DAY 1 THURSDAY TBILISI
Arrival to Tbilisi International Airport Airport in the afternoon. Meet your Travel Agency representative in Georgia. Transfer to the hotel. Check in. Start exploring Tbilisi, the capital and the largest city of Georgia. Stop by the Abanotubani District, renowned for its sulfur baths. In the heart of Tbilisi’s old town, the district of Abanotubani is perhaps one of the city’s iconic spots. These subterranean bathhouses date back to the 17th century and have been a favorite for travelers to the city, whose more famous bathers have included Pushkin and Alexandre Dumas.
Take a cable car to the 4th century Narikala Fortress, and get a superb panoramic view of Tbilisi, with its hanging houses, the historic Metekhi Church and the gold-topped Sameba Cathedral. Views also sweep down to the glass Peace Bridge, the gorge of the River Mtkvari and the picturesque spurs of the Trialeti Range.
Continue to Sioni Cathedral. The most significant relic of the cathedral is the venerated Grapevine Cross, which, according to a tradition, was forged by St. Nino, a Cappadocian woman who preached Christianity in Georgia in the early 4th century. The Cross of St. Nino, according to legend, is made from the vine branches bound with the saint’s own hair.
Continue to the 13th century Metekhi Church and monument to Vakhtang Gorgasali, the legendary founder of Tbilisi. Stroll through the Shardeni Street, an area with cozy cafés, wine tasting bars and souvenir shops. Stop by the Bridge of Peace over the Mtkvari River and take a leisurely stroll along Rustaveli Avenue. Overnight in Tbilisi.
DAY 2 FRIDAY TBILISI – MTSKHETA – GORI – UPLISTSIKHE – TBILISI
Breakfast. Drive to Mtskheta and Jvari Complex. Mtskheta is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and has been Georgia’s spiritual heart since Christianity was established here in about 327, and holds a near-mystical significance in Georgian culture.
Visit the 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, where the Robe of Jesus Christ is believed to be buried. Both Jvari and Svetitskhoveli are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Continue to Joseph Stalin’s birth place in Gori, the town where the Joseph Stalin was born and went to school. The large museum devoted to Stalin, is still Gori’s best known attraction, but there are also several intriguing older historical attractions close by.
Visit the cave town of Uplistsikhe. Uplistsikhe is an ancient rock-hewn town, which played a significant role in Georgian history over a period of approximately 3,000 years, relating to a Sun Goddess, worshipped prior to the arrival of Christianity. Return to Tbilisi. Overnight in Tbilisi.
DAY 3 SATURDAY TBILISI – ANANURI – GUDAURI – JVARI PASS – KAZBEGI – GERGETI – TBILISI
Breakfast. Take the Georgian Military Road across the Caucasus Mountains, a major route through the Caucasus from Georgia to Russia. Visit the 17th century Ananuri Castle, the seat of power of medieval Georgian dukes of Aragvi, and presently, one of the most scenic fortresses of Georgia.
Continue to the ski resort of Gudauri, whose bare hillsides make for Georgia’s best downhill ski runs. Stop at Jvari Pass, a high mountain pass, at an elevation of 2,379m (7,815 ft) above the sea level, located between Tbilisi (Georgia) and Vladikavkaz (Russia) on the Georgian Military Road.
Continue to Kazbegi, a valley town at about 1,750m above sea level, just a few miles short of the Russian border. Take a Jeep to make it up the hill to visit the 14th century Gergeti Trinity Church, near the village of Gergeti. During the dark times, the precious relics from Mtskheta, including St. Nino's Cross were taken here for safekeeping. Enjoy the views of the snowy peak of Mt. Kazbek towering to the west. Return to Tbilisi. Overnight in Tbilisi.
DAY 4 SUNDAY TBILISI – SADAKHLO – HAGHPAT – DILIJAN – LAKE SEVAN – YEREVAN
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to the Georgia -Armenia border and arrive at Sadakhlo-Bagratashen border crossing. After border formalities, change the guide and transportation. Start the Armenian part of the tour and continue to Alaverdi, the largest city in the Debed Canyon, an area rich with historical monuments and natural beauty. Visit the 10th century Haghpat Monastery, one of the most outstanding examples of Armenian religious architecture (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Drive to Lake Sevan and stop in Dilijan, a resort town renowned for its charming nature and some traditional Armenian architecture. Stroll through the Dilijan’s Historic Center, the cobbled Sharambeyan Street with its collection of stone and wooden traditional houses, shops, restaurants, souvenir stalls and workshops.
Continue to Lake Sevan. Lake Sevan’s outstretched blue waters and historic sights make it one of Armenia’s key places to visit. Walk up to the 8th century monastery of Sevanavank on Sevan peninsula. Continue to Yerevan. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 5 MONDAY YEREVAN – GEGHARD – GARNI – SYMPHONY OF THE STONES – YEREVAN
Breakfast. Drive to one of the most beautiful monasteries in Armenia, the 13th century cave monastery of Geghard, a "Monastery of the Spear" (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The name of the monastery originates from the spear which had wounded Jesus at the Crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Jude, and currently stored amongst many other relics in the Echmiadzin's Cathedral Museum.
Continue to the oldest surviving building on the territory of Armenia, the 1st century Garni Pagan Temple. The Garni Temple was built by the Armenian King Tiridates with the money he received after visiting Emperor Nero in Rome, and was dedicated to Sun God Mithra.
Take a local 4x4 car down to the bottom of the Garni Gorge, to see the breathtaking vertical cliffs of the well preserved octagonal basalt columns, called the "Symphony of the Stones". Usually, visitors must walk or take a local car, as our buses do not make trips down there.
Return to Yerevan. Start exploring Yerevan, the Armenia’s capital city and one of the oldest cities in the world. Stop at the Victory Park and Mother Armenia monument to get a spectacular view of the Biblical Mt. Ararat with a panorama of central Yerevan.
Take a walking tour of the Cascade Complex, with its Sculpture Park and Cafesjian Center for the Arts. Visit the magnificent building of the Opera House, the postmodern Northern Avenue and the city's main Republic Square.
DAY 6 TUESDAY YEREVAN – ECHMIADZIN – ZVARTNOTS – YEREVAN
Breakfast. Drive to Echmiadzin, the spiritual and administrative center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Visit the churches of St. Hripsime and St. Gayane (UNESCO World Heritage Sites). Visit the Main Cathedral of Echmiadzin, the oldest state-built church in the world, having been built by St. Gregory the Illuminator in 303 AD (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Visit the Cathedral's Museum, where amongst other relics, you can see the Holy Spear, with which Jesus Christ was pierced on the cross.
Drive back to Yerevan. En route to Yerevan visit ruins of the 7th century Zvartnots Temple (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Zvartnots Cathedral was destroyed by an earthquake in 930 AD, and was lost to history until its discovery in the early 20th century.
Return to Yerevan. Continue to the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex on the hills of Tsitsernakaberd. The Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex houses both the Armenian Genocide Museum, and the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial.
Visit one of the richest depositories of manuscripts and books in the world, the Matenadaran Institute of Ancient Manuscripts. Stop at the popular fruit market “Shouka” to buy traditional sweets and dry fruits. Visit the Republic Square to see the "Dancing Fountains", a choreographed water show synched with lights and music. Overnight in Yerevan.
DAY 7 WEDNESDAY YEREVAN – KHOR VIRAP – NORAVANK – ARENI – TATEV – GORIS
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to the Khor Virap Monastery, where the Mt. Ararat reveals its breathtaking size and splendor. Khor Virap is one of the most popular destinations in Armenia, primarily because it is where the St. Gregory the Illuminator, the future head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, was imprisoned here for 13 years.
Continue in the Vayots Dzor Province, which is Armenia’s most storied wine growing region. Visit the masterpiece of medieval Armenian architecture, the 14th century Noravank Monastery, a major religious and cultural center of Armenia in the past. Stopover for wine tasting at the local winery in Areni village, which is famous for its rather delicious dry red wine.
Drive to one of the most spectacular and impressive places in Armenia, the 9th century Tatev Monastery, which hosted one of the most important Armenian medieval universities, whose scholars contributed to the preservation of Armenian culture and creed during one of its most turbulent periods in its history.
Take the cable car “Wings of Tatev” from the Halidzor Village to the magnificent complex of Tatev. The "Wings of Tatev" built by the Swiss company, is included in the Guinness Book of World Records as world’s longest non-stop double track cable car.
Continue to Goris, a major junction stop between Yerevan, Stepanakert and the Iranian border. Goris is known for its variety of homemade fruit vodkas, including the deliciously potent mulberry and Cornelian cherry vodkas. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Goris.
DAY 8 THURSDAY GORIS – MEGHRI – AGARAK – JOLFA – TABRIZ
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to the Armenia-Iran border. Pass through Meghri town and arrive at the Agarak-Nordooz border crossing. After border formalities, change the guide and transportation. Start the Iranian part of the tour and continue to Tabriz.
Stop at Jolfa, a bustling border town, that connects the Islamic Republic both with Armenia and Azerbaijan. Visit the 9th century St. Stepanos Monastery, an Armenian monastery, situated in a deep canyon along the Araks River (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Many Armenian historians believe that the first church on the site was built in the 1st century by St. Bartholomew, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Continue to Tabriz. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Tabriz.
DAY 9 FRIDAY TABRIZ SHIRAZ
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Start exploring Tabriz, the second largest city of Iran and important commercial center of Persia since antiquity. Visit the Bazaar of Tabriz, one of the oldest bazaars of the Middle East and the largest covered bazaar in the world (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Tabriz enjoys a strong reputation for Persian rugs, and other noteworthy items found in the bazaar include traditional herbal remedies, perfumes, and Azeri-style hats made from astrakhan wool.
Transfer to Tabriz International Airport and take a domestic flight to Shiraz. Arrival to Shiraz International Airport in the evening. Transfer to the hotel. Check in. Overnight in Shiraz.
DAY 10 SATURDAY SHIRAZ – PERSEPOLIS – SHIRAZ
Breakfast. Drive to Persepolis, one of the most majestic ancient monuments in the world, the capital of the Achaemenid Kings of Persia (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Return to Shiraz. Start exploring Shiraz, the treasure trove of Persian culture. It is the former capital of Iran and the celebrated birthplace of the great Persian poets Hafiz and Saadi. Visit the Citadel of Arg of Karim Khan built in 1767, and located in the northeast of Shiraz. After the fall of the Qajar Dynasty it was converted into a prison and today it is a museum operated by Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization.
Visit Nasir al-Mulk Mosque. The designers used extensively stained glass on the facade and other traditional elements, which create a breathtaking effect of the interior, like standing in a kaleidoscope. Once the sunlight hit the stained glass, the entire building is flooded by a vibrant rainbow of colors.
Continue to Eram Garden (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The Eram Garden is a historic and monumental Persian garden in Shiraz. The Pahlavi Dynasty heavily invested in this Garden, renovating it to an internationally recognizable status. Today, Eram Garden is within Shiraz Botanical Garden of Shiraz University.
Visit the Shah-e-Cheragh Mausoleum, is one of the most beautiful mosques and an important pilgrimage center of the city of Shiraz. The tombs of Amir Ahmad and his brother Mir Muhammad, sons of the seventh Imam, are covered with millions of pieces of colored glass that glitter in the light and magnify its brilliance a thousand times.
Visit the Mausoleum of Hafez (1324-1391), one of the greatest masters of Persian lyric poetry and the literary giant of the 14th century in the west and central Asia. Visitors to the tomb can still, as they have done for centuries, sit by his tomb and read his sonnets. Overnight in Shiraz.
DAY 11 SUNDAY SHIRAZ – PASARGAD – YAZD
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Visit the ruins of the Ancient Persian city of Pasargad (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Pasargad was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great who had issued its construction (559–530 BC), as it was also the location of his tomb, the most important monument in Pasargad.
Drive to Yazd, an architecturally unique city and the center of the Zoroastrian culture. The scenery on the journey will range from green valleys to jagged mountains, and a flat deep desert with some moonscape vistas. Arrive in Yazd. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Yazd.
DAY 12 MONDAY YAZD – MEYBOD – ISFAHAN
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Start exploring Yazd, a home to Iran’s second largest population of Zoroastrians. The ancient city of Yazd can lay claim to being one of the oldest, continuously inhabited places on earth.
Visit the 14th century Jameh Mosque. The magnificent Jameh Mosque (Friday Mosque) with its tiled entrance portal is one of the tallest in Iran. The exquisite mosaics on the dome and mihrab, and the tiles above the main western entrance to the courtyard are particularly stunning.
Visit the Eskandar Prison. Eskandar Prison is an ancient domed structure, alleged by some to have been built by Alexander the Great to hold his captives during his conquest of Persia, and alleged by others to have been built by the Persians to hold Alexander himself.
Visit the 13th century Amir Chakhmagh Complex. The stunning three-storey facade of this religious complex makes it one of the largest such structures in Iran. Look out for the huge wooden palm Nakhl, an important centerpiece once used in the observance of the Shiites’ passionate Ashura commemorations.
Visit the Yazd Atashkadeh Fire Temple, where Zoroastrians from all over the world come to see the sacred fire that has been burning without interruption for 1,500 years. In the outlying southern suburbs of the town are a pair of defunct Zoroastrian Towers of Silence, where the bodies of believers were once left to the vultures after death.
Drive to Isfahan, the Iran’s number one tourist destination. Stop by the Narin Castle, a mud brick castle in the town of Meybod. Explore the old part of Naeen desert city. After the advent of Islam, the city became a rest stop for caravans crossing the desert. Arrive in Isfahan. Check into a hotel. Overnight in Isfahan.
DAY 13 TUESDAY ISFAHAN
Breakfast. Visit Chehel Sotoun (The Forty Pillars). Built in 1647, Chehel Sotoun is a pavilion in the middle of a garden, covering 67,000 square meters at the far end of a long rectangular shaped pool, built by Shah Abbas II to be used for the Shah's entertainment and receptions. The palace is now a museum of Safavid paintings and ceramics, which attracts numerous visitors.
Stop by the Ali Qapu Grand Palace. Built at the very end of the 16th century as a residence for Shah Abbas I, this six-storey palace also served as a monumental gateway to the royal palaces that lay in the parklands beyond (Ali Qapu means the "Gate of Ali").
Visit the Naqsh'e Jahan Square (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the second biggest square in the world (after Beijing's Tianamen Square). During the reign of Shah Abbas I and his successors, this square was an area where festivities, polo, dramatics and military parades took place. This immense square is nearly 1,700ft long - twice the size of Red Square in Moscow, seven times the size of St. Mark’s Square in Venice.
Visit the Vank Cathedral in Isfahan. Holy Savior Cathedral, also known as the Church of the Saintly Sisters, is one of the largest and most beautiful churches of Iran. It was one of the first churches to be established in Isfahan by Armenian immigrants settled by Shah Abbas I after the Ottoman War of 1603-1605. The interior is covered with fine paintings and gilded carvings and includes a wainscot of rich tile work. The delicately blue and gold painted central dome depicts the Biblical story of creation of the world and man’s expulsion from Eden.
Visit the Khaju and Siosepol bridges. The Khaju Bridge, or Pol-e-Khajoo in Isfahan, was built in the 17th century by Shah Abbas II. Besides having a beautiful golden look during the night, the bridge also serves as a dam, with sluice gates under the archways.
The Siosepol Bridge, translated as the bridge of 33 arches, is one of the most famous bridges in the world, renowned for its beauty and for the remarkable architecture, and one of the most famous sites in Iran. Overnight in Isfahan.
DAY 14 WEDNESDAY ISFAHAN – KASHAN – TEHRAN
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Drive to Tehran. En route to Tehran stop at Kashan town and visit the 19th century Boroujerdis House. The Boroujerdi House is a historic house in Kashan, located on Alavi Street. The unique features of the House have resulted in a minimal amount of renovation and alteration of the original structure.
Continue to Fin Garden. Fin Garden is a historical Persian garden, and it contains Kashan's Fin Bath, where Amir Kabir, the Qajarid chancellor, was murdered by an assassin sent by King Nasereddin Shah in 1852. In keeping with many of the Persian gardens of this era, the Fin Garden employs a great many water features. The canals are lined with blue-green tiles, a color which contrasts wonderfully with the desert outside the garden walls. Arrive in Tehran. Check into hotel. Overnight in Tehran.
DAY 15 THURSDAY TEHRAN
Breakfast. Check out from hotel. Take a tour of the National Museum of Iran. It is the best place to see the history of the Persia through preserved ancient and medieval Persian antiquities. Visit the Golestan Palace. The "Palace of Flowers" is a true masterpiece of the Qajar era, one the oldest of all historic monuments in the capitol of the Islamic Republic (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Take a tour of the famous Grand Bazaar. Historic, expansive, and dizzying, Tehran’s Grand Bazaar should be at the top of any bargain-hunter’s agenda. The bazaar consists of over 10 kilometers of labyrinthine covered alleys, and is divided up into sections selling different types of product.
Visit Iran’s National Jewelry Museum. Most of the royal jewelry of Iran is in display in this museum from Safavid, Afsharid, Ghajarid and Pahlavid dynasties such as the Darya-ye-Noor diamond (the Sea of Light), Naderi Paisley, the crown of Queen Farah Pahlavi, Kiyani crown, the gemmed globe, the Peacock bed (Ghajarid) (The Sun bed), and the Naderi bed.