Visit Guide to Vardzia Monastery Caves

Vardzia is a 12th century cave monastery, located four hours by car from Tbilisi in the region of Samtskhe-Javakheti. On the prospective list for UNESCO’s World Culture Heritage, Vardzia is a spectacular site of open caves that are free to explore. The caves offer incredible views, while the nearby restaurant, situated by the river, gives a chance to taste the cuisine of Samtskhe-Javakheti.

Getting There

The 200km from Tbilisi can be travelled by private car, in a taxi, or by minibus via a transfer in the town of Akhaltsikhe.

What to Expect

With over 240 accessible rooms, Vardzia cave monastery stretches along the cliff above the Kura river for some 500 metres. Explore the remains of several chapels, wine cellars with buried amphora, a pharmacy, a still-dripping, curative natural spring pool, and the Church of Dormition, famous for its frescoes. Take a guided or audio tour, or carefully walk and climb through the caves yourself.


While the Vardzia cave complex dates back to the 12th century, excavations have found evidence of Bronze Age civilisation in the area.

In the Golden Age (1100s) under Queen Tamar, the Church of the Dormition was built and decorated. Vardzia was abandoned after the 16th century Ottoman takeover.

Facilities Available

  • Entrance fee: 15 GEL
  • English-speaking guide: 45 GEL
  • Audioguide rental: 15 GEL
  • Transport up to the first cave: 2 GEL
  • Restaurant and hotel