Ambrolauri is a town in Racha, Rioni.
Ambrolauri is the capital and gateway to the Racha region. While there isn't much to see or do in the town, there are many sights to see just a short drive away. Combined with its central location in the valley and availability of various services it is a perfect base for daytrips. Ambrolauri is also known for its Khvanchkara red semi-sweet wine which is popular throughout Georgia. Don't leave town without at least a bottle or two in your suitcase!
1 Tourist Information Office (intersection of Racha Highway and Kostava St). Small building just over the bridge out of town, the staff speaks English and has a lot of info about the region.
Marshrutkas are the most popular form of public transport in Georgia and also the cheapest way into Ambrolauri. There are regular departures from Kutaisi (10 lari), and a few from Tbilisi's Didube station.
The main road into Ambrolauri and the Racha region runs north from the main Tbilisi-Kutaisi motorway, exit near Terjola and up via Tkibuli and along Shaori Lake. The road has been resurfaced and it's a smooth ride all the way.
2 Ambrolauri airport. A very modern and small airport opened in January 2017. Vanilla Sky [dead link] operates twice weekly flights to/from Natakhtari Airfield for 50 lari per person including 15 kg baggage and transfer to the centre of Tbilisi. The flight takes about 30 minutes in a small 18-seater airplane and is quite scenic.
The town is quite small and is easily covered on foot. Even the airport is only a 20-minute walk from the centre. Taxis are also available at the roundabout near the bridge to take you to your guesthouse or any other place in Racha.
- 1 Supermarket (corner of Makhaldiani and Kostava Street). The biggest shop in Ambrolauri and the closest thing to a western supermarket, it has all the basics covered. Right across the entrance is a small shop selling fruit and local vegetables.
- 1 1 lari bakery, Kostava street. Try the lobiani, it's a traditional round bread with bean-filling, which originates from this region. Just one lari and probably the best one you'll have in all of Georgia.
- 1 Winehall Royal Khvanchkara, 13 Kostava Street, ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-18:00. Wine tastings, as well as a shop
- 1 Guesthouse Racha, 33 Agmashenebeli Street, ☏ . Affordable guesthouse with a very kind host. Modern bathroom and comfy beds. Call shortly ahead of arrival. 40 lari twin/double.
- 3 Magti Office, 2 Kostava Street (across the pharmacy, look for red/white logo). M-F 09:00-18:00, Sa 10:00-17:00. Mobile operator which has the best coverage in the region. Prepaid SIM card packages with internet available.
- 4 [dead link] Liberty Bank ATM & Office, 18 Aghmashenebeli Street. ATM accepts all major cards. Wifi hotspot available.
- 5 Georgian Post, 24 Kostava Street. M-F 09:00-17:00, Sa 10:00-14:00. For all your postcard and package needs.
6 Nikortsminda Cathedral. A thousand-year old cathedral with some interesting frescoes from the 17th century. Free.
7 Ice Cave. More of a chasm than a cave, and without any ice due to warming, it's still a cool place to see. There are signs part of the way, after you exit the village keep left and stick to the path. Free.
8 Barakoni Cathedral. Beautiful 18th-century church in medieval style, situated at the confluence of the Rioni and Lukhini river. Free.
9 Mindatsikhe Ruins. 11th-century fortress ruins, a very short walk from Barakoni.
- Go deeper into Racha to Oni or discover Lower Svaneti in Lentekhi.