- 3.75 million
- Georgian lari
Travellers who like to get high – no, not like that – should definitely add Georgia to their lists of places to visit. This country at the crossroads of Asia and Europe is dominated by the Greater and Lesser Caucasus mountain ranges – it’s so picturesque visitors have been known to pinch themselves to ensure they’re not dreaming. Lush green valleys rise to huge peaks – at 5201 metres, Mount Shkhara is the second highest peak in Europe – offering a huge number of opportunities for anyone who hikes, mountain bikes, rides horses or fancies visiting villages that seem as though they haven’t changed for a decades. In the country’s east, the Black Sea laps on pebbled beaches backed by mountains near the holiday city of Batumi.
Not surprisingly, given its location on a narrow neck of land that joins Europe via Russia with the Middle East, this is a place of many cultures. In fact, the welcoming locals claim this is where wine-making began, so ensure you try a tipple from the region. Take a wander around Mtskheta, one of the oldest cities in Georgia, having been inhabited since before 1000BC. It’s only 20 kilometres from capital Tbilisi, and its collection of medieval churches has earned it a UNESCO World Heritage listing. In fact, the whole country is a must for those who dig religious relics – the fourteenth-century Tsminda Sameba Church, one of the country’s most photographed landmarks, sits with a backdrop of Mount Kazbek about a 90-minute walk from the village of Kazbegi.