Check out our top 12 things to do in Tbilisi!
Tbilisi is a fascinating capital! It is cosmopolite and yet so near the magnificent Caucasus mountains, where people lead rural lives. Its turbulent history, as well as its flourishing present, are represented in the architecture of the city. And, what’s more, there’s a district completely dedicated to the art of relaxation with the traditional sulphur baths. It is the city of the bohemian, who get lost in the many valleys of old town… Gaumarjos!
1 – The old town of Tbilisi
The centre of the old town does not have a decrepit, old-time feel because this lovely part of town has gone through a well-done make-over. The houses on the Sololaki hill, with its colourful and wooden verandas have been rehabilitated making it a photogenic view of the town. These days, there´s local art shops, wine houses, small family run guesthouses. You can spend hours getting lost in the old alleys and backstreet, just to find a small local bar or Kinkhali house.
2 – Tbilisoba
The Tbilisoba is an annual festival that takes place in October and celebrates the diversity and history of the city. The festival offers a sense of medieval times – there are swords, there are traditional costumes, folk dances, girls with flower-crowns on their heads, smoke of grilled meat on the spit, big pieces of pork meat hanging from stalls next to the grill… It is irresistible and it attracts tourists from all over Georgia and from abroad!!
3 – The Narikala Fortress & the Mother of Georgia
The Narikala fortress was built on top the Sololaki hill on the fourth-century. On the same hill, the Georgian sculptor created a twenty-metre statue of a woman dressed in the national dress. The massive twenty-metre high statue of the Mother of Georgia (Kartlis Deda) symbolically holds a sword to warn Georgia’s enemies and a bowl of wine as a sign of Georgian hospitality.
4 – The Rike Park
The Rike Park, right in the heart of the city, is the elected park for families to have their picnics. It is a space with plenty of benches and grass to sit. It has also got a few small stages, where in Summer several concerts and other shows take place. The Rika Park Concert Hall was built in the park but has yet to be finished and inaugurated…
5 – The Cable Car
The cable car in Tbilisi is not one of the old mechanisms that you will find in other cities of Georgia (like Chiatura that boasts 17 working cable cars). Instead, it includes modern and comfortable cabins that offer priceless views of the old town and the fourth-century Narikala fortress.
6 – The Sulphur Baths
The district of Abanotubani, in the old town, has got dozens of sulphur baths dedicated to the art of relaxation. Situated underground, their dome-shaped roofs are made of orange brick, at ground level near Abano Street. It is said that Georgians cure their hangovers with a sulphur bath followed by a Khashi soup (see article about Georgian food).
7 – The Holy Trinity Cathedral
The monumental and brand new Sameba Cathedral (also known as Holy Trinity Cathedral) was consecrated in 2004, and took a mere nine years to build. It is a beautiful building and a good place to watch the devoted Orthodox come to have their prayers and lighten their candles.
8 – The Puppet Show
Polyvalente artist Rezo Gabriadze built a fantastic clock tower at the entrance of the marionette theatre in Tbilisi. Twice per day (at noon and at 19h00) a small crowd gathers to see the performance from high in the tower. Inside, the puppet show is an unmissable cultural institution. The performances are meaningful and serious and have been gained international recognition.
9 – The Peace Bridge
The iconic pedestrian Peace Bridge (by Italian architect Michele De Lucchi) connects the old town to the new city, through the Rika Park. Now much loved by the residents of the city, the bridge was originally a source of disagreement because of its excessive cost. Once the project was ready, it charmed even the most sceptical people, and the cost was quickly forgotten.
10 – Georgian Cats
Who needs any extra words? They are cute and we found many in the wooden backyards of the Solulaki district, one of the most charming of Tbilisi.
11 – The Nightlife
The panoply of cafes, bars and pubs in Tbilisi is huge. The streets of the old town are packed with wine bars, modern establishments where well-dressed young and middle-aged meet for a taste of the palatable Georgian wine. All the alleys that form the district between the Sioni Cathedral to the Tamada statue is a good place to stop for a drink. In Tbilisi, there is a place for every taste.
12 – The Local Cuisine
Restaurants… It is not our style to give the names of specific places. We believe each one should make its own experiences. However! We stayed two months in Georgia, so after a while, and even though the food is tasty practically everywhere, we had the feeling that the food tasted alike wherever we went. Until of course we found two very special restaurants: The Kulinarium Khasheria and the Cafe Littera are both owned by the renowned chef Tekuna Gachechiladze and are special in their own way. While the Kulinarium Khasheria is located in the district of the sulphur baths and specializes in serving non-expensive anti-hangover cuisine, the Cafe Littera offers the most exquisite Georgian cuisine with a touch of modern Europe… You can read more about Georgian food here.
Need a tip for a hotel?
While in Tbilisi we stayed at the coolest hostel in town, The Fabrika Hostel (when you see the photos you will understand how cool it is) and The Old Metekhi Hotel… Two different kinds of accommodation, the first one satisfied our budget needs and the second one, even though not expensive by European standards, is appropriate to enjoy some comfort. 🙂