Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia - The Edge of Europe

Europe’s wild frontier, the Caucasus region occupies an unusual geographical and cultural position. It interweaves elements of Russia, Persia, the Ottoman Empire and Central Asia. This comprehensive tour visits Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, formerly tucked away within the Soviet Union but now easily accessible to the curious traveller.

The highlights here are diverse. We start in Azerbaijan and explore its unique geological phenomena, the flaming mountains and bubbling mud volcanoes, which have given rise to the nickname ‘land of fire’. We explore unique communities and historic towns packed full of ancient mosques and mausoleums, where the past never seems too far away.

Moving into Georgia we head into the High Caucasus Mountains, visiting the mythical Mount Kazbek, reputedly the site of the Greek fable to Prometheus. We then move on to Mtskheta, the spiritual heart of the country with some stunning UNESCO listed monuments.

Heading west we stop at Kutaisi renowned for its striking religious buildings. We then return once again to the mountains and the wild and untamed land of Svaneti, one of Europe’s most isolated and traditional areas with unique villages and towering summits. Here we meet the Svan people to learn about their unique way of life and enjoy some of Europe’s finest scenery.

Armenia offers ancient monasteries that date back to the emergence of Christendom. In Dilijan we wander around the old centre and meet the Molokan people, one of Europe’s smallest, but most traditional ethnic groups. We discover the stunning churches of Echmiadzin and visit Kurdish and Yazidi villages. Here lifestyles have changed little for centuries and we uncover the rich cultural heritage of this complex but fascinating part of the world.

At the dramatically located monastery of Geghard we see ancient religious treasures. And in the area around Garni we spend time in a local village as guests of a family, where we are treated to a typical Armenian meal in a traditional setting.

Uncover the secrets of a truly enchanting corner of Europe.

Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia - The Edge of Europe


  • The mud volcanoes of Gobustan
  • The scenery of the High Caucasus
  • Explore the region of Svaneti
  • Explore Tbilisi’s old quarter
  • Traditional village cultures
  • Experience typical Georgian hospitality

Day 1 - Baku

Arrive in Baku and transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight Central Park Hotel or similar.


Baku is a city with a split personality. Sitting on the edge of the Caspian Sea its fortunes have long been tied with the discovery of oil, and in the early 19th century the city provided half of the world’s petroleum. This boom led to a massive programme of construction, and in the streets of Baku today the visitor can find grand mansions and elaborate religious buildings harking back to the days of the ‘oil barons’.

Today this continues, with Baku in the midst of transforming itself into a city of the future – glittering glass faced buildings sprout up in the centre, their designs modern and brash, and some call Baku the ‘Dubai of the Caucasus’. Look beyond this though and you will find a much older city in the Icheri Sheher, the traditional quarter characterised by winding alleys and hidden mosques, bounded by robust city walls.

It is here that you will find some of Baku’s most interesting monuments including the enigmatic Maiden’s Tower, which features on just about every piece of tourist literature about Baku – stretching almost 30 metres into the sky its origins are unclear but have given rise to many theories. The Shirvanshahs’ Palace dates back to the 15th century, a large walled complex of domed roofs and quiet mausoleums that was the seat of rule in centuries past, while outside old caravanserais attest to the importance of Baku on the old Silk Road.

One of the few cities in the region to have escaped the predations of the Mongols, Baku is a fascinating juxtaposition of ancient and ultra-modern, reinventing itself but not forgetting its heritage.

Day 2 - Gobustan - Absheron Peninsula

Head out of Baku to Gobustan, known for its prehistoric rock art and unique mud volcanoes. From here, continue to the fascinating Absheron Peninsula with its ‘flaming mountain’, Yanardag, and the Temple of the Fire Worshippers at Ateshgah. Return to Baku for the evening. Overnight Central Park Hotel or similar. (B)

Absheron Peninsula

Jutting out into the Caspian Sea, the Absheron Peninsula is home to some of the country’s finest sights, all within a day trip from Baku. One of the most unusual is the ‘flaming mountain’ of Yanardag, another of Azerbaijan’s bizarre geological features where natural gas seeps from the rock, accidentally ignited in the 1950s and burning to this day. At Ateshgah, the ‘temple of the fire-worshippers’ surrounds an eternal flame, another reminder of why this country is often called the Land of Fire. In Mardakan a fine medieval fortress stands, dating back to the 12th century and part of the defensive system of the peninsula, while all around the area smaller shrines, caravanserais and palaces attest to a rich history.


Gobustan is known for two very different things. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the rocky landscape holds a number of rather impressive petroglyphs depicting warriors, boats, camel caravans and battles dating back between several thousand years, as well as the remains of settlements and ancient burial sites. Equally impressive though are the mud volcanoes – there are almost four hundred here, which represent about half of the world’s total. Gases bubble up through the mud and belch their way to the surface, and every few years flames erupt from the earth. This is a rather otherworldly place and a real pleasure to explore.

Day 3 - Baku

Spend today exploring Baku. We visit the National Museum and the historic quarter with buildings dating back to the 14th century including ancient caravanserais, mosques, the Palace of the Shirvanshahs and the enigmatic and mysterious Maiden’s Tower, among other sights. In the early evening, we visit the Hedar Aliyev Centre – a Zaha Hadid masterpiece. Overnight Central Park Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 4 - Guba – Xinaliq

Head north to the town of Guba. On the way we stop at the mountain of Beshbarmag, a natural fortress that is a local site for pilgrimage. From here we continue to the traditional mountain village of Xinaliq, to explore the area on foot and have lunch at a local family home. Nestled in the Caucasus Mountains, Xinaliq is Azerbaijan’s highest mountain village and its remote location and stunning scenery is a real highlight of the trip. Return to Guba for the evening. Overnight Terrace Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 5 - Shamakha – Lahic - Qabala

Continue to Shamakha, visiting the 13th century mausoleum of Diri Baba in the village of Maraza en route. At Shamakha we visit the historic mosque, the seven tombed mausoleum of Yeddi Gumbaz, and the graveyard of the Shirvanshahs. From here we drive to the traditional village of Lahic with its old mosques, cobbled streets and craftsmen, and then continue to Qabala for the evening. Overnight Qabala Karavansarai or similar. (B)


One of the oldest towns in Azerbaijan, Shamakha was once the regional capital and a major centre for trade and commerce. It was the base and key city of the Shirvanshahs – the rulers of the area – from the 7th to 16th centuries with a mixed ethnic population of Persians, Azeris, Armenians and Georgians, but was finally annexed by Russia in the early 19th century. During its existence it has suffered numerous earthquakes with many buildings having been destroyed, and in previous times was famous for its traditional dancers.

Day 6 - Shekhi - Kish

Drive to Shekhi, one of the most interesting towns in Azerbaijan. After some free time to wander around at leisure, we visit the medieval fortress and the Khan’s Palace with its elaborate decorations, before heading to the nearby village of Kish, site of the oldest church in the Caucasus. Overnight Shekhi Palace Hotel or similar. (B)


One of the most historic towns in Azerbaijan, Shekhi lies on the forested slopes of the Caucasus Mountains amongst spectacular scenery. A centre of resistance against the Persians in the 18th century, it broke free to become its own khanate, and today its most impressive attraction if the Khan’s Palace with its attractive garden and colourfully decorated exterior. The building was constructed without the use of a single nail and is one of the most attractive monuments dating back to this era.

Not to be missed are the caravanserais – only three remain out of an original five but their state of preservation means that it is not difficult to envisage life here hundreds of years ago. Sheki also holds a number of museums and old mosques within its historic centre, and not far from the town lies the Albanian church at Kish, reputed to be 1500 years old.

Day 7 - Shekhi – Tbilisi

We visit the bazaar in the morning for an insight into local life and then continue to the border with Georgia and onwards to Tbilisi, stopping at the charming hilltop town of Sighnaghi en route. Overnight Sharden Hotel or similar. (B)


Georgia’s rather charming capital is a bewildering combination of cultural influences, from Soviet Russia to ancient Persia and Ottoman Turkey, but despite being located between these three giants it has managed to carve out a unique identity for itself. Straddling the Mtkvari River Tbilisi – formerly known as Tiflis by the Russians – has a rather easy going air, with wide boulevards and public squares where old men play board games under the shade of trees, and is a very pleasant place to explore on foot.

Georgia’s Christian heritage is evident here and the city is home to a number of fine churches and cathedrals, one of the most impressive of which is the Sioni cathedral dating back to the 13th century. As well as these, a stroll around central Tbilisi will bring you to old caravanserais and bathhouses, synagogues and mosques – Tbilisi is more cosmopolitan than one might think. The city is also home to some excellent museums – the National Museum in particular holds some exquisite examples of early gold jewellery which give credence to the theory that Georgia was the original ‘Land of the Golden Fleece’.

Day 8 - Mtskheta – Kazbegi - Gudauri

Drive to Mtskheta, Georgia’s ancient capital where we visit the UNESCO listed Jvari Monastery and the striking Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. From here we head north along the Georgian Military Highway, crossing the Jvari Pass en route to Kazbegi, surrounded by the High Caucasus Mountains. Hike to the picturesque Sameba Church with views of Mt Kazbek in the background, then drive to Gudauri for the night. Overnight Hotel Alpina or similar. (BD)

Please note – there is the option to travel up to the Sameba Church by vehicle if you’d prefer not to do the hike.

Day 9 - Gori – Uplistiskhe – Kutaisi

Returning to the lowlands we visit Gori, the birthplace of Stalin, and the cave city of Uplistsikhe, dating back to the 7th century BC. Arriving in Kutaisi we visit the UNESCO listed Gelati Monastery, founded in the 12th century, and the Bagrati Cathedral. Overnight Argo Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 10 - Svaneti

Drive to the almost mythical region of Svaneti, high in the Caucasus Mountains and home to the Svans, perhaps Georgia’s most traditional ethnic group. We head to the town of Mestia, known for its typical architecture and dominated by defensive stone towers. Overnight Hotel Ushba or similar. (BD)


The remote region of Svaneti, high up in the Caucasus Mountains, is a throwback to a bygone age when this was a truly wild frontier of Europe. Populated by the Svan people, the medieval style villages here consist of stone built houses clustered around imposing watchtowers, most of which are between 800 to 1000 years old and served as a look out post to warn of potential invaders.

The Svan people make up a distinct ethnic group and have always been fiercely protective of their independence, functioning as a de facto autonomous state in the days before Soviet rule. They have their own complex set of traditions and customs, and in the past have been known as an aggressive and hostile group, suspicious of outsiders and renowned as warriors. Many of the churches in the region hold fine frescoes but the Svan are more traditional than the Georgians of the lowlands, and in places you can still find evidence of earlier, non-Christian beliefs. As Svaneti was never conquered by the Mongols during their rampage through this region, Svaneti became a repository for many of Georgia’s religious artefacts.

The scenery here is truly stunning, as you might expect from Europe’s highest mountain range, with snow capped peaks ranging up to 5000 metres, forests and gushing rivers, and offers excellent opportunities for hiking. Both the landscape and the cultural traditions have led to Svaneti being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Svaneti is also home to Europe’s highest permanently inhabited village Ushguli, situated at 1800m and with great views of the mighty Mt Shkhara, at 5201 metres the highest peak in Georgia. This is a rather magical place, full of the traditions of yesteryear and the hospitable ways of the Svans make this an experience you are unlikely to forget.

Day 11 - Svaneti

A full day exploring this stunning region. Drive to the village of Ushguli with its medieval buildings, watchtowers and the Lamaria church, and with a backdrop of Mt Shkhara, Georgia’s highest mountain. We explore the landscape on foot, taking easy walks nearby and also visit a local house to learn more about the unique customs of the Svan people. Return to Mestia for the night. Overnight Hotel Ushba or similar. (BD)

Day 12 - Tbilisi

Return to Tbilisi, arriving early evening. Overnight Sharden Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 13 - Tbilisi

Explore this interesting city and learn about its long and fascinating history. Visit the old town, the Metekhi Temple and the fortress of Narikala before heading to the impressive National Museum with its rich collection of cultural artefacts. We also explore the 11th century Sioni Cathedral and take in the sights of Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi’s main thoroughfare. Overnight Sharden Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 14 - Yerevan

Transfer to the border with Armenia, and from here continue to Yerevan. On the way we stop at Haghpat monastery – dating back to the 10th century and a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site – and the Armenian Alphabet Monument. Overnight Hotel Imperial Palace or similar. (B)


The monastery of Haghpat was constructed around the 10th century and is a delightful place to explore – a collection of buildings including a library, mausoleums and separate chapels complement the main church as well as an impressive bell tower. Overgrown with grass, the grounds surrounding it contain numerous examples of khachkars, a unique Armenian carving of a cross with intricate patterns.


Yerevan is one of the most attractive cities of the former Soviet Union, with a wide array of interesting monuments and an easy-going air that rewards casual exploration. There has been a settlement here since the 8th century BC, but it only became the capital of Armenia in the early twentieth century, when the country itself was subsumed into the Soviet Union.

Yerevan is characterised by broad avenues and some of the best Soviet architecture to be found anywhere, as well as old mansions, enormous public squares and numerous statues of locally famous figures. It’s difficult to miss the enormous sculpture of ‘Mother Armenia’ reaching 34 metres into the sky, which replaces the previous statue of Stalin. The cathedral of St Gregory the Illuminator was built with money from the enormous Armenian diaspora to celebrate 1,700 years of Christianity in Armenia.

It’s a surprisingly cosmopolitan city, perhaps a result of the large Armenian diaspora who return to the motherland to visit relatives, and the area around the Opera House is particularly lively. Yerevan is home to a number of good museums, including the Matendaran, devoted to ancient manuscripts and far more interesting than it may sound. The Genocide Museum gives the visitor an opportunity to understand the difficult and turbulent recent history of the Armenian people – not always an easy place to visit it is crucial in gaining an insight into current Armenian culture.

Day 15 - Yerevan

Spend today exploring the charming city of Yerevan. We visit some of its key sites including Republic Square – the city’s most striking public space flanked by impressive buildings, the Matenadaran museum of ancient manuscripts, one of Yerevan’s most interesting and unique sights, and the Genocide Museum for an insight into Armenia’s recent history.

We have lunch at Aguletsi’s house-museum, a famous ethnographer and painter who preserves Armenian culture and traditions, as well as dinner in a local home. Overnight Hotel Imperial Palace or similar. (BLD)

Day 16 - Khor Virap – Noravank

After breakfast drive to the monastery of Khor Virap, in a dramatic location with Mt Ararat in Turkey in the background. We explore the monastery, where it is claimed St Gregory was imprisoned for 13 years, then head to Noravank monastery, situated at the edge of the red rocks of Gnishik Gorge. We visit the oldest cave winery in Armenia and then take lunch in a local restaurant where we will also have a wine tasting. Later return to Yerevan. Overnight Hotel Imperial Palace or similar. (BL)

Day 17 - Sevan – Dilijan – Haghpat

This morning drive to the stunning Lake Sevan, a beautiful spot with the pretty Sevanavank monastery on its shores. From here continue to the town of Dilijan with its well preserved historic centre. Nearby live one of Armenia’s ethnic minorities, the Molokans, and we explore their villages for an insight into a rather unique culture. We spend the night in either Dilijan or nearby Dzoraget. Overnight Hotel Avan or similar. (BLD)


Dilijan is a charming little town, in Soviet times a health resort and surrounded by woods in the Dilijan National Park. It is known for its well-preserved old houses, with elaborate wooden carved balconies overhanging the streets. Part of the town has been preserved and maintained as a historic centre, giving a great glimpse of what much of the region used to look like.

The Molokans

Molokans (in Russian they are called ‘Milk drinkers’) are Christian sectarians, the descendants of Russian peasants who refused to obey the rules of the Russian Orthodox church at the end of the 17th century. They call themselves ‘true spiritual Christians’ and were exiled to Armenia in the 19th century, basing themselves here from that point. Keeping more or less the same lifestyle since then they live in harmony with Armenian people, and there are just a small number of Molokan villages in Armenia – and not many more elsewhere in the world.

Day 18 - Echmiadzin – Zvartnots – Yerevan

We head back to Yerevan, stopping en route to visit a community of Yazidi people with their distinct customs and culture – another hidden side to Armenia. This afternoon we visit the complex of churches at Echmiadzin – a rather stunning ensemble – and the ruins of the temple of Zvartnots, before ending up in Yerevan for the night. Overnight Hotel Imperial Palace or similar. (BL)


Often described as Armenia’s answer to the Vatican, the collection of churches and monasteries at Echmiadzin are the centre of Armenian Christianity. With some dating back as far as the 5th century this cluster of buildings have immense significance for the culture and heritage of the country and hold a number of relics, including the spear that reputedly pierced Christ on the cross. The area surrounding them contains some excellent examples of khachkars, the uniquely Armenian carved stone crosses. They are still used today for worship and ceremonies and you may be lucky enough to witness a wedding or christening taking place.

Day 19 - Geghard – Garni - Yerevan

Drive to the monastery of Geghard, another of Armenia’s UNESCO sites and a fascinating place to explore. We then continue to the pagan temple of Garni, very different from other monuments here and perched on the edge of a gorge. We descend by 4wd into the gorge then drive to a local village, where we have lunch in a village house and can learn about Armenian cuisine as we watch and help (if you choose) the meal preparation. Before arriving back in Yerevan, we stop at a brandy distillery to taste one of Armenia’s most famous products.  Overnight Hotel Imperial Palace or similar. (BLD)


Geghard means ‘spear’, and this church set in a narrow gorge is reputed to have once contained the spear, which pierced the side of Christ on the cross; the spear now lies in the treasury at Echmiadzin. Built up against a cliff face, the main cathedral was constructed in 1215, but the first monastery on the site is thought to date from the 4th century AD. The monastery is decorated with reliefs depicting animals, crosses and geometrical shapes.

Day 20 - Yerevan

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B)

Please note that this trip is a three week tour travelling overland through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia and so while some people will be starting their tour in Baku and travelling for the entire three weeks, others will be starting their trip in Tbilisi or Yerevan and/or ending in Baku or Tbilisi.

Zvartnots temple - Armenia tours
Gobustan mud volcanoes - Azerbaijan tours
Kazbegi church - Georgia Caucasus tour

What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers.

    Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

  • Guides

    In most cases you will be accompanied by one guide from start to finish. However there may be occasions when this is not practical, for example if your trip covers a number of different countries. In these cases it often makes more sense to include different guides for each place, to take advantage of their specific knowledge of the destination.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again.

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as Travcour can assist.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel Insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.


All travellers will require a visa to enter Azerbaijan, which must be obtained before travel. Should you require an invitation letter or an E-Visa, we can provide these for you. If you’d like us to arrange your E-Visa, the cost is £50.00.

Americans, Australians and most European nationalities, including British citizens, no longer require a visa to enter Georgia.

Most European nationalities, including British citizens, no longer require a visa to enter Armenia. For Americans and Australians, the visa is currently obtainable upon arrival and costs 3,000 AMD (about £5).

Visa regulations can change however and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy for the most up to date information.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. However, there are no compulsory vaccinations needed to enter either country. For more advice on vaccinations you can also visit


It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover, which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company.

From 1 June 2024, the Georgian authorities have also made it compulsory to obtain travel insurance when travelling there, and you may be asked for proof of this upon arrival.


The local currency in Azerbaijan is the manat. Georgia’s currency is the lari, and in Armenia it’s the dram. It’s unlikely you will be able to obtain these from your local exchange bureau. We recommend taking either US dollars or Euros to exchange – British pounds will be much harder to change.

Changing money is fairly simple – many hotels will offer this service and there are also banks and exchange bureaus in larger towns. Your guide will be able to advise of the best option. In the capital cities there are also ATMs, which accept foreign cards, although don’t count on these always working. Credit cards are not used as widely here as they are in other European countries, so you should only think of this as a back up rather than the main source of obtaining money.

Local conditions

When travelling in countries such as these, which are comparatively underdeveloped in places, it’s important to understand that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and thank you for your patience.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing there are no warnings against travel to the parts of Georgia, Armenia or Azerbaijan that we visit.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Please note that the information contained above is highly susceptible to change, and while we endeavour to keep up to date we recommend that you use this as a guide only. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Updated May 2024

Zvartnots temple - Armenia tours
Gobustan mud volcanoes - Azerbaijan tours
Kazbegi church - Georgia Caucasus tour
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