What to see in Abkhazia: 10 most beautiful places
To see something in Abkhazia, you need to read a bunch of separate articles, looking for the best sights ️. Stop! We’ve gathered for you the Top 10 coolest, most interesting, most beautiful , historical and natural places throughout Abkhazia, with photos and descriptions. Just save it for yourself and get out on the itinerary.
Abkhazia is not only beaches and sea, this place is also known for its beautiful architectural and natural monuments, which you should take your time and enjoy their mesmerizing views. Here is a list of the most beautiful places in Abkhazia.
The main attraction of Abkhazia is undoubtedly Lake Ritsa. And not without reason. The lake is located at 950 meters above sea level on the territory of the national park in the gorge of the two rivers Lashing and Yupshara. The total area of the lake is 149 hectares. The most amazing thing is that depending on the season, the lake changes the color of the water mirror. This happens due to the fact that the rivers flowing into the lake have different colors of water, as well as due to the development of microscopic algae.
Lake Ritsa used to be a vacation spot for top Soviet officials Stalin and Brezhnev, their summer cottages are located on the shores of the lake, you can still see the furniture and interior items from those times, and excursions are held there.
Every year the number of tourists wishing to visit this place is increasing, and therefore the infrastructure around the lake is developing for the better. The lake is home to a large number of trout, which if you want you can try the nearby cafe, as well as tasting the delicious local dishes. There is also an opportunity to sail on the lake on boats and catamarans, enjoying the mesmerizing beauty of the surrounding nature.
Bathing in Lake Ritsa is forbidden.
Cost: ride on the lake on a catamaran – about 200 ₽ (30 min), visit Stalin’s dacha – about 100 ₽, organized fishing – about 200 ₽, you can also take in rent a deck chair and just tanning – 100 ₽.
2. New Athos Cave
New Athos Cave is one of the few places in Abkhazia, which is obligatory to visit. It is located in the depths of Iversky Mount, the volume of which is approximately 1 million cubic meters. At the same time this cave is not the largest in Abkhazia. In terms of volume it is inferior to the Snejnaya Cave, and its length is not one of the ten longest caves of Abkhazia.
The cave got its fame in 1961, thanks to a resident of New Athos, Givi Smyr, and in 1975 the first tourists were able to visit this place. The length of the route through the halls is about 2 km. The fascinating journey through the cave begins on a small electric train. Then the tour runs according to the following scheme (visiting of 8 halls): Anakopia, Hall of Makhajirs, Nartaa, Hall of Speleologists, Hall named after. Givi Smyr hall, Ayukha, Apkhyarts hall and the last hall Apsny.
While travelling through the halls you will see underground lakes, corallites, helictite grotto, and if you are lucky you will hear the concert of Abkhaz state choir in Aghyarts hall.
When visiting the cave be sure to wear shoes with non-slip soles, and bring a warm sweatshirt or windbreaker, as the air temperature in the cave is +14°C. The duration of the tour – 1.5 hours.
You can visit New Athos Cave only as a part of a tour group!
Cost: adult ticket – 500 ₽; children under 8 – free of charge.
Phone: +7 (840) 245-40-03
3. Gegsky waterfall
Gegsky waterfall is one of the most picturesque and beautiful attractions of Abkhazia. The waterfall is about 70 meters high, located in the northern part of Gagra ridge. The waterfall is formed by the Gegi rivers flowing from the underground bowels of the karst cave. After a long way through all the underground grottos and crevices, the water falls from a height, forming the stunning beauty of the Ghegi waterfall.
Especially beautiful waterfall in sunny weather, as the water stream beautifully shimmering in the sunlight, and at the foot it forms just an incredible amount of splashes and a fantastic rainbow. The water in the waterfall is cold, or rather icy, so it is quite cool here. At the foot of the mountain from which it falls, there is snow almost to the end of summer.
The Gegsky waterfall is 4-5 km from the main road to Lake Ritsa. To reach the waterfall is possible only by off-road vehicles or on foot and only from May to November, in other months the road is blocked with snow. Going to the waterfall, bring warm clothes and comfortable shoes. It is better not to go here with small children, they will get tired quickly, and then you will get tired, too.
Did you know that this is the place where the fight scene between Sherlock Holmes and professor Mariarty was shot (Reichenbach Falls in the TV series)? Episodes from the movies “Rickey-Tickey-Tavi”, “Sportloto-82” and several episodes of the Georgian TV series “Date Tutashkhia” were also filmed here.
Cost: entrance to the Ritza Relict National Park (environmental fee) – 350 ₽ (adults) and 150 rubles (children from 8 to 12 years old); children under 8 – free of charge.
4. Anakopia Fortress
Anakopia fortress built in IV-V centuries AD is another fascinating attraction of Abkhazia, it is located on the top of Iversky mountain, in the Byzantine literature this mountain is known under the name of Trachea.
“Who has been to New Athos and has not visited the Iberian mountain is like someone who has been to Rome and has not seen the Pope in the Vatican” Anton Pavlovich Chekhov
The ancient city of Anakopia, or rather its ruins are located 350 meters above the sea level. Climbing to the top, you see only the ruins of the remaining towers and fortresses. But in old times it was a majestic and very large city on the Black Sea coast; it was the capital of the Abkhazian kingdom. This imposing and impregnable structure, surrounded on all sides by defensive lines, was a haven for the kings of Abkhazia.
More than once in its history the fortress has been the site of fierce and bloody battles. The Arabs had tried to conquer the fortress several times, but all their attempts ended in failure. During the history of the fortress nobody has been able to capture it. But unfortunately the fortress was destroyed during the war and revolution.
Another attraction of the fortress, is the inexhaustible well, which attracts a huge number of tourists and pilgrims. Water from the well is considered healing and life-giving. Take an empty bottle with you to draw water for your return journey.
The way to the ruins of the fortress is not easy, so wear comfortable shoes for walking and be sure to take water. You can get to the mountain on foot, but it is better to take a cab, passing by the New Athos Cave, then drive along Changba Street to the foot of the mountain. Then in front of you there will be a parking lot for cars, a viewing platform, and a rest area. If you travel by car, you leave it in the parking lot and go to the ticket office to buy a ticket. A full tour is 1.5 hours.
5. New Athos Monastery (Simon-Kanonite).
At the foot of Mount Athos located the male Orthodox monastery, which was founded in 1875 by Russian monks who came from Panteleimon Monastery, which is located in Greece on Mount Athos. The monks were looking for a place to build a new monastery and they chose this area because of the presence of the church of the Apostle Simon the Canonite, where according to tradition his relics are kept. In 1986 the monastery was built and illuminated.
In earlier times New Athos Monastery was considered one of the major spiritual centers of Caucasus.
The monastery was closed in 1924, by order of the Soviet authorities, for counter-revolutionary propaganda, and only in 1994 he began its revival.
In total, there are six churches on the territory of the monastery:
- Panteleimon’s Cathedral;
- Gateway Church of the Ascension;
- Church of the Holy Apostle Andrew;
- The temple in honor of the martyr Hieron;
- The Church in honor of the Venerable Fathers of Athos;
- Church in honor of the icon of the Mother of God “Deliverer”.
The walls and ceilings of the monastery are decorated with artistic paintings – frescoes, which depict the faces of the saints. Also on the territory of the monastery there is a garden, a lot of flowers, ancient trees and a stunning view of the sea and New Athos.
The monastery is located in New Athos at the foot of the mountain, it can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. To get to the monastery you can walk along the trail of sinners, or by waterfall along the royal path and another option – by car to the monastery. At the entrance to the monastery give out skirts and scarves, as the entrance in shorts and other inappropriate clothing is prohibited.
Cost: if you are traveling alone, the entrance to the monastery is free.
6. Waterfall “Maiden’s tears”.
On the way to Lake Ritsa, on the right bank of the river Bzyb, there is a waterfall “Maiden tears”. The waterfall, flowing down the rock, forms hundreds of crystal thin water jets. Most tour buses and backpackers stop here. Here you are bound to hear a beautiful and romantic legend about how the waterfall came to be. This place is also notable for the fact that all the bushes and grass near the waterfall are hung with colored shreds and ribbons, as it is believed that in this place grant all the wishes.
It is considered to be a place where wishes come true. It is not worth visiting only the waterfall, but it should be worth of spending 10-15 minutes here when you go to Lake Ritsa.
7. Castle of Prince of Oldenburg
The castle is located in the area of Old Gagra above the Seaside Park, not far from where the river Joekvara flows into the Black Sea. The castle was built in 1902 by Prince Oldenburgski, who came from the Russian imperial family. The castle was made in the Art Nouveau style with a red tiled roof, chimneys, beautiful balconies and falconer’s tower. The Prince planned to turn Gagra into the local Nice. Thanks to the built hotels, restaurants, water-treatment facilities, electricity, running water, telegraph and telephone, he was able to turn it into the best resort in the country. But to everyone’s regret, with the beginning of World War I, the prince was recalled to St. Petersburg and then to France. He never returned to Gagra.
After the revolution the palace was turned into Stalin’s rest house, and later was named “Chaika”. During the military actions in 1992-1993, the castle was robbed, burned and simply mutilated. Today it is in a deplorable condition and is continuing to deteriorate. Excursions are not conducted here, the entrance to the territory of the castle is prohibited (it is guarded). You can admire it only from outside.
To get to the castle from Novaya Gagra by cab is inexpensive (bargain). Or you can take a local fixed-route cab and get out at the stop “Abaata”.
Address: Abkhazia, Old Gagra, near the Seaside Park
8. Gagripsh Restaurant
Restaurant “Gagripsh” is located in Old Gagra in front of the fountain at the Seaside Park, it got its name thanks to the river of the same name flowing nearby. The unique building of the restaurant was brought in 1902 from Scandinavia in a dismantled form, Prince of Oldenburg bought it at the world exhibition in Paris. The restaurant opened its doors to visitors on January 9, 1903, on this day the Gagra resort was opened. At one time the restaurant was visited by: Nicholas II, Stalin, Anton Chekhov, Ivan Bunin, Maxim Gorky, Fyodor Chaliapin.
Despite the fact that the building of the restaurant is more than 100 years old the interior has remained almost unchanged. If possible, visit “Gagripsh”, order a glass of wine and enjoy the view of the sea from the balcony of the restaurant. And if you are very lucky, there is a chance to see the famous mechanical clock on the facade of the building being wound by hand.
The Big Guide to Abkhazia
Abkhazia is a place that many tourists underestimate, which is fundamentally wrong. Often people come here as part of tours, although it is better to travel wilderness. We tell you why.
Why is it cool in Abkhazia?
- This place is beautiful because it is without pathos. Here everything is clear, and you feel at home.
- You are guaranteed to get visual ecstasy from nature.
- In Abkhazia is tasty, drunk, hospitable and not as expensive as in Europe.
- The coastline of the Black Sea is 240 km, what to swim, what to watch is pleasant.
When is it better to go?
From March to April and from mid-September. Nature is either in bloom, or has not yet gone into hibernation. This is the ideal time to explore the country.
How to get to and through the border?
There are lines at the border!
If you arrive to the airport of Sochi (Adler) or to the railway station call a cab to the border. This is the most convenient and quick way to get to the border. From the airport it is only 12 km, and from central Sochi, where the railway station is located, there is a public transport. However, it is rare and very slow.
The border feels kind of arbitrary, but still there is one and even two: on the side of Russia and Abkhazia. You only need a Russian or foreign passport to check your documents. Everyone crosses the border only on foot, except for drivers of cars. Crossing the border can take from 10 minutes to several hours. It depends on the season and time of day. Border guards on the Russian side check documents and sometimes even things more thoroughly.
Transport in Abkhazia
The main way to travel on the territory of Abkhazia is by car. You can be driven between the cities by non-caring Abkhazians, most importantly, negotiate the price in advance. The drivers drive fast, dashing and in general in any condition, which is sometimes very scary. To wear a seat belt for them is tantamount to disrespect, but you get used to it after a day. The other side of the coin is that they are always ready to talk about all the interesting places, customs or even about their lives. Drivers and traffic police officers are always waving at each other on the highway – it’s cute.
They can take you anywhere, even to the next street or the other side of the country. There are also shuttles running between towns (almost all of them are along the coast), hop on, get to know the locals by learning the cultural specifics of the country, and don’t forget to look out the windows.
Prices and travel time:
- Shuttle to/from the border to/from Gagra: 150 rubles (travel about 40 minutes).
- Bus to/from the border to/from New Athos: 200 rubles (approx. 2 hours on the way).
- Bus to/from Sukhum: 250 rubles (approx. 2,5 hours by road).
Shuttle buses go to 18-19:30, and in summer season approximately to 21:00. By cab, of course, to travel faster and much more comfortable, but more expensive. It all depends on how you arrange.
- Cab to/from the border to/from Gagra: 800-1500 rubles.
- Cab from/to the border to/from New Athos: 2000-2500 rubles.
- Cab to/from Sukhum: 2500-3000 rubles.
Communications and Internet
With it all is tight: Tele2 does not work at all, and Megafon / Beeline / MTS have roaming only in cities, but, for example, not on the road between them or in the mountains. Wi-Fi is in every restaurant or hotel. You can buy a local SIM-card in the cellular office (A-Mobile, AQUAFON). All you need is a passport.
Districts of Abkhazia and what to see there
In total there are 7 districts and 8 cities, 4 urban settlements and 512 villages in Abkhazia. Tourists do not usually travel deep into the country without going far from the border. But all Abkhazia is filled with amazing places.
On the way to “Ritza” it is definitely worth stopping at the miracle lake. First of all, it is really very blue. Secondly, it is not frozen in winter and not heated in summer. Thirdly, the photos turn out bombastic, especially when there are no tourists. There is a rock you can sit on and feel like a magic mermaid.
Suspension bridge over the Bzyb River
Near the Blue Lake there will be a suspension bridge, which looks quite unreliable. It looks more like decoration of the movie about apocalypse. But if you want to tickle your nerves, you can try to walk along it. This attraction is not for the faint-hearted, so be careful.
Yupshar Canyon or “Stone Sack”.
The majestic and monumental gorge with steep cliffs, it looks like a portal into another dimension. The road is only 20 meters wide and is called Yupshar Gate. When you go to lake “Ritsa” be sure to stop there and feel the power of nature.
Mecca for tourists. This is due to the fantastic beauty of the place, hidden in the mountains. The view is so breathtaking that you want to scream. If you have been to Abkhazia, but have not been to “Ritza”, then you have to come back here again. Only remember that in winter you are unlikely to be taken there, the road can be impassable because of the snow. But closer to spring you are always welcome.
Psyrtskha Nature Reserve
In the off-season you may not see anyone on your way. From the start to the end of the trail is only about 500 meters, but you can walk there the whole day. If you see a trout in the Psyrtskha River, feed it, but do not catch it. A sign on the trail strictly condemns it. It is better to have a picnic with local cheese and wine. Almost at the very top of the reserve is the grotto of Simon Kananita. If you go there, do not be afraid of the man inside, he just keeps watch.
Entry fee: 200 rubles.
Psyrtskha railway station
The place with mad energy. Just imagine: half-ruined station built in 1944, the platform, where people no longer go out, palm trees and a blue reservoir with water lilies around. When you are there you can picture with your own eyes the heyday of Abkhazia. The time when tourists from all over the Union came here to spend their vacations in one of the best places in the country.
New Athos Waterfall (former hydroelectric dam)
You can start or end your walk through the reserve here. The place is balanced so that when it’s cool, the sun warms you, and when it’s hot, the spray from the waterfall cools you down. Relax on the benches and watch the power of the water.
New Athos Cave.
If you are a fanatic about caves with lakes, stalagmites, stalactites and even stalagmites, love the smell of damp, want to shout and listen to your echo – you are here. There are 6 halls for tours, and you can also catch a music concert right in this cave. This is even top.
Entrance fee: 500 rubles. For children under 8 years old – for free.
New Athos Simon-Canonite Monastery
If you’re not very interested in religious topics, then just walk around the territory and buy different goodies from the locals. You can, of course, look at Stalin’s dacha, but why?
Chernorechenskaya Trout Farm
Not the most popular place in Abkhazia, but this is rather a plus. Quietly walk through the boxwood grove, feel the coolness of the mountain river and learn about all the stages of trout farming is possible on this farm. You can also try the fish just caught for you.
Entry fee: 100 rubles.
Botanical Garden of Sukhumi
Catch zen among the bamboo grove, exotic plants and 300 year old linden trees.
Entrance fee: 250 rubles.
Sukhumi Central Market
Get ready for a quality aged phantasmagoria, although many Caucasian markets are like this. An experienced tourist won’t be surprised, but a beginner may be shocked. Horn, dirt, delicious food, completely unnecessary things, strange people mixed together. If you need to buy something, ask different vendors about the price and start haggling. Only then buy. A nice bonus is that they let you try everything.
It is a place absolutely everybody knows about in the city. Here Abkhazians play backgammon and chess. If you suddenly run out of money and you feel confident in these games, then there is a chance to raise money. All day long men play till they win.
There is a place outside of Sukhum where you can go even for a whole day, because it is a fairy tale. The gorge of extraordinary beauty with waterfalls, rocks, huge boulders, bright greenery, a mountain river and bridges between the banks.
Entry fee: 100 rubles.
Where to live?
You can find everything on Ostrovka (it shows options in Abkhazia): hotels, apartments, villas, hostels. Finding an apartment or a room on the spot is a past age. Prices in the season for one night range from 500 rubles for a room for two to 18,000 for a villa for 9 people. Proven good hotels:
- Gagra: Aquamarine Family Club Hotel – Abazgaa Street, 58
- Pitsunda: Pitsunda Cat – 16, Sadovaya str.
- New Athos: Afon Resort Hotel – 14 B Lakoba str.
- Sukhum: Boutique Hotel Atrium-Victoria – 4, Aiaira str.
What to bring?
- In running the Russian ruble. Be sure to take cash, because there will be no problems with it, but you might have problems with a card. Do not complicate your vacation looking for ATMs, they are not on every corner there, plus the commission. Although it is easier to pay by cashless than a few years ago, but mostly only in Sukhum, Gagra and New Athos.
- Power Bank. You will need it, as the flow of photos will be constant.
- Handkerchief or foam for picnics in the reserve or on the beach. You will definitely want to just stop and sit in some magical place your way.
The best beaches in Abkhazia
Bathing begins in May and ends in October. The beaches are supposed to be free, but on some you have to pay a small fee for a sunbed or awning.
- The beach in Pitsunda is an ideal combination of crystal clear water and a pine grove, where you can wait out the scorching heat. There are almost never strong currents and waves. The beach, as almost everywhere else in Abkhazia is pebbly, but if you walk a little further you’ll find a mix of sand and gravel.
- Beach in Gagra is water attractions and restaurants here in abundance, but also a lot of tourists because of developed service. It is possible to find more private place, if you walk a little further from the crowd, but still you can’t have a rest like a savage.
- Beach “Mussera” is one of the wildest beaches, without the hustle and bustle of tourists. It is located on the protected territory of the Pitsundo-Musseri Reserve. A small cozy beach, hidden in the dense vegetation and rocks with a view of Gorbachev’s dacha. The mountains here are close to the shore, and one of the riches of this place can be seen under your feet, because there is sand. But there is no special infrastructure here. If you get tired of getting hot in the sun, you can see what dachas the Soviet leaders had a rest on: Stalin and the already mentioned Gorbachev.
- The beach “Gold Coast” is another beach that only a few people will go to in search of a quiet atmosphere without any extravagances. The sandy-pebbly beach is located 20 km from the city of Gudauta. It is very wide and there are some nice cafes nearby.
- The beach “Mocha” in Sukhum is one of the most sandy beaches in Abkhazia, and this is a rarity. With quite developed infrastructure: a cafe, restaurant, tour desk, volleyball court, locker room, toilet and most importantly – wi-fi. It is also possible to ride a banana, for example. At the entrance you must pay about 100 rubles for a deck chair with a canopy.
Interacting with Abkhazians
Abkhazians are very hospitable people. They can easily offer to drink homemade wine, chacha, eat cheese or invite you into the house. In Abkhazia they treat tourists well and are always ready to help you, for example, if you have broken your lighter.
What to try in Abkhazia
Apatskhas (also called simply patskhas) are local Abkhazian restaurants. There are quite a few of them, so ask the locals which apatskha is the best. On this basis, keep the course there. The interior is very simple, it is rare to find a tourist inside, mostly apatskha is for locals. Large noisy companies, often divided by gender, as if into two camps, an endless stream of food and songs live.
With good restaurants in Abkhazia is more difficult, but there are those that are worth a look, because they are already legends:
- Restaurant “Gagripsh” – a real symbol of the city of Gagra, preserved in good condition to our time. The resort in Gagra was founded by a relative of Nicholas II, Prince Alexander Oldenburgsky, who bought this restaurant in disassembled condition in Norway. Many famous people of different times have visited this restaurant: Chekhov, Bunin, Gorky, Stalin, Chaliapin, and also the last some members of the royal family.
- Restaurant “Guada” in New Athos. Not in the summer season is the only place where you can eat tasty and decent. The Italian cuisine restaurant will give you a break between shish kebab and mamaliga (Abkhazian corn porridge).
- Restaurant “Ertsakhu” in Sukhum, despite the pretentiousness of the hall and some pompousness, you have to go there for a tasty meal. True, you can get to someone’s birthday party of 200-300 people (and it’s still not that much!).
- The restaurant “Nartaa” in Sukhum in the form of a large Abkhazian courtyard is right on the waterfront. Gazebo, greenery, sea, food. What else do you need to live?
- Restaurant “Assir” in Chernigovka. Tables and gazebos are located right above the mountain river. Here you can also taste the national cuisine, combined with a magical walk through the gorge.
The average bill per person with alcohol (what can you do without it?) is 500-1000 roubles. Almost everywhere the bill already includes a tip of 10%.
What to eat?
- Mamaliga with cheese – corn porridge (although locals may take offense at the word porridge. For them it is bread).
- Sulugun smoked fried.
- Doodles – they are also khachapuri
- Chicken in Abkhazian style
- Trout (grown in Abkhazia)
- Shish kebab and lamb kebab
- Beans / eggplants with nuts
- Corn flatbread with cheese
What to drink?
Naturally, local wine or chacha, it is impossible to get poisoned by it here (unlike in Russia). Wine in a restaurant costs about 400 rubles per bottle, and in the store about 200 rubles. It is very difficult not to get drunk here, which is true. And you should drink only dry!