Racha is a beautiful region in western Georgia that is often overlooked by tourists. However, it is a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts with its stunning mountain landscapes, pristine lakes, and charming villages. Here is a guide to exploring Racha and experiencing some of its best outdoor activities.
How to Get There
The easiest way to get to Racha is by renting a car in Tbilisi or at Tbilisi Airport which is approximately 270 km away. The drive takes about 4-5 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. From Tbilisi, take the E117 highway towards Zestaponi, then turn off onto the S1 highway towards Oni, the main town in Racha. There are plenty of parking spaces available in the towns and villages throughout Racha.
What to See and Do
Racha is a paradise for outdoor activities, with plenty of options for hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and fishing. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Racha:
- Shaori Lake: Located near the town of Ambrolauri, Shaori Lake is a stunning alpine lake surrounded by mountains. It's a great spot for fishing, boating, and hiking.
- Nikortsminda Cathedral: This 11th-century Georgian Orthodox cathedral is a masterpiece of medieval architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Barakoni Church: Built in the 18th century, this church is located in the village of Ghviti and features a beautiful fresco of St. George slaying the dragon.
- Shovi Ski Resort: Racha is home to several ski resorts, but Shovi is the most popular. It offers skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports from December to April.
- Utsera Hot Springs: Located in the village of Utsera, these hot springs are a popular destination for relaxation and healing.
Where to Eat
Racha is known for its delicious local cuisine, which features a variety of meat dishes, cheeses, and wines. Here are some of the best restaurants and cafes in Racha:
- Gvimra Restaurant: This cozy restaurant in the town of Ambrolauri serves traditional Georgian dishes made with local ingredients.
- Nikala Restaurant: Located in the village of Nikortsminda, this restaurant offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and serves delicious local food.
- Racha Wine Cellar: This winery in the town of Oni offers tastings of some of the region's best wines, as well as traditional Georgian food.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of accommodation options in Racha, including hotels, guesthouses, and homestays. Here are some of the best places to stay:
- Hotel Racha: Located in the town of Ambrolauri, this hotel offers comfortable rooms with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
- Guesthouse Soso: This family-run guesthouse in the village of Nikortsminda offers cozy rooms and delicious home-cooked meals.
- Guesthouse Nodar: Located in the village of Oni, this guesthouse offers comfortable rooms and a peaceful atmosphere.
Best Time to Visit Racha
The best time to visit Racha is from May to October, when the weather is warm and sunny. However, Racha is also a great destination for winter sports, so it's worth considering a visit during the winter months as well.
As you can see, Racha is an amazing destination for those who love outdoor activities, scenic landscapes, and peaceful relaxation. With its unique blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and friendly locals, Racha is a must-visit destination in Georgia. So why not pack your bags and head to Racha for your next adventure? And don't forget to rent a car to make the most of your journey through this hidden gem of Georgia.