If you're looking to get your kicks with some extreme sports, Georgia's capital is calling. Tbilisi's location among soaring mountains, lush landscapes and gushing rivers doesn't just paint a pretty picture – it turns the city into one of the best places in the world for adrenaline junkies.
Nestled against the mighty Caucasus Mountains, Tbilisi's dramatic scenery provides the perfect setup for all manner of activities. Whether you prefer climbing mountains, paragliding through valleys or whizzing past peaks in a hot-air balloon, there's no excuse for a lazy day in this city.
Ride the waves
If tackling a wild river is your favorite way to spend an afternoon, make a splash with Adventure Club Jomardi, the pioneers of whitewater rafting in Georgia. Rafting season runs from the end of April through mid-October, with qualified instructors accompanying every boat as it makes its way down the rushing Rioni River. A two-day trip includes an overnight stay in the town of Ambrolauri, known for its production of Khvanchkara wine, a delectable semi-sweet red, before returning via Kumistavi Cave.
Break out your hiking boots
After a solid night's rest at our Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel, Tbilisi, embark early on a day trip to Mount Kazbek in the north of the country. Named for the perpetually glacial summit – its Georgian name, Mkinvartsveri, means Ice Mountain – Mount Kazbek can be a strenuous hike. Take the trail's steeper shortcuts to reach the isolated, 14th-century Gergeti Trinity Church at 7,100 feet up, where sweeping views of snowcapped peaks amid rolling hills will be your reward. Descend along sharp drops via the ridge route, or, if time permits, climb to the glacial crux of the mountain. The latter climb requires a guide, but the chance of spotting Mount Ararat from the summit makes the challenge worthwhile.
Take to the air
Fly in tandem with expert paraglider Irakli Kapanadze near the Tbilisi Sea, an ideal location for beginners with abundant space to launch and land. A passionate paragliding advocate, Kapanadze also organizes festivals to promote the extreme sport, where groups of experienced pilots who crave a little competition may soar with Irakli as well.
Let someone else take the flight controls with Vanilla Sky, where all you have to do is sit back and relax. Their aircraft can carry one, three or six passengers across the Georgian landscape, touring the fertile Kakheti wine region, zipping over the Caucasus glaciers and then heading west to the Black Sea to watch the sun set – all in the same day. Wherever you'd like to go in Georgia, Vanilla Sky will whisk you there. Depart on a sightseeing tour from Tbilisi, or take multiple express flights between cities to suit your schedule.
Float away with Sky Travel for a first-hand look at this playground for hot-air balloonists. Tbilisi's mountainous region creates remarkable air currents that make each flight incomparable to the next. Let the wind whirl you past panoramic views of rugged bluffs before you descend into a lush green clearing. Aim for a hot-air balloon ride at sunrise or sunset, and put the camera away – there's no way it can do these views justice.