Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan Tour - XAGA
Number of Days: 12
Destination: Eastern Europe
Tour 1 is releasing a brand new tour, and this time we're discovering a part of the world called the Caucasus region. Located on the border of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, lies Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia - a region with amazing untapped travel opportunities and experiences.
Nestled between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea lies the crossroads of Europe and Asia in the Caucasus region. Stroll through picturesque old towns, historic capitals, forests and into Orthodox monasteries in the most lush valleys. Have lunch with a Molokan family, explore the largest lake in Armenia and taste Georgian wine in the Kakheti province. Even learn about the healing powers of the Sulfur Baths and take an off-road drive to the hidden Trinity church of Gergeti. On this tour we go to the heart of every destination to experience the rich and captivating history, culture and lifestyle of the South Caucasus countries.
Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan Tour
14 DAY ITINERARY
Guided tour commences in Baku and concludes in Yerevan.DAY 1: Baku, AzerbaijanStart in Baku, the largest city on the Caspian Sea and capital of Azerbaijan. Today you have time to settle in and explore at leisure. Think of the city as a combination of Paris and Dubai, a place that offers both history and contemporary culture, and an intriguing blend of east meets west. The heart of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, surrounded by a fortified wall and pleasant pedestrianised boulevards that offer fantastic shopping opportunities. Attractions include the local Carpet Museum and the National Museum of History.Experiences: Arrival - Join up with the tour at our starting hotel in Baku. If you arrive early you’ll have free time to explore the city. The waterfront is a great place to stroll this evening, with a cooling sea breeze and plenty of entertainment options and restaurants.Accommodation: Hotel Rich (or similar).
DAY 2: Baku - Gobustan National ParkWe head south from Baku to Gobustan National Park. This archaeological reserve includes mud volcanoes and over 600,000 ancient rock engravings and paintings. After exploring this national historical landmark of Azerbaijan, we return to Baku city for a sightseeing tour. Travel to Upland Park for a bird’s eye view of the city and Baku Bay. Then to the iconic Icheri Sheher, the Old Inner City of Baku. This UNESCO World Heritage Site includes the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and Maiden Tower. Walk along the flower-lined boulevards of the city, making a stop at the updated Fountains Square with it’s dozens of fountains and shopping boutiques.Experiences: Gobustan National Park archaeological reserve. Gobustan is a rich archaeological monument in Azerbaijan. You can view rock engravings dating back between 5,000-40,000 years here. Gobustan was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.Baku city sightseeing tour. Explore the city of Baku as you learn about the history and culture of the Azerbaijani people. Enjoy a panoramic view of the city from hilltop Upland Park. The first historical reference to Baku dates back to 885, and it is famous as a significant centre of oil production, plus historic architecture sitting alongside gleaming contemporary towers.Icheri Sheher, Baku’s ‘Old City’. Explore the most ancient part of Baku, Icheri Sheher (inner city). Inhabited for centuries it is an incredible open-air museum. Preserved in its 12th Century walls, you’ll find important cultural and natural landmarks. The old city and Shirvanshah's' Palace and Maiden Tower (Giz Galasi) are on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. B,L
DAY 3: Shamakhi – ShekiFirst sight of the day is Shamakhi, an ancient city of Azerbaijan, to see where the first dynasty of the state of Shirvan was founded. Visit Yeddi Gumbez, the mausoleum known as the Seven Domes, where the remains of the last of the Shamakhi Dynasty lies. Next, we make a stop in Maraza village for a visit to Diri-Bab, a magnificent two-storied mausoleum-mosque. Our final stop for the day is Kish, one of the oldest villages in Azerbaijan. We visit the Mother of Alban church and ancient cemetery that dates back all the way to the 6th Century. Once we reach our final destination, Sheki, you will have the evening to explore at your leisure.Experiences: Yeddi Gumbez mausoleum in Shamakhi. Catch a glimpse of how representatives of the Shirvan Dynasty lived during the 9th to 16th Centuries. Not only was Shamakhi one of the main cities of its time, it was also considered to be one of the most beautiful cities of the Orient. The Yeddi Gumbez Mausoleum in Shamakhi is where the Shirvan Dynasty rulers were laid to rest. Also known as the Seven Domes, the monument gets its name from the number of gravestones in the crypt. The deserted cemetery has an air of mystery and the half-destroyed domes look as if they’ve grown from the ground below.Diri Baba mausoleum in Maraza village. As if built from the surrounding rock face, the Diri Baba Mausoleum gives off the impression that it is suspended in mid-air. There are many myths and legends surrounding this mesmerising landmark.The Albanian temple, ‘Mother of Alban’, and it’s ancient cemetery in Kish. Explore the 6th Century church, Mother of Alban, and learn about the unique history of its ancient cemetery. The excavated burial places are covered with glass cupolas and you can see the Bronze Age human skeletons within.Accommodation: Marxal hotel (or similar). B
DAY 4: Sheki – Lagodekhi – SignagiThis morning we explore Sheki, the oldest city in Azerbaijan. Due to its position on the Silk Road it became an important market centre This afternoon, we cross the border into Georgia. Our first stop is Khareba winery for a local wine tasting experience. Georgia has a wine history that dates back more than 8,000 years! Continue to Gremi, the once glorious capital of the kingdom of Kakheti to see the church and castles erected in the 16th Century. Soak in the views of the Alazan valley before heading to Signagi, Georgia’s city of love. This royal town is surrounded by a wall of 23 towers and 6 gates that used to connect it with Europe and Asia. Take time this afternoon to stroll the cobbled streets, see the rustic buildings and shop from local vendors.Experiences: Sheki. Sheki is located in a picturesque mountain area rich in narrow gorges and green valleys. It offers a unique slice of Azerbaijani lifestyle with a number museums, arts and crafts and souvenir shops. The most famous of them all is by far the summer and winter palaces of the Khan.Visit the Khareba winery in Kakheti province, and tour the tunnels of the cellars followed by wine tasting. Located on the plains of the Alazani and Iori rivers, Kakheti is surrounded by the Caucasian mountains. This is also known as the iconic destination for Georgian wines. Georgian winemakers make use of both ancient and contemporary methods of winemaking. Tour the tunnels of the Khareba winery cellars.Gremi architectural complex. This 16th Century architectural complex is a must-see with the sights of the citadel and Church of the Archangels. These architectural wonders are the remains of the once-thriving city of Gremi, the capital of the Kingdom of Kakheti in the 16th and 17th centuries.Signagi. A fortifying wall was built in the 18th century by King Erekle II. Surrounding the town for almost 5km, it has 23 towers and 6 gates, through which Georgia was connected to Europe and Asia by various trade routes. Stroll the cosy cobbled streets of Signagi and enjoy amazing views of pastel coloured houses and the picturesque surrounding valleys.Accommodation: Ambasadori Kachreti (or similar). B
DAY 5: Signagi – TbilisiVenture to the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi! While exploring the city a memorable stop is the 13th Century Metekhi Church. Other sights to explore include the Sulfur Baths and the 4th Century Narikala Fortress. Wander through Sioni cathedral, and follow the history in the Tbilisi National Museum. End the day of exploration with a relaxing stroll on Rustaveli Avenue.Experiences: Walking tour of Tbilisi. Take your time as you explore all the sights that Tbilisi has to offer. Capture panoramic views from all over the city, as Tbilisi is surrounded by ravines, canyons and valleys. Absorb the Eastern influence as you explore the bazaars. In the Old Town you have the option to check out the Sulphur Baths. For centuries these waters were used as remedies for ailments, including skin conditions and arthritis.Metekhi church, Tbilisi. Standing close to the edge of the Kura river, this 13th Century temple is an iconic ancient monument in Georgia. Acting as the fortress and residence of the Georgian tsars, it often came under attack and was almost demolished during the Great Purge that took place across the Soviet Union in the 1930s.Narikala Fortress, Tbilisi. Also known as the Mother Fortress of Tbilisi, the Narikala Fortress is an ancient symbol of the Georgian capital’s defence. The locals describe it as the “heart and soul of the city”. The Fortress was established in the 4th Century, served as a Persian citadel, and was significantly expanded in the 7th and 12th Centuries.Sioni cathedral, Tbilisi. The 7th Century Sioni, or Zion Cathedral - one of the most famous monuments in the Old Town. A Georgian Orthodox cathedral named after Jerusalems Mount Zion, it was destroyed by foreign invaders and restored several times over the years.Tbilisi National Museum. The Georgian National Museum is a culmination of 13 museums. The main part of the museum is located on Rustaveli Avenue. The museum maps the development of Georgian culture from the Bronze Age, through to the early 20th Century.Evening walk along Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi. Rustaveli Avenue is named after the medieval Georgian poet, Shota Rustaveli. The iconic avenue starts at Freedom Square and is dotted with small bronze statues of old Georgian characters, including Tamada, a famous orator.Accommodation: Hotel City (or similar). B
DAY 6: Kazbegi – TbilisiThis morning we drive along one of the most intriguing roads in the Caucasus! The Georgian Military Highway is the historic route that connects Georgia to Russia. On your way, you will pass the most incredible scenery. From remote villages, to castles and other sights that are steeped in history. Stop and take in the significant Ananuri fortress complex, built in the late Feudal times, and the remarkably scenic location on the foreland by the Aragvi River. Next, we make our way to the Ananuri Fortress. This 13th Century church complex was once the castle and seat of the eristavis (Dukes) of Aragvi. The last part of the day is a scenic adventure. We drive uphill in four-wheel drive vehicles, through narrow gorges and unspoiled mountains, until we find the prize of Georgia's isolated Gergeti Trinity church.Experiences: Drive the Georgian Military Highway connecting the Tbilisi, and the Russian territory of North Ossetia. It’s the quickest route over the Caucasus It’s existence can be traced back to the 1st Century and has been used by invaders and merchants alike.Ananuri fortress and architectural complex. This complex was home of the Aragvi Dynasty from the 13th Century to the 18th Century, when the peasants revolted and invited King Teimuraz II to rule directly over them. The complex consists of three churches, 2 castles and a bell tower. The upper castle is well preserved, while the lower fortification is mainly ruins.Gergeti Trinity church, Kazbegi. Take an adventurous drive to the Gergeti Trinity Church in a four-wheel drive vehicle. This religious wonder has ranked as one of the most beautiful churches in the world and is located near the village of Gergeti. The magnificent setting in the Caucasus mountains makes this experience something quite unique.Accommodation: Hotel City (or similar). B,L
DAY 7: Mtskheta – Gori – TbilisiMtskheta is our first stop of the day. Inhabited since before 1,000 BC, Mtskheta was once the capital of the early Kingdom of Iberia (Eastern Georgia today). Drive up to Jvari monastery, a hilltop Georgian Orthodox monastery. Shortly after the adoption of Christianity, an enormous wooden cross was erected on the site. In the 6th Century, a small church was built beside the Holy Cross. The church complex has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral dates back to the 6th Century and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Learn more about Georgian architecture and the tombs of Tbilisi's founder located inside. Continue to gori in Inner Kartli province. This town is famous for being the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. Explore the Joseph Stalin Museum and where he was born.Experiences: Mtskheta. The old capital of the Kartli-Iberia Kingdom, Mtskheta will appeal to anyone interested in Georgian history or the Orthodox church. In 334AD, on this very spot, Georgia adopted Christianity. It remains the headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox Church.Jvari monastery, Mtskheta. Jvari monastery is a gorgeous stone building, which overlooks the two Mtskheta rivers. Jvari is an important landmark in the ancient city of Mtskheta. It’s also one of the most important pilgrimage sites in all of Caucasus.Svetitskhoveli cathedral, Mtskheta. Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is one of the largest church buildings in Georgia. It’s also regarded as a main cathedral for the Georgian Orthodox church. The "Life Giving Pillar Cathedral" is an architectural wonder and was founded in 1010, and also where Georgia's first church once stood.Gori. Visit the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, a Soviet revolutionary and one of history's most brutal dictators. Stalin was born here in Gori, Georgia in 1878 and lived here for the first four years of his life. The museum is dedicated to his life. Here, you can view memorabilia and learn about his Georgian roots, as well as history of the Soviet Union.Accommodation: Hotel City (or similar). B
DAY 8: Sadakhlo - Akhtala - Odzun – QefoFirst stop after we cross the border is the Akhtala Monastery, known for its 13th Century artistic frescoes. After exploring, we continue to our lunch stop at Odzun, a historic village by the Debed River. Enjoy an included traditional lunch served by a local family in their home. Also take the chance learn more about the family's bee hives and honey making.Experiences: Akhtala Monastery. This 10th Century Armenian Apostolic Church is a fortified monastic complex, one of the best preserved in Armenia, and known for its artistic frescoes. The construction of the monastery’s fortress dates as far back as the Bronze and Iron Ages.Included lunch stop in Odzun. Visit Odzun in the Lori Province of Armenia. Enjoy a traditional sit-down meal with a local family. Hear about the history and their beekeeping endeavours.Accommodation: Hotel Qefo, Hotel Gayane (or similar). B,L
DAY 9: Haghpat - Dilijan - Molokan - Jukhtak Vank – DilijanStart by exploring the UNESCO World Heritage site of Haghpat. This medieval monastery complex overlooks the Debed River Gorge, and provides incredible views of the surrounding hills. Travel to Dilijan resort town and pass through the primary residence of the Molokan people. Molokans are the largest minority in Armenia, exiled from Russia in the 19th Century. Dine with locals in a traditional Molokan home. After lunch, depart on an enjoyable hike through the forest and picturesque mountains. The route takes us towards the Jukhtak monastery, built in a forest grove in Dilijan National Park. The Jukhtak monastery derives its name from the word ‘jukht’ which means ‘twin’. The church complex consists of two churches, khachkars (Armenian cross-stones).Experiences: Haghpat. Take in the fascinating panoramic views, including the dramatic landscapes and villages, from this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction on this monastery complex started in 976 and finished in 991! The main building is known as Surp Nishan and is also the oldest part of the structure. Over the centuries, buildings were added and later the complex had doubled in size from the original. The monks from this Monastery hand-copied books, to study subjects like science, theology and painting.Molokan village. Molokanism was the religious expression of a social protest against slavery and the Russian Orthodox Church. The community of Molokans in Dilijan settled here in the 19th century, from their home country of Russia. Explore the traditional and unique way of life for the “Milk Drinkers”.Jukhtak Vank monastery. The Dilijan National Park is home to the Jukhtak Vank monastery. Situated in a clearing and surrounded by a cemetery, other churches and tall trees. Unlike other monasteries in Armenia, the date that Jukhtak Vank was built remains unknown. Although, inscriptions suggest it was as far back as the 11th Century.Accommodation: BW Paradise, Dilijan Resort (or similar). B,L,D
DAY 10: Dilijan - Sevan Lake - Geghard - Garni – YerevanJourney through the Dilijan National Park to make it to the spa town of Dilijan. Dilijan is surrounded by forests and located in the Argstev gorge. With marvellous views, it’s no wonder its known as the Armenian Switzerland! Take a walk down Sharambeyan Street and admire the many craftsmen, bakeries, cafes and souvenir shops. Next, it’s a short drive to Lake Sevan. This is the highest freshwater lake in the Caucasus. Visit the Sevanavank Monastery, from where you can enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Sevan and surrounds. Drive to the UNESCO-protected Geghard Monastery. This ancient chapel was originally founded as a small cave chapel as early as the 4th Century! Continue to the Garni Pagan Temple, located in the State Khosrov Reserve. This is the only temple that remained after the adoption of Christianity. Take the opportunity to listen to the Duduk - an Armenian instrument made of apricot wood. Its sound is said to have human-voice quality. Dine with a traditional Armenian family and taste the local cuisine.Experiences: Sharambeyan Street, Dilijan. Visit the most historic street in the old town of Dilijan, with craft shops selling pottery, souvenirs and woodcraft. The architecture on this street resembles traditional Armenian architecture of the 19th century.Lake Sevan. Explore the largest lake of Armenia with its many uncovered forts and artefacts. Some as old as 2,000 years! Lake Sevan covers 5% of Armenia's land surface. Take a look at the Sevanavank Monastery, one of the most-visited in all of Armenia.Geghard Monastery. Set foot in the "Monastery of the spear”, named after the spear that stabbed Jesus. Completely surrounded by towering cliffs, the original chapel was carved out of rock in the 4th Century! Later, it was expanded to a full monastery of elegant Armenian stonework in 1215. Today, it still welcomes hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every year.Garni Pagan Temple. Garni Temple is the only pagan temple in Armenia. It is also a well-known symbol of pre-Christian Armenia. Observe the incredible rock formations in Garni Canyon, along the Azat River, and hear the music of an Armenian Duduk. The Garni gorge, formed by the Azat River, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Accommodation: Tufenkian Historic Yerevan Hotel (or similar). B,D
DAY 11: Yerevan - Echmiatsin
Head to Echmiadzin, the religious centre of Armenia. Explore the Monastery and one of the oldest cathedrals in the world - Armenia was the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion in 301 AD. Next stop is Yerevan. Here, a city tour will reveal all the main places of interest. See the sights of Yerevan Cascade, a giant stairway made of limestone and the Matenadaran museum. See the likes of Abovyan Street, the Republic Square and Cafesjian centre of Arts. The last stop is the Yerevanian food market, also the best place to sample some fresh Armenian fruits and sweets. For the last night on tour, sit down for a traditional Armenian meal accompanied by traditional Armenian music and dancing.Experiences: Echmiadzin Monastery is of great significance in Armenia. It’s the first cathedral built in 303 AD after the adoption of Christianity. Many regard it as the Vatican of Armenia.Yerevan city tour. Visit the highest point in Yerevan to enjoy a breathtaking panorama of the city. Take a look at what the capital and largest city of Armenia has to offer. Besides the fascinating landmarks in the city centre, the landscape is amazing. The city of Yerevan is framed by the volcanic peaks of Mount Aragats & Mount Azhdahak. Stop off at a shuka (market), the ideal place to taste the delectable fruit including apricot and pomegranate.Farewell dinner. Immerse yourself in the culture of Armenia with an included dinner on our last night on tour, with traditional Armenian music and dancing.Accommodation: Tufenkian Historic Yerevan Hotel (or similar). B,D
Your tour of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia concludes today after breakfast. Checkout at the hotel is at 10am. Subject to flights take your time to explore Yerevan further before you head home including Vernissage Market, Yerevan Brandy Factory and the Armenian Genocide Museum. B
THIS ITINERARY IS THE PROPERTY OF TOUR1 AND THE TRAVEL WAREHOUSE AND IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE SHOULD CIRCUMSTANCES DICTATE.
- 11 nights accommodation in twin rooms with private en-suite facilities. Single travellers have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure they have a private room
- 11 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners
- 35 Experiences (including guided walking tours, orientation walks, driving tours of cities plus other exciting experiences)
- Services of a local guide throughout the tour
- Private air-conditioned transport
- All entrance fees as part of the included experiences
- Meals and beverages other than where specified in the final itinerary,
- City or bed tax,
- Items of a personal nature, telephone calls, travel insurance, bar and minibar use, laundry, gratuities, optional and discretionary activities.
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