Tbilisi, Georgia is like a magnet to me. After visiting the city around 20 times I keep returning there over and over again. Every time I see a good offer I book tickets to Georgia and visit Tbilisi one more time.
Usually, I’m there at least once a year and it never gets boring. Quite the contrary actually – the more time I visit Tbilisi, the more fascinating and interesting the city seems to be and I leave the place with a heavy heart but also knowing I will be back eventually.
Altogether I must have spent a few months in Tbilisi and sometimes I feel I know the city better than Warsaw, where I live.
And so today I’m happy to share with you the list of all the best and my favorite things to do in Tbilisi. Some of them are rather popular, other unique, or weird but all together they are the reason why I adore Tbilisi so much. I’m sure you will enjoy it too!
Table of contents
- 1 Why visit Tbilisi
- 2 How much time do you need for visiting Tbilisi
- 3 Where to stay in Tbilisi
- 4 How to get around Tbilisi
- 5 Things to do in Tbilisi
- 5.1 Fall for the Old Tibilisi and get lost in the backstreets
- 5.2 Discover hidden gems of Old Tbilisi
- 5.3 Visit Old Churches
- 5.4 Say hello to Parajanov
- 5.5 Get bread from the underground bakery
- 5.6 Take the cable car to meet Mother Georgia and see the amazing view of Tbilisi
- 5.7 Visit Narikala fortress
- 5.8 Visit the baths
- 5.9 Enjoy the botanical garden
- 5.10 Visit Rike Park
- 5.11 Find the Tbilisi leaning tower
- 5.12 Eat lunch in Racha
- 5.13 Walk down Rustaveli Avenue
- 5.14 Visit museums
- 5.15 Shop at Dry Bridge
- 5.16 Find amazing street art
- 5.17 Take funicular to Mtatsminda Park
- 5.18 Find the old abandoned cable car station
- 5.19 Walk along pedestrian David Aghmashenebeli Avenue
- 5.20 Shop at the Dezerter Bazaar
- 5.21 Visit the old sewing factory turned into the major alternative hub
- 5.22 Discover amazing art-nouveau architecture
- 5.23 Fall in love with Soviet architecture
- 5.24 Enjoy the thriving cafe scene
- 5.25 Go for day trips from Tbilisi
- 5.26 Fall in love with Georgian food
- 5.27 Try famous Georgian drinks
- 5.28 Discover modern architecture in Tbilisi
- 5.29 Relax in the Vake Park
- 5.30 Visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral
- 5.31 Find two synagogues
- 5.32 Party in Bassiani
- 5.33 Take beautiful pictures
- 5.34 Find the historic Armenian belltower
- 5.35 Ride the metro
- 5.36 Admire beautiful Soviet mosaics and bas-reliefs
- 5.37 Visit Chronicle of Georgia monument
- 5.38 Visit Metekhi Church
- 5.39 See Tbilisi from another angle
- 5.40 See the beautiful Jumah Mosque
- 5.41 Stop at Liberty Square
- 5.42 Explore area near Marjanishvili metro station
- 5.43 Take a picture with Tamada
- 5.44 Shop for books about Georgia and the Caucasus region
- 5.45 Visit Stalin’s printing house
- 5.46 Visit the National Library of Georgia
- 5.47 Find amazing interiors
- 5.48 Wander the back streets near Rustaveli Avenue
- 5.49 Find Lech Kaczyński’s statue
- 6 Final thoughts on visiting Tbilisi
- 7 Further reading
- 8 Travel Resources
Why visit Tbilisi
But before talking about Tbilisi attractions let me tell you why you should visit Tbilisi in the first place.
One of my favorite things about Tbilisi is how diverse the city is. Most of the tourists focus only on the old part of the city and Tbilisi highlights but there is so much more to see and do there.
Not only you will find centuries-old churches, the fortress or charming corners in the Old Town, Tbilisi has also some spectacular art-nouveau or brutalist buildings, great food and cafe scene and some cool, funky places. There is definitely so much more to Tbilisi than it seems at first!
How much time do you need for visiting Tbilisi
I personally believe 2 days is a minimum for getting to know Tbilisi even a bit. You would need one day for the Old Tbilisi and another one for beyond – and that would be only scratching the surface of the city. You will see how many great things to do in Tbilisi you can enjoy!
Where to stay in Tbilisi
Tbilisi is one of those places with affordable and beautiful places to stay in. You can splurge a bit here and you will get excellent quality for a very good price.
My favorite area to stay is near Liberty Square, especially at and near Tabidze street. You will be close to both Old Tbilisi and Rustaveli Avenue, with public transport accessible nearby. Here are of the recommended places to stay there:
- Hotel Flower (9.5/10 on Booking) – I loved this place! The hotel is really good but what makes it very special is the exceptional view from the rooms!
- Writers’ House Residency (9,3/10 on Booking) – located in the beautiful historical house with stunning interiors.
- ibis Styles Tbilisi Center (9,2/10 on Booking)
Another area where I stayed recently was near Rustaveli metro station. Again, a great location with plenty of public transport nearby. Here are a few recommended places to stay there:
- Stay Boutique Hotel (9,8/10 on Booking) – I loved everything about this place! Beautiful and spacious room, delicious breakfast and super friendly owners.
- Stamba Hotel (9,5/10 on Booking) – a bit upscale but those interiors!
- Bricks Room Hotel (9,7/10 on Booking) – perfect location, nice interiors, affordable prices
And then there is always Fabrika Hostel (9,0/10 on Booking) in the former sewing factory – the iconic place to stay in.
There are also many private apartments, guest houses, hotels and hostels – you can browse through the Tbilisi accommodation here.
How to get around Tbilisi
Tbilisi has great public transport and you can use it to get more or less everywhere in Tbilisi. You only need a special card that you can get at metro stations – you add any amount you want to it and you can use it in metro, buses, and minibusses.
You can read more about using public transport as well as other travel tips in Tbilisi here.
Things to do in Tbilisi
Below you can find my curated list of best things to do in Tbilisi, in no particular order. It took me many years and visits to finally put it together but this way you don’t need to look for the overview of Tbilisi attractions anywhere else – you will find all the best Tbilisi activities here!
Fall for the Old Tibilisi and get lost in the backstreets
Old Tbilisi is where you should start your sightseeing. The maze of winding streets will make you fall in love with the place right away. It’s easy to get lost in the backstreets but that’s part of the fun when visiting Old Tbilisi.
Some of the streets and houses are a bit rundown and desperately need the renovation but they are part of the charm of the place. Others, already renovated, can give you the impression of how the place used to look like in its glory time.
When I returned to Tbilisi after two years break I was disappointed with Old Tbilisi and how neglected its backstreets felt whereas parallel streets were full of tourists. Now things have improved greatly. Even after renovations, Old Tbilisi managed to keep its undeniable charm.
While wandering around the old part of the city is already a great experience randomly findings some of its gems ads up to the fun. And you might be surprised how many wonders you will find there – beautiful old houses, hidden cafes or bakeries, street art and more – I’m not going to spoil the fun, you will have to find them yourself.
Be sure to enter the yards as you will find some of the most authentic spots there – the so-called Italian yards are the soul of Old Tbilisi! The houses with the balconies, some of them carved with details, are just the prettiest!
If you see the open door to the house’s staircase try to peek inside too (but remember to be respectful to the residents!). Inside you can find some beautiful tiles on the floor, funky shaped staircase or paintings on the wall. Old Tbilisi really is full of surprises!
The biggest attraction that is not so hidden anymore is the colorful glass house – you will spot it right away at the corner of Lado Asatiani and Betlemi streets (it’s a bit further into the second one). This is the perfect example of beautiful houses you can find in Old Tbilisi and the stained glass window on the staircase is incredible. Try to be here in the morning to see the light playing with the colors!
Visit Old Churches
Did you know that Georgia is one of the first countries that introduced Christianity as the official religion, in the 4th century (only Armenia and Ethiopia declared it before)? That’s why you will find some amazing old churches in Tbilisi, especially in the old part of the city.
Georgian churches are different than what you are used to – they have a distinctive shape and inside are usually a bit dark and with some amazing decorations, especially paintings. There is a very strict modest dress code that you need to follow before entering the church (that applies to women mostly but don’t worry, there are always scarfs and skirts available to wear).
The most impressive church you can visit is Tbilisi Sioni Cathedral from the 6th century (until 2004 it was the main seat of Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgian) but other churches worth seeing in the Old Town are Jvaris Mama Church, Lower Betlemi Church and Saint George’s Armenian Cathedral. There are even more interesting and beautiful churches beyond Old Tbilisi!
Say hello to Parajanov
Sergei Parajanov was a well known Soviet filmmaker and artist who died in 1990. Although he was of Armenian origins he was born in Tbilisi and has spent a big part of his life in the city.
In the Old part of the city, at 8 Bambis Rigi street, you can find his cheerful monument. Parajanov looks like he is flying – that’s a reference to probably his most popular picture taken on the streets of Tbilisi.
This is such a great tribute to this free-spirited artist. Be sure to stop by the monument, it will make you smile for sure!
Get bread from the underground bakery
Georgian bread is to die for and the best place to get it is from a local bakery.
Next to the Sioni Cathedral, you can find a real hidden gem of Tbilisi – the underground bakery. The sign pointing to the place is in Georgian only but you will be lead by a smell of the freshly baked bread – just follow your nose and you will find the place.
Inside you can see how the Georgian bread is made in the special stoves and you can some delicious goodies – bread, khachapuri (typical Georgian pastry filled with cheese) or lobio (pastry with beans). Everything is made on spot and often still warm.
Take the cable car to meet Mother Georgia and see the amazing view of Tbilisi
Tbilisi has some great photo spots but the best one is from the upper station of the cable car. The journey itself is a thrilling experience as you go above the rooftops of Old Tbilisi (you can use your public transport card to go for a cable car ride). Once on top, you can admire a beautiful panorama of the city with most of Tbilisi highlights right in front of you.
A few steps away from the cable car station you can find Kartlis Deda – Mother Georgia statue. In the Soviet times, the statues of the mother were a popular addition to the city’s skyline – you can find them also in Yerevan (Armenia), Kyiv (Ukraine), or Volgograd (Russia) but the one in Tbilisi is definitely the nicest one.
It was erected in 1958 to celebrate the 1500th anniversary of the city. The monument is the symbol of the Georgian character – the statue holds a bowl of wine in one hand (for friends) and a sword in another (to fight the enemies). You can spot Mother Georgia from many places in the city but only from the close up she looks really impressive.
Visit Narikala fortress
Once you are at the upper cable car station walk in the opposite direction of Mother Georgia to reach Narikala Fortress. The first fort was built in this place already in the 4th century with further expansions – what you can see now dates mostly to the 16th-17th century.
At the fortress, you can visit St Nicholas church, originally from the 13th century but rebuilt recently. The views you can admire from here are pretty amazing too, you don’t want to miss them!
Visit the baths
Tbilisi has a long tradition of baths, even the name of the city means “warm place”. The location of the city was chosen specifically to use the natural hot springs that were found in the area.
Today you can visit traditional bathhouses, there are a few of them in the city, most are located in the Abanotubani district near the Narikala fortress and the Old Town.
Visiting the traditional bathhouse isn’t for everyone (I’m not a fan, to be honest) but if you decide to go you can expect a full treatment, although a bit old-school in some of the baths. You can read more about Tbilisi bathhouses in my friend Emily’s article here.
But even if you don’t intend to go to the bathhouse you still should visit the area – this is one of the most picturesque places in Tbilisi! You can also walk on top of the bathhouses with the peculiar domes around you.
Enjoy the botanical garden
Right in the center of the city, just behind the Narikala Fortress, you can find the National Botanical Garden of Georgia – a real green oasis in the middle of the busy city. This is such a relaxing place to visit!
The first royal gardens were founded here in the 17th century and the botanical garden was officially established here in 1845. You can wander around and admire numerous species from all over the world as well as enjoy the beautiful waterfall.
The botanical garden can be a perfect break from all the Tbilisi sightseeing, you can relax here and gain energy from the further exploration of the city.
Visit Rike Park
Located across the Kura river from the Old Tbilisi and connected with that part of the city by funky Bridge of Peace, Rike Park is the youngest recreational area in the city. This is such one of the favorite areas for both locals and tourists, with the singing fountain, big-size chess and plenty of random sculptures and benches where you can sit and relax. That’s also where you can find the lower station of the cable car.
From the park and especially its upper parts you can enjoy a spectacular view of Old Tbilisi, Narikala fortress, and the Rike Park itself.
Find the Tbilisi leaning tower
When wandering around Old Tbilisi you might come across the Rezo Gabriadze Marionette Theater. The institution itself was established in 1981 and even if the theater is small with only 80 seats, it is an important point on the city’s cultural scene. Sometimes it’s difficult to get the tickets for the show but if you like puppets play it is definitely worth it.
Attached to the theater is the peculiar leaning tower, created in 2011. It is such a bizarre structure, looking like it might fall down any minute, with each of the elements not really fitting together.
Try to be here on the full hour to watch a small show played on the tower. This is one of the coolest spots you can find in Tbilisi!
Eat lunch in Racha
Georgian food is to die for! For me, it is among the best ones in the world, a true vegetarian heaven (but those who eat meat will not be disappointed either). I often end up booking cheap flights to Georgia only to eat some of delicious badrijani, khinkali, ajapsandali or just the simple salad.
And while there are plenty of restaurants where you can eat traditional Georgian food there is one place that has a special place in my heart and that’s Racha.
I first visited Racha in 2011 and if it wasn’t for a local friend I would never step inside – until recently it didn’t look like the kind of place that invites tourists and for years the menu was only in Georgian, written on the board behind the counter. Now Racha is renovated and attracts tourists mostly but fortunately, it didn’t lose its vibe.
You can get here all the best Georgian dishes as well as homemade wine and chacha. The prices are very affordable, for some $10 or less you will eat so much you will barely be able to walk. Other restaurants in Tbilisi might serve slightly better food and have neater decor but still, my go-to place to eat out in Tbilisi is always Racha.
Walk down Rustaveli Avenue
Rustavel Avenue is the main avenue of Tbilisi and the showcase of the city. You will find some of the most important and spectacular buildings located at Rustaveli: Parliament of Georgia, the Georgian National Opera Theater, the Rustaveli State Academic Theater or Georgian Museum of Fine Arts just to name a few of them.
The avenue is 1,5 km long and you need to walk it at least once during your stay in Tbilisi to fully appreciate it. Rustaveli is always busy so to cross the street you need to use the underground passages which are often annoying but at least you can often find some fine street art there.
Tbilisi has some nice museums so if you like art or if the weather is bad they can be a nice addition to your Tbilisi itinerary. Some museums worth visiting are the Georgian National Museum, Art Museum of Georgia or Georgian Museum of Fine Arts.
My favorite one, however, was the Museum of Modern Art created by Zurab Tsereteli – a popular Georgian artist who has been the President of the Russian Academy of Arts for years. You might have seen his works all over the world – some of the places he has created in include Moscow or Seville. The museum is focused on Tsereteli’s works mostly – you will see here a great selection of his art created in the monumental style he is known for.
Shop at Dry Bridge
Dry Bridge is the most popular flea market in Tbilisi (or even the whole Caucasus region). Located in the center of Tbilisi, at Saarbrucken Bridge, this is a heaven for all fans of antiques and random vintage stuff.
The flea market was a popular place among locals in Soviet times. Today you can also find locals buying things here but the flea market is a popular attraction for tourists. It is open daily (if the weather allows), from 10 to 17 – on the weekend you can expect more sellers but also more visitors.
At the flea market, you can find all sorts of things – paintings, antiques, jewelry, military stuff, souvenirs and so many weird, random things. Some of them date back to the Soviet times so don’t be surprised if you see old remnants with Lenin or Stalin.
If you decide to buy something remember to bargain a bit as the prices for tourists might be a bit higher.
Find amazing street art
In recent years the street art scene in Tbilisi boomed and today you can find so many amazing works all over the city. Among them, you will quickly start recognizing a lamb painted by the local artist Lamb all over the city – the animal might be cute but there is usually a hidden message behind it referring to the Georgian culture, food or religion.
The best places to find street art in Tbilisi are passages under Heroes Square, Fabrika and the backstreets all over the city.
Take funicular to Mtatsminda Park
The Mount Mtatsminda, towering above Tbilisi, offers some amazing views of the capital but it’s also a fun place to visit to enjoy the amusement park with numerous attractions like the giant Ferris wheel.
Getting to Mtatsminda Park is rather easy, you only need to take the funicular from Vilnius Square and in a few minutes you are on top (keep in mind you need to get a new card to use here, the public transport one doesn’t work). The funicular operates daily from 9 in the morning to midnight so you can enjoy the place but during the day and in the evening.
On the way, you might stop at Mtatsminda Pantheon – the necropolis where some of the most prominent Georgians are buried.
Find the old abandoned cable car station
Today you can reach Mtatsminda Park by the funicular but in the past, you could use the cable-car. After the fatal incident in 1990, it was closed but you can still find the abandoned lower station in the very center of the city.
When you are at Rustaveli Avenue, near the Georgian National Academy of Sciences building you have to pass the souvenir sellers and go to the other side of the building – the cable-car station is right there. The building, even if neglected, is really pretty and if you are fit enough (I’m not) you might try to squeeze in through the broken window.
Apparently the cable-car to Mtatsminda Park will be restored soon so hopefully this beautiful building will be renovated as well.
Walk along pedestrian David Aghmashenebeli Avenue
David Aghmashenebeli Avenue connects Saarbrücken Square with Giorgi Tsabadze street and is one of the main avenues in the historic part of Tbilisi. While the whole street is interesting and full of beautiful architecture you should focus especially on the part starting at Saarbrücken Square. It was recently renovated, is fully pedestrian and you can find there many beautiful houses as well as plenty of restaurants and bars.
This is one of the best places in Tbilisi to hang out at and you can be sure to find a good place to chill there.
Shop at the Dezerter Bazaar
Farmers’ markets in the former Soviet Union are one of a kind experience and those in Tbilisi are no different. The biggest, oldest, and most popular is the Dezerter Bazaar, located near the train station.
It’s big, busy, loud and you can get all sorts of things there: fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade cheese, spices and more. There are even some local goodies sold behind the curtain (asking for chacha – strong local homemade vodka) has always led me to some weird situations but I always managed to buy excellent-quality things.
It definitely helps if you know some Russian (even basic) or even better a few words in Georgian. This will help you with the shopping greatly – you can ask for prices, say exactly what you need, bargain a bit and ask for things you can’t see on display. But no matter how assertive you think you are, you will still end up buying much more than you planned.
Visit the old sewing factory turned into the major alternative hub
If you want to experience the vibrant, young Tbilisi there is no better place than Fabrika. A former Soviet sewing factory was turned into the multifunctional space that brings creative minds, independent travelers, alternative souls, and more – everyone blends in, creating a fantastic, vibrant place.
In the Fabrika complex, you can find the hostel, urban cafes, independent shops, restaurants, artists studios, bars, and more. Everything is cool, hip, funky, and colorful. This is the place to be in Tbilisi!
Discover amazing art-nouveau architecture
One of the things that really surprised me in Tbilisi was the amazing art nouveau architecture. Somehow not many people mention that but the city is full of incredible houses from the beginning of the 20th century.
When you wander around the city you will quickly start noticing characteristic floral motifs on richly decorated houses and I bet you will be impressed as much as I was. While everyone mentions Riga or Budapest as art-nouveau hubs for me Tbilisi is a bit like the textbook of this architectonic style.
There is no one area where you can find beautiful art-nouveau houses, they are spread all over central Tbilisi. I found the most impressive buildings in Old Tbilisi, at and near Rustaveli and along and near David Aghmashenebeli Avenue.
Fall in love with Soviet architecture
Tbilisi is one of the best places for fans of Soviet architecture. There are so many impressive remnants from those times – numerous buildings of the public use and blocks of flats, mosaics, monuments and more. Many of them are located a bit away from the center so you need to use public transport to reach them but it’s often worth it.
The most famous brutalist building in Tbilisi is the Former Ministry of Automobile Roads – the real-life example of Tetris, the skybridge between blocks at Nutsubidze Plato or the Archeology Museum but there are so many more places to see.
Enjoy the thriving cafe scene
The cafe scene in Tbilisi is splendid and each time I visit Tbilisi there are more and more great cafes opening. Whether you like classic black coffee or some alternatives, I’m sure you will be satisfied with what Tbilisi cafes have to offer.
There is no particular area where you can find the best cafes, they are located all over the city. Some of my favorite coffee spots in central Tbilisi include Linville, The Museum, Erti Kava or Fabrika.
Even if we talk about coffee here there is one more place that needs an honorable mention – Althouse teahouse. You can try here both international and local tea (you can find tea plantations in Georgia!) and the place itself is lovely.
Go for day trips from Tbilisi
During your trip to Georgia, you can use Tbilisi as a base to see many of the highlights around the country as they can be done as easy day trips from Tbilisi. You can use public transport to some of the places but many can be reached only with the tour or with a private car (rented or with a driver). Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable tour options from Tbilisi and you can plan a perfect Georgia itinerary using them.
Fall in love with Georgian food
Georgian food is one of the best cuisines I’ve ever tried (it’s my personal top three, together with Italian and the Middle East) – it is a bit heavy but so delicious. While there are many meat options, vegetarian (like myself) won’t be disappointed either – the selection of vegetarian dishes is impressive!
You can try here bardżani, khinkali, khachapuri, lobio, ajapsandali, sulguni cheese, and more! But my personal favorite (besides badrijani that I’ve learned to make at home) is just a simple salad of tomatoes and cucumbers – it’s even better when mixed with walnuts paste!
The food scene in Tbilisi is really good and you will find plenty of fine restaurants serving local food. I’m sure you will be satisfied no matter where you go (it doesn’t have to be Racha mentioned above although it’s worth for the experience). And I’m sure you will enjoy Georgian cuisine as much as I do!
Try famous Georgian drinks
Did you know that Georgia is one of the oldest wine-making countries in the world? Wine has been produced here since some 6000BC! Thanks to the favorable climate with many sunny days the local wine is really good but, for some reason, not really well-know around the world.
You can try it in Georgia, either homemade in many restaurants and vineyards in the country or in numerous dedicated wine shops in Tbilisi. You can also buy some homemade wine at the Dezerter Bazaar, it’s very affordable.
Another drink you should try in Georgian is chacha. You can be sure to try this strong brandy, made from grapes as it is a strong part of Georgian culture. Normally it has around 40% of alcohol but homemade one can be as strong as 70%! You can also try and buy it at the Dezerter Bazaar – getting it there is a whole level of crazy experience.
If you are not into alcohol drinking there are amazing Georgian lemonades you should try. They are available in every shop and restaurant and flavors range from lemon or pear to some crazy ones like tarragon or grape. It might be super sweet but so good!
Discover modern architecture in Tbilisi
When Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia, got into power in 2004 he wanted to make Georgia a modern country, and part of the process was in the architecture. Numerous funky modern buildings of the public use appeared all over the country, many of them in Tbilisi.
The most popular structure from that time was the pedestrian Bridge of Peace connecting Old Tbilisi with Rike Park but there are other buildings worth checking out for their interesting design – House of Justice, Music Hall or Ministry of Internal Affairs just to name a few.
Still today there are more and more new modern buildings added to the Tbilisi’s cityscape – every time I visit the city I find new buildings and they are always a nice addition to the city’s scenery.
Relax in the Vake Park
A bit away from the center (but easily accessible by bus) you can find Vake Park – one of the most pleasant places to visit in Tbilisi. Not only it’s a wonderful green oasis, perfect for wandering around and relaxing, but you will also find here a few interesting Tbilisi attractions.
In the center of the park there is an impressive World War 2 Memorial, with great mosaic by Zurab Tsereteli. From near the park you can take the cable car (public transport card works) to the Turtle Lake where you can enjoy some quiet time and drink a coffee surrounded by nature. There is also a Svaneti Tower you might want to see.
Visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral
The Holy Trinity Cathedral is one of the most distinctive buildings in Tbilisi as it towers above the city and you can see it from more or less everywhere (after all this is one of the largest religious buildings in the world). It’s a fairly new addition to the city’s scenery, the construction was finished in 2004 and since then is the main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
The style of the cathedral is different than the old churches you could see in Old Tbilisi. This one is really big and bright inside with not so many decorations but it’s one of those places you can’t miss in Tbilisi. From the square in front of the cathedral, you can admire the nice panorama of the city.
Find two synagogues
On the main Old Tbilisi’s street, Kote Afkhazi, a bit hidden from the view you can find the Great Synagogue. It was built at the beginning of the 20th century in the Moorish – eclectic style for the Jewish people coming from Akhaltsikhe town in southern Georgia. Today this is the main synagogue in Tbilisi and the center of the Jewish culture in Georgia. If you have a chance visit the synagogue inside too to admire its beautiful interior.
But Great Synagogue isn’t the only one you can find in Old Tbilisi. There is also the Little Synagogue, located in the yard between Kote Afkhazi and Tkavi I streets, next to the popular bar, Moulin Electrique.
Party in Bassiani
Bassiani is probably the most epic nightlife venue in Tbilisi. Located in the basement of the Dinamo Tbilisi stadium and using the swimming pool as the dancefloor, this is a mecca for fans of techno music as Bassiani is considered one of the best techno clubs in the world. If you feel like partying during your trip to Tbilisi then Bassiani is the place to go!
Take beautiful pictures
Tbilisi is one of the most picturesque cities and it’s really not difficult to take beautiful Tbilisi pictures. Among all the great places to visit there are a few spots that are perfect for your Insta-shots, especially in Old Tbilisi – baths, botanical garden, colorful glass house, Italian yards, and more. You can be sure to bring home some great pictures from Tbilisi!
Find the historic Armenian belltower
This is somehow forgotten and hidden Tbilisi attractions that bears so much history. Hidden behind the impressive gate there is a lone old bell tower, the only remnant of the 14th-century Armenian cathedral that used to stand in that place. It was the seat of the Armenian archbishop and the largest church in Tbilisi but after the order of infamous Soviet leader Beria the cathedral, together with many other churches in Tbilisi, was destroyed in 1930.
There are still a few more Armenian churches in Tbilisi, like the one next to the metro station in Avlabari, but Vank Bell Tower is probably the most important monument of the Armenian heritage in Tbilisi.
Ride the metro
Tbilisi metro is the fastest and the easiest way to get around the city and I’m sure you will use it at some point during your stay in Tbilisi. It is a typical Soviet metro system, with super-fast escalator and old and loud but efficient trains. You just need a public transport card to enter the platform and you are free to go.
While Tbilisi metro stations aren’t as grand and spectacular as in Moscow, Tashkent or Kharkiv, there are some pretty ones worth seeing, such as Technical University, Guramishvili or Isani (however their beauty is more in the details rather than a general look).
Admire beautiful Soviet mosaics and bas-reliefs
During the Soviet times, nice additions to the city scenery were details, such as mosaics and bas-reliefs. Still today you can find many of those around Tbilisi and just like with brutalist architecture I dare to say Tbilisi has some of the best Soviet public art remnants you will ever see. Fortunately, many of the mosaics and bas-reliefs are still in fairly good shape and you can admire their beauty.
You can find the most impressive mosaics at Expo Georgia or near Ortachala bus station and the best bas-reliefs are near Marjanishvili metro station (Former House of Political Education and Fabrika Hostel). But there are so many more to find!
Visit Chronicle of Georgia monument
This is one of the craziest monuments you will ever see! The massive monument was created by Zurab Tseretelito commemorate 3000 years of Georgian sovereignty and 2000 years of Christianity in Georgia. He started working on the project in 1985 and never really finished it, you might notice some parts still need to be done.
The monument is huge and on the 16 pillars you can see the history of Georgia and its rulers. The Chronicle of Georgia is located a bit away from the center and getting there might be a bit of the hassle – don’t repeat my mistake and don’t climb the hill from the metro station Guramishvili, there are easier ways to reach the monument!
Visit Metekhi Church
Located on the cliff across the Kura River from Old Tbilisi, Metekhi Church is one of the oldest and best-known churches in Tbilisi, built in the 13th century near the former royal palace.
While the church itself is interesting the main reason to visit the site is the beautiful view to Old Tbilisi, Narikala fortress, and beyond – one of the best vistas you can find in Tbilisi. In front of the church, there is the statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasali who is known as a founder of Tbilisi.
See Tbilisi from another angle
This was one of my random finds in Tbilisi – I saw King Parnavaz Garden a few times from the bus and eventually, I visited it. It was worth it as the view from the small park above the Kura River was really beautiful. The garden is a bit away from the Old Tbilisi but you can see Narikala and surroundings from there – it gives you a different perspective and for this reason itself it’s worth coming here.
See the beautiful Jumah Mosque
With the location around some of the prettiest buildings in Tbilisi (baths, colorful renovated houses and Narikala fortress) it’s easy to miss the minaret of Jumah Mosque that perfectly fits in the area. The location is actually pretty special, near the synagogue and the church, proving that, just like Jerusalem or Sarajevo, Tbilisi is a multicultural place.
The mosque was first built in the 18th century by the Ottoman Empire but over the years it was destroyed and rebuilt a few times. Until 1951 Jumah Mosque was dedicated to Sunni Muslims but after the destruction of Blue Mosque (that used to belong to Shia Muslims), those two groups pray alongside.
Stop at Liberty Square
Most visitors usually rush through Liberty Square, the main square in Tbilisi between the Old Town and Rustaveli Avenue, but it’s worth to stop here for a second to admire its beauty.
When Georgia was part of the Soviet Union this was called the Lenin Square (obviously) and right in the middle, you could find the giant statue of Lenin (obviously). Since 2006 there is the golden statue of St. George, the patron of Georgia – a gift to the city from the artist Zurab Tsereteli who has made the sculpture.
There are some nice buildings around Liberty Square, including Tbilisi Town Hall, but the one you should pay attention to is the branch of Bank of Georgia at 5-7 Liberty Square. It looks pretty from the outside but the original art-nouveau interior is a real masterpiece.
Explore area near Marjanishvili metro station
When people arrive at Marjanishvili metro station they usually head to Fabrika or pedestrian part of David Aghmashenebeli Avenue. But this area offers so many more attractions!
There are some great art-nouveau buildings, such as Marjanishvili Theater or Apollo Cinema, some great examples of Soviet-era architecture as well hidden Italian yards (almost as spectacular as in Old Tbilisi). The best way to find all the great wonders here is to just wander around, do some detours between places and getting lost once or twice – you might be surprised what great places you can find!
Take a picture with Tamada
Tamada is the most important function during the Georgian supra (the feast). He is the toastmaster who gives long and beautiful, sometimes funny sometimes sad, toasts before each round of drinking. At each supra there is only one person responsible for toasts and everyone should listen to him, without interrupting.
In the Old Tbilisi, near the Sophiko Chiaureli Garden and Sioni Cathedral, there is a small statue of tamada, holding a horn – typical for drinking wine in Georgia. It is said that the picture with tamada will bring you luck so don’t miss your chance!
Shop for books about Georgia and the Caucasus region
Hidden in the yard at Rustaveli Avenue there is a small bookshop – Prospero’s Books – the iconic cultural institution, popular especially among expats. When I visited Tbilisi for the first time in 2011 the bookshop was already open, offering a wide selection of books in English, about Georgia and Caucasus region or by Georgian authors.
If you would like to get some local books this is the best place to go, I always end up bringing home a few new books and each time I find something new and interesting there. There is also a nice coffee shop and a charming yard – a perfect place to relax with a cup of coffee and a newly bought book.
Visit Stalin’s printing house
You might already know that Joseph Stalin was Georgian, born in Gori around one hour away from Tbilisi. In 1904, in the early years of his political career, he was an active Bolshevik, calling for the removal of the Tsar. In the underground printing house in one of Tbilisi’s houses, he printed magazines, pamphlets, and newspapers to support this idea.
Today you can visit the secret place and see how the works used to look there. It is a bit away from the center but easily reachable by public transport.
Visit the National Library of Georgia
The National Library of Georgia is one of the best-hidden gems of Tbilisi, although it is located right in the center near Liberty Square. There are actually two buildings, located across the street and both are worth seeing both from the outside and from the inside.
In one of the buildings you can visit the Book Museum, with rare books collection, the oldest Georgian prints and more. Unfortunately, when I visited the building it was a national holiday so I couldn’t see the museum but at least I could peek inside the building and it really was stunning!
Find amazing interiors
The National Library is just one of many beautiful hidden interiors in Tbilisi. Sometimes the house looks fine from the outside but inside it’s a real masterpiece. That’s why I always try to peek inside when I see the door open (however please remember to respect inhabitants!).
This is how I found the colorful-glass house when it was still in disrepair, the Moorish building next to the Writer’s House and more.
Sometimes you need to be lucky – you know that the staircase is pretty but the door is locked (I took three attempts to visit the former Hotel London, still with no luck). Or you can join the tour that will show you all the best gems of Tbilisi, this will save you so much hassle.
Wander the back streets near Rustaveli Avenue
This is another area worth wandering aimlessly. Instead of walking on the busy Rustaveli Avenue take the street up and wander the backstreets. You can see a completely different world than a few hundred meters away – kids play on the streets, neighbors gossiping in front of their houses or locals doing grocery shopping in small shops.
There are also plenty of beautiful houses, street art and some surprising finds like the beautiful building of the Supreme Court, charming Erti Kava coffee room or the interesting modernist architecture (that you can’t find much of in Tbilisi).
I might be a bit biased as I stayed in that part of the city during my first trip to Tbilisi when I fell in love with the city but this is a really great area to explore!
Find Lech Kaczyński’s statue
In 2008, during the 5-day war between Georgia and Russia, the Polish president at that time, Lech Kaczyński, arrived in Tbilisi to show the Polish support to Georgia,. This small gesture meant a lot to Georgian people and I can’t count how many times I’ve heard afterward Georgians thanking me that Poland stood for them in those terrible times.
This is why when Lech Kaczyński together with 95 prominent Poles died in the plane crash in 2010, Georgian commemorated him by naming one of the streets after him as well as placing a small statue there. It might be not too interesting for many but Polish tourists in Tbilisi might want to visit the place.
No matter what we think of Lech Kaczyński and his presidency, supporting Georgia in those tough times was one of the best things he has ever done.
Final thoughts on visiting Tbilisi
As you can see Tbilisi offers many more attractions than it seems at first. It really is one of the most fascinating, interesting and beautiful cities I’ve ever visited and I’m not surprised the majority of people who visit Tbilisi enjoy it so much too.
With this list of things to do in Tbilisi, you will really get to know the city, both major attractions and some random places that make it so special. Have a great trip to Tbilisi!
As you probably know by now Tbilisi, Georgia and the whole Caucasus region have a special place in my heart. This is why you can find many articles about those places on my blog. You might find them useful for planning your trip. Here are the best ones:
- 15 reasons to visit Georgia – the amazing emerging destination
- Tbilisi guide – 21 Tbilisi travel tips to make your trip easier
- How not to visit the Chronicle of Georgia in Tbilisi
- Day trip to David Gareja monastery from Tbilisi
- 10 Amazing Places You Can Visit As Day Trips From Kutaisi, Georgia
- Buying a SIM card in Georgia – all you need to know
- How to get from Tbilisi to Yerevan (or Yerevan to Tbilisi) – a complete guide
- 20 Cool Things to do in Batumi, Georgia
- and more!
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