Kutaisi (Georgia) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Kutaisi with descriptions, travel guides and maps.
City of Kutaisi (Georgia).
Kutaisi is the third largest city in Georgia and the capital of the Imereti region. It is located in the west of the country on the banks of the Rioni River. Kutaisi is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and one of the most beautiful in Georgia. It is believed to have been founded more than 4 thousand years ago. Since the times of ancient Colchis, Kutaisi is considered the capital of western Georgia and a traditional rival of Tbilisi. In addition, there are two sights that are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Bagrat’s Temple and Gelati Monastery.
Things to do (Kutaisi):
€40 per tour.
Kutaisi through the Ages
Highlights, picturesque streets, and spicy aromas on a soulful sightseeing tour
From €180 per excursion
Georgia’s best rafting from Kutaisi!
Embark on an exciting adventure and explore the natural and historical sites of Racha
Geography and Climate
Kutaisi is located in western Georgia on the banks of the Rioni River, 220 km from Tbilisi and 150 km from Batumi. The average altitude ranges from 120 to 300 meters above sea level. The climate is temperate warm. Summers are hot and humid, winters are mild with some frosts. The annual rainfall is more than 1000 mm.
Streets of Kutaisi
- The population is 152.9 thousand people.
- The area is 70.0 sq.km.
- The language is Georgian.
- Currency is Georgian lari.
- Time – UTC +4.
- Visa – not required for up to 360 days.
Some scientists believe that Kutaisi was founded about 4 thousand years ago. Archaeological excavations confirm that the settlement on the site of the modern city was as early as the 5th-6th century BC. The first written mention of Kutaisi dates back to the 2nd century B.C. and is associated with the famous poem “Jason and the Argonauts” by Apollonius of Rhodes.
Since ancient times, Kutaisi was the capital of the ancient Georgian kingdoms: Colchis and Egrisi. In the 6th century the city, as the capital of Egrisi, was between the Persians and Byzantium. Since the 8th century Kutaisi was the capital of the united state of Egrisi and Abkhazia. In the 10th century for more than a century the city bore the status of the united Georgia.
The panorama of Kutaisi
In 1122, after liberation of Tbilisi, Kutaisi lost the status of the Georgian capital. Despite this, the city has not lost its importance throughout its later history. In 1760 it was captured by the Turks, but 10 years later it was liberated by Russian troops. In 1810 Kutaisi was annexed to the Russian Empire.
How to get there
International airport of Kutaisi is located 14 km from the city. Flights to Kutaisi are: Budapest, Vilnius, Kiev, Warsaw, London, Moscow. Busses and trains connect the city with Batumi, Tbilisi and Mtskheta.
Streets of Kutaisi
The market is located on Zakharia Paliashvili Street in the direction of Bagrat Cathedral. Here you can buy fruits, vegetables, food, wine and much more. Many stores can be found in the area of Tsereteli Street.
In Kutaisi you can find many good and inexpensive restaurants scattered throughout the historic center. Traditional dishes: ojakhuri (fried meat with potatoes), khachapuri, satsivi, chakondrili, hinkali, bozartma (soup with lamb or chicken), chihirtma, chahohbili (meat soup), mtsvadi (kebab), pkhali (vegetables with garlic and nuts).
Bagrat’s Cathedral is a medieval temple, one of the masterpieces of Georgian architecture. It was built in the 11th century by King Bagrat III, the first king of united Georgia. The cathedral was blown up by the Turks in the 17th century and was restored only in 2012. The church is impressive for its size, interior, old Georgian symbols and ornaments. Bagrat Cathedral is included in the UNESCO list.
Gelati Monastery is a medieval monastery founded in the early 12th century by King David the Builder. Included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is a masterpiece of architecture, where ancient kings of Georgia, including David the Builder, are buried. The churches of the monastery have beautiful ancient frescoes.
Prometheus Cave is one of the largest and most beautiful caves in Europe, discovered in 1984. It is located near Kutaisi among the dense forests of western Georgia. The cave is huge and amazing underground halls with stalactites, stalagmites, petrified waterfalls, and cave pearls.
Nikortsminda is a medieval cathedral with amazing ornaments and ancient frescoes. It was built in the 11th century by Bagrat III and is located in the historic area of Racha. Nikortsminda Cathedral is situated 60 km from Kutaisi.
Shaori – one of the most picturesque lakes in Georgia, located 50 km from Kutaisi.
Khareba or Church of the Annunciation – is located in the historic center of Kutaisi and was built in rare for Georgia baroque style in the 19th century.
Motsameta is a small medieval 11th-century monastery near Kutaisi. Was also founded by Bagrat.
Parliament is an ultra-modern Georgian Parliament building built in the 2000s by Spanish architect Domingo Cabo.
Okatse is a picturesque canyon with a waterfall, which is formed by the river of the same name.
Other places of interest in Kutaisi:
- The old town, which has been significantly renovated in the last ten years. We recommend seeing the opera theater, the Lado Meskhishvili Drama Theater, the Chardakhi Okros, and a stroll along the Rioni promenade.
- Historical Museum – contains more than 150 thousand items of Georgian cultural heritage from the early Middle Ages to later periods. The museum also has rare archaeological finds from the Roman and Byzantine periods.
- Botanical Garden – contains about 700 species of plants of trees and shrubs.
€120 per excursion
Magara Cave – Neanderthal “multistory”
Ancient Sites in Georgia’s Subtropical Forests
€140 per tour
Abandoned villages of western Georgia
An unusual trip to the mountains for medicinal herbs and wonderful Georgian cuisine
What to see in Kutaisi – Top of the most interesting sights
We’ve compiled a list of the most interesting sights that you must see if you fly to Kutaisi.
And it’s convenient to fly to Kutaisi – it’s not only Georgia’s “second capital” and a convenient point in terms of logistics, but also an airport that accepts low-cost carriers. For example, the base of Wizzair airline is located in Kutaisi.
Some tourists, given the cheap tickets and prices for holidays in Kutaisi, fly here and go straight to Tbilisi. We do not advise to do so – the road by cab or bus will take 3.5 – 4 hours. You will actually lose a day and you will be tired. It is better to stay in Imeretia – it is no less interesting region than Tbilisi suburbs.
For those who do go to Tbilisi, learn about the best way to get there and travel ideas from Tbilisi.
What to see in Kutaisi
Devote at least a day to Kutaisi itself – the city is large and significant. It is where the parliament of Georgia is located. Kutaisi has played an important role in the life of the country at all times. In the vicinity of the city recently found the traces of the presence of ancient people and dinosaurs. Here the main historical events took place during the time of David the Builder and the Golden Age of Georgia. Not so long ago Kutaisi was a city of thieves in the law, although today, like any other city in the country, is absolutely safe.
Be sure to walk through the narrow streets of the old city. The narrow streets of the old town boast carved balconies in the Georgian style and the majestic villas, “palaces” of former local bosses, which are only a small part of the local color. Take a ride on the cable car that offers spectacular panoramas of the city.
Be sure to visit Bagrat’s Cathedral which is the main temple in the city. It is located on a mountain, and from there you can see the whole of Kutaisi. The temple is interesting not only from a historical and religious point of view, but also from an architectural point of view. Just recently the restoration was completed – the architectural solutions in Art Nouveau style combined with the ancient walls are definitely worth your attention.
If you get hungry, check out the iconic Kebab Bikentia, which has been around since 1956. It’s a kind of McDonald’s in the Kutaisi way. They’ve been serving kebab here for 60 years. And only kebabs, nothing else on the menu. And there’s no menu – everyone knows why they go there anyway. There are no chairs and you have to eat quickly and standing behind the wooden “window sills”. The price is ridiculous – a kebab costs 5 GEL. It’s cooked in a minute. The kabobs are served on old porcelain plates in flowers sometimes with scuffed edges.
It’s a family business that has survived several eras and generations. Why? Because it’s delicious. Incredibly good cooking – like for yourself. Juicy kebab, floating in atypical for this dish gravy, a slice of the freshest bread and a glass of tarragon. Believe me, no other restaurant would feed you like this behind a white tablecloth. Kebabnaja is located in the very center – next to the famous fountain. If you can not find it – ask any cab driver.
By the way, pay attention to the fountain, too. It is a large tiered fountain, decorated with 30 copies of figurines of the Bronze Age. The figures were found during archaeological excavations and belong to the Colchis culture. Therefore, the fountain is called the Colchis fountain.
Martville Canyons are the pearl of the region. It is a place of amazing beauty – cascading waterfalls, rock gorge, turquoise water. Traces of dinosaurs and primitive people have been found here. Magic works in Martvili – it seems that a dinosaur is about to look out from behind the bush For the summer season 2016 in Martvili Canyons the improvement of the surrounding area is finished – to visit this place will become much more comfortable.
At the top of the canyon you can go boating or SUP-ing. And if you go down the ancient stairs to the lower part, you can swim in the baths, which once bathed the king himself.
The trip to Martville Canyons takes almost a whole day. But if you want to make a denser program – visit the Chkondidi Monastery, which is very close. It is one of the main temples of the region and all of Georgia, although it is small.
No less interesting is Okatse Canyon. It is very different from the Martville Canyon in picture and general atmosphere, but really impressive. After walking a few kilometers through the beautiful ancient park, you find yourself on the slope of a deep gorge, at the bottom of which the river runs. Next is an adventure for the strong of spirit. On a narrow ramp you can walk over the canyon to the observation deck. Here you don’t know what takes your breath away more – the beauty surrounding you or the fear.
After admiring the natural beauty, devote the next day to history. Very close to Kutaisi is one of the main monasteries of the country – Gelati. It is worth to visit it – it’s the best place in Georgia. Here is buried King David the Builder, here is the iron gate of Ganja, taken out by David’s son, here is an old observatory and Gelati Academy. Even the tomb of Queen Tamar, according to one of the versions, is located in Gelati. The place is strong in every way.
Next, go to the monastery of Motsameta. This church is hidden on top of a mountain between two gorges. The panoramas around are amazing. But Motsameta doesn’t just impress with the views. It is a place of worship. Once upon a time two brothers, David and Constantine, refused to accept Islam from the invaders, took a martyr’s death and were buried on this very spot.
If you want something special, set aside a day to travel to Chiatura. This is the famous city of cable cars. There are more of them here than in any other city in Europe. Chiatura is an industrial city. Once it was the main center of manganese mining. All the slopes of the neighboring mountains are riddled with mines. Cable cars were used not only to transport people, but also to transport minerals. A huge railroad junction carried the ore further across the country. Now the mines operate on a much smaller scale – the town has fallen into disrepair, but remains inhabited.
A picture of Chiatura is a time machine. If you want to plunge back into the Soviet Union, this is the place to go. A cobweb of cable cars flows into a cobweb of railroad tracks, monumental monuments of the Soviet period stand as shadows of the past and above it all the proud inscription “Chiatura – our pride” hovered. To the amateur, of course, but curious.
On the way back pay attention to the Katshi pole. It is very similar to the famous Greek Meteora. On top of the vertical rock is a male monastery. At the top, of course, you will not be allowed. It is not only dangerous, but also forbidden. If a monk climbed up and renounced the worldly life, he had no way back, he could not come down.
One day is definitely worth devoting to the caves of Imereti. There are several of them here. The most interesting and accessible to tourists are Prometheus Cave and Sataplia Cave.
Traces of dinosaurs were found in Sataplia.
And in Prometheus cave you can swim in a boat.
Also from Kutaisi it is convenient to visit the land of the towers of the sky and high mountains – Svaneti. It is an amazing region in every way. It has the highest mountains, special cuisine, and most importantly, special culture. Svans have carried their special traditions and customs through centuries, even their language is very special.
As you can see, there really is a lot to see near Kutaisi. So don’t rush to the capital – stay here at least for a couple of days. You won’t regret it
Do you want to come here? Viva-Georgia team will organize a tour or an excursion for you, make the best itinerary and provide any other assistance in your trip.