In the 2nd century, Telavi was first mentioned as Teleda on the world map Geographike Hyphegesis of the Greek geographer Ptolemy. The name originated from the Georgian word Tela, meaning elm. Under Kwirike the Great and during the 9th century, the city became the capital of the kingdom Kakhati-Hereti. The city developed into an important Georgian trade centre until the 12th century, due to its convenient location near the silk road. King Artshil II. made the city capital of the Kakheti region and built his palace and fortress here.
Tourist Informationphone: +995 350275317address: Erekle II. St. 9
By marshrutkaThere are 3 marshrutka stations:
Main marshrutka stationE.g. for Tsinandali, 8 km east of Telavi, 0.5 lari; taxi: 5 lari. Although Sighnaghi and Telavi are close to each other, there are only 1-2 marshrutkas a day, so check the schedule beforehand. Your best bet in that case would be hitch-hiking instead, which is rather easy along the "highway".
Marshrutkas heading to Alaverdi Monastery
Marshrutkas heading from/to TbilisiFrom Tbilisi, marshrutkas depart more or less hourly (at least 09:00 and 10:00, but there many more throughout the day) from the Ortachalla station (in front of the station). 10 lari, takes up to 2½ hr (especially when by near Sighnaghi and through Gurjaani before heading to Telavi).
By carThere are two options to get to Telavi from Tbilisi. One is highway no. 5 and no. 42 by Gurjaani, about 140 km. The shorter and newer option is highway no. 38, departing shortly after the Tbilisi city border near Vaziani north from highway no. 5, about 70 km. The latter one is via the Gombori Pass and notably shorter, even though not much faster due to the many turns and serpentines. In winter and with snow it is recommended to take the longer route.
The road between Akhmeta and the Georgian Military Highway, via Tianeti, can only be done by 4WD.
The city is small enough to be walkable. However, visiting the neighboring sites requires the use of further marshrutkas and/or taxis.
Whereas seeing one or two sites (e.g., the fortress/palace and nearby Alaverdi Monastery) can be a one-day activity from Tbilisi, it is best to stay several days in Telavi to fully enjoy the surroundings (including Tusheti and Sighnaghi).
Palace of King Erekle IIaddress: 1 Erekle II streetPalace of the ruler of Kakheti Kingdom between 1744 and 1798, and afterwards fortress and seat of Kakheti Kingdom through the centuries. The palace inhabits influences of the nearby neighbour in the south, Persia. Southeast of the palace also the King Erekle II on a horse monument can be found.
900-year-old Plane treeaddress: Chadari street46 m in height, and 36 m in diameter at the top. Likely the oldest living thing you will hug in your life. This tree has an unusually large circumference and in summer provides shade for the local (friendly) street dogs. The local people call it Chadari.
St. George Church
Cholokashvili StreetBeautifully renovated street/old town. Not very busy during low season. The renovation is considered critically by some, because it does often not resemble the original version and many of the buildings behind are left untouched and thus continue to fall apart.
Russian Era Monumentaddress: Kartuli Universiteti St.Here you find the 40-50 m high St. Barbare, which appears to be a monument for the fallen soldiers
Close-by sights that can easily be reach by marshrutka or taxi are Alaverdi Monastery, Ikalto Monastery, Shuamta Monasteries, Tsinandali and even Gremli – see Kakheti.
phone: +995 593 15 27 13address: Nadikvari streetLovely spot with the lower floor café-style and upper floor for dining, and a terrace too. They serve typical Georgian food and foreign dishes too. Reasonably priced and some of the staff speak English.
A good starting point is the shop close to the big Plane tree and the statue in Telavi itself. The staff speaks fluent English, they sell wines from a number of wineries and they have information and prices for different tastings you can do. They can also organize a driver to take you there.
Hostel Ajimeaddress: Eristavi, 19Several guests per room, but no bunk beds. A very rustic feel, with a wood stove for heating. Pretty basic kitchen and bathroom. Good atmosphere, cheerful owner.
Guest House Liliaaddress: Akhvlediani Street 44Very friendly homestay. Modern bathrooms with decent water pressure. The upper floor is just for guests and you can use the kitchen and the balcony there.
phone: +995 350274144address: Alazanis Gamziri 74Two hotels with the same owner, closeby each other.
phone: +995 595500155address: Alazani Avenue 75
phone: +995 570506030address: I. Chavchavadze Str. 154The Rcheuli chain offers decent mid-range hotels including restaurant in many Georgian cities.
phone: +995 790557045address: KisiskheviA modern winery including a small and up-scale hotel. Contact details see kitchen sub-site.
address: Erekle II. St. 12
- Several medical clinics, some specialized, can be found on southern hillside of the city, nearby the university.
- Sighnaghi – A restored wine town with an extensive wall and close-by the popular Monastery of St. George at Bodbe (aka Bodbe Convent).
- Gurjaani – One of the centres of Georgia's wine industry. Landmarks include the Church of the Dormition aka Church of All Saints (Kvelatsminda; 8th-9th century).
- Tusheti National Park – A mysterious, remote region high in the mountains bordering Chechnya with ancient pagan and Christian monuments; to go here is to wander back in time hundreds of years. Famous for its historic towers.
- Pankisi Gorge – The gorge is now safe and still home to many Chechen refugees–probably the safest place in the world to experience Chechen culture.
- Lagodekhi – A pretty boarder town (next to Azerbaijan) and a nearby nature reserve with subtropical forests.
Also, see Kakheti for more details.