Traveling to Abkhazia is possible by air from any city of the world to the Sochi International Airport, Russian Federation.
- To get from Sochi (Russian Federation) to Abkhazia you should cross the Russian-Abkhazian PSOU border, which is about 30 min. drive from the airport (without traffic).
- There are private transfer services for 1000 r. to 1500 r. and taxi hire costs 3000-4000 r. if you want to come directly to the capital city Sukhum.
- The taxis at the airport to PSOU border cost around 500 r. -1000 r. (depending on bargaining skills, sharing opportunities etc.) During the day you can take private minibuses for 150 r. or take a bus to the Adler Station for 18 r. and than bus 173 to the border for 23r. After passing the border you can either take a bus (120 r.), or a minibus (150 r.) or a taxi (1500 r.) to Sukhum.
- Hiking is possible if you speak proper Russian but not suggested if you do not!
- Cycling is not suggested for inexperienced bikers as Abkhazian drivers are not used to seeing other vehicles but it is increasing day by day.
You can also travel to Abkhazia from Zugdidi, Georgia.
- To get from Zugdidi (Georgia) to Abkhazia you should cross the Georgian-Abkhazian INGUR border, which is about 30 min. drive from the city.
- Travelers say they were driven by private cars, or you can take a minibus.
- After you pass the border there may be direct buses to Sukhum or you may need to take a taxi for 50 r. to the Gal Station. From there, you should be able to take a bus till around 5pm to Sukhum for 300 r.
- The private taxi hire from Gal border costs around 1500 r- 2000 r.
- Travelers who do not speak the local languages are strongly suggested to pass from the border region and Gal before evening and as soon as possible.
Visa – Passport
Please check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Abkhazia website for official information. Below information is just an effort to respond to travelers’ questions about practical issues.
1- Everyone, except those who hold passports of countries that recognise Abkhazia, need a visa to enter Abkhazia. Apply online at least 7 working days before and make sure you receive an automatic confirmation when you sent in your application. (If not use a different e-mail provider).
2- Have your confirmation letter printed to hand-in at the border.
3- If you are entering from Psou border, make sure you have a right to go back to Russia, eg. multi or double entry visa if you need one.
4- If you are entering from Ingur border (Georgia), make sure you are going to be there at opening times as this border has limited opening hours
5- Upon your arrival within 3 working days you have to visit the Consular Service at their address Saharova 33 (no more in the MFA building on Lakoba). This visa office is within the building of Repatratsia [easier to find it if you ask a local person like this as many people don’t know the street names].
6- The visa cost should be paid in cash in rubles to the Consular Service. If you dont have rubles there is an exchange office on Ayayra street (old prospekt Mira) 1 min from the building. There is also a cash machine that accepts visa cards just opposite the exchange office as well as in other streets within a 10 minute walking radius.
7- Your visa will be printed as a separate sheet of paper and will not be sticked on your passport.
8- Your passport will never be stamped by Abkhazian border control, or the Russian border control on Psou border. The Russian Federation stamps the immigration cards that are handed at your entrance to Russia and taken away during your exit from Russia. During re-entry from Abkhazia you will receive a new immigration card (thats why you need a valid re-entry documentation) which will be stamped with your entry date and will submit this at your final exit from Russia or Belarus. (If you arrive at the border without proper re-entry documentation Russians charge you a fine of 5000 rubles – information from an uninformed traveler who thought he could go on to Georgia, found out he cannot, and tried to return to Russia with a single entry visa which he had already used. But lucky for him, the Russian Consulate in Sukhum issues visas which costs about 100 USD).
9- You are suggested to enter and exit from the same border! Though cases of entry from Ingur and exit from Psou will not receive sanctions during current travel, this may cause further issues if you go back to Georgia in the future.
- How to get to the resorts of Abkhazia from the border?
From the border there are buses, minibuses and taxis available to all cities of Abkhazia.
Travel time (approximate)
• from Adler to the Psou border – 25-30 minutes;
• from the Psou border to Gagra – 20-30 minutes;
• from the Psou border to Pitsunda – 40 minutes;
• from the Psou border to Gudauta – 1:00;
• from the Psou border to Novy Afon – 1 hour 20 minutes;
• from the Psou border to Sukhum – 1 hour 40 minutes.
• from Sukhum to Ochamchyra – 1 hour
• from Sukhum to Tkuarchal – 1 hour and 20 minutes
• from the Ingur border to Sukhum – 2 hours
• from the Ingur border to Ochamchyra – 1 hour
• from the Ingur border to Tkuarchal – 1 hour 20 minutes
The first city hostel in Sukhum is now open. It is at a very central place and targets international travelers. The host Jabagh, is actually a professional photography artist, very helpful and friendly. His English is poor but he tries his best to be helpful to travelers. booking.com – Sukhum City Hostel Page
Transportation within Abkhazia
Within Abkhazia buses, minibuses, taxies run between all cities. No car rental though (sadly). But you can hire private taxis with drivers for all day to visit special destinations. These cost around 3-5000 r. Depends on the destination and time frame as well as season.
The state language of the Republic of Abkhazia is Abkhazian language. Russian is the supporting language of state and other agencies. Each day you find more people trying to speak English – especially young people.
Abkhazia is in the same time zone as Moscow. UTC+4 or UTC+3 depending on the season as no Winter Time!!!
Abkhazia is a country of early Christianity. About 70% of its population are Orthodox Christians, 16% Muslims, 4% Catholics, 5% Pagans, 2% Jews, and 3% of other religions. (These numbers seem a bit off but I got these from an official site.)
Abkhazia has an exceptional variety of weather conditions. Mountains which are close to the coast create here a special microclimate, protecting the city from the cold winds and keeping warm sea air. The climate is humid and subtropical. Winter in Abkhazia begins in mid-December and spring arrives by early March. Even in the winter the temperature rarely drops below 0C and freezing temperatures are only seen high in the mountains. The average temperature in January at the shore is from +4 to +7С, in the mountains from +2 to -2 С, in July from +22 to +24C. Average annual precipitation in Abkhazia ranges from 1300 mm in the coastal region and up to 3500 mm in the mountains. The temperature of the sea reaches 27C in the summer and the water stays at 18-19C all the way until October, so the beach season lasts from mid-May to October. (Though this year- 2017- everything is weird like in the rest of the world!)
The Russian ruble is the official currency of the Republic of Abkhazia. You can exchange currency (easily USD and officially EURO) in any bank of Abkhazia. The commercial banks also have currency exchange services in all major resort cities. Using of bank cards (Visa International) is available mainly in Sukhum and in a few luxurious restaurants, hotels, shops in Afon, Pitsunda and Gagra. But VISA cards can be used in cash machines to withdraw an amount of up to 3000 r and as many times as your own bank permits.
Import cash money
The restrictions on foreign currency export from the Russian Federation that are set by existing Russian legislation apply on the territory of Abkhazia. The limit for the undeclared import of foreign currency is $3000 per person. Currency amounts over $3000 per person must be declared to the customs service. Permission from the Central Bank is required for amounts over $10,000 per person.
• Abkhaz people are conservative in matters of clothing, however, young people wear modern clothes, including shorts, tops and mini-skirts.
• City of Sukhum has a ban about going around in swim wear except at the beaches.
• If you are going to visit local villages, historical and cultural monuments, try not to wear very sheer or too short clothes. You may be asked to cover up your head (for women) and your legs if you visit a church.
Telephone and Internet communication
To call a local mobile number remove the following code: +7940 and use the last 7 digits of the number.
*You can ask anyone for their mobile phones to make a local call. People are really helpful in that sense, and they usually have plans that include free minutes so it is not costly for them.
To make an international call you can use the Call Centre at the Sukhum Post Office city centre or have a mobile plan.
You can get a local sim and use internet, receive and send SMS and make local and international calls.
There are two mobile operators in Abkhazia, AQUAFON and A-MOBILE. They operate using the GSM 900/1800 standard.
- JSC “Aquafon”
- JE LTD “A-mobile”
You can buy the local SIM-card at the official points of sales of mobile communication services. Your passport and personal presence is necessary. You can also use your mobile phone which is automatically connected to the international roaming service.
Free Wi-Fi is now available throughout the city and one recent French Academic has even announced Sukhum is much better connected to the Internet than France. The passwords for various Wi-Fi are 12345678 or 87654321 according to a friend who runs a hostel.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Abkhazia
State Committee for Resorts and Tourism of the Republic of Abkhazia
Telephones of emergency services
Emergency Rescue “01”
PS: Some information here may need to be updated as they were provided in an official site.
PS2: See this up to date website about traveling to Abkhazia from Georgia which has detailed information on the journey to the border and comments from recent travelers- http://www.meganstarr.com/all-you-need-to-know-about-traveling-to-abkhazia/