Ornamental ceiling of Borujerdi Historical House in Kashan, Iran

Tbilisi to Isfahan

14 days
from
£2,449
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Traveller ratings
5 / 5 from 2 reviews >
Trip code: 
AXO
Way to Travel:
Guided Group Adventure Holidays
Activity:
Culture & Discovery Holidays
Min age:
16
Group size:
6–16

A fascinating cultural journey through the Caucasus region and Iran

An epic two week journey taking in the very best of Georgia, Armenia and Iran. This combination gives the opportunity to explore three distinctly different cultures with their own traditions and ancient history: Georgia with untouched nature, the Caucasus Mountains, hundreds of monasteries and a long history of wine making; Armenia with its ancient churches and proud cultural identity and Iran offers a taste of exotic Persia with stunning tiled mosques, teahouses, bazaars, deserts and oases.

Highlights

  • UNESCO churches and fortresses in Georgia
  • See Mount Ararat towering over Yerevan
  • Discover lesser known Trabiz, gateway to northern Iran
  • Isfahan, the old capital and the 'Jewel of Islamic Iran'
  • Qom, Iran's holiest city

Key information

  • 13 nights hotels, 1 night sleeper train
  • Normally 6 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by private minibus and sleeper train

What's included

  • 12 breakfasts and 3 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • Transfers for group flights

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visa & Vaccinations
  • Single supplements

 

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Fly to Tbilisi; transfer to city centre

    Arrive late evening into the Georgian capital. Transfer to our city centre hotel. Due to the late arrival of the group flight, our briefing will take place on day 2. 

    Hotel Tiflis or similar

  • Day 2

    Morning city tour of Tbilisi; free afternoon.

    After our briefing, we enjoy a morning walking tour of Tbilisi's historic centre including, Metekhi Church and the famous Sulfer Baths. We also take the cable car up to Narikala Fortress. Called the mother fortress of Tbilisi, Narikala is an ancient symbol of the city’s defence. It was established in the 4th century, around the period when the city itself was founded. Later, there will be time to explore Shardeni Street with its fashionable, cosy cafes and art galleries.

    Hotel Tiflis or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Day trip to the Kakheti Region

    Today we drive to the Kakheti region in eastern Georgia which is the cradle of Georgian wine. First, we visit David Gareji (cave city) one of the most important landmarks of Georgia. The site is characterised by its combination of historic architecture and prehistoric archaeological sites.
    The afternoon is spent in the hilltop town of Sighnaghi, its walled fortress offering beautiful views of the Alazani Valley below.

    We return to Tbilisi in the early evening.

    Hotel Tiflis or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Visit Mtskheta, Gori and Uplistsikhe.

    Another day excursion from the Georgian capital. Today we drive to Mtskheta, a UNESCO world heritage site and former capital of Georgia. The 11th-century cathedral here is considered the holiest site in the country, as the holy robe of Jesus Christ is said to be buried here. We should also have time to visit Jvari Church, this may be restricted, depending on when mass is being held.

    We then drive on to the town of Gori, most famous for being the birth place of Josef Stalin, we'll visit the museum here and see his private train and tiny wooden family home, which sits in the grounds.

    Returning to Tbilisi, we'll enjoy our last night here, with dinner at a restaurant with traditional folk dancing.

    Hotel Tiflis or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 5

    To Yerevan, via Sadaklo, Haghpat and Sanahin.

    After breakfast, we'll check-out and drive 1hr to the Armenian border at Bagratashen. Passport control is usually straightforward and your new leader will be on the other side to meet you.

    Once in Armenia, a further short drive takes us to two masterpieces of Armenian architecture; the monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat. ’’Sanahin’’ in Armenian means "this one is older than the other," which probably means that Sanahin monastery is older than Haghpat. The latter was one of the largest religious, cultural and educational centres of mediaeval Armenia.

    We continue to Yerevan and overnight there.

    Imperial Palace Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Yerevan city tour and afternoon at Garni-Gerghard.

    We start our day with an orientation tour of Armenia's capital city - sometimes known as the 'pink city' because of the colour of the stone used to build it. Starting at Republic Square we visit the House of Opera and Ballet, Cascad Park, the fascinating Manuscripts Museum and the Genocide Memorial. The tour ends in the early afternoon at the Ararat Congnac Factory, where there's a chance to try the local tipple!

    After lunch we head out of Yerevan to Gari and its Pagan Temple, built in the 1st century and the only one still remaining in the region. From here we move on to the UNESCO listed Geghard Monastery dating back to the 13th century. Our final destination before returning to Yerevan is a family home where will have a go at making traditional bread; lavash, eaten with cheese it's the traditional fast food of Armenia.

    Imperial Palace Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    To Goris via Khor Virap and Noravank.

    This morning we leave the Armenian capital and head south to the small town of Goris. On the way, we visit Khor Virap Monastery, where Gregory the Illuminator, who introduced Christianity to Armenia, was imprisoned for 13 years. The monastery also offers fine views of Mt Ararat - the immortal symbol of Armenia.

    This region is also famous for its wine production and we will visit the winery in Areni and sample some of the local produce. Our next stop is the Noravank Monastery built into the rock face on the bend of a twisting gorge. Finally, we visit Armenian's answer to Stonehenge, Karahunj which dates back to the middle of the Bronze Age.

    Tonight is spent in Goris, with dinner at a local restaurant. Be sure to enjoy the wine as it will be your last chance before entering dry Iran!

    Mina Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 8

    To Trabiz, one of Iran's ancient capitals.

    An exciting day as we cross the border from Christian Armenia to Muslim Iran. The border crossing is usually straightforward and our next guide will be there to greet us. In Iran everything changes, the language, the landscape, the people and the politics; from this point on women will need to wear a headscarf when in public. The province of East Azerbaijan (not to be confused with the Republic of Azerbaijan to the north) is rarely visited by foreign tourists. Here we'll get a real sense of visiting somewhere totally off the tourist map.

    Our journey to Tabiz takes about 3 hrs from the border, but we'll stop at Saint Stepanos Monastery along the way, this is our final Christian place of worship on the trip, dating back to AD 62, situated in a deep canyon along the Arax river. Overnight in Trabiz.

    International Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Trabiz city tour including Blue Mosque and Azerbaijan Museum; overnight train to Tehran.

    After breakfast we will have a tour of Tabriz, including the citiy's famous bazaar, one of the oldest in the Middle East and the largest covered bazaar in the world. Other highlights include the Blue Mosque and Azerbaijan Museum. The afternoon is free to either relax or enjoy one of the city's other museums.

    In the evening we board the overnight sleeper train to Tehran. Our group will be in 4 berth compartments.

    Sleeper train

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Tehran city tour including Golestan Palace and Tajrish Bazar.

    Tehran, a modern megalopolis, that prides itself in having unique museums with immense and unrivalled collections and artifacts dating from the earliest onset of history to the present era. Our first stop is the lavish Golestan Palace, a masterpiece of the Qajar era, embodying the successful integration of earlier Persian crafts and architecture with a Western influence. Afterwards, we will visit the Tajrish Bazaar, the largest in the city and Azadi Square with its iconic tower, a true symbol of modern Iran. Our day finishes with free time to enjoy the Iranian capital.

    Hotel Enghelab or similar

  • Day 11

    To Isfahan via Kashan.

    This morning we leave Tehran and head south to Isfahan. The drive is a[[roximetly 5 hours but the small city of Kashan is an ideal stop. Between the 12th and the 14th centuries, it was an important centre for the production of high-quality pottery and tiles. In modern Persian, the word for a tile (kashi) comes from the town's name

    The city is awash with historical sights including the Agha Bozorg mosque as well as a series of beautiful 18th merchant houses and the Fin Gardens, the oldest in Iran.

    From Kashan it is 3hr drive (approx.) south to Isfahan.

    Piroozi Hotel or similar

  • Day 12

    Full day sightseeing in Isfahan.

    Today we have a full day to explore Isfahan. This legendary city never fails to enchant its visitors and is the pearl of traditional Islamic architecture and history. Our full day tour includes Imam Square, second only Tiananmen Square, China, in size. We also visit the architectural marvels of Sheikh Lotfollah and Imam Mosques, Aliqapu Palace, Chehel Sutoon and Hasht Behesht Palaces. There should also be time to enjoy the bazaar where specialist arts and craft can be purchased.

    Piroozi Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Isfahan to Tehran via Qom.

    Our return journey to Tehran is by another road, giving us the opportunity to visit the holy city of Qom, home to both the magnificent Hazrat-e Masumeh shrine and the clerics who have ruled the country since 1979. This is a fascinating city to see but travellers should be dress conservatively, particularly around the Hazrat-e Masumeh.

    We continue to Tehran were we overnight in an airport hotel.

    Ibis Tehran Airport or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Fly to London

    Early morning departure to London.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Armenia

UK and EU passport holders do not need a visa for Armenia. Certain other nationaltiies can obtain a visa on arrival.

Georgia

Visas are not required for Georgia for UK passport holders, EU, Canadian and US nationals. Check with your travel agent or with the embassy for other nationalities.

Iran

Nearly all nationalities need a visa for Iran and the whole process can take up to 12 weeks. Before applying for a visa an authorisation number is required (which we will obtain for you through our partners in Iran – we will need a copy of your passport 12 weeks in advance). We will send your tourist number as soon as we have received it from the relevant authorities (usually 4-6 weeks prior to travel). The visa application process includes having fingerprints taken so everyone applying for a visa needs to go in person to apply. The cost of the visa is GB£150 for UK nationals and generally takes 10 working days, it is possible to get an express same-day visa for a cost of GB£225. British, American and Canadian nationals need to obtain a visa before travelling to Iran. Most other nationalities including EU, Australian and New Zealanders can obtain a 30 day visa on arrival at Tehran Airport. We still recommend getting the Authorisation Number in advance as this will save time at the airport. The Iranian authorities now require people planning on getting their visa on arrival to pay for the visa in advance at the same time as getting the authoristaion number. The costs is payable through Exodus and can vary so please contact our customer operations team for details. You may also wish to obtain the visa in advance. Some nationalities, including Americans, may be asked to be processed separately at immigration and give finger-prints. This is not a long or complicated process and should not be of concern. It appears that with the Iranian consulate in London now issuing visas it is no longer possible to apply for the visa abroad if you live in the UK. Please note that the visa situation for Iran may be changeable. More information is available on our Iranian Information Sheet (https://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/travelink/Iran.pdf)
Please note that visiting Iran may result in you needing to obtain a visa to visit the Unites States in the future.


Vaccinations

Armenia

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Vaccination against Meningitis is also recommended.

Iran

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Malaria prophylaxis is essential and we suggest that you seek advice from your GP or travel health clinic about which malaria tablets to take. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

Armenian specialities feature a variety of local cheeses, flat Lavash bread, sweet Lavash made from fruits, Khoravats (barbecues), Dolma (stuffed vine leaves), Kartofel (raisin and apricot pilaf rice dish) and Kyufta (veal meatballs cooked with cognac).

Georgian local specialities include Khachapuri (cheese pies), Khinkali (meat dumplings) and Lobio (bean stew with herbs and spices). There are many sauces made from walnuts to accompany cheese or meat dishes. Churchekhela - walnuts in solid grape juice is a typical local sweet.

Armenia & Georgian Local beer, wine, vodka and cognac are readily available in both countries as is fruit vodka, which is locally distilled and tastes more like grappa. Still and sparkling water are easy to find, as are other soft drinks.

Vegetarians can easily be catered for, as there are lots of fruit and vegetables, cheese and other dairy products, various local breads and dumplings. Vegans or those with wheat or dairy intolerance will find there is far less variety but can be accommodated.

Iran cuisine has always been highly rated. Breakfast usually consists of Iranian flat bread (nan-e-lavash) jam, yoghurt, goats cheese, eggs, olives as well as tea and coffee. The usual main meal is rice (excellent quality), served with kebabs, mild curries, fish (particularly Shiraz and in the north), salads and yoghurt. Dessert, where available, usually consists of fresh fruit, particularly melon, or ice-cream. Iran is also known for its spices and pistachios (which come plain, roasted, roasted in saffron, roasted in salt and lemon) and has an impressive array of delicious homemade biscuits. Fruit juices are generally very good and it’s worth trying the carrot juice and icecream.

Alcohol is prohibited but there is non-alcoholic beer as well as various soft drinks. Iranian cuisine does not cater for vegetarians particularly well. Most restaurants will do their best to oblige but it will sometimes mean simply having the prepared meal but without the meat. Tap water is safe to drink in Iran and some of the hotels also have coolers so you may want to bring a water bottle and refill it to avoid plastic waste from the small bottles of water.

Weather

Georgia & Armenia Temperatures are very varied in both countries with May/June and September being very pleasant in the cities and lowlands where temperatures can rise to 40 degrees C in July and August. However spring and autumn months may be chilly, even cold in the mountains, July and August temperatures should be very agreeable in the mountains. Lake Sevan has a short summer, late June to September and is very cold in winter. Rain can be expected at all times of the year though it is unlikely that there will be long periods of wet weather. Iran Iran has long, extremely hot summers, but the winters are cold. Most departures are in spring and early autumn when the temperature should not be below 5ºC at night and will be between 20 and 30ºC during the day; in June and September these may go up to 35ºC, particularly in the desert. It should be sunny weather most of the time, but there can be some rain at these times of year.

Is this trip for you?

This trip is graded as Leisurely/Moderate (2) and visits as much as possible in the time given. The trip does involve several long drives on relatively poor roads, but this is essential if we are to make the most of our time in each country. The tour is mainly focused on religious history, with many visits to churches, monasteries and mosques. 

For the overnight train journey, we use second class compartments that comprise of 4 berths and are of a reasonable standard, with bed linen provided. Please note that cabins can rather hot as there is no air conditioning. A simple breakfast is served on the train or at the hotel depending on our arrival time.

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels and 1 night sleeper train

City hotels are of a good standard, 3 - 4*, those in smaller towns and rural areas are a little more basic, but are clean and comfortable. We use 2nd class compartments (4 berths) on the overnight sleeper train. Linen is provided. Please note that depending on group numbers, there may be other passengers, not with Exodus, travelling in the compartment with you. 1st class compartments (2 berths) can be requested up to 4 weeks before departure yet these are expensive and generally do not offer any extra comfort.

Single supplement from £650.

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed June 2017
    Louise Ungless

    Tbilisi to Isfahan

    This trip is an adventure. Seeing the change in scenery, politics and religion as you travel from Georgia to Iran is absolutely fascinating. You really do see and learn a lot during your two weeks.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I can't choose. Sampling the local wine and craft beer in the trendy capital of Georgia, Tbilisi. The scenery as you cross into Armenia from Georgia took my breath away. And then the excitement as we drove over Armenia's highest pass to cross the border into Iran on the day of Iran's presidential election results. Iran has to be one of the most friendliest and welcoming country I have ever been to. The people were very hospitable and generous.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had three female leaders on this trip; all were very knowledgeable and passionate about their country. Maryam greeted us with a huge smile once we crossed the border into Iran and continued smiling throughout the whole week. It was so nice to have three female leaders on this trip!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go soon before tourism hits Iran on a bigger scale - the industry is clicking on to how wonderful this country is.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go with an open mind as you journey through these three very different countries.
  • Reviewed June 2017
    Sheila Dunk

    Tbilisi to Isfahan

    What a wonderful trip; if you have an adventurous travel soul this will suit you perfectly! The sights and sounds were wonderful, the people we met were so friendly and hospitable it made for a wonderful experience. Georgia and Armenia where mountainous and green and being able to travel north to south in Iran was such a special experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being welcomed into Iran by our smiling happy guide set the tone for a great week in Iran; it's an amazing country and it would be remiss of me to highlight one particular moment when there are so many to choose from!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leaders were all very good, knowledgeable and passionate about their countries.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go with an open mind and it will make for a wonderful time!

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 0208 772 3936