Located in the Imereti region of Western Georgia, Kutaisi is the capital city of the most populous region in Georgia. Only 140+ miles from Georgia’s capital – Tbilisi, Kutaisi is easy to visit and well worth it if you want to experience a different region in Georgia. There are many different things to do in Kutaisi, from immersing yourself in their culture to eating traditional Imeretian-style food, if you’re spending a prolonged period in Georgia don’t write Kutaisi off. Especially considering it’s a great stopping point if you’re traveling from Tbilisi to other parts of Georgia such as Batumi or up north to Svaneti.
Things to Do in Kutaisi, Georgia
Make Reservations at Toma’s Wine Cellar
Toma’s Wine Cellar is an incredible experience and something not to be missed when you visit Kutaisi. It deserves recognition aside from the other amazing Kutaisi restaurants because it’s technically not even a restaurant. Instead, Toma invites you into his family home where they’ve turned the basement into a wine cellar and restaurant. Someone from the family shows you around the wine-making area before you’re seated to enjoy a traditional Georgian feast cooked by none other than Toma’s mom. In Georgia, it’s tradition for families to live together so Toma his wife, and child live with his mother.
The cost of the meal is 50 GEL (approximately $15) and you’re served starters, main courses, and a dessert; plus a half-liter of housemade wine and a shot of housemade ChaCha. There is plenty of food to go around and I must confess – it’s the best traditional Georgian food I’ve tasted in the country. Reservations are required and make sure to book in advance. You don’t want to miss out on this experience. (Make reservations here on their Facebook page).
Before visiting Toma’s, brush up on your Georgian cuisine by reading: 20 Georgian Foods You Have to Try When You Visit Georgia
Visit Baia’s Wine
Baia is an award-winning winemaker located about 45-minutes southeast of Kutaisi in Obcha Village in Baghdati. Under 30 years old, Baia has had many incredible accomplishments in her short lifetime. She was featured on the Forbes 30 under 30 European list in 2019 for being influential in winemaking. Plus her wines are shipped all over the world, namely distributed in Washington DC, and have even been gifted to Michelle Obama. An accomplishment that she was too humble to discuss, her father came over and bragged on her for a bit sharing how proud he was of her.
I found that the easiest way to visit Baia’s Wine was to hire a driver. I booked transportation through Budget Georgia, requesting the “wine and dine” option, and they set everything up. I simply arrived at Baia’s to find wine waiting for me, a brief explanation of how wine-making occurs, and an incredible Georgian feast waiting for me cooked by her mom (and friends).
Head to the Green Bazaar
Before visiting the Green Bazaar I had no idea what I was in for. The Green Bazaar is Kutaisi’s main marketplace where you can buy fresh produce, wine, bread, meats, cheeses, spices, and goods. It’s quite fun to walk around and observe locals interacting with each other; hearing them speak to each other, smelling the spices, and even noticing the water bottles of wine and ChaCha that are sold.
I stopped for a snack at Bread & Wine to slow down and observe all that was going on around me.
Book a Day Trip With Budget Georgia
One of the best things about visiting Kutaisi is that it’s close to tons of incredible things in Georgia that are worth seeing. I highly recommend basing yourself in Kutaisi but booking a trip (or two) out of the city with Budget Georgia. You can even create a personalized, custom day trip and ask for pricing.
Explore the Restaurant Scene
No trip (ever) would be complete without experiencing the local food and drink. Kutaisi has tons of cafes and restaurants lining the streets. Search out somewhere that serves traditional Georgian food and feast! I particularly enjoyed the food and atmosphere at Palaty (not pictured).
Explore the Drink Scene
As you may know, wine culture is huge in Georgia, and Kutaisi is no different. Scout out wine bars on the streets and know that anywhere you pop into will have many different Georgian wines to choose from. The best part? Wine is stupid cheap here! A glass usually runs you <$3.
Know Before You Go…
What’s the weather like in Kutaisi?
Kutaisi experiences all four seasons. August is the driest and hottest month, March is the wettest month, and January is the coldest month. The average temperature throughout the whole year is 56 F. I visited Kutaisi in May and it was already quite hot with temperatures reaching 90 F some days.
What should I expect when I visit Kutaisi?
The energy and people in Kutaisi are unlike anywhere I’ve visited. Expect to be greeted with open arms as locals encourage you to explore their city. Most restaurants have menus in English and the younger generation speaks English quite well. The older generation doesn’t speak as much English but you can always get by with a smile and a wave.
Georgia operates on the GEL (also known as the Lari) and there are many ATMs throughout the city where you can take cash out. Most places take credit cards but I highly encourage you to carry a little bit of cash especially if you plan to hire private drivers or buy things at the market.
Some villages in Georgia are a bit more conservative when it comes to the dress code, but in Kutaisi, you can get away with wearing pretty much anything. As I write this I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt and nobody has given me a funny look about it.
How long do I need to visit Kutaisi?
Depending on how many day trips you want to take out of Kutaisi, I recommend a visit of at least three days. If you don’t plan to visit anywhere out of Kutaisi, one day is plenty to explore the city itself.
How do I get to Kutaisi from Tbilisi (and vice versa)?
While Kutaisi has an international airport, many people choose to visit Georgia by starting their travels in the capital city Tbilisi. Kutaisi is three and a half hours northwest of Tbilisi. You can travel via public transportation (for dirt cheap) or splurge a little bit more on private transportation.
I chose to travel via private driver for convenience reasons. By booking a private transfer through GoTrip I was not only able to get a ride to Kutaisi for cheap, but I was also able to requests stops along the way. From Tbilisi, we stopped at Jvari Monastery, Mtskheta, and Uplistsikhe before arriving in Kutaisi. The entire trip cost around $50.
Are you planning on visiting Kutaisi from Tbilisi? Make sure to read How to Spend 3 Days in Tbilisi
What other things are there to do in Georgia?
Georgia is brimming with things to do, villages to visit, people to meet, and more! The highlights include touring Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital. Heading to the Caucasus Mountains, wine tasting in Khaketia, visiting Georgia’s most romantic town Sighnaghi, and visiting a coastal city such as Batumi. To guide your travels, make sure to check out the rest of my guides on visiting Georgia.
Planning on visiting Georgia? Read more:
There are so many places to visit in Kutaisi, things to see in Kutaisi, and areas to explore in the Imereti region. I hope you don’t write off this destination when you visit Georgia.
For a more visual look at Kutaisi and Georgia, and more recommendations on things to see and do, make sure to check out my Instagram page/highlight reel by searching “#ppingeorgia” or look for the highlight reels “Georgia 1” and “Georgia 2”