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Abkhazia

All my reviews about Abkhazia...Sokhumi, Novy Afon, Gagra, Lake Ritsa and the Bzyb Valley.

Updated March 12, 2017
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  1. Cheap "General Tips & Advice" in Sokhumi, Georgia
    Unless you are from Russia or a former Soviet Union country (except Georgia and the Baltic States) or one of the handful of countries that recognises Abkhazian independence, you'll need a visa to enter Abkhazia, and this is now a fairly straightforwa…
  2. Free! "General Tips & Advice" in Sokhumi, Georgia
    This is not an easy question to answer. I spent 6 days in Abkhazia, travelling for the most part independently, and aside from one weird incident at the crossing point with Georgia, had no issues whatsoever. It felt safe to me, and clearly feels safe…
  3. Very cheap "Restaurants, Cafes & Food" in Sokhumi, Georgia
    Traditional Abkhaz food is not that easy to find in the restaurants of Sokhumi (maybe it is elsewhere, but as I stayed in Sokhumi, I only ate out there), as many of the restaurants on the seafront cater more to Russian tastes and serve things like bo…
  4. Free! "General Tips & Advice" in Sokhumi, Georgia
    English is not widely spoken in Abkhazia. Staff in the first hotel I stayed in knew a few words, and made every effort to communicate with me using sign language and phoning an English speaking friend. In the second hotel, I was surprised by two flue…
  5. Cheap "General Tips & Advice" in Sokhumi, Georgia
    There are currently two ways to enter Abkhazia: from Russia via the Psou border crossing near Sochi, or from Georgia at the Ingur crossing near Zugdidi. You must leave Abkhazia the same way you entered, as the Georgian authorities see Abkhazia as par…
  6. Very cheap "General Tips & Advice" in Sokhumi, Georgia
    Sokhumi's bus station is inconveniently located in the car park of the main train station (voksal), some kilometres out of the centre of town. To get there, you can either take a marshrutka (minibus) marked Voksal from the main market (also not reall…
  7. Expensive "Hotels & Accommodations" in Sokhumi, Georgia
    The Dioskuria is a brand new hotel right in the centre of Sokhumi, on the corner of Freedom Square with a view of the burnt out government building across the park (see photo). I don't have the best reason for choosing it...needing an address in Abkh…
  8. Expensive "Hotels & Accommodations" in Sokhumi, Georgia
    The Hotel Dioskuria was fully booked when I decided I wanted to stay longer, so I booked the Leon Boutique Hotel on the same website. Almost immediately, I got an email in Russian asking for a bank transfer in advance. A little odd, so being in Sokhu…
  9. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Sokhumi, Georgia
    Looming above the tidy Freedom Park in the main square of Sokhumi is a huge building which once housed the Council of Ministers. During the war, it was heavily damaged and set on fire, and the building has been left in an abandoned state as a reminde…
  10. Very cheap "Sights & Attractions" in Sokhumi, Georgia
    Just a couple of blocks along from the abandoned government building is one of Sokhumi's main attractions, the Botanical Gardens. Founded in 1840, it claims to be one of the oldest botanical gardens in this part of the world, and although small, has …
  11. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Sokhumi, Georgia
    From the Botanical Gardens, follow the stream of tourists past a row of souvenir stalls down the side of the gardens, and you'll end up at the bottom of a grand staircase leading to one of Sokhumi's minor railway stations. The station building looks …
  12. Very cheap "Sights & Attractions" in Sokhumi, Georgia
    Directly opposite the entrance to the Botanical Gardens is the Abkhazian State Museum, although the entrance is round the back of the building in a shady park. For a couple of hundred Russian Rubles, you'll be handed a ticket and shown into the first…
  13. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Sokhumi, Georgia
    In the centre between busy Lakoba Street (one of the main shopping streets in Sokhumi) and Prospekt Aiaaira (Victory Avenue...another main street), a small park contains a sombre monument to those who died in the war with Georgia in 1992-1993. A litt…
  14. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Sokhumi, Georgia
    The liveliest and most pleasant place in Sokhumi is the pedestrianised seafront. The buildings range from grand and renovated to dilapidated and verging on collapse, but somehow that doesn't affect the cheerful atmosphere, especially in the late afte…
  15. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Sokhumi, Georgia
    Walking along the seafront, you can't help but notice the two piers, both looking as if they might collapse at any moment. Before going to Abkhazia, I was told that Sokhumi used to be famous for its piers, and I'd seen some pictures of them before th…
  16. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Novy Afon, Georgia
    Back down in the resort is a brand new park, created around a lake. There are even a couple of canals with rowing boats for hire, and plenty of bridges where couples have attached padlocks to declare their love for each other, and a couple of cafes. …
  17. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Sokhumi, Georgia
    Sokhumi's main beach area is to the north of the main seafront, backed by a busy promenade with more cafes, bars, souvenir shops, stalls offering excursions to Lake Ritsa and Novy Afon, and amusements for kids such as mini cars, trampolines and hover…
  18. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Novy Afon, Georgia
    The main attraction in Novy Afon is the large and colourful monastery on the hillside. During the Russo-Turkish war, the Mt Athos peninsula in modern-day Greece was under the control of the Ottoman Empire, and there were concerns by the Russian Ortho…
  19. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Novy Afon, Georgia
    This is no Niagara, let's start with that. The monks from the monastery were very active in community building in the early years (early 1900s), and one of their projects was a hydroelectric plant to provide power for the monastery and the little …
  20. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Novy Afon, Georgia
    When the local diving boys pointed me down the lakeside path saying "Psyrtskha", I don't really know what I was expecting, but it wasn't this! Across the lake, which is an almost artificial blue colour, an octagonal bandstand-like structure juts out …
  21. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Novy Afon, Georgia
    I have to admit, I didn't know where the path behind Psyrtskha Station was going to take me, but a dozen other tourists seemed to know what lay ahead as they strode purposefully across the railway tracks and followed a stream through the woods. Just …
  22. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Gagra, Georgia
    An unmissable sight in Gagra is the old cinema, a grand building standing high above the colonnaded entrance to Gagra's Seaside Park. At first glance, it looks in good nick, but as you climb the steps, you notice that the windows are all broken, and …
  23. Very cheap "Sights & Attractions" in Gagra, Georgia
    Don't make the mistake of getting off in the centre of Gagra by the football stadium, and instead ask your bus driver to drop you off in Stary Gagra, the oldest part of the resort which is by far the most attractive place. Gagra obviously used to …
  24. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Novy Afon, Georgia
    Properly dressed visitors are welcome inside the monastery to see the main church of St Pantaleon (for men and women wearing shorts, wrap-around skirts are available for rent at the entrance, as are head coverings for women), but much of the complex …
  25. Free! "Sights & Attractions" in Gagra, Georgia
    What used to be the hub of the early resort is now somewhat abandoned. The large square (I think named Gagarin Square, although could be wrong) which used to be the town's bus station and shopping area still has some basic restaurants and grocery sto…
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