May - September 2021
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Imagine the place of outstanding natural beauty, where stunning mountains, pristine lakes, green valleys and alpine meadows are locked between the seas. Fancy historical and architectural wonders of the world’s oldest Christian nations neighboring luxurious medieval Muslim palaces and lovely Eastern bazaars. Mix it all up with the first vineyards in human history and winemaking traditions backing three different, but equally opulent local cuisines. Top it with a unique and rich heritage of ancient cultures and Kingdoms, and you will perceive a journey to the astonishing Caucasus: Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.
Day 1: Arrival at Baku, Azerbaijan
Arrival at Baku. Meet & greet at the airport, private transfer to your hotel and check-in (after 14:00). Rest of the day at leisure to explore the capital of Azerbaijan, enigmatic and fascinating travel destination. Lush, flaunting, futuristic and intriguing Baku is a perfect place to start your Caucasian discoveries. In the evening, meet your fellow travellers for a welcome dinner at one of the best restaurants in Baku. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2: Baku
Breakfast. Baku guided sightseeing tour (about 6 hours). Visit all the attractions of the old town such as Martyrs’ Lane, walk through the Alley of the Martyrs, explore Icheri Sheher, the old part of the city. Visit stunning and opulent Shirvanshah's Palace (XXIII-XV centuries), a pearl of medieval architecture. The former Shirvani rules’ residence is lavishly decorated with amazing stone carving and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tour continues with Caravanserai, Maiden Tower, and main market square, a cozy souvenir bazaar. Explore Nizami Street and Fountain Square. The evening is free at leisure. Overnight at the hotel in Baku.
Day 3: Baku – Shamakhi – Lahich – Sheki
After breakfast, we depart towards Sheki. On the way, make a stop at Diri Baba Mausoleum in the village of Maraza. Continue to Shamakhi and visit the historical Juma Mosque. Then take a scenic drive through Girdimanchay River Canyon to Lahich, an ancient village famous for its medieval water supply and sewage systems, traditional jewellery, copperware, carpets, pottery, daggers, and iron tools. Continue to the town of Sheki to arrive in the evening. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 4: Sheki, Azerbaijan - Akhasheni, Georgia
After breakfast at the hotel, we will have some time to visit the colourful Sheki Bazaar. Dive into thousands of smells and aromas, learn to bargain and communicate with the locals! Continue to the Palace of Sheki Khans, which is surrounded by medieval fortress walls, and then visit handicrafts workshops. After exploring Sheki, head towards the border with Georgia (115 km, ~2 h). Crossing the border, we enter Eastern Georgia famous for its winemaking traditions. Our first stop in Georgia will be in ‘Khareba’ tonnel winery. Join the local bread baking masterclass and enjoy a full lunch. After lunch take a guided tour around the winery and enjoy tasting a few different local wines. Then drive to Akhasheni Wine Resort 4* for overnight (for both 3* and 4* packages).
Day 5: Telavi - Tbilisi
After breakfast at the hotel, take a ride to Gremi, architectural complex built in the 16th century. It used to be the royal residence and the capital of Kakheti Kingdom. Gloomy and monumental l, the Gremi castle is one of the most visited historical monuments in Georgia. Stop in the city of Telavi with a lovely fortress to have a short walk in the old Telavi and visit local bazaar with fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses and dry fruits. Take a delightful Georgian cuisine cooking class and after an hour of cooking enjoy your hand-made Khachapuri and Khinkali. Then we take a ride to Sighnaghi - an old castle town with magnificent views over Alazani Valley. Walk the city walls and enjoy the views. In the evening, arrive at Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.
Day 6: Tbilisi
Breakfast. Take off for a guided sightseeing tour of Tbilisi, the city with a history dating back to at least the 5th century AD. Start at Metekhi Сhurch and the monument to Vakhtang Gorgasali, the legendary founder of Tbilisi. Take a cable car to visit Narikala Fortress to enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. Stroll down to the district of sulfur bathhouses and pass by the only mosque in Tbilisi. Walk through the Sharden area, full of narrow streets with cosy cafés, wine tasting bars, and souvenir shops, and breathe in the history of Old Tbilisi. Visit Sioni Cathedral, Anchiskhati Basilica, and the famous Rezo Gabriadze Theatre’s clock tower, before crossing the Bridge of Peace to Rike Park. In the evening join your fellow travellers for a Georgian cuisine dinner in one of the best local restaurants.The dinner will be accompanied by polyphonic singing and national dances. Overnight at the hotel in Tbilisi.
Day 7: Mtskheta - Stepantsminda
After breakfast, we check out and head to the North of Georgia. The first stop will be at Jvari Monastery, a true architectural masterpiece of the Early Middle Ages, which is picturesquely perched above the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari Rivers. Continue to Mtskheta, one of the oldest towns in Georgia and the country’s cultural and religious centre. Proceed to the Ananuri Complex, a former residence of Argveti Dukes, with its churches and towers dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries and beautifully overlooking Jinvali Reservoir. Drive towards the Cross Pass to make a short stop at the Soviet-era “People’s Friendship” mountain viewpoint, which overlooks a deep gorge of the Caucasus Mountains. In the evening, we reach Stepantsminda for an overnight stop at the hotel.
Day 8: Stepantsminda
After breakfast, switch to a four-wheel-drive vehicle to reach Gergeti Holy Trinity Church (located at an altitude of 2,170 m) and enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Kazbegi. After lunch, take a ride to the border with Russia through a scenic Darial Gorge. The evening is free at leisure to enjoy the greatest mountain views and a glass of wine at a cosy terrace of “Rooms Hotel” overlooking the top of Kazbek mountain. Overnight at the hotel in Stepantsminda.
Day 9: Gori - Borjomi
After breakfast, drive to Stalin’s hometown of Gori. Visit the Stalin Museum, which includes more than 60,000 artefacts, the tiny house where Stalin was born, and an impressive bulletproof train that Stalin used to travel to Yalta and Potsdam. Drive to Borjomi. Overnight at the hotel in Borjomi.
Day 10: Borjomi - Rabati - Vardzia
After breakfast, take a ride to Rabati fortress in the town of Akhatsikhe. Its name comes from Arabic meaning “fortified place”. The old stone Rabati fortress is standing on the small hill on the very shores of the Potskhovi River. After lunch at a restaurant near the fortress, take a drive to Vardzia, a significant cave monastery. En route, short photo-stop at Khertvisi fortress (10-11th century). Vardzia is not just a set of random rooms cut in rocks. It is a multi-storied complex with streets, tunnels, and stairs leading to monasteries, temples, fortresses, baths, libraries dwelling houses and so forth. Take a guided tour and then drive back to Borjomi. The evening is free at leisure.
Day 12: Tbilisi
The day is free at leisure to explore the Tbilisi on your own or with your fellow travellers.
Day 13: Tbilisi, Georgia - Yerevan, Armenia
Head from Tbilisi to the border with Armenia. Drive through Dilijan, the most famous tourist spot where you will visit Haghartsin monastery and stop for a lunch. After lunch continue along Lake Sevan – “The Jewel of Armenia” and one of the largest high-mountain freshwater lakes in the world. The coastline of Lake Sevan is rich with thick woods, white bare steep rocks, mountain steppes, and Alpine Meadows. Stop at Sevanavank to visit the remnants of the monastery that include two temples standing among numerous carved cross-stones. Reach Yerevan in the evening. Check-in at the hotel and rest.
Day 14: Yerevan
One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world, pink city Yerevan which was founded in 782 BC. It is an incredibly beautiful city built of rose tuff, which calls visitors with its humble yet splendid landscapes. Breakfast with an Ararat mountain view, how does that appeal? Take off for a guided city tour visiting the Cascade Monument, the main symbol of the cities 2780th anniversary with the equivalent number of stairs. The mega-scale staircase is 500 meters high and 50 meters wide. A panoramic view from the monument opens up breathtaking city view with Opera House, Mount Ararat, Swan Lake, Republic Square, and Abovyan Avenue, which you will also walk by during the tour. Continue to the Armenian Genocide memorial complex on the hill of Tsitsernakaberd. In the evening enjoy tasting the famous Armenian cognacs at Armenian Brandy Factory. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 15: Yerevan - Garni - Geghard - Etchmiadzin -Yerevan
Depart Yerevan and drive to Garni, one of the major villages in Armenia famous for its fortress. The fortress is the only pagan sacred place from the 1st century that survived the aggressive introduction of Christianity in the 4th century. Next stop is at the Geghard monastery “a spear” in Armenian), the UNESCO World Heritage Site Medieval buildings are set into a stunning landscape of Azat Valley with its towering cliffs. The Geghard complex is an exceptionally complete medieval monastery in such a remote area of great natural beauty. And what is the most remarkable, there has been no changes here since the entire monastery was completed many centuries ago. Continue to the Holy See of Armenia, Etchmiadzin. Visit Etchmiadzin Cathedral which is believed to be the oldest cathedral in the world, and Zvartnots, UNESCO World Heritage Site. Echmiatsin is also the residence of the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Catholicos of All Armenians. We return to Yerevan in the evening. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 16: Yerevan - Khor Virap - Goris
After breakfast, head to Khor Virap Monastery. Here you will find the best views of Mount Ararat, the main symbol of Armenia and a sacred mountain for Armenians. Continue to Areni, a city known for producing famous Armenian wine from pomegranate and apricot. Here we will taste various fruits and berry wines and oghi, Armenian traditional spirit. Reach Goris for overnight at the hotel.
Day 17: Tatev - Noravank - Yerevan
In the morning, drive to Tatev Monastery (built in 9-13th centuries). Reach the jewel of medieval Armenian architecture by cableway called "Wings of Tatev". It is the longest reversible aerial tramway built in only one section and holds the record for Longest non-stop double track cable car. Enjoy the stunning views before returning to Yerevan. On the way back to the city, we shall visit the famous Noravank Monastery (12th century), beautifully set on the edge of a deep winding gorge of the Arpa River. Drop off at your hotel in Yerevan. In the evening we have a farewell dinner in one of the best restaurants in the city.
Citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, USA and all European countries have to apply for e-visa (US$ 20 online payment, issued in 24h)
No visa to Georgia needed for the citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, USA and all European countries.
No visa to Armenia needed for the citizens of Australia, New Zealand, UK, USA and all European countries. Citizens of Canada must pay a visa fee at the border (US$ 6).
Centrally located hand-picked hotels 3* or 4* (twin sharing)
On day 4 only 4* hotel is available
On day 16 only 3* hotel is available
Our 4* package means best of the best 4-star hotels including award-winning "Rooms Hotel" in Stepantsminda
Breakfasts daily at the hotels (except the day of arrival)
Dinners on days 1, 6, 17
Lunches on days 4, 5, 13, 16
Wine tasting in Khareba Winery on day 4
Cooking class in Telavi on day 5
Cognac tasting at Armenian Brandy Factory on day 14
Baku city tour
Tbilisi city tour
Yerevan city tour
All sightseeing as per program with English-speaking guides and all entrance fees included
Transfers from/to the airport by a comfort class private car
Group transportation by comfortable comfort class coach
"Wings of Tatev" cable car return tickets
Group tour is fully escorted by an English-speaking tour leader
24/7 phone/WhatsApp support line
Meet & greet at the airport
All attractions visited during sightseeing tours as per program
Borjomi cable car return tickets (to use during your leisure time)
"Wings of Tatev" cable car
Georgian polyphonic singing and traditional dance show
E-visa to Azerbaijan US$ 20
Meals not mentioned
Optional tours and activities
Adore historical monuments older than Istanbul and Rome
Immerse yourself into the stunning scenery of the Caucasus Mountains
Taste unique & opulent Caucasian cuisine & take a cooking master class
Discover Vardzia, a spectacular cave monastery & Uplistsikhe, a medieval cave town
Learn about World's oldest winemaking culture, tour the wineries, enjoy wine and cognac tastings.
Caucasian folk show & polyphonic singing: unbelievable cultural experience
Ride "Wings of Tatev" - the longest reversible aerial tramway built in only one section
Relax in hand-picked 4* hotels, including award-winning "Rooms Hotel"
Choose your favorite of 3 different and unique cultures, crafts and traditions
Peter Gay & Andrew Carroll-Keays
Travelled on the TransMongolian Railway in Feb/Mar. Not too cold. Just take usual ski gear. Great scenery. Organisation was absolutely excellent. Every transfer and every guide were on time. The hotels were all very good. The Russian Sim (provided by the company) was great for keeping in contact with each other and the support line.
We booked a tour for Euro 2020, in July 2021, tickets, accommodation, Hermitage and Cathedrals tour, all A++++. Great service, super support, nothing too much trouble at all, used the agency twice now. Super happy.
Me and my family just returned from an Easter break to Moscow. I found the tour very good value for money and the company's assistance with the visa application was also helpful. Reservations, payment, visa letter, and pre-departure correspondence prior to trip (via email) was prompt and well explained with no problems. Final arrangements information were detailed. We knew exactly what to expect, who will be waiting for us, time and venue to meet even with any guides with us. Transport transfers and driver were punctual.
I decided to use the Tour Service of the World Cup after some extensive research into the tour alternatives. These guys seemed to differentiate its tour Service by providing a more culturally based service with a healthy dose of Football and Fun. My experience was that it as well run ie they delivered on their promises. They have a health mix of local staff and Australian staff. The Russian staff had a great empathy for the challenges for us Aussies traveling in a country where you had no language skills they bridged that gap with there wonderful help. I know there are many alternative tours but this one certainly lived up to its name. I felt I discovered part of Russia but there’s plenty more to go!’ Overall just a great experience
This has been an incredible trip. The service has been exceptional and the guides provided were knowledgeable about their cities and gave us an experience we will never forget. If I do this trip again I would take even longer to see this amazing country.
I am a very active person and did have some hesitation about the amount of driving which was required to complete this tour. However, despite bumpy roads, I found it pretty bearable overall. Distances are big, country is vast and underdeveloped but once it’s get more developed, you will not this sense of freedom and tranquility any more. I recommend going to Mongolia if you’re looking for a varied, culturally enriching experience of a life time framed by unbelievably beautiful landscapes. Locals were very welcome and guides were great and were always ready to help to explore more of their home country. Very safe country, very friendly people. Interesting food, but vegans might be starving.