Zugdidi (Georgian: ზუგდიდი; Mingrelian: ზუგდიდი or ზუგიდი) is a city and the capital in Northwestern Georgia.
Zugdidi is a city of about 43,000 (2014) inhabitants. While Zugdidi is not a very popular city with tourists for itself, many pass through it on their way up to Mestia in Svaneti. It does have a few things to see, though, and is located near a national park. Zugdidi is also the gateway to Abkhazia.
Bertha von Suttner. apparently lived in Zugdidi for a while somewhere between 1876 and 1885, and some locals will proudly mention this fact to you.
Trains run to Tbilisi and all stops on the way. Night trains are also available, and are the most popular way to get from Tbilisi to Zugdidi, since the marshrutkas to Mestia are coordinated with them. Arrival in Zugdidi is at 06:25 (as of 2014). Marshrutkas and buses are also available to most major cities in Georgia.
From Kutaisi (Kutaisi I station) you can take the 13:45 train arriving at 17:05 in Zugdidi. Price 2 lari. You can buy the ticket on the train using coins or at the counter in the second floor of the train station beforehand.
By bus or marshrutka
There seem to exist separate bus stations for Kutaisi, Tbilisi, Batumi, and/or Mestia—ask around.
Besides getting in by marshrutka, there is a bus line from Tbilisi: Metro Bus departing three times a day (5 hr, 20 lari). Tickets can be purchased online. Same from Zugdidi to Tbilisi.
From Kutaisi there are hourly (or so) marshrutkas until 16:00. 1½-2 hr, 7 lari.
- 1 Museum Dadiani, 2, Zviad Gamsakhurdia str. (500m beyond the north end of Zviad Gamsakhurdia), ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 10:00 – 18:00. Exhibits of natural cultural heritage of Georgia – Tagiloni treasure materials, Mother of God holy vesture, the icon of queen Bordokhan – mother of queen Tamar of Georgia, manuscripts from 13th – 14th centuries, miniatures, memorial relics of Dadiani dynasty, and objects connected to emperor of France Napoleon Bonaparte – brought to the palace by the husband of David Dadiani's daughter, prince Achille Murat, grandson of Napoleon's sister, Carolina. Adult 2 lari, students and pupils 1 lari.
- 2 Botanical garden (east of the Dadiani Palace).
- Zugdidi bazaar. Between the new train station and the center of town, sells mainly vegetables.
- 3 Rukhi fortress (7 km out of town, a few km before the bridge to Abkhazia.). Has a great view into Abkhazia and of the surrounding area. Great for sunsets.
- 4 Chakvinji fortress (ჭაქვინჯის ციხე). Has a great view of the surrounding area.
- Vlakernoba in Zugdidi (the day of the Blachernae's Virgin Mary) (Georgian: ვლაქერნობა). This is the main annual event in Zugdidi, an Orthodox Christian feast celebrated every year, on July 15. On this day, the robe of the Blessed Virgin Mary is taken from the Tower of Virgin of the Queen Palace (now a museum), where it is kept, to the Cathedral of the Blachernae Icon of the Mother of God.
There is a 24/7 small supermarket just at the crossroad with the road to Mestia.
The bazar in the center of town next to the main bridge sells all kinds of fresh food, home produce and sundry. There exist other market in Zugdidi as well.
There are a number of second hand shops here selling good quality clothes at a fraction of the cost of what they sell for in the bigger cities.
There are a few hotels and one hostel in this town.
- 1 Zugdidi Hostel, Rustaveli 8 (10-15 min walk from city centre, bus/train station), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. This is a place where people get together, party and have a good time, storytelling and Georgian wine tasting. Soft beds, a vineyard, cozy old Asian atmosphere and funny staff; tips on travelling, tours of the region and maps are also available. Hostel: 15-25 lari, bed in dorm: 20 lari, bed in single/double room: 25 lari.
- 2 My Moon Hostel, 67 Rustaveli St. (main road that the new train station is on, across town past the tourist information center). Friendly home style hostel, often full of local travelers, has computer, services available. 20-30 lari, towel 3 lari, breakfast 5 lari (but often included in the booking).
It can be hard to find Wi-Fi access in town, except in a few cafés.
- Tsaishi – Hot mineral sierra springs (not so much for taking a bath though), the Museum of Iona Meunargia, a Georgian poet and well known public person, the Old Tsaishi Church, picnic on the mountain Urta with amazing view to the Great Caucasus chain.
- Jvari – A small town with a couple of great attractions nearby, namely Enguri Dam and Silver Lake. The latter is one of the most impressive alpine treks that you can do in Georgia.
- Martvili – Popular for canyoning and white water rafting.
- Mestia – The "capital" of Svaneti and a UNESCO World Heritage site. 25 lari for marshrutka.
- Kutaisi – At least one marshrutka per day, or you can catch the train for 2 lari.