Mtskheta is a fantastic and easy day-trip from Tbilisi, and Jvari Monastery is one of its premier attractions. Hiking up to the hilltop church is an especially fun and rewarding way to experience it. Unfortunately, the route isn’t terribly well-marked. But it is easy, once you know where to look!
First, head out the “back” (east) of Mtskheta toward the police station (A). Continue on to the river, then turn left and follow the waterfront road/path for about 3/4 a kilometer.
This walking bridge is your ticket across the river (B). It has a sort of gate, but it shouldn’t be locked.
Our destination, as seen from the Aragvi River.
Climbing up out of the river basin, we reach the highway. It’s got a big divider and a fair amount of traffic, though. Turn right instead and head for the underpass. (The off-road to the right heads to an empty lot next to a restaurant, so it’s a viable alternative to walking the road shoulder. But beware of stray dogs!)
The underpass isn’t visible from this side of the road. After about 2/3 a kilometer of walking, we reach this industrial site (C). Turn in here and follow the curving road down and to the right.
The underpass appears, just past the mountain of horse skulls!
Almost completely murderer-free. Lots of puddles, though.
This next part is a little confusing when using Google Maps as a guide. On the east side of the underpass, the road turns left (right in this picture). This is where the trucks turn to get onto the highway. Don’t turn here.
A less-used road/path continues forward and branches to the left or continues straight. Take the left (D).
Bonus: Google Maps version
We accidentally went straight instead, and wound up in this impassible mud morass. Doubling back is no fun, learn from our mistake.
This route hugs the edge of a big field. As long as the grass mostly stays on our left and the bushes on the right, we’re golden. Oh, and keep an eye out for snakes.
Eventually the path turns into the bushes and trees, and starts uphill (E).
The route was pretty muddy when we visited, but it’s hardly a challenge. The blooming wildflowers made the seasonal muck worth the truck.
It continues to get woodier and more trail-like the closer to the top we get.
And just like that, we’ve reached the summit. The trail turns into tire ruts and meets with the freshly-paved road most people take here. But where’s the fun in that?
The trail is less visible from the road. When it’s time to go back down, take a left at this road sign and follow the tire tracks until they descend into forest.
Welcome to Jvari Monastery. Enjoy the views!
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