Tbilisi City Guide

Tbilisi City Guide
Quick Facts
Known Names:
Population:1.114 million (2016)
Area Code:+995
Currency:Lari (GEL)
Time Zone:Georgia Standard Time - UTC/GMT+4

General Information / Guide

Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, is located along the Mtkvari River area with a population of around 1.5 million (2022). Nestled in the Trialeti mountain range foothills in eastern Georgia, Tbilisi has a legendary founding tale from the 5th century, attributed to King Vakhtang Gorgasali. The king, inspired by a pheasant falling into a warm spring, either boiled or healed, founded the city, naming it after the Georgian word "tbili," meaning "warm." Despite being rebuilt 29 times, the Old Town's layout remains largely intact, featuring narrow alleys and distinct houses surrounding courtyards. Due to the great architecture, greenery, great cuisine, and more, Tbilisi is among one of the most popular tourist destinations. 


Climate / Weather / When to Go

Tbilisi experiences cold winters and hot summers, characterized by a relatively mild micro-climate due to its geographical features. Surrounded by mountain ranges and close to the Black and Caspian Seas, Tbilisi is shielded from cold air masses from Russia by the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range to the north. The average annual temperature is 12.7 °C, with January being the coldest at 0.9 °C and July the hottest at 24.4 °C. Snowfall occurs 15–25 days per year. The surrounding mountains can trap clouds, leading to prolonged rainy or cloudy weather, especially in Spring and Autumn. Northwesterly winds prevail throughout the year, with occasional southeasterly winds.


How to Get There

Tbilisi International Airport, located around 17 km from the city center, is accessible via direct and connecting flights from various locations. Taxis and airport shuttles are convenient means of transportation to the city, with an average travel time of around 25 minutes. In addition to these options, visitors can explore the city using the metro system or opt for private transfers for a personalized and comfortable journey.


Food / Restaurants / What to Eat and Drink

Georgian cuisine is rich with flavorful dishes, and some notable ones include Khachapuri, a cheese-filled bread, and Khinkali, meat-filled dumplings. Churchkhela, a sweet snack made from walnuts and grapes, is shaped into sausages and sun-dried. Pkhali, a cold appetizer, features puréed vegetables. Satsivi is a cold dish with chicken or turkey in walnut sauce, often served during holidays. Lobio, a comforting bean stew, and Mtsvadi, a barbecue dish with pork or beef, are popular choices. Tklapi, a thin sheet of dried sour plum paste, serves as a snack or ingredient. Chakapuli, a lamb or beef stew with sour plum paste, is a springtime tradition, while Chikhirtma, a chicken soup with egg-lemon sauce, is perfect for winter. Kharcho, a thick beef stew with spices and walnuts, is a fall favorite.
As for dining, several restaurants offer delightful Georgian and international cuisine. Notable options include Dzveli Sakhli Restaurant with traditional music and scenic river views, Cafe Gabriadze with inventive Georgian dishes, and Khinkali House for a variety of khinkali. Cafe Flowers boasts stunning views of the Old Town, and Cafe Leila offers charming pescatarian options. For Italian cuisine, Fiorino stands out for its pizzas, carpaccios, and veal. Prego, Piano, and Picasso Restaurant cater to various tastes, providing a range of dishes, from Asian to Italian. New Asia Restaurant and Shandiz Restaurant offer diverse menus for a satisfying dining experience in Tbilisi.


Important Places / Places to Visit

  • Open Air Museum of Ethnography: A "Skansen"-type museum with 70 houses showcasing Georgian culture. Part of the Georgian National Museum.
  • Tbilisi History Museum (Former Caravanserai): Part of the Georgian National Museum, offering insights into Tbilisi's history.
  • Museum of Georgia (Simon Janashia Museum): Part of the Georgian National Museum, showcasing Caucasian artifacts from archaeology and ethnography. Includes a separate section on Soviet Occupation.
  • Puppet Museum (Doll Museum): Featuring dolls and puppets, open seasonally.  
  • Galaktion Tabidze Museum: This Museum is dedicated to the eminent Georgian poet, Galaktion Tabidze (1892-1959).
  • Tbilisi Art Gallery (National Gallery): Part of the Georgian National Museum, it houses an extensive permanent collection and rotating exhibitions, mainly featuring Georgian artists.
  • Jewish History Museum (David Baazov Museum): Depicts the history of Jews in Georgia from ancient times to the present day, including the story of Rabbi David Baazov.
  • U. Japaridze House-Museum: Part of the Georgian National Museum, home of painter Ucha Japaridze (1906-1988).
  • E. Akhvlediani House-Museum: Part of the Georgian National Museum, showcasing the work of painter Elene Akhvlediani (1898-1975).
  • Writer's House of Georgia: A historic mansion with a museum dedicated to entrepreneur David Sarajishvili and a Museum of Repressed Writers.
  • Mamadaviti Church: Constructed in 1859–1871, featuring a dome added in 1879.
  • Sioni Church: Historic church located in upper Kala.
  • Sameba Cathedral (Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi): Constructed between 1995 and 2004, it is the third-tallest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in the world, with a synthesis of traditional styles.


What to Do

In Tbilisi, there are various activities to explore. Relax at the Sulphur Baths in the Abanotubani district, which offers different comfort levels. Consider the Royal Baths as an alternative. Experience the unique public bath, Bath No. 5, at an affordable rate. For a serene escape, visit Turtle Lake, a popular spot for families, offering pedal-boat rentals and swimming. Venture to Lake Lisi for a larger, more remote lake experience. Explore the historic Narikala Fortress for panoramic city views, accessible by a steep climb or a cable car. Discover the National Botanic Garden, founded in 1845, with highlights like the Waterfall and Mediterranean collection. Mtatsminda Park, atop a hill, offers family fun, stunning views, and a ferris wheel ride. Enjoy Alexander's Garden and sports venues like Locomotive Stadium and Vake Swimming Pool. For a thrilling experience, try paragliding around Tbilisi, and if you're a football enthusiast, catch a game at FC Dinamo Tbilisi's home ground, Dinamo Arena.


Nightlife / Bars / Entertainment

Tbilisi's nightlife offers a variety of options, from late-night corner stores selling essentials, including wine, to upmarket wine-tasting shops showcasing the best of Georgian wine culture. For an affordable night out, follow students to budget-friendly bars, but be cautious of tourist traps. Non-drinkers can enjoy famous Georgian "Laghidze Waters," sweet drinks available in corner shops. Beware of scams, especially in shiny and classy establishments. Notable venues include the renowned underground techno club Bassiani, Buddha Bar for Asian-inspired cuisine and music, Cubic for house and techno, Drama Bar for diverse music options, Guru Club featuring foreign DJs, KalaKuri for a mix of pop and modern music, and KHIDI as an alternative to Bassiani. Stay safe and be mindful of potential scams.


Shopping / What to Buy

Shopping and dining around Kote Afkhazi Street in Old Tbilisi tend to be expensive tourist spots. Various items make for great souvenirs in Georgia, including antiques, jewelry, Georgian wine, brandy, mineral waters, chacha (grape vodka), Churchkhela sweets, and locally produced tea. Markets like Dezerter Bazaar, Station Square Underground Market, and Didube Market offer diverse choices. Second-hand shopping in Tbilisi is popular, with locations like Station Square Bridge, Samgori Metro Underpass, and 2nd hand outlets providing affordable options. Additionally, stores like Caucasian Carpets Gallery and Pixel 34 offer unique selections. 


Festivals/ Events

July: Art-Gene Festival
July: Rebartiba Festival
September: Tbilisoba
September: Book Fest Tbilisi
September: CineFest Tbilisi
September: Fashion Tbilisi
September- October: International Festival of Theatre
October: Gastro Wine & Spirits Festival 
December: Christmas Market


Holidays / Festivals / Important Days

1 January: New Year
3 March: Mother’s Day
8 March: International Women’s Day
9 April: National Unity Day
9 May: Victory Day
12 May: Saint Andrew the First-Called Day
26 May: Independence Day
28 August: Saint Mary’s Day
14 October: Day of Svetitskhoveli
23 November: Saint George’s Day
31 December: New Year's Eve
Orthodox Christmas
Orthodox Epiphany
Orthodox Easter


Things to Pay Attention to / Important Information

Tbilisi is generally safe after the Rose Revolution, with friendly Georgian hospitality. The reformed police system has gained public trust, and they respond promptly, mainly speaking Georgian and Russian. While walking is usually safe, especially for solo women, using buses or taxis at night is advisable. Exercise caution in the "Shardeni" area for potential scams in bars and clubs. Stick to reputable establishments to avoid issues. Be wary of taxi drivers, especially at the airport, and stand your ground to prevent scams. Homeless people, including aggressive beggars and children, can be encountered in tourist areas, so stay alert and seek help if needed. Be cautious, particularly in crowded areas, to prevent pickpocketing.



Tbilisi's primary transportation includes the metro, buses, and marshrutkas (minibusses). You can check the Tbilisi Transport Company website for comprehensive information on bus routes. The Metromoney (IC) card is essential for public transport, providing discounts and free transfers within 1½ hours. The card can be purchased at metro stations with a deposit. Tbilisi has a two-line metro system operating from 06.00–24.00, and buses display route information in Georgian. Marshrutkas are vans serving side streets with more general route descriptions. Walking is convenient in certain areas, while taxis are cheap but often require negotiation for the fare. Always agree on a price beforehand with non-metered taxis.

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