Tbilisi, the capital city and beating heart of Georgia, located in the Caucasus region is a vibrant place with a lot to offer. The country has borders with Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia and it used to be part of the Soviet Union.
Tbilisi is the largest city in Georgia, located on both sides of the Mtkvari River. Finding your way around the city is quite easy, and the public transport system is efficient and easy to navigate. There are two metro lines, numerous buses, and cable cars that you can use.
Travelling to Georgia’s capital city? What to do and see in Tbilisi
The picturesque and largely intact Old town of Tbilisi is the perfect place to wander aimlessly and get lost in the maze of streets and narrow alleys. Don’t be afraid to get lost, that is the way to make the most of it.
You will stumble in colourful houses, wandering cats and courtyards, amazing old churches including the Sioni Cathedral. One of the oldest cathedrals of the city, beautifully decorated with wall paintings, the Armenian Cathedral of St George and the lovely Anchiskhati Basilica. The oldest church in Tbilisi Old Town built in the 6th century.
Old Town’s main artery is Kote Abkhazi Street (formerly Leselidze) which connects Meidan square with Freedom Square.
Old town old buildings
Tbilisi has colourful old houses but also tired, old buildings with cracked walls and decades of layers of fading and peeling paint. Abandoned places with leaning balconies and ancient wooden doors leading to courtyards.
Freedom Square and Rustaveli Avenue
The Freedom Square marks the edge of the Tbilisi Old Town, with its golden statue of Saint George and also the beginning of
Take a stroll along the trafficked and famous Rustaveli Avenue to admire the splendid architecture like the Biltmore Hotel, the Georgian National Museum, Rustaveli Cinema, former Georgian Parliament, Kashveti Church and the Georgian National Opera Theater.
The underground Meidan Bazaar close to Europe Square in Old Town is a charming place for a stroll.
The eye-catching Peace Bridge on the River Mtkvari is absolutely stunning, walk across it and look at the city. The bridge is just for pedestrians and is made of steel and glass, linkings Tbilisi Old Town with the new town.
Although it’s quite recent it’s one of the most emblematic structures of the city. An angel comes out and strikes the bell with a small hammer on the hour.
Narikala Fortress and Mother Georgia
The best to reach the Narikala Fortress (free) is by cable car (but you can also walk). The Fortress is an iconic castle with views over Old Tbilisi. The views are superb from the castle walls which can fairly easy be reached.
While you are there say hello to Mother Georgia (Kartlis Deda) taking a scenic stroll to the right from the top of the cable car. You will see the 20 metres-tall aluminium sculpture.
Cable car and the Rike Park
For some of the best views of the city, the short ride is quite popular to see the city from the top. The cable cars swings from the south end of Rike Park up to the Narikala Fortress across the old town.
Rike Park is a beautiful flowery place with paths, pools and fountains.
Mt Mtatsminda, Mtatsminda Park and funicular
The Mtatsminda Park Is a small amusement park not a highlight for the rides, but because is located on top of the Mtatsminda Hill offering really good views over the city and an exciting ride up the funicular. Mtatsminda Park is the highest point surrounding Tbilisi.
Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi
A beautiful Orthodox Church with a massive golden cupola. the place also offers here good views over the city.
Tbilisi Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden (2GEL ~€0.60) is located between the Old Town and Narikala Fortress and is a great place for a relaxing walk.
Try the local cuisine
Georgian cuisine is vegan-friendly, and there is a decent offer of vegan restaurants. Find here which traditional dishes are accidentally vegan and a list of the best vegan places in Tbilisi.
Don’t miss out on visiting and shopping at the fresh produce market.
Tbilisi street art
Street art is for what I felt a relatively new trend. Tbilisi hides some beautiful art in its backstreets and underground passways, being the best places the underground passages Hero’s Square and Vake Park and also the Fabrika Hostel.
Tbilisi travel tips – to make you trip easier
How to get to Tbilisi
by air: To get from Tbilisi airport to the city centre, you need to take bus no 37. It runs 24/7 from the airport to the central train station. The ticket really cheap and can be bought on board.
by taxi: you can take a Yandex Taxi – a local version of Uber, popular in many post-USSR countries, just download the app before the trip.
From Kutaisi International Airport: the Georgian Bus does the journey from Kutaisi airport to Tbilisi. The ticket can be bought online or at the airport exit from the arrivals zone. The journey takes around 4 hours.
From Yerevan (Armenia) or Baku (Azerbaijan): the train is the best solution. The station is well connected with central Tbilisi by metro.
Day trips from Tbilisi
Tbilisi can be a perfect base for day trips. The most popular is Mtskheta, the holy city located 20 km away from the capital.
Other places you can easily visit as day trips from Tbilisi include David Gareja, Sighnagi, Gori, Uplistsikhe, Ananuri or Kazbegi (although they definitely deserve way more than a day).
Is it worth to visit Tbilisi? this is a definite YES!! Tbilisi is an interesting capital city with plenty to do and see. A unique blend of cultures, influences and religions.
photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha