Travel Guide Tbilisi

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This comprehensive travel guide Tbilisi Georgia will immerse you in this vibrant city known for its diverse architecture, historic sites, and rich cultural heritage, nestled along the banks of the Kura River.

Freedom Square, Tbilisi
Freedom Square, Tbilisi

Touring Tbilisi

A traveler’s diary through Tbilisi, the capitol city of the Republic of Georgia – what to see, do, and eat in Tbilisi’s Old Town Area and Freedom Square. This is part one of three guides to the Old Town area of Tbilisi. 

My husband and I had the trip of a lifetime recently- we first visited Krakow, Poland and then headed east to Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia, for his brother’s wedding. I won’t lie- I was hesitant to the idea of traveling to a country I knew nothing about and seemed so far. What I didn’t realize was how much I would fall in love with the country of Georgia!

The first day we did some brief touring around Freedom square on our way to meet up with our group to enjoy a traditional Supra at our friend’s home in Khashuri – a town just past the conflict zone of South Ossetia on the way west to Batumi.

You can read more about Georgian Supras (and see some of the photos from this day trip) here. As we headed back, we opted for an early night in since we were still mostly jetlagged- and then woke up the next day ready for our first day touring the city.

We saw these everywhere- they were so cute, and the coffee was great. They have espresso machines just riding in the back of the car! We also grabbed some khachapuri from a small shop whose tables were adorned with gorgeous lilac flowers. There are numerous small shops as you stroll through old town selling fresh baked bread and khachapuri.

We then decided to walk over towards the Sioni Cathedral to meet up with some friends, after first stopping by the Georgian National Museum to see the Communist Occupation Exhibit (photographs were sadly not allowed- the space is very moving and somber, and it is fantastic to experience without the urge to snap photographs- but so many of the stories we read are sadly missing in America.) Georgia is a very strong, very proud nation who has endured so much- and it was hard to keep it together as I wiped away tears watching a video that was taken on a truck or car driving through Tbilisi on the day of their independence. Seeing the pride and joy in the faces of Georgians proudly hoisting flags and cheering in the streets gave me goosebumps. I can only imagine the electricity of that day!

As we met up with our friends, we opted for a sampling lunch. We ordered up lots of Khachapuri (cheese bread, topped with an egg), Khinkali (dumplings that look like purses- carefully eaten to avoid spilling the soup inside- and Georgians do not eat the tops of the dumplings), calf shins, and dolmades- as well as some of the cafe’s house-made Sapaveri wine.

antique fresco
Fresco in the hallway of our apartment just off Freedom square

Where to Stay

Old Town (Altstadt)

  • Why: Immerse yourself in the historic heart of Tbilisi, with its charming cobblestone streets, traditional architecture, and close proximity to major landmarks like the Narikala Fortress and the Sulphur Baths.

Rustaveli Avenue

  • Why: Stay in the cultural and commercial hub of the city, offering easy access to museums, theaters, upscale shops, and a variety of restaurants, all set along this central and vibrant boulevard.

Vera

  • Why: Enjoy a blend of old and new in this trendy neighborhood, known for its stylish boutique hotels, cozy cafes, and artistic vibe, while being just a short walk from the bustling Rustaveli Avenue.
Cobblestone street in old town

Vake

  • Why: Experience a quieter, upscale residential area with beautiful parks, chic eateries, and a relaxed atmosphere, ideal for families or those seeking a more serene stay, yet still close to the city’s attractions.

Mtatsminda

  • Why: Stay on the scenic slopes of Mtatsminda Mountain for breathtaking views of the city, and enjoy proximity to the Mtatsminda Park, a popular spot for families with its amusement rides and panoramic vistas.

Sololaki

  • Why: Discover a neighborhood filled with historic charm and a bohemian spirit, offering boutique hotels in beautifully restored buildings, as well as close access to the Old Town and lively cafes and bars.

Saburtalo

  • Why: Opt for modern conveniences in this bustling district known for its contemporary hotels, shopping malls, and a wide variety of dining options, making it a practical choice for business travelers and those looking for modern amenities.

VRBO

  • Why: VRBO has a presence in Georgia! VRBO is an excellent choice for travelers seeking unique, home-like accommodations with the convenience of fully equipped spaces, personalized amenities, and often more cost-effective options than traditional hotels.
table set for a formal meal and food on the table

What to See Tbilisi

Explore the Old Town (Altstadt)

  • Why: Wander through narrow cobblestone streets, admire historic buildings, and visit landmarks like the Narikala Fortress and the sulfur baths for a rich cultural experience.

Visit the Tbilisi Sulfur Baths

  • Why: Relax and rejuvenate in the city’s famous thermal baths, known for their healing properties and unique architecture.

Stroll Along Rustaveli Avenue

  • Why: Enjoy the main thoroughfare of Tbilisi, lined with museums, theaters, shops, and cafes, offering a lively and cultural vibe.

Take a Cable Car to Narikala Fortress

  • Why: Get a panoramic view of the city and explore the ancient fortress, which provides a glimpse into Tbilisi’s historic defensive structures.

Discover the Holy Trinity Cathedral (Sameba)

  • Why: Visit one of the largest religious buildings in the world, known for its impressive architecture and stunning views over the city.
Flower vendors in a market

Wander through the Dry Bridge Market

  • Why: Browse this eclectic flea market for unique souvenirs, antiques, and artworks, offering a glimpse into local life and culture.

Explore Mtatsminda Park

  • Why: Enjoy family-friendly amusement rides, beautiful gardens, and spectacular views from this hilltop park.

Visit the Georgian National Museum

  • Why: Learn about Georgia’s rich history and culture through extensive exhibits, including ancient artifacts and contemporary art.

Walk Across the Bridge of Peace

  • Why: Admire the modern architecture of this pedestrian bridge, which offers great photo opportunities and connects the old and new parts of the city.

Sample Local Cuisine

  • Why: Delight in the flavors of traditional Georgian dishes such as khachapuri, khinkali, and pkhali, experiencing the country’s renowned hospitality and culinary heritage.
Flowers from a vendor

Visit the Open Air Museum of Ethnography

  • Why: Explore traditional Georgian houses and artifacts in this open-air museum, providing insight into the diverse cultural heritage of the region.

Take a Wine Tour

  • Why: Discover Georgia’s ancient winemaking traditions, sample local wines, and enjoy the scenic vineyards surrounding Tbilisi.

Georgian National Museum, Treasury and Soviet Occupation Exhibit

  • Why: Costs about $2-$3 per person. Cameras not allowed, and bags must be checked with a security guard. Plan plenty of time to view exhibit, as placards are displayed in English, Russian, Georgian and a few other languages- though we did not really enjoy the top floor of the Soviet Occupation Exhibit, which mostly showed documents and papers without English translation. 

Where to Eat

Khachapuri and flowers in the background

Shavi Lomi

  • Why: Experience modern Georgian cuisine with a creative twist in a cozy, artistic setting, known for its innovative dishes and vibrant atmosphere.

Cafe Littera

  • Why: Enjoy fine dining in the beautiful courtyard of a historic writers’ house, offering a refined menu and a unique ambiance.

Barbarestan

  • Why: Taste traditional Georgian recipes revived from a 19th-century cookbook, served in a charming, family-run restaurant with a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Culinarium Khasheria

  • Why: Savor contemporary Georgian dishes in a stylish, modern environment, known for its delicious khash soup and other local specialties.

Pasanauri

  • Why: Relish classic Georgian fare in a casual setting, famous for its khinkali (dumplings) and hearty meat dishes.
Khachapuri, sausages and dolmades at a cafe

Lolita

  • Why: Dine in a trendy, eclectic space with an extensive menu that combines Georgian flavors with international influences, perfect for a lively night out.

Machakhela

  • Why: Enjoy affordable, traditional Georgian food with a wide variety of options, including khachapuri and mtsvadi, in a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere.

Keto and Kote

  • Why: Delight in a unique blend of traditional and modern Georgian cuisine in a picturesque garden setting, offering a serene dining experience.

Ethno Tsiskvili

  • Why: Immerse yourself in Georgian culture with live folk music, dance performances, and an extensive menu of authentic dishes in a rustic, riverside location.
people getting espresso out of the back of a vw bug

Funicular Restaurant Complex

  • Why: Treat yourself to a luxurious dining experience with breathtaking views of Tbilisi, offering a diverse menu and an elegant setting atop Mtatsminda Mountain.

Azarphesha

  • Why: Discover organic and farm-to-table Georgian cuisine, paired with a carefully curated selection of natural wines in a cozy, intimate atmosphere.

Fabrika

  • Why: Explore a variety of international and local food options in this hip, multi-purpose space that includes a hostel, co-working area, and creative hub, perfect for a casual meal with friends.
Shop in old town with colorful textiles

Taste of Georgia at Home

Georgian people often enjoy hearty and flavorful dishes at home, such as khachapuri, a cheese-filled bread, and khinkali, savory dumplings filled with spiced meat or vegetables. Meals are typically accompanied by fresh salads, homemade pickles, and traditional sauces like tkemali (sour plum sauce), showcasing the rich and diverse flavors of Georgian cuisine.

See these Georgia travel posts:

stone churches and red tiled roofs

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About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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1 Comment

  1. Amy Anderson says:

    This trip is super cool! Never heard of this city but I’d LOVE to go – if not to just visit that awesome espresso bar in the back of the car ;D