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What To See & Do In Abkhazia
Lake Ritsa is one of the deepest lakes in the Caucasus. Surrounded by mountains with heights of up to 3,500m, lake Ritsa has been one of the most popular tourist attractions in Abkhazia for generations. Joseph Stalin frequently visited the lake, and fell in love with Ritsa so much that he had a Summer house built on the banks, which still stands today. The road to Ritsa is breath-taking, so you may find yourself stopping often to admire the beauty of the waterfalls, mountains, and rivers along the way. Relax on the banks, take a swim in the warm Summer waters, or hike in the Ritsa nature reserve - Lake Ritsa is the perfect place to unwind and experience the incredible nature of Abkhazia.
We offer tours to Lake Ritsa. For more information, please visit the Tours page.
New Athos Monastery
Situated in the Gudauta region of Abkhazia, New Athos monastery has seen many days. Built in 1875, the monastery has been used for a lot more than a religious sanctuary - including being used as a storage facility, tourist base, hospital and museum. However in 1994, after the end of the war, the monastery has since resumed all religious practice. New Athos can be seen from miles away due to the stunning architecture and mountain location. While at New Athos you may want to explore the surrounding caves, admire the incredible sea views from the mountain, or wander around the neighboring ancient churches and their beautiful gardens.
Access to New Athos is very easy, with a central location in Gudauta, you can walk or take a taxi to the monastery. For a guided trip to New Athos, visit our Tours page.
Built during the 2nd to 4th centuries AD, Anacopia was the former capital of Abkhazia. Inside the fortress walls you will find the ancient priest's alter, and religious icons, as well as delicate signs of Abkhazia's history. An ancient burial ground in Anacopia was also discovered, containing human remains, metal swords and daggers. In this famous fortress, previous Abkhazian rulers have successfully defended their land, defeating huge armies such as the Arabs in the 8th century. Perhaps you want to explore the fortress walls and go back in time to when armies and empires battled over lands, and with the breath-taking views of the Black Sea and Caucasian mountains surrounding the fortress, it's a place that will make you feel truly inspired by Abkhazia.
The fortress is a short hike up Mount Apsara, and is the perfect place to discover Abkhazia's incredible history and inspiring landscape.
The beautiful capital city of Abkhazia brings together all elements of Abkhazia - from history to nature, to culture and romance. In Sukhum, there is a lot to see and do. Wander through the Botanical garden created in 1840, featuring more than 4,500 species of plants and tropical flora. Relax on the pebbled beaches and dine in the many traditional restaurants after exploring the old buildings lost in time. Be amazed by Abkhazian dance companies as they perform in Sukhum's charming theatres. Dive into history by visiting Sukhum's Roman walls, ancient bridges and spectacular castles. With roads lined with palm trees and buildings standing in various styles, Sukhum is the place to experience Abkhazia's past, present, and unrolling future.
Trains are regular from Sochi, passing along the coastline through North Abkhazia. Buses and taxis run from Sukhum between other Abkhazian towns and cities. There are many hotels and guesthouses to suit a range of needs, from grand, beach-front hotels, to quaint local guesthouses. Many hotels offer excursions in Sukhum, such as boat trips, diving, and there are regular jeep tours from Sukhum to the surrounding mountains.
Gagra is often described as the Russian Riviera because it has been the favourite Summer destination for generations of Russians. Gagra hosts the most spectacular landscapes in Abkhazia, because the mountains and beach sit side by side. There are 2 districts in Gagra, "Old Gagra," and "New Gagra." You will find buildings lost in time and dressed in ivy in Old Gagra, along with beautiful parks and gardens. New Gagra features traditional restaurants, beach resorts and romantic promenades. Gagra is decorated with palm trees and pebble beaches, but a 10 minute drive is all it takes until you are surrounded by rolling mountains. Breathing will be easy in Gagra's fresh air, but the stunning contrasts of nature will soon take your breath away. Taste Gagra's famous "Psou" wine while chatting to friendly locals on the beach.
Hotels, guesthouses and apartments are readily available in Gagra. Excursions around the country are easy to find, with tours going directly to Lake Ritsa, Blue Lake, and Psou river, as well as jeep tours in the mountains.
Blue Lake has a mysterious story about how it came to exist; A wise, old priest lived in a cave where Blue Lake is now situated. He was a kind man, with beautiful blue eyes, and knew everything about hunting in the area, so was often approached by hunters looking for advice. In return, the hunters would give the priest their hunted skins and antlers. One day, a group of rogue hunters came to the old man asking for a place to sleep. The old man gave them his own bed, made from the skins and furs. The hunters were amazed by the collection and decided to steal them. Before leaving, they murdered the old man, and packed the treasures into their bags. But out of nowhere a huge flood swept into the cave, trapping the thieves and forming the Blue Lake. Thus, the colour of the lake is from the old man, who lies at the bottom of the lake with his eyes open.
Blue Lake is on the road to Lake Ritsa, and most tour guides will stop here during the journey. A great place to take creative pictures using the bear and traditional Abkhazian clothes, and get up close to the dozens of beautiful peacocks who nest by the water's edge.
Abkhazia is one of the oldest wine producing regions in the world, and you can taste the experience and history in each glass. Handmade from grapes native to Abkhazia, Abkhazian wine comes in red and white, from sweet and strong, to vintage and fresh. Wine is served during most meals in restaurants, and your hosts will be more than glad to find a wine that suits your palate. Abkhazian's are very proud of their wine, with many brands named after local places or Abkhazian words. "Amra" - a popular girl's name and Abkhazian word for "sun," "Psou" - the Abkhazian river north of Gagra, and "Apsny" - the word for "Abkhazia."
Wine is extremely cheap yet award winning quality, so perhaps you might want to buy several bottles and relax on the beach, watching the sunset and stars. If you're feeling more active, you could create a small picnic with wine for your trip to Lake Ritsa or Anacopia Fortress, to fully immerse yourself in Abkhazian life. Buying wine is easy, and available from most markets and stores. Do not be afraid to ask if you can taste the wine from the locals - they will be very excited to show you the tastes of their country
During Summer, the Black Sea is the perfect temperature to take a swim. There are also many excursions and activities available, and this partly because Abkhazia has the cleanest area of the entire Black Sea. Whether you fancy a short snorkel trip, or a more advanced diving experience, there are a lot of unique, native fish and coral to discover. Abkhazia's dolphins are known to be particularly friendly, often swimming in between families in the shallow areas and amongst boats out in the deep. Don't want to get wet? Most hotels in Gagra provide boat trips, from relaxing yacht trips with on-board dining and sunset schedules, to more adventurous do-it-yourself paddle boats and jet skis. The locals on the beach will be happy to direct you to the perfect activity according to budget and theme, or you can arrange your activities through your hotel or guesthouse
To combine as many elements of your trip in one place, Pitsunda is a great town to visit. One of the flattest parts of Abkhazia, the historic town was founded in the 5th century. With quiet beaches, a beautiful lake and ever-green forests, Pitsunda is a great place to slowly unwind in Abkhazia's fresh air. Visit Pitsunda's Cathedral built in the 10th century and be inspired by the pristine paintings on the ceiling. For a more active excursion, wander around the famous pine grove or take a hike up the mountains to see a spectacular view of the town and sea below. Located in the Gagra region but with fewer tourists and much more breathing space between the mountains and sea, you will still find hotels and guesthouses and plenty of excursions from the town to the surrounding areas. Pitsunda is a laid-back location with hidden treasures waiting to be discovered.
With many ghost towns and destroyed buildings, it sets the perfect atmosphere for paranormal and unique adventures. Whether you're a ghost hunter or simply interested in exploring abandoned Soviet-era buildings, the opportunity is vast in Abkhazia. Many of the major towns have small areas and districts that have not yet been rebuilt since the wars, such as Old Gagra and parts of Sukhum.
Although you won't find any excursions that will guide you around the ruins, it's very easy to locate the areas. As well as buildings, Abkhazia has several abandoned palaces, churches, and railway stations across the country. The train graveyard in Sukhum has USSR trains almost stacked upon each other like toy trains. Exploring the abandoned towns and districts is the ultimate activity for the eager travel photographer, but caution should always be exercised when entering buildings and land that display significant damage, and permission must always be sought before entering property
Abkhazia is home to many species of bear, eagle, and wolf. One of the most incredible animals native to Abkhazia is the Caucasian Tur, a large breed of mountain goat. The Caucasus is also the source of one of the largest brown bear populations in Russia, along with many wolves roaming the mountains. Birds of prey, wild horses and even leopards are found throughout the Caucasus, so a hike in the Abkhazian mountains could offer you a glimpse into the habitats of some of the most sublime species. Take a jeep tour to get even deeper into the mountains and listen to the sounds of bears and wolves echoing through the forests and rocky peaks. Be inspired while watching the eagles soar above, and breathe in the fresh, clean air of Abkhazia.
Although there are several hunting clubs specifically open for foreign travellers to hunt species such as the Tur in Abkhazia, we hope that you will take an alternative excursion to observe the wonders of the Caucasus, and appreciate the living souls of our nature.
Abkhazia is three-fourths mountainous, which makes it the perfect area for enthusiastic mountain hikers. With numerous trails and several rocky peaks to climb, exploring the mountains of Abkhazia is a great way to discover the beauty and nature of the land. Get up close to the native species and flora, set up camp and watch the sunset over the Black Sea horizon while cooking fresh, local meat on the fire. Pass through isolated villages and be amazed by the hospitality and generosity of the villagers - you will probably need some extra space in your backpack for jars of handmade honey and nuts given to you by the excitable locals. For something more culturally appropriate, experience horseback riding through the Gagra mountains. Your guide will be able to show you the best parts of the region while the horse does the work. More experienced riders can take a gallop through the meadows with the fresh wind in your hair