Borjomi (ბორჯომი bohr-joh-mee) is a town in central Georgia as well as the name of a natural reserve and of the famous volcanic salty spring water. The source of this spring water lies in the Borjomi gorge.
Borjomi is a famous resort town, popular for its distinct mineral water. The water from the well here is several times stronger than the Borjomi water you can buy in the shops. Borjomi has many hotels and was very popular in soviet times, of which you will still find many buildings in the city. Above the centre of the city there lies a plateau with a ferris wheel and further hotels, providing a great view over the region and mountains. Furthermore, the nearby Borjomi Kharagauli National Park is the largest in Georgia and a popular hiking destination.
- 1 Tourist Information (right next to the white bridge towards Borjomi Central Park). The tourist information is staffed by Artur who is super helpful, speaks fluent English and will give you a map of town and an overview of places to go.
- to Bakuriani at 09:00, 10:30, 12:15, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00 (3 lari)
- from Bakuriani at 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 15:00, 17:00 (3 lari) – most buses will go further to Tbilisi.
Furthermore, the following is a time table for leaving Borjomi. However, for the vice-verse trip similar times can be expected.
- Tbilisi: hourly from 07:00-14:00 and at 14:45, 15:30, 16:00, 16:45, 17:15, 17:50 (6 lari)
- Akhaltsikhe at 08:45 and 14:45 (4 lari)
- Batumi at 09:00 (17 lari)
- Poti at 06:45 (15 lari)
- Khashuri every half hour between 09:30 and 18:30 (2 lari)
- Gori at 07:30 and 10:45 (5 lari)
- Andeziti at 16:00 (3.50 lari)
- Tsikhisjvari at 14:00 and 17:00 (3.50 lari)
- Tsemi at 10:30, 14:30, 17:00 every day except Sunday (1 lari)
- Sakire at 12:00, 15:00, 17:00 (2 lari)
- Chitakhevi hourly from 08:30 to 18:30 (0.8 lari)
- Kvabiskhevi at 12:00 and 14:00 (1 lari)
- Chobiskevi at 08:30, 11:00, 14:00, 17:00 (1 lari)
- Dviri at 10:20, 11:45, 14:30 (1 lari)
- Tadzrisi at 12:00 (bus, 1.50 lari) and 17:00 (minibus, 2 lari)
- Timotesubani at 10:30, 13:30, 17:00 (1.5 lari)
- Kutaisi ... (6-7 lari).
Trains leave from two different train stations:
- From 2 Borjomi Parki, the main station in the centre of town, trains leave to Tbilisi at 07:05 and 16:45 (2 lari). From Tbilisi, trains to Borjomi leave at 06:40 and 16:15. The journey takes between 4 and 5 hours.
- From 3 Borjomi Freight, the 2nd station 2.5 km east of the centre, the slow train to Bakuriani leaves at 07:15 and 10:55. The train back leaves Bakuriani at 10:00 and 14:15. The train takes 3 hours, so if you make a day trip it's quicker to take the bus back to Borjomi. The fancy wagon is 2 lari, the regular one 1 lari – even though the interior does not differ much. To reach this station, take a taxi (3 lari) or the city bus (0.20 lari), or any bus (not marshrutka) that goes east to any of the next villages.
The centre of Borjomi is small enough to walk.
Otherwise, there is a city bus going along the main road through Borjomi for 0.20 lari to accomplish longer distances, e.g. to the Borjomi Freight railway station (see below).
- The Borjomi Museum of Local Lore is located at Tsminda Nino 5. Admission 3 lari, tour in English or Hebrew 15 lari. Opening hours 10:00-19:00 Jun-Sep, to 17:00 Oct-May.
- 1 Borjomi Central Park (1.5 km southeast of the centre). Stretched along the Borjomula river, the park contains the 1 source of the Borjomi mineral water. First part of park contains park amusements and cafes. The second part of the park is great for a walk, and reveals a high waterfall including sculptur, great for pictures. 2 lari.
- 2 Natural Hot Pools (about 2.8 km from the central park entrance. if you have a car, you can enter through the road on the plateau to the east. from the road a track leads down to the pools). A set of three natural hot pool that's popular with locals for a picnic. This was one pool before, which was quite hot. Nowadays, it has been converted to three pools, which a semi-warm and unfortunately not hot enough to heat you up in winter (i.e. below 10°C) sufficiently. Some local business men try to make money off its remote location, and running an expensive "taxi service" to bring you back to the park entrance. Don't give em a reason. Free, if you do not go via the central park.
- 3 Borjomi Cable Car. Near the entrance of the central park there is an option to use cable car to get up to plateau, where there's a ferris wheel.
- 4 Cross Mount walk. For a excellent view of the city and the plateau. Get in at the 1 (830 m above sea level) of the eastern extension of Pirosmani Street. From there go in the small road and follow the marker. You should reach the top at 1140 m above sea level after 30-60 minutes with a great view if you are lucky and there is no rain or fog. Afterwards, following the path further and down again, after 30-45 min you will reach the ruins of 2 Gogia Fortress. From there follow the small track (north)east and exit 2 near the west end of Pirosmani Street, which is much harder to find, so better walk a proposed, east to west.
- Further Walks around the city – There are nice, excellently sign-posted walks from the centre worth doing. One goes to the natural pools and returns via the plateau. The second part is free from the crowd and the vendors present in the park (~3 hr). The other circular path climbs up to the ruins of a tower and further up to the top of Cross Mountain across from the city park. It is quite a climb, but in pleasant forest and with a great view (~2 hr)
Borjomi Kharagauli national park
- 5 (W 10 km of the city).
Hike in this largest national park in Georgia. It covers about 8% of the total territory of Georgia. The diversity of physical, geographical and especially climatical conditions of its has shaped the wealth and variety of its flora and fauna. Apart from the largely untouched nature of Borjom-Kharagauli, there are numerous cultural monuments. In particular, there are two easily accessible churches, built in 9th century. At present eight tourist trails are officially operating in the national park. They vary in length, duration and complexity. Open from Apr until October
Plan your trip by going to the administration of the office, which is a bit to the west of Borjomi (23 Meskheti str.), and get a free access permission and a map of the area with all the routes and shelters as well. There are well-marked hikes of 1, 2 or 3 days, through forests and meadows.
If you want to take a hike in the national park, get enough supplies, water, and some basic sleeping gear with you, as the cabins are very basic. You can rent sleeping bags for 5 lari a day, but no mattresses, and the shelter beds are wooden planks. You pay a small fee for staying in the shelter (10 lari) or camping (5 lari). The permit to the park is free, but make sure to have it on you since rangers might ask for it. It is also to take a one day hike from Borjomi to Qvabiskhevi (or the other way around) and then hitchhike or take a local bus or taxi back to Borjomi. It is also possible to take multiple day hikes. That way you get to go to the higher parts (up to 2600 m).
Near the entry to the city park, locals sell home-made jam from pine tree cones. It is claimed that the jam is useful when curing upper respiratory tract infections and is good for improving immunity.
- 1 Pesvebi, Erekle street N3, ☎ , , e-mail: email@example.com. 11:00-24:00. Old Georgian style, national Georgian dishes, degustation of Georgian house-wine, hall for 60 customers, free water, parking, WC and WiFi. Rated 4.2 out of 5. Mushroom with sugulni, baked trout with white wine, baked apple with walnut, for 24 lari.
- 2 Old Borjomi, 19 Kostava St, ☎ . Excellent quality food, nice interior, WiFi. Though kebab, khatchapuri and pizza is not quite haut cusine. They make perhaps the best khachapuri in Georgia and are famous for their chkmeruli (chicken in garlic sauce). ~10 lari per dish.
- 3 Inka Cafe, ☎ . Some Western-style dishes and pastries.
- 4 1+2 bar (1+2 caffe), 2 9 Aprili St (By the entrance of the mineral water park). With nice wines and slow service.
The tourist information can also arrange a guest house for you, and will organize for the host to pick you up at the tourist office. Otherwise, just walk along Pirosmani Street, north-west of the main road in the centre, and you will find plenty of options between 15 and 25 lari.
- Hotel Borjomis Kheoba. 28 comfortable rooms, mineral water spas, outdoor swimming pool, bar and restaurant. Prices from 65-250 lari including all meals.
- Borjomi Hostel - The dorm has no electricty. If you don't mind spending the night in a pitch black room with no heating or electricity, the rate is 15 lari a night.
- Hotel Meidani - Very nice clean rooms with good heating, a nice on-suite with a hot shower, comfortable twin/double beds, tv, and wifi. Excellent location in the middle of Borjomi. 40 lari a night (Mar 2016).
- Marina's Guesthouse: Cozy guesthouse near the center of town and a popular way station for expats, backpackers and tourists. Marina's son and daughter both speak fluent English.
- Hotel Borjomi. Elegant, wooden Tsarist-era house located in central Borjomi, next to the Museum of Local Lore. Bed and breakfast available. Prices start from 70 lari. English and Russian spoken.
- Leo's Homestay, 18 Pirosmani (turn right onto the street after the Borjomi museum of local lore - the home is on the left side of the street.), ☎ , , , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Leo and his mother have 2 rooms that can accommodate 7-8 or so people. The price for the night is 20 lari a person, and for 5 lari more Leo's mother will make breakfast, which often features a substantial number of pancakes. Leo is also a great source of information about Borjomi and the surrounding area, and regularly arranges excursions for his guests, such as trips to Vardzia and horseback riding in the Borjomi-Kharagauli national park. He also speaks excellent English.
- Hillside Guesthouse, Gogias Tsikhe St 4 (turn right onto the street after the Borjomi museum than straight. You can see Borjomi TV station and then you can see the guesthouse's sign), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Central location but very quiet, due to being at the end of a dead end street. Sitting in front of the guesthouse can be very relaxing, especially when Nick's two cats are around. Nick and his mother are very friendly, helpful and socialising. Nick speaks English quite well. The local breakfast prepared by Nick's mother was always very yummy and filling. Also it was easy to get in contact with other travellers here, which added to the traveller friendly atmosphere. WiFi worked very well and washing service can be provided. From 20 lari.
- RiverSide Hostel (10-15 mins walk from the centre of the city). Nice, clean hostel with good facilities. Located on the main road so can be a little noisy at night, but there isn't much traffic so this is not a huge problem. Owners friendly and helpful. 18 lari.
- Vardzia – The most famous cave monastery in Georgia near the border with Turkey. The tourist information offers a 30-lari day trip, including a stop at the Green Monastery, the Akhaltsikhe fortress with a very nice museum (6 lari), and a natural sulphur spring where you can bathe in 45°C water.
- Akhaltsikhe – Popular for its beautiful and newly renovated fortress, but not one of the main attractions in Georgia.
- Bakuriani – A famous ski resort, easily reach from Borjomi by an inexpensive sightseeing train (1-2 lari, 38 km), which leaves from Borjomi Freight railway station (#2) and takes 2 hours. The train leaves Borjomi every day at 07:15 and 10:55, and 10:00 and 14:15 from Bakuriani.
- There are several direct bus connections to other places in Georgia, like Tbilisi, Kutaisi, and even Batumi. The timetable in the image gives an overview. The prices can be different while the departure times are quite stable even for years (according to the Marshrutka drivers).