How to Travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi

One of the best day trips from Tbilisi, according to the Lonely Planet, if not the best one, is a trip to the incredible David Gareja Monastery. The complex of David Gareja (also transliterated as Davit Gareja, Davit Gereja or David Gereji – uf!) is just about one hour from Tbilisi, and I agree it’s not to be missed (at the end of this post you’ll see how to travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi).

Davit Gareja was built in the 6th Century by Assyrian Priests sent to strengthen Christianity in Georgia. The complex consists of 13 monasteries spread out in the hills of this semi-desert area around what is today the border between Georgia and Azerbaijan.

How to Travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi

I travelled there on Georgian Independence day, so the minibus that’s normally available at Tbilisi’s Pushkin Square, next to Liberty Square, was not running. Luckily there was a random driver looking for tourists and I joined two other travellers from Prague, and off we went. After a tense drive among mountains – I always get nervous when I put my life in the hands of a driver in the Caucasus – villages and lots of cattle on the road, we arrived at our destination.

How to Travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi How to Travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi

The first part of the monastery is called Lavra, the only inhabited part of the complex with its church, small monasteries and the monks’ living quarters. The buildings seem to naturally blend with the landscape, with dwellings carved in the rock, reminding me of Vardzia and Cappadocia.

How to Travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi

Since the gates were shut, I couldn’t get into the courtyard. So I started my climb to the other part of the complex.

How to Travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi

How to Travel to David Gareja from TbilisiAfter 10-15 minutes’ climb, passing by a tiny church with three army men standing around, and continued my walk, following the metal railings that designates the Georgian-Azerbaijan border. If you’re not going to Azerbaijan, you can at least say you’ve set foot in their territory! 🙂

How to Travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi

It’s a very pleasant climb, with a stunning scenery of green rolling hills on the Azerbaijani side. In other parts of the year, it’s all very dry, an actual semi-desert with mountains displaying different shades of orange, brown and red colours.

How to Travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi

Just to let you know, if you use the links on the blog to book any item for your trip, I will receive a small commission. YOU WON'T PAY A PENNY EXTRA, but you will be helping the blog a lot - thanks for that!


BOOK YOUR HOTEL || TICKETS FOR TOURS & ATTRACTIONS
BOOK CAR TRANSFERS || BOOK CHEAP FLIGHTS

When I arrived at part of the monastery called Udabno, which is in fact in Azeri territory, I was quite releived for not stepping on any poisonous vipers. But as you can see on the picture above, by The Aloof, there are some and you should be careful.

How to Travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi

The cave monasteries at Udabno are impressive. They are covered in thousand year old religious paintings.  At some point, the Georgian school of frescoes flourished in Davit Gareja, and the caves here are a great example.

How to Travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi How to Travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi

Some of the paintings are incredibly well preserved. I stayed in the area for about one hour, exploring the different caves and contemplating the views.

How to Travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi

BORDER DISPUTE WITH AZERBAIJAN

Udabno is, in fact, in Azerbaijan. Despite the army men guarding the borders, you can jump to either side of the railings as you please; but this is a disputed area between both countries. Azerbaijan says this area used to be historically important for the country. Georgia argues their point, that this has always been Georgian territory.

How to Travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi

Despite it all, there’s no fight between the countries and everything is peaceful – unlike the Azeri-Armenian situation.

How to Travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi

HOW TO TRAVEL TO DAVID GAREJA FROM TBILISI

Getting to David Gareja used to implicate private taxi ride from Tbilisi or a trip to Sagarejo with a taxi connection to the monasteries.

How to Travel to David Gareja from Tbilisi

Now it’s possible to get to David Gareja by mini-bus, which departs from Liberty Square. Just go to the Tourist Information kiosk and they will help you. The Gareji Line bus departs at 11am daily, costs 25GEL per person and the journey takes just over one hour.

So, what did you think of Davit Gareja? Leave your comments below! 🙂

(Visited 11,542 times, 1 visits today)

18 Responses

  1. How to Travel to Abkhazia from Georgia & Russia – Travel with Pedro

    […] Like us on Facebook. Follow Travel with Pedro on Twitter. Follow Travel with Pedro on Instagram. Join Travel with Pedro on Google+. Follow Travel with Pedro on Pinterest.   Other Posts: – Travelling on the Georgian Military Highway – What to Do in Tbilisi in 2 Days – Part 1 – Welcome to the Republic of Georgia! – The Impressive Cave Monasteries of Davit Gareji, Georgia […]

    Reply
  2. Erika

    One of the things I love about reading travel blogs, is finding out about places I’d never heard of (and I pride myself in knowing about a lot of places!) This is certainly one of those destinations that I’ve added to my list. Thanks for the informative post! Would love to visit Georgia someday.
    Erika recently posted…Driving around TahitiMy Profile

    Reply
    • Pedro (The Author)

      Hi Erika! Thank you for your message! Georgia is one of those places you can’t help but fall for it. The good thing (for us tourists, not for them), is that the country is now cheaper than ever, since their currency was devalued by around 30%. I’m preparing a few more posts about the country, so feel free to come back – I’ll be happy to help with some tips, as well.

      Cheers!

      Reply
  3. Shaniz

    Hey Pedro! This place is awesome and you captured it very well. You mentioned that David Gareja is being disputed, can I still walk around without any issues? I’m a female solo traveler and plans to go there this October (although you did mention also that it’s peaceful there). I guess my actual worry is finding an actual clear ground where I can stand on 2 continents at the same time (Asia and Europe each foot) and tick off one item on my bucket list.

    But seriously, even if you say it’s not possible, I’ll still go to this place. Thanks to you! Very lovely place!

    Reply
    • Pedro (The Author)

      Hi Shaniz, although it’s a disputed area, you wouldn’t even know it by visiting it. It’s a very popular tourist attraction, so you won’t have any problem going there. Now, officially, Georgia and Azerbaijan are in the same continent (Europe or Eurasia, however you prefer to see it). So one foot in each continent may not work there, but one in each country would be the result.

      Have fun!

      Reply
  4. Ida

    Hi Pedro, love your website – really informative and your photos are great!
    I’m thinking about going to Tbilisi in May and really just have 3 days. I’m thinking of doing one day trip whilst I’m there as I would like to spend more time walking and exploring Tbilisi Old Town. Would you recommend the David Gareja monastery or the Kazbegi/Military Highway?

    Reply
    • Pedro Richardson

      Hi Ida! That’s a hard one. If you’re up for a bit of a steep walk, I’d say go to Kazbegi. The scenery from Tbilisi till there is really beautiful and the hike up to the church, although difficult, is really worth it. That’d be my first option. David Gareja is really beautiful, and if you want a less demanding walk, that’s the one for you.

      Reply
  5. yngellie

    Hi, Is it safe to travel there? do you suggest taxi or mini bus? thanks

    Reply
  6. jon

    Hi Pedro, glad I found the website as it’s full of great information on places I intend to visit. Does the 25GEL fee to Davit Garega include the return trip? Or is it one way only?

    Thanks,

    Jon

    Reply
  7. Fernando

    Hi Pedro!
    I just found your blog site by chance and I found it inspiring and full of valuable information!
    I am heading to Georgia in two weeks and I am planning to make a day trip to Davit Gareja. You mention that there is a minibus leaving from Tbilisi at 11am daily. At what time does it return from Davit Gareja?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Pedro

      Hi Fernando, if I’m not mistaken, it returns about 3pm, so you should leave a full day for this trip. Unless you go by private taxi.

      Reply
  8. SEBASTIAN

    Hi Pedro, thanks for your information regarding David Gareji

    One quick question to ask:
    1) how long do I need to spend in David GAREJI totally including the visit to Udabno?
    2) Do u think it will be safe to visit Udabno since it s found under different country?

    3) at what time is the last bus to return to Tbilisi from David GAREJI?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge