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12 Things to Do in Tbilisi – A Guide to Georgia’s Capital

A panoramic shot of Tbilisi with the river featuring prominently and a hot air balloon in the sky

12 Things to Do in Tbilisi – A Guide to Georgia’s Capital

In the heart of the Caucasus region, Georgia’s capital city of Tbilisi is a mesmerizing blend of ancient history and vibrant modernity. As one of the few major crossroads between Europe and Asia, this charming city has a unique and interesting past leading to its distinct culture, food, language, and people. From historic landmarks to bustling streets, there’s no shortage of things to do in Tbilisi.

An aerial shot of the Eastern Orthodox cathedral with golden roof in Tbilisi and the city in the background

Tbilisi – Capital of Georgia

With a population of around a million, Tbilisi is no sprawling metropolis, but this dynamic city serves as the beating heart of the country and is home to diverse architecture. Georgia, proud of its special history, has its own ancient alphabet, dating back to the 3rd century BC and the Georgian language, written in this distinctive script, adds to the city’s character.

12 Things to Do in Tbilisi

1. Sulfur Baths

Legend has it that Tbilisi’s founding was influenced by the discovery of the hot springs here, so it’s a perfect way to start your journey. Chreli Abano, located in the ancient district of Abanotubani – which literally translates as “bath district” – houses naturally heated pools, which have been an essential part of the city for centuries.

Before going in, the building itself is worth admiring from the outside. The beautiful mosque-like exterior wouldn’t look out of place in nearby Iran or Uzbekistan – both known for their intricate Islamic architecture.

Inside you’ll find a labyrinth of arched corridors, domed ceilings, and rooms to enjoy the hot, cleansing Sulfur water. The rooms start from 100GEL (around $38) for 1-2 people, but these rooms are quite basic. For 200GEL (around $75) you can book a larger room with seating area and Finnish Sauna.

For a truly local experience you can add on the traditional peeling treatment for 20GEL (around $7.50). The peeling involves being scrubbed down with an exfoliating mitten (which isn’t exactly gentle!) then our favorite part – being smothered with what looks like a soapy pillowcase.

2. Holy Trinity Cathedral – Sameba

An enormous Eastern Orthodox cathedral with a golden roof overlooking Tbilisi

The Holy Trinity Cathedral, commonly known as Sameba, is a glorious symbol of Georgia’s spiritual identity. The country is deeply religious, but the cathedral’s significance goes beyond its religious importance – it’s also a prominent place for family and friends to gather.

It’s the tallest Cathedral in the country and one of the largest Eastern Orthodox churches in the world. Marvel at its grand architecture as you wander through the surrounding gardens and be sure to go inside. It houses numerous religious paintings, metalworks, and grand frescos. There is a dress code to enter – women should cover their head and shoulders, and wear a long dress, and men should wear long pants and remove hats.

3. Ride the Cable Car

A fantastic way to see the city from above is by riding the cable car from Rike Park up the mountain to the south. As well as the breathtaking views, it’s the best way to get to some of the other attractions on our list.

The cable car costs just 5GEL for a round trip and the card costs 2GEL. If you’re using the metro or bus, you will already have one of these.

4. Zipline Over the Botanical Gardens

For the thrill-seekers out there, take a zipline adventure over Tbilisi’s lush Botanical Gardens. Enjoy the rush of adrenaline as you soar above the trees with a unique view of the city.

Before you take the zipline, be sure to stop and see the next thing on our list – the Mother of Georgia.

5. Mother of Georgia

A wide shot of Tbilisi with the Mother of Georgia statue - a large aluminium statue of a woman - overlooking the city

The iconic statue of Kartlis Deda, the Mother of Georgia, stands proudly overlooking the city. This majestic monument embodies the spirit and strength of the Georgian people, symbolically holding a wine bowl in one hand for hospitality and a sword in the other for protection.

The metallic statue was erected in 1958, celebrating Tbilisi’s 1500th anniversary as a city. This, during the soviet era, was perhaps a strong statement about Georgia’s desire to retain her culture and remain independent.

6. Funicular Ride to Mtatsminda Park

The impressive funicular takes you up the steep slope of Mount Mtatsminda with panoramic views of the city. Perched on the hill overlooking Tbilisi is the Mtatsminda Amusement Park which features rides, attractions, entertainment, and restaurants. Entry to the park is free, you just pay for each ride or attraction.

This mountaintop is home to two landmarks that somewhat dominate the sky around Tbilisi – the big wheel, which is in the amusement park, and the 274m freestanding TV Tower.

The funicular costs 20GEL (around $7.50) for a round trip plus 2GEL for the card which you can buy at the lower station. You’ll need to add credit to this same card in order to use the rides.

7. Wine Museum and Tasting

Did you know that the oldest recorded evidence of wine production was in Georgia?! Delve into the country’s 8,000-year-old winemaking tradition at the Tbilisi Wine Museum. Wine is so closely intertwined with the culture here that it’s a centerpiece of every large gathering, meal, and event in the country. A toastmaster will make many speeches throughout a meal and traditionally would drink wine from a horn.

In the museum you can learn about the country’s unique qvevri wine-making method which uses huge clay pots in the fermentation process, as opposed to wooden barrels. This extraordinary process has been recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. After a tour around the museum and a lesson about the history of wine in Georgia, it’s time to taste the exquisite wines.

8. Chronicle of Georgia

The Chronicle of Georgia - a large structure made of stone columns with engravings of Georgia's history

The Chronicle of Georgia is a colossal monument made up of 16 large pillars adorned with carved panels. It is the brainchild of Zurab Tsereteli, one of Tbilisi’s notable artists and sculptors. The Chronicle is a striking contrast to the surroundings and from a distance almost looks other-worldly.

The 30m carvings depict Georgia’s history from ancient times, through its transition to Christianity, to more modern times. There are depictions of pottery and the brewing process – a vital part of Georgian culture, the stories of Jesus signifying the significant role Christianity played, as well as the Kings, Queens, and Heroes – a source of Georgian national pride.

9. Air Balloon Tbilisi

For a bird’s-eye view of Tbilisi, take the unforgettable air balloon ride. It’s not exactly a hot air balloon, but in fact a huge helium balloon that’s tethered to the ground.

After boarding, the winch slowly unrolls to allow the balloon to soar 150m into the sky. It offers incredible panoramic views of the city and a perfect chance to capture photos of the landscape below.

The balloon costs 55GEL (around $21) per person for a 15-minute flight and you buy the tickets at the small office right next to the balloon.

10. Boat Ride on the River Kura

A river cruise with a very large, vertical cliff with houses perched on top

Enjoy a relaxed boat ride along the meandering Kura River, which flows through the heart of Tbilisi. Heading north along the river will give you the chance to see the old town and its landmarks, heading south offers incredible views of the cliffs with buildings perched on top.

We took a private trip with TIVI Boat Tours, the boats carry a maximum of 6 people and costs:

  • 150GEL for 15 minutes
  • 300GEL for 30 minutes
  • 400GEL for 45 minutes

There are also many companies that offer group trips which are more affordable. You can find people selling tours near the Rike’s Park entrance closest to the balloon.

11. Kvarts – Coffee and a Portrait

People holding two paper coffee cups with portraits of a man and a woman drawn on them in front of an illuminated "Kvarts Coffee" sign

Enjoy a hot drink and some artwork at Kvarts, a unique coffee shop that combines the pleasures of a good cup of coffee with the creation of personalized cups. The portrait on your cup is included in the coffee price, but you can always tip the artist if you’d like.

They have a wide selection of plant-based milks and for the non-coffee drinkers, they also do a delicious hot chocolate.

12. Day Trips from Tbilisi

After you’ve seen the highlights of Tbilisi, extend your adventure beyond Georgia’s capital by exploring the surrounding regions.

Take day trips to destinations like the ancient cave city of Uplistsikhe, the picturesque town of Mtskheta, an historic adventure over the border to Armenia, or a longer trip to the imposing mountains of Gudauri and Kazbegi.

Here are some links to the day trips:

Mtskheta, Jvari, Gori and Uplistsikhe

Kazbegi and Gudauri

Armenia

A landscape shot of snowy mountains and a small town in the northern Caucasus region of Georgia

In the winter months we’d highly recommend a skiing trip to the charming slopes of Gudauri.

Vegan Eats in Tbilisi

We were pleasantly surprised with the number of vegan options in Tbilisi, including many fully vegan places.

Our favorite was a hole-in-the-wall pizza place called Daner Pizza. The owner has been making vegan pizzas for over 10 years and it shows! We’d recommend the pepperoni or pastrami pizzas.

For some sweet treats like donuts and cakes, you have to visit Stricha. They make all sorts of coffees with plant-based milk, and they do also offer savory food, but desserts are their specialty.

Kiwi Vegan Cafe is probably the highest rated vegan place in Tbilisi and for good reason. Their food is delicious and there’s a wide variety from burgers and tacos to pasta and noodles. If that’s not enough you can wash it down with one of their awesome smoothies.

Last but not least is the excellent Vegan Place which also offer a good range including buddha bowls, mac & cheese, and the first vegan Philly cheesesteak we’ve come across.

Where to Stay in Tbilisi

A panoramic shot of Tbilisi as the sun is setting

There’s no shortage of places to stay in Tbilisi, but the wide selection can make the choice overwhelming! The best area to stay is near the center of Old Tbilisi, close to Rustaveli Avenue. Here are some options to fit any budget:

Affordable – VovaDoma is in the perfect central location and at around $35 per night is incredibly good value for money.

Mid-range – Mukhrantubani Boutique Hotel also boasts a central location, and includes a fantastic breakfast, starting at just $75 per night.

Luxury – The most iconic hotel in Tbilisi has to be The Biltmore. A prominent feature of Tbilisi’s skyline, The Biltmore Hotel has an indoor pool, spa, gym, and even a casino! Rooms start at around $160, which is cheap by international standards, but the suites will set you back around $370.

Getting to Tbilisi

A girl standing looking out over Tbilisi from a viewpoint

Flying is the best way to get to Tbilisi, but unfortunately there aren’t great flight connections with Western Europe. There are direct flights from Amsterdam and Paris, but not daily, and there are currently no direct flights from London.

While this isn’t ideal for many people, it does provide the perfect excuse to visit Istanbul, since it has cheap, direct flights to Tbilisi multiple times a day as well as a vast number of flight connections around the world.

Getting Around Tbilisi

The Georgian parliament building in Tbilisi - A grand beige stone building with high arches

Getting around Tbilisi is extremely easy and affordable. Firstly, you can explore on foot as many of the landmarks are close to each other, and it allows you to explore the streets and soak in the atmosphere.

The easiest way to cover larger distances is by taxi on a ride-hailing app – we found Bolt to be the best for this. The taxis are ridiculously cheap, with most journeys around town costing $2-3.

There is also a good public transport system, but we didn’t end up using it due to the taxis being so cheap. You can use a contactless card to ride the buses and metros, or you can buy a “Metromoney Card” at any of the metro stations.

Helpful Links

Tbilisi FAQs

Is 3 days enough for Tbilisi?

Yes, three days is a reasonable amount of time to explore the main attractions of Tbilisi. You can visit key landmarks, experience the local culture, and indulge in Georgian cuisine within this timeframe.

What is Tbilisi famous for?

Tbilisi is famous for its unique blend of ancient and modern architecture, vibrant arts scene, historic sulfur baths, delicious wine, and warm Georgian hospitality.

Is Tbilisi cheap or expensive?

Tbilisi is very affordable for travelers. Accommodation, food, and transportation are among the cheapest in Europe.

Is English spoken in Tbilisi?

While Georgian is the official language, English is spoken in tourist areas, hotels, and restaurants. However, it’s helpful to learn a few basic Georgian phrases to enhance your experience.

Is Tbilisi safe?

Tbilisi is considered a safe destination for tourists. Like any city, it’s advisable to take basic precautions such as safeguarding belongings and being aware of your surroundings.

Is Tbilisi a walkable city?

Yes, Tbilisi is a walkable city, especially in the historic Old Town. Many of the main attractions, restaurants, and shops are within walking distance of each other.

How is Tbilisi pronounced?

Tbilisi is pronounced “Tuh-bee-lee-see.”

What is the religion of Tbilisi?

The predominant religion in Tbilisi is Orthodox Christianity. The Holy Trinity Cathedral (Sameba) is a significant religious site in the city.

Should you tip in Tbilisi?

Tipping is appreciated but not mandatory in Tbilisi. In restaurants, rounding up the bill or leaving a small tip is customary. Taxi drivers and hotel staff also appreciate small gratuities.

Is tap water drinkable in Tbilisi?

While the tap water in Tbilisi is generally safe, it’s advisable for tourists to drink bottled or filtered water to avoid any potential sensitivity to local water sources. Locals often drink tap water after boiling or using water filters.

12 Things to Do in Tbilisi – A Guide to Georgia’s Capital

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