Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, is a city of stark contrasts, where different religions, cultures and architectural styles, ancient and modern, seem to coexist and thrive.
This is a city where you will always find something new to discover, be it an impressive less known monument, a little speakeasy cafe around the corner, a traditional teahouse with exquisite tea or simply the immensely rich, millennia-old Georgian culture and tradition, coupled with serenading warm hospitality.
Here are the top things to do which let you make the most out of your visit to Georgia’s vibrant capital.
Get Lost at Elegant Interiors of 19th Century Residential Houses
When Georgia became part of the Russian Empire at the beginning of the 19th century, Tbilisi started to expand beyond its city walls. This is the era when new architectural trends hit the capital resulting in various Renaissance and Art Nouveau buildings.
Featured with intricate carved plasterwork and hand-painted works, the famous Kalantarov’s House at Machabeli street 17 is a perfect example of Pseudo-Moorish Oriental style.
Old Town’s Betlemi Street is home to another magnificent building which locals call Kaleidoscope because of its colorful stained glass windows. Part of the building now houses Gallery 27, a cute souvenir shop of handmade Georgian arts and crafts.
Close to the Dry Bridge, at Atoneli Street 31, you’ll find another famous residential house that used to be Hotel London back in the 1870s. The spacious entrance is well lit by the light coming from the glass ceiling, a typical and characteristic lighting method used in that time Tbilisi.
Haggle Over Trinkets and Treasures at Dry Bridge
Dry Bridge is a flea market where you can find anything you can imagine – from Soviet memorabilia, old coins, antique china, books, vinyl, paintings to household items. Visit during weekends and sunny weather to see a bigger collection of treasures locals bring to the market. Feel free to bargain as vendors tend to jack the price up for foreigners.
Admire Tbilisi’s Old and New Architecture
What makes Tbilisi attractive to many is its juxtaposition of old and new architecture harmoniously sitting right next to each other in the old town.
Walk up to or take a cable car to Narikala Fortress, the most former fortification of the city that offers splendid views of the Mtkvari river and Rike Park. Get down to explore the underground market Maidan Bazaar and wander through the streets of the old town.
Steps away, you’ll find avant-garde structures such as Bridge of Peace, a blend of steel and glass illuminated by 1,208 LED lights at night, and two striking metallic tube structures, which is the (unfortunately abandoned) Concert Hall and Exhibition Center.
And Soviet-era architecture dotted around the city and in metro stations offers a treasure hunt for fans of concrete. The Business Center Mosaic and the Bank of Georgia Headquarters are among some of the more prominent ones.
Get Invigorated at the Abanotubani Sulfur Baths
After a day of exploration, treat yourself with a soak, scrub and traditional massage beneath the iconic domed roofs that house Tbilisi’s mineral sulfur springs. Whether you go alone or with friends, get a public bath or a private room, nude or in a swimsuit, it’s all up to you.
Nearby is another refreshing hideout, Leghvtakhevi – a small waterfall right in the heart of the city, with traditional balconied houses clinging to the rocky gorge.
Have a Sip of Ancient Tradition at Sabir’s Teahouse
A stone’s throw from the sulfur baths is a nameless teahouse with no sign, standing to keep the ancient tea tradition in the district taken over by restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops.
A five-minute walk from the Jumah Mosque renowned for being a place of worship for Shia and Sunni Muslims, this tea version of a neighborhood pub is a popular hangout spot for the multiethnic community of mostly Azeris, who have lived here for generations.
No food, coffee or soft drinks on the menu, the teahouse exclusively serves a loose-leaf Ceylon tea, along with sugar and lemon.
Breathe In the View from Mtatsminda Park
Perched on the highest point of Tbilisi, Mtatsminda Park is an amusement park with various rides, water slides, a roller-coaster, carousels, and a big Ferris wheel that offers a spectacular panoramic view of the capital.
A nice park to chill, enjoy some nice breeze and have lunch or a drink at the cafes up there. To get there, you can either hike up or take a funicular ride from Chonkadze Street.
Chill at the Courtyard of Tbilisi’s Urban Culture
Housed in what was once a soviet sewing factory in the old historical part of Tbilisi, Fabrika is a multi-function urban space built in an eclectic urban design with multiple urban bars and cafes, music halls, an art studio and contemporary gallery space, a board game café, a co-working space, and a hostel.
Get a taste of the Georgian urban creative community from their ever-changing calendar of events like workshops, art exhibitions, flea markets, music festivals, and other social projects.
Uncover Stalin’s Secret Underground Printing House
Soviet leaders’ secret printing house is not a secret anymore. It’s getting quite popular among tourists looking for quirky things to do in Tbilisi.
Once disguised in a typical Georgian courtyard house so as not to attract any unwanted visit, it now transports you back to the USSR right from the entrance decorated with a big hammer and sickle emblem right in the center of the door.
Inside, you’ll find photos, pamphlets, documents, and posters together with the machine used for publishing communist propaganda in different languages .
Watch a Puppet Show at Rezo Gabriadze Theater
Don’t just pass by with a mere snapshot of its playful clock tower; you will probably be pleasantly surprised by their program even if puppets are not your jam.
Gabriadze is a Georgian playwright, director, sculptor, writer, painter, and graphic artist. This quaint little theater of his has gained the respect and recognition of international audiences and critics alike by presenting mature puppet performances full of depth and meaning. Check schedules, availability of English subtitles, and tickets in advance.
Dive into Tbilisi’s Burgeoning Club Scene
Tbilisi is a city that moves to its own frenetic beat, to see and feel it, you need to explore it both day and night. And Tbilisi’s nightlife is alive and well with plenty to keep you entertained, from live techno music and thematic bars to raves going all night. Whether you’re a wild party animal or prefer a quiet drink, Tbilisi has something for everyone.
Discover the Georgian Stonehenge
Located on the outskirts of Tbilisi, the Chronicle of Georgia is a site with 16 massive pillars, which depict Georgian kings, queens, and heroes as well as biblical scenes. While this impressive monument is definitely worth seeing, it is rarely visited by tourists as there is no straight-forward way to get there by public transport.
Don’t want to miss out but find it rather out of the way? Not to worry! We’ve already thought of that for you and included it in your Karavanly travel pass.
Ride with us, and you’ll get to enjoy amazing views of the Tbilisi Sea and the city outskirts during the visit as well.