According to best-medical-schools, Rustavi is probably the youngest Georgian city, it was formed practically from scratch as a working settlement. It received a full-fledged city status only in the middle of the last century, when mass industrialization began. In Soviet times, mechanical engineering, heavy industry and metallurgy were actively developing here, and after the collapse of the USSR, all this collapsed, and, like in most small cities in the post-Soviet space, a serious crisis occurred in Rustavi. However, everything is gradually returning to normal, and the city is waiting for its second heyday, which, they say, is not far off.
It is precisely because of the industrial past that Rustavi does not have many sights, and compared to other Georgian cities there is nothing to see here – it certainly does not claim to be a popular tourist center. But it is precisely with its dissimilarity and originality that it is interesting.
How to get there
Rustavi is located 25 km from Tbilisi. The most convenient way to get there is by minibus, which departs from the Didube metro station, but you can also “slow down” them along the way – they follow through the whole city (first along the embankment, then along Gorgasali Street and through the Ortachal bus station). The journey takes 20-30 minutes. Minibuses run frequently throughout the day, you do not need to come to the station at a specific time.
It is most convenient to look for minibuses from Rustavi to Tbilisi on Kostava Avenue, near the bridge or at the exit from the city.
Weather in Rustavi
The climate in Rustavi is temperate, in the coldest months in this Georgian city the air temperature does not rise above 6-8 °C. Already in April, the air begins to warm up rapidly, in April-May it is about + 19-22 ° C, and in summer – up to + 35 ° C. Thus, the best time to visit Rustavi is spring, early summer and early autumn when there is no extreme heat.
Tourists rarely stay overnight in Rustavi, as the city is located very close to Tbilisi: many come here for a walk during the day and leave in the evening.
Therefore, the choice of tourist accommodation here is small, but there are several hotels. The most popular hotel is “Rustavi” 3 *, located near the entrance to the city in its new part. The cost of living is from 25 USD per night for a double room. There are also several small 2* hotels (or without “stars” at all) – everything is rather ascetic there, but it will do for the night: there is a bed, shower, Wi-Fi, and in some places breakfast. The most expensive hotel in the city is Grand Vejini, located next to the Rustavi International Motorpark race track. The level of service corresponds to 3-4 *, and the high price by local standards is due to the location. Staying here for the night will cost at least 70 USD per day for a double room. Prices on the page are for July 2021.
Cafes and restaurants Rustavi
With cafes and restaurants in Rustavi, everything is rather modest. There is a lot of street food here – shawarma, khachapuri, etc., there are several khinkali in the city center, the prices there are about the same as in Tbilisi: khinkali from 0.50 GEL apiece and homemade wine from 3 GEL per liter jug.
The most famous cafe is “Giorgiy”, located on Central Square (former Lenin Square), but it is rather boring and unreasonably expensive. Not far from the bridge on Kostava Avenue there is a good beer bar.
Attractions and entertainment in Rustavi
The city of Rustavi is conventionally divided into two parts by the Kura River. Historically, the right bank began to be built up a little earlier and now it is an open-air monument of Soviet reality. The left bank was developed later, relatively new buildings prevail in this part of the city. The few guests of Rustavi usually make “excursions” in the southeastern part of the city, more precisely, in the southeastern suburbs, where most of the architectural heritage of the early Middle Ages is located.
A few tens of kilometers from Rustavi there is a complex of monasteries called David Gareji. In total, there are about 20 cave monasteries today, some of them are still active. The main one of the entire monastery complex is considered to be the most monumental – St. David’s Lavra. All cells are carved directly into the rocks, and ancient frescoes with images of saints of royal blood are still preserved on the walls, for example, Queen Tamara, with whose reign Georgians still associate the best years of their native state.
Bolnisi Zion is another major object of architectural heritage of the era of early Georgian Christianity. This is the oldest temple on the territory of modern Georgia, built at the end of the 5th century AD. e., perfectly preserved to this day. It is this temple that the majority of the indigenous population of Georgia revere the most and rightfully consider it the main one in the heritage of their ancestors.
The highest point of Rustavi is located at an altitude of 762 m, you can get to it by climbing the unique building of Georgian engineers and architects – the Rustavi Cross. The entire ascent occurs without any special means, takes about 40-50 minutes and is quite within the power of an adult healthy person. From above, you can see the panorama of the Yagludzh ridge, large plains near the city and attractive Georgian landscapes.
The most interesting in the vicinity of Rustavi is the Rustavi forest and the Yagludzha ridge. Rustavi forest starts from the fortress and runs along the river for 4 km. Today, the views spoil the roads and strange buildings a little, but in general, this is a good park where you can come with a tent and enjoy nature.
The Yagludzha Ridge begins above Lake Kumisi and stretches east for 10 km, “rests” on New Rustavi and bends along the bank of the Kura, where it forms beautiful cliffs that can be observed from the Rustavi Cross. This ridge is a kind of natural observation deck from which you can see the whole city, as well as Tbilisi airport, Lake Kumisi and even a little Azerbaijan.
Between the Yagludzha ridge and Lake Kumisi there is an abandoned military unit, where old military aircraft and other objects remained. It is forbidden to go there: there is an active shooting range, but you can try to see these places from above from the observation deck.