Azerbaijan - Georgia - Armenia
Explore the great culture, rich spirit and diversity of the Caucasus. We make the way from Baku, Azerbaijan to Tbilisi, Georgia and Yerevan, Armenia, through the rolling hills and lush valleys, beautiful and scenic Caucasus Mountains and lakes, ancient architectural monuments and fascinating villages.
Itinerary in brief:
Day 1: Arrival in Baku
Day 2: Baku City Tour
Day 3: Baku - Shemakha – Sheki
Day 4: Sheki, Azerbaijan - Telavi, Georgia
Day 5: Telavi - Tblisi
Day 6: Tblisi city tour
Day 7: Tblisi - Mtskheta - Gori - Tblisi
Tblisi - Armenian border at Sadakhlo - Goshavank - Haghartsin - Dilijan - Sevan Lake - Yerevan
Day 9: Yerevan City Tour
Day 10: Garni - Geghard
Day 11: Yerevan - Khor Virap - Noravank - Areni Winery - Yerevan
Day 12: Yerevan - Echmiadzin - Zvartnots - Yerevan
Day 13: Departure
Itinerary in details
Day 1: Arrival in Baku
Arrive in Baku, Azerbaijan. Transfer to hotel. Overnight in Baku.
Day 2: Baku: City Tour
Visit to the Martyr's Cemetery, located on the higher slopes of the city's west-end. This is the best place for viewing the city and the Bay of Baku. We proceed to the Old Town 'Iceri Sehir', which is also a fortress. We see the highlights of Iceri Sehir including the Palace of the Shirvans (the most striking example of the Medieval palace structures in Azerbaijan, dating to the middle of 15th century); the Maiden's Tower (the ancient, eight storey fortress originally built as a fire beacon). Carpet Museum. This afternoon we visit the Baku Fire Temple, known locally as the Atashgah. This is a castle-like Hindu temple and monastery complex in Surakhani near Baku. Local legend associates the temple at Surakhany with the fire temples of Zoroastrianism, but this is presumably based on a misunderstanding of the term 'Atashgah,' which in Azerbaijani is literally any fire-place, but in Zoroastrianism is synonymous with Middle Persian Atashdan, the technical term for the altar-like repository for a sacred wood-fire. Overnight in Baku.
Day 3: Baku – Shemakha – Sheki
This morning we leave the capital and travel to Shemakha, for a long time the capital and trade centre for western Azerbaijan and now a small town. We briefly visit the Grand Mosque, a very large and attractive building from the late 19th century. Yeddi Gumbez 'Seven Tombs', yet only three of these desecrated octagonal royal tombs remain reasonably complete. They are 18th-19th century mausoleums of the Khans of Shemakha. We continue to Sheki, one of the most ancient settlements and architectural centers of Azerbaijan founded more than 2700 years ago. Even the hotel "Yukhari Caravanserai" where we will stay is an architectural monument. The setting here is stunning -- lying in forested hills with views of the Caucasus Mountains. On arrival we visit the mosaic-fronted Khan's Palace, a beautiful piece of Islamic architecture, and the History Museum. We will also have a walk through the busy market of Sheki. Overnight at Sheki Caravanserai.
Day 4: Sheki, Azerbaijan – Telavi, Georgia
This morning we travel along the foothills of the Greater Caucasus range and arrive at the Azerbaijan border / Lagodekhi check-point. After completing customs and immigration formalities (which can be lengthy!) we continue to Telavi. On the way visit Gremi Monastery (16th century) – the royal citadel and the Church of the Archangels – in Kakheti. Afterwards we drive to Nekresi Monastery complex, located in an amazing natural setting and finally drive to a local restaurant in Telavi to taste the most delicious local dishes and wines. Overnight in Telavi
Day 5: Telavi – Tbilisi
Today we make wine tasting Tour in Kakheti region. We visit the residence of the King Erekle II (entrance fee: EURO 2; working hours 10:00 – 18:00, every day accept Monday). Afterwards we visit Tsinandali Wine cellar and Al. Chavchavadze house museum (entrance fee: from EURO 3 to EURO 10, tasting 6 sorts of wine; working hours 10:00 – 19:00, every day). Then we continue to Gurjaani wine cellar and also visit Gurjaani All Saints Church, which is the only two domed church in Georgia. We drive to Sighnaghi "love town",visiting the Bodbe monastery of St. Nino en route. Arrival Tbilisi. Overnight in Tbilisi
Day 6: Tbilisi city tour
We will visit the Old Tbilisi town with its "Sulfur Baths" district, Georgian Orthodox and Armenian Gregorian churches, and a Jewish synagogue and a Turkish mosque side by side, reflecting Tbilisi's acceptance and tolerance of different religions. We can also see a recent monument - Sameba Cathedral, the largest Christian Orthodox cathedral in the Caucasus. Besides we'll visit another sites such as Metekhi Church erected on a huge cliff, overlooking the Mtkvari River. Nerby is located the statue of the Georgian King Vakhtang Gorgaslani, the founder of Tbilisi. The church dates back to the 12th century and has a diverse history, connected with Mongol invasions and political repressions of the Soviet Empire. The colorful Darejani Palace is also situated on the cliff as if it's a swallow nest. The "Sulfur Baths" district is located in Old Tbilisi, on the other side of the river, opposite Darejani Palace. Tbilisi was named after the natural sulphur springs. We'll have lunch at a beautiful Georgian restaurant. Then we'll continue our sighseeing with a visit to the Fortress of Narikala and its St. Nikolas Church. The church is furnished with frescoed portraits of Christian martyrs and scenes from the Bible. It is wrapped in a defensive Narikala fortress, established in the fourth century. We can walk up the stairs of the fortress in order to get a "bird-eye" view of the magical city of Tbilisi. Walking down the path from the hill by the cobbled Leselidze Street, we come across the 13th century Armenian St. George Church and a Jewish synagogue with an elegant facade.On the opposite side of the street is the Sioni Church, leading to the bank of the Mtkvari. Here we discover Shardeni Street with its fashionable cozy cafes and art galleries. While walking down we will come across the Anchiskhati Church, the oldest church in Tbilisi keeping the miraculous icon of Jesus Christ. Finally the tour takes us to Rustaveli Avenue, where attractions such as the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Parliament, Rustaveli Theatre, different art galleries and cafes will draw your attention and provide a cosmopolitan atmosphere. The we drive to Open Air Ethnographic Museum - an awesome site, where one can find all kinds of Georgian national old country-houses and castles (entrance fee: USD 1, 70).Overnight in Tbilisi.
Day 7: Tbilisi – Mtskheta – Gori – Tbilisi
After breakfast we'll have a tour to Mtskheta (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the ancient capital of the Georgian Kingdom from the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD. Here we visir Jvari Monastery (6th c.); Svetitskhoveli Cathedral built in the 11th century. Then we drive to Gori. The city was founded by one of the greatest kings of Georgia, David the Builder (1089–1125). On the way we visit Samtavisi, an 11th century Georgian Orthodox cathedral. The first monastery on this place was founded by the Assyrian missionary Isidore in 572 and later rebuilt in the 10th century. Visit The Joseph Stalin Museum in Gori (entrance fee: USD 6). Afterwards visit Uplistsikhe (entrance fee: USD 1, 70), "the lord's fortress", which is an ancient rock-hewn town in eastern Georgia. Built on a high rocky left bank of Mtkvari River, it contains various structures dating from the 2nd Millenia BC to the Late Middle Ages, and is notable for the unique combination of various styles of rock-cut sculptures. Lunch in the restaurant. Back to Tbilisi. Overnight in Tbilisi.
Day 8: Tbilisi – Armenian border (Sadakhlo) – Goshavank – Haghartsin – Dilijan – Sevan – Yerevan
Transfer to Armenia border at Sadakhlo village. Meeting time 10:30 (Georgian time). Border formalities. Guide and transport change. Our Armenian guide welcomes you at the border. The tour starts with the exploration of one of the most beautiful Armenian regions – Tavush. The words alone can’t describe the untamed natural beauty of this Armenian paradise: lush vegatation, stunning landscapes, fast flowing rivers, giant limestone rocks, curved silhouette of the mountains of the Lesser Caucasus… Our first stop is Ijevan, the capital of the region. We take a stroll at the “Park of Sculptures”. After breathing some fresh airwe continue to Goshavank, a fairy-tale monastery founded in the 12th century on the place of a pagan temple. Here you’ll see the most beautiful Armenian stone-cross from 1291, an exquisite needlework masterpiece. We continue to Haghartsin Monastery nestled in a temperate rainforest on a mountainside. It is one of those spots in Armenia that feels like you are walking through a huge, unreal movie set. It was founded in the 12th -13th cc. It was a scholarly, cultural, and educational center in the Middle Ages. We drive to the Lake Sevan passing through the resort town of Dilijan named “a piece of Switzerland in Armenia” because of its climate, forested mountains. The Sevan Lake is one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in the world situated at 1900 meters above sea level. Photo stop by the lake. Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 9: Yerevan City Tour
Yerevan is the pink “pearl” of Armenia. This beautiful European city is mostly built by different shades of the local pink stone called tuff quarried in Armenia. Yerevan is one of the most ancient cities in the world founded in 782 B.C. It’s 29years older than Rome. The founder of Yerevan was the Urartian King Argishti I who founded the fortress of Erebouni on the southern part of nowadays Yerevan. We visit the following places: Republic Square, Opera House, Northern Boulevard, Abovyan Street, Charles Aznavour Square, Moscow Cinema House, the statue of “Mother Armenia" offering a bird-eye view of the illuminated city under the gaze of the biblical Mount Ararat in the skyline. Cascade Monument.
Then we visit to the History Museum of Armenia, one of the best museums in the world. The museum represents an integral picture of the history and culture of Armenia from prehistoric times (one million years ago) till our days. Here you can find the world’s oldest leather shoe (5500years old) found only 3years ago! There’s a huge exhibition dedicated to the Armenian carpets.
Get acquainted with the rich spiritual and cultural life of ancient Armenia at Matenadaran, a unique Research Institute and museum of ancient and medieval illustrated manuscripts. Marvel at the illuminated pages of some of those manuscripts within their glass cases.Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 10: Garni – Geghard
Leaving the frantic pace of the city we are heading towards Garni Pagan Temple, the only Hellenistic Temple in the Caucasus (and former USSR). Garni is the only pagan temple currently standing in Armenia. Gracing the hillside the pagan temple was dedicated to the God of Sun, Mithra. It was built in 77A.D. by the Armenian King Tiridates I in the territory of Garni Fortress. Then we proceed to Geghard Monastery carved out of a huge monolithic rock. Geghard is an incredible ancient Armenian monastery, partly carved out of a mountain. It is said that the Holy Lance that pierced the body of Christ was kept here. The architectural forms and the decoration of Geghard's rock premises show that Armenian builders could not only create superb works of architecture out of stone, but also hew them in solid rock. It is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Overnight in Yerevan.
A day dedicated to exploration of Southern Armenia combining the magic of Armenia's finest mediaeval architecture with stunning landscapes. The first stop of our trip is Khor Virap, the most sacred pilgrimage destination in Armenia not only because it’s the only place in Armenia where you’ll get the best view of the biblical Mount Ararat (the highest mountain in the world from its base, about 17,000feet high) within Armenian borders, but this is where St. Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years by the King Tiridates III for preaching Christianity. Guided by the remote majesty of the biblical Mount Ararat, we explore the site, its underground chambers, elegant chapels... We are captivated by the ascetic atmosphere of the site... We continue to the south driving through the agricultural heart of Armenia, Ararat Plain offering a fantastic scenery of fruit orchards, endless vinyards at the foothills of Ararat Mountain where the Noah’s ark landed. As soon as the we pass the Ararat Plain we can experience the untamed beauty of Southern Armenia - surreal red rocks providing an eerie echo, honey-coloured villages sandwiched between them. Our next stop is the Monastery of Noravank, an architectural gemstone nestled among brick-red cliffs, just above a deep gorge. It’s only here where you can see a bas-relief with the representation of Father God with almond-shaped eyes which look far ahead. We have lunch at Noravank refectory enjoying the view of the huge red canyon. After a hearty lunch we’ll drive to Areni village, the cradle of viticulture! This is where the world’s oldest winery was discovered recently (6000years old)! Winery tour and wine tasting (about 11 varieties including pomegranate and cherry wines). Visiting Areni 1 Cave where the world’s oldest winery has been excavated. Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 11: Yerevan – Khor Virap – Noravank – Areni Winery – Yerevan
Day 12: Yerevan – Echmiadzin – Zvartnots – Yerevan
Today we embark on our journey to the lands of ancient treasures of Christian history…Vatican city of Armenia, Holy Echmiadzin with its world’s earliest Christian churches included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. First we visit Echmiadzin Mother Cathedral. It was originally built by Saint Gregory the Illuminator in 301-303A.D., when Armenia became the first officially Christian state in the world. It’s the most luxurious Armenian cathedral covered by stunning frescoes painted in the 18th century. Continue to St. Hripsime and St. Gayane churches built in 7th century. These churches are considered masterpieces of early medieval Armenian architecture. They are named after Christan virgins martyred for the sake of Christianity. On the way back to yerevan we visit the ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral. It used to be a huge cathedral built in 7th c. and it was destroyed in the 10th c. Even in ruins it’s a majestic sight on the background of the biblical Mount Ararat... Lunch at a beautiful restaurant in Yerevan. After lunch you can visit the open air market of Vernisage - the largest souvenir, arts & crafts market in the Caucasus.
Day 13: Transfer to Zvartnots International Airport. Departure.
Package price per person in USD based on double room occupancy at 3* hotels:
- 2 nights’ accommodation in hotel in Baku on BB basis
- 1 night accommodation in Caravanserai Hotel Sheki on BB basis
- 3 overnights in Tbilisi
- 1 overnight in Telavi
- 5 overnights in Yerevan (at Hrazdan Hotel)
- Catering BB (just breakfast at the hotels)
- English speaking tour guide service along the tour
- Transportation as per program
- A bottle of spring water per day per person
- Entrance fees in Armenia
- Visa support to Azerbaijan for Europe, US, Canada and Japan citizens
- Air tickets
- Visas to all 3 countries
- All tips
- All extra expenditures
- Alcoholic beverages
- Lunches & dinners
- Entrance fees in Georgia
- Portage at the hotel
- Visa support to Azerbaijan for the countries except showed above