A 5 day Tbilisi to Batumi road trip itinerary across the southern half of Georgia (via Goderdzi Pass), taking you the less direct but definitely more fun way. From high volcanic plateaus to plunging gorges and the lush Adjara Highlands, you’ll travel through some of Georgia’s most unique landscapes, taking in scenic lakes, dramatic cliff top castles, and the sprawling medieval cave city of Vardzia.
Whether you’re overlanding in your own vehicle, or plan on hiring a car or campervan in the country, this itinerary is a great way of linking western and eastern Georgia while exploring lesser visited regions along the way. Although this road trip itinerary starts in Tbilisi and ends in Batumi, it can of course be done in reverse, linking up perfectly with the Sarpi border crossing to/from Turkey for those on a multi-country trip. The route is best tackled in a 4×4 in the summer months, and we’ve included options for wild camping and indoor accommodation each day.
In this guide we cover everything you need to know to plan your Tbilisi to Batumi road trip. We include a detailed daily itinerary, offer an accompanying route map for easy navigation, and lots of practical tips.
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Many of the places in this Tbilisi to Batumi road trip itinerary feature in Part One and Part Four of our Toyota Hilux Expedition Camper Series, and Part Three of our UAZ Buhanka Campervan Series, including Paravani and Tabatskuri Lakes, Tambovka, Abuli Pass, Vardzia, Khertvisi Fortress, Goderdzi Pass, and Glamping Tago. You can see more of Batumi and the surrounding area in our Western Georgia Campervan Series.
We have created a detailed map to accompany this Tbilisi to Batumi itinerary, which can be used online or offline to navigate during your trip and quickly pinpoint all of the places mentioned in this guide. We have marked the driving and hiking routes, plus the key sights, food recommendations, camp spots, and accommodation options for each day of the itinerary. It is the perfect companion to this written guide.
TBILISI TO BATUMI 4X4 ROAD TRIP ITINERARY OUTLINE
|Day 1||Tbilisi → Didgori Battle Memorial → Tsalka → Tabatskuri Lake (Camping or Guesthouse)||163 km
driving time: 3h45m +
|Day 2||Tabatskuri Lake → Abuli Pass → Tambovka → Poka → Ninotsminda (Camping by Paravani Lake or Guesthouse/Hotel Ninotsminda)||119 km
driving time: 4h15m +
|Day 3||Ninotsminda → Khertvisi Fortress → Vardzia (Camping or Guesthouse/Hotel)||63 km
driving time: 1h10m +
|Day 4||Vardzia → Khulo/Glamping Tago (Camping/Glamping or Guesthouse/Hotel)||145 km
driving time: 4h30m +
|Day 5||Khulo/Glamping Tago → Batumi (Hostel/Guesthouse/Hotel/Camping)||80 km
driving time: 2h +
|Day 1||Tbilisi → Didgori Battle Memorial → Tsalka → Tabatskuri Lake (Camping or Guesthouse)||163 km|
DRIVING TIME: 3H45M +
|Day 2||Tabatskuri Lake → Abuli Pass → Tambovka → Poka → Ninotsminda (Camping by Paravani Lake or Guesthouse/Hotel Ninotsminda)||119 km|
DRIVING TIME: 4H15M +
|Day 3||Ninotsminda → Khertvisi Fortress → Vardzia (Camping or Guesthouse/Hotel)||63 km|
DRIVING TIME: 1h10m +
|Day 4||Vardzia → Khulo/Glamping Tago (Camping/Glamping or Guesthouse/Hotel)||145 km|
DRIVING TIME: 4h30m +
|Day 5||Khulo/Glamping Tago → Batumi (Hostel/Guesthouse/Hotel/Camping)||80 km|
DRIVING TIME: 2h +
→ DIDGORI MEMORIAL
→ TABATSKURI LAKE
164 KM | 3H50M +
Leaving the lowlands behind, your Tbilisi to Batumi road trip kicks off with a scenic drive through the mountains, passing through rural communities to wind up at picturesque Tabatskuri Lake backed by the volcanic peaks of the Abul-Samsari Range. The road is paved and in good condition until the final 40 km or so, when you join a dirt track leading over the hills to Tabatskuri. You can camp by the lake, or stay in a local guesthouse.
Head north out of Tbilisi, then west towards Mtskheta (an optional side trip). The road follows the Mtkvari River, tall green mountains rising along the southern side of the valley, lower ochre hued hills lining the northern side. At Saskhori settlement (approx 37 km from Tbilisi), turn left and climb the smooth tarmac road, 1000 metres up into the mountains to the Didgori Battle Memorial. It’s a wonderfully scenic drive.
The memorial itself is more like a sprawling art installation, with upright swords and sculptures scattered across the hillsides around the central monument. It commemorates a victorious battle against the invading Seljuks in 1121. With the road reaching heights of over 1700 m, the weather here can be dramatically different to that in the valley below, atmospheric swirls of mist commonly enveloping the landscape.
Swords surrounding the central monument at the Didgori Battle Memorial
Swords around the central monument
at the Didgori Battle Memorial
From the monument the road works its way down the mountains to the east of Algeti National Park. Turn right when you join the main road, heading through the villages of Manglisi and Algeti. You’ll soon leave the mountainous landscape behind, finding yourself on a wide plateau and heading for the shimmering Tsalka Reservoir and nearby regional town of Tsalka. This is your last chance to get (reliable) fuel until you reach Ninotsminda at the end of Day 2 or start of Day 3, and the best place to stock up on supplies for the next couple of days.
If you fancy stopping for lunch, Pontia is the best option in town, a bustling place by the river with a scattering of outdoor tables nestled in private cubicles. The owners are one of the few remaining ethnic Greek families in the region, and whilst it mostly serves Georgian food you may be able to try moussaka if you call ahead and ask in advance (+995 599 45 74 00). Elena speaks excellent English. Otherwise, the fried fish and mtsvadi are excellent, and it’s very budget friendly.
The final stretch from Tsalka to Tabatskuri Lake is the most exciting part of the day. Leaving the tarmac behind, you’ll cross the beautifully barren slopes of the volcanic Abul-Samsari Range to reach a community that feels a world apart.
From Tsalka, continue west. At Tikilisa village, turn off the main road (which continues south over the Tikmatashi Pass to Lake Paravani), and head northwest through a series of small villages. A dirt and gravel track continues all the way to Tabatskuri Lake, following electricity pylons for part of the way. You’ll emerge at the northeastern corner of the lake, with the main settlement of Tabatskuri jutting out into the water on the western shore opposite. Various tracks lead around the lake to the village and beyond.
The northern part of Tabatskuri Lake, with Tabatskuri village facing towards the Abul-Samsari Range
The northern part of Tabatskuri Lake, with
Tabatskuri village facing towards the
If you plan on camping, we have two suggested spots: the small lakeside forest at the northeastern corner (the most sheltered spot, but popular with locals for picnics), or the secluded (but exposed) area north of Moliti village on the southwestern shore of the lake. The only guesthouses around here are in Tabatskuri village.