As one of the oldest settlements in Europe, Kutaisi in Georgia is full of old-world charm. Its honey-hued buildings sit closely together along the Rioni River and ancient landmarks such as the Bagrati Cathedral rise over its roofs. Through its streets, you’ll find colourful spice-filled bazaars, vintage-themed cafés and UNESCO-listed monasteries. Kutaisi is also the jumping-point to the lush Imereti region, where caves, mountain slopes and a canyon provide some impressive day hikes.
You can find Kutaisi hostels all across town, whether close to the river or in the city’s historic district. Many are housed in Kutaisi’s old buildings, which feature wooden floors, tall ceilings and stucco sculpturing. Some have balconies with views over the city, while others have gardens with barbecue areas. Look out for a Kutaisi hostel that organises events like walking tours, pub crawls and day trips if you’re after a social vibe. You can also find hostels with in-house bars, as well as home-cooked breakfasts with ingredients provided by local farmers.
Kutaisi is built around the Rioni River with the city centre on the left banks, and the old city on its right banks. The Rustaveli Bridge sits in between the two sides and takes you along Rustaveli Avenue where you’ll find beautifully decorated cafés, as well as the main information centre. On the outskirts of town, Tskaltubo is known for its abandoned sanatoriums (spas), which are well worth a visit if you’re into architecture. A 30-minute drive outside Kutaisi’s centre will take you deeper into the Imereti region, home to some of the country’s most dramatic scenery.
While in town, check out some of its impressive monuments, like the Colchis Fountain in Tsentraluri Moedani Square and the Kutaisi State Historical Museum. Slightly out of town is the Gelati Monastery, a Georgian medieval masterpiece with World Heritage Site status. The Green Bazaar is the city’s vibrant marketplace, where you can pick up spices, fruit and Georgian delicacies like churchkhela, a nutty sweet. Within an hour’s drive, you'll find Okatse Canyon, which has a thrilling walkway hanging off the cliff's edge, and the stalagmite-filled Prometheus Cave.
Kutaisi’s nearest international airport is 24km away in Kopitnari. To get into town from here, you’ll need to hop on a marshrutka (minibus). You can also get a marshrutka from Tbilisi (a 4-hour journey). Travelling by train? The station is 1km south of the city centre and runs from various cities. Use the city bus to get around town – it follows a circular route linking the station with the centre.