The fact that just 3 years before Georgia was in the news all over the world due to the war with Russia didn’t really help my confidence. But the curiosity and excitement has taken over and after seeing some Tbilisi pictures online I was more than ready to explore Georgia, a small country at the foot of Caucasus mountains.
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First impressions of Tbilisi
It was love at first sight.
I still remember my first impressions very well: how I didn’t have the change to get myself a bus ticket from the airport to the city but a friendly local man bought it for me, just like that; how on a beautiful Sunday morning I was walking across the empty city, all the way from the train station to the old town (some 5 kms), falling for it with every single step; how my breath was taken away by the view from the Narikala fortress, with the whole city spreading in front of me, so much more spectacular than on Tbilisi pictures; how much joy I had exploring the hidden yards in the Old Tbilisi – part of the city that could as well be the museum, it’s so beautiful!
I was supposed to be in Tbilisi for 2-3 days only then, instead I’ve stayed for a week before heading to Batumi, doing day trips around but always itching to return to the capital. It was pretty obvious Tbilisi has become one of my all time favorite places.
Old Tbilisi disappointment
I return after a long time (for me), it’s been almost 4 years. So much has changed in that time. Low cost airlines started flying to Georgia (not to Tbilisi though), the border was opened to Russian citizens and tourism really has taken off in Georgia. I had a hard time adjusting to the new reality, it broke my heart to see how the Old Tbilisi was falling apart, how it was losing its charm to satisfy tourists. I still loved it but at the same time I had a difficult time finding all the small details and spots that made me fall for Tbilisi in the first place.
Many more returns to Tbilisi
My next visits to Tbilisi, and there were pretty of them by now, were much easier. I already knew what to expect but at the same time it seems like Old Tbilisi is finally going through some renovations and I really hope its unique beautiful architecture and charm can be saved.
Every time I arrive to Tbilisi, either from Kutaisi or from Armenia, I feel a pure joy in my heart. This is my happy place, the one I know fairly well by now yet still keep returning to.
My days in Tbilisi all look the same: wandering around with no purpose, trying to find some new gems (like art nouveau architecture, street art or some new beautiful courtyards), stuffing myself with amazing Georgian food at Racha, having the coffee in one of the charming cafes, wander some more… And even if I know all the places by now, even if I’ve been to Tbilisi so many times every second in the city just makes me super happy. This really is one of my places.
I know this post is very random but since right now I was supposed to be in Georgia (but I’m not, instead going there next month) I thought I will share my love for Tbilisi. I really can’t wait to be there again and I know I will keep returning there on regular basis, just like I do to Prague, Yerevan, Sarajevo or Lviv (only to name few places).
To show you why I like this city so much here are some Tbilisi pictures you might enjoy too, the collections from my numerous visits there between 2011 and 2016 (if you are observant enough you will see how much the city has changed). And who knows, maybe they will make you want to visit Tbilisi too?
Metekhi St. Virgin Church
Europe Square and Presidential Palace
Tbilisi St. Trinity Cathedral
Streets of Old Tbilisi
Europe Square and Peace Bridge
Mix of styles in Old Tbilsi
Inside Old Tbilisi house
Along river Kura
Tbilisi art nouveau
Bambis Rigi Street
St. Trinity Cathedral and typical Tbilisi architecture
Erekle II street / Sergei Parajanov Monument
Tbilisi by night
Old Tbilisi and Mother Georgia
Old Tbilisi and Narikala Fortress
View from Narikala Fortress
Old and modern Tbilisi
Inside Upper Betlemi Church
The CouchSurfing house I’ve stayed at
Rezo Gabriadze Marionette Theater
Flea market at Dry Bridge
Bank of Georgia headquarters – the gem of brutalism architecture
Old Tbilisi and Narikala Fortress
Streets of Tbilisi
Another house where I’ve stayed
Tbilisi street art
Tbilisi by night
Tbilisi practical information
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How to get to Tbilisi?
The first time I visited Tbilisi I flew directly from Warsaw with LOT Polish Airlines. They often have good deals so it’s worth checking them out. For past few years low cost airlines also fly to Georgia, to Kutaisi which is some 4 hours away from Tbilisi (but the connections from the airport to the capital are a piece of cake, there is no way you can get lost as everything is organized perfectly at Kutaisi airport).
The cheapest ticket I had was for 20€ for Berlin-Kutaisi return flight. It’s best to check out the deals on SkyScanner (click!) – that’s where I always look for flights too (I especially love their „everywhere” and „anytime” options!).
Where to stay in Tbilisi?
By now I have a favorite street where I always look for accommodation – Tabidze street. It forks off Freedom Square, is only few minutes away from the metro station and in the heart of the Old Tbilisi. Also it’s just few steps away to Racha – the best restaurant you will find in Tbilisi.
Recently I’ve found the most perfect apartament there – Daniel’s Apartment. It had literally everything you might need (including toys for kids, umbrellas or sewing kit), the location couldn’t be better and I know in future I won’t need to look for any other place to stay in Tbilisi, this one is just the top choice! Also when my flight was 24 hours delayed the owners rebooked my stay easily without any extra fees! Check out the prices and more details of Daniel’s Apartment here!
There are over 2000 accommodation options in Tbilisi so I’m sure everyone will find something for themselves. Check the best deals here!
Where to eat in Tbilisi?
First of all – Georgian food is to die for! It’s one of the reasons why I keep returning there, really!
In Tbilisi the best place to get authentic, delicious and crazy cheap food is Racha – a low-profile restaurant where you sit at the small stool, the menu is on the loose printed pages and the smell of the dishes fills the place. You can find it at the corner of Lermontov and Dadiani streets.
Another good option is Machakhela, opened 24/7 in few location (at Freedom Square and in front of Metekhi Bridge are the most popular ones).
My personal favourite guide to Georgia is by Bradt. They are the best when covering off the path destinations. Click here to read more about the book and check the prices!
I always read a lot about the destination I’m visiting to find out about the history, culture and customs. Georgia is still not widely covered but there are some books you might find interesting: (click on each link to read more!)
- The Caucasus: An Introduction
- Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia
- The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus
- The Georgian Feast: The Vibrant Culture and Savory Food of the Republic of Georgia
- Bread and Ashes: A Walk Through the Mountains of Georgia
Don’t travel without a travel insurance! I’ve learnt my lesson that you never know what might happen and I don’t leave the house without being insured. Click here for more info and best rates on travel insurance at World Nomads!
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