Abkhazia is located by the Black Sea, its north-west borders with the Krasnodar region (Russia) and the south-east borders with Georgia. Most territory is surrounded by the Caucasus Mountains. Abkhazian blue lakes, rivers, mountain ranges and sub-tropical climate with palm trees are very impressive.
About 40 years ago this place with its incredible nature and rich ancient history won hearts of a lot of Soviet people with its abundance and luxury. Just imagine that citizens of the USSR waited for their turn to get a package tour to Gagra, Pitsunda or Sukhumi!
Time is getting on. After the Soviet Union collapse the country survived in an armed conflict with Georgia but then was wrapped up in ruins. Ruined health resorts, abandoned parks and buildings with bullet traces are all that left from the Soviet era of prosperity. Now Abkhazia stands as a posthumous monument to the great empire as a lost paradise where life was pulsing with all its strength only a few decades ago.
Nature takes its course. Every year lush greenery more and more covers abandoned buildings, crumbled fences, and mold covers fountains in the parks. But this very wildlife attracts tourists most of all. Sochi is the summer capital of Russia, and Abkhazia is a stone's throw away. As soon as you cross the Abkhazian border you get in a quite different place: clean air, deserted roads and streets are perfect for a secluded and relaxing holiday which lures people.
How to get to Abkhazia
You can visit Abkhazia either through the Russian checkpoint or via Georgia. The first way is almost illegal for anybody except Russian citizens, because Abkhazia is still an unrecognized state, and entering over the Russian border may cause problems. Read more in the article "How to get to Abkhazia."
Weather in Abkhazia
The Abkhazian climate is humid and subtropical. The swimming season lasts from May to October, the air temperature is up to +28°C and the water temperature may reach +27°C. While people enjoy summer beach holiday there is snow in the mountains at altitude of 2700 m. Such a perfect combination of the high Caucasus Mountains and the warm Black Sea is very beneficial for Abkhazia: in winter the mountains protect the country against cold north winds, but in summer, on the contrary, the mountains provide light air coolness which makes year-round comfort with soft warm winters and pleasant fresh summers.
Abkhazian resorts and attractions
The warmest place in Abkhazia is Gagra. That is where the Caucasus Mountains step close to the sea and protect the coast against cold winds. You may expect +20°C in Gagra in winter time.
Today, Gagra is the most popular tourist destination with Russians. During the Soviet era a Gagra package tour in summer was a cherished dream of each citizen .The city infrastructure is well developed. The city surroundings are also very nice for farming and growing grapes, kiwi and citrus. Here you can visit the abandoned Prince of Oldenburg castle and Abaata ruins.
Pitsunda is a small resort town in 20 kilometers from Gagra. The city is famous for seven buildings of the Kurort Pitsunda hotel lining along the shore.
Gudauta is another coastal town known for its beach resorts, boarding houses and for amazing temples, towers and caves of New Athos. Be sure to visit the Genoese tower and the New Athos Monastery. Note that most of hotels are closed in winter, and in summer there can be long queues of tourist cars and buses at the Russian border. Therefore, the best time to come here is the autumn season which starts in September. The end of May is also good time to visit Abkhazia; it is the time of fresh air, low prices and very few tourists.
Sukhumi is the capital of Abkhazia. During its long history the city was repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt. It is located on the Black Sea coast and surrounded by tropical greenery, palm trees and eucalyptus trees. One of the main attractions here is the Botanical Garden founded in 1840. The Muhajirs embankment is also very picturesque and a must-see place for tourists.
Lake Ritsa is one of the most beautiful places in the Abkhazian mountains, a very popular and picturesque place: dark turquoise water framed by pine trees and mountain peaks, cold mountain streams flow down to the lake. The road to Lake Ritsa goes through picturesque canyons and cliffs and is very attractive. It is better to rent a car to visit Lake Ritsa to make stops and admire the beautiful view of the mountains whenever you want!
Beaches in Abkhazia
It is typical for the north-eastern coast of Black Sea: almost all Abkhazian beaches are covered with pebbles. We found the only sandy beach in the eastern part of Pitsunda. All beaches are uninhabited and wild. In Gagra there are the most popular beaches due to small pebbles and a gentle descent to the sea. There are palm trees and tropical undergrowth along the beach, all it provides a calm and secluded vacation.
In our opinion, Pitsunda is the best place in Abkhazia for beach holiday. Water there is crystal clear. It is the best place for relaxing and healthy holiday also. The shore is surrounded by pine and boxwood trees, so fresh air walking there is ideal for health. No wonder that Stalin loved this place, his favorite summer residence was in Pitsunda.
Do not forget that Abkhazia is a poor devastated country. People are left to their own, crime and corruption reign in the country. The international law is not observed there, no proper police assistance, no health services. For more details please, read the article "Safety in Abkhazia."
Overall, our trips to Abkhazia were interesting in different seasons. Forgive us, Georgians, we entered the territory through the Russian border by car. Traveling around Abkhazia is like a trip to the Soviet Union badly suffered from the war and desolation. Aged people who visited the place in Soviet time are guaranteed to have a nostalgia burst!
We've heard from some people that Abkhazia is their favorite place forever. Well, tastes differ. Most likely, these people either loved Soviet Abkhazia much or have nothing to compare with.
For us, Abkhazia is a one-time journey. Of course, there are the beautiful mountains and wonderful sea. But sea and mountains are beautiful in many other parts of the world. The Abkhazian Republic has too many ugly problems, we do not want to come back there again until the country guarantees personal safety, an adequate level of policing and health services and accepted tourist service. Now it is a very problematic place for any traveler.
But our opinion may be very personal and subjective, so you can visit the country and make your own judgment. Enjoy your holiday!