Tbilisi is the vibrant capital of Georgia, located between the mighty Caucasus Mountains and the picturesque Kura River. Travellers worldwide flock to this city for its old architecture, kind hospitality, and delicious food.
This article will discover the hidden gems that make Tbilisi an exceptional travel destination. With countless attractions waiting for you to explore, your journey promises unforgettable memories. So, pack your backpack and dive into the best things to do in Tbilisi!
1. Explore the Old Town
No trip to Georgia will be complete without visiting the cobblestone streets of Tbilisi's Old Town, also known as the "Altstadt”. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a treasure trove of historical landmarks, narrow alleyways, and charming courtyards.
As you stroll through the Old Town, you will encounter architectural wonders that showcase the city's diverse influences, including Persian, Byzantine, and Russian.
Among the best things to do in Tbilisi, don't miss visiting the Anchiskhati Basilica. Its construction dates back to the 6th century, during the reign of King Dachi of Iberia. However, the church has undergone various renovations and alterations over the centuries. The name "Anchiskhati" is derived from the Georgian word "anchiskhati," meaning "icon."
The architectural style of the basilica features a central dome supported by four columns and a rectangular layout with three apses. The church's interior is adorned with frescoes and icons dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, the basilica continues to be an active place of worship and a popular tourist attraction, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Georgia.
2. Take a Cable Car Ride to the Narikala Fortress
Curious about the breathtaking panoramic view of the city? How about hopping on a cable car and ascending to the Narikala Fortress? This unique activity is always known as one of the best things to do in Tbilisi!
The cable car provides a bird's-eye view of the city as you glide above the picturesque rooftops and the meandering Kura River. In terms of the price of the cable car ride, it's relatively affordable, which only costs you $0.35 per ride.
Built in the 4th century AD by the Persians, the fortress played an important role in defence of Tbilisi. It has been the site of many battles and sieges over the centuries.
Now, let's talk about the iconic Mother Georgia statue. Standing tall at the fortress's entrance, this impressive monument symbolises Georgian resilience and hospitality. The statue depicts a woman holding a sword in one hand, representing protection, and a bowl of wine in the other, symbolising the warm hospitality that awaits visitors to Georgia.
Finally, let's not forget about the beautiful staircase. Just outside the fortress, a stunning staircase descends towards the city. Its intricate design and vibrant colours are a perfect backdrop for those Instagram-worthy shots.
3. Discover the Peace Bridge
Are you excited to discover the captivating allure of Tbilisi? Begin your adventure by crossing the Kura River on the enchanting Peace Bridge. As you set foot on the bridge's elegant design, be prepared to be utterly enthralled.
From this vantage point, you also catch a glimpse of Narikala Fortress and the towering Tbilisi Tower. And there, in the distance, you will spot the Presidential Palace, a symbol of regal.
When night falls, the Peace Bridge in Tbilisi comes alive with vibrant LED lights, creating a captivating spectacle of colours. Photography enthusiasts will be thrilled by the opportunity to capture the essence of modern Tbilisi against this dazzling backdrop.
After admiring the bridge, why not venture down to the Kura River for a boat ride? From £12, you can hop aboard a boat and cruise along the tranquil waters while enjoying some local wine.
As you meander along, you might spot quaint cafes, vibrant street art, or locals engaged in recreational activities by the water's edge. These unexpected moments add to the charm and authenticity of your boat ride experience.
Once you're back on land, make your way to Rike Park, located near the Peace Bridge. Then, take a leisurely walk along the park's winding paths, enjoy the shade of lush trees, and find a cosy spot for a picnic.
4. Indulge in Georgian Cuisine
Searching for the best things to do in Tbilisi? You can't miss trying its food! Georgian cuisine is indeed a delightful culinary experience, and Khachapuri is a must-try dish when visiting here.
This traditional Georgian cheese bread is beloved by locals and visitors alike. Its unique combination of flavours and textures makes it a true delight for the taste buds. There are several regional variations of Khachapuri in Georgia. The most famous ones include Adjarian Khachapuri and Imeretian Khachapuri.
Adjarian Khachapuri is named after the Adjara region and is shaped like an open boat. It is filled with cheese, butter, and a raw egg that is cracked on top just before serving. The hot cheese lightly cooks the egg, creating a luscious and indulgent dish.
Imeretian Khachapuri, on the other hand, is named after the Imereti region and is round or rectangular in shape. It features a generous amount of cheese as the filling and is often served with a pat of butter on top.
Apart from Khachapuri, Georgian cuisine offers a plethora of other mouthwatering dishes. Some notable examples include khinkali, satsivi, mtsvadi, and lobio.
5. Bathe in the Sulphur Baths
Tbilisi means “the warm place”. And this is no surprise, given the sheer amount of hot springs dotted around the destination. When the weather is cold around October to March, dipping your toes into one of the dozen bathhouses is a blissful experience.
Relaxing in famous sulphur baths has long been recommended as one of the best things to do in Tbilisi! Nestled in the enchanting Old Town, the baths provide a serene and tranquil oasis away from the bustling city streets.
The thermal waters, rich in minerals and renowned for their healing properties, await your arrival. Each bathhouse in Tbilisi carries its unique charm, offering various options to suit different preferences.
CabinZero’s tip: To nude or not to nude. Remember, the sulphur bath etiquette is different to those in Istanbul or Budapest. So wear swimwear, bikinis or a trunk.
For an opulent and luxurious experience, the Royal Baths are an elegant choice, offering a world of regal pampering. Alternatively, the rustic charm of the Abanotubani neighbourhood bathhouses provides an authentic and down-to-earth ambience that adds to the cultural experience.
6. Visit the Georgian National Museum
Exploring the region's rich history is a must-do for any tourist visiting Tbilisi, and the Georgian National Museum is the perfect place to start. The remarkable institution was established in 2004 by merging ten museums. The entry fee is 30 GEL for adults and 15 GEL for students with an ID for verification.
One of the museum's must-see exhibits is the Stone Age Georgia, which displays the remains of some of the earliest human ancestors discovered in Eurasia.
These fossils, over 1.8 million years old, provide valuable insights into the evolution of early humans and are a must-see for anyone interested in anthropology or the history of human development.
In another fascinating section, you'll come across a treasure trove of coins from ancient times at the Numismatic Treasury Hall. The coins date all the way back to the 6th century BC! They speak volumes about the country's welcoming spirit, showcasing how Georgia embraced connections with other nations and cultures.
7. Explore the Mtatsminda Park
Mtatsminda Park is a popular amusement park located on a namesake mountain. It is approximately 770 metres (2,530 feet) above sea level and about 2 kilometres from Tbilisi centre.
Take bus 124 or 90 from the Rustaveli metro station to get to the park if you prefer to avoid driving. Bus travel is inexpensive and takes around 25-30 minutes.
You can also use the funicular, the stairs, or the hiking trail and expect to spend approximately an hour getting to the peak. However, be prepared for a steep climb, especially in the summer when the weather can be hot and humid.
Plan your visit between its opening hours, from 12 AM to 11 PM. The park covers a large area and features a variety of attractions and entertainment options for visitors of all ages. It is known for its thrilling rides, Ferris wheels, carousels, and bumper cars.
Don’t forget to try the best thing to do in Tbilisi - take the Sky Wheel, a giant Ferris wheel standing at 65 metres (213 feet). It is one of the park's iconic attractions and offers breathtaking views from the top.
8. Climb the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi
Climbing the Holy Trinity Cathedral, also known as Sameba Cathedral, is the best thing to do in Tbilisi. The journey provides an opportunity to admire one of the largest Eastern Orthodox churches in the world.
Located on Elia Hill in Tbilisi on the foundation of the destroyed Armenian church, Sameba Cathedral stands tall as a symbol of Georgia's spiritual and cultural identity. It took almost a decade to build the Orthodox cathedral (1995-2004) with the collective effort of many Georgians (including the help of wealthy and private Tbilisi donors).
Sameba Cathedral was the only large-scale project completed days after Georgia’s self-declared independence. It’s a symbol of “hope” for the Tbilisians in the dark time when the country was unstable and wrecked with civil wars after the collapse of the USSR.
The cathedral's exterior combines traditional Georgian and Byzantine architectural elements, with its distinctive golden dome visible from afar. In fact, the almost 100m high architecture can be seen from virtually any part of the city, even though it’s on the left bank of the Mtkvari River.
CabinZero tips: Just like anywhere, you should dress modestly. That means you should wear anything that covers your shoulders and knees. Women need to cover their hair or wear knee-covering skirts. Luckily, there are headscarves for you to use at almost every Tbilisi church.
9. Explore National Botanical Garden of Georgia
Let us guide you about the National Botanical Garden - an absolute gem that should be at the top of your must-visit list in Tbilisi! It was first described as a royal garden in 1625.
Surviving various challenges, including a Persian invasion in 1795, the garden was restored and officially established as the Tiflis Botanical Garden in 1845.
A must-visit area here is the Rhododendron Grove. The explosion of colours during the flowering season is simply breathtaking. You'll be surrounded by vibrant rhododendron blooms in every shade imaginable.
Next up, the Japanese Garden. Picture a tranquil oasis with serene ponds, cherry blossoms in full bloom, and peaceful Zen gardens. It's the perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and find your Zen.
Oh, and don't miss the Children's Greenhouse if you travel with little ones. It's an interactive paradise for them to learn about plants, engage in educational activities, and have a blast exploring the wonders of nature.
And let's not forget the picturesque waterfall and cascade. The flowing water sounds create a serene ambience, perfect for relaxation and contemplation.
Looking for an exciting activity for your inner adventurer? Try the zip line for a picturesque view from above. It won’t hold a world record by any means, but it’s still adventurous enough with a little bit of sensation of swooshing over treetops. We recommend visiting this place after taking a cable ride to Narikala Fortress and the Mother of Georgia.
CabinZero’s tips: The heat is unbearable, and there is no shade, so a visit in late May or the summer may not be the best idea.
10. Visiting Love Lock Bridge
Visiting Love Lock Bridge in Tbilisi is always one of the best things to do in Tbilisi for couples. Located near the famous Bridge of Peace, it is a romantic and symbolic attraction that allows couples to express their love and commitment.
The bridge is adorned with countless locks, each representing a special bond and a declaration of everlasting love. It's a picturesque sight, with the glimmering locks creating a colourful tapestry against the backdrop of Tbilisi's stunning skyline.
It's a heartfelt tradition that adds more significance to your time in Tbilisi. Take a moment to witness the expressions of love encapsulated in each lock, reflecting the universal longing for lasting affection and unity.
Or, as a true romantic, why not surprise your other half with a meticulously planned trip to this beautiful destination as a secret Valentine's gift? It is hard to imagine a gesture more enchanting and heartfelt than this.
Practical Tips That You Should Note
The city is known for its late mornings. Many restaurants and museums open at 10 or 11 AM. However, there's no need to worry if your accommodation doesn't provide breakfast! Tbilisi has a vibrant café culture with plenty of options to kickstart your day. Here's a list of friendly cafes that open daily:
Moreover, Tbilisi's public transportation is reliable and easy to use. The system now has new minivans and routes.
As of May 2022, buses in Tbilisi no longer have coin machines. Instead, you'll need to purchase one of two rechargeable transport cards: the white MetroMoney Card for single journeys or the blue Travel Card for frequent use.
The latter is a cost-effective choice, which lets you buy a 20-ride daily, weekly, or monthly unlimited pass. You can purchase both cards for 2 GEL at the cash desk inside any metro station.
Dive Deep Into The Heart of Georgia
Tbilisi is a captivating city that leaves a lasting impression on all who visit. Its rich history, mouth-watering cuisine, and stunning landscapes make it an unforgettable destination.
So, pack your favourite camera backpack and get ready to explore the best things to do in Tbilisi. Embark on your extraordinary journey now, and let the city enchant you!
After your epic trip, we would love to hear about your experience. Please return to this post and comment to share your thoughts with us. Thank you for reading!