Never has it been so easy to visit the capital city of Georgia, Tbilisi. Although, I’ve experienced a fair amount of culture shock during my first visit in Tbilisi, that said, Tbilisi is simply a stunning city. Old world meets new architecture, creating a unique blend. Whether you’re planning to visit for a week or a long weekend, here is a few things to fill your itinerary with.
Tbilisi Old Town
This is pretty much the center of cultural life in Tbilisi so it is very hard for you to miss it. Nowadays, it is a bit touristy as it also serves as a meeting point for tours and guides.
Nevertheless, it still manages to retain its charm. I recommend walking around and getting lost in the main area but also the smaller streets.
Hike all the way to Mother of Georgia ( Kartlis Deda)
This is a huge monument of a badass looking lady with a sword overlooking the town of Tbilisi. And said badass gal also goes by many names.
Although it is quite popular, we stumbled upon Mama Georgia totally by accident. Yet it was a highlight of my time in Tbilisi. I do recommend doing the walk from the center of old town all the way to the statue. Don’t worry! It is a light hike. Even at a normal pace, it only takes about an hour or so with plenty of stopping along the way.
This little walk allowed me to observe every day Georgian life with kids playing soccer in the streets and residents blasting music from their house. There is also a nice little monastery with the cutest garden right before you reach the statue of Mama Georgia.
If you’re lucky, you might encounter a local resident by the name of Edgar selling refreshment and snacks ( right in the monastery courtyard). Take a few minutes to stay and talk to him a bit. He is quite friendly and has so many cool stories to share.
Finally once you reach the statue all the way on top, it will offer some excellent picture opportunities.
Not only that but there seem to always be some musicians playing along and even some people dancing and having a great time.
It is very hard to miss this huge structure. The Narikala Fortress is quite expansive. It is perched on top of the old city and overlooks town.
Matter of fact, this is situated on the same main street as the tall Mother of Georgia Monument. Just keep walking and you will come across some people selling touristy stuff right along the fortress walls.
Tbilisi Zip Line ( Aerial Tramway)
A fancy name but in layman’s terms, it’s a zip line. If you aren’t scared of heights, it offers a cool way to see the city from a bird’s eye view.
Clock Tower at the Rezo Gabriadze Marionette Theater
This theater is located in the old town. There is also the clock tower which is quite popular. I would totally recommend doing the Marionette theater. It is a small puppet theater which is quite unique.
Its beginning is also very fascinating. It was created in 1981 by Rezo Gabriadze who was frustrated with life in the Soviet Union when it comes to lack of intellectual freedom. He got the brilliant idea to create a puppet theater to try to remedy that.
Don’t forget to buy your ticket ahead of time as there is only around 80 spots. Nowadays, you can expect puppetry, magical shows and marionette art.
Tsminda Sameba Cathedral ( Holy Trinity Cathedral)
Although I love architecture, I’m not really a big fan of churches. I prefer to admire them from the outside. But if you are big on churches, you’re in for a treat as Georgia is packed with them.
If you’re short on time and only have to pick one, this one, the holy trinity is probably the one you should visit. It is one of the most iconic landmarks of the city.
Ride the Funicular
This offers another way to view the city without having to walk around.
The Bridge of Peace
Not going to lie but this whole structure took me by surprise. At first, it is a major contrast. You have the old city of Tbilisi and right in the middle you see this shiny futuristic structure.
That said, the bridge is an absolute masterpiece and you can walk across it the way a pedestrian bridge was meant to be used, without having to wait in line or anything. Think about it as functional architecture more than a museum piece.
This avenue strikes me as a Georgian equivalent of the Parisian Champs-Elysees. It is a beautiful area filled with shops, sitting area and cafes. Yet it still holds heavy historical significance.
This avenue is linked to a turbulent past and the terrible April 9 tragedy where many Georgian protesters were killed by soviet Spetznas forces.
That said, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Nowadays, it is one of the safest, upscale and posh areas of Tbilisi.
Flea Market Dry Bridge
I absolutely love local markets. Just take a taxi or walk to this market. Once you get there, you can sample the goods and talk to local residents. I absolutely love the old Georgian men who can be such characters on their own.
Don’t take yourself to seriously, be a bit laidback and you’re guaranteed a good time.
One warning though: People aren’t too keen on you taking their pictures. So please be respectful. The market is filled with older people from a previous generation without social media and selfie obsession… Don’t even think about photographing the products they’re selling either.
By knowing this ahead of time, you save yourself from having a bad time. If you want to take pictures with someone, always try to read them first and then ask them explicitly. Some people might also ask you for a tip for such pictures.
Hey! Everybody gotta eat!
The Chronicle of Georgia
This place got quite popular in recent times. The structures are quite big and impressive. A lot of it is related to biblical scriptures. Even if you’re not religious, it is totally worth checking out.
Check out Agmashenebeli Avenue
This is another beautiful wide street that has a European feel to it with a splash of Georgian colors and wooden architecture. The popular section is pedestrian only so you can shop around and enjoy the cafes and restaurants.
Another church for those who just can’t get enough. This one is a little more modest and simple yet still full of old world charm.
The Jumah mosque is an absolutely stunning structure. Make sure you check it out, even if you only admire it from the outside. It is barely a 5 min walk from the main square of Tbilisi. The beautiful tile work is to die for.
The popular sulfur baths are also located right in front of it.
Heydar Aliyev Park
This is a beautiful park filled with historical importance. If you have some extra time, I totally recommend spending some time checking out the park along with observing its local life flow.
This is my all time favorite street. We ended up going there so many times. It is a small cozy alleyway packed with cafes and restaurants. The food is amazing and it’s the perfect place to have dinner and enjoy a local glass of wine in the evening.
Kharkana Wine Factory
Fancy a wine tour exploration without ever leaving the city?
Look no further!
The Kharkana Wine Factory is the answer to all your prayers for all my other wine peeps out there. They are supposed to be open daily but just give them a call before you go to check out their event listings and fit them into your itinerary.
Gamble at the Shangri La Casino
This place was quite funny looking. I did not go inside but for anyone in Tbilisi needing to get their gambling fix, this little casino is hard to miss and is located right smack in the middle of town, not too far away from Shardeni street and the Bridge of Peace.
Go Party in the main Square
This is something I did not expect to find in Tbilisi. Not that I thought people there didn’t party but it felt like I was in Miami more than in the Caucasus.
Next to the main square, there is a tiny little street that literally turns into a club district at night. It feels quite safe but obviously you have to practice common sense and drink responsibly so that you’re always aware of your surroundings.
That said, it was weird but extremely fun dancing to reggaetón in the middle of Tbilisi Georgia.
Eat Your Weight in Food
Honestly, the food in Georgia is AMAZING.
Yes, it can be a bit greasy and very carb and meat heavy but oh my goodness, it will be one of the best comfort food of your life.
So just live a little and explore the local cuisine.
Sample Local Georgian Wine
Georgia is one of the oldest wine producer in the world. So yes, it goes way back. There is a plethora of wine tasting to go to but also try to sample wine wherever you go.
Most restaurants in Tbilisi will have an extensive list. Even the house wine is superior to what I usually encounter. And the price is ridiculously cheap.
Chill at Fabrika Tbilisi
Another place that we discovered by accident. Apparently it is part of a hostel but you’d never know.
Fabrika has a huge backyard terrace area. This open space plays music. There are tons of food and alcohol kiosk scattered around. You’ll find a young crowd filled with mostly millennials just having a great time.
Just go to Tbilisi. If you don’t want to commit, just go for a long weekend and give it a chance. You never know, you might fall in love with the city 🙂