and crafts scene. Take a stroll along Old Dilijan, a small cobbled street lined with traditional buildings, preserved as living museums where visitors can see what traditional life was like in the past. There are a couple of monasteries and a museum of folk art in town, while the Lake Parz park is a popular leisure spot for walking and picnicking around the clear lake. Just outside of town, pay a visit to Haghartsin Monastery, one of the premier monasteries in the country. Nestled in lush forested mountains, the complex includes four churches and is one of the best examples of Armenian medieval architecture. Return to Dilijan to spend the evening. 

Hotel Options

Day 5

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Tbilisi »

Today you continue your journey north, through the beautiful highlands of the Lori province, past steep river gorges and villages of the Old Believers. Take in the magnificent mountain scenery as you drive towards the border with Georgia. Enroute, stop to visit Haghpat and Sanahin, a pair of Byzantine monasteries that are listed together as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for their religious architecture. Shortly after, you will reach the border where your Georgian guide and driver are waiting. Say goodbye to Armenia as you drive onward to Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital. Upon arrival at your hotel, check in and enjoy your evening at leisure and rest up for your day tomorrow. 

Hotel Options
Tbilisi

Day 6

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Tbilisi »

Today will be spent exploring the East-meets-West city of Tbilisi, with stops at iconic sights and landmarks as well as hidden gems. Conquered and reconquered for centuries, Tbilisi’s long history is evident in its buildings.   Begin from the 13th-century Metekhi church where you can take in views over the Old Town before wandering the charming cobblestone streets, past colorful homes with iconic wooded balconies, restored and repurposed Soviet-era buildings, hidden cafes and bohemian boutiques, a smattering of churches, and a hodgepodge of old and modern architecture. Take a cable car up a steep hill to Narikala Fortress, an ancient Persian citadel that dominates the Old Town skyline. From here you can gaze down over the city and Mtkvari River. A meandering scenic trail will take you past the Mother Georgia statue to the historic area lined with centuries-old domed brick sulfur bathhouses. Finish the day at the History Museum where you can see the Archaeological Treasury with its famous ‘Golden Fund’, an exhibition of more than 600 ancient Georgian gold and silver items and jewelry found during excavations. Alternatively, visit the popular flea market to experience the funky side of Tbilisi. An eclectic mix of unique items is on offer at this scavenger’s wonderland, from Soviet memorabilia to household items to artwork. 

Day 7

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Stepantsminda »

This morning, head to Mtskheta just half an hour north from central Tbilisi at the confluence of two rivers. Nowadays a small provincial capital, Mtskheta was the ancient capital of Georgia and a significant economical and political center. Due to its historical significance and collection of several cultural monuments, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. As the birthplace of Christianity in Georgia, Mtskheta still serves as its religious center and a must-see for those interested in the country’s religious foundation. The two most important sites are Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral where it is believed the Robe of Christ is buried. Afterwards, continue to Mukhrani village to the estate of Ivane Mukhranbatoni, a Georgian nobleman who was a modernizer of the winemaking industry, leading the frontier of sparkling wine production in Georgia. Enjoy lunch at the restaurant on the estate, as well as taste a selection of the estate’s wines, followed by a special wine painting master class. Finally, make your way to the Great Caucasus Mountains along the famous Georgian Military Highway. Enroute, stop to admire the Ananuri complex which overlooks the Zhinvali reservoir. After the scenic drive, arrive in Stepantsminda and check in to your hotel for the evening.

Hotel Options

Day 8

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Tbilisi »

The first stop today is the iconic Gergeti Trinity Church, arguably Georgia’s most picturesque and popular attraction. Located atop a steep hill against a grand backdrop of the snow-covered Caucasus, the juxtaposition of the modest church makes a striking and unforgettable image. You may choose to hike the two hour pilgrimage route and enjoy the stunning scenery along the way or take the road. Continue to Dariali Gorge which measures almost 3,300 feet deep and admire its dramatic beauty before making your way back to Tbilisi. Once back in Tbilisi, the rest of the day is yours.

Hotel Options
Tbilisi

Day 9

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Kakheti Wine Region »

Today you continue your journey east, to the famous wine region of Kakheti. First visit the small town of Sighnaghi, known for its quaint 18th-century architecture of small pastel-colored homes with wooden balconies, meandering narrow cobblestone streets, and the surrounding views of vineyards and mountains in the distance from its hilltop perch. At Tsinandali town, visit the Chavchavadze estate, formerly owned by a local prince in the 19th-century. The estate features a beautiful landscaped garden, historical winery, and memorial house. It was here at Tsinandali winery that Georgian wine was first bottled. Finally, get a first-hand look at the ancient tradition of Georgian wine making at a private wine cellar. You will be treated to a tasting of unique Georgian bio-wines produced in Kvevri, large earthenware vessels used for fermentation, storage, and aging of wines. These large amphorae are either buried below ground or set into the floors of wine cellars. Return to Tsinandali for the evening. 

Hotel Options

Day 10

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Sheki »

Enjoy your final morning in Georgia as today you are headed to Azerbaijan. Continue a short way past the vineyards to the land border where you will cross over and meet your Azeri guide and driver. The road follows east along an ancient route that follows along the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains. Your exploration of Azerbaijan begins with the small town of Kish to visit the Caucasian Albanian church, one of the oldest churches in the Caucasus, founded in the 1st century. Then, drive a short distance more to reach Sheki, one of the oldest cities in the country and once a vital hub for silk trade along the Silk Route. It is one of Azerbaijan’s picturesque towns, with its traditional architectural ensemble of houses with high gabled roofs, notably influenced by foreign powers throughout the centuries. The main jewel of Sheki is the Palace of Sheki Khans, the former summer residence of the royals who were once the most powerful of a series of Khanates in the Caucasus. The building itself is notable for its intricate decorations and design, particularly its stained-glass work and cooling elements. Also visit Sheki’s historic caravanserai, a roadside inn where merchants and travelers sought shelter as they journeyed along the trade routes. Today part of the caravanserai has been refitted to house a working contemporary hotel, while the rest remains open as a museum. Spend the night at a local hotel in Sheki. 

Hotel Options

Day 11

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Baku »

Get back on the same road east, your final destination today is Baku. Make a small detour up to the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus to the small village of Lahij, one of the oldest settlements in Azerbaijan. Lahij is known as a center of craftsmanship, a living open-air museum, where visitors can stroll along the cobblestone streets and observe craftsman at work in various studios, workshops, and shops. Unique quality souvenirs such as carpets, plates, cups, glasses, swords, knives and more are on offer. The most famous craft from Lahij is copper work, some of which have made their way into museums across the Caucasus, Russia, and Europe. Under the guidance of a master craftsman, try your hand at engraving designs on copper craft. Then, stop nearby at Shamakhi, one of the country’s most historic cities. Though invaders and earthquakes have left little history intact, the Juma Mosque still stands in its current iteration. It was one of the first to be founded in the Caucasus as Islam began spreading around Azerbaijan. Continue onward until finally reaching Baku, the capital and commercial hub of Azerbaijan which sits in the east with a coastline built along the Caspian Sea.

Hotel Options
Baku

Day 12

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Baku »

Begin the morning with a walking tour through Baku’s medieval walled Inner City, Icheri Cheher. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this well-preserved old city is still a vibrant, living city that tells the history of Baku’s development over the past nine centuries within its narrow cobblestoned alleyways, historic caravanserais, hammams, mosques and hidden courtyards. The most ancient monument is the Maiden Tower, the symbol of the city which dates back as early as the 7th-6th centuries BC.  Another must-see is Shirvanshah’s Palace, located at the highest point in the city, and  described by UNESCO as “one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture.” Then, head out to Gobustan Historical Reserve, approximately a 1-hour drive southwest of Baku. It is most notable for its collection of rock carvings, the largest of its kind in the world and date back over 40,000 years to the ice age. The series of petroglyphs depict scenes of prehistoric life such as tribal dances and hunting. Also within the area is another sight to behold - the mud volcano, a natural phenomenon where gases below the surface expel mud to the surface. There are only about 850 mud volcanoes in the world, with 300 of them found in Azerbaijan alone. Return to Baku for the evening. 

Day 13

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Baku »

This morning, head out to the Absheron Peninsula to visit the Ateshgah Fire Temple, a pilgrimage site dedicated to its ‘eternal flame’. This area is known for its burning natural gas outlets which has long attracted Zoroastrian fire worshippers since its construction in the 17-18th centuries. The natural gas yield ceased in the mid 19th-century, ending worship, and the temple is today open for visitors to see the flame which is fed from Baku’s main gas supply. Not far away is Yanar Dag, which translates to Fire Mountain. Also known for its eternal flame, it is a hill with natural gas burning on its slope. Some say it has been lit since ancient days, while others speculate it may have only been ignited in the 1950s. Return to Baku and stop by the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center, an iconic Baku landmark designed by star-chitect Zaha Hadid.   Round out the day with a visit the Azerbaijani Carpet Museum, a research-training and cultural educational center dedicated to the important traditional art which has been registered as an UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. The museum has the largest collection of Azerbaijani carpets in the world; each of Azerbaijan’s ten regions has its indigenous weaving techniques and designs which is passed down within the family through practice. 

Day 14

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Departure

On your last day in the Caucasus, spend your morning at leisure, whether having a stroll along Baku Boulevard or enjoying a cup of tea at a local cafe. When ready, a private car will take you to the airport, to the entrance of the VIP terminal. Relax with complimentary drinks and snacks in the VIP lounge while departure formalities are handled for you by a representative. Then, you will be led through security and immigration, then finally to an air-side VIP departure lounge to relax until your flight onward. 

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With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.

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