Things to Do in Kutaisi

Things to Do in Kutaisi

The city of Kutaisi boasts an ancient history, with people living there long before it was first written about. From at least the 5th-6th century BC to the 11th century AD, it was the main city of Georgia. In more recent times, it was home to the Georgian Parliament from 2012 to 2019.
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Perhaps the most famous story about Kutaisi concerns the Argonauts, who traveled through the city on their quest for a magical golden fleece. It has prehistoric significance too, as scientists have found the fossils of dinosaurs at the nearby Sataplia Nature Reserve. Ultimately, Kutaisi is a city rich in historical importance, ancient and modern, and in all sorts of respects.

Is Kutaisi worth visiting?

Of course! While it may not have the cosmopolitan flair of the capital city Tbilisi, Kutaisi should be high on the hit-list for anyone visiting Georgia. It contains a plethora of historical sites and natural wonders, satisfying the curious thirsts of any explorer. 

Why is Kutaisi famous?

Kutaisi has always been and remains a major landmark in the broad and rich tapestry of Georgian historical sites. From the architectural splendor of the central courthouse to the UNESCO-listed Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery, to the natural majesty of Okatse Canyon and Prometheus Cave, tourists (domestic and foreign) flock to the city in great numbers every year.

How to get around in Kutaisi

Navigating your way around Kutaisi is blissfully simple Given the city’s relatively small size, this is manageable on foot, particularly in the older, historic central parts where the majority of main sites are found. Kutaisi is also well served with buses, minibuses (marshrutkas), and countless taxis if you’re looking to visit one of the enchanting sites on the city’s outskirts, like Okatse Canyon. Meanwhile, for sites a little further afield, like Prometheus Cave, you can rent a car for a relatively inexpensive price.

Is 1 day enough for Kutaisi?

If you rise early and retire late, it might be possible to cover all of the highlights of Kutaisi and its vicinity in one day. However, ideally, you’d devote at least an extra day to this unique part of Georgia. Overall, we’d recommend spending around three days to take it all in at a leisurely pace.

Bagrati Cathedral is certainly one of Kutaisi’s must-see sights. Also called the “Cathedral of the Dormition,” it sits atop the towering Ukimerioni Hill and was once a symbol of both the city’s ancient glory and its architectural prowess. It was constructed in the early 11th century AD during the reign of King Bagrat III in honor of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It was heavily fortified to counter a Mongol invasion in the 13th century and the Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur in the 14th century, before the Ottomans finally succeeded in destroying it, with the exception of some original frescoes, in the 17th century.

Today, the view from the cathedral is incredible — particularly at sunset — as it looks over what feels like the entirety of Kutaisi. Although not quite as panoramic, be sure to also make your way to the smaller Sister’s Hill behind the cathedral, where yet another 360-degree view awaits.

Elsewhere, Motsameta Monastery, dating back to the 8th century AD, is another essential place to visit. Located in the dense Colchic forest, while walking to the monastery, you can savor the natural beauty of the wider Imereti region. According to an old legend,  if you crawl underneath the crypts at Motsameta Monastery, all your wishes will come true. 

Another spot not to be missed is the Kutaisi Botanical Garden, found just one kilometer from the city center. Its flora is wonderfully diverse with 700 different kinds of plants. An amble through the splendid grounds here leads you to its best-known feature, a chapel constructed inside a 400-year-old oak tree trunk. 

All in all, Kutaisi is an incredibly rewarding destination for any traveler looking for mystifying history, abundant natural magnificence, and a little warmth from the locals. Make no mistake, this city isn’t just a stopover, it will enchant you with its wondrous mix of the old and new, and of the natural and man-made.

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