Discovering Georgia’s Beautiful Seasons
On today’s episode, we will be discussing the different attractions and activities available in Georgia, the best times to visit, and what to expect in terms of climate and weather.
Gamarjoba! This is the Tbilisi Podcast, covering life, travel and more in the country of Georgia, brought to you by Foodfuntravel.com, ExpatHub.GE, and Eatthistours.com.
In this episode, we are talking about the seasons and when to come to Georgia. When you're here for the ski season or whether you're here for the wine harvest season, there is always something going on year round. And in this episode, we're going to share some of our top tips of the best times to be here and some ways to avoid the big crowds and all of the mass tourism that can go on. Hello. Welcome to another episode of the Tbilisi Podcast. This is Tom here introducing the show, saying hi. We're talking about some weather related stuff today because I'm British, and that's the sort of thing I like to talk about.
Also, it has been a particularly long winter and I'm done with it. And I want to talk about other weather, warmer weather.
Warmer weather that's coming very soon.
I can see blue sky outside and I want to go and bask in the sunlight and blue skyness.
Exactly. So, yeah, Tom from Eatthistours.com here and Meg. Meg is here with me.
What's going on?
I want to be outside in the sun, but I'm here helping you people learn about weather.
You people. We love you people.
I do love you. But, yeah, I'm Meg from Foodfundtravel.com.
Yeah, lovely, wonderful weather, because, you know, you're British, I'm Australian. It's in both of our heritages to talk and complain about said weather.
However, we're going to go a little bit beyond just talking about the weather, because that could get a bit dull, even for the English listeners who are literally on the edge of their seats right now.
Wait, I haven't made a cup of tea.
Wait, pause. All right. Actually, if you're wearing headphones, just take the podcast with you to the kitchen and make the cuppa and keep listening.
But we're actually, more importantly, really going to be talking about when to visit Georgia. So we're going to say, well, sure, it's too cold, then don't come, then, that sort of stuff. So it is a weather episode to some extent, but really it's making a decision as to when you want to come. Because we're also going to talk about some things, like a few of the festivals that are going on, what time of year they happen, which regions to go to at which time of year mean you could literally plan a whole year's trip and just travel around the country and do different things at different times.
Yeah, I mean, there's actually a hashtag that is “spend four seasons in Georgia” and they've been promoting that for a couple of years now. And it is a very important one to follow, actually go follow them on the socials right now, because they've got a great account. And it is true, there's so much Georgia offers outside of just the standard summer when most people tend to come here.
If I vaguely remember the history to this account, just very briefly, as a tangent, wasn't it the case that Russia closed all their flights to Georgia and so Georgia went, oh, we've just lost a lot of our tourism.
Putin had a little fit.
Yeah, well, he likes those, doesn't he?
No, I'm not even going to say a girly fit, because that's disrespectful.
That is very disrespectful to girls. Really? He had a Putin fit, which he keeps having.
Oh, my God. Get it together.
Yeah. Really? So they went, oh, that's bad. We're just about to lose, like, half our tourism because there's a lot of tourism from Russia. This was a few years back. And then they did the campaign “spend your summer in Georgia”, and then it got to the end of the summer and they went, we branded this wrong and they changed it to “spend four seasons in Georgia”, which is a much more sensible plan, but they're right, there are lots of different stuff. There's lots of different things going on throughout all these different seasons in Georgia, and it's great. So we're going to talk about those sorts of things. That’s what today's about all right, now let's get the silly science out the way first. It's very silly, in fact. So we're aware from living here, and if you've heard us talk about it before, that there's a whole bunch of different climatic zones. Georgia is a pretty diverse country in terms of climate. It's a bit crazy. I've said previously on episodes that there's twelve that may or may not be true. Doing a bit more research, that might be just some misnomer from the Internet.
What, the Internet doesn't lie!
The Internet maybe confused me in previous discussions. There may or may not be twelve, but the reason I can't tell you how many there are, is because the Internet doesn't seem to know, and nor does science, what climate zones actually exist.
So there's not a consensus on how many there are in the world or what constitutes each climate zone. So without becoming a meteorologist, which I'm not intending to do by the end of this podcast, and we're not going to go into any depth at all.
You’re far too busy becoming familiar, you can’t become a meteorologist as well, no one’s got time for that.
Far too busy, far too busy. So, yeah, we're not going to do a bunch of meteorology. What I can say is that there are some, some of them we're going to talk about. Whether they're agreed by the whole scientific community. They're probably not, but we're just going to discuss them in a brief ‘layman's terms’ sort of situation, to give you an idea.
Yeah, just tell me, like I'm a five year old because I don't care to learn all of the details about it.
There you go. So, yeah, we're not going to have a bunch of scientific terms. Yeah, right. So, yeah, let's take a quick look at the climate map. Obviously, I'm looking at the climate map, you can't see it because it's a podcast. It's an audio podcast. Bit confusing. I know. Everything's confusing right now. This is something that happens. I need to find the bit that actually has the names on it because that makes it easier. All right, so let's start. They seem to have done it in order of warmest to coldest on here.
That's my most preferable way to do things.
Yeah. This one is based on something called the Köppen Geiger Climate Classification, which is one of the many different ones, apparently. We've got eight here. Let's just do this really quickly and we'll sort of bring this out and discuss it as we talk about the different areas. So I'm going to sort of start. This area is this. And this area is this. All right. So down in southeast Georgia, this is the bits around the border towards Azerbaijan and Armenia. We have sort of an arid zone, and it is very much if you drive through to Rustavi, or if you drive from Tbilisi down to the Armenian border to actually go into Armenia, it's very dry. You come here in summer, it's dry, yeah, it's just lots of sort of plains and dry grass, especially during the end of the summer. It's very yellow down there. If you go to David Gareji Monastery, just up on the cliff, and you drive through that area, super arid, very as well. So that's if you don't know it, I'm going to mention a whole bunch of places as we talk about this stuff pretty fast. So really, you're going to have to just Google them.
I thought you were going to say, I'm going to talk about a whole different type of terms in this. So just google them. You don’t know what arid means? Just Google them.
I mean, if you don't know what arid means…
Please do Google it.
Yeah, do google it. Because seriously, I'm not going to explain what arid means. I'm assuming you know what arid means, but there's so many classifications for climate that no one really knows.
Dry. It's dry, yes. There's a few strips of land down the southeast of Georgia that are pretty dry. And really that actually almost pretty much touches on Tbilisi, which is quite a dry place. So we're sort of just on the border of that arid bit. As you go a bit further south, just as you leave Tbilisi, you're sort of heading into that.
Very much so.
So the next bit is sort of temperate with a very hot summer, but random rain could happen at any point during the year, so that's really Tbilisi. And then you've got temperate with also the same rain could happen at any point, but not a specific rain season of any sort, but with a warm summer rather than a hot summer. And that's essentially just the bits that are slightly higher altitude around all of Georgia that are also already temperate because we're quite a hilly, mountainous country. Really are a lot of highlands, super. So, yeah, there's some nice valley areas. So, yeah, as I said, like Tbilisi, quite high up still, but temperate and hot. And then Kakheti also, like the main valleys are the same as Tbilisi, temperate and hot. Maybe a few degrees cooler than Tbilisi.
Normally, but it's humid.
Yeah, well, actually it's a lot less humid on this side of the country where we are in the east than it is on the west side of the country, which is very humid, I think, as you're from Brisbane, I can't believe you're even saying it's humid in Tbilisi. I've never experienced anything close to humidity like that in Tbilisi or Kakheti. It is not super humid. No, I mean, we're talking about like 50% to 70% humidity, not 90% humidity here. So, yeah, areas as you slightly go up the side of the hills in the valleys, the higher up you get, the cooler it gets, which is nice. Of course, then we have colder areas that still have very hot summers and once again, no dry season. Basically, the entire country, apart from those arid bits, don't really have a dry season. It is just, it can rain any time of the year, but it normally seems to rain, from my experience, in sort of August and also through the winter. Yeah, there'll be a rainstorm in March.
We're recording this in March.
July might have a couple of rainstorms in Tbilisi, that sort of thing. Batumi, on the other hand, that we'll talk about in a minute, it just literally rains every month.
It’s by the sea.
We'll go through some of the quick rain stats very, very quickly. In a minute.
You riveted by this weather talk.
We're almost done. We're almost done. Okay, so then we've got two types of cold. The further up in the mountains you get, the colder it gets. Some of them are very, very cold, some of them are less cold. And then you keep going up in the mountains. I told you it was going to be brief and non-scientific. Get over it.
Yeah. And then you get up to the polar tundra. This is actually a technical term, polar.
I was surprised when you mentioned the polar tundra.
We're not at the pole, but it's just to do with the temperature and the style.
So this is like land that's pretty cold all year round. And then right at the top of that, you got some glaciers going on, which are polar frost zones.
Which I mean, it makes sense because as you fly into Georgia, if you see the Caucasus Mountains, you'll generally always see, like, snow on top of the Caucasus Mountains.
Only on a few of the peaks, not all of it. But yes, there is some permafrost up there as well. I mean, Mount Kazbegi is not even the highest mountain in the range, and that's over 5000 meters.
So, yeah, we're talking about until climate change ruins everything, which is soon.
But correct me if I'm wrong, anybody listening, but I think that there's a part of the Caucasus Mountains that's actually like the second highest mountain in Europe. The highest is technically in Russia, if you're going to count that as Europe. I don't know, the Europa sort of thing. It's Russia, and then the second highest is here in Georgia. A lot of people think it's Mont Blanc. Is that how you pronounce it?
That's not even 5000 meters. That's under 5000 meters.
Which is the one that’s really big?
Yeah, Mont Blanc is the biggest one in Western Europe, but it's less than 5000 meters as far as I'm aware.
So if you ask a lot of people, they think it's that mountain, and you're like, no, actually it's like Georgia and the one in Russia is like, totes bigger.
Yeah, there's some controversy over exactly where the Asia and Europe part splits.
It's a continent.
I don't know if the Urals and the Caucasus anyway, that was just something I learnt. We tangented so much in this episode. All I'm trying to do is tell people about climate zones. Like, I was having so much fun being British. You just had to ruin it with your tangents! Sorry, we were almost done anyway, so yeah, that's that. And then yeah, just to briefly mention and we'll get into some local stuff shortly, but as we said, the west side of Georgia also has this sort of temperate to subtropical. See, the word subtropical is not even on the Köppen Geiger climate list. It really should be. With subtropical, come on, who doesn't think that that's a zone?
It is definitely subtropical.
So instead this is considered a temperate zone with no specific rainy season. But we'll jump onto when the rain happens when I do a quick summary.
They've also had some crazy weather this year, so who knows what's going on in that area.
So there you go. That's the sort of different areas. If you want to stay in sort of just the nice area as in the temperate zone, then we're talking about Batumi through Kutaisi. But in the summer it's a bit too wet and humid for my liking. And then Tbilisi is a bit too hot in the summer and people go up to the mountains.
Everyone goes to the mountains.
Well, you know, I mean, wine country, Kakheti like, I mean, the whole country is wine country.
I mean if you just spend your summer in a Marani, you're fine.
Yeah, if you're in the Marani, which is underground. Well, in Kakheti, at least some of them are underground. The wine cellars, they keep a steady temperature. If they're underground, that's where you need to be. All right, let's just very quickly shoot through some silly weather stuff and then we'll get on to the more interesting bits, which is talking about when to actually come here and what's going on in all these seasons. So, yeah, we're only a few minutes away from the English part finishing and the fun part starting, so just drag yourself through it, hurt your minds, suffer like English people love to do. Just bear with me on this. Stiff up a lip, yeah, and just get through it and stop complaining or complain more.
Are we being British or not?
Yeah, sorry. Yeah, get through it and complain simultaneously.
It's a very ambivalent world to live in England. Just simultaneous insane emotions all the time. But also you're not allowed any emotions, so that's also a thing. So, anyway, time to suffer a little bit more of some weather and when we'll talk about some festivals and things. Yeah. Tbilisi gets sort of cold in the winter, doesn't it? But it's not horrible. It barely gets below zero, but it occasionally gets below zero.
Depends on when you're from and what your consideration is. Not terrible.
I just think that there's an international perception of anything that's Eastern block, former Soviet as being -15 snowing constantly.
We're not trudging through the snow to get to places.
I have never trudged through snow here. I've lightly stepped on some snow outside for half a day, that's about it. And there might be some cold, dark corners in a park somewhere where the snow doesn't melt for a couple of days.
In Tbilisi, there is no trudging.
Yeah, so we're good. And the summer, as I said, July and August can get really, really hot. So although the average high is sort of like low 30s, 32-33. We've had it sort of 37 plus average. Yeah.
Is that what it's saying the average is?
Yeah, but that's because it also is based around, you know, a total period.
Quite a number of years and stuff like that. Yeah, you notice it. It is considerably warm.
It’s very hot. We use aircon constantly through July and August normally, yeah, pretty rare.
But you don't like, dread going out because it's like, you know how like, in well, it's not humid here like that, but in Southeast Asia or something, or even in parts of Australia.
The second you walk outside, you sweat and need another shower. But that's what I'm saying, that you're crazy that you're saying it's super humid here. It is not super humid here. You go outside and you go, oh, it's really hot, it's way too hot. But you don't come back going, “I am soaked through.” You just go, “got a bit of pit stain” maybe, that's it.
No, I was mistaken when I said that. I was referring more to like the Kutaisi western side.
Western side, during the middle of summer, on a hot day in August, you are stepping outside going, oh my God, I am literally a bucket of water now. Pretty crazy. So I think in terms of visiting Tbilisi. There's nothing really that I would say never come at that time of year because it's so horrible. August is pretty crazy and people get out of the city, but apart from August, it's fine. But yeah, sure. Iif you're from England, of course then you're going to complain it's too hot because at this temperature in England, most of the elderly population are dead. So that's why they don't like it.
Highers are melting to the ground
Whereas here it's just fine. And you don't have the humidity you have in England, so it's fine. A couple of other quick places that people will have heard of, of course, even if you're not from here. Batumi, as we mentioned, is crazy on the rain situation because it's subtropical and because it's coastal, the temperatures are more stable, so it never really gets below freezing. Although we did see some snow in Batumi recently.
But that was very unusual and cool. Yeah, so it does happen. It like is, one day of snow every five years or so.
It was very random and it was very cool. But yeah, it doesn't happen, really.
Yeah. But then in general, you're looking at those sort of January, February, where it's coldest in the country. Those winter temperatures actually are sort of more around ten degrees during the day or more. So Celsius, if you wanted Fahrenheit, by the way, you listen to the wrong show, it's just never going to happen. No, I've got no idea what it is.
You are going to have to Google that.
Yeah, sure. You just have to just sit there with a temperature conversion tool on your phone as you listen to this whole section, because literally you'll have no idea what's going on otherwise. Yeah, and then in the summer, it doesn't get as hot, it just is very humid. So the heat that you do get is not so crazy. So the August peak of 26.5 is the average high, but we know it gets over 30 because we've been there and it definitely gets over 30. But the average high is like that. But the rainfall is crazy. So November is the wettest month. Don't go to Batumi in November. Most of the winter is wetter. So anything from late September through to January, February is pretty wet and then the summer is a bit less wet. But really it's all pretty the same. Like August 205mm, and November is the worst 312mm, and the lightest driest month is May. And May is always nice.
May is a good time to be in Georgia.
Always come to Georgia in May, no matter where you're going to go. Yeah, we'll talk a bit about that later.
You don't even have to listen to the podcast anymore. Stop.
Turn it off.
Well keep listening. But while you do that, book your tickets, get on. You can do two things at once.
Just book your ticket.
Do it right now for May. Perfect.
Yeah, May is great. New wine festivals, we'll talk about them. A lot of cool stuff going on, and May, the weather just across the whole country is great, so love it. I mean, it can rain, but get over it. I'm just going to say get over it a lot. I think that's my thing for today, get over it. It might rain a bit, but other than that, it's going to be nice. Let's talk about another good area to visit, Kakheti. It's pretty similar to Tbilisi, really. It's just a little bit, a little bit cooler. It's a few degrees cooler normally because you've got the Caucasus Mountains running the whole length of the Alazani Valley, throwing some cool air down off their snowy peaks. Yeah, if you come in May, the snow is still going to be on the peaks. As we said. There's only the odd peak that has any snow past May, June, but yeah, so you still get some nice photos if you come a bit earlier, which is why I'd recommend you come in March or April, if you want. Well, March, really. April, it might even be too late. You get really clear weather. We went out there last month, in February. I don't know when you're listening to this or when it's even going to go out, but we were there in February, so this might be coming out in May. And I'm there going “come in May!” but it's too late. Oh, no, book your flights now. Book, like, literally book now. But anyway, we're there in February. I mean, we've been there in the winter a whole bunch of times. And just the absolute clarity of the mountains, like barely any cloud, a beautiful snow line along the top of the mountains.
I love coming out that way in the winter. It's lovely. And yeah, as you mentioned before, only a couple of degrees colder than what you'd get in Tbilisi anyway, so why not go out there, get some nice crisp, fresh air.
Absolutely. And of course, during the summer, that's great because it's just a little cooler. All right, so, yeah, quick one on that. I said we're going to talk about the actual sort of best times to come and what's going on in a few minutes. Kazbegi, as we mentioned earlier, it's one of the highest mountains, it's the most famous mountain. It has a glacier on the top, so people come and see it all year round. People do hikes up to the top, it's like seven or 8 hours to hike up and back. So it's a bit of a mission. You're not getting all the way to top in that time, of course, but, yeah, it's obviously significantly colder there because this is up in the mountains, naturally, but the town of Stepantsminda is the sort of tourist village, as it were, below Kazbegi. So if you're going up to Gergeti Church, Trinity Church, which is the most famous landmark in georgia. Really?
I think, yeah. You've got like, the church, and then there's a couple of horses doing their thing, and then you got the mountains in the background and it makes a very beautiful photo.
Yeah. And you can just sit up there on a terrace with your big warm clothes on in sort of Spring and have a look out. Even in summer, the sort of average temperatures in August are only 20 degrees. We were up there in August last year.
It was lovely.
And yeah, it was very nice. Even in the evening, still outside in just a light jumper. Really? Yeah. But yeah, unlike Tbilisi, whereas outside in the summer, you're still in a T-shirt and sweating at 11:00 at night up there, you're definitely wearing a nice big jumper by the second the sun goes down.
So, yeah, definitely not as warm. One other thing with Kazbegi, if you want to get up there during the winter, sometimes they have avalanches on the road that connects and there can be problems with getting up there or getting back.
We have had friends that have been stuck in their hotel for extra days because they could not escape.
Yeah, exactly. But it's beautiful. Anyway, we'll talk about places to visit around Georgia in another episode, but this is somewhere that if you're coming to Georgia, or if you're coming to Tbilisi specifically, a lot of tourists pop up there because it's a beautiful spot, it's pretty. Let's talk about somewhere a bit more out there, Mestia. Svaneti and Mestia is sort of like the main town where all of the hotels are.
Lots of people go that direction, especially the hikers and those who want to go and visit Ushguli, which is UNESCO. It's the oldest permanently settled no, what is it? Full time settled place in Europe.
It's the highest continuously settled settlement. It's the something- something in something, and almost all of it was wrong. Apart from Europe.
It's old too.
The point being that I know it's not part of it, but it is old, allegedly. Like, some settlements are temporary, where people live there only seasonally, whereas this one, supposedly people live there year round, which they do. There's some crazy people who just live there in the winter. Even though it's like two and a half thousand meters settlement, it is beautiful. This has not been fact checked. Meg just said this. I think that's still the case. I think it's still true. At some point. It was this random factoid about Georgia that that was true.
Highest permanently inhabited settlement in Europe.
Ushguli is also a UNESCO site, one of the few UNESCO sites in Georgia.
So yeah, anyway, the whole point of it was that people go up there to see Ushguli or to go on the hiking trails, which is very popular.
To Ushguli, or from Ushguli, so it can easily get to minus ten up in Mestia, which is near Ushguli but not as high. I'm sure Ushguli is even colder. There's a ski resort there. There's a few ski resorts in Georgia. So in terms of when you want to visit Georgia, if you want to go skiing, obviously you want to come in the winter. January to March is the best time because December, a lot of the resorts actually don't open until very late December.
The snow is just not reliable enough. So people turn up at that time going, “let's go skiing!” You’re like, “nah, it's just not reliable enough.” Come a little later and you're more likely to have some snow on the peaks.
We'll do an episode on skiing, specifically.
Hills, whatever they’re called. They are peaks, right.
Peaks and mountains.
Are peaks like the pointy bit at the top.
That is the pointy bit. Meg, we are being non-scientific today.
I don't ski. I don't know the runs. Runs?
Yeah, the ski runs. Ski runs. The sides of the mountains where the runs are where people ski.
I'm just trying to sound intelligent. I’ll just drink my wine.
Yeah, there's been a few errors with the sounding intelligent part so far with this episode.
This is why you're running this episode, not me.
Yeah, it's a British episode. That's what I'm saying.
So, yeah, like in Mestia and some other of the ski resorts, such as Gudauri, which is near to Mount Kazbegi, but it's not on Mount Kazbegi. It's a different part of the mountain range a little bit further south, and also Bakuriani. And there's another ski resort sort of down towards Batumi, up in the mountains by Batumi. I say close to Batumi, but really it's like 2 hours drive up into the mountains. At least. That one got quite a lot of snow this year, but yeah, so, minus ten. It's a ski resort. What temperature do you think they have in a ski resort? Temperatures below zero, so they can have snow. So there's a few of those going on. Those are the main ones. But of course, you can go to these areas. Like, if you want to go to Ushguli, most people go there in the summer rather than trying to get there in the winter.
It's safer. The road to get there is a little precarious, and you probably don't want that to be icy.
I don't think people are really driving up there. I think that's part of the reason why the people who live there are crazy, because they literally can't get out very easily. Once they're snowed in, they're snowed in for months. Yeah. And the road is mental enough in summer, you need a four x four. I've seen people try to do it in a Prius when we were in a four X four, and we mainly just laughed at them.
I did point and laugh.
There were quite a few people just stuck at the side of the road, just couldn't get anywhere and were having to turn back. Take a very nice big four x four. Otherwise- do the hike.
You might get into Ushguli.
Yeah. So there you go. Ski resorts. Cold as you'd expect them to be.
Kutaisi, as we mentioned before, it's different from Batumi because it's not on the coast. Definitely a lot less rain not being right on the coast, but still a lot wetter than Tbilisi is and a lot more humid because it's on the other side of the mountain range that breaks Georgia in the middle. So you come through the mountain range, through the Ricoti Pass from Tbilisi, and then you get to the western side of Georgia, and there you have the humidity rolling up through the hills from the Black Sea, but at a slightly higher altitude.
Crazy amounts of snow this year. Unheard of amounts of snow.
They don't normally have that much snow. Also, that's another thing. If you're in Kutaisi, you're expecting the winter temperatures average highs to sort of be like nine and rarely get below zero as well. So it's not too much cooler than Batumi or it's a similar temperature to Batumi.
They had a crazy year this year. I don't know what's going on there.
And summer, as you'd expect, slightly warmer than Batumi because they're not right on the coast, but they are still getting some heat coming up the slopes. Yeah. And a bit drier. So I guess one more place. Let's quickly talk about Borjomi. Borjomi is a good spot that everyone goes to that's up in the mountains a little bit, but not like super high mountains. So much higher than Tbilisi. And people leave the city from Tbilisi and that's like the summer retreat town. That's the place a lot of people go to.
That’s where all the nobles and rich people used to go back in the day to escape the heat.
It's a beautiful valley to relax. Beautiful.
It is beautiful.
Beautiful valley with like a steep valley with trees and stuff going up either side.
Yeah, really nice. And a river running all the way down, of course. Beautiful place. And hot springs. We did an episode about Borjomi water, there was one, and I'm sure we'll do an episode about Borjomi tourism at some point. But yeah, if you're coming July, August, make a trip out there. I mean, it's going to be busy. That's the only thing. It's going to be busy. There's going to be a lot of tourists out there and a lot of local tourists, a lot of Georgian tourists up in the mountains in July, August, especially August, getting out of Tbilisi. But it will be very pleasant. Very, very pleasant weather. So that's nice and quite dry again, because it's on the East side of the country, on the other side of the mountains, not on the Kutaisi side of the mountains. So it's a lot drier once you get over that mountain range. All right. That's some weather stuff. We've made it just over halfway through the episode.
Ready for another cup of tea?
Yeah, actually, I mean, we literally talked about climate and weather for almost 30 minutes. So at this point there's probably only about twelve people still listening to this.
Just the British going, “I love it, I love it. Tell me more.”
Yeah, please, can we get more in depth to a few other smaller villages and their exact microclimates?
I’ve Googled arid and I'm ready for more.
Well, if you want to listen to some in depth wine talk, we'll probably talk about some micro zone microclimates at some point. But for this episode, I think we've got enough on climates and let's do the next section. Let's move into what's going on when you turn up. So let's start. I'm going to start. I mean, I base everything in life around the wine seasons rather than just the seasons.
Well, I mean, wine is life.
Wine is life and they are mostly conjoined. So yeah, there's not too much difference here. So let's talk about wine harvest season first because that's always the most exciting part of the year. It is for wine here.
It's generally the most wonderful time to be here as well.
Yeah, I consider it. As you said, May and September into October are the two best parts of the year.
Yeah, that's premium, most awesome time to be here. Everything else around that is super great. But they are the premium if you're wanting to book a time to be here and you're like, “I don't know, when should I do it?” May or September, yes, just lock in your holidays for those times because it's perfect.
Yeah. And even mid to late September, not the first week of September, where it's still basically August.
It can be really hot still in the first week of September, but then it sort of peters off a little bit, gets a little bit cooler, a little bit more manageable. And then, yeah, all the harvests kick in and you're like, just drinking wine. It's not so hot, loving life and chomping some grapes. Pretty awesome.
So what have we got going on? Late August to early November is how I characterize the season based on the harvest, as opposed to the different reasons. Because as we said, non-scientific, non decided which months are autumn and which ones aren't. I mean, is early September autumn? I don't know, like, technically maybe it is. Or is September summer?
I mean, it's not like the second it hits September 1, the weather just goes, “Welp, I'm done, better change now!”
Who knows? But because of climate change, there's even harvesting going on in late August, mainly sort of more of the commercial factories rather than any of the really interesting artisan places. Starting that early, there's going to be less sugar content getting technical, but yeah.
I think the places that are more interesting are the ones that are pushing it later. If they're harvesting earlier, then you're like, interesting. But I mean, personal opinion here but.
I think it depends on a lot of factors.
It does, yeah, grapes and all that, and what the season has been that year and stuff like that. But I personally think what I'm seeing more and more is that independent winemakers are pushing the harvest back rather than bringing them forward.
It depends on the grapes. So I couldn't tell you that there's an exact time to this, but there is a science to it. But it's something that we talk about in a wine episode either way. If you want to come late August to early November, what have we got going on? Quite a few different things. So the Rtveli is the harvest festival. This happens throughout wine country. We've got a whole episode on this, so I'm not going to go into loads of depth. But if you want to go and hang out with a local family and pick grapes with them and help them make their wine for the season, or just get out to wine country and have a big old meal and taste some wines, this is a perfect time to do it.
It's also a good time for photography and stuff. If you want to get the best picture of all the grapes nice and lush on the vines and everything like that, then it's a good time. Otherwise, other times of the year, they're still growing and they're little baby grapes.
Lots of clear days, lots of blue sky days. A little bit of rain occasionally, but it's not too much. And yeah, the weather has cooled down just a bit, which is nice. And then into October, sure, you can get more rain at the end of October and it can be like, uncharacteristically cold. We've had it happen. But also, October can just be wonderful. Just such perfect weather, like 20 degrees.
Yeah, the last October was great. The one before that our friend came to visit us. And it was just rainy and cold the whole time. And we're like, I'm so sorry. October is always awesome.
Every other October we've done has been great. One year he came, bad weather, it's.
Got nothing to do with the rest of us.
Just got gray and wet for like three weeks straight and then he left, and November was quite nice. November can be quite nice, especially early November, even into December. And up until Christmas can be warm and dry and blue skies most days.
Sorry, Nathan, please come back, try again.
So other cool stuff going on, as well as the harvest festival. Tbilisoba happens at the start of October.
That's a great festival.
Big, big festival in Tbilisi. It's the festival of Tbilisi, so it's the main one, there's got a lot of people cooking up pork. There's plenty of stuff going on. There's wines going around everywhere. In the center of the city.
Kids are doing dances, they've been working on their routines all year. And the karate kids are like, doing their thing, like, there's little demonstrations by all the kiddies and there's performances and Tbilisoba is such a great festival, lots and lots of fun.
I mean, we're going to do a whole episode on festivals at some point, I think, because if we try and list all of them today, it's going to be tricky. But yeah, at this time of the year you can pretty much go everywhere in Georgia, so you could go up to Stepantsminda and Mount Kazbegi and yes, it's going to be cold in the evening, but it won't have started snowing enough that you have any risk of being trapped up there or anything like that. And it's going to be a bit quieter. If you go up there in early September, it's pretty much peak awesomeness. It's really busy up there in August and July because those are the hottest months, so that's a time where you might find hotels are a bit booked out and that sort of thing. But then you go up in mid September instead and it's just a little bit cooler, but there's a lot less tourists. It's like the season pretty much dies instantly in early September, although I'm sure now tourism is coming back after years of COVID that that will start stretching out again. But yeah, so up to that area is great. And obviously the same with Kutaisi. The weather has started to cool down a little bit. So if you're on that side of the country and you can still go up to Borjomii and Bakuriani and these other places in the central mountains, yeah, it's just great. Literally everywhere is great. Go anywhere. September, fantastic. And early October. Now let's talk about early October a little bit. And into October, this is when all of the colors are starting to change.
Oh my goodness. Okay. Yeah, the photography is phenomenal. So, yeah, as if you've listened to this show before. You know that I'm from Australia. You might hear it in my accent, maybe. So where I grew up kind of has seasons a bit like I grew up in a place called Toowoomba, and we definitely do have an autumn, but it was mostly like, oh, this is when the leaves fall off the trees, but here, this is like autumn on crack. The colors are “boom!” like just the oranges and the reds and the yellows. This is like if you want to see if you look up autumn in the dictionary, there's a picture of this going, “hey, it's great.”
For those of us who have lived in a country that's seasonal before, I'll let everyone know that it's autumn. But it's very beautiful. It really is. It's a good autumn. Obviously, I've lived in lots of different countries with autumn. Meg hasn't, clearly, but yeah, it's what you'd expect. But the difference, of course, is that it is beautiful. You have so many different mountain valleys and the season changes at different times. So if you head to one area. The season's going yellow and orange a bit sooner. I went up to Gudauri in mid October a couple of years ago and it's just all of the colors down all the mountainsides through the valley, you get some epic photos. Racha region, which is lesser visited by tourists. You can get there from Kutaisi in a couple of hours, less than 2 hours from Tbilisi to just under 4 hours. And the valley in Racha in October is just great.
I'm going to post some pictures on our Insta and maybe even I'll do a reel on our TikTok, autumn reel.
Autumn reel of Meg being very surprised and excited of what autumn looks like.
I haven't got any pictures of that, but I can definitely green screen myself in with just pictures of awe and wonder.
I think that would work. Yeah, that'd be great.
Yeah. So all of those areas, I mean yeah, there's different valleys anywhere that has a sort of river valley and steep hillsides, which is everything from Borjomi to Racha to Gadauri to Alazani Valley, which is more spread out, but still great. The entire country is just valleys, mountains and wine regions. This is why I love it here so much.
And at that time it's all just exploding in color. It's gorgeous.
Yeah. So this all spreads out from sort of late September in the higher mountains where color starts to change through to sort of mid November. And that's also when the harvest ends around mid November. A few people harvesting till late November, but yeah, mainly till mid November. Any other cool things going on in that time of the year and that you wanted to bring up? I know, as we said, we're going to do a festivals episode separately.
No, I think that covers it. We've been going on for a little bit. Let's move on to the next one.
Let's move on to the next season, which is winter. So yeah, sometime around mid November to early December winter is starting, but sometimes autumn stretches all the way till Christmas and the snow is going to start falling at some point around then. But as we mentioned before, that snow, at least early season, doesn't really fall anywhere apart from the mountain areas. So you're looking at Kazbegi, Gadauri, Bakuriani, maybe are going to start getting snow late November. If you are heading out to Kakheti and those mountaintops are right there, you might see some early snow. Definitely been out in November and seen some snow caps already started. And then you're going to have some wonderful photos at that time of year if you're out there. But it also can be a bit damper. Yeah. As we head in from November into December, it can be a bit wet and then who knows? It's totally unpredictable.
It is very unpredictable.
From November through till April. The rain situation is just unpredictable and the snow situation is unpredictable. You can definitely end up with snow in April quite easily. It does happen, but yeah, in Tbilisi, it's going to snow a few times over the winter and who knows when. Yeah, really cool, because in Tbilisi, if you haven't been to Tbilisi, you're surrounded by mountains as well. We're essentially in a bunch of valleys, which this whole city spreads through in every direction, so we've just got mountains on every side. And if you've got an apartment that's on a higher floor, like a lot of people do, then you're going to get views across to some mountain peaks with snow on.
Yeah. Also, if you're in the old town and any of the snow actually settles on the fortress you're going to get some pretty great views.
Yeah, that's pretty great. So what's happening sort of mid November through until March, not surprisingly, it's the quietest season. Skiing is one of the main things that happens. As we said, January to March is sort of the main ski season, if you're lucky, fingers crossed, that it will be enough snow. We just had the World championships in Bakuriani this year.
You may have seen some of that if you're a ski fan on TV. And they did actually get a whole bunch of snow in February, so they got really lucky because it wasn't super good for snow earlier in 2023, and then they got a big pile of snow just in time.
Just in time. Yeah. I mean, the thing is, if you don't like the hustle and bustle of all the tourists and stuff like that, come in winter. Even if you just want to go out and do what you would do in the summer, which is, I mean, obviously we take people out on wine tours. So if you want to just come on a wine tour and go and eat and drink and go and see national UNESCO sites and beautiful views, just it'll be quiet. It'll be quiet.
And there's some other good stuff that happens, obviously. You go to these wineries and they've got a fire going, an open wood fire, because you're out in the countryside, love it. So you can sit in a nice warm room with window views out to the Caucasus Mountains, enjoy a nice glass of wine with a winemaker and just chill. It's a much more chilled time of the year to go out, which is great. Plus, also winemakers aren't so busy because all the fermentation is finished and they can just take a bit more of a break. Yeah, they're just waiting for the wine to age before they open it up in the spring and start bottling things. So, yeah, it's a very chill time of year. Something else that's definitely going on well is New Year's, because we had a Christmas episode not long ago, so you can go back and listen to that. But they don't do western Christmas on the 25th. 25th is just a regular day. Nothing's going on apart from for expats and their Georgian Christmas, they all go home to their families, but it's not like there's a big party going on that you can go to a street party or something. So New Year's is where it's really happening. New Year's is insane, especially in Tbilisi. It is fireworks pandemonium.
It is the night of nights. Yeah, very cool. Definitely something to take in. I think, as things go on, I personally think that there will actually be more regulations that will probably get put in place.
There has to be. It's mad.
It is madness. Someone's apartment burnt down last New Year's. It obviously is not great for the animals. There's lots of different reasons. So from an aesthetic point of view, yeah, if nobody gets and everything's fine, it's credible, like the whole sky lights up. But then on the other side, when you look at all the other factors of things that can go wrong and stuff like that, it is chaos. So I think there will be more regulations. So if it's something you want to come and experience, do it sooner rather than later, because I don't think they'll be selling fireworks on the street corner for that much longer.
No, who knows?
You can literally buy it off someone just on the street.
Yeah, disorganized, firework, chaos.
Anyway, but yes, go back and listen to our full episode on Christmas and we'll explain all of the traditions and everything.
Much more in depth, for sure. Yeah. So then there's not loads going on, really. February, March, there's not going to be like tons of festivals. There's always bits and pieces going on, but there's like no major things going on.
There was a festival the other weekend that's like that mountain festival that we haven't been to. Sure, it ends in oba, but it's like where the people all dress up in crazy masks and stuff like that. That happens now too. Sorry, guys, I'm going to have to write into the show notes what the name of it is. But there is another festival. I think it's like a fertility festival or something like that.
I could be making that up, maybe.
But there are the quirky little festivals that do happen in some of the villages, so you can check out some of those. But I'll add it to the show notes because I cannot for the life of me remember what it is right now.
Yeah, no, sure. But then also, if you're hanging around the old town of Tbilisi, then it's just quiet, there's people out, but it's quieter. You can go around and just enjoy it with a bit more peace. Because in the busy season that we'll talk about shortly, it's mad. Right, so next up, spring. Gorgeous. April, May and into early June. As we said, the rain is still a bit unpredictable through to April, so you never know with April. April could be 25 degrees every day and dryish. There's always going to be some rain in April. I don't think you're going to get away with a fully dry April. That would never happen. And you're not going to want a dry April because you're going to want to drink wine because by the end of April yeah, exactly. By the end of April into May is new wine season. So if you are coming here for the wine, that is a very cool time of year to get here. That is wine festival craziness pretty much every weekend, and even on some weekdays, there's going to be some sort of wine festival going on.
We are preparing our livers.
Yeah, I mean, we're expecting to do at least like two days of wine festival every week for a month and through into early June.
And also, I should mention, most of these wine festivals are actually completely free. There's a couple of them that are a little bit more specialized that you need to pay an entrance fee, but some of them you can just turn up to. And there's all manner of winemaker that has turned up with their wines, their new wines of the year, and they're like, here, try some, and it's fabulous. So it's a really good way to just get around, meet the winemakers and try some incredible new wines. And if you don't know anything about wine, it's a really good starter point. But yeah, wine festivals, so much fun.
And if you're out in wine country, then this is the time, April and Easter, where you could actually, it's quite hard to do, but you could go and hang out with a family out there whilst they bottle their wine. Or you can at least have someone open a qvevri and you can taste some wine direct from the qvevri before they bottle it. Very cool because this is the point where they're all opening these qvevris and bottling so you actually can go and taste I mean, you can do that any time of year, technically, but for small producers, they don't have stuff all year, they only have stuff when they're bottling to do that. So, yeah, bigger wineries, some of them will just open a qvevri for you as like a paid experience and that's like a year round thing that you can book for a group, which is a different deal. So really May, amazing, fun time to be here.
It's going to be busy, everything's going to be a little crazy, but it is absolutely not as crazy as the summer season, which is when all the tourists actually come. Tourists are mad. I mean, I know they have to come because they've got school holidays and things like that.
That’s the only time that people get off.
Yeah, everyone goes, okay, I'm going on my summer holiday, but what are you doing August to July? It's so, so hot. So this is what we're talking about for the next sort of season. And maybe we can combine these two together to some extent. Once you hit sort of mid June to late June. It's starting to get really hot in the whole country, not just in Tbilisi.
And then all the tourists are really starting to turn up from mid June through to the start of September. That's the busiest season. Prices are through the roof, hotels are full, stuff is just bonkers. But that's the time everyone's coming. And sure, you may have to come that time of year, maybe that's how it is. But yeah, you don't need to try not to. Don't do it. You don't have to do it. Come in April. Come in May. Come in September and October and November. But if you must yeah, listen, you've got guaranteed warm weather, right?
If it's a choice between coming in the summer or not coming at all, come in the summer. We want you here. Come to Georgia. But if you can come at another time of year, just like on the cusp of that period, it's just so much more pleasant. Not that it's not pleasant during the summer, like, you'll have a great time, you're going to have a freaking awesome time, no matter what time of year you come. I don't know, it's just very busy, hustle and bustle and prices are high. And you know what summer is like. Summer vacations are always bonkers.
Yeah, but what are you going to do? There's lots of options in the summer, of course. You could go to Batumi and just hang out by the pool and by the sea, eat some seafood and enjoy the sort of summer vacation atmosphere. All of the clubs and bars are just going to be packed with people. I mean, we were out there a couple of years back, last time we were in Batumi, and we were just hanging out in one of the open squares where they had live music and loved it. It's a lot of fun. It's got a lot of European charm to it. It's got a bit of a blend of Turkish, European and the local, just Ajarian because they're an autonomous region. It's sort of a separate part of Georgia that's self governed. Also in the summer, as we mentioned earlier, you can go up to any part of the mountains. Some of the places like Gudauri, you've got the ski lifts running, so you can actually go up on the ski lifts for summer activities instead, also mountain biking.
You can actually get to unique places like Tusheti that is only open in the summer.
Yeah, this is a good point. Tusheti opens normally sometime around May or June, and you literally can't get to Tusheti, which is one of the most out there places in Georgia to visit. There's no way to get there apart from in a helicopter, apart from during these few months of the summer where the mountain passes open. It's considered as one of the most dangerous roads in the world. It's on one of those TV shows like Dangerous Roads in the world. Yeah, I have not been. I wouldn't take a public marshutka out there because those mini buses drive like crazy and people have died. So, yeah, get a private transfer in a nice four x four. Don't drive yourself either, because if you don't know that road, you're going to kill yourself, maybe. That's not a great idea. So, yeah, hire a local driver to take you out there who actually knows what they're doing and knows the road well and has done the road a few times before because it's an insane road. Yeah. So those are the sorts of places that you're going to go in the summer season. Get out of Tbilisi. Don't spend a ton of time in Tbilisi if you're going to be here in the middle of summer, because it's just crazy hot. And head out to any of those remote mountain areas and it's lots of fun and, yeah, hey, why not go out and do a supra and wine stuff in the summer as well? Because you get out to the countryside and there's some breezes coming through and you're sitting outside with a big group of people drinking wine.
I don't know if we've said this on the show before, but there will always be wine.
I don't know.
There will always be wine.
Yeah. I mean, it's Georgia.
The only place that you're not going to get a lot of wine is Tusheti, where they mostly drink Chacha. So I believe it's not an area where they grow wine because it's too high in the mountains.
That makes sense.
So they do bring wine up there, but mostly they're living off the chacha and cheese.
And that Muslim area that we haven't visited yet.
Pankisi. Yeah, we'll be talking about Pankisi on the podcast in a few months time because we're going to do a trip out to this Chechen-Muslim enclave out in Kakheti. It's going to be a very interesting place to visit. So that's all the seasons. Was there anything else from sort of April through to August that we skipped over? We are basically out of time. We've gone pretty far into this.
Things are coming to mind. Keep an eye out for different festivals, but we're going to do an episode on festivals. No. Come book a ticket. Have you booked your ticket yet? I told you to do it before.
I'm already here. Are you talking to the audience?
Talking to our audience, yeah.
I did tell them to book a ticket before, so hopefully you're all in order and you finished listening to the podcast. So now you can move on to some of our other episodes about what to do here.
This is what happens at the end of the podcast episode, is, yeah, we explain how to listen to another episode, because people who listen to podcasts could never figure out on their own how to listen to another podcast. They accidentally started listening to this and went, “what's happening to my ears?" What is this? People I’ve got voices in my head.
Wait. But I have actually I will admit I have had it happen before where it's randomly gone on to another episode of something and then I've been like, it's finished. And then I'm like, “Wait, what was that? Where did it go?” I have actually done that. I'll be like, Where did it go? But it's obviously podcasts that I follow, so I can eventually find it. But I follow a lot of podcasts.
Sure. Well, there you go. So, just quick information in case it wasn't clear from our ramblings, we have more episodes of podcasts, the Tbilisi podcast, which is what you're listening to if you're not aware. And you can listen to those episodes as well.
If you are listening to us for the first time, or you haven't done so yet.
No one listening for the first time would have made it this fast for an episode about weather, but.
Hit that subscribe button if you haven't done so already. And please remember to rate and review because if you leave a review, five stars, pretty please, that means other people can find this as well. And we just ask you if you like the show, please just share it with people. If you happen to have a conversation with someone at work or a friend who's like, “have you heard of this place called Georgia?” And you're like, “I was listening to a podcast about that other day. I'll share it with you right now.” And so, yeah, just share it with your friends. Share it with anybody who's asking and be like, “Hey, listen to this show. These people tangent, but they'll get to the point eventually.”
Yeah, actually, one other last one, bonus one at the end. It's not really a tangent, but as people may know from listening to other episodes, there's a lot of hot springs in Georgia. So if you're coming in here in the winter, then going out to a spa hotel or even being one of those crazy people who goes to one of the remote, like, remote hot springs that's just in the middle of nature, in the middle of nowhere, and doing that and then getting out in the freezing cold halfway through, why not? Yeah, do it. That'll be fun.
You can come here all year round. There is something for everybody at any time of year. It really is a perfect little country. I love it.
Yeah, I think March, like, personally, although May and September are the best if you want to avoid any tourists and get really amazing photos in Kakheti of the mountains, March.
Nice and clear, yeah.
Like, not every day is going to be clear, so plan like, a couple of weeks to be here, so you've got the time. But, just one of my favorite experiences is just sitting with a nice glass of wine in Kakheti, looking at the mountains all afternoon.
With a fire to the side. Open fire. Yeah, perfect.
All right, that's it for this episode. Thanks again for listening. As we mentioned, podcasts work in a way where you can listen to other episodes, so please feel free to do that. We've got quite a few and we've got lots more coming. And if you're in Georgia at any point and you want to go drink wine with some cool people, then look up Eatthistours.com, and we're going to send you out to some awesome wineries to meet some interesting winemakers.
And we're also starting some wine tasting experiences as well, so keep an eye out.
They'll already have started by the time this podcast comes out, our new wine tasting season has started and you can come to Tbilisi and probably meet me. I'm at most of those and do some crazy wine tasting.
All right, until next time. Have a good one, guys. Thanks for listening to the Tbilisi podcast. Connect with us at tbilisipodcast.com where you can find all relevant social media links, join our email newsletter, and discover more about travel tours and expat services in Georgia. This show was brought to you by Foodfuntravel.com, ExpatHub.GE, and Eatthistours.com