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    Kutaisi is the traditional rival of Tbilisi for capital status, and has since the days of the Golden Fleece been considered the capital of Western Georgia (then Ancient Colchis). It remains Georgia’s second largest city, but to the irritation of the proud locals, does not come even close to Tbilisi’s present day size and wealth. Since the Georgian government decided to move their parliament to Kutaisi, there has been a lot of work on restoring streets, buildings, parks and monuments and the city has become much safer.

    But a visit here is nonetheless near mandatory to see the magnificent Bagrati Cathedral, and Gelati Monastery, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites, and have commanding views from the mountain slopes over the city and the Rioni river.

    Otherwise, Kutaisi is a relatively pleasant city, although not as attractive for tourists as Tbilisi and cities on the nearby Black Sea coast.

    Wizz Air flies to and from Sofia, Milan-Malpensa, Berlin, London-Luton, Budapest, Warsaw, Vilnius, Katowice and other [5]. There are flights from Moscow (Ural Airlines and S7), Minsk (Belavia) and Tbilisi as well.

    As of May 2014, if you wish to change money into Georgian Lari there is a desk before immigration control, run by government employees. After immigration there is a private bank counter with an exchange facility. Opening hours are unclear, though one of the two options seems to be working after arrival of international flights. There is now one ATM in the arrival hall.

    Kutaisi international airport is 31 km west of Kutaisi city center.

    • By marshrutka: Walk to the bus stop at the main road in front of the airport building and flag down a marshrutka (Kutaisi is to the right of the airport). The driver may or may not accept euro coins or dollar bills of small denominations. If not, you may ask him to stop at a money exchange office in Kutaisi and he may or may not agree to do so. If not, wait for another marshrutka.

    • Marshrutka run every 20min between kutaisi bus station (behind mc donalds) to samtredia (via airport) and vice versa during the day (2 Lari). Now its possible to change eur or usd to gel inside the airport. If you arrive late, you can try to stop other marshrutkas from batumi, zugdidi etc.

    • A direct marshrutka of the Georgian bus company meets each flight (5 Lari) and will take you to your accommodation in Kutaisi (together with all other passengers, so it advisable to book closest to the airport). Agents meet each flight as you emerge from customs and direct you to their desk for ticket purchase. Credit cards are accepted. Alternatively book on-line at www.georgianbus.com

    • By taxi: Arrange the price beforehand. The taxi driver will probably ask for 25 lari, but you should insist on 20 lari only; do not care about his disgusted look as 20 lari is already a hugely inflated price anyway – if you want to support the local economy or help people in REAL need, you will have more than enough other opportunities in Georgia.

    • Get by taxi or marshrutka to Kutaisi (see above) or to Samtredia (to the left of the airport) and then continue by train or by marshrutka (see By bus and By train).

    • A bit more expensive option is to use direct marshrutkas of the Georgian Bus company to Tbilisi (20 lari, 10 euros, 12 US dollars) and to Batumi (18 lari, paying in euros and dollars is also possible). You can also pay with your credit card. The Georgian Bus ticket stand is in the airport hall. Check [6] for more information. You may also try to arrange with the Georgian Bus employees at the ticket stand or with the marshrutka driver to kick you off in Samtredia/Kutaisi, Gori or any other place on the route to Batumi/Tbilisi (for a lower price).