Sitting almost smack-bang in the centre of the country, the town of Borjomi has long been a favourite summer retreat in Georgia. Blessed with fresh mountain air and natural spring waters, there’s not a whole lot to do here except relax and sip on Borjomi mineral water, one of Georgia’s most popular beverages and biggest exports.
People have been imbibing, bathing in and bottling Borjomi’s curative waters since medieval times. But it was in the 1840s when the Russian Viceroy brought his daughter to Borjomi for health treatment that things really started to take off.
By the 1860s, the resort town was booming, and many members of the Imperial aristocracy built their summer residences in the area. Under Communism, these mansions were turned into sanatoria for the party elite.
Today, Borjomi is still a popular warm-weather destination that’s always buzzing with families in the summer months. The small town revolves around Borjomi Central Park and Ekaterina’s Spring (the original water spring named after the Viceroy’s daughter). BYO drinking bottle and fill up on Borjomi water straight from the source. There’s also open-air thermal baths and a cable car you can ride up to a scenic plateau.
The nearby resort town of Bakuriani is located at a higher elevation and is accessible from Borjomi via the Kukushka, Georgia’s only scenic railway. There are a number of lodges in Bakuriani that cater to tourists during ski season, including the new Rooms Kokhta.
Other things to see in the area include Tabatskuri Lake near Bakuriani and the Romanov Summer Palace (currently closed for renovations) down the road from Borjomi at Likani. There are a number of hiking trails behind the palace for those who want to venture into Borjomi National Park.