Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia. Nestled in the Caucasus Mountains, the country lay just out of arm’s reach for many western tourists until the past couple of years when budget airline connections from Europe started popping up, setting off a tourism boom. Georgia became THE place to be for adventurous travellers. Before, most of Georgia’s tourism came from Russian-speaking neighbours in nearby countries. Nowadays, Germans, Poles and Brits are filling the streets on their backpacking trips.
Although tourism is taking off, the city is far from a tourist trap. There’s so much to see and explore in Tbilisi that no other place can offer. It may be Georgia’s biggest city, but most people there lack a big-city mindset – they care about their neighbours and are curious when a foreign visitor comes around. They’re extremely hospitable, so don’t be surprised when you get invited to a stranger’s house. Here are the best things to do in Tbilisi.
- Tbilisi, Georgia
- 20 Things To Do In Tbilisi
- 1- Explore The Old Town
- 2- Hang Out At Fabrika
- 3- Climb Narikala Fortress
- 4- Walk Down Rustaveli Avenue
- 5- Take A Bath
- 6- Head To The Dry Bridge For World-Class Antique Hunting
- 7- Visit The Ancient Capital
- 8- Test Your Stamina At An All-Night Techno Party
- 9- Sample Georgian Cuisine
- 10- Go To An Amazing Food Bazar
- 11- Visit A Bakery
- 12- Take A Wine Tour
- 13- Admire Murals, Mosaics, and Architecture
- 14- Go To Church
- 15- Visit Stalin’s Home
- 16- See Lisi Lake
- 17- Go To The Massive Secondhand Markets
- 18- Take The Funicular To Mtatsminda Park
- 19- Hang Out At The Hippodrome
- 20- Visit Tbilisi’s MoMA
Planning a trip to Tbilisi?
Make your bookings early, as the best tours and accommodation can be booked during the high season. Why bother haggling with a cab driver? Book your airport transfer here. Here are some quick picks.
- Fabrika Hostel & Suites (hip hostel digs)
- Golden Palace Hotel (well-priced mid-range hotel)
- Sandali by Tbilisi (luxury boutique hotel)
- Pullman Tbilisi Axis Towers (5-star)
- Tbilisi Cultural Walking Tour With A Local Guide – Explore like a local.
- Four-hour Walking Tour And Wine Tasting – Stretch your legs and discover the city.
- Mtskheta Day Tour To Georgia’s Oldest City – Discover Georgia’s historic secrets.
- Kakheti Wine Region Full Day Small Group Tour – Taste Georgian wine and learn about unique wine-making processes.
- Bakuriani Ski Resort Tour – Experience fun winter activities.
20 Things To Do In Tbilisi
1- Explore The Old Town
Most city guides will tell you to check out the old town of any city you visit, but few can touch the authenticity of Tbilisi.
Old Tbilisi (or Dzveli Tbilisi) has withstood centuries of changes and occupation.
It’s one of the strongest examples of Georgian architecture since much of the city is dominated by hulking, concrete block buildings.
The narrow streets snake up steep hills with colourful houses with wooden balconies all along the way.
You can find many traces of Tbilisi’s cosmopolitan past, with Georgian and Armenian churches, synagogues, mosques, and even a Zoroastrian temple spread throughout the tiny neighbourhood.
Many houses are still private residences, but there are many guest houses, cafes and pubs too.
Get acquainted with old Tbilisi and its long, complex history with a walking tour. Here are some choices:
- Cultural Walking Tour With A Local Guide
- Four-hour Walking Tour With Wine Tasting
- Private Guided Walking Tour
2- Hang Out At Fabrika
Fabrika is one of the many gathering places for the city’s youth that has sprung up in recent years.
The place is a hostel, first and foremost. It’s an amazing facility with clean, well-maintained rooms and a state-of-the-art common area and cafe/bar for guests to hang out.
They have many accommodation options, from 12-bed dorm rooms to cosy apartments.
It’s so much more, though, with a big courtyard out back full of bars, restaurants and pop-up shops.
Instead of hitting bars and clubs, hundreds of people gather in the courtyard on Friday and Saturday nights.
Find out more here about rooms, facilities, and upcoming events.
3- Climb Narikala Fortress
Narikala Fortress stands tall above the old town and gives one of the best viewpoints of the city and the mountainous terrain outside.
It’s another extremely old piece of Tbilisi’s history that dates back to the 4th century.
The thick fortress walls have been restored to their former glory, and there’s a nice church onsite.
Getting there can be tough– bring good shoes and water! It’s quite the hike, but the view is worth it.
There are also cable cars connecting you to the upper part of the city.
This tour will take you to the fortress via cable car, plus other attractions.
The Narikala Fortress cable car is across the river in Rike Park, at MRV6+632, Tbilisi, Georgia.
4- Walk Down Rustaveli Avenue
Rustaveli Avenue is one of the most important veins of Tbilisi’s roadways.
The street starts at Liberty Square and runs to Rustaveli Metro. Along the way, you can find all sorts of interesting spots.
For all your shopping needs, there’s Galeria, one of Georgia’s biggest malls.
Further down the street, past the Georgian Parliament, are a few important cultural sites such as the National Museum, the Fine Arts Museum, the National Gallery and a performance theatre.
There are dozens of restaurants and cafes along the busy street to stop by and fuel up, such as Kvarts Coffee.
Kvarts Coffee is at 26 Shota Rustaveli Ave, Tbilisi 0108, Georgia.
5- Take A Bath
Tbilisi means “a warm place,” and it earned its name from the many sulphur hot springs that the city was built on.
As a result, bathhouse culture has been around since the city was first founded.
They’re still in use today, and you can find the most popular one, The Royal Bath House, in the old town centre.
Look for the stone brick domes rising from the ground, and you’re there.
They offer several options for good prices, including hourly rates for sulphur baths and steam rooms.
Massages and their infamous skin exfoliation treatment are also available but be forewarned.
They’re known to be harsh and involve getting whacked with branches and scrubbed with rough towels.
Tbilisi’s Royal Bath House is at 8/1 Ioseb Grishashvili St, Tbilisi, Georgia.
6- Head To The Dry Bridge For World-Class Antique Hunting
On the Mtkvari River banks overlooking Dedaena park is one of the best flea markets you’ll find anywhere.
The dry bridge market makes for some unique shopping opportunities.
It’s open daily, with vendors lining the bridge and adjacent streets.
You can get everything from old tea sets and vinyl records to carpets, cameras, and paintings.
Some objects (especially WWII and Soviet Union memorabilia) are of questionable authenticity, but they still make for interesting souvenirs.
You’ll usually be able to haggle with the owners.
They may tell you some exorbitant price, but they’ll lower it if you stand your ground.
The Dry Bridge Market is in Dedaena Park. Liberty Square and Marjanishvili are the nearest metro stations.
7- Visit The Ancient Capital
Tbilisi wasn’t always the seat of Georgia’s leadership.
Just outside the city limits to the north is Mtskheta, the ancient capital and one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities.
The earliest settlements date back to 1,000 B.C.
The town makes for a lovely visit, with a historic centre worth visiting.
There are several Georgian Orthodox churches around town, including Svetitskhoveli, one of the most important places for the church.
There’s also the Jvari Monastery on a mountaintop overlooking the city.
Taxi drivers wait around the centre to take visitors to the top, but if you want to save some money, you can also walk up there (it takes about 30 minutes and you have to cross the highway).
Getting to Mtskheta from Tbilisi is a breeze– you can take the marshrutka (minibus) for 1 GEL from the Didube bus station (outside Didube metro). They leave every half hour.
8- Test Your Stamina At An All-Night Techno Party
Tbilisi has been making headlines for a few years for reasons besides Georgian food, wine, or politics.
Their nightlife scene has caught the attention of music blogs around the world, who often compare Georgian techno clubs and parties to famous rave cities like Berlin and London.
The truth is, Tbilisi doesn’t deserve this comparison – it’s much better and more inclusive.
Cafe Gallery opened its doors over 10 years ago and started hosting all-night techno parties.
They’re still operating today and have inspired nearly a dozen other clubs of different shapes and sizes to open across town.
Some of them, including Bassiani, have grown even more popular and started gaining the attention of international media outlets.
These establishments are for bona fide music lovers and are places free of judgement and discrimination.
- Cafe Gallery is at 34 Alexander Griboedov St, Tbilisi, Georgia.
- Bassiani is at 2 Akaki Tsereteli Ave, Tbilisi, Georgia.
- A pub crawl is another way to dive into the nightlife.
9- Sample Georgian Cuisine
Georgian food is only now starting to catch on in western countries.
Restaurants are starting to pop up in Europe, but they’re still virtually nonexistent in North America outside a few spots.
Visiting Tbilisi will allow you to sample Georgia’s national cuisine for the best quality and prices.
Georgia has a few staple dishes that you need to try: Khachapuri (salty cheese and butter baked into bread), Khinkali (juicy soup dumplings), badrijani nigvzit (eggplant rolls filled with a spicy walnut paste and many more.
Most restaurants in town serve national cuisine. Even in touristy areas, it’s usually tasty and authentic. The famous Khinkali House on Rustaveli Avenue is a good option.
However, if you want to find a place that tourists are less likely to stumble upon, try a place like Retro in Saburtalo.
Finding all of the right places in town to try Georgian food can be overwhelming, so consider joining a food tour. Here are some options:
- Tbilisi Food and Wine Walking Tour With Tastings
- Tbilisi Food And Drinks Group Tour With 11 Tastings
- Retro is at 1 Davit Gamrekeli St, Tbilisi, Georgia.
- Khinkali House is at 37 Shota Rustaveli Ave, Tbilisi 0150, Georgia.
10- Go To An Amazing Food Bazar
Many foreign tourists will discover one special thing about Georgia, the rich abundance of fresh produce and homemade food products.
Things as simple as apples and tomatoes have infinitely more flavour than those in UK or American supermarkets.
You won’t find every Georgian delicacy at the restaurants.
So explore the produce stands around the city; the Dezerter Bazar near Station Square Metro will have everything your heart desires.
Here you can stock up on fresh seasonal fruits and veggies to snack on while you wander around.
Pick up some salty, white Georgian cheese while you’re at it– the person selling it to you probably made it at home.
Jonjoli is another unique treat you can only find in the Caucasus nations. It’s a pickled plant called Staphylea, which only grows naturally in this region.
Finally, for a sweet treat, try churchkhela. You’ll notice the candle-looking treats hanging over most of the stalls. They’re walnuts threaded on a string and dipped in a grape-honey goo.
The Dezerter Bazar is at 5 Abastumani St, Tbilisi, Georgia.
11- Visit A Bakery
We could go on about Georgia’s rich culinary offerings, but this will be the end.
They’re a huge baking country, and Tbilisi’s city streets are lined with little bakeries that produce their goods onsite.
Take a peek inside one of them and you’ll notice the Tone, a dome-shaped oven usually partially underground.
With a fire at the bottom, the bakers slap a huge slab of dough onto the side and a few minutes later, the tastiest, freshest bread comes out ready to eat.
They always make tonis puri (bread from the tone), which Georgians consume in huge quantities at all meals.
They usually make lobiani, khachapuri and a few other treats too.
Try the Rachian bakery, famous for its bread and lobiani, at 36 Otar Oniashvili St, Tbilisi, Georgia.
12- Take A Wine Tour
Many people associate wine production with France or Italy.
People often overlook the fact that Eastern European countries like Moldova, Armenia and Georgia are huge wine producers.
In fact, Georgia holds the record for having the oldest traces of wine production in the world, about 8,000 years ago.
Their winemaking tradition still holds strong today, with households across the country growing grapes and making wine every fall.
There are many bars and cellars in Tbilisi where you can taste various Georgian wines.
Most wine bars are situated in or near the old town, lots of them in gorgeous underground cellars.
Vino Underground is a great place to try a few glasses of Georgian wine but if you want to go straight to the source, wine tours can take you there.
Although they make wine everywhere, the Kakheti region to the east of Tbilisi is widely considered to be Georgia’s wine country.
You can plan your winery trip solo or join a tour that’ll take you to some of the highlights for tours and tastings.
Vino Underground is at 15 Galaktion Tabidze St, Tbilisi, Georgia.
13- Admire Murals, Mosaics, and Architecture
Tbilisi is home to a few architectural and artistic quirks from the USSR days.
One of these, the Bank of Georgia Headquarters, greets you on the way into town.
This grid-shaped building has been around since the 70s and is one of the greatest feats of Soviet architecture.
On another edge of the city, you have the Chronicle of Georgia, a hulking structure overlooking the Tbilisi Sea Reservoir.
Its beams and pillars illustrate Georgia’s millennia-long history in detail.
Many mosaics from the period are scattered around the city, too.
If you’re taking an international bus, chances are you’ll leave from Ortachala Station.
While waiting for your bus, go out back and look for the firefighter’s mural, a monument deifying firefighters and depicting them as fire-bending wizards.
The Urbex and Soviet Tour of Tbilisi reveal architecture, private museums and little-known stories.
- The Bank of Georgia’s headquarters is at 29a Iuri Gagarini St, Tbilisi, Georgia.
- The Chronicle of Georgia is at QRC6+65V, Chronicles of Georgia Temqa, Tbilisi, Georgia.
- Ortachala bus station is at 1 Dimitri Gulia St, Tbilisi, Georgia.
14- Go To Church
The Georgian Orthodox church has a massive following and Georgians take religion very seriously, with over 80% proudly claiming to be Christian.
The country is full of churches and monasteries worth checking out.
Even if you’re not a believer, Georgian religious architecture and iconography are stunning and very different from Catholic and Orthodox churches found in Europe.
Some of them are much older, too.
The Holy Trinity Cathedral’s golden dome is visible all over the city.
In the hilly old town, you’ll find the twin Betlemi churches a few meters apart, offering a wonderful view of the city to anyone brave enough to climb the snaking old town streets to find them.
- The Holy Trinity Cathedral is at 3 Khivi Turn, Tbilisi, Georgia.
- The Betlemi churches are at 5 Betkemi Rise, Tbilisi, Georgia.
15- Visit Stalin’s Home
Many people don’t know that Stalin is the most famous Georgian.
The former Soviet leader was born in a town called Gori, just an hour’s drive from Tbilisi.
There, you can find a museum dedicated to him and even a statue in his honour.
Due to Georgia’s dark past with Russia in recent years, you can no longer find statues of former Soviet leaders like Vladimir Lenin, as you can in other former Soviet republics.
Georgia, however, is the only place where you can see a couple of Stalin statues proudly displayed, mainly in small villages.
You can get to Gori by taking a marshrutka (minibus) from Didube bus station.
You’ll find the bus easily, as men will be shouting, and maybe even singing, “Gori” at passers-by.
Tours take you to Gori and nearby Uplistsikhe, an ancient cave city.
The Stalin Museum is at 32 Stalin Ave, Gori, Georgia.
16- See Lisi Lake
Lisi Lake is a small lake on the northwest edge of Tbilisi.
In the warm months, the area is full of families and friends having barbecues, walking, and playing games in the ample green space nearby.
It also has walking trails, a paintball club, and an offroading area.
Take a picnic and laze in the shade, or rent a bike and take a few laps around the area– there are endless possibilities to spend the day by Lisi Lake.
You can reach Lisi Lake by taking bus #329 from Station Square.
17- Go To The Massive Secondhand Markets
If you’re a vintage clothing lover, listen up: Tbilisi is heaven.
Just outside Station Square metro is the start of a seemingly endless sea of secondhand shops and bazaars.
These places get shipments of clothes from Europe and Turkey every week, so the selection is always fresh.
Vintage shopping is huge among the Tbilisi youth.
You’ll see them sifting through jeans and shirts and wearing them out on the weekends.
You can visit these shops in the area surrounding Mghvedeli street, but there are a few Vintage shops with more curated selections tailored to streetwear fans.
Dezerter Vintage is an example of one of these.
The shop owners hunt for pieces in the bazaar just like everyone else, except they bring them back to the shop for resale.
They make it easy by putting all the best stuff in one place.
Dezerter Vintage is t 133 14 Mikheili Tsinamdzghvrishvili St, Tbilisi, Georgia.
18- Take The Funicular To Mtatsminda Park
Tbilisi has several points of interest nestled on the mountaintops above the city, and Mtatsminda Park is one of them.
There are many points of interest, but the main part is an amusement park.
It has carousels, roller coasters, and a giant Ferris wheel with an amazing city view.
Buses and hiking trails lead to the park, but funicular is the fastest and most popular way of getting there.
The lower funicular station is a short walk from Liberty Square and is at 22 Daniel Chonqadze St, Tbilisi, Georgia.
Read about Mtatsminda park and what to do there.
19- Hang Out At The Hippodrome
Not too far from Lisi Lake is another place where locals like to spend time outdoors.
The Hippodrome (aka. Central Park) is a huge outdoor green space in Tbilisi’s Saburtalo district.
If you need to go for a jog on your trip, this is the best place in the city to find some fresh air and even ground.
Come here in the summertime and you’ll see people hanging out and kicking a ball well into the late night hours.
The Hippodrome is at 79 Sulkhan Tsintsadze St, Tbilisi, Georgia.
20- Visit Tbilisi’s MoMA
As its name suggests, Tbilisi MoMA is a modern art gallery on Rustaveli Avenue.
Even though it has no affiliation with the New York museum of the same name, it’s an incredible museum that showcases a lot of contemporary art from Georgian artists.
It opened in 2012 as a place to show the works of famous artist Zurab Tsereteli.
It also houses a regular rotation of temporary exhibits, with a heavy emphasis on Georgian creative minds.
However, they also show the works of artists from nearby countries like Ukraine, Russia, and Armenia.
MoMA Tbilisi is at 27 Shota Rustaveli Ave, Tbilisi, Georgia.
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