Many people will know that Georgia is quickly becoming more and more popular amongst western tourists looking to get off the beaten path in Europe. The problem is, however, due to its geographic location in the far east of Europe, it is a long way to go just for a short Georgia itinerary.
That is why many people looking to visit Georgia want to take the time to visit the neighbouring countries as well. However, it can be difficult to map out the perfect Georgia-Armenia-Azerbaijan itinerary for you.
We spent many months exploring Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan and have gathered all of the knowledge that can help you plan the perfect Caucasus itinerary!
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Best Time to Visit Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan
Before you get to planning the route for your itinerary, you’re going to want to know when is the best time to visit the Caucasus countries.
Despite the fact that they seemingly occupy a small geographical area, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan encompass a number of different climate zones and the weather can vary more than it does in most countries in continental Europe.
For instance, there may still be metres of snow on the highest peaks in the Caucasus in August and a city only a couple of hours away would have temperatures well over 35°C (95°F).
That being said, there are certainly times that are better to visit this region than others. On the whole, you can assume that Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan all have continental climates with cold winters and hot summers.
Outside of the mountain areas, winters do tend to be short and mild, mostly with temperatures hovering somewhere around freezing. If you aren’t interested in trekking and don’t mind the cold, then planning your itinerary in the winter can be a decent idea.
There are also the fewest tourist crowds between the months of December and February and ample affordable skiing opportunities throughout all three countries.
Conversely, summer in the Caucasus countries can be incredibly hot — especially in the cities and lowland areas. This is also the most popular time for visitors in all three countries, however, most places in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan are far from overrun.
Summer is the best time to visit if you plan to spend a lot of time in the mountains and do a bit of trekking. It is also a good time to visit if you want to make the most of the coastal areas along the Black and Caspian Seas.
Keep in mind that in some areas of all three countries, temperatures can soar to well over 35°C (95°F) between the months of June and August, including in Tbilisi, Yerevan, and Baku.
Like most everywhere in Europe, arguably the best time to head to the Caucasus is in the shoulder seasons between March-May and September-November. Here you will find the mildest temperatures and the fewer crowds. The only downside is that, especially in spring, there may be mountain areas that are closed to visitors due to snow and ice.
No matter when you decide to plan your Caucasus itinerary, you are sure to have an amazing time exploring Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
How Many Days in the Caucasus?
Now that you know the best time of year to visit the Caucasus countries, you need to figure out how long you want to devote to exploring this region. While we would honestly say that six weeks to two months is the absolute ideal amount of time to spend in Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, we do realise that most typical travellers don’t have months on end to aimlessly wander through the Caucasus.
So that being said, how many days should you spend here? Well, it depends on what you want to do, however, we would recommend planning on spending at least two weeks if you want to visit two countries (such as Georgian and Armenia or Georgia and Azerbaijan) and planning to spend at least three weeks if you want to visit all three countries.
If you have your heart set on visiting all three and you have fewer than 2 or 3 weeks to play around with, we suggest only concentrating on the capital cities of Tbilisi, Baku, and Yerevan.
It is likely that you will want to see more than just the capitals, however, and because of that we really urge you to try to spend as much time as you can in this region of the world. If you want to see the most of what all of these countries have to offer, plan to spend 2 or 3 weeks if you plan to only visit two countries and 3 or 4 weeks if you plan to visit all three.
Getting Around the Caucasus
Now that you know when and how long to visit the Caucasus, you need to know how you plan to get from point A to point B while there. Luckily, it is actually surprisingly easy and straightforward to get around these countries, especially if you’re moving between major cities and it can be very affordable, as well
If you plan on getting around Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia using public transport, you will find that it is pretty easy and there are a couple of options available for you. One thing to note is that typical coach-style buses in the Caucasus aren’t common and instead, most routes rely on minibuses, also called marshrutkas.
Marshrutka routes between major cities operate frequently and they are easy to catch. Usually, they do not operate on a set schedule and only tend to leave when they are full. Depending on the popularity of the route, the more frequently a bus will leave. It is also common to pay your fare directly to the driver, however, this is not always the case and someone will be there to tell you where to pay.
The other common form of “public” transit in the Caucasus is a shared taxi. This mode is more expensive and less reliable than a marshrutka, but it can still be a decent budget option if you don’t want to be crammed into an uncomfortable minibus for a few hours.
You will be able to find a shared taxi to your destination at the same place where the bus leaves. Drivers will usually quote you the price of the car, not the per-person price. Therefore, if you can share a cab with three other people, the price for you will go down significantly. In Georgia, you can book drivers and cars directly through a service called GoTrip.
There are some train connections in the Caucasus, most notably night trains between the capital cities and the Tbilisi to Batumi route, however, the train network is not nearly as developed as in other European nations. On the whole, you can expect train travel to be a lot slower than the bus with far fewer connections, but it definitely is more comfortable than a cramped marshrutka.
Many travellers in the Caucasus also prefer to be in more control of their itinerary and like having the flexibility that their own vehicle allows. Renting a car can be a good option if you want to visit some more off-the-beaten-path destinations or are short on time and want to make the most out of your time in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
It is worth noting that the road quality in all three countries declines massively outside of the major cities. So you need to be ready to avoid a lot of potholes and to drive over a number of rough, unpaved roads. Drivers in the Caucasus can also be pretty aggressive, so it is necessary to stay very alert and to drive defensively.
If you want to rent a car in the Caucasus, we recommend using RentalCars.com to find great prices from major car hire companies. Alternatively, you can also rent private cars directly from locals through Local Rent.
All in all, it is very easy to get around all three countries with a few different options depending on your budget and preferences.
Entering Armenia and Azerbaijan
Before you start actually planning your itinerary, you need to be aware of the nuances of border crossings, especially if you are planning on visiting both Armenia and Azerbaijan.
It is no secret that Azerbaijan and Armenia and not friends, despite their shared border. The borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan are completely closed and it is impossible to travel between the two. So if you have a brilliant plan to travel from Baku to Yerevan to Tbilisi, it’s time to toss that out the window.
Because of the way border crossings can go, the best way to plan a route through the Caucasus region (if you want to visit all three countries) is to begin your route in Azerbaijan, travel through to Georgia and end in Armenia.
When it comes to entering Armenia, those with EU passports, US citizens, Australians, and New Zealanders do not require a visa and only need a passport to enter the country visa-free. Unfortunately, Canadian citizens do still need a visa before entering Armenia, however, it is possible to obtain a visa on arrival or through an easy e-visa process.
If you plan to visit Azerbaijan, it is almost certain that you will need a visa in advance. Citizens of numerous countries can apply for an e-visa at least three days prior to travelling. The visa application process is very easy and all you need to do is print out the visa and show it to the border guard upon entering Azerbaijan.
3-Week Georgia-Armenia-Azerbaijan Itinerary
If you want to visit all three Caucasus countries, then you’re going to need at least 3 weeks to do this. Because of the way border crossings work, the easiest way to do this is to begin in Baku and plan to end in Armenia. You can, however, do this route in reverse if it is easier for you to begin in Yerevan.
Days 1-3: Baku
To begin your trip, plan to spend your first three days in Azerbaijan’s capital city. Baku is an incredibly interesting city that combines ultra-modern architecture with grand European boulevards and a Persian-style old town that happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Get your bearings by taking a walking tour of the city to get some context for your explorations.
As the most populous city in the Caucasus, Baku is large and you can easily spend a number of days exploring the city. We recommend you plan for two days seeing the sites and attractions of Baku before spending another day on a trip to the nearby mud volcanoes and Gobustan cave paintings.
Where to Stay in Baku
Baku is becoming a popular destination for city breaks among many countries and there is a seemingly infinite amount of accommodation to choose from ranging from the ultra-luxe to a budget backpacker hostel. Here’s where we think you should stay in Baku:
El Royal Hotel – Situated in Baku’s downtown and within walking distance of the top attractions, this is an excellent mid-range option. They have a number of rooms to choose from, breakfast available and offer airport transfers.
Seven Boutique Hotel – A well-located boutique hotel with a range of clean and comfortable rooms available and a helpful staff to make your stay a great one.
Sahil Hostel – A backpacker hostel located close to Sahil Metro and within easy walking distance of all the main sites. They have a range of private and dorm rooms available.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Baku hotels!
Days 4-5: Sheki
After exploring bustling Baku, it’s time to see how much life in Azerbaijan outside of the oil-rich capital. This is why we recommend spending two nights in quiet Sheki.
Sheki is one of the most tourist-friendly towns in Azerbaijan, however, you could easily exhaust all of the things to do in Sheki in one full day.
However, it is worth it to take the time to explore the beautiful palaces and admire the local handicrafts while learning about the town’s Silk Road history. Sheki is also located near some fantastic hiking areas.
Where to Stay in Sheki
Because of its diminutive size, there aren’t a tonne of places to stay in Sheki, however, there are still a few options to choose from depending on your personal budget and travel style. Here are our suggestions:
Ilgar’s Guesthouse – A local homestay, rooms are basic but comfortable, there is decent WiFi and an option to get breakfast in the morning.
MinAli Boutique Hotel – A recently-opened boutique hotel, they have large modern rooms and a great breakfast included in the nightly rate.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other rooms in Sheki!
Days 6-8: Sighnaghi
After exploring Sheki for a couple of days, it’s time to head to Georgia. The most logical next stop would be in the Kakheti region and that’s why we recommend spending days 6 to 8 in Sighnaghi.
It can be somewhat tricky to figure out how to get from Sheki to Sighnaghi, but there are a few options available to you and isn’t complicated if you plan in advance.
This walled hill town is situated in the heart of Georgia’s top wine region and overlooks the fertile Alazani Valley. Spend one day here exploring the town of Sighnaghi itself and another on a tour of the region, visiting some historical sites and a few wineries.
Where to Stay in Sighnaghi
Sighnaghi is one of the most popular getaways for both visitors and Georgian locals alike, therefore, there is a lot of accommodation choice in the small town. Here are our suggestions for the best places to stay in Sighnaghi:
Maya Guesthouse – A family-run guesthouse with a beautiful view, they have both breakfast and dinner options available as well as a handful of clean and comfortable rooms.
Guesthouse Wine – Located in the town centre, this convivial guesthouse has a handful of clean rooms, a breakfast option available and friendly owners. They also make and sell their own traditional wine.
Boutique Hotel BelleVue – This boutique hotel has several rooms (some with balconies) and a delightful swimming pool. It’s located in the town centre.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Sighnaghi hotels!
Days 9-10: Kazbegi
After spending two days in Sighnaghi, it’s time to venture up into the beautiful Caucasus mountains to the town of Stepantsminda, most commonly referred to as Kazbegi.
Located in the shadows of the imposing Mount Kazbek (Georgia’s third-tallest peak and the 7th highest in the Caucasus range), you will need to transfer buses in Tbilisi in order to reach here from Sighnaghi, unless you arrange a taxi or have your own vehicle.
The most popular activity in Kazbegi is to undertake the beautiful hike to the Gergeti Trinity Church, which commands incredible views of Mount Kazbek and the surrounding mountains. There are also ample other hiking opportunities in this area.
Many people treat Kazbegi simply as a day trip from Tbilisi, however, we recommend planning to spend two nights (one full day) in order to fully appreciate the scenery and to give yourself enough time to do the hike.
Where to Stay in Kazbegi:
Despite its very small size, there are numerous guesthouses and even some luxury accommodations in Kazbegi. If you’re wondering where to stay in this village, check out our recommendations:
Guest House Kavtarashvili 38 – A well-located, family-run guesthouse with a handful of clean rooms available. There is also an option to include a hearty breakfast.
Red Stone Guest House – Another small guesthouse in Gergeti Village, close to the trailhead to the hike to the church. They have many rooms available and breakfast is included in the room rate.
Rooms Hotel Kazbegi – A luxury hotel with great views of the mountains, numerous amenities, very comfortable rooms, and a great on-site restaurant.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Kazbegi!
Days 11-14: Tbilisi
Spend the next three days in Tbilisi, seeing the main sites and maybe taking the time to go on a day trip or visit some more off-beat destinations and attractions within Georgia’s capital. Three days is the optimal time to spend in the capital of Georgia to really get a feel for the vibrant city and to introduce yourself to Georgian culture.
On the first day, take the time to explore the city centre and old town. Stroll down Rustaveli Avenue, wander around the old town and take in the Botanic Gardens.
On your second day, head across the river and explore the Dry Bridge market and the Marjanishvili neighbourhood. You can then head out on a day trip to Mtskheta on the third day.
Where to Stay in Tbilisi
Tbilisi is one of the most popular destinations to visit in Georgia and, therefore, there is a range of accommodation to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a backpacker hostel or a boutique hotel, Tbilisi has it all. Here are our top recommendations:
Pushkin 10 Hostel – A budget backpacker hostel with great common areas and high ratings. There are both dorm and private rooms available.
Guest House Rampa – A budget guesthouse in the Old Town, they have friendly, helpful owners and a handful of clean private rooms available along with self-catering facilities.
Hotel Flower – A centrally-located boutique hotel within easy walking distance of most of Tbilisi’s main attractions. There are numerous rooms available, 24-hour reception, and breakfast is included in your nightly rate.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Tbilisi hotels!
Days 15-19: Yerevan
After exploring Georgia, it’s time to head south to the capital of Armenia: Yerevan. There are plenty of connections between Tbilisi and Yerevan including marshrutkas, trains and a night train service.
Yerevan is a massive city that feels a world away from Tbilisi, however, it retains its own unique charm and it is well worth spending a lot of time in the city. The well-planned streets of the city centre are easy to navigate and the cafe culture in this cosmopolitan city is enough to rival other European capitals like Paris, Budapest, or Vienna.
Yerevan is an excellent base in Armenia as it also gives you the opportunity to explore many other areas of the country via day trip. We recommend spending a least two full days exploring Yerevan in its totality and then using the rest of your time seeing some other areas of the country via day tour or independent day trip.
Where to Stay in Yerevan:
Being the cosmopolitan capital that it is, there is a ton of option when it comes places to stay in Yerevan. If you’re struggling to find the best place for you, check out our suggestions:
Envoy Hostel – A backpacker hostel, they offer both dorm and private rooms and also organise day tours around the country, with a special discount for their guests. They have helpful staff, clean facilities, and good common areas.
Skyline Hotel Yerevan – A mid-range hotel located within 400 metres of Republic Square, there are numerous clean rooms, a free airport shuttle and a great breakfast in the mornings.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Yerevan!
Days 20-21: Dilijan
After exploring cosmopolitan Yerevan, end your itinerary in the beautiful town of Dilijan. Colloquially referred to as Armenia’s Switzerland, this is the place to go for a mountain retreat in the country and it is popular among both Armenian locals and tourists alike.
While the town itself doesn’t have a lot of sights to see and things to do, it is surrounded by hiking trails and there is a helpful tourist information centre that can tell you the best places to go for a short stroll in the woods or a full day trek.
Depending on where you want to end your time in the Caucasus, you can easily head back to Yerevan to catch a flight out or go from Dilijan to Tbilisi and leave from Georgia.
Where to Stay in Dilijan
Dilijan is an incredibly popular weekend destination in Armenia and, therefore, there are lots of places to stay in the town. If you want to know where to stay in Dilijan, have a look at our top recommendations:
Green Dilijan B&B – This family-run guesthouse with a few rooms available and nice common areas. It is very clean and there is an option to add breakfast for an additional charge.
Kirovi Tun — A small hotel with a range of cosy and clean rooms available and a swimming pool to keep the whole family entertained. Breakfast is included in the nightly rate.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other places in Dilijan!
4 Week Caucasus Itinerary
Four weeks is an amount of time to spend visiting all three of Armenia, Georgian and Azerbaijan as it allows you to see the most of the three countries without feeling too rushed and overwhelmed. Follow this route:
- Days 1-3: Baku, Azerbaijan – Start your trip with three days in the vibrant capital of Azerbaijan
- Days 4-5: Sheki, Azerbaijan – view the UNESCO World Heritage Site and mountain scenery in this lovely town
- Days 6-8: Sighnaghi, Georgia – sip wine and visit historic monasteries in this walled hill town
- Days 9-10: Kazbegi, Georgia – hike to the Gergeti Trinity Church and enjoy mountain views in Stepantsminda
- Days 11-14: Tbilisi, Georgia – take the time to explore the Georgian capital
- Days 15-17: Yerevan, Armenia – take in the sites of the Armenian capital and its surrounding area
- Days 18-19: Dilijan, Armenia – enjoy the pristine nature of Armenia in this lovely mountain town
- Days 20-22: Borjomi, Georgia – soak in healing sulfuric waters or take a day trip to the ancient cave city of Vardzia in this Georgian city
- Days 23-25: Kutaisi, Georgia – get to know Georgia’s third-largest city and its surrounding area
- Days 26-28: Mestia or Batumi, Georgia – hike in one of Georgia’s most remote mountain villages or bask in the sunshine on the Black Sea coast
If you have more than 4 weeks to devote to a trip, then you will have a lot more flexibility for your route. You could, perhaps, choose to go the popular Mestia to Ushguli trek or you could spend longer in Tbilisi, Yerevan or Baku.
You could also venture to a few more off-beat destinations or spend longer in each place in order to both minimise your impact and really get to know the culture.
Planning the perfect itinerary across Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia can seem overwhelming at first, but once you work out how long you have and which places are worth visiting, the task becomes far less daunting.
Are you visiting any of these countries? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!