With its nearly 22,000 inhabitants, Telavi is the main city and the capital of Kakheti. It is a pleasant and peaceful village extending over a hill of 1863 feet tall, where you can see the Alazani valley. Its surroundings hide some of the most famous wineries in Georgia.
It is a good place to set up a base camp in order to visit the rest of Kakheti since it has a very acceptable hotel infrastructure. In our view, Schuchmann and Chateau’s Mere wineries offer the best accommodation and an ecological experience at the level that most connoisseurs are used to. Telavi is very well connected with Tbilisi and the rest of the localities of the region.
About Kakheti Province
Wine is like the blood of Kakheti. It is the easternmost region of the country and the epicenter of oenology in Georgia. Few areas in the world have such a strong emotional bond with this elixir. Almost all families have their own production and the love for this drink is felt through their parties and traditions.
They are cheerful people who love good food and the simple life. If you like the world of wine, you will have a nice surprise here. One of the best dates to visit is the harvest time (rtveli).
Kakheti is also a place rich in history with a very marked identity since it enjoyed periods of sporadic independence in the past. It hides some of the most visited monasteries, such as Davit Gareja, Alaverdi, and Bodbe.
It is also a land of contrasts, with a diversity of climates and landscapes ranging from the remote alpine valleys of Tusheti in the north, the subtropical forests of Lagodekhi, to the semi-desert zone of Vashlovani. It shares borders with Russia in the north and with Azerbaijan in the south and east. It occupies around 18% of the national territory and it is home to just over 400,000 people.
Telavi began to be an important city between the 8th and 10th centuries. But when David Aghmashenebeli united Georgia in the 12th century and annulled the Kingdom of Kakheti and Ereti, the city began a period of decline. At the beginning of the 17th century, the Persians killed 60,000 Khaketians and enslaved another 100,000. The town gradually regained its former splendor in the second half of the seventeenth century when it became the capital of the Kakheti Kingdom once again.
What to See in Telavi?
It is in the center of Telavi, in front of the tourist office. It was the residence of the Kakheti kings during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Inside, there are two churches from the Erekle II era, the ruins of the royal baths, a pantheon, and the Persian-style palace that Erekle II had built. There are also several museums and an art gallery.
The Millenary Tree of Chadar Street
Address: Chadar Street
The branches of this old banana tree have offered shade to the inhabitants of Telavi for more than 900 years. It is one of the symbols of the city and they say that if a group of people surrounds it with their hands intertwined and they make a wish, that will be granted. The trunk is really huge, so you will have to gather a few people.
GWS (Georgian Wines & Spirits Company)
Phone: +995 32 25 07 607
It is one of the largest wineries in Georgia and it has won more than 200 national and international awards. It has two brands of wine: Tamada and Old Tbilisi. They also produce Chacha and sparkling wine. They offer tours where they teach you about their facilities and their production processes.
The final crowning glory is a tasting of four different types of wine. This winery is in the city of Telavi itself and you can get there on foot. Price per one person (35 GEL), for groups of three (30 GEL), and for more than ten (15GEL). More information: www.gws.ge
Address: village of Kisiskhevi
Phone reservations: +995 5 77 25 22 13
Visiting this winery and hotel mix is a treat for the senses, in every respect. It is quite clear here the love for the details. They offer attentive treatment and exquisite wines. The establishment is the result of the business capacity of the Germans and the wine knowledge of the Georgians.
They produce 15 different types of wines and between 10,000 and 15,000 bottles a year. Schuchmann is 3 miles from Telavi. They offer tours for 15 people at a time and a spot costs 20 GEL, depending on the number of different types of wine you want to try. The tastings are usually accompanied by a small snack. The mansion also offers magnificent rooms to accommodate its customers (170-450 GEL). For more information: www.schuchmann-wines.com
Address: village of Vardisubani
Phone reservations. +995 595 990 399 / 595 990 390
This is a winery-hotel inside a castle-shaped building. Its rooms have beautiful views of the Alazani valley and the Greater Caucasus (price from 295 to 435 GEL). The upper suite has a Jacuzzi on the roof. Chateau Mere also has a pool. They produce wines for the Winiveria brand.
During visits to the wineries, they teach their production process, facilities, and there is also a tasting. Individual price: 50 GEL with a tasting of two wines; 70 GEL if three are tested. The larger the group, the lower the prices per person. For more information: www.winiveria.ge
Address: 3 Tbilisi Highway
Phone: +995 32 2313245
They produce 32 types of wine, chacha, sparkling wines, and brandy. The tour of the facilities costs between 20, 30, 40 GEL. The price varies depending on the number of varieties incorporated in the tasting and the size of the group. They also have their own rooms for guests. For more information: www.telianivalley.com
Wine Company Shumy
Phone: +995 32 238 11 37
There are vineyards with 294 different varieties of Georgian and 90 foreign grapes outside the winery. The visit consists of walking through the vineyards, the museum, and one of its wineries. You can taste three different wines (dry and semi-sweet) in the tasting. The company produces 40 types of wine, chacha, and brandy. Their best labels are Tsinandali, Saperavi and Muguzani.
Telavi Tourist Office
Address: 9 Erekle II Street
Phone: +995 650 27 53 17
They offer brochures and information about accommodation, warehouses, transport, and restaurants. It is a good starting point so you can be well informed of everything that the area has to offer.
There are three zones from where the minibusses leave: Rocki, the Old, and New Station. They are all on Gamziri Avenue. Marshrutkas leave from:
- Rocki station. Address: 73 Alazanis Gamziri (Avenue).
- Telavi-Tbilisi. Every 45 minutes from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (7 GEL)
- Old Bus Station. Address: Alazanis Gamziri Street.
- Telavi-Lagodekhi. 3:00 p.m. (6 GEL).
- Telavi-Sighnagi. 3:15 p.m. (5 GEL).
- Telavi-Kvareli. Every 40 minutes from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (3 GEL).
- Telavi-Alaverdi. Every 20 minutes from 8:45 a.m. to 5:20 p.m. (2 GEL).
- Telavi-Alvani. Every 20 minutes from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (2 GEL)
- Telavi-Tsnori. 11:00 a.m and at 1:30 p.m. (4.50 GEL).
- New Bus Station
- Telavi-Tbilisi. Every 40 minutes from 7:40 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (7 GEL).
- Telavi-Lagodekhi. 07:30, 08:30, 08:40, 1:30 p.m. (6 GEL).
- Telavi-Alvani: 9:30 a.m. (2 GEL).
- Telavi-Omalo. 12:50 and 4:00 p.m.
To get to Telavi from:
- Tbilisi-Telavi: from 9:30 a.m. to 4: 45 p.m. GEL (every 40 minutes) from the Samgori station(7 GEL)
- Lagodekhi-Telavi: 8:00. 9:00, 12:30, 1:30 y 2:20 p.m. (6 GEL)
- Sighnaghi-Telavi: 9:00 a.m. (5 GEL)
- Tsnori-Telavi: 7:45, 8:30, 1:45, 3:20 p.m.
Taxis drivers who speak English in Telavi:
- Mamuka Jangulashvili. Phone: +995 5 55 15 67 15. Discreet and friendly.
- Simon Sesikashvili. Phone: +995 557 07 00 99.
- David Luashvili. Phone: +995 593 76 12 16.
In addition to the hotels and B&B of the city, there are accommodations in some wineries in the area.
Address: 27 Elene Akhvlediani Street
Phone: +995 5 99 78 20 50
This is the best option and the most professional one if you have enough money. Newly renovated house with garden in the back. Eto, the owner, speaks quite acceptable English. It is located a short distance from the tourist office. It has single, double, triple and quadruple rooms with a shared bathroom. Price: 20-25 GEL. Breakfast: 5 GEL.
Medium Price Lodging
Address: 25 Kartuli University Street
Phone: +995 5 99 466 114
This hotel is located in front of the university. It offers comfortable and clean rooms at affordable prices. Doubles (80 GEL), semi-deluxe (110GEL) and higher (150 GEL). For more information: www.erma.ge
Medium and Expensive Lodging
Old Telavi Hotel
Address: 1 Cholokashvili Street
Phone: +995 350 27 07 07/ +995 5 96 44 07 07
It is located in the center and it is composed of two buildings. One of them offers rooms of different categories but more affordable and a little smaller (80-250 GEL), and the other is designed to a higher quality with bedrooms of different levels (130-400 GEL).
In any case, all the bedrooms are comfortables. The only difference lies in the size and style of the decoration. It has a roof terrace with spectacular views of the Alazani Valley and the Greater Caucasus. For more information: www.oldtelavi.ge
Address: village of Kisiskhevi
Phone reservations: +995 5 77 25 22 13
Visiting this winery and hotel mix is a treat for the senses, in every respect. They really pay attention to the details. They offer good service, very comfortable rooms at the level of a western four-star hotel, and exquisite baths. The establishment is the result of the business capacity of the Germans and the wine knowledge of the Georgians.
The mansion offers magnificent rooms of different categories to house its customers (170-450 GEL) and is the most comfortable option in Telavi. The only downside is that it is on the outskirts and you have to take a car/taxi to get there. For more information: www.schuchmann-wines.com
Opening Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
It is located five miles north of Telavi and it was founded in the sixth century by Zenon Ikaltoeli, one of the ‘Thirteen Syrian Fathers’ who came from the northern part of ancient Mesopotamia to help Christianize Georgia. It has three churches.
The main one, Gvtaeba, is from the 8th-9th centuries and it was built in the place where there was a primitive sanctuary under which was the tomb of the saint. The small Gerget Trinity Church is in the east which is about 1,500 years old, and the last temple added was that of All Saints, dating from the 12th and 13th centuries. On those same dates, Ikalto became a center of studies where among other subjects viticulture was taught.
167-feet tall, the Alaverdi Monastery was the highest temple in Georgia for almost a thousand years, until the new technologies allowed the construction of the monumental Sameba Cathedral in Tbilisi. At the beginning of the eleventh century, King Kvirike III of Kakheti decided to build a sanctuary that would be rising to heaven like no other in honor of the Creator.
To that end, he chose the place where the old 6th-century monastery was founded by one of the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers: José Alaverdeli. It is 12 miles from Telavi and today it has become the spiritual center of the region. It was the place where the kings and princes of the region were buried and it is an architectural gem.
The monastery has a ground floor in the shape of a cross and its interior is transparent and stripped-down, typical of the religious buildings of Kakheti. It is illuminated by the 16 windows of the dome and the exterior is surrounded by a seventeenth-century wall with a palace that is the residence of the bishop.
Alaverdi was an important center for the development of Georgian literature. Here, one of the oldest manuscripts was written in 1054: ‘The Gospels of Alaverdi’. The Cathedral is 12 miles away from Telavi. There are marshrutkas leaving from Telavi to Alaverdi every twenty minutes. You can check out the tourist office for return times.
This is the festival of all Khaketians and the best time to visit Alaverdi. It is celebrated at the end of September in the vicinity of the cathedral and it is closely linked to the vintage and wine culture. It is a celebration from pagan sources, from the time when Aladi, the goddess of the Sun, was worshipped.
Neither Christianity nor Islam could prevent people from making a pilgrimage here during these dates to sacrifice animals, dance happily, eat as a family and give thanks for the harvest. It is a bustling party that gathers the friendly people of the Alazani Valley.