Travel Guide Europe Abkhazia Sukhumi



Sukhumi is the capital of Abkhazia. It has for the better part of the last century been famous throughout the Former Soviet Union as a prominent subtropical beach resort, complete with palm trees, botanical gardens, and citrus plantations, backed by the high alpine peaks of the Greater Caucasus Mountains.

You can easily see Sukhumi's urban sights in one afternoon; spend the rest of your time on the beach or doing day trips to northern Abkhazia. The region is relatively small, so Sukhumi is a great base to explore it all.

First settlement was founded here in the second and early first millennia BC by local Colchian tribes. Later in the mid-6th century BC it was replaced by the Milesian Greek colony of Dioscurias. It remained one of the Roman (and later Byzantine) strongholds in Caucasus up until being sacked by the Arabs in 736. Afterwards restored and flourished during the reigns of Abkhazian and Georgian kingdoms in the 12th-13th centuries. However, it fell to the Turks about 1570, when they built new fort here. In the late 18th century it became a capital of independent Abkhaz kingdom. Short after that in 1810 Abkhaz kingdom signed a treaty with Russian Empire to become part of it. Sukhum was a centre of the 1992-1993 Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, and thereafter was severely damaged. It has lots signs of it till nowadays.



Sights and Activities

Although some of the major sights of the city were destroyed by the war, Sukhum's principal attraction remained intact: an almost tropical climate with beaches, mountains, lakes, palm trees and of course the warm welcoming of locals, always mixed with a curiosity towards westerners. Since 2008, when Russian trade embargo was lifted, Russian tourists returned to Abkhazia once again and during summer invade the seaside; the influx of new money permitted the reconstruction of the main sites, and progress, albeit slow, is visible everywhere.

The seaside promenade stretches some 4 km long westwards from the government buildings. Summertime it is always full of life: locals as well as Russian tourists stroll along, chat, eat ice cream, drink beer and enjoy the sun. Several restaurants are located to the West from hotel Ritsa, this is the area where bathing in the sea is permitted, and if you need accommodation, here you'll find many babushkas sitting on plastic chairs with "komnata" ('room') sign, they are more than happy to assist you.




Very hot and humid summer. It can stay quite warm up until the end of October. The average temperature in January is between +2 to +4 ° C. The average temperature in August varies from +22 to +24. The average annual temperature is +15 ° C.



Getting There

By Plane

Sukhum Babushara Airport now handles only local flights due to the disputed status of Abkhazia.

By Train

The direct sleeper train from Moscow has finally returned, there are departures at least twice a week with more connections added during the holiday seasons. Departure time from Moskva Paveletsky station is 5:20pm, arriving in Suhkumi 1:07pm two nights later. A local train also connects with the Russian summer resort of Sochi across the border, journey time is 5 hours with fares starting at RUR 200.

By Car

From Georgia, take a taxi from Zugdidi to Enguri bridge (GEL 10), get your passport controlled by the Georgian military checkpoint and walk across the several hundred metres long, dilapidated Enguri bridge to the Russian military checkpoint at the Abkhazian side. Alternatively, horse carriages also run between the two checkpoints (GEL 1); at the Abkhazian side you find taxis, marshrutka and coaches to Gal and Sokhumi.

There are no exchange or any other facilities at the border. Get sufficient rubles in Zugdidi, otherwise it may be difficult or overly expensive to obtain transport to the capital.

By Bus

Regular services connect Sukhumi with the Russian border (2 hours 30 minutes, hourly), and much rarely with a few towns in Southern Russia. If you are coming from or going to Georgia, you should pick a service from/to the South Abkhazian town of Gali, where marshrutkas and taxis go to the Abkhazian military checkpoint at Inguri bridge, leading towards Zugdidi, Georgia.

Long-distance coaches and marshrutkas going in east bound direction depart from the square in front of the Railway station. Including the ones going to Southern Russian cities, Russian border (PSOU), Gagra (2 hours), Gudauta, New Athos (30 minutes, 50 rubles), Pitsunda.

Marshrutkas heading south and westward depart from the central market (Rynok), including Dranda, Gali, Ochamchira (1 hour, 80 rubles).



Getting Around

Most can easily be done on foot; book stores sell quite decent maps.

Frequent marshrutkas and lesser frequent trolleybuses ply the roads. To get to the bus/train station ("voksal") take any marshrutka/trolleybus going to the central market and then board trolleybus #1 or #3.

There are three trolleybus routes:

  • №1 Central Market ("rynok") - Noviy rayon. Via train station.
  • №2 Central Market ("rynok") - Kashtak. Via city center and then further southward along city coast line.
  • №3 Central Market ("rynok") - Zheleznodorozhniy Posyolok. Via train station




There is a fair share of restaurants in Sukhumi, which cater mostly Russian or Caucasian style dining. Many of them are at the coast next to Hotel Ritsa; they are designed to cater Russian tourists, and while they are not exactly cheap on local standards (a diner with two courses and wine can cost up to €15-20), most of them are decent and reliable. Walk along the seaside and choose what you like most (and where you find a free table, which can be tricky during the summer). Some new openings are visible around the town, especially around the tourist-invaded botanical garden.




Plenty of places along the coast. Walk along the coastline and take your pick. The places on the pier are great for a sundowner.




Prices and quality vary, but in summer it's not always easy to find a decent home stay in Sukhumi. Head for one of the several old ladies who work as housing agents behind their plastic tables at the Promenade, some 500 metres westwards from Hotel Ritsa; they'll find you something. Another alternative is checking on Akirtaa street where a number of houses have signes advertising homestays. The longer your stay, the higher your chances are to find a good deal; looking for accommodation for one night can be a kind of nightmare. Expect to pay at least 700 rubles for a double room.

The big international hostelling sites are now allow to book Sukhumi hotels, so no more problems with this. During summer having a reservation can be essential, as hotels can be fully booked weeks in advance. Prices vary, a central room in a nicely refurbished hotel can easily cost €100 (while you can grab a bed at a no-frills home stay for as low as €4 per bed per night).



Keep Connected


Internet can be found in restaurants with Wi-Fi and in a few Internet cafes.


See also International Telephone Calls

There are 2 local mobile operators A-Mobile and Aquafon, both offer 4G networks. Foreign SIM cards usually do not work, with the exception of Russian branded operators MTS, Beeline, Megafon.


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This is version 2. Last edited at 11:19 on Sep 1, 17 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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