Georgia: Kutaisi, Tbilisi and beyond

We visited Georgia in August 2018 when WizzAir introduced the direct route Bucharest-Kutaisi. We organized it as a 2 in 1 trip, having also several days to spend in Azerbaijan. We decided not to rent a car due to the bad state of the roads, the numerous animals (cows, pigs) walking free on the roads and because drivers there tend to engage in dangerous overtaking (very frequent). The people we met were nice and helpful, even though not everybody speaks English. It ended up being an interesting experience and a journey to remember.

Day 1:

Our flight landed in Kutaisi around noon, so we decided to spend the rest of the day getting acquainted with the city. You will not need more than several hours for this visit. Regarding transportation, the cheapest (and best) option is the service offered by the Georgian Bus. They generally match the timetable with the incoming flights hours, but we missed the bus and had to take a taxi for 30 Gel (9.8 euros).

Kutaisi City Center

Day 2:

Before the trip we compared the prices and offers of different tour providers from Kutaisi and decided to choose Budget Georgia (local tour operator).

The first trip we took was called “Canyons and Caves” and we paid 35 Gel/person (including an English speaking guide, transportation by a minivan and a small group – 6 participants + driver+guide). This was a full day trip. For the attractions tickets you can buy a combo ticket- 50 Gel/person. However, if you have a student card (we used the ESN card) you will need to pay only 2-5 Gel for each entry, so it will be cheaper not to have this combo ticket.

The itinerary was organized as follows: Oktase Canyon (here we had to choose between hiking for 1 h or an off-road trip with a car – 25 Gel/2 persons in order to reach the actual canyon from the parking place), Martvili Canyon, lunch in a remote village (10 minutes away from the Prometeus Cave, with just a few households), Prometeus Cave.

Oktase Canyon
Oktase Canyon
Martvili Canyon

Day 3:

For the second full-day spent in Georgia we chose another day trip from Budget Georgia, “Ancient Georgia”, with 105 Gel/person. The transportation was similar and the group smaller (4 persons + driver/guide).

Itinerary: Borjomi (we visited the city, the park and its Prometeus statue and waterfall and the mineral springs. Entry price to the park: 2 Gel/person), Rabati fortress (6 Gel/person) and Vardzia (the caves town, located close to the border with Armenia and Turkey, 8 Gel/person). On our way back we tried Nazuki, a traditional half-moon shaped sweet bread that you can find only on a few km distance in that area.

Buildings in Borjomi
Prometeus’ Statue in the Borjomi Reserve
Rabati Fortress’ courtyard
Rabati Fortress from above
Vardzia
Vardzia

Day 4:

In the morning we left the Kutaisi accommodation in order to take the bus to Tbilisi. We used Georgian Bus from the city centre to the airport (5 Gel/person, the stop is in front of McDonalds according to the schedule on their website; do not expect to see an actual bus, it was in fact a minivan for 8 persons) and then from the airport to Tbilisi. The first trip lasted for 30 minutes, while the other one for around 4 hours. The price was 20 Gel/person and the bus stops in Liberty Square, a central spot in Tbilisi.

For the rest of the day we visited the city: the Old Town, Peace Bridge.

Day 5:

For this day we decided to join Chita Travel’s group trip to Mtskheta and Gori with 40 Gel/person. The group was quite big (10 + persons), meaning that there were a lot of delays due to the participants. This itinerary included important landmarks of the area around Tbilisi.

 It lasted for almost a full day (10:00-19:30) and it included visits to: Mtskheta, Jvari, Uplistsikhe, Gori (including Stalin’s Museum) and a small traditional wine cellar.

At the end of this day we took the night train to Baku. More information regarding this can be found in the article about Azerbaijan.

Uplistsikhe

Day 6,7 8 & 9:

We chose to spend these days in Azerbaijan. You can find more information regarding our itinerary and experience there in the dedicated article.

Day 10:

The Baku-Tbilisi train arrived with 1 h of delay, at 11:30 in the morning. We used this day to visit more of what Tbilisi has to offer, experience the city vibe, wine and food. We found a Machakhela restaurant near our accommodation, which we can recommend if you are searching for a cozy non-expensive place to eat.

Regarding the landmarks visited, the following were on our list: the Botanical Garden, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Tbilisi Mosque, Mother Georgia Statue.

Tbilisi
Tbilisi
“Georgian Snickers”: traditional sweets made out of nuts and fruits

Day 11:

We used this day for transportation back home, first by bus (Tbilisi-Kutaisi Aiprort, with Georgian Bus) and then by plane (Kutaisi-Bucharest).

Traditional dishes you need to try: Khachapuri (bread dough and cheese, sometimes also including an egg on top), khinkali, churchkhela (locals refer to it as the “Georgian Snickers”, a very nice sweet snack made of fruits and nuts).

Accommodation costs (per 2 persons):

  • In Kutaisi: entire apartment on Airbnb, centrally located, 73 Euros/3 nights: Airbnb link here
  • In Tbilisi: entire apartment on Airbnb, centrally located, 50 Euros/2 nights: Airbnb link here

Flight costs: Bucharest-Kutaisi-Bucharest 536 Ron/2 persons (aprox. 114 Euros)

Other prices:

  • Average price of a meal for 2 persons: 23 Gel;
  • Metro/Bus ticket: 0.5 Gel;
  • Metro/bus rechargeable card: 2 Gel.

Good to know:

  • There is an app developed in Georgia called Guide-U that you can use for ideas, itineraries, places to eat, etc. For us it did not work because it was still under development, but it seemed to have a nice interface;

Useful links:

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