A visit to Signagi: simply stunning

A quick guide to travel in Signagi, a charming town in the Kakheti region. Includes information on how to get there, what to do, and where to stay.

Signagi (sometimes spelled Sighnaghi), is a tiny town atop a hill in the Kakheti region. It is probably the prettiest town in Georgia. It has cobblestone streets, a (mostly) intact old city wall, charming houses, and views to die for. Add the fact that wine flows freely (it’s in the Kakheti region after all), and we were sold. Forget vineyards in France and villas in Tuscany–a summer holiday home in Signagi is officially on our wish list.

(Too bad we don’t have any spare cash lying around.)

How to get to Signagi from Telavi

The most logical approach to Signagi would be from Telavi, the center of Kakheti and Georgia’s wine region. But unfortunately, Telavi to Signagi doesn’t seem to be a popular route. There is only one marshrutka, and it goes at 15:00.

Alex: The morning of our departure, I went to the marshrutka station to double check the departure time. I approached a group of drivers standing in a circle, idly smoking their cigarettes, and asked what time the marshrutka to Signagi left. The drivers all stood scratching their heads, and several shouted to their compatriots lounging in their buses, asking a) was there a marshrutka to Signagi? and b) at what time? After a while, a voice chimed in from across the yard: it left at 3 o’clock. Question resolved.

Fast forward to 14:00 that day, when we were standing in the station/market area with all of our bags, looking for the marshrutka. The same scenario played out (with some of the same drivers present)… this time, the answer to the question: no marshrutky to Signagi for two days because it was Saturday, the weekend. Question UNresolved.

We’re not sure if this only applies to the low season, no one could give us a definitive answer. Double check if you’re traveling in summer/fall.

Sebastiaan: So how did we get there in the end? It seems that marshrutky routes are not necessarily fixed. After some haggling here and there, the driver of the Tsnori marshrutka agreed to drop us off in Signagi for double the rate. We paid 10 GEL each, while the regular marshrutka ride should cost 5 GEL. Getting to Signagi took about 45 minutes.

If you’re coming from Tbilisi, there are direct buses from the Ortachala bus stand.

 

Stairs at Bodbe convent outside of Signagi Sighnaghi Georgia

Things to do when you travel in Signagi

One of the main joys of visiting Signagi is simply walking around to sample the atmosphere. Signagi oozes old world charm. There’s also an old city wall to circumnavigate (with awesome views), a Museum of History and Ethnography, and, obviously, churches to visit. 

Outside Signagi: Bodbe convent

Once you’re done ogling the picturesque town center, you can venture out to the significant sites around Signagi, the most notable being Bodbe convent. The active convent is dedicated to St. Nino, who is (supposedly) buried there.

The walk to the convent is pretty straightforward–it should only take about half an hour, and the views of Signagi along the way are grand. Just follow the road going south (uphill) out of Signagi, until you see the church buildings peeking through the trees. There are several road signs indicating the way to Bodbe.

Fog in Signagi town in Georgia

Just look at that view! … or lack thereof.

Roughly 100 meters before the convent’s entrance, there is a fork in the road with a sign that says something like “Tsminda Nino Something Something” with an arrow pointing left. Normally, you would be able to clearly see the church at this point, and realize that this sign is pointing at something else (we still don’t know what). But, since it was so foggy, we couldn’t see anything except the sign. If you’re here while it’s foggy, don’t follow the arrow, go right instead.

Getting lost in the fog on the way to Bodbe convent near Signagi Georgia

This is what happens if you go left.

The buildings of the Bodbe convent were under construction when we were there, and it was still too cold for the convent garden to be in season. So aside from the view and the beautiful walk, there wasn’t much to see church-wise. However, for those searching for enlightenment/repentance/freedom from sins/guilt-free livin’, 800 meters down the hill from the church is a small place of worship housing St. Nino’s spring, which is thought to have holy, healing properties.

Fresco painting near the spring of Saint Nino at Bodbe convent in Georgia

Some frescoes inside the building housing the spring.

 

View of Signagi town on a walk from Bodbe convent in Georgia

Signagi from afar, on the way back from Bodbe convent.

Some Signagi lovin’: where to stay in Signagi

The cherry on top of our visit was the hospitality of our hosts at Abramichi guesthouse. The owners of the guesthouse once again made us realize how incredibly hospitable Georgians are.

Despite our language barriers, the husband and wife duo did everything in their ability to make us feel welcome in their home. We sampled different herbs from their garden. They had lengthy discussions with us about the geography of the incredible views from the guesthouse balcony. And they fed us copious amounts of wine and cheese of their own making… though not enough for their liking, it seems. The husband told us that real Georgian men can/should drink about 4 liters of wine in one sitting. You can book Abramichi guesthouse here.

View of church in Signagi Sighnaghi Georgia

Yeah, the guesthouse was in a pretty acceptable part of town.

It’s a bit of a walk outside of the city center. But for only 30 GEL/night you get a private room with bathroom and a whole lot of excellent views, love, and wine. We were thrilled with our stay with the family. Georgian hospitality, we’re going to miss you.

Other places to stay in Signagi include:

  • Guest House Gidi: Clean guesthouse with comfortable beds and a friendly host. Offers a range of private rooms – Book Guest House Gidi here.
  • Mironichi: Boasts a great location right across from the museum. Limited English is spoken, but a bit of homemade wine usually solves that problem – Book Mironichi here.
  • Guest House Alazani Valley: This midrange guest house is a bit out of town, but offers suberb views of Signagi and the surrounding region – Book Guest House Alazani Valley here.

So there you have it, a quick guide to travel in Signagi, including tips on what to do and where to stay. Let us know in the comments if you miss anything.

 

Sebastiaan

Just another Dutchie. Extrovert with introverted tendencies. Some say I'm lazy, I say I'm masterfully inactive.

More about Sebastiaan

9 thoughts on “A visit to Signagi: simply stunning

    Liliia Sokotun says:

    awesome! will try to do ti tmrrw 🙂 Georgia is awesome indeed!

    We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

    Liliia Sokotun says:

    so in the end we didnt go, it was 37 degrees and we were just exhausted. However we dont get upset, we decided to come back to Georgia at some point!

    Yeah it’s no fun when you’re dying of heat. Glad you like the country enough to go back, we want to do the same 🙂

    Somefing Looms says:

    Dogs. What about dogs on your walk? The town dogs are fine. But the farm dogs are vicious. Did you come across any when you walked to and from the monastery?
    Cheers.

    We must have been very lucky. We did not encounter any vicious dogs, which is a very good thing. Sebastiaan is scared as shit when it comes to vicious stray dogs 😉

    sebastian says:

    hey buddy

    My name is Sebastian as well, I will be visiting George in September very soon
    NIce blog about your experience in Signaghi, I wonder if I really need to stay overnight there, I was told that it could be done as a day trip from Signaghi, what do u think?
    Have u been to any cave city such as Vardzia or David gareja? if so, which one u like best?

    Thanks
    Sebastian

    Sebastiaan says:

    Hi Seb,

    We really liked Signaghi, and would recommend staying there overnight. But it all depends on how much time you have, I guess. We did visit Vardzia, but not David Gareja. We’d recommend Vardzia, as well as Sapara Monastery, which can be combined in a day trip. Regardless of where you’ll go, we’re sure you’ll love it. Georgia is a great country!

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