How to go by car to Abkhazia – reviews and tips
Abkhazia amazes with the beauty of mountain landscapes, picturesque lakes and waterfalls, a variety of architectural heritage and hospitality of the Black Sea coast. Vacationers enjoy going on excursions to nearby attractions and visit the beaches, but traveling in your own car offers great opportunities to get to know the country from the inside.
For those who are going to visit the country, we have compiled a series of recommendations. They will help to plan a route, decide on a budget and choose what to see in Abkhazia on your own by car.
For your information
Those planning a trip to the republic may have a question whether it is possible to travel to Abkhazia now. Currently, there are no restrictions regarding the entry of Russian tourists. However because of the coronavirus infection tourists are obliged to wear masks. Also there is a ban on the work of theaters, museums, spas and other institutions in the republic until November 24.
How much to drive to Abkhazia
The road runs along the M4 “Don” highway, which has mainly two lanes (there are four-lane sections). The distance from Russian cities to the republic (Pitsunda) and travel time are shown in the table below. If you are looking for faster ways to get to Abkhazia, we recommend choosing the roads with toll plots.
For your information.
Those who are looking for variants of how to get to Pitsunda and other Abkhazian resorts without excessive time costs, we recommend before the trip to Yandex. It will provide up-to-date information about traffic jams on the road segments, related to road works, time of day and season
Vacationers in the south of Russia, of course, wonder how many kilometers from Sochi to Abkhazia: drive a little over 80 km to the border in your own car can be just an hour and a half. The distance Adler-Pitsunda of 60 km is overcome in an hour, and the road from the checkpoint to Sukhum will take 2 hours (110 km). Due to the short distance between the southern cities and Abkhazia, tourists from Russia often combine holidays in their own country with trips to the republic. Those who are afraid to drive in a foreign country can leave the car in Russia, and the distance from Sochi to Abkhazia to travel by public transport. The Sochi-Abkhazian bus takes 4-5 hours to reach the Sukhum bus station.
Travelling on the Crimean peninsula on a private car, wishing to expand the boundaries of the place of rest, often wonder how many km from the Crimea to Sochi: the distance is 685 km; for the road will have to spend about 11 hours.
Passing the border of Abkhazia by car
According to the rules of entry into Abkhazia for Russian citizens, you must have the following documents:
- passport: foreign or Russian citizen’s passport;
- driving license; if a driver is not a car owner, he/she will need a notary’s power of attorney to drive the car with permission to cross the border;
- Certificate of vehicle registration (no insurance required);
- Documents for the child (birth certificate or passport);
- when a minor travels to Abkhazia with one parent, permission from the other is not required; when a child travels with other relatives, a notarized power of attorney must be presented.
Russians may enter Abkhazia without a visa.
If there are unusual situations, more detailed information on what documents are necessary to enter Abkhazia can be obtained from the customs website www.customsra.com in the “Useful Information” section. Frequently Asked Questions and Explanations” or by phone +7 (840) 226-57-49.
Psou checkpoint: location, working hours, peculiarities of crossing
For those traveling by car there is only one way to get to Abkhazia – through the Psou checkpoint. It is located in the city of Sochi, Adlerovo district, Veseloye village, at 101, Urozhaynaya Street. GPS coordinates: 43.394539, 40.008804.
It works in a round-the-clock mode with changes: in the morning from 07-40 till 08-10, in the evening from 19-40 till 20-10. At this time the work does not stop, but the capacity decreases. It takes from 20 minutes to 2 hours to cross the border with Abkhazia, depending on the traffic flow. As a rule, during summertime the workload at the checkpoint increases significantly.
If you are interested in how to cross the border with Abkhazia we offer step-by-step instructions.
- Before entering the territory of Psou checkpoint, the driver and passengers must show their documents to an FSB officer.
- Then the car must be parked in one of the checkpoint lanes (except the leftmost lane for buses).
- Passengers, after having driven far enough to the customs building (2-storeyed building in gray and blue), need to leave the vehicle and enter the passport control room (children and disabled people can stay in the car).
- When in line with other cars, the driver upon the first request of the customs officer must show the documents and open the car for inspection.
- After this procedure, the owner of the vehicle should drive up to the stop line and approach the booth to check the documents.
- The last stage of the vehicle inspection is an inspection by an FSS officer to verify that there are no prohibited items.
- After the check on the Russian side the driver must pick up the passengers and after crossing the bridge go through the Abkhazian border control: show the documents to the officer and show them to the officer at the special window. Passengers do not need to leave the car.
For your information.
After crossing the border the driver must pay: 70 RUR for a passenger car and 150 RUR for a cargo vehicle.
Travelling by Car to Abkhazia – Advice and Recalls
Having analyzed the reviews of drivers on a trip to Abkhazia by car, we have compiled a list of tips that will help to avoid many inconveniences during the travel.
- Passing the border will go faster if you avoid rush hours: when you enter Abkhazia – morning time between 08-00 and 10-00, evening time between 19-00 and 21-30; when you leave – morning time between 08-00 and 10-30. It is also strongly recommended to follow all the instructions of the customs officers. From my own experience, we have seen how many tourists refuse to show the contents of the luggage compartment. As a result, you will lose not only one hour for the proceedings, but also several days to clarify the circumstances.
- To avoid trouble at the meeting with the customs officers you should know that 20 liters of gasoline, 2 liters of alcohol and 200 cigarettes per person may be brought into the territory of the Republic, 3 liters of spirits and the same amount of honey per person may be exported. Forbidden to export goods are boxwood, eucalyptus and propolis.
- Currently, there are disruptions in the payment systems Visa and Mastercard, so vacationers are advised to stock up on cash. It is preferably in small denominations.
- Driving in Abkhazia by car should be careful: OSAGO does not apply here, traffic police officers monitor the speed limit of Russian tourists, local drivers are not distinguished by compliance with the rules, and pets on the road are not uncommon.
- We recommend always locking the car doors: tourists often mention cases of theft from the car.
Itinerary of a trip through Abkhazia by car
According to the reviews of travelers on how to get to Abkhazia and what to see, we have compiled a travel itinerary. It will allow to visit the main Abkhazian resorts and visit the sights.
Journey begins from Psou and runs along the coast along Sukhumi highway (with a stop at Pitsundskoye), so will be optimal and more picturesque. Below will be described resorts in the sequence in which they go along the route, and the places to visit in the resort surroundings.
Tsandripsh and Bagripsh
These are the first settlements that you will meet on the way from Psou to Sukhum. Here you can see the ruins of a 6th century temple, visit Stalin’s dacha and walk to the White Rocks (marble formations are on the coast dotted with dark pebbles).
Gagra is one of the most popular Abkhazian resorts. Of the sights we recommend to visit:
- Prince of Oldenburg’s castle;
- Abaata fortress, built in the Middle Ages;
- St. Ipatius of Gagra Church;
- Seaside Park;
- Gagra Water Park;
- Mamzishka mountain with observation decks.
Also not far from the city you can find Joekvar gorge with rivers and waterfalls (GPS coordinates – 43.335338, 40.226990).
- Here is a selection of private homes and inexpensive hotels
- What Must See in the Resort
The resort is known for its relict groves of boxwood and pine trees. Here you can see the ruins of ancient Pitiunt and the 10th century Patriarchal Cathedral.
In 40 minutes from Pitsunda you can reach small waterfalls “Maiden’s tears”, “Men’s tears”, Lake Ritsa and Gegsky waterfall, which are about 70 m high. (you have to walk to the last one). In less than 10 km from the resort is located Pitsundo-Musser Reserve.
The village is a place of attraction for pilgrims: Christians strive to visit the New Athos Monastery and the cave of the same name, climbing Iverskaya Mountain.
To get to the capital, you need to turn from Sukhumi highway to Ardzinba Avenue. There are enough attractions in the city:
- Colonnade on the embankment;
- Botanical Garden;
- Abkhazian State Museum;
- Makhadzhirov embankment, etc.
For your information
Many sources indicate the monkey nursery as one of the places to visit. However, due to the large number of negative reviews of tourists, we do not recommend to include it in the tour program.
Where to stay in Abkhazia by car
Traveling by car has an undeniable advantage – they can stop in the most picturesque places, away from large crowds of people and, thanks to the car, have access to all objects of infrastructure. In this connection we recommend to stop the choice on guest houses with parking places, equipped kitchens and terraces for rest (many of them are located at the coast):
- Mandarin recreation base (New Athos);
- guest house “Dominika” (Gagra);
- guest house “Fazenda” (Pitsunda), etc.
You can book such accommodation for 1 500-2 000 Rubles per day in the high season:
If you have no desire to cook during the trip, and you want to be in walking distance from the infrastructure, we advise to pay attention to hotels with high ratings of tourists (rating from 9 points on Booking site):
- “Abaata” in Gagra with a pool and playground (150 m from the beach);
- “Samson” in Sukhum 200 m from the beach area; in New Athos”.
- “Amra Sunrise in Tsandripsh, etc.
First of all, when planning a trip to Abkhazia on your own, we advise you to look for accommodation on BOOKING and Rumguru. Both services have an extensive database of guest houses, hotels, and hostels. But we recommend to stick to the selected list above.
Is it worth to go to Abkhazia by car
Travel to Abkhazia by car from Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities has its pros and cons.
Among the advantages motorists name:
- lack of attachment to the schedule of public transport;
- freedom of movement in resorts;
- savings when traveling with a large family.
However, a car trip requires careful planning of the route with stops for snacks, refueling and overnight stays. Car owners, telling in their reviews how to get to Abkhazia from Moscow and other cities far from the republic, mention the need to rest every 300 km, which increases the travel time. In the summertime, traffic jams cause people to stand idle for 2-3 hours on the highway sections. Those who travel from St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg or Ufa have to spend 2-3 days on a one-way trip to Abkhazia.
Those who live in the south of Russia (Krasnodar region) are in a better position: they do not need to spend a lot of time on the road.
Traveling by car requires careful preparation, but, as car owners write, only during an independent trip manages to look at the most beautiful corners of Abkhazia.
Recently, among the negative reviews, experienced tourists often mention:
How to go to Abkhazia by car
All you need to know about traveling to Abkhazia by car in 2022! Features of crossing the border, Abkhazian roads, attractions and convenient places to rest. Tips and reviews of experienced tourists.
Is it possible to travel to Abkhazia by car? Of course, yes. Travelling to the Land of the Soul by private car is liked by many Russians. The road to the sea does not take much time, and the trip turns out quite budget-friendly. It is especially convenient to get to the republic residents of the Central, Southern, North Caucasus and Volga districts. During an independent trip to Abkhazia by car you can relax on the beaches, swim in the sea, see beautiful waterfalls, mountain lakes and caves, get acquainted with local traditions and visit ancient fortresses and monasteries.
How much to drive to Abkhazia
The main route to Abkhazia runs along the highway M4 “Don” . This is a two-lane highway with small sections of 4 lanes. Jams on it occur in summer and during construction and repair work. There are lots of gas stations along the way, so no gasoline problems.
Through Krasnodar. No matter what city in Russia you are traveling from to the Abkhazian resorts, the way will go through the Adler district of Sochi. Most tourists take the road through Krasnodar, Goryachi Klyuch, Dzhubga and Tuapse. However, in summer, there are often many kilometers of traffic jams in front of Dzhubga and after it.
Through Armavir and Maikop. To avoid tedious standing, some drivers choose another route. From Armavir they turn to Maikop and get to Tuapse through the Shaumyan pass. The advantage of the road through the pass is that you can get to the sea faster. Disadvantages: the route is 100 km longer, about 30 km of roads are not paved, and there is a lot of dust. Driving through Shaumyan requires carefulness, so the detour can be recommended to experienced drivers.
Advice. If you plan to spend the night on the way to Abkhazia book lodging in advance on the site Hotellook and Yandex.Travel. In high season there may be no available rooms.
How far by car it is to Abkhazia (Sukhumi):
|Departure point||Distance (km)||Travel time|
|St. Petersburg||2430||2 days|
|Nizhny Novgorod||2000||1.5-2 days|
Roads to Abkhazia by car from Russian cities
Mountains in Abkhazia. Photo: pavlopurt / pixabay.com.
Passing the border of Abkhazia by car
The border runs through the valley of the Psou River. The border crossing point is called “Psou” and is located 10 km from the Adler ring at Urozhaynaya Street, 101. Please note that this is the only checkpoint for Russians – from the Georgian side the entry through “Inguri” checkpoint is prohibited. The Psou checkpoint is open round the clock. There are breaks from 01:00 to 03:00, from 7:45 to 8:15 and from 19:45 to 20:15.
Earlier at the border you had to pay the resort fee of 30 rubles. Now it is paid at the place of residence – it is included in the hotel room rate or in the ticket price. You have to pay 150 rubles for a passenger car and 300 rubles for a cargo car at the border.
If there are no queues it will take 15-20 minutes to cross the border. When planning a trip to Abkhazia by car in 2022 keep in mind that in the summer there may be lines at the checkpoints. In this case the procedure stretches from half an hour to 4 hours.
Advice. Try to cross the border when there are fewer people in the queue. When you enter Abkhazia there are a lot of cars from 8:00 until 12:00 and on the way back from 8:00 until 10:00 and from 18:00 until 21:00.
Documents. Russians do not need a visa to enter the republic. What documents are needed to enter Abkhazia by car? The driver presents a passport – a Russian or foreign passport, a driver’s license and a certificate of vehicle registration. Until 2017, car insurance was also required, but now this requirement has been abolished.
Passengers show their passports. Passports or birth certificates are required for children. If the car is the property of another person, the driver must have a notarized power of attorney, which states “with the right to travel abroad.”
Advice. It is better to show a Russian passport, because if they put a stamp on the border crossing into the passport you will not be able to enter Georgia. Take a look at how to travel by car to Georgia.
Inspection. When passing through passport control, the driver and all passengers get out of the car. At the request of the staff of the border crossing the driver is obliged to open the trunk of the car for inspection. A few meters away is the Abkhazian border post. Only the driver needs to leave the car there. Passports of passengers are checked through the glass. Control takes only a few minutes.
Customs Control. According to the rules in Abkhazia you are allowed to bring up to 20 liters of gasoline in cans, as well as 2 liters of alcohol and 200 pieces of cigarettes per person. On the way back from Abkhazia you are allowed to take back up to 3 liters of alcohol and up to 3 liters of honey in original packaging per tourist. Banned for export propolis, eucalyptus and boxwood.
Passage of the border Russia – Abkhazia. Personal experience.
Lake Ritsa in Abkhazia. Photo: arturgalaxy / flickr.com / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Trip to Abkhazia by Car – What to Know
An independent trip by car through Abkhazia is an interesting experience! The main roads here are not bad, and there are few cars and traffic lights. However, be careful: sometimes the tracks are crossed by herds of cows, and in large settlements there are many lying policemen.
In case of an accident. Abkhazian traffic rules are similar to the Russian ones, but the fines are higher here, and at the slightest violation the traffic police seize the license. You will be able to return the license only after paying the fine. And that is where the difficulties begin! It is not possible to pay over the Internet. There are no terminals for paying the fines. Russian bank cards are not accepted in many places. So where does one pay the money? Only to the traffic police in the area where the accident took place or the report was drawn up. It is also where you get your license back. In fact, the license is rarely taken away, as the drivers prefer to solve the issue with the traffic inspectors on site.
The peculiarities of driving. When driving in Abkhazia by car in 2022 consider that the Abkhazian drivers often violate the rules. They race at 120 km/h and confuse the main and secondary roads. For Abkhazian drivers, it is in the order of the day to drive on the oncoming road and overtaking on closed corners. However, employees of the road service turn a blind eye to this – in the summer they are only interested in solvent tourists.
- Do not break the speed limit. Near the road there may be inconspicuous cars, from which the local traffic police officers measure the speed of traveling cars.
- To avoid unnecessary conflicts, record your trip on the DVR.
- In the territory of Abkhazia MTPL policy does not work. There is no own insurance, so you must drive very carefully.
Jeeping in Abkhazia. Photo: Dmitriy Kirilin / flickr.com / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Gagra. Photo: Dmitriy Kirilin / flickr.com / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Travel itinerary of Abkhazia
Tourist infrastructure in this part of the Black Sea coast is underdeveloped. Thanks to the car you can get to many sights, where they do not take tourists, as well as see the beautiful places, about which only the locals know. Let’s find out what to see during an independent trip to Abkhazia by car.
Holidaymakers spend most of their time on the coast, sunbathing and swimming in the sea. Along the coast there is the M27 highway, and it is convenient to drive between seaside towns and resort villages. From Soviet times, several mosaic bus stops, designed by Zurab Tsereteli, have remained on the Sukhumi highway.
Just a few kilometers from the border is the town of Tsandripsh. In the village have survived the ruins of the basilica of the VI century, and 3 km by the sea is a picturesque exit of marble layers, which is called the White Cliffs. In neighboring Bagripsh there are tours to Stalin’s dacha.
At 22 km from the border in the beautiful city of Gagra it is worth visiting Joekvar Waterfall, the medieval fortress Abaata and the ancient temple of St. Ipatia of Gagra. The resort town has a picturesque castle of Prince Oldenburgsky and the Seaside Park with a colonnade.
People stop in Pitsunda to stroll through relict groves of pine and boxwood. In the city there are many seaside monuments, the remains of ancient Pitiunt, a lighthouse, the Patriarchal Cathedral of the X century and a dolmen.
Where to go in Abkhazia by car? From Pitsunda it is convenient to go to the most beautiful monument of the region – the mountain lake Ritsa. There is a good asphalt road to the north of the main road through the valley of the river Bzyb. It takes 40 minutes to get to the lake from the turnoff.
On the way to Lake Ritsa, many stop to visit the walls and towers of the ancient Bzyb fortress, admire the Blue Lake and the Maiden’s Tears waterfall. A beautiful view of the gorge and Ritza opens from the observation deck “Farewell, Motherland”, which is 0.8 km from the lake. Ritza is surrounded by a national park, so all tourists pay an environmental fee: 350 rubles for adults and 150 rubles for children 8-12 years old. Near the lake is a cafe and restaurant. Here you can rent a catamaran and go to Ptichy Klyuch and Molochny waterfalls.
8 km to the south of Pitsunda and 15 km from the main road on the seashore is a beautiful holiday village Mussera. It is famous for Pitsunda-Musser Reserve, the ruins of an ancient temple, the ruins of the former estate of Lianozov, and Stalin’s and Gorbachev’s dachas.
At 85 kilometers from the border, on the main highway is New Athos – known in the Caucasus as a center of pilgrimage of Orthodox Christians. They come here to visit the monastery, the Seaside Park and New Athos Cave. Many climb the Iberian mountain and see the ruins of Anakopia fortress.
During a trip to Abkhazia by car almost all tourists stop in Sukhum. The capital city by the sea is known for its beautiful architecture, monuments and temples. It is interesting to stroll along the Makhajirs embankment, visit the Sukhumi Botanical Garden and monkey nursery.
Where to go during an independent trip by car in Abkhazia:
|Description||Where is it and how to get there|
|Kyndyga Thermal Spring||Hot spring with hydrogen sulfide and healing mud.||In the Kandyg village, 20 km from Ochamchira. On the Abzhuai highway.|
|Bedia Cathedral||Medieval Orthodox church built in 999.||The village of Agubedia, 17 km from Ochamchira.|
|Kaman Monastery||A functioning monastery rebuilt on the site of a medieval monastery.||The village of Kaman, on the left bank of the Gumista River, 12 km from Sukhum.|
|Gegsky waterfall||A picturesque waterfall with a height of about 70 m, in the valley of the Gega River, at an altitude of 530 m above sea level.||4.5 km from the road which leads to Lake Ritsa. You can pass only by off-road vehicles or walk on foot.|
Route on the map of Abkhazia
How to drive to the sights of Abkhazia? Waterfalls, lakes, caves, reserves, temples and castles on the map.
New Athos. Photo: fieldreports / flickr.com / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Where to live while traveling in Abkhazia by car
Where to book accommodation:
And Yandex.Travel – hotels and guest houses in Abkhazia with discounts up to 60%. – Rent apartments, houses and rooms in Abkhazia directly from owners.
When traveling in Abkhazia by car, it is important to choose accommodation with parking. Do not leave your car unattended in the street, because there is a high chance that the interior will be cleaned.
Hotels. There are no 5* hotels in Abkhazia. 4* hotels take vacationers in Sukhum, Gagra, Gudauta and Tsandripsh. Slightly more places with 3* hotels. All other accommodation in Abkhazia are small hotels, guest houses and tourist bases. Abkhaz boarding houses and sanatoriums are not suitable for those who come here by car, because during the auto-trip tourists are constantly traveling.
There are guest houses and mini-hotels with parking almost everywhere: in the seaside villages of Tsandripsh, Gechripsh, Alakhadze, Ldzaa and Primorskoe, and in the cities of Gagra, Pitsunda and Sukhum. Their prices range from 600 to 1200 rubles for a room for two. You can rent budget lodging from private individuals. Rooms in the private sector start from 500 rubles at the peak of the summer season, and apartments from 1,200 rubles.
Cottages and houses. During a holiday in Abkhazia by car it is convenient to stay in cottages. According to reviews of tourists, not bad cottages by the sea with free parking, air conditioning and wi-fi rent in Pitsunda. Their prices range from 2300 to 5400 rubles per day. For about the same money in all the resort villages by the sea offer turnkey houses. This option is usually chosen by large companies or parents with children.
Gagra. Photo: Dmitriy Kirilin / flickr.com.
Is it worth to go to Abkhazia by car
Advantages of traveling to Abkhazia by car:
- Auto-trip turns out to be more budget-friendly than traveling by plane or rail.
- Thanks to the car during one trip to Abkhazia you can see much more historical and natural attractions, and get to where there are no regular buses and minibuses.
- Car tourists do not need to buy tours and bus tickets.
- Abkhazia has many inexpensive accommodations with parking lots.
Costs and inconveniences:
- Large fines for traffic violations, especially for speeding – from 600 to 3000 rubles.
- Corruption of Abkhazian traffic police, their prejudice against cars with non-local numbers, and a constant desire to make money on autotourists.
- Tourists complain about cases of theft from the interior of the car and bad treatment from the locals.
Decide for yourself whether it is worth to travel to Abkhazia by car. There are tangible pluses of car travel, but also weighty minuses. Tell us about your experiences of independent travel to the Land of Soul by car in the comments!