Planning to do a Tbilisi to Mtskheta day trip? Check out how to plan the best Mtskheta day tour and see the best of Mtskheta in just half a day.

Half Day Trip To Mtskheta From Tbilisi – Complete Travel Guide

Last Updated on July 3, 2024 by Soumya

Are you planning for a Tbilisi to Mtskheta day trip? You’re in the right place.

Mtskheta is one of the oldest cities in the world, and people have lived here for centuries.

It is home to three historical churches –  Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Jvari Monastery, and Samtavro Monastery – which form the Mtskheta UNESCO Ensemble. This makes Mtskehta the religious capital and one of Georgia’s prettiest places to visit.

The best part about Mtskheta is that it is located just 12 miles (20 km) away from Tbilisi, making it a perfect destination for a full-day or half-day trip from Tbilisi.

We visited Mtskheta on a half-day tour from Tbilisi. If you’re planning the same, I hope this travel guide will help you plan your day.

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links which means I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link on this post. This will be at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links help me keep this website up and running. Thanks for your support!

How to get to Mtskheta from Tbilisi?

View of Mtskheta from Jvari Monastery
The famous view of Mtskheta from the Jvari Monastery that has now become symbolic of Georgia.

The cheapest way to get to Mtskheta from Tbilisi is by taking a marshrutka (minibus). These minibuses depart every 20-30 minutes, starting around 8 a.m., from the Didube bus station (Google Maps) in Tbilisi.

The bus journey takes around 30 minutes and costs approximately 2 GEL. Once you get to the Mtskheta city center, check out Svetitshkoveli Cathedral there and then, hire a taxi to take you to Jvari Monastery.

However, taking a taxi or booking a guided tour may be the better choice if you prefer a more comfortable and hassle-free option.

Go Trip is my go-to company for taxis in Georgia. They have reliable drivers with clean, well-maintained cars.

Is a Tbilisi to Mtskheta guided tour worth it?

For Mtskheta, we decided to do a guided tour with Friendly GE, a local tour company I highly recommend. Mtskheta is full of history, and Friendly GE has the best guides in town who know everything about the place.

Our tour guide for Mtskheta was Khatuna, who knew so much about every place we visited. She also told us so many interesting things about Georgian culture and traditions, such as the Georgian concept of feasting with the dead.

Even though the half-day tour included two churches and one historical monument, the team at Friendly GE happily included another church for us (without any extra charge) when I requested it – a generous display of Georgian hospitality. You can find my glowing review for the tour on Tripadvisor here.

Even though it was a private tour, the Mtskheta half-day tour was quite affordable. Georgia is one of the most affordable European countries I have visited. So, I am not surprised.

Things to See on The Mtskheta Half-Day Tour

Chronicles of Georgia Monument

Chronicles of Georgia Monument
Chronicles of Georgia is a massive stone and bronze structure that tells us a lot about the country’s history.

Our first stop on the Mtskheta day trip from Tbilisi was the massive Chronicles of Georgia Monument. Since it is on the way, many day trippers stop at this important landmark, also known as the Georgian Stonehenge.

The Chronicles of Georgia is a gigantic bronze and stone monument created by Georgian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli in 1985. It depicts a lot about the country’s history and culture.

It has 16 pillars, each about 110 feet tall, depicting Georgian kings and queens and scenes from the life of Christ and Georgia’s early Christian history.

Do not miss these highlights at the Georgia Chronicles Monument.

  • The stone scroll at the monument’s entrance recounts important historical events.
  • The bottom layer of the pillars depicts stories from the life of Jesus, including the Last Supper.
  • The middle layer depicts important Georgian kings and queens, including David, the Builder, Queen Ketevan, and the famous Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli.

Construction of Chronicles of Georgia began in the Soviet era, but it was never completed due to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Located on the top of Keeni Mountain, the monument offers spectacular panoramic views of Tbilisi and the surrounding landscape, including the Tbilisi Sea, the city’s largest water reservoir.

There is no entrance fee to this monument. It is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

Jvari Monastery

Author at Jvari Monastery
At the Jvari Monastery in Mtskheta, Georgia.

As we made our way to Mtskheta, we first headed to the Jvari Monastery, perched on a hilltop overlooking the town.

Dating to the 6th century, Jvari Monastery is one of Georgia’s oldest churches that still remains pretty much unchanged. Along with Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Samtavro Monastery, Jvari Monastery makes up the Mtskheta UNESCO Heritage Site.

According to legends, Saint Nino converted King Mirian III to Christianity at the site of Jvari Monastery in the 4th century with a vine cross. Ever since this place has been one of the most important Georgian religious sites. The name “Jvari” translates to cross in Georgian.

The stone pedestal on which the vine cross once stood still stands inside the church. A wooden cross has replaced the vine cross.

Jvari Monastery offers breathtaking views of the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers and the entire town of Mtskheta. This image symbolizes Georgia.

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta
The large and austere Svetitshkoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta.

Next, we headed to the massive Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, one of Georgia’s most significant religious buildings.

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is one of the largest church buildings in Georgia, second only to the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi Old Town.

It is also one of the most important churches in the Christian world because it houses the holy mantle or robe of Jesus Christ, which he wore just before his crucifixion. A Jewish man from Mtskheta acquired the robe from Jerusalem and brought it to his hometown. Now, it is buried in the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.

The cathedral is also renowned for its intricate and beautifully preserved frescoes, which adorn the interior walls and depict biblical scenes and saints.

The current cathedral you see today dates to the 11th century, but the foundations are as old as the 4th century.

The approach road to Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is lined with local shops selling authentic crafts and Georgian souvenirs if you want to buy any. Cafes on this road also sell the coveted Georgian wine ice cream (colored pink and purple), which I am sure you’ll love.

Shiomgvime Monastery

Shiomgvime Monastery in Mtskheta
Shiomgvime Monastery is located in a deep limestone canyon in the forests of Mtskheta.

Our last stop for the day was the lesser-known Shiomgvime Monastery, deep inside the forests at the base of a limestone canyon near Mtskheta. The monastery’s location is fantastic, and it reminds you of Cappadocia and its rock-hewn churches.

Shiomgvime was founded by the Assyrian monk Shio, one of the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers (David Gareji and Alaverdi are two other such monasteries founded by the Assyrian Fathers) who came to Georgia in the 6th century.

Shio lived in a cave in this area which is now the most sacred place in the complex. It is called the Shio Cemetery Church. Therefore, the monastery is called Shiomgvime or the Cave of Shio.

A bigger St. Mary’s Assumption Cathedral was built in the 11th century and features the most stunning oil murals. These frescoes are quite recent (dating to the 18th and 19th centuries) but are among the most detailed religious paintings I have seen anywhere in Georgia.

Monks still live in this monastery and cultivate their own food and honey. You can buy some good quality honey here.

Once we were done with the Shiomgvime Monastery, Khatuna dropped us at the Tbilisi City Center, where we had a filling lunch. Then, we went on to explore the Dry Bridge Market.

Loved this Mtskheta Day Trip Guide? Pin it for later!

Planning to do a Tbilisi to Mtskheta day trip? Check out how to plan the best Mtskheta day tour and see the best of Mtskheta in just half a day.

Soumya is an acclaimed travel writer who has traveled to 30+ countries and lived in 8 while pursuing her passion for history and culture. Her writings have been published in BBC Travel, Architectural Digest, National Herald, and many more. She loves exploring world heritage sites and has a deep affinity for everything ancient, especially the lost civilizations of Mesoamerica!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top