42 Best Things to Do in Kutaisi, Georgia in 2024

Kutaisi is one of the oldest cities in Georgia and the world. This former capital and the second largest city is the main town in the Imereti region, home to UNESCO World Heritage Site, historical landmarks, beautiful churches, cathedrals, and cultural sites. This post showcases all the marvelous things to do in Kutaisi, including where to stay and eat.

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Is Kutaisi worth visiting? 

Imereti region is known for its beautiful nature that pleases your soul and eyes. Its mountainous landscape looks like a painting, while the region’s caves make you feel like you are in a surreal world. Today, the area is divided into two parts – Lower and Upper Imereti featuring fascinating sights within its territory that spans 6,475 sq. kilometers. 

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The region has been essential to the country’s development since the Antique period. The Great Silk Road passed through here, resulting in the diversity of the cultural and historical sites. Moreover, the ancient western kingdom of Georgia – Egrisi – existed on the current territory of Imereti from late antiquity to the early Middle Ages. 

The city is peaceful, green, and packed, boasting a growing restaurant and cafe scene, excellent infrastructure, diverse architectural styles, historical landmarks, and gorgeous churches.   

Rioni River divides the city into two, with several bridges connecting the districts to one another, while an active Soviet-era cable car still dominates the Kutaisi skyline. Red Bridge, White Bridge, and Chain Bridge are Kutaisi’s most famous and iconic sights. 

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The geographical location of Kutaisi makes it a perfect base for exploring the main sights of western Georgia, including important religious buildings, canyons, various caves, a former manganese town, and Tskaltubo, a former sanatorium city, to name just a few. 

From here, Svaneti mountainous region is much closer, and so is the undiscovered Racha resort. A few sights of Samegrelo are within a few kilometers and can be visited as a day trip via public transport. Further ahead, the Black Sea and Batumi are reachable within two hours by car. 

How many days to spend in Kutaisi

Whether you are a backpacker, a solo female traveler, or a family, you can find something unique that suits your needs and tastes. Therefore, the whole Kutaisi itinerary depends on what you want to see, how much time you have, what season you visit Kutaisi, and what transport you’ll be taking. 

That being said, two full days are enough to explore Kutaisi city itself. These days are enough to visit its museums, enjoy a sunset at Bagrati Cathedral overlooking the town, peek inside its churches, and dine at some of its finest restaurants.  

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Suppose you want to explore the Imereti region and make Kutaisi your base – add another two or three days to your Kutaisi itinerary and travel plans. 

However, remember that when using public transport to make day trips from Kutaisi, you’ll need one full day for most of the sights. Therefore, renting a car and driving yourself is the ideal way of exploring the Imereti region. I advise doing it via LocalRent, an affordable car rental compared to other companies operating in Georgia. 

Best time to visit Kutaisi

The city has a humid subtropical climate. Summers here are scorching and relatively dry, while the weather in Kutaisi is cool and wet in autumn and winter. 

The best time to visit Kutaisi (and Georgia itself) is late spring or early autumn. Compared to Tbilisi, spring in Kutaisi comes earlier, where temperatures are warmer and days are sunnier already from April. 

Summer in Kutaisi experiences very humid weather and is quite an uncomfortable time for your visit, so I’d avoid July and August if possible. 

Autumn in Kutaisi sees pleasant weather all through November. The city covered in fall foliage is gorgeous. Kutaisi in winter experiences mild temperatures with occasional snow. Christmas lights and markets are set up from mid to late December and last until mid-January. 

How to get to Kutaisi

Getting to Kutaisi is not a big hustle at all. There are plenty of options and means of transportation to get to Kutaisi, either from Tbilisi, another country (Kutaisi Airport serves low-budget airlines from Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East), or the small towns of Georgia. Here is a detailed Kutaisi to Tbilisi transport guide, which also works perfectly for the Tbilisi to Kutaisi route.

Tbilisi to Kutaisi by marshrutka

The distance from Tbilisi to Kutaisi is around 221 kilometers, and it takes around 3:30 hours by car. If you are keen on public transport, minibusses or marshrutkas are the best and fastest option. Tbilisi to Kutaisi marshrutka goes from Didube Bus Station, located near Didube metro station, every day from 7-8 am till 6-7 pm.

You don’t need to purchase a ticket in advance; show up at the station, buy the ticket there, and hop on the minibus. The same goes on the way back from Kutaisi to Tbilisi. 

Tbilisi to Kutaisi by train 

Georgia has a relatively standard railway connection to the main cities and towns of the country. Daily trains from Tbilisi to other parts of the country go through Kutaisi. 

Note that most trains are old and take longer to get from one point to another. However, fast trains are relatively new and modern and have charging outlets.  

If you take a train, choose Rioni station instead of Kutaisi when buying a ticket. More frequent trains go through Rioni, which is around 10km away from Kutaisi city center. 

Since spring 2022, there has been another stop – David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport, which has even more frequent trains than the other two stops. The airport is around 28 km from Kutaisi city center. 

The best way to get from these stations to the center is to order a Bolt taxi.  

Tip: First time using Bolt? Use code YRP76 to get discounts on your first rides. 

The train ticket price to Kutaisi varies and depends on which train you take. Even though Georgian Railway has its own website to purchase tickets, the most user-friendly is Tkt.ge

Tbilisi to Kutaisi by bus 

Traveling to Kutaisi by bus is a relatively rare option for many locals. We usually prefer minibusses or trains. 

Flights to Kutaisi

Kutaisi’s international airport currently serves Wizzair, FlyArystan, and Belavia. Therefore, getting to Kutaisi from many European cities is relatively easy.

Kutaisi Airport is 28 km from the city center and is easily accessible by public transport or taxi. WizzAir operates from at least 13 European countries to Kutaisi and vice versa. 

Whether you decide to make Kutaisi the first or last stop of your Georgian itinerary, you’ll be able to find cheap flights from Kutaisi to Greece, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain, Germany, and France, to name a few.

Rend a car

If you want to be flexible on your trip to Kutaisi and be able to peacefully explore Imereti, Samegrelo, or Racha regions as a day trip, I recommend renting a car. LocalRent offers affordable prices for various vehicles; most of the time, insurance comes with the price. 

Where to stay in Kutaisi

Regarding accommodation, there are plenty of choices for different needs and budgets. You can find boutique hotels in Kutaisi, family guesthouses, and apartments. 

Green Rooms: the 3-star hotel has a terrace, free parking, and a garden with air-conditioned rooms and private bathrooms. All rooms have a kettle and TV, and some even have a balcony. 

Newport Hotel Kutaisi: located in the city center, the hotel has allergy-free rooms, a restaurant, and a bar. The rooms have AC, a desk, a fridge, a kettle, a safety box, a TV, and a private bathroom with a bidet. 

Memoire Hotel:  a charming and elegant hotel in the heart of Kutaisi boasting sophisticated design, comfortable rooms, and attentive service. Read my review of the hotel.

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Hotel Pushkin II/1a: the hotel provides free bikes and free parking, a shared lounge area, a bar, and a shared kitchen. The rooms have a wardrobe, private bathroom, and AC, and some have a seating area. 

Grand Opera Hotel: the accommodation offers allergy-free rooms, express check-in and check-out, a terrace, and a luggage storage facility if you need one. Each room has an AC, a desk, a safety box, a minibar, a TV, and a kettle, to name a few. 

Solomon: located not far from the White Bridge, the hotel rooms have all the necessary equipment for your comfortable stay, including an AC, a kettle, a TV, and a desk. Some rooms have a patio and a view over the Rioni River. 

Apartment OLD KUTAISI: great choice for those looking for an apartment in Kutaisi rather than a hotel. The apartment also provides rooms with AC, a TV, a washing machine, and a fully equipped kitchen. 

→ Can’t find something that suits your taste? Here are more Kutaisi hotels.

Top things to do in Kutaisi

As mentioned above, Kutaisi is a historic city with exciting architecture, museums, cathedrals, and charming cafes and restaurants. So if you are wondering what to do in Kutaisi, here are some of its iconic landmarks. 

Kutaisi things to do map

For a more comfortable way of exploring the city, here is the Google Maps list of all the things to do in Kutaisi for you to save and use whenever you need it. If you download the area for offline use, you will not need the data to access the spots

Join the free walking tour of Kutaisi

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The Free Walking Tour is a fantastic opportunity to explore the city while learning about its rich history and culture from a local. Akaki takes you through the charming streets of Kutaisi, showcasing its iconic landmarks and hidden gems, and gives you local tips on where to eat and go after the tour. 

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Even though I have been to Kutaisi many times, I still learned a lot from Akaki, especially the little details and fascinating stories while strolling along its historical sites and streets. I won’t give out the details as it’s better for you to experience it on your own. 

Don’t forget that free walking tours are donation/tip-based. I advise you to reach out to him in advance to book your spot, as sometimes he doesn’t run the tours due to his day job in aviation. You can find Akaki on Facebook or reach out to him via WhatsApp. 

Admire the Colchis Fountain

If you are staying in the center, your first stop would be the Colchis Fountain, nestled at the center of the city’s main square. The fountain features golden figures of horses, tigers, rams, and other animals. Get closer to see the tamada statue with a wine vessel. Tamada is the main character and the toast-maker at traditional Georgian feasts. 

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The statues on the fountain are replicas of the exact figures found during the archaeological excavations in different parts of the country. They prove that the mythical kingdom of Colchis existed on this territory, was rich in gold, and Jason and the Argonauts were here during their mission to find the Golden Fleece. 

Look behind the fountain at Meskhishvili Theater, named after Lado Meskishvili, an actor and director. Established in 1861, the theater is one of the oldest in Georgia. There are regular performances and concerts in its main hall. Check the details here

Walk through Kutaisi Park

The central Kutaisi Park, sandwiched between Rustaveli Avenues, was a royal garden – a wedding gift to Princess Darejan, King Solomon I of Imereti’s daughter, in the 1820s. 

The park is known as the Boulevard among locals and has colonnades at its entrance, several sculptures dedicated to different historical figures and artists, and elegant fountains. Come here to sit for a few minutes and marvel at the local’s life. 

Find eclectic and art nouveau-style buildings

Kutaisi city center is home to some of the eclectic and historic buildings built in the art nouveau style. One of them is the State Opera and Ballet Theater on Rustaveli Avenue, built in 1969, which boasts 10 Grecco-Roman sculptures on top of its roof pillars. 

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Today’s Public School N1 at the corner of Rustaveli Ave and Tsisperi Kantselebi Street was the first public school in the city, built in 1902.

On the opposite side, there’s a Radium building that used to be one of Kutaisi cinemas owned by the Petre Otskheli family (more on Otskheli below).

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Across the road, on Rustaveli Ave., find a gorgeous gold-and-green building now home to a bookstore, a cafe, and Grand Opera Hotel. Walk past this house to find more recently retouched buildings towards the Red Bridge that date back to the 1920s and 1930s.

One of them, currently home to the David Kakabadze museum, used to be the Hotel de France, where American novelist John Dos Passos stayed in 1928. 

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Follow Tsisper Kantselebi Street and explore this part of the town to find renovated old buildings with cute wooden-carved balconies. Walking the road, you’ll notice a small alley full of street art, a restaurant, and a bakery. At the end of the path, don’t miss the beautiful Mon Plaisir Arch, which in French means ‘My Pleasure.’ 

Shop for local produce at Green Market 

I love going to the local markets, whether in Georgia, Budapest, Croatia, Istanbul, or elsewhere. Local product bazaars are the best way to see local everyday life and understand the country’s culture via ingredients sold at these markets. It tells a lot about the country and the culture more than we ever think it does. 

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Green Bazaar is one of the best places to visit in Kutaisi every day, from early morning to early evening. It has open and covered parts, selling different products in different areas. 

The open area of this Kutaisi market has all the fresh fruit and vegetables in season, while the covered part showcases herbs, spices, dried fruits, churchkhela, dairy products, nuts, grains, flour, and honey. 

Marvel at the former residence of Imeretian King

Oqros Chardakhi, or Golden Marquee, is a former residence of the Kings who ruled the region Imereti. The residence consisted of several structures, such as the Church of St. George, the Major House, the Minor House, and the dining chamber. 

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The table with a canopy supported by four columns stood in the middle of the courtyard under large trees, one of which is still here. 

Sadly, the residence was damaged several times in the 17th century and was partly restored. The bell tower and the church survived until the 19th century. Today, only Minor House is preserved. 

Temporarily closed due to renovation and fenced2024 update

Attend Gviriloba Festival 

Gviriloba, or Kutaisoba, is a joyful annual celebration of the city day held on May 2. Gvirila is a Georgian word for camomile. The festival dates back to 1921 when girls from the Public School N3 sold camomiles to raise funds for those suffering from tuberculosis. 

Since then, it has become an integral part of Kutaisi. However, when the Soviets came into power in 1919, Gviriloba was not celebrated for the next 60 years and was restored only in the 1980s. 

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The festival includes flea markets, exhibitions, forums, children’s activities, sports events, and various cultural performances, culminating in a grand concert. 

You can also find a statue of a girl with a basket in front of the Public School N3, a festival symbol.

Walk 100 steps up or down

It is known as Balakhvani Stairs, right in front of Kutaisi Railway Station and King David the Builder Statue. The staircase, constructed in the 1950s, connects the railway station with Aghmashenebeli Avenue and Asatiani Street. It also offers splendid views of the Kutaisi from more residential parts. 

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Hidden spots in Kutaisi

Find beautiful ceilings in a hardware store

This is one of the hidden things to do in Kutaisi that you won’t even think of having a peak inside. 

Located on 11 Mikheil Lermontov Street, this hardware supermarket is now housed in a residential building built in the 1880s and belonged to a local physician Simon Kacheishvili. 

I was pleasantly surprised that the current owners have kept the ceiling, cornicles, and tile-covered fireplace intact. 

Look inside the oldest pharmacy in Kutaisi

Phramacy N4 is a historic building that once housed Wituszynski Phramcy at the end of the 19th century. 

In 1891 Polish pharmacist Viktor Wituszynski brought this two-story building at 14 Pushkin Street with a garden and opened a pharmacy on the first floor while he lived on the second. While the facade of the building is traditional, the relief decoration on the top has traces of the Baroque style. 

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Even today, the pharmacy operates and is the only one that makes medicine from old recipes by hand. 

Find the iconic Kutaisi cable car decorating a house

Eight years ago, a visionary couple, Sopho Sakandelidze and Mishiko Mumladze, embarked on a journey to create a world of wonder within an extraordinary house on a quaint old street in Kutaisi. They established the literary club Book Generation by transforming the magnificent urban interior while preserving its authentic charm. 

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However, what brings me here is the replicas of the iconic Kutaisi cable car adorning the balcony of the Book Generation. I find this quite whimsical and a hidden gem of Kutaisi. 

Admire vintage alcoholic drink labels at Paolo cafe

I am fond of old vintage drink labels, so I was pleasantly surprised when I entered the cafe and saw the framed alcoholic drink labels adorning the walls.

While I patiently waited for my food, I took the opportunity to appreciate each and every label, discovering those from legendary companies I had often heard stories about.

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The labels of renowned Georgian companies that specialized in producing wines, brandy, liqueurs, and lemonades were displayed before me. 

Among them, the most captivating were those from David Sarajishvili’s brandy company, which underwent a name change during the Soviet era to Sarajev or Sarajeva, to sound more familiar and memorable. Additionally, I came across labels from the famous wine-manufacturing brothers, the Ananoffs.

Explore the abandoned swimming pool

If you love visiting abandoned places, Kutaisi has an abandoned swimming pool close to the railway station that is very easy to access without guards or fences.

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However, if you don’t feel like walking into the premises, you can still overlook the swimming pool from above if you walk past the King David the Builder statue and walk towards the slight downhill of Mandaria Street.

Things to do in Kutaisi for history buffs

We have already talked at the beginning of the post that Kutaisi is one of the oldest settlements in Georgia. Therefore there are a few fascinating museums for history lovers to add to your Kutaisi sightseeing.  

Discover the city’s past at Kutaisi State Historical Museum

To learn more about the city’s cultural heritage, visit the History Museum on Pushkin Street. The museum showcases more than 150 thousand items, including artifacts from the Bronze Age and Antiquity period. Besides various household items, you’ll see ancient books, frescos, and an armory. 

  • Opening hours: every day, 10 am – 6 pm
  • Entrance fee: adults – 5 GEL; guided tour – 10 GEL. 

Glance at the turbulent history at Kutaisi National Museum of Military Glory

This is another museum in Kutaisi if you are into WWII and its Soviet propaganda. Here, you’ll learn more about the country’s military history, including its participation in WWII and the local conflicts of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 

  • Opening hours: every day, 10 am – 6 pm
  • Entrance fee: FREE

Learn about astonishing Georgian sport history 

The Museum of Georgian Sports is a treasure trove of sporting history, even if you are not into the sports like myself. I was astonished to see so many interesting artifacts and information on how many types of sports we, Georgians, play that I had no idea of. 

The museum boasts an impressive collection of more than 1,600 carefully preserved exhibits and memorabilia that highlight the rich sporting heritage of Kutaisi and Georgia. I believe this is the country’s most extensive and comprehensive museum dedicated to sports. 

From Olympic achievements to local sporting legends, from World Cup to various European competitions, you can immerse yourself in the fascinating stories and achievements of athletes who have made their mark in various sports. 

You’ll also see photographs, documentaries, books, and sports equipment, along with a diverse collection of gold, silver, and bronze medals, cups, trophies, and souvenirs that offers a captivating glimpse into the achievements of Georgian athletes.

  • Opening hours: every day, 10 am – 6 pm
  • Entrance fee: FREE

See antique photo and video cameras at a tiny museum

Davit Mkheidze Photo-Cinema Chronicle Museum was founded in 1993. Nestled on Newport Street, this tiny museum exhibits items depicting Kutaisi’s photo and cinema history. 

Here, you’ll find old photos of Kutaisi taken at the beginning of the 20th century showcasing the city’s iconic sights, some of which have changed, disappeared, or stand still. 

In addition, the museum showcases an impressive collection of cameras, both photo and video, from very early production to somewhat modern. The highlight for me was the first photo-printing machine! 

  • Opening hours: every day, 10 am – 6 pm
  • Entrance fee: FREE

Visit the house-museum of Georgia’s prominent opera composer

Zakaria Paliashvili, considered one of the founders of Georgian classical music, was born in Kutaisi in 1871. Today, his childhood house is turned into a museum showcasing his memorabilia in a small room. 

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Paliashvili’s musical legacy is characterized by a captivating blend of Georgian folk songs and narratives interwoven with 19th-century Romantic classical themes. He founded the Georgian Philharmonic Society and later served as the head of the Tbilisi State Conservatoire. 

To honor his influence and stature, the Georgian National Opera and Ballet Theater in Tbilisi was rightfully named in his honor in 1937. It’s worth noting that his music is the base of the National Anthem of Georgia. 

His masterpieces, Absalom and Eteri, Daisi (Twilight), and Latavra remain cornerstones of Georgian opera, showcasing his exceptional talent for blending rich melodies with powerful storytelling. 

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On my last visit to Kutaisi, I had the pleasure to sit down with the head of the museum, who told me stories of Zakaria’s childhood in this house he lived until the age of 16, how he got into music, and his lifelong achievements. 

At the museum, besides his personal belongings, you’ll find various musical instruments that belonged to the neighbors. Zakaria used to go to their house and play on those instruments. He was particularly fond of French and German mechanical instruments preserved at the museum. 

  • Opening hours: every day, 10 am – 6 pm
  • Entrance fee: FREE

Things to do in Kutaisi for Soviet enthusiasts

Look at the Soviet-era labor monument

Glory to Labor Monument, dedicated to Socialist labor heroes from Kutaisi, is a 1980 Soviet-style sculpture created by I. Bastanashvili and E. Amashukeli. 

The monument features various statues made from wrought iron representing an agricultural field and a season. 

Admire the massive Soviet bas-relief

Right at one of the entrances of the Green Market, you can’t miss Kolkhida – stunning Soviet-era bas-relief. 

Kolkheti, also known as Colchis, is a historical region that traces its roots back to the 17th century BCE. Situated along the Black Sea coastline and associated with the legendary Argonauts, Colchis holds significant historical importance as the potential cradle of Georgia. 

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The monument Kolkhida was created by Georgian artist Bernard Nebieridze between 1980 and 1985. Following Nebieridze’s passing in 1987, his family and local government officials worked diligently to install the bas-relief on the Green Market’s side in 1995.

This dark orange or rust color work of art displays scenes about the Colchis Kingdom as well as Medea, the Argonauts, and the Golden Fleece, among other historical events. 

Ride the cable car 

The cable car in Kutaisi, which opened in 1961, is the only of its kind transport taking you from the city center to Besik Gabashvili Park on the top of the hill. Sweeping above the Rioni River, views of Kutaisi while riding the cable car are quite exceptional. 

  • Opening hours: every day, 12 pm – 8 pm
  • Entrance fee: 1 GEL

Admire once bustling Hotel Tbilisi

While strolling along Asastiani Street searching for street art in Kutaisi, I unexpectedly came across the remnants of the once-bustling Hotel Tbilisi. Now a blend of occupied and abandoned spaces, the sight of the old nostalgic signage still adorns the building. It was a captivating discovery that added more intrigue to my explorations.

Hunt down Soviet-era mosaics

Having a fondness for Soviet mosaics, I make it a personal quest to seek them out wherever I travel. 

Kutaisi, being a significant industrial city, holds remnants of this captivating art form that never fails to fascinate me. These mosaics eloquently showcase the unique blend of creativity and ideology prevalent during the Soviet era. Serving as public displays of socialist realism, they commemorate historical events, cultural themes, and the accomplishments of the working class. 

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The mosaic decorating the corner of the building at 96 Asatiani Street is almost intact, with only one lower part missing. 

Besides having these large-scale mosaics, using them as simple decorations for residential houses was also quite common. If you wander through Zviad Gamsakhurdia Ave, you’ll find the facade of an apartment block decorated with small mosaic tiles. 

Here is the map I typically use to hunt down them in Georgia. While most spots are still there, some included on this map no longer exist. 

Things to do in Kutaisi for art lovers

Besides the historical landmarks and museums, Kutaisi is full of places for art lovers, whether cafes, galleries, or contemporary street art.

Admire Georgian artists at David Kakabadze Kutaisi Fine Art Gallery 

The gallery on Shota Rustaveli Ave. displays collections of 3,000 paintings by local artists, including pieces by famous Georgian artist Pirosmani. The last time I was there, it was still under renovation, so once I am back in Kutaisi, I will check it out and update this post. 

Temporarily closed for renovation – 2024 update

Find various art dedicated to Petre Otskheli

Petre Otskheli is one of my favorite Georgian artists. Kutaisi-born, Petre, known mainly by his surname among Georgians, was a modernist set and costume designer who worked in different theatres across Georgia and briefly in Moscow. He was one the most avant-garde artists of his time in Georgia. 

He was sentenced to death during Stalin’s Great Purge when he was only 30 years old. However, his scenographic constructivism has a lasting influence on Georgian scenic design.

All we have are Otsheli’s sketches, out of which Flying Decorator (1936) and Winged Painter (1936) are the most famous. Learn more about him at Google’s Arts and Culture Platform

There are a few places where you can find the tribute to Otskheli while walking in Kutaisi. One is right in front of the Kutaisi Tourist Center, and another mural is at White Square under the Rustaveli Bridge. 

Admire the current exhibition at Varla Gallery

Hidden inside the courtyard on 16 Varlamishvili Street, this art gallery hosts various exhibitions of local artists.

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During my last visit to Kutaisi, I enjoyed seeing the US exhibition that told stories of 30 individuals suffering from intellectual disabilities. It aimed to raise awareness and challenge stereotypes and attitudes. 

So next time you are in Kutaisi, maybe there’s something quite interesting on display at Varla Gallery.

Search for some street art in Kutaisi

For those who admire street art, there are a few murals to hunt down on your trip to Kutaisi. While there is plenty of street art in Tbilisi, Kutaisi needed more. Since 2023, the number of murals in Kutaisi increased.

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Therefore, I have created a separate street art in Kutaisi post with a map for easy navigation to explore the backstreets of the city, finding as many of these murals as you can.

Things to do in Kutaisi city: cathedral, church, & synagogue

In addition to the iconic tourist sight of Bagrati Cathedral, Kutaisi hides stunning churches, synagogue, and French district in its streets. 

Enjoy the sunset from Bagrati Cathedral

Nestled on the hill overlooking the city, Bagrati Cathedral is one of the important religious buildings in Georgia. Its turquoise roof and grand appearance make it hard to miss from any central part of the city. 

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This 11th-century cathedral and Gelati Monastery was a UNESCO World Heritage Site before Bagrati was removed from the list in 2017 after improper restorations. Famous for its incredible frescos and architecture, the first king of unified Georgia, Bagrat III, built the cathedral in 1003. 

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King David the Builder, a reformer of 12th-century Georgia and almost an undefeated king, was also crowned at Bagrati. The cathedral stood intact until the Ottoman invasion in the 17th century. 

Plan your visit to Bagrati Cathedral closer to the sunset, as the city’s views from its yard are pretty spectacular. 

Wander through the Jewish district 

Kutaisi’s Jewish district starts from Newport Street and follows Jerusalem and Boris Gapanov streets. Kutaisi was home to Georgia’s largest Jewish community back in the day. The district’s prominent landmark is Kutaisi Synagogue on Gapanov Street. 

The massive synagogue is the second-largest in the country after the Great Synagogue in Tbilisi. Constructed in 1886, it is the second oldest synagogue in Kutaisi, as there are two more on the same street, but they remain closed to the public. 

You can visit Kutaisi Synagogue only if you find someone in its courtyard. I have tried multiple times during my several trips to Kutaisi, and during my last visit in May, I saw the lights on and was lucky to peek inside finally.

In front of the synagogue, you’ll find a statue of Boris Gapanov and a small memorial dedicated to him. He was a prominent Jewish resident who translated Shota Rustaveli’s The Knight in the Panther’s Skin into Hebrew. 

Meander through the French Quarter

Like the Jewish district, Kutaisi’s French Quarter starts at Newport Hotel on Newport Street and goes down to the Rioni River. The central landmark here is the Holy Annunciation Temple, built in 1862 by King Solomon II for the community. 

Since Catholic families left the city over time, the church was converted to the Orthodox church. However, the typical architecture represented in an arched entryway, interior frescos, and the inscription of ‘Immaculate Conception’ is still present. 

Another noteworthy building is the so called Military Commandant’s Office. With its distinct architectural style, one would assume that this building was constructed in the 1900s. Adding to its uniqueness in Kutaisi, it harmoniously aligns with the gentle curve of the street, making it an eye-catching structure that stands out among others.

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The facade of this two-story building is quite symmetrical, with a wooden balcony featuring an arcade and balustrade typical for Tbilisi. Both ends of the building have traces of Neo-Gothic and Neo-Renaissance architectural styles. 

To find a few remnants of the once bustling French Quarter, follow Newport, Varlamishvili, and Dvalishvili streets. 

Things to do in Kutaisi for foodies

Kutaisi has a growing restaurant and cafe scene; I find a new venue opening up every time I visit the city. But before I talk about where to eat in Kutaisi, I’d like to give a few tips on Imeretian cuisine. 

You probably already know that Georgian cuisine is very diverse, and each region has its own specialty or different preparation methods for a widespread meal. Imeretian food shares many ingredients with the neighboring province of Guria, specifically the great use of walnuts. 

Here is a summary of the most famous Imeretian food: 

  • Imeruli Khachapuri – the most common version of Georgian Khachapuri. 
  • Mchadi – cornbread. 
  • Pkhali – vegetable appetizer seasoned with walnut paste. 
  • Kuchmachi – poultry or beef liver seasoned with walnuts and pomegranates. 
  • Mushrooms – Imereti is famous for various types of mushrooms, including Caesar Mushroom, Saffron Milk Cap (also known as red pine mushroom), Chanterelle, Blancaccio, Green-cracking Russula, Charbonnier, to name just a few. 
  • Lobio – black beans with spices. 
  • Ekala – appetizer made from smilax. 
  • Kupati – pork sausage. 
  • Satsivi – cold meat stew, typically made from chicken or turkey
  • Tsitsila – roasted chick in a blackberry sauce. 
  • Cheeses – Imereti has its own types of cheeses, such as Chkinti (unsalty soft cheese), Imeruli Kveli ( salty Imeretian cheese usually used in Khachapuri), and Sulguni ( salty cousin of Mozzarella) 

Try Bubliki

Bubliki is a Georgian word for a pretzel-like pastry, but it’s much softer and almost unsalted. If you’ve traveled to Istanbul, it’s very similar to Turkish street food – Simit, but it’s smaller and has no toppings. The small street is the best place to find it in Kutaisi once you enter the Mon Plaisir Arch.  

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Sip coffee or tea at Tea House Foe Foe

Foe-Foe is a Georgian slang that doesn’t have a translation and means something like snobbish or fancy. Nestled in the lobby of the former grand Kutaisi Hotel, the cafe is full of antique, vintage, and retro-themed items. It is hard to miss Otskheli’s sketches hanging on its walls the minute you step inside. 

And if you want more than a loose-leaf tea in a pot or coffee, they also have light meals, crepes, and waffles. 

Order Imeretian Plate at Debi 

Translated into English as Sisters, it is one of the charming restaurants in Kutaisi offering regional specialties. A former apartment turned into a restaurant, Sisters has high ceilings, minimalist design, and beautiful decor items. 

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Come here to order the Imeretian Plate, which includes bits of everything Imeretian cuisine is so famous for, including mchadi and cheese, a few pieces of Khachapuri, fried chick, and Pkhali. The plate is quite extensive and is ideal for sharing. 

Have lunch at Story

The Story is a family-run restaurant on Tsereteli Street, slightly tucked away from the city center but still very close. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor spaces and a view of the Rioni River from their garden. 

They offer Georgian food with a modern twist. We’ve tried their Chakapuli with tiny Khinkalis, their signature Khachapuri, and a Chvishatri with Matsoni sauce. 

All of them were absolutely delicious. Chakapuli is typically a stew, but here is a soup. Their signature Khachapuri has more string cheese on top, and hot Chvishtari (cheese cornbread) ideally goes with cold Matsoni (yogurt) sauce. 

Dine at Lilestan

Restaurant Lilestan offers a delightful culinary experience that showcases the rich flavors of Imeretian and Georgian cuisine with a slightly modern twist. This charming restaurant with a courtyard is inviting, boasting colorful decor and utensils, making it one of the coziest venues in the city. 

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The menu showcases an extensive array of culinary delights. The salad section stands out with its impressive variety of enticing flavor combinations. I’ve tried chicken salad in Imeretian style seasoned with stained sour cream dressing. 

Imeruli Khachapuri was quite tasty, with thin dough and the right amount of cheese. Even though we ordered small, it was pretty big. Ojakhuri came with pork, potatoes, red and green bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes. 

And suppose you want to try bits of everything from the Imeretian cuisine. In that case, they have a board that comes with tomato and cucumber salad, bazhe (cold walnut sauce), various types of Pkhali (veggies in walnut paste), fried chicken, Imeretian Khachapuri, cheese, and cornbread.

Don’t miss Bikentia’s Kebabery

If you want a unique experience that makes you travel in time, have a quick lunch at Bikentia’s Kebabery. The menu has only two items – homemade beef kebab with spicy tomato satsebeli sauce topped with fresh parsley and onion – and drinks (beer or Georgian lemonade). 

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The serving costs 10 GEL and includes two kebabs, half white bread, and a drink of your choice. 

The venue has no tables or chairs; instead, it has two rows of wall-mounted counters where you stand and eat your quick lunch. It is a typical Soviet-style format, and I remember having a few such places in Tbilisi, which sadly disappeared. 

Grab a glass or a bottle of regional Imeretian wines

Kutaisi has long yearned for wine bars to showcase the growing regional wine culture. Fortunately, as of May 2023, a charming boutique wine shop and bar Winetage has opened in the city center, featuring a selection of Imeretian wines from nearby wineries, ranging from large-scale productions to artisanal offerings.

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The welcoming staff is eager to guide you through the choices based on your preferences, and wine tastings are also available for those interested.

Sip a cocktail at Newport Hotel restaurant 

As the sun dips below the horizon, casting a warm golden glow over the charming city of Kutaisi, a lovely ambiance awaits at the Newport Hotel Restaurant.  The elegant design instantly captivates when stepping inside, with its pristine blue walls exuding a sense of tranquility and sophistication. 

The seating booths, reminiscent of a cozy cafeteria, invite you to sink into their plush cushions, offering comfort and intimacy. Massive windows effortlessly bring light into the space. 

The cocktail menu offers various choices, from classic concoctions to innovative creations. I had one of their special gin-based cocktails, which was quite strong and delicious.

Buy a local all-natural artisanal bread made of Georgian wheat

Georgian wheat is experiencing a resurgence, much like Georgian tea, and I was quite happy when I discovered a charming little artisan bakery named Tavtukhi. This delightful bakery specializes in baking bread using indigenous wheat varieties such as Tsiteli Doli and Dika. Their quaint shop is located at 48 Baratashvili Street.

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However, I was disappointed to find it closed on my recent visit. Thankfully, they had thoughtfully provided a comprehensive list on their door of grocery shops the bread is available. Determined, I managed to find some at the Daily shop. I must say, their combination of pepper and garlic was simply divine!

Other things to do in Kutaisi if you have time

Walk through Kutaisi Botanical Garden

Located close to Bagrati Cathedral, combine a visit to Kutaisi Botanical Garden before or as a stand-alone trip. Locals rarely visit the garden, let alone tourists. However, it’s a nice place to explore.  

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Founded in the mid-19th century, Kutaisi Botanical Garden is the second oldest in the country after Tbilisi National Botanical Garden. 

It features subtropical trees, various species of trees, a few fountains, and walking paths. It is home to the quirkiest thing I have ever seen – a small church carved inside a centuries-old oak tree. The space is enough to fit one worshiper, and various iconography adorns its’ walls.’

Tip: during summer evenings, bring mosquito repellent. 

See an abandoned Parliament building 

Among many sights, Kutaisi is also home to a futuristic building that once served as the Parliament of Georgia. Georgia’s third president Mikheil Saakashvili moved Georgian Parliament from Tbilisi to Kutaisi in 2012. However, in 2019 the parliament moved back to Tbilisi under the rule of the Georgian Dream party leaving the property worth 57 million GEL investment abandoned. 

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A Spanish architect Alberto Domingo Cabo designed this 40-meter-high glass and steel dome structure that housed several meeting rooms, offices, conference halls, and an exhibition hall. During its active period, tours were offered for those interested in the government and legislation of Georgia. 

Go on day trips from Kutaisi

Kutaisi’s ideal location makes it a perfect base to see some of the most beautiful places in Georgia, including national parks, canyons, abandoned spa resorts, and the so-called ‘city of cable cars.’ 

Martvili Canyon – a stunning natural wonder nestled in lush surroundings. With its striking emerald-green waters and towering cliffs, the canyon offers you a gorgeous short boat ride along the picturesque river. 

Okatse Canyon – another spot that showcases dramatic landscapes and breathtaking views. You can walk the suspended walkway that stretches along the canyon, offering exhilarating panoramic vistas of the deep gorge, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls. 

Tskaltubo – a former spa town during Soviet times attracting visitors seeking the therapeutic benefits of the mineral-rich waters. Today, Tskaltubo offers a blend of Soviet-era architecture, historic sanatoriums, and rejuvenating spa experiences. 

Chiatura – a historic mining town renowned for its unique cable car system.  With its rugged industrial scenery, suspended cable cars, and fascinating mining heritage, Chiatura provides a glimpse into Georgia’s industrial past.

Renegade Tea Estate – if you want to know more about Georgian tea, a visit to Renegade Tea Estate is not to be missed. You can tour the tea farm, learn more about their production, and try several of their teas.

I have a separate post on day trips from Kutaisi with detailed information on how to get to these places by public transport.

My Favorite Travel Resources

To ease your travel planning, check out all the posts about Georgia travel. Additionally, here are some of the websites and services I use when preparing for my next adventure anywhere in the world.

✈ Book affordable flights on WayAway, a platform that shows the best flight deals, tours, and hotels. With a WayAway Plus membership, you can earn cashback. Get 10% off with code: RFD10

🚫 Get compensation for up to 700$ with Airhelp if your flight was canceled or delayed within the last 3 years.

🚗 Rent a car at Local Rent for affordable prices and convenient service.

❣ Pre-book a private car transfer with GoTrip from Tbilisi Airport to your hotel or any other city across Georgia.

💻 Get a VPN from Surfshark to protect your devices from hackers when using public Wi-Fi when traveling.

📱 Install the Airalo app, which provides local eSIMs for a more affordable internet connection when traveling. Get 3 USD with code: BAIA2592.

💸 Use Wise to withdraw money in local currency without hidden fees and avoid high exchange rates. On top, you might get a Visa or Mastercard debit card.

🍷 For some of the best, expat-designed wine tours check out Eat!ThisTours. Get a 5% discount with code RFD5.

🏨 Find budget-friendly deals on all sorts of accommodation types on Booking.com.

🩺 Buy the most flexible and budget-friendly travel insurance, SafetyWing, covering COVID.

☀ Book in advance some of the best city walks, cultural experiences, and day tours to maximize your stay and experience here.


  1. Your link for visiting the Parliament is for the building in Tbilisi, not the one in Kutaisi.
    I know the parliament has been moved back to Tbilisi with the new president, but is there a way to visit the interiors of that amazing new building in Kutaisi?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hello Amra! As I looked into it, they have changed the information. It was the same site but they offered tours in Kutaisi Parliament too. So unfortunately, you can’t visit it anymore 🙁

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