Kutaisi is the traditional rival of Tbilisi for capital status, and has since the days of the Golden Fleece been considered the capital of Western Georgia (then Ancient Colchis). It remains Georgia's second largest city, but to the irritation of the proud locals, does not come even close to Tbilisi's present day size and wealth. Since the Georgian government decided to move their parliament to Kutaisi, there has been a lot of work on restoring streets, buildings, parks and monuments and the city has become much safer.
But a visit here is nonetheless near mandatory to see the magnificent Bagrati Cathedral, and Gelati Monastery, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites, and have commanding views from the mountain slopes over the city and the Rioni river.
Otherwise, Kutaisi is a relatively pleasant city, although not as attractive for tourists as Tbilisi and cities on the nearby Black Sea coast.
By marshrutka: Walk to the bus stop at the main road in front of the airport building and flag down a marshrutka (Kutaisi is to the right of the airport). The driver may or may not accept euro coins or dollar bills of small denominations. If not, you may ask him to stop at a money exchange office in Kutaisi and he may or may not agree to do so. If not, wait for another marshrutka.
By taxi: Arrange the price beforehand. The taxi driver will probably ask for 25 lari, but you should insist on 20 lari only; do not care about his disgusted look as 20 lari is already a hugely inflated price anyway - if you want to support the local economy or help people in REAL need, you will have more than enough other opportunities in Georgia.
Getting from the airport to Tbilisi or Batumi
Get by taxi or marshrutka to Kutaisi (see above) or to Samtredia (to the left of the airport) and then continue by train or by marshrutka (see By bus and By train).
A bit more expensive option is to use direct marshrutkas of the Georgian Bus company to Tbilisi (20 lari, 10 euros, 12 US dollars) and to Batumi (18 lari, paying in euros and dollars is also possible). You can also pay with your credit card. The Georgian Bus ticket stand is in the airport hall. Check  for more information. You may also try to arrange with the Georgian Bus employees at the ticket stand or with the marshrutka driver to kick you off in Samtredia/Kutaisi, Gori or any other place on the route to Batumi/Tbilisi (for a lower price).
All trains from and to Tbilisi Central leave from and arrive at the new Kutaisi I station. There is a daily express train (#18) from Tbilisi departing at 8:50AM and taking about six hours to reach Kutaisi I at 3:00PM. A ticket with reserved seat costs minimum 5 GEL (ca. 2.50 USD). Also stops in Mtskheta (old capital of Georgia), Gori (birth place of Stalin) and Zestafoni. Nice journey. In the opposite direction, the train leaves 12:25 in Kutaisi and arrives 18:20 in Tbilisi. No food is available on board of this train, but - like other trains in ex-Soviet states - it makes lengthy stops at stations that do sell food. Incidentally, due to these stops these trains usually arrive exactly on time.
A local but fast train runs from Kutaisi I to Batumi (listed, confusingly as 'Makhinjauri' in the timetable), leaving at 9 AM, arriving 3 hours later. Cost GEL 4, payable on the train. Preferable to the bus.
Train from Skaltubo are running from Kutaisi II station, which is located in the south-west of Kutaisi.
There are more night and day trains running from Tbilisi Central via the Rioni station (a few kilometres to the south of Kutaisi) and via the Samtredia station (which is relatively close to the Kutaisi airport) to the west of Georgia (Batumi-Makhinjauri, Zugdidi, Poti, and Ozurgeti). Check the timetable .
Mini-buses (marshrutkas) and full 54-passenger buses depart regularly for Kutaisi from Didube Bus Station located at the Didube metro stop in Tbilisi. Marshrutkas typically depart once an hour; large buses every three hours. Typical fare is 10 lari. Travel by marshrutkas takes roughly 3.5 hours; larger buses take slightly longer due to more frequent stops. Marshrutkas leave from Batumi about every hour, cost 10 lari, and take about 2-2.5 hours. They will drop you off in front of the McDonalds, where you can take the number 1 bus to the city center.
You can get Georgian food delivered to you, which is rare in Georgia, if you call 248494. http://pubdelivery.ge/
It would definitely help to know some Georgian. Prices are reasonable; we got enough food for 10 people for 50 lari, including delivery charge.
Cafe Marco, 20 Tamar Mepe Street (located in Kutaisi city centre, 300 meters from central square along Tamar Mepe street.). Everyday. With wireless internet, pleasant atmosphere, is ideal for budget tourists who would like to taste delicious meals from Ukrainian cousine. edit
Hostel Ell, Gaponova Street 38 (nearby city center), ☎ mobile: +995 592 92 12 12 (email@example.com). This hostel is located in 20 minutes walk from Bagrati church. The bright rooms are simply decorated in a traditional style. Shared bathrooms are located in the corridor. Guests can prepare meals in the fully equipped communal kitchen and dining area to enjoy. A 7-minute walk from the hostel's restaurant, which serves both the Georgian and European cuisine. Gelati Monastery is located 9 km away Ell. The train station Kutaisi is 2 km away and the international airport of Kutaisi - 25 km.25 to 50 GEL per night. edit
Rusiko's Guesthouse, 5 Khaukchishvili Street (next to White Bridge (Tetri Khidi) in the Old Centre), ☎ +995 551 47 11 00; +995 597 90 54 76. The lovely hostess Rusiko makes everyone feel very welcome. Feels like a real Georgian home. Free wi-fi is available as well as tea, coffee, fruit. Very clean and comfortable with a perfect location - 3 minutes from the central fountain, opera, theatres, central bazaar, bus stops.20 GEL per night. edit
Hostel Kutaisi, 14 Solomon I Street (next to main square in the historical part of the city), ☎ +995 431 25 38 73 / mobile: +995 551 47 11 00 (firstname.lastname@example.org). In the hostel Kutaisi you will be served by experienced people (english spoken). Amenities include free wi-fi, internet, linen, towels, shampoo, coffee, tea, cable TV, maps, different guide books, advice about Kutaisi and Georgia in general.20 to 30 GEL per night. edit
Suliko's Homestay, (10-15 minutes walk south of the middle of town. Go to number 100 Tbilisi Street (one of the main streets in town). Then, go up the alley that intersects with Tbilisi Street at that address. It will be the third house on the right (number 6, green fence).), ☎ 0 2312 4 30 07. They will give you as much chacha, Georgian wine and Georgian food as you can handle. The food is all hand-made and freshly prepared. It is amazing, the hospitality is unparalleled and only the modesty of the facilities leaves anything to be desired. The beds are clean and the house is good by local standards, and the new bathroom was completed in the summer of 2011 in this friendly homestay. Free Internet is available, and there is a computer available for use. It's easy to get here from any location.between 20 and 30 GEL per night. edit
Leila's Hostel, 3 Jibladze Street (3 blocks from city center), ☎ +995 431 25 10 25 / mobile: +995 597 03 07 30 (email@example.com). checkin: 24 hours; checkout: 10 A.M. In the Kutaisi Hostel Centre, the owner Leila is a soviet business woman eager to make money, likes to clean all the time and seems to be upset all the time and complaining about other guests to you (but you're amazing, that is, until you leave!). Amenities include free wi-fi, internet, linen, coffee, tea, airport pick up, central bus station pick up. But don't shower more than you should or plug in your devices more than you need. The owner will angrily remind you of that. Hostel locks at 10 P.M!15 to 30 GEL per night. edit
Gia homestay, 41 chanchibadze (very close to Bagrati Temple), ☎ +995 557 669 380 (firstname.lastname@example.org). In the Gia Homestay you will feel like at home. The house is situated on the hill and has beautiful view on the mountains and Kutaisi. You could order breakfast, the food is very good and freshly made. In 10 minutes of walking you could reach Mirzaani brewery, which serves very good food, beer and wines.Price per person is between 20 and 30 GEL per night. edit
Family Hostel, 25 Tamar Mepe (in the city centre), ☎ +995 571 026 329 (email@example.com), . Family accomodation. Contradictory to its name, it's more like a guesthouse than a hostel.25 GEL per night. edit
Hostel Mana, 33 T. Tabidze (about a half km outside the center), ☎ +995 598 74 77 44 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Guesthouse in a very close location to the city center. The owner doesn't speak English but it wasn't a problem for us. He speaks Russian and Georgian. He will come pick you up from city center when you arrive if you would like. Very comfortable and affordable.15 GEL per night. edit
Hotel Oazis, (behind the large round theatre in the city centre). Small hotel in the center. Clean, cozy rooms with narrow beds; wifi, A/C, heating. One of the few budget options in central Kutaisi.edit