Top Things To Do In Tbilisi, Georgia
Written by Jorge & Claudia from Couple RTW
Tbilisi, the capital and biggest city of Georgia, it is surrounded by mountains and is bathed by the Kura River.
It is one of several fascinating ancient towns you can explore in the Caucasus, another great example is Xinaliq in Azerbaijan. The city’s location between Europe and Asia made it an important trade city for centuries. Due to this strategic position, it was under the domain of the Romans, Arabs, Mongols, Iranians, and Russians. As a result, the capital of Georgia has a diverse multi-culture and is influenced by different styles.
Tbilisi is a vibrant city with 1.1 million inhabitants and although being a big city, it has a vibe of a “small” medieval town. (Another fun Georgian city to visit is Batumi, the country’s seaside resort.) The city makes us feel like we are in a mystical book.
Top Things To Do In Tbilisi
You should undoubtedly visit Tbilisi, especially now before it becomes very touristy. If you do decide to visit the city, consider going in spring. It’s one of Eastern Europe’s greatest spring destinations. Here are our top picks for what to see and do in Tbilis.
Wander Around The Old Town
It is very easy to “get lost” strolling the streets of Tbilisi and uncover the different styles spread through the city’s architecture, Medieval, Neoclassical, Art Nouveau, Stalin, and Modern.
While wandering around the city you will discover plenty of Orthodox churches, old buildings with charming balconies, statues and vintage cars. Plus, cute shops and food stalls that will make you want to buy everything. In Georgia, everything is pretty cheap.
Don’t forget to check out the clock tower in the old town and watch a puppet show each time the hour strikes.
Climb Up To The Narikala Fortress
The Narikala Fortress is a fortification surrounding part of the city built in the 4th century by the Persians. While at this Tbilisi attraction you can see where portions of the walls were destroyed due to an earthquake. However, it still has a big extension of the walls and it is well preserved considering its age.
You can explore the fortress and walk on its walls, for this, you need to take a cable car from Ride Park. Or if you are fit enough walk up from Maiden. The cable car is quite cheap so it is well worth it, besides that the ride to the top is very scenic uncovering the city landscape.
Above the Narikala Fortress, there’s is an impressive 20-meter statue of Kartlis Deda (Mother of Georgia) overlooking the city. The statue symbolizes the Georgian National character. By the statue exists a viewing point and several food stalls with fresh fruit. It’s very pleasant to chill out high above the city.
The fortress and the Statue Kartlis Deda give the city a mythical aspect. The view from above is simply amazing, making it our top attraction of Tiblisi.
The National botanical garden of Georgia is situated on the southern side of the Narikala Fortress. The botanical garden has 161 hectares, so it has a big area to explore and requires plenty of walking to see its diverse collection of plants.
The park is a great place to relax, appreciate nature and good for children to play. One of the cooler futures of the park is a waterfall and a lake.
If you like radical adventures you can do the zip-line from the Narikala Fortress down to the botanic garden. This zip-line is 270 mt long and 30 mt high – a guaranteed adrenaline rush will hit you as you descend.
Travel Tip: To go to the botanic garden you will need to climb plenty of stairs and walk a lot to explore them, so it may be unsuitable for kids and the elderly.
Catch A Funicular And Go To The Mtatsminda Park
Mtatsminda park, also known as Bombora park, is an amusement park on top of Mount Mtatsminda. The park has a giant Ferris wheel, children’s rides, a ghost house, water slides, a roller coaster, bumper cars, and carousels – making it the top choice of things to do with kids in Tbilisi.
Besides the amusement park, Mtatsminda park is a good place to walk and contemplate the landscape of Tbilisi.
Or a more low key sight would be to just enjoy lunch or a coffee in one of the plenty coffee shops that exist at the top.
The best way to go to Mtastsminda park is catching a funicular in Chonkadze Street – making it the second most fun thing to do in Tbilisi with kids!!
Travel Tip: Note that the park is free, you only pay for the rides you wish to do.
Holy Trinity Church
The Holy Trinity church is the largest Orthodox church in Georgia, at 101 mt high, and is the 3rd tallest Eastern Orthodox Cathedral in the world. Although the church seems older it was only constructed in 2004.
The exterior part of the church has a garden with fountains and even a swimming pool where children can refresh themselves.
Be aware that to enter into the Holy Trinity church or any other church in Georgia, you kneed to respect their dress code. Women have to cover the hair with a scarf and use a skirt, you can use a scarf as a skirt. Also, men have to wear pants.
Cross The Peace Bridge And Relax In Ride Park
The Ride park is a pleasant park along the riverbanks of the river Kura. It is a place to relax, for kids to play and to enjoy the views of the old town, the fortress and the Statue of Mother Georgia. It is especially beautiful at night with everything illuminated.
The park has several paths, pools, fountains and plenty of places to sit. It also has 2 futuristic metallic tubes, where are a concert hall and an exhibition center. They give a contemporary look to the old town.
One of the most eye-catching aspects of the park and the city is the Peace Bridge. This footbridge made of glass and steel it is very Avant-garde. At night it illuminates with different colors and sequences. It is pretty fun just walking on the bridge at night and watching the color change suddenly as people activate motion sensors on the bridge.
Tbilisi was built on top of a thermal spring, thus its name in Georgian, warm place. Therefore, Sulfur Baths have a long tradition in Tbilisi. People gather to have a scrub and do their gossip in the public baths, besides taking advantage of the therapeutic qualities of the sulfur baths.
Most of the sulfur baths are in the Abanotubani district, that is is underneath the Narikala fortress. When you find the dome brick roofs of the subterranean baths, you know that you are in the right place. There is a wide range of sulfur baths some more luxurious, others more mainstream, with private rooms or public bathhouses.
Having a bath in a sulfur bath is decidedly an experience you should do. You can rent a private room for just 55 Lari or a more luxurious for 120 Lari for 1 hour. The private rooms include a deep pool of hot sulfur water with a marble slab for massages, private toilet with a shower and the more expensive rooms have a sauna.
Part of the experience is doing a massage/scrub for 10 Lari. During 15 min your whole body gets scrubbed and cleansing. All the dead skin of your body will be washed off with hot sulfur water and in the end, a vigorous massage will make you feel a new person.
If you want to save money you should bring your soap and towel, and a plastic bag to keep your wet clothes.
How To Get From Tbilisi Airport To The City Center
It is very easy to get from the Airport to Tbilisi and vice-versa. You have 2 options: catch a taxi or catch the bus N37. The bus runs 24h it passes every 30 min (roughly) and is incredibly cheap (0,5 Lari).
Tbilisi has huge touristic potential, a considerable part of the buildings are still partly destroyed but as Georgia starts prospering and the buildings are rehabilitated the city will become even more amazing.
The downside of the city is the incredible amount of old people begging which is very sad and heartbreaking.
We hope we convinced you to visit Tbilisi and relish with the best the city has to offer. Tell us, what will be on the top of your list of things to do in Tbilisi?