Tourist’s guide to what to see and do in Kutaisi in Georgia

If you are going to Georgia, be sure to visit one of the oldest settlements in the world – the city of Kutaisi. Once upon a time it was a capital city, but now it has the status of the administrative center of Western Georgia. A quiet, beautiful town is in second place in the country in terms of number of inhabitants and third in terms of economic indicators.

Vyd on Kutaisi and the White Bridge
Kutaisi and the bridge over the Rioni River

Where is Kutaisi

The city is located in western Georgia on the high coast of Rioni. The river in Kutaisi, fast and always muddy, flows from north to south, dividing it in half. Walking along the right bank, you will plunge into the atmosphere of ancient times – here is the old city with its historical and cultural values. The left coast of Kutaisi is a modern center with many new buildings. Both areas are connected by colorful bridges.

Although Kutaisi has ceased to be the capital, he still plays the role of an important cultural and business center of the country. This is primarily due to its location – the city stands on the central highway, which connects the eastern and western parts of Georgia. From Tbilisi, go to it 220 km, from Batumi – 150, from Poti – 100.

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The harmony of antiquity and modernity
Kutaisi in the winter
City in winter

In Kutaisi, the elements of ancient architecture, the five-story buildings of the Stalin era, and modern buildings in the Art Nouveau style coexist surprisingly and combine

The name of the city is rooted in the Georgian word “stone”, since only the northern rocky side of the Rioni River was inhabited. And Kutaisi is known as the city of May and roses. For more than a century, May 2 has been celebrating City Day here annually. The second capital of Georgia is a relatively small city. Today, the population of Kutaisi is about 140 thousand (in 2018). People here are friendly and welcoming.

What to see in Kutaisi

If you walk around the city on foot, you can see a lot of interesting things, admire the narrow streets of the old districts of the city, see the sights. Small houses “incomprehensibly located on steep slopes” “breathe” Georgian color. You can ride the cable car to enjoy the panorama of the city.

Photo: fountain in the city center
Colchis Fountain

The center of Kutaisi is decorated with a Colchis multi-level fountain with 30 statues located on it. This grandiose creation by architect David Gogchaishvili appeared in 2011 and has since been considered the pride of the city, attracting the attention of tourists from around the world.

Grab a bite to eat at one of the establishments in the city center, near the fountain. The portions in the restaurants are large, the dishes are tasty, and the prices are reasonable.
Having eaten, you can go sightseeing.

Sights of Kutaisi

Due to its majestic past, Kutaisi is famous for its architectural monuments listed in UNESCO. What to see in Kutaisi and its environs in the first place?

Bagrat Cathedral
Bagrati Cathedral, Georgia

The construction of this temple dates back to 1003. Then it was the residence of Georgian kings. Convenient location on a high mountain with steep slopes turned it into a well-fortified fortress, which was difficult to capture. Visiting Bagrat Cathedral, you can admire the magnificent view of the city and take interesting photos of Kutaisi.

In 2012, the temple was completely restored. Judging by the photo, now it looks almost like new. True, the restoration has one unpleasant moment: after its implementation, the attraction was excluded from the UNESCO World Heritage List, since the work carried out significantly changed the appearance of the church.

Gelati Monastery
Gelati Monastery Complex in Georgia

It is located in the vicinity of Kutaisi, or rather, 6 km to the north-east of the city. It was founded in 1106 during the reign of David the Builder. On its walled territory, 2 more churches were erected. An academy was built here and a large bell tower was built. The monastery became the tomb of David himself and the rest of the Georgian kings. For several decades, he served as the cultural, spiritual and scientific center of the country. Now it is an attraction, a must visit for travelers who come to Kutaisi. If possible, it is better to come to him from morning to early, until there are crowds of tourists.

Minibuses go from Kutaisi to Gelati 6 times a day. The fare is 1 GEL per person. From the road you need to walk about 20 minutes.

Motsameta Monastery
Attraction of Kutaisi - Motsameta Monastery

It is located near the Gelati Monastery, separated from it by a mountain and a canyon. Motsameta attracts tourists with its magnificent landscape, which harmoniously fits a small church, standing on top of a mountain between two gorges. Its construction was dedicated to the brothers, David and Konstantin Mkheidze, who were tortured to death by the Arabs, but did not persuade them to accept Islam.

The entrance to the tomb, where the brothers are buried, is guarded by wooden lions. Every year, pilgrims come here to pray for the dead.

To visit attractions, you must be dressed appropriately. Short shorts and skirts are unacceptable, women must cover their heads.

Martville Canyons
Gachedili Canyon

You can get to the canyons, which are located in the northern surroundings of Kutaisi, in an hour by car.

Canyons are amazing with their magnificence and beauty, see for yourself in the photo below. No wonder they were given the name of the pearl of the land. You can endlessly admire the powerful waterfalls, mysterious gorges, azure water. Recent findings by paleontologists have confirmed that dinosaurs lived here 73 million years ago. When traveling along the top of the gorge, be sure to take a boat ride. And visiting the lower part, you can plunge into the bathhouse, which once belonged to the king.

Sataplia

Getting acquainted with the sights of Kutaisi and its environs, you can not ignore the conservation area, located 10 km from the city of Kutaisi. Fancy tropical plants grow here, some of which are listed in the Red Book.

In the reserve you can take an excursion in English or Russian for 17 GEL. During it, you walk through the relict forest, see a dinosaur footprint, as well as figures of prehistoric animals. Then you will find yourself in a stalactite cave, the walls of which are highlighted in different colors.

Stalactite cave

The reserve is especially proud of its observation deck with a glass floor, located at an altitude of 800 meters above sea level. It offers scenic views of the surroundings.

Observation deck

On a note! Take an excursion is not necessary. All objects can be examined on their own without too much fuss, information plates will give enough idea about the place.

Market
The local market is what you need to see in Kutaisi

Only in the market you can fully feel the local flavor and look at life from the inside, and not the “combed” picture that is shown to tourists. The Georgian people are very sociable, hospitable and welcoming. Here you will be given a lot of practical advice on where to go and what to see, tell the latest news, will be happy to pose for a photo and be sure to treat. And if you make a lot of purchases, they will also give something as a gift.

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Where to relax in Kutaisi

This city has a Museum of History, where you can get acquainted with the monuments of Georgian architecture and culture in general. There is something to see, because the history of the city has more than 3,000 years. With children you can take a walk in the city park – there are many interesting attractions.

In general, in Kutaisi there is something to see – the choice of cultural and natural attractions is not small.

Accommodation

You can stay in Kutaisi at a hotel, hostel or guest house. Accommodation in a hotel with a full range of services will cost $ 50-70 per person per day. These are hotels like Imeri Park Hotel and Hotel Rcheuli Palace. Living in a hostel is much cheaper ($ 12-20). Prices largely depend on the season.

Although the choice of housing in Kutaisi is quite large, it is advisable to choose a room in advance, because the best options for the price / quality ratio are booked in the first place.

How to get there

From Tbilisi to Kutaisi city can be reached by bus or train.

By bus

GeorgianBus buses (https://georgianbus.com) depart from Freedom Square in Pushkin Park. Travel time is 4 hours. The fare is 20 GEL. The place of arrival is Kutaisi Airport. The current schedule and cost of tickets can be clarified on the official website (there is a Russian-language version).

Minibuses in Kutaisi go from Didube bus station every half hour from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. A ticket costs 10 GEL, and the journey takes 4 hours. Minibuses arrive at the bus station of the city of Kutaisi.

By train

Train number 18 takes longer (about 5.5 hours) and travel costs less (9 GEL). You can purchase a travel document online on the Georgian railway website www.railway.ge/en/ after registering in the system.

All prices on the page are for July 2019.

The location of all the attractions and other places mentioned in the article can be found on the map of Kutaisi (in Russian). To find out the name of the object just click on the icon .

Useful information and beautiful aerial shots of the city and its environs – watch the video.



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