Home to historic cities with origins lost to time, world-class museums and fairytale castles that even Walt Disney couldn’t have conjured up in his wildest dreams, Europe is never not teeming with visitors, who flock here from all over the world to experience its ancientness.

As diverse a continent as it is, however, it remains largely undiscovered by a majority of them, who insist on sticking to the well-delineated tourist path, which typically consists of Spain, France, Italy, and for the odd anglophile out there, a fleeting visit to England.

Europe is so much more than vespa rides into Amalfi sunsets and Eiffel Tower selfies, and that’s what more adventurous travelers are waking up to recently:

After being ignored for years, one of the most stunning regions is finally getting the attention it deserves, and we suspect it won’t be long until it’s on everyone’s radar.

Dear fellow off-path explorers, this is the Caucasus:

Is The Caucasus The Most Underrated Region In Eurasia?

Young Woman In A Red Dress Pictured In The Caucasus During Summer, Eurasia

Unless you’re familiar with the Eurasian map, chances are you’ve never heard of the Caucasian heartland, but that’s no biggie: we’re here to enlighten you.

This is an ambiguous territory comprising three countries between Europe and Asia that are essentially south of Russia and east of Türkiye, and though we certainly could get into heated discussions as to whether it truly is part of Europe or not, we’ll let institutions speak for themselves:

Last year, the European Commission conceded candidate status to Georgia, a Caucasus country aspiring to join the European Union, while various international organizations consider all three states part of a wider geopolitical Europe, so we can put those questions to rest.

Tatev Monastery In Armenia, The Caucasus, Eurasia

Onto the actual fun part now:

There are three sovereign states in the Caucasus, and they’re among some of the oldest known to mankind, each has unique cultural traits, languages—accompanied by distinct alphabets that may look like elaborate drawings to the odd Westerner—and breathtaking nature.

We’ll go through each one of them individually, starting with Azerbaijan:


An Exciting Modern Capital, Oriental Culture, Caspian Sea Beaches

Baku Skyline, Azerbaijan, Caucasus

Azerbaijan is the odd one out and the only Muslim-majority country in the Caucasus: it’s culturally Turkic, meaning it shares similarities with neighboring Türkiye, and it’s generally considered to be the southeastern-most frontier of Europe.

Despite the geographical demarcations—it belongs in both continents—it certainly leans more towards Asia, with its grand bazaars, ornate mosques and flavorful oriental cuisine: if you’re looking to get you’re mind blown, you should definitely pay vibrant Baku a visit.

Panoramic view of Baku Old Town (Icheri Sheher), Azerbaijan, with modern glass Flame Tower skyscraper in background

The national capital, it is dominated by a set of triplet high-rises called Flame Towers, towering over a UNESCO-listed historic center, where some of the architectural efforts date back as early as the 12th century, such as Maiden Tower and the Palace of the Shirvanshahs.

Outside Baku, Azerbaijan’s greatest triumph is the diverse landscapes, going from wetlands to alpine peaks to sandy coastline—in case you didn’t know, Azerbaijan fringes the Caspian Sea, not a sea proper, but the largest lake in the world.

Philarmonic Fountain Park Near The Old City Of Baku, Azerbaijan, Caucasus Region

Every Azerbaijani’s go-to summer destination, boasting black-sand beaches and medieval fortifications, Lankaran is home to wellness resorts costing only $105 to book per night, while the idyllic north is best known for Gabala, a spa town surrounded by lake-dotted reserves and snow-dusted peaks.

On the nature front, the most popular Azerbaijani attractions are bucket-list Yanar Dagh, a natural fire that burns continuously on a hillside in the heart of a mud volcano park, Lake Goygol, at the foot of the Caucasus, where the European border runs, and the colorful Candy Cane Mountains.

It’s still the least-visited and less-known Caucasus country, but it continues to grow in popularity with Western-disillusioned tourists: so far this year, 726,284 of them visited Azerbaijan, a 39 percent increase over an already-historic 2023.


Last Frontier Of Christianity, UNESCO-Protected Monasteries, Ancient Temples

Khor Virap Church Pictured Against Mount Arat In Armenia, Caucasus Region

Dubbed the final frontier of Christianity, Armenia prides itself in being the first nation to have converted to the religion, as early as the year 301 A.D., and its Orthodoxy, and Christian values have remained its core identity throughout the several centuries its statehood was challenged.

It came under the rule of several different empires over its several-millennia-old History, more recently the Soviet Union, which it only detangled from upon the dissolution of the latter in the early nineties, and fast forward three decades, it’s still finding its footing in a rapidly-changing Europe.

Greco-Roman Garni Temple In Armenia, Caucasus Region

Yerevan is Armenia’s capital and administrative center. It is a traditionally Soviet city with blocks of concrete buildings as far as the eye can see. It is famous for its commemorative, giant ‘Cascade’ staircase, large open squares lined by stately palaces, and ethnic museums.

It’s not to be missed, for sure, but one could argue Armenia’s true charm lies in its ancient heritage, with Garni Temple, the last-standing Greco-Roman temple this far East, and UNESCO-protected monasteries Haghpat, Sanahin and Geghard coming to mind.

Lake Seven, Armenia, Caucasus Region Of Eurasia

Armenia is landlocked, as Azerbaijan blocks its Caspian Sea access, but it does have its own massive lake going by the name Sevan, a high-altitude body of water popular for its sandy beaches and flanked by medieval monasteries and a ruined Odzaberd fortress over 2,800 years old.

As it is one of the two Christian-majority republics, and it’s culturally aligned with much of Eastern Europe, despite its remoteness, Armenia comes second in popularity in the Caucasus, with 2.3 million foreign arrivals registered in 2023, a 40% increase year-on-year.


Medieval Heritage, Amazing Cuisine, Breathtaking Nature

Panoramic View Of Old Town Tbilisi, Georgia, Transcontinental Caucasus Region Between Europe And Asia

We finally made it to Georgia, the leading tourist destination in the Caucasus, and since the pandemic years, a nomad hotspot of the sorts, as remote workers have begun flocking into Georgia thanks to its generous visa policy, low cost of living and vibrant cities.

If you’re looking for a culturally-charged city break, Georgian capital Tbilisi is where you’ll find an eclectic Old Town, with medieval, Persian and Soviet influences, an imposing Narikala Fortress, perched on a central hill overlooking the urban sprawl below, and a thriving cafe and art scene.

Tbilisi Georgia, Eurasia, Eastern Europe

Tbilisi is one of the most exciting cities in Eurasia, with a nightlife to rival all of Europe’s greatest and an unmatched youthful atmosphere; it’s also the most liberal city in the Caucasus, hosting a number of gay-friendly bars and underground techno clubs.

Straddling the azure Black Sea, Batumi is the ‘Dubai of the Caucasus‘, a title it’s earned in recognition of the rows upon rows of innovative, beachfront skyscrapers that keep springing up year after year, except its charming cobbled center is steeped in History.

Aerial View Of Batumi, Ajara Autonomous Province Of Georgia, Eastern Europe, Western Asia, Caucasus

Georgia’s third-largest city, and one of the oldest continuously-inhabited in the world, Batumi is yet another gem, with a scenic riverfront and 11th-century Bagrati Cathedral, a monumental Orthodox temple as main points of interest.

From the rolling vineyards of Kakheti, birthplace of the world-renowned Saperavi, to the verdant valleys of Imereti, to the Switzerland-like Caucasus peaks to the north, near the Russian border, atop which solitary churches sit, Georgia is a true hidden gem, and we simply couldn’t stress it enough.

So far in 2024, tourist arrivals are up 11%, totaling 1.3 million visitors; a sizable number of those are Europeans, especially Germans and Brits, proving Georgia is becoming trendier among Westerners, and WizzAir’s $40 flights from Europe to Kutaisi may have something to do with the renewed interest.

The Caucasus Are Crazy Affordable

Cable Car In Tbilisi, Georgia, Eurasia, Eastern Europe

Besides their cultural value, incredible historic sites and otherworldly nature, the Caucasus are by far the cheapest region to travel in Europe, cheaper even than the traditionally-affordable Baltic States, and even the Balkan Peninsula.

None of the 3 countries are part of the European Union, much less use the hyper-valued Euro, and whether you’re headed to Azerbaijan, Armenia or Georgia, you can travel comfortably on under $840 per person.

That is due to the overall underdevelopment of the Caucasus, their lower wages, and cheaper consumer prices compared to much of Western Europe and the developed world (in other words, if you’re bringing in U.S. dollars, don’t refrain from pampering yourself).

Aerial View Of The Medieval Alpine Village Of Mestia In Northern Georgia, On The Caucasus Region, The Border Between Eastern Europe And Western Asia

Average Costs Of A One-Week Trip To Azerbaijan
  • $22 (AZN 37.40) on meals
  • $8 (AZN 13.60) on local transportation
  • $85 (AZN 144.50) on hotels
  • $836 (AZN 1,421.20) in total
Average Costs Of A One-Week Trip To Armenia
  • $26 (AMD 10,242) on meals
  • $13 (AMD 4,962) on local transportation
  • $49 (AMD 18,891) on hotels
  • $432 (AMD 167,550) in total
Average Costs Of A One-Week Trip To Georgia
  • $21 (GEL 56) on meals
  • $18 (GEL 49) on local transportation
  • $80 (GEL 217) on hotels
  • $672 (GEL 1,828) in total

As a general rule, Azerbaijan is the most expensive Caucasus country, Georgia is mid-range, and Armenia is the cheapest out of the three.

On The Azerbaijan-Armenia Conflict

Aerial View Of Yerevan, Capital Of Armenia, Caucasus Region

If you’re visiting the Caucasus, you should know there’s some animosity between two of its three states: Azerbaijan and Armenia have been at loggerheads over territorial claims for decades now, and that’s culminated with Azerbaijan’s taking of an Armenian exclave late last year.

If you’re keen on traveling across the entire region, we would advise you against attempting to cross the Azerbaijani-Armenian border, not only because it’s a contentious, militarized area, but because you may be denied entry into Azerbaijan if you’re coming from the neighboring Christian state.

Immigration Officer Stamping A Passport At Border Control

One option is to first fly into Baku in Azerbaijan, without having been to Armenia, then boarding a flight to Tbilisi in Georgia, and finally cross over into Armenia, either with a third flight, the train or the bus, to complete your three-country trek.

There is no love lost between Azerbaijani and Armenian officials, but on the other hand, Georgians and Armenians are very friendly towards each other, and there are no issues crossing that specific border (Azerbaijan has no beef with Georgia, or vice-versa, either).

How Long Can You Stay In The Caucasus?

us traveler passport

  • Azerbaijan – 30 days
  • Armenia – 180 days
  • Georgia – 365 days

Americans don’t need visas to enter Armenia or Georgia, and in fact, these countries allow them to stay an unusually-long period of time.

In Armenia, they are granted 180 full days to remain upon arrival, while Georgia goes even further, and issues one-year tourist visas on the spot: remember Georgia is one of Europe’s leading ‘workcation’ hubs, and a well-loved digital nomad haven?

Aerial View Of Ananuri Fortress, Georgia, Eurasia, Eastern Europe

Well, now you know why.

Azerbaijan is more restrictive, requiring U.S. passport holders and most Europeans to apply for an eVisa in advance, costing $25, while only allowing them to stay for 30 days, the shortest tourist visa length out of any European country.

Regrettably, U.S. and any foreign nationals with Armenian ancestry, most commonly observed in their name, are routinely denied visas, regardless of not being Armenian citizens themselves, as are applicants with Armenian visas in their passport.

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