Red-roofed, low-rise and higgledy-piggledy, Tbilisi has a distinctly cosmopolitan feel. With a population of about 1.5 million, it is a major economic and cultural centre. Tbilisi is famous for its historical monuments and gorgeous architecture, which include the Sioni Cathedral Church that dates from the 5th century and the ancient Narikhala fortress . Visitors can also take in the local theatre scene. Three of the city's most famous and long-established theatres are situated in Rustaveli Avenue, including the Paliashvili Opera House , founded in 1851.
Batumi is an exotic-looking subtropical city on the Black Sea ( Pontus Euxinus or Hospitable Sea, as it was called 2500 years ago by the descendants of the legendary Argonauts). Palms, cypresses, magnolias, oleanders, lemon and orange trees, thuja and box trees grow flowering and fragrant in this thriving border town. Batumi is an industrial city and an old trading port. It has a variety of entertainment facilities, and a dolphinarium , of which the locals are extremely proud. Nearby are the botanical gardens , which are a genuine highlight. In the far southwest of Georgia, Batumi is a good point of entry if you're coming from Turkey, but mind the border guards if they're stroppy, and don't pay customs a single lari. By air, Batumi is just over an hour from Tbilisi.
Kakheti (also known as Kahetia) is a striking region of rich, fertile soil surrounding the town of Telavi. Consequently, it has become the major vine-growing region of the country. According to locals, this tradition of wine-making stretches back some 8000 years. Today you can see vineyards stretching to the horizon along the Main Kakhetian Highway. A Georgian scholar recently described grape vines as 'the living principle which innervated the economy, daily life, vision and character of the Georgian people.' Kakhetian vine-growers cultivate some two dozen types of grape, and many offer tastings and cellar-door sales. Easily accessible by train or bus, Kakheti is about 50km (30mi) north east of Tbilisi.