Kutaisi has it all – impressive cathedrals, beautiful countryside, authentic markets, cool museums, a river, a cable car over the river, a well-preserved old town, and a quaint spirit. It just feels cool, you know!
It’s often compared to Tbilisi, which I really liked too. But Kutaisi has this smaller medieval town vibe that Tbilisi cannot replicate, not even in its own Old Town – Dzveli Tbilisi.
Here are the best things to do in Kutaisi!
Things to do in Kutaisi (Central Area)
Kutaisi is not a very big city. Most of the things worth seeing are situated in the city center, which is as walkable as it gets.
1. The Green Bazaar
While in the city center, make sure to visit the Green Bazaar, located between Shota Rustavelli Avenue and Michael Lermontov Street.
There you can browse all kinds of different clothes for the unreliable Imeretian weather or go through all the produce that people from Kutaisi and the region bring to sell: churkchella, cheese, fruits and veggies, meat, etc.
While there, find the fresh bread stand and get a Shoti bread (or Shotis Puri)- it’s the best!
2. Colchis Fountain
The Colchis Fountain is a popular meeting spot for Kutaisians. It pays respects to the ancient kingdom of Colchis, which is where the Argonauts went to take the Golden Fleece.
Yup, that was in Georgia. The Fountain is quite impressive and a must-see in Kutaisi.
3. Kutaisi Park
Right in front of Colchis Fountain, you will find Kutaisi’s central park.
Also sometimes called the Royal Garden because it was a gift for Princess Darejan by King Solomon I of Imereti.
Locals, however, call it The Boulevard, because of the big streets on both sides of the park and the colonnaded entrance.
Look for the statue of Sisters Ishkhneli. They were a folk quartet born in Kutaisi that got incredibly famous in Georgia in the 1940s.
4. White Bridge
The history of the White Bridge is quite interesting. It was originally built in 1852 but was soon after destroyed in 1860. It was reconstructed most recently in 2010.
Today, it stands as a symbol of Kutaisi’s resilience and innovation, a bridge between the city’s past and future.
The bridge’s design is a blend of traditional Georgian engineering and sleek modernity. As you cross the White Bridge, take a moment to appreciate the statue of a boy holding a hat, a tribute to the children who used to play in the river below.
Some of the bridge’s floor panels have been replaced with transparent glass. It’s quite cool to be able to look under and see the river.
Museums in Kutaisi
Kutaisi’s museums are small, to the point, and a little bit weird. Some come with a huge pinch of communist history and feel to them.
5. Kutaisi State Historical Museum
For the adult ticket price of just 6 GEL (2.3$), this is the best museum to give you an overview of Kutaisi. Don’t expect that much information though – this museum is more about looking than reading.
It exhibits medieval weapons, and ancient tools and has disappointingly little history given the name.
6. Kutaisi Museum of Sport
During the Cold War, Soviet states and countries of the Warsaw Pact were investing a lot in all kinds of sports. Sport was seen as an arena of competition with the ‘capitalist West’ and medals from the Olympics were as good as war trophies.
The Kutaisi Museum of Sport is a blast from the past. It feels old, smells old, and displays trophies from at least 30 years ago with absolutely no context – not a single info panel.
It’s free to enter and is worth it if not for the information, then at least for its bizarre look and feel.
7. National Museum of Military Glory
It’s named ‘National’, but there are similarly named museums in many Georgian cities, including Gori and Tbilisi.
This one exhibits photos and a few items of significance related to WW2 (or The Great Patriotic War, as it was called in the USSR) and the more recent war with Russia from 2008.
It’s free to enter.
Cathedrals and Churches
Georgia is very religious and there are churches everywhere in the country – from the lowlands to the high mountains. The Georgians are seriously pious and it will be incredibly amiss if I don’t include the churches and cathedrals that Kutaisi has to offer to its visitors.
8. Bagrati Cathedral
Just a short walk away from the city center one can get to Bagrati Cathedral, one of the great cathedrals of Georgian Christianity.
It was built in 1003 during the reign of King Bagrat III, hence the name.
I have bad news for you though. Even though the cathedral looks very nice today, it was extensively renovated in the past 20 or so years changing its authentic look drastically.
This even meant the cathedral lost its UNESCO status!
9. Holy Annunciation temple
Set in the Catholic district of Kutaisi (also referred to as the French Quarter), you can find the imposing Holy Annunciation Church.
Why Catholic and why French? All due to some missionaries from the Franciscan Order that you probably know as the Capuchins.
Did they invent Cappuccino? Actually, it’s quite likely, although it happened in Vienna, not in Kutaisi.
When the friars arrived in Kutaisi, they settled on the left bank of the River Rioni, the one under the White Bridge. That territory was from then on called the French Quarter.
In 1862, King Solomon II granted Catholic Missionaries a place to build a Catholic Church. And so the Holy Annunciation Church was born.
10. St. George Church
The Church of St. George is located on the edge of the Jewish Quarter. It was built in 1725.
The church was initially Armenian. Then during the Soviet period, the church was closed.
In 1989, it was reopened but as a Georgian Orthodox Church.
11. The Jewish Quarter
Kutaisi’s Jewish Quarter is everything north of Meskhishvili Theatre but south of the Rioni River. There are many cute guesthouses in this area and not one, not two, but whole 3 synagogues serving the Jewish population!
The main one is the Kutaisi Synagogue is the second-largest in Georgia after the one in Tbilisi. It was built in 1861 and is open for visitors for two hours in the morning (8-10 AM) and two more in the evening (8-10 PM).
It kind of looks a bit like a Communist building with the symmetry and the sharp edges.
The other two synagogues are much smaller and easy to miss. Search for them on Boris Gaponov Street.
12. Cable Car to Gabashvili Park
From where the Old Town hugs the Rioni River, there is a cable car station. For 1 GEL you can take it to get across the river and on top of the hill overlooking Kutaisi (Gabashvili Park) for some nice views.
The walk back is about 15 minutes if you decide to skip the cable car. The park itself resembles a fair, so unless you’re 13 or you fancy some ice cream, there really isn’t much to do there apart from the views towards Kutaisi.
Where to sleep in Kutaisi
Kutaisi is geared towards tourism. Ever since Wizz Air started flying cheaply from Kutaisi to select European destinations, it has experienced a boom in tourism.
And a boom in tourism comes with an increase in accommodation options.
A cute guesthouse is the way to go for people who can’t splurge on an expensive hotel but want comfort, privacy, and to feel a little pampered.
Pick Makos Guesthouse close to the Botanical Gardens. Awesome breakfast, free bike rental, and a swimming pool are just some of the amenities.
How to get to Kutaisi
Kutaisi has a rather central location within Georgia and is well connected to the rest of the country. One could even say it’s something of a transportation hub too!
Tbilisi to Kutaisi
There are direct marshrutkas from Didube Station going towards Kutaisi. There are at least 10 of these daily and you will have no problems finding the next one as you leave the subway station at Didube.
The same can be said about marshrutkas going from Kutaisi to Tbilisi. They run around the clock departing from Kutaisi Bus Station, right next to Kutaisi II train station (a bit out of the city).
There are also trains linking Georgia’s two largest cities which are notoriously slow. Check timetables and book online on the official website.
Travel time between Kutaisi and Tbilisi is around 5 hours. If you want to break up the journey, consider stopping at Gori and exploring Stalin’s Museum and Uplistsikhe Cave Town.
Batumi to Kutaisi
Much the same way as Tbilisi, there are direct marshrutkas between Batumi and Kutaisi. They depart Batumi from the Batumi Intercity Bus Station right beside the Train Station.
Journey time is around 5 hours.
How to get from Kutaisi to Kutaisi Bus Station
Kutaisi is a small city and you won’t need to take its public transport to visit most of the things to do on this list.
One big exception is the Kutaisi Bus Station which is around 5 km from the Old Town.
As you leave the bus station, look for marshrutka #1 which will take you directly to the city center. It stops at Central Square at Tsereteli St. (among other places) where you can catch it to go back to the bus station.
Payment is to the driver as you go in, cash only.
What day trips to take from Kutaisi?
Although this post explored the best things to do in Kutaisi, there are many fascinating destinations less than 2 hours around the city.
Some of the best ones include:
- Tskaltubo Resort and its abandoned bathhouses and spa centers;
- Prometheus Cave;
- Tetra Cave;
- Sataplia Nature Reserve;
- Gelati and Motsameta Monasteries;
- Chiatura and its awesome lifts used as public transport;
- Many other caves, monasteries, museums, geysers, nature reserves, and fortresses.
I visited a few of these as day trips and I have shared my experiences and recommendations in this post about day trips from Kutaisi.