Borjomi is a renowned small city found in south-central Georgia primarily because of its natural spring waters that are famous for having healing properties. It has since been developed into the No. 1 mineral water industry in the whole of Georgia! Aside from its mineral springs, it is also home to one of the largest native forest parks you can explore.
What’s more, Borjomi is also an excellent place from where to explore other tourist sites in the other areas of southern Georgia, like the Rabati Castle Complex and Khertvisi Fortress.
These are what I learned when I searched about Borjomi. But what I discovered when I arrived was way better than anything I’d imagined!
Three (3) Ways to get to Borjomi from Tbilisi
In this section, I will help you explore Borjomi by telling you how to get there from Tbilisi. The approximate distance of Borjomi from Tbilisi is 162.02 km or 100.662 miles.
Since Tbilisi is the capital city, it has the most connections to many of the famous tourist destinations.
So, there are 3 ways you can explore when you want to go to Borjomi to Tbilisi. You can opt to ride a minibus, a train, or a taxi.
Let us first discuss going there by bus.
- Go to Borjomi from Tbilisi by riding a public minibus.
Cost: 7 GEL per person
Travel time from Tbilisi to Borjomi: 2-2.5 hours
Where to find: Didube bus station. It is located near the Express Bank near the Didube metro station.I personally think the minibus (the locals call it “marshrutka”) is the easiest way because it is cheap and readily available.You can find mini buses from 8 AM to 6 PM and they leave every hour when they are full of passengers.Once you arrive in Borjomi, you can choose to exit where you are comfortable. But if you are worried about your accommodations, you can get off at the central bus station. There you will find lots of taxis you can ride to get to your lodging.
2.If you want to experience Soviet trains, ride ’em!
Cost: 10 GEL per person
Travel time from Tbilisi to Borjomi: Approximately 4 hours
Where to find: Tbilisi Central Station near Station Square metro. Sometimes, I like taking trains because they are more spacious and historic. Besides, I can enjoy long hours of rest while taking in the view of the countryside.
The Tbilisi train leaves the station at 6:40 AM and 4:15 PM. Since the Borjomi railway station, is a bit far off from the city center, you will need to take a taxi to get to your hotel. This additional ride will cost you 3 GEL.
3. A taxi is also a very flexible option
Cost: 100-150 GEL
Travel time: 2-2.5 hours
Where to find: At the Didube bus stationIf you are short on time and you can’t wait anymore for the minibus to fill up, a taxi would be a good option.Yes, it can be expensive. But if you partner up with a few other passengers, you can divide the fare with them.This way you can save up a bit, and you don’t have to wait for a minibus to fill up!
I think the best part of riding a taxi is it can drop you right outside your hotel!
It is unlike the two previous methods where you had to ride a taxi at the drop-off stations to get to your lodging.
Best Things to See in Borjomi
1.Borjomi Mineral Spring
The first thing I noticed when I explored the mineral spring was, there were a lot of mineral bottles! At first I thought they were for Chacha, which is popularly known as Georgian Vodka, but then it was actually for the mineral spring water.
You can take free samples of the water if you like. As for me, when I drank from the bottle I tasted metal and smelled a bit of sulfur – so it’s not for everyone. However, the water is famous for having healing properties that can cure diseases. Why not give it a try?
You will need to prepare 2 GEL for the entrance fee. If you want to try out the spring water baths you will have to pay 5 GEL in total.You can either walk for 30-40 minutes or take the golf cart to reach the baths. I walked around Central Park, but I didn’t reach the baths. I just had 2 sulphur baths back in Tbilisi and I didn’t feel like taking another one that day.
Just outside the entrance to Central Park you can check out the cable cars. If you want to ride it you can either take it one-way (which costs 5 GEL), or two-way.For the one-way ride you can choose if you want to ride the cable car going up or going down.
If you feel like hiking, you can walk the whole way up for 1 hour and 20 minutes. But if you prefer going up using the cable car instead and walking the way down, it’ll be faster.
Either way, it’s great to ride the cable car so you can appreciate the beautiful view overlooking the park!
( The cable car is open from 10:00 am – 22:00)
4.Borjomi – Kharagauli National Park
The Kharagauli National park is HUGE! So we went to the National Park Tourist Office to get some assistance. I am glad that they were very helpful and easy to talk to. Most importantly, they told me exactly what I needed to know.
I discovered that there were a lot of hiking options they can set us up to. The easiest one is a 2-hour steady uphill walk around the information center where I enjoyed gazing at the native flora and fauna. We opted to do this hike as we already hiked Trusso Valley and Gergeti glaciers in Kazbegi and we had just finished the Omalo loop so at this point we just wanted a more relaxing hike.
The beautiful flowers that dot the woodlands as far as you can see can really make you gasp in awe. Sights like these are too rare these days.
If you want longer hikes, there is a 6-hour option, and multi-day hikes available for you. You simply have to approach the tourist office because it is best to set up your adventures with them. This way don’t have to worry about getting lost in the ancient woodlands. It’s pretty much the same for the hikes in tusheti.
What’s more, they also offer horse riding and there are camping sites and picnic spots along the way for you to enjoy so you can maximize your stay to the fullest.
5.Borjomi Local Lore Museum
You can enter the Local Lore Museum with a guide to educate you while you view historic artifacts with 10 GEL (or below).
I learned a lot of things in this place, like the local flora and fauna that I saw in the Kharagauli National Park. I even saw the documents claiming the medicinal properties of the strange water I tasted in the Mineral Water Park!
Aside from that, there are also pictures and artifacts from the Romanov Palace. But I was not able to explore much in that area because it was under restoration. I’m not sure when it will open.
Where to eat in Borjomi
After all the adventures, you will get hungry eventually! Well, the first thing I noticed while exploring Borjomi is the scarcity of restaurants. But there is the one that I tried called Cafe Tourist. The food is good and affordable. After a long day of exploration, I was able to relax because the ambiance was good and the place was nicely decorated. Plus, tourists weren’t the only ones who were there, so I was able to experience eating with the locals.
I also tried eating in Haalaal, which is found in the center of the city. It is worth trying!
Day Trips from Borjomi
There is an organized day tour that can take you to the most prominent places in southern Georgia. These places are just 100 kilometers south of Borjomi so it is an easy trip you can take in a single full-day.
You can organize your day trip through the tourist information center found near the north side of the suspension bridge. The day tour will cost 70 GEL per person excluding lunch and entrance fees.
You can book a day in advance, and sometimes the tour requires at least 3 people. But most of the time, you don’t have to worry about it because it is rarely an issue.
Rabati Castle Complex
Entrance fee: 6-7 GEL
The tour starts at 10 AM and the first stop was Rabati Castle in Akhaltsikhe. This castle complex amazed me! And I found out that “Rabat” actually means fortress. It is open from 9 AM till 8 PM.
It was established as a fortress way back in the 9th century under the rule of a Georgian Prince called Guaram, and at that time it was called “Lomisa Castle”. Later on, in the 13th century, the rule was transferred to the Jakeli family. But when it fell under Ottoman rule during the 17th or 18th century, it was completely rebuilt by them.
It consists of 2 parts, the lower and upper part. You can enter the lower part for free, but for the upper part, you will have to pay 6-7 GEL to enter. But if you want to take a guide to tour you around, you will have to pay extra. Also, the history museum also requires an entrance fee.
You can find an orthodox church and a catholic church, an Akhmediye mosque, a synagogue, a citadel, and so on. I am sure you will be amazed at the variety of structures you will find in this complex!
This was the only time we were able to have proper lunch. Unfortunately, it was way too early, and we weren’t able to eat more until almost at the end of the tour.
If you want to go to Rabati without having to book a day trip you can take a bus to Akhaltsikhe or take a taxi directly to Rabati.
Entrance Fee: Free
The Sapara is an orthodox monastery that is located on the hill slopes. So I had to climb a small hill to get a good view of the monastery. It is a wonderful old structure that dates back to the 9th-10th century. I advise that you cover your shoulders with the scarves offered outside of the monastery.
The name Sapara means “sheltered” which proves true for the medieval monastery because the roads leading to it is hidden by high mountains. However, despite its hiddeness it is widely considered to be the main attraction of the city.
I was very hungry at this point but the Monastery only had chukutella or dried fruit to offer.
Entrance Fee: 7 GEL
I adore this 12th-century cave monastery complex because of the stunning old Georgian architecture. The excavations are manmade but the ancient feel to it makes me feel as if it was naturally carved out!
Accordingly, it was built by Georgians for Queen Tamar, who ordered them to dig out these underground sanctuaries in an attempt to resist the Mongolian hordes that threatened to overrun them.
Of course, I highly recommend that you hire an English guide so you can better understand the history of the place. If you do not want to walk the distance all the way to the top, you can also hire a minivan for 1 GEL. We made these arrangements as a group and I ended up paying 10.50 GEL in total.
Around this time it was 4pm and the last meal we had was in Rabati and it was way too early for lunch. By this juncture, all of us were starving and hot. So we grabbed chips to survive through the tour! Thankfully, we were able to enjoy, especially because the cave was so cool!
By the way, when I entered the cave I was wearing flip-flops which I do not recommend. It was a bit slippery inside and I had to do a little hike. So I advise that you wear proper shoes. Fortunately, we were able to take a late lunch.
But overall, the cave is a must visit!
I present to you the largest fortress in the whole of Georgia – Khertvisi Fortress. It is situated on top of a rocky mountain at the junction of the Mtkvari and Paravani rivers. Also, the entrance fee will cost you 5 GEL.
The huge fortress was built in the 2nd century BC and was destroyed by Alexander the Great. But it was rebuilt many times as it passed from ruler to ruler. Then, at the end of the 19th century, it became a military base for both Russian and Georgian troops.
Though it was only a quick stop to enjoy the view, I did find it beautiful.
The green monastery is a beautiful and peaceful place. It is called the “green monastery” because of the endless green trees and scenery that surrounds the stone structures. But many people also speculate that it is named as such because of the greenish tint of the stone walls.
I find this place very serene because of the constant chirping and tweeting of birds. I also love the sound of the river rushing over the pretty reddish stones that the monks consider miraculous.
The Green Monastery, which is officially named Chitakhevi St. George Monastery, was founded in the 9th century by Christopher and Tevdore who were students of St. Grigol Khandtstheli.
III. Borjomi Itinerary
This is my suggested itinerary for you so you can maximize your adventure in Borjomi and the surrounding places.
Day 1: Tbilisi to Borjomi relax and have dinner
Day. 2: National Park, Museum of Local Lore, Central Park, Cable Car you can do it all in a day.
Day 3: Day. Trip to Vardizia, Rabati, Monastery
Day. 4: Leave Borjomi
If you are short on time then you can just leave Tbilisi earlier and explore what you can. The day trip to Vardizia takes a full day 10-8 pm
Where to Stay in Borjomi
Borjomi is a famous tourist destination due to its many historical and natural places, and so there are many lodging options available for you.
I stayed in a guest house called Gorgadze. We were able to get the whole house which had 8 beds, a living room, a view, a kitchen, dining area, and a fast WI-FI connection. All these for only 12.5 USD per head for 4 days, which is very affordable! Since it wasn’t hard to walk to town, we were able to buy groceries and cook for ourselves. It was so much fun!
If you want more tips, here are other places I suggest you can try out.
If you want a budget-friendly place, this one’s for you. It is a small guesthouse that is run by a friendly family. There are three rooms available and a delicious list of native breakfast options you can choose from.
It is also not far from the city. In fact, it will only take you 10 minutes to walk from the city center.
This one is a small hotel near Central Park that costs a bit more than a guesthouse. But it has more rooms available and even a restaurant on-site! Their rooms are clean and their accommodations are comfortable.
Crown Plaza Borjomi
If you want a luxurious staying place, you will definitely enjoy the Crown Plaza! It is located right next to the mineral water park, so you can readily explore the famous mineral springs of Georgia.
They have premium rooms and amenities that will make your stay extremely comfortable.
Weather in Borjomi
The usual weather in Borjomi is cold and temperate, so you don’t have to worry about wearing extremely heavy coats. But you do need to wear a lot of protective wear for the rain because Borjomi experiences a lot of rainfall.
Even the driest seasons still experience rainfall!
Borjomi is an excellent place to explore in Georgia. You can check out their famous mineral springs, or you can take multi-day hikes in their National Park, or perhaps take adventurous day trips to neighboring towns. Whatever it is you enjoy doing, I’m certain you will find it in Borjomi!