Imereti is the ancient heart of Georgia. Located in west-central Georgia, Imereti is where the Greeks believed that Prometheus was chained to his mountain and where Jason and the Agronauts discovered the land of the Golden Fleece with its ruler King Aeetes and the sorceress-princess Medea. The civilization proceeding the modern Georgian people—the Colchis Kingdom—inhabited Imereti, with their capital in modern-day Kutaisi.
Geographically, Imereti is as complex as its history. It’s center lies in Kolkheti Dabloba (Colchian Lowland) with its northern, eastern, and southern peripheries lying in the foothills of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, Likhi Range, and the foothills of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, respectively. Due to Imereti’s geography, it holds some of Georgia’s best geographic anomalies, such as the Katskhi Pillar (a 40 meter tall rock pillar with a one-room monastery on top), Sataplia and Prometheus Caves, Okatse and Martvili Canyons, and the mineral springs of Tsqaltubo.
Imereti’s unique topography, with its combination of rugged foothills and flat plains, has allowed it to become one of Georgia’s top destinations for ecotourism. Martvili and Okatse Canyons are located about 40 minutes northwest of Kutaisi and are excellent locations to go hiking through the foothills of the Greater Caucasus Mountains or to go canoeing/kayaking through the streams of the canyons. Sataplia and Prometheus Caves offer guests a magnificent show of some of Earth’s most beautiful natural sculptures. Okatse Canyon and Sataplia Managed Reserve have the most well-developed trail systems and tourist infrastructure of the nature reserves in Imereti.
Located where the Rioni River comes crashing out of the foothills of the Greater Caucasus mountains into the Kolkheti Dabloba, Kutaisi has views unparalleled in Georgia. Being in the Kolkheti Dabloba of Imereti is surreal, with the cloud-shrouded mountains flanking the seemingly endless plain.
Kutaisi is the largest city in Imereti and Georgia's third largest city. The city center was recently renovated and has an opera house and theater surrounding a nearby plaza and park. The plaza has a fountain commemorating the city’s mythic origins, and the park is a nice place to walk through on a warm summer evening. The two main bridges that cross the Rioni River give views of both the Trialeti Range/Lesser Caucasus Mountains and of Bagrati Cathedral, which sits atop a bluff overlooking the entire city. Bagrati Cathedral is all that is left of the citadel that once housed the kings of medieval Georgia. The cathedral sits on top of a bluff that overlooks not only Kutaisi, but also the entire Kolkheti Dabloba. Additionally, from Bagrati, it is possible to see the Greater Caucasus Mountains.
Only a short drive away from Kutaisi lies Gelati Monastery. Gelati was medieval Georgia’s premiere ecclesiastical and academic institution. The monastery complex itself has two churches, each with mostly intact murals which are some of the best surviving examples of Georgian Orthodox art and architecture. Additionally, from the monastery, it is possible to see Kutaisi and much of the lower parts of Imereti.
A cobblestone street in central Kutaisi
Getting to Imereti is relatively easy. Davit Aghmashenebeli Kutaisi International Airport (KUT) is located close to Kutaisi, which serves as a hub for WizzAir, a Hungary-based low-cost airline which serves European destinations. There are shuttles, taxis, and marshrutkas from the airport, which is located about 30 minutes (25 km) from Kutaisi’s center, to Kutaisi and Tbilisi.
Likewise, there are frequent marshrutkas between Kutaisi and Zestaponi, Kutaisi and Batumi, Kutaisi and Tbilisi, and from Kutaisi to the region of Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti.
Imereti is also served by rail, with Kutaisi having two rail stations. Kutaisi I Railroad Station has trains running between Kutaisi and Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi. Kutaisi II Railway Station has trains that go to Tsqaltubo and Zugdidi. In Imereti, the cities of Zestaponi (to Khashuri) and Samtredia (from Kutaisi I) also have railway stations.
By road, Imereti is predominately accessible by the ს-1 (E-60) which runs from Tbilisi to Senaki, at which point the E-60 continues to the Black Sea city of Poti and the ს-1 continues to Zugdidi.
Kvemo Kartli is located in south-central Georgia. The eastern third of Kvemo Kartli is relatively flat and has a savannah-like ecosystem whereas the rest of the region is mostly rugged uplands. As such, only the eastern third of the region is heavily populated, with the rest of the region being populated by small villages. The city of Rustavi is the main city in the region and is the fourth most populated city in Georgia. The city was built along the Mtkvari River during the Soviet-era as a factory city. Life here was based around the Rustavi Metalurgical Factory. Rustavi is divided into two parts--Old and New Rustavi. Old Rustavi is a typical Stalin-era planned city and is home to the city hall, Liberty Square, and a large park with a lake. New Rustavi is mostly Khrushchev-era apartment blocks. The city is approximately equidistant between Tbilisi and the Georgia-Azerbaijan border. The town of Marneuli, in east-central Kvemo Kartli, is home to most of Georgia’s Azeri citizens. Despite the fact that Kvemo Kartli’s main cities are located in its eastern third, it is in the mountainous parts where the main sights are.
Park of Culture and Rest in Rustavi
Bolnisi, Dmanisi, and Manglisi
The town of Bolnisi has the oldest Christian structure in Georgia, known as Bolnisi Sioni. The stone cross above its doorway, called the Bolnisi cross, has become a symbol of Georgia and can be found in each corner of the Georgian flag.
The village of Dmanisi has an active archeological site which features some of the oldest hominins outside of Africa, dating back almost two million years. The archeological site hosts a visitor center and museum for not only the dig itself, but also for the ruins of the ancient town that used to be there.
Algeti National Park is located in Manglisi. This park has a trail that has views of the mixed forest landscape that is characteristic of this part of the region.
Rustavi, Marneuli, and Manglisi are accessible by marshrutkas from Tbilisi.
Gachiani, Rustavi, and Gardabani are all accessible by train via the once daily Tbilisi-Baku overnight train (none of these are final stops on any train routes). There is also a daily train to the Armenian border-town of Sadakhlo.
Travel to western Kvemo Kartli generally requires a taxi or private car. The ს-9/E-60/E-117/Tbilisi Bypass Road circumvents Tbilisi to the east and joins the ს-4 in Rustavi, which runs from Tbilisi to Azerbaijan, as well as the Rustavi-Gardabani-Vakhtangisi Road, via Rustavi. The ს-6/E-117 runs from Tbilisi to Armenia via Marneuli and Bolnisi (Dmanisi is accessed via this road). The ს-7 also runs from Marneuli to Armenia. The only other main road connection is the Tbilisi-Kojori-Tsalka-Ninotsminda Road from Samtskhe-Javakheti.
The official name of this region is Adjara Autonomous Republic. Alternatively, people refer to it as Adjara, which can also be spelt--although less commonly--Achara.
Adjara is where the mountains come crashing into the Black Sea. Its people are an eclectic mix, being ethnically Georgian, but having many cultural undertones from Turkey. As such, many of Georgia’s Muslims live in Adjara. The region boasts vibrant colors, a relaxing lifestyle, and rich food.
Batumi is the gateway to Adjara. Located on an extensive beach along the Black Sea, Batumi is Georgia’s primary beach city, its largest port, and second largest city by population. Its seaside sunsets are full of deep reds and oranges, its water a dark blue, and its surrounding mountains a lush green.
The city used to be a Greek colony during the Colchin Kingdom era. Since then, it has served as the primary port for Georgia due to its deep harbor. The remains of the Greco-Roman Petra Fortress remain in the town of Tsikhisdziri. The city center is an odd mix of recently renovated historical buildings and ultra-modern high-rise hotels. Batumi Boulevard follows the miles-long beach and has most of the city’s sights, such as the Batumi Dolphinarium, the Batumi Pier, the Ali and Nino statue--Georgia’s Romeo and Juliet--and the Alphabet Tower: a large tower with a double-helix containing the Georgian alphabet winding up each side, representing that the Georgian language is the DNA of Georgia.
Further inland lie semi-tropical forests covering the mountains. Mtirala National Park, located near Batumi, has hiking trails and visitor infrastructure for those wishing to trek through the mountains. Kintrishi Protected Area has lush forests, a lake, and a natural stone arch bridge that crosses a stream. For those wanting a winter destination, Goderdzi Ski Resort is Adjara’s only ski resort.
Ali and Nino statue
One way for tourists to reach Batumi is by air. Alexander Kartvelishvhili Batumi International Airport (BUS) is mostly a seasonal airport, however, there are flights from Batumi to Turkey, Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine.
There are frequent marshrutkas from Tbilisi, Akhaltsikhe, Poti, and Kutaisi that go to Batumi.
From Tbilisi, there are 3 or four "fast trains" that leave daily for Batumi (which also stop in Kobuleti).
The ს-2/E-70 goes from Poti through to Turkey. The ს-12 runs from Samtredia (ს-1/E-60) to Ureki. The შ-1/Batumi-Akhaltsikhe Road runs from Batumi to Akhaltsikhe.
This region is composed of two historical regions of Georgia: Samegrelo and Zemo Svaneti. Samegrelo comes from the Georgian word megreli which is the term for the the Megrelian (sometimes called Mingrelians) people, a subset of Georgian people. Megrelians have a language that is distantly related to Georgian. The administrative capital and largest city of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti along with Samegrelo’s historical capital is Zugdidi, home to the Dadiani Palace and adjacent botanical gardens. The Dadiani Palace was built in the nineteenth century for the royal family of Samegrelo, and today, it serves as a museum.
Zemo Svaneti means “Upper Svaneti” in Georgian, with Svaneti as a whole spanning two administrative regions. The Svanetians have a language that is also distantly related to the Georgian language. This historical region’s primary settlement is Mestia, which is accessible only by a single road from Zugdidi. Svaneti lies in the heart of the Greater Caucasus Mountains and is home to Georgia’s tallest mountain, Skhara (5,200 m/17,00 ft), and the twin-peaked mountain, Ushba (4,690 m/ 15,400 ft). Svaneti is frequently called the most beautiful of Georgia’s regions due to its dramatic scenery, thousand-year-old villages with stone watchtowers, and untouched nature.
Poti, Samegrelo’s second largest city, is located at the mouth of the Rioni River, which starts north of Kutaisi in the Greater Caucasus Mountains. Poti was founded during the Colchis Kingdom and was at one point a Greek colony by the name of Phasis.
Despite having a coastline on the Black Sea, Poti is renowned for the Kolkheti National Park, which hosts Georgia’s largest natural lake--Paliastomi Lake. Kolkheti National Park has tourist infrastructure that includes trails, a visitor center, nature-watching areas, and water sports equipment. Here, it is possible to enjoy the beauty of this delicate delta ecosystem while simultaneously taking in the beauty of the Greater and Lesser Caucasus Mountains.
Mestia is served by Queen Tamar Airport, which has flights to Kutaisi and Natakhtari (via Natakhtari Airport, which is located close to Mtskheta, just north of Tbilisi).
There are marshrutkas from Tbilisi and Kutaisi to Zugdidi, and for Poti from Zugdidi, Kutaisi, and Batumi.
Likewise, Poti and Zugdidi have train services from Tbilisi, with two trains daily for Poti and three daily for Zugdidi.
Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti is reached by vehicle via the ს-1/E-60 which comes from Tbilisi, and by the ს-2/E-70 which comes from Turkey via Batumi to Poti.
Kakheti is the entire area of Georgia east of Tbilisi. The region has two primary geographic regions: the Alazani Valley, which is known for its wine and viticulture, and the Greater Caucasus Mountains. The region as a whole tends to be relatively dry, with the southern and eastern portions bordering on being a desert.
The Alazani Valley is home to much of Georgia’s viticulture. The best place to experience this is from the town of Telavi, which is the largest city in the region. Telavi has a renovated public square with a fortress in the town center, numerous quaint cafes, and is close to Alaverdi and Ikalto Monasteries--both excellent places to see traditional Georgian architecture and the vineyards of Kakheti.
Sighnaghi, a small village on a high ridge overlooking the entirety of the Alazani Valley along with views of the Greater Caucasus mountains, is the best place to see a traditional Georgian village. The entire town, along with large portions of the fortifications that surround it, was recently renovated. The town is full of narrow, quiet streets lined with the brick buildings with wooden balconies that are so typical of Georgian architecture.
Close to Sighnaghi is Bodbe Monastery, which houses the relics of St. Nino, the patron saint of Georgia who converted the Georgian people to Christianity. Much like Sighnaghi, Bodbe offers a picturesque view of the Alazani Valley with the Greater Caucasus mountains in the background.
Telavi's renovated town center
Lagodekhi and Tusheti
The areas of Lagodekhi and Tusheti are the most geographically extreme (in terms of geography and accessibility) places in Georgia to visit. Both reserves have visitor centers, but the tourist infrastructure is limited and weather-dependent.
Lagodekhi National Reserve is located in the corner of Kakheti that borders Azerbaijan to the east and Russia to the north. The reserve has numerous waterfalls, a lake that straddles the Russo-Georgian border, and even a small fortress.
The area of Tusheti (which includes the Tusheti Protected Area) is home to the villages of Dartlo and Omalo. These villages are only accessible by a dirt road during the summer months, but offer visitors the unique experience of being in an area of Georgia that has been almost untouched by the 21st century except for the occasional trekker.
Davit Gareja and Vashlovani
In Kakheti’s southeast are two notable points of interest. The first is Davit Gareja Monastery, which is the smallest of Georgia’s “cave cities.” This monastery is actually comprised of numerous complexes in the surrounding area. Like Uplistsikhe and Vardzia, the complex is dug into the hills, however, much of the original structures still remain intact. Davit Gareja is located about 100 km southeast of Tbilisi.
The second point of interested is the Vashlovani Protected Area. There is a visitor center located in the town of Dedoplistsqaro. In the reserve itself, there are numerous places to go hiking, rafting, and to see what is frequently nicknamed “Georgian Africa” due its similarity to African savannahs.
There are numerous marshrutkas from Tbilisi that go to Tsnori, Dedoplistsqaro, Lagodekhi, Telavi, and Akhmeta. Dedoplistsqaro is also accessible by marshrutkas from Telavi.
Unfortunately, there are no train routes into eastern Georgia.
Access to Kakheti is achieved primarily by road. The ს-5, locally known as the “Kakheti Highway,” runs from Tbilisi (it begins between the 300 Aragveli and Isani Metro stations) and into the southern half of Kakheti, passing through the towns of Sagarejo, Tsnori, and Lagodekhi before it goes to Azerbaijan. The შ-38 runs from the ს-5 to the city of Telavi. The შ-42 follows the Alazani valley, starting in the town of Akhmeta, running through Telavi until it ends in Gurjaani.
Shida Kartli is in the heart of Georgia and is home to the country’s central valley, which is one of a few stretches of flat, arable land in an otherwise mountainous country. The northern portion of the region is in the Greater Caucasus mountains and is occupied by South Ossetia, one of Georgia’s two occupied territories.
The largest city, Gori, located about an hour and a half away from Tbilisi, has a large grand central plaza, a vibrant bazaar, and a hilltop fortress in the city center. Gori is an example of what a typical Georgian town is like.
Gori’s claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Georgia’s most famous citizen, Ioseb Jughashvili, commonly known as Joseph Stalin. Before becoming the head of one of the world’s largest military powers that helped take down the NAZIs and plunge the world into the Cold War, Stalin was born to a poor family in Gori, where he took up a fondness for writing. In his late adolescence, he moved to Tbilisi where he studied to become a priest, but was expelled due to his flirtations with Marxism. After that, he moved to Russia and the rest is history.
Gori is not only the birthplace of Stalin, but also the location of one of Georgia’s earliest and oldest settlements, Uplistsikhe, the second largest “cave city” in Georgia. The city was first inhabited around 8,000 years ago, beginning with the early Iron Age, and was continually inhabited up until the fifteenth century, when it was destroyed by Tamurlane’s invasion of Georgia in the 15th century. Today, only the remnants of this once-great river city remain. Similar to Vardzia, Uplistsikhe’s location on a bluff overlooking the Mtkvari river adds to an already stunning location.
Steps to a church at Uplistsikhe
There are numerous marshrutkas that leave Tbilisi and Kutaisi that go to Gori, Kareli, Kaspi, and Khashuri/Surami. Likewise, the latter two towns can be reached by marshrutkas with a final destination in Western Georgia (such as Kutaisi, Zugdidi, Poti, or Batumi) and Khashuri can also be reached by a marshrutka with a final destination of Akhaltsikhe.
Georgian Railways serves Surami/Khashuri, Kareli, Gori, and Kaspi multiple times a day along various routes (there are no final stops in any of these cities).
Shida Kartli is bisected by the ს-1/E-60, which goes from Tbilisi to Poti and passes just north of Gori. Uplistsikhe can be reached by a short taxi ride from Gori, or by taking the Zahesi-Mtskheta-Kavtiskhevi-Gori Road to the Uplistsikhe Complex Road.
Samtskhe-Javakheti is located in southwest Georgia, next to Adjara Autonomous Republic and Turkey. Samtskhe-Javakheti is a sparsely populated region that is full of history and natural beauty. The region lies where the Armenian Plateau meets the Trialeti Range. This region is home to karst uplands, heavily forested mountains, and jagged river valleys. Georgia’s largest, and perhaps most well-known, national park is located here. Aside from the region’s geography, Samtskhe-Javakheti is most notable for its Armenian population, especially in the towns of Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda, where there are more Armenians living than Georgians.
The Borjomi-Kharaguli National Park boasts 11 trails, a palace that was built by the Romanov Dynasty, mineral springs, and Georgia’s best hiking tours. The national park is located in the town of Borjomi, which is located in a narrow valley along the Mtkvari River. Also located in Borjomi is Borjomi Central Park, which has numerous spas which are served by the area’s natural mineral water springs. The Borjomi Railway twists and turns its way through the Trialeti Range to the winter resort town of Bakuriani, which is Georgia’s second primary winter sports destination.
The city of Akhaltsikhe is not only Samtskhe-Javakheti’s administrative capital and largest city, but it is also home to a symbol of Georgia--Rabati Fortress. Akhaltsikhe and Rabati Fortress are oftentimes seen as a metaphor for Georgia in that the fortress is not one singular building, but a complex of numerous structures built by different civilizations, ranging from Medieval Georgians to the Ottomans. The domed structure in the fort’s center alternated between being a mosque and an orthodox church while the population of the city alternated between majority Georgian or Armenian. As such, this city exemplifies Georgia’s complex and diverse history.
A short drive from Akhaltsikhe are the ruins of Vardzia, Georgia’s largest “cave city.” The complex is built into a tall cliff along the Mtkvari River and used to house over a thousand residents at its height during the reign of Queen Tamar (Tamar Mepe). During this time, the city was up to nine stories tall and six rooms deep into the cliffside. Today, only about a third of the original structure is left due to a series of earthquakes that have taken their toll on the city. Nevertheless, Vardzia is one of Georgia’s most unique historical locations and offers views that will leave anybody breathless.
Javakheti Protected Area
The Javakheti Protected Area is a series of small reserves located between the towns of Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda. It has four hiking areas, with two main loop trailheads located near the villages of Kartsakhi and Patara Khanchali. The trails in these reserves traverse Georgia’s portion of the Armenian Plateau, with its conic volcanoes, lakes, and steep valleys.
The main marshrutka route reaches Akhaltsikhe via Gori-Khashuri-Borjomi. Many marshrutkas from Kutaisi and Tbilisi will not have a final destination in Borjomi since they must drive through it to reach Akhaltsikhe. Akhalkalaki can be reached either by a marshrutka from Tbilisi or Akhaltsikhe.
Additionally, there is one daily train that runs between Tbilisi and Borjomi as well as a twice daily train between Borjomi and Bakuriani.
Access to Samtskhe-Javakheti by road can be achieved from four directions: the შ-1/Batumi-Akhaltsikhe Road, the ს-8 (which goes through the city and connects to the ს-1/E-60 in Khashuri), and the ს-11. The region also has a road link to Turkey via the ს-8 and Armenia via the ს-11.
Located where the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, the Kolkheti Dabloba and the Black Sea meet, Guria has a unique topography that is sure to impress. Shekvetili and Ureki are two of Georgia’s premiere beach destinations. Unlike Batumi and Kobuleti (located down the beach in Adjara), Guria’s Shekvetili and Ureki are quiet and generally void of foreign tourists, giving beachgoers a peaceful and relaxing experience. The village of Bakhmaro is located in Guria’s inland among the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. This town is known for being above the clouds, giving its visitors starry nights and unimpeded views of the Greater Caucasus Mountains.
Marshrutkas to Guria leave from Kutaisi, Batumi, Poti, and Tbilisi and primarily go to Ozurgeti, from which there are marshrutkas to places such as Ureki and Kobuleti.
Ureki is served by Georgian Railways’ fast train route between Tbilisi and Batumi 3 to 4 times a day, as well as twice daily by the Tbilisi-Ozurgeti train.
The ს-2/E-70 is the primary road, which goes from Poti to Batumi. The ს-12/E-692 runs from Samtredia (ს-1/E-60) to Ureki, where it connects to the ს-2/E-70.
Mtskheta-Mtianeti is located in east-central Georgia, north of Tbilisi. This region is sparsely populated due to its extremely mountainous geography--most of the region lies in the Greater Caucasus Mountains. Despite this, this region maintains a critical role in Georgia’s history and economy.
The city of Mtskheta, located about 15 km north of Tbilisi (a short 15-20 minute drive) was once the capital of Georgia during the medieval period (the capital frequently switched between Kutaisi and Mtskheta). Mtskheta is one of Georgia’s oldest continually inhabited cities and contains the holiest site in Georgian Orthodoxy, სვეტიცხოველი Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.
Svetitskhoveli comes from the Georgian words სვეტი and ცხოველი (pillar and life). The story goes that the original church’s construction was dedicated to a piece of cloth that was believed to be the mantle of Jesus Christ. Seven cedar trees from Lebanon were brought in to be used as the foundation for the church, but one of them grew back. Each time somebody went to chop the tree down, it kept growing back, so it was taken as a sign from God that this was, indeed, the true mantle of Jesus. The current church, Svetitskhoveli, is the third building to be built on the site and is over 1,000 years old. სვეტიცხოვლობა Svetitskhovloba is a holiday celebrated on 14 October to commemorate the church.
Jvari Monastery is located on a small mountaintop across the river from Mtskheta. From this monastery, the views of the Aragvi River, which starts in the Greater Caucasus Mountains, and its confluence with the Mtkvari River at the city of Mtskheta are spectacular.
Georgia is known for its stunning location in the Caucasus Mountains. Kazbegi is one of the most famous locations in the country, best known for the town of Stepandsminda, which was a favorite location for Russian authors such as Pushkin and Dostoevsky, who would frequent it for inspiration. The most famous site in Stepandsminda is Gergeti Monastery, which sites on a mountaintop overlooking Stepantsminda and has panoramic views of not only the village, but also of Mt. Kazbek. Kazbegi National Park is one of Georgia’s best places to go hiking through the Greater Caucasus Mountains, however, it lacks any tourist infrastructure.
Village of Sioni in Kazbegi
Marshrutkas from Tbilisi to Mtskheta are readily available and leave frequently. Marshrutkas to Stepantsminda frequently stop in Gudauri, Pasanuri, and Ananuri, however, it is possible to find a marshrutka with its final destination of Gudauri and Pasanuri from Tbilisi. Additionally, marshrutkas going to Vladikavkaz, Russia, will take the ს-3.
The primary way to get to Jvari Monastery is by a taxi from Mtskheta. These taxis are frequently parked near Svetitskhoveli, just outside the parking lot located directly east. Similarly, most people reach Gergeti Monastery by taxi from Stepandsminda, although hiking up the mountain is also an option.
Mtskheta-Mtianeti is served by two primary roads--the ს-1/E-60, which runs from Tbilisi through Mtskheta and then on westward to Poti. The ს-3 runs from Mtskheta to the border with Russia, where it then turns into the E-117. This is the only road link to Russia, which is in the village of Stepantsminda. The ski town of Gudauri is on this road along with the picturesque Ananuri Fortress and Dusheti village.
Racha is Georgia’s version of the Swiss Alps--full of lush forested mountains with flowery meadows, clear streams, high alpine lakes, and snow-capped mountains. The best way to experience the region is either in the town of Ambrolauri or in the villages of Oni and Nikortsminda. The region is probably the least developed in Georgia and generally lacks adequate tourist infrastructure, however, it competes with Svaneti in being considered the most beautiful region in the country by many Georgians.
Shaori Lake is located in a wide valley surrounded by alpine meadows and mountains. Nikortsminda, located close to the shores of Shaori Lake, is home to a beautiful cathedral (after which the city is named) that has fully intact frescos and murals.
To get to Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti, it is possible to take a marshrutka from Tbilisi with a final destination of either Oni and Ambrolauri. Likewise, there are marshrutkas from Kutaisi that go to Ambrolauri, Khvanchkara, and Oni. In 2017, Ambrolauri welcomed its first airport which has flights to Natakhtari Airport (near Mtskheta, just north of Tbilisi).
Adding to the difficulty of reaching this region, there are not train routes into Racha.
Road access is somewhat limited. From Imereti, there is the Kutaisi-Tsqaltubo-Tsageri-Lentekhi-Lasdili Road, which enters Racha from the southwest, as well as the Kutaisi-Tkibuli-Ambrolauri Road which branches off of the E-60 just outside of Zestaponi and enters the region from the south through Nakerala Pass.