25+ Things To Do in Kutaisi & Imereti Georgia: Our Kutaisi tourism guide and Kutaisi map explores all of the best Imereti attractions around Kutaisi and the surrounding countryside.
Discover top UNESCO sites like the Bagrati Cathedral & Gelati Monastery complex. Fall in love with Georgian nature at Prometheus Caves and Martvili Canyon. Drink in Georgia’s historic wine culture at one of many vineyards around the Imereti region. And, taste traditional cuisine at the best Kutaisi restaurants.
We took an Imereti / Kutaisi tour with Jayway Travel to discover the best the Imereti region has to offer.
Things To Do in Kutaisi & Imereti Georgia – Table Of Contents
Disclaimer: We traveled to Imereti Georgia with Jayway Travel. Custom tours, with a personal touch designed to help you have an authentic travel experience away from the tourist traps. Our trip was provided complimentary by Jaway Travel but we were not financially compensated for creating this article or recommending them. We do not make a commission if you book a tour with them. Have your Kutaisi Tour, or any other Georgia tour, organised for you and just sit back and enjoy!
With so many flights now flying direct from European cities to Kutaisi airport, rather than Tbilisi, it makes a lot of sense to start or end your Georgia tours/trip in Kutaisi. The city is just a 20 minute drive from the airport.
You can easily fill a few days exploring the history & nature of Imereti Georgia Region, as well as the traditional wine production and excellent Imeretian cuisine – a specific sub-section of Georgian Cuisine.
Things To Do In Kutaisi (inc Bagrati Cathedral)
Kutaisi is the capital of the Imereti region and Georgia’s 3rd largest city after Tbilisi and Batumi. A former capital of the country of Colchis in the 5th/6th century BC, and then later the capital of the Kingdom of Georgia from 1008 to 1122. Then capital of the Kingdom of Imereti from the 15th century until 1810 when Imereti was absorbed into the Russian empire.
There are a limited number of things to do in Kutaisi city itself, but it is the perfect location to use as a base for exploring the history and nature of the Imereti region. I’ll list many of the best day trips from Kutaisi in the next section, but first Kutaisi Things To Do in the city:
What To See In Kutaisi: Bagrati Cathedral (UNESCO)
Bagrati Cathedral, originally built by King Bagrat III in the 11th century. Repaired and re-constructed since the 1950s to represent the true glory of this marvel of Georgian medieval architecture. Bagrati Cathedral & Gelati Monastery Complex are listed together as a single UNESCO site. Though Gelati monastery is way outside Kutaisi city.
The Bagrati Cathedral overlooks the valley and the city, so is a great spot to visit for views & sunset, as well as the historic architecture.
Kutaisi Market – Centraluri Bazari
Kutaisi Market represents the culinary heart of Kutaisi. This large traditional market features independent vendors selling produce, spices, homemade wine, chacha (Georgian brandy), and a multitude of other products. Experience a taste of local everyday life in the non-touristy Kutaisi market.
Kutaisi Botanical Garden
On the north bank of the Rioni River, you’ll find the Kutaisi botanical garden. You’ll be able to roam around 800 types of plants, shrubs, and trees. The Botanical garden officially opened in 1969 in the place of earlier gardens dating back to the 1820s.
Built in 1885, The Kutaisi Synagogue is the second largest in Georgia after the Great Synagogue in Tbilisi.
What To See In Kutaisi: Colchis Fountain
The Colchis fountain/monument is situated in David Agmashenebeli square and was completed in 2011. It’s a monument to the kingdom of Colchis, of which Kutaisi was once the capital. The region lives in Mythology as being the destination where Jason and the argonauts searched for the Golden fleece. The fountain has around 30 statues, each is an enlarged replica of ancient archeological relics found in the Imereti Region.
Kutaisi Historical Museum
The Kutaisi Historical Museum keeps archeological artifacts from Imereti, including ancient religious manuscripts. If you want to learn more about the ethnography of the Kingdom of Colchis and Imereti, you’ll find a lot of information here.
Kutaisi Things To Do: Eat Imeretian Cheese, Imeretian Khachapuri & Other Imeretian Cuisine
The Imereti region is the birthplace of many famous Georgian Foods. Some particularly popular foods to try:
- Imeretian cheese – a very salty white cheese
- Imeretian Khachapuri – A flatbread stuffed with Imeretian cheese
- Imeretian Kupati – Local sausages
- Chakhokhbili – A tomato based stew, traditionally made with pheasant, but now normally made with chicken.
Day Trips From Kutaisi (Things To Do In Imereti Georgia, inc. Prometheus cave & Gelati Monastery)
Many of the best things to do in Kutaisi are a short drive from the city. A few are a little further. So taking some day trips from Kutaisi can have you easily visit multiple attractions each day.
With inconsistent road quality (and driving standard), plus the draw of stopping at an Imeretian Vineyard, it’s always easier to hire a driver/guide for a Kutaisi tour, than rent a car. Not to mention, it’s hit and miss if you’ll find English spoken at every attraction or vineyard. So a local Georgian guide will really improve your overall experience.
Find the location of all the things to do in Kutaisi & Imereti with our tourism Kutaisi Map at the bottom of this article.
Gelati Monastery Complex (UNESCO)
The Gelati Monastery Complex was founded by King David IV in 1106. The outside of the buildings bare similarity to other orthodox buildings from that period, the real draw is the incredibly well preserved frescoes inside, as well as the scenic backdrop to the monastery. The Gelati Monastery Complex is UNESCO listed.
Visit Georgia’s most impressive cave system. Prometheus caves were only discovered in 1984. Inside you’ll find stalagmites, stalactites, petrified waterfalls, cave pearls and even an underground river which now offers short boat trips. It’s a little touristy with all the colored lighting but it’s certainly Instagramable.
Explore The Vineyards of Baghdati (South Of Kutaisi)
Georgia is home to over 500 endemic varieties of grapes. It’s also famed as being the cradle of wine, with the earliest evidence of winemaking in the world – dating back to 6,000 BC. The Imereti Region is famed for its white wines like Tsolikouri, Tsitska, and Krakhuna. Popular red grapes include Otskhanuri Sapere and Ojaleshi.
There are many vineyards to visit around the village of Baghdati, about a 30 minute drive from Kutaisi. The rolling hills sit at the edge of the valley eventually becoming mountains as you go further south.
Baia’s winery is one of the only vineyards in Georgia that is run by female entrepreneurs – sisters in fact. Their goal is to focus on organic production (certification pending) and experimenting with the traditional process to create unique new styles. Aside from making a wide selection of natural wines, they also offer guests the opportunity to learn about traditional winemaking – still done almost the same as it was 8,000 years ago. Plus, fantastic homemade food on their terrace overlooking the vines and the hills.
Other Vineyards To Visit South Of Kutaisi:
Galoz Sopramadze Winery – Right in the heart of Baghdati village. A small home winery with a wine room out the back and a great selection of bottled homemade wines.
Zurab Ghvaladze Winery – Zurab is actually Baia’s grandfather. Unlike Baia, who is keen to experiment, Zurab focuses on consistently following proven methods to produce wines that exemplify the region. Primarily white wine made with Tsolikouri and Tsitska grapes.
Vine Bridge / Vazis Xidi / ვაზის ხიდი (In Geguti Village) – At Vine Bridge, they focus on the Saperavi grape. This grape is traditionally grown in the Kakheti region of east Georgia. The winemakers here transport the grapes from Kakheti and make the wine on site. The main draw is that they are making great tasting natural wine! What is most interesting is they are in the process of opening a wine hotel so you can stay right there at the winery.
Learn more about Georgian Vineyards to visit around Georgia.
Monastery Mgvimevi hangs on the side of a cliff face, partially exposed, and partially inside the natural cave behind. The complex was first built in the 8th century and cave paintings from that period are still present on the walls.
Katskhi Column / Katskhi pillar
Katskhi pillar is a natural limestone pillar that rises 40 meters above the forest floor, near to the small village of Katskhi. On top of the pillar, a church which features an old wine cellar but is a modern reconstruction of the original stone church from the 9th to 10th century. No records exist from that time and the first mention of the Katskhi Column is from the 18th century, at which point it lay abandoned.
It’s not possible to ascend the pillar or enter the church, but you can view it from many different vistas around the valley and cliffs.
The Motsameta Monastery is built along a high ridge, surrounded on three sides by a meandering river. Legend has it that the monastery was built here to commemorate David and Konstantin Mkheidze, two Georgian princes who were executed here after they refused to accept Islam, at a time when muslim invaders had taken control of the region.
The original construction may have started in the 10th century but most of the building now visible is part of a reconstruction from the 19th century.
Martvili Canyon & Okatse Canyon
The Martvili canyon features picturesque waterfalls in an area that has been adapted to make it easy to visit for tourists. You’ll find viewing platforms, proper stone paths and even a short boat ride through the canyon. Although it is a major tourist attraction that can be very busy through tourist season, the natural beauty of the waterfalls and canyons make it well worth a visit.
Martvili canyon is technically just over the border from Imereti in the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti. But at just an hour or so from Kutaisi, it’s definitely still one of the top things to do in Kutaisi area.
Okatse Canyon & Kinchkha Waterfall – 2 more natural attractions close to one another, and about an hour north of Kutaisi. The Okatse canyon includes a forest walk from the road (or a 4×4 ride) which leads to an aerial walkway allowing for panoramic views of the natural canyon. The Kinchkha Waterfall is in a separate area just north of the parking area for the canyon, you can drive most of the way with a short walk (about 500 metres) to reach the waterfall.
Chiatura Cable Cars
The valley of the Kvrila river runs through many towns and villages. The most famous being Chitura. This area is still one of the biggest manganese producers in the world. During the Soviet era, they built 10 cable cars along the valley which were used for villagers to travel between home and work.
When they were built in the 1950s, they were considered an impressive feat of engineering. Many of these cable cars still operate today, though they are in pretty bad shape. As of 2019, they have decided to refurbish them and improve safety. They are closed until further notice. But you can still see some of the cabins hanging derelict from the old cables.
We definitely consider this attraction to be for dark tourists and it might be of slightly less interest for the average visitor.
Chiatura & Tskaltubo – Abandoned Hospitals, Spas & Sanatoriums
Two more dark tourist destinations. Once important centres for the Soviet Union, many former Soviet buildings in and around the towns of Chiatura & Tskaltubo have now been long abandoned. From hospitals and sanatoriums, to complete spa complexes.
Given these buildings lie in a massive state of disrepair, we definitely recommend using a knowledgeable local guide to help you find the best abandoned buildings to visit and to stay safe when you do visit.
Chiatura is a little over an hour east of Kutaisi. Tskaltubo is 20 minutes drive north-west of Kutaisi.
With so many places to visit, some of which are a little tricky to find and explore on your own, having a local guide who speaks fluent Georgian really made things a lot easier. We could ask questions about the culture, the food and the wine as we encountered them.
Our guide Gio always had recommendations for places to eat, and our itinerary had some flexibility so we could switch out to different attractions depending on what the people in our group preferred to do. This is one of my favourite things about a private group tour. The flexibility.
The other two main benefits are handing the stress over to someone else – no handling logistics and planning yourself. Let the tour company deal with that! And the best part of that is just being able to sit back and let someone else drive while you take in views of the countryside and, of course, get to enjoy Georgian wine tastings rather than have to spit them out.
We visited Kutaisi & Imereti with Jayway Travel who took care of all the organisation from start to finish. They offer personalised tours all over Georgia, from Tbilisi to Kutaisi, to Kakheti (easter wine region), Svaneti (mountains of the northwest) as well as to Armenia and Azerbaijan. So you can explore the whole region in one trip if you prefer.
Learn more about Jayway Travel.
Kutaisi Restaurants & Kutaisi Nightlife
The Kutaisi restaurants scene is slowly growing with some new and interesting options appearing, as well as well established local favorites. Find the location of every restaurant and bar with our Kutaisi Map for tourists at the bottom of this article.
Sisters – Best Kutaisi Restaurant For Food Quality
Sisters is a mishmash of modern-industrial and grandmother-upcycled. Here you’ll find classic Imeretian cuisine elevated and with some of their own unique twists. Try the Ekala Phkali – a walnut dip blended with a local green called Ekala. Also, the Chakhokhbili stew, fortified with walnuts. They have a good selection of Georgian natural wines.
Our Garden Cafe & Bar – Best Kutaisi Restaurant With A View
Our Garden Cafe & Bar has plenty of tasty Georgian food to choose from. Though flavors and presentation don’t quite match Sisters, eating on the terrace is the perfect way to soak in some Kutaisi atmosphere.
Bikentia’s Kebabery – Best Kutaisi Restaurant For Fast Food
The Kutaisi kebab is legendary in Georgia. Rather than wrapping in flatbread, the beef-pork mince kebab is drowned in the local fresh tomato sauce: Satsebeli. A hint of spice, with a lot of rich fresh tomato and that juicy, meaty kebab. This fast food is a must try in Kutaisi, and Bikentia’s Kebabery is the top choice by locals. Closes 9pm.
Other Kutaisi Restaurants And Wine Bars
El-Depo – Best for 24/7 food and Khinkali (Big meaty-soup filled dumplings). One of the few places in Kutaisi where you can sit down to dine and drink 24 hours a day.
Palaty – A great alternative to Sisters Kutaisi Restaurant for great food at more affordable prices. Palaty is actually Sister’s sister restaurant. It’s their original venue and it has a cute cafe-restaurant vibe with patterned fabrics. Still quality food but a little less trendy than sisters.
Toma’s Wine Cellar – Best for set menu dining experience. Head a little out of town and discover a reservation only dining experience where they make their own wine.
Sapere – Best Wine Bar With Food. Sapere has a wonderful selection of premium wines which you can enjoy with local cheese or a full meal in a cosy. modern environment.
Kutaisi nightlife is definitely not the peak of Georgian nocturnal party time. It’s a pretty chill city. Don’t expect world famous nightclubs like you can find in Tbilisi.
Aside from 24 hour dining at El-depo try:
Gardenia Kutaisi – Best Garden Bar
A big Garden bar right on the river. On summer nights expect Gardenia to be super busy during peak hours (8pm – 10pm). You can enjoy drinks until 3am. It’s not a huge party, but it’s a great place for easy going Kutaisi nightlife, to chill and chat outside.
#B12 (Late Bar – Kutaisi Nightlife)
A cellar bar with a soundproof karaoke room. You can either hang out in the cellar, or party in the karaoke room until dawn. They don’t seem to have a fixed closing time. If you keep spending money, you can stay about as late as you want or until the staff have had enough of you 😉
Kutaisi Map / Imereti Map – Free Interactive Tourist Map
Our Kutaisi Map showing attractions, food, wine and all the other things to do in Kutaisi and the Imereti region that we’ve listed in this article.
Have your itinerary done for you with Jayway Travel Georgia (You can also organise a trip which takes you to neighbouring countries like Armenia & Azerbaijan.