In this destination guide, we will be sharing our experiences in Tbilisi and providing you with recommendations on the best things to do. Before we get started though, allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Iris and Gert – a young Belgian couple with a passion for photography and blogging.
We have our own travel blog called www.snoezelsontheroad.com, which is currently in Dutch but stay tuned as the English version is coming soon! Besides that we love to share our experiences, travel information, and appealing pictures on Instagram and other platforms like Pinterest.
Our home base is Ghent – based in the Flemish part of Belgium – but these days the whole world feels like home to us. As full-time travelers, we aim to inspire others to explore the beauty of the world. At the moment, we’re currently in Canada and already we have exciting plans for next year.
Before this, we used to work in the education and engineering industries. After the pandemic hit, we shifted from a career mindset to a travel one. We now prefer to become rich in experiences and memories, rather than just growing our bank account. “The good old days” are happening today – and that’s why we orient ourselves towards a conscious lifestyle and look for sustainable, relaxing places to visit and rewarding activities to do.
Our Wonderful Experiences in Tbilisi
In May 2023, we spent almost four weeks exploring the country of Georgia – which was driven by our desire to experience a more off-the-beaten-path destination. We started our adventure in the capital city, Tbilisi, in order to get a real feel for Georgia’s history and to understand how the dynamics of the country work. It was great to start in this historic and captivating place!
We continued to Kazbegi, followed by a couple of days in the Kakheti region (known as the wine region). Next was the west where we spent several days in Vardzia, Kutaisi and Martivili – before heading to the heart of the Caucasus: the Svaneti region. Here, we discovered the highest village in Europe – Ushguli – and then ended with some days in Tbilisi again.
As Tbilisi is in the center of the country, we passed through it on three occasions: upon arriving in the country, again on our departure and also when we traveled from Kakheti to Kutaisi (one night’s stay). In total, we spent seven days in and around the capital – and all times were amazing!
For us, Tbilisi was one of the biggest surprises of our world trip. To be honest, like many other places, we had preconceptions about the city due to its recent communist history. But we couldn’t have been more wrong! Tbilisi has so much heritage, thanks to its location along the Silk Road.
Therefore, different cultures and religions have mixed together in a peaceful way. That history, in combination with the great food (and wine) and the architecture that the city has to offer, amazed us. Basically, Tbilisi is vibrant and blends its old charm with modern energy. You can find rich history, diverse culture and warm hospitality in every corner of the city.
Favorite Place in Tbilisi: Holy Trinity Cathedral
Out of all the places we visited in Tbilisi, the Holy Trinity Cathedral was our number one spot (although it’s quite hard to choose a favorite place here as there’s so much one can see). Its slightly raised location on the left bank of the Mtkvari River offers spectacular panoramic views over the city.
The architecture is also impressive, on the inside and outside, and it’s the perfect place to reflect and enjoy the serene atmosphere. Additionally, the complex boasts a beautiful garden – giving visitors another area to relax and unwind in. We think this cathedral captures the true essence of Tbilisi!
10 Best Things To Do in Tbilisi
1. Do a Free Walking Tour of Tbilisi
Discovering the history of Georgia and its capital, Tbilisi, by participating in a free walking tour is the perfect way to start your trip. These three hour excursions provide a comprehensive exploration of the city’s key landmarks, offering valuable insights into its cultural and historical tapestry.
As you traverse the streets, knowledgeable guides share anecdotes and narratives – enhancing your understanding of Tbilisi’s evolution over the years. The architectural gems you’ll see – such as the iconic Narikala Fortress and the picturesque Old Town – are not only stunning but also provide context around the events that have shaped the city.
2. Relax at the Chreli Abano Sulfur Bath & Spa
The sulfur baths in Tbilisi offer a unique and unforgettable spa experience, setting them apart from typical wellness retreats worldwide. Beyond their magnificent architectural design, these baths boast a distinctive ambiance that stems from the rejuvenating properties of their thermal spring water.
Among the array of bathhouses in Tbilisi, the Chreli Abano stands out as the most iconic – encapsulating the essence of this cultural tradition. The therapeutic benefits of the sulfur-infused water contribute to a profoundly relaxing atmosphere. Moreover the photo-ops are phenomenal, with the detailed Persian exterior being too beautiful not to capture!
3. Visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi
Visiting the Holy Trinity Cathedral is an absolute must-do. As a testament to the deeply rooted religious traditions of the Georgian people, this cathedral stands as the largest dedication to the Georgian Orthodox faith. Beyond its religious significance, the Holy Trinity Cathedral boasts breathtaking architecture that captivates visitors with its grandeur and intricate details.
Perched in a green setting, the cathedral provides a serene escape from the bustling city below. The views offered from this sacred site allow visitors to appreciate the surrounding landscape of Tbilisi. Whether you seek quiet contemplation or an appreciation of architectural marvels, this cathedral promises an enriching experience that resonates with the soul.
4. Venture to the Chronicle of Georgia
The Chronicle of Georgia was built to serve as an open-air monument and historical narrative, depicting key events in the country’s past. Known as “The Georgian Stonehenge” – the site consists of massive bronze, copper and stone sculptures positioned strategically on a hill. As it’s located just outside of the city, amidst nature, the views from this place are fantastic!
5. Go on an Organized Day Tour to Mtskheta
Mtskheta, the former capital, makes for a fun day trip from Tbilisi. This excursion can encompass more than just the historical monuments of the UNESCO-listed Mtskheta, weaving in additional highlights such as the iconic Jvari Monastery and a visit to the birthplace of Joseph Stalin.
6. Check Out the Leaning Clock Tower of Tbilisi
In the heart of the city is the leaning Clock Tower. With its distinctive tilt, this landmark offers a blend of history and aesthetics – the perfect spot to enjoy the views and take pictures. Learning that the tower only stands because of one steel beam makes the visit even more intriguing!
7. Try Some of the Local Food and Wine of Tbilisi
A must-try in Tbilisi is khachapuri, a cheese-filled bread that epitomizes the country’s baking expertise. Additionally, sampling the flavorful khinkali – dumplings filled with spiced meat or vegetables – takes your gastronomic adventure to the next level. These dishes can be ordered at the charming terraced restaurants, allowing you to soak in the atmosphere of Tbilisi.
To complement these culinary delights, you can treat your palate to some local wines that are renowned for their unique varieties and ancient winemaking traditions. Georgia’s wine culture, dating back thousands of years, adds an extra layer of authenticity to your dining experience.
8. Take the Cable Car to the Narikala Fortress
The cable car to the Narikala Fortress, situated atop the hills, is a delightful journey. Offering a panorama of the city, this scenic ride provides a lovely perspective of the surrounding landscapes. The station is also conveniently positioned in the heart of the city, ensuring easy access. As you ascend the hills, you can immerse yourself in the tranquility of the ride and anticipate the enchanting stroll that awaits you at the Narikala Fortress.
9. Explore the Trendy Fabrika Cultural Center
Fabrika is an enclave boasting chic art spaces, distinctive boutiques and an effervescent ambiance. Nestled in the heart of Tbilisi, this trendy destination invites exploration amid its eclectic blend of creativity and commerce. The energy emanates from the unique shops and vibrant art installations, creating a memorable experience for those strolling through.
10. Enjoy the Beautiful Balconies of Tbilisi
Tbilisi’s balconies grace the cityscape with vibrant hues and intricate designs. These architectural jewels are noteworthy around Queen Darejan Palace and the House Hotel, contributing to the character of Tbilisi’s streets. Adorned with ornate details, the balconies offer a visual feast.
Where to Stay in Tbilisi
On our first nights in Tbilisi, we stayed in a hostel just outside the historic center called the Funicular Hostel. As backpackers, the price/quality is very valuable and highly recommended. But because we’re bloggers as well, we were invited to stay in the House Hotel during our second visit to the city.
This was our favorite stay due to its luxury, historical design, warm hospitality and great location. This hotel captures the authentic design of old Tbilisi and has superb food. To make the most out of your stay in Tbilisi, this is the best place to go! If you want to balance between a budget and luxury, we recommend the Tbilisi Inn where we spent one night as well.
Tips for Your Visit to Tbilisi
The historical center of Tbilisi isn’t massive and is therefore easily walkable. This, in combination with Bolt (an app that provides ride-hailing services), you can cross the whole city wherever you want to go. The city also boasts two funicular systems which are part of the public transport service, together with buses and a metro-line. Additionally, if you travel across the country and you want the local experience, Marshrutkas are the way to go.
Another thing to remember is that the food in Tbilisi rocks! You can’t go wrong with khachapuri, khinkali and Georgian wine. Finally, the best time to visit Tbilisi is late spring (May-June) and early autumn (September-October). The summers can get very hot. However, if your focus is to make a roundtrip through Georgia (including lots of hikes), we would recommend the summer as some of the trails only open during this time.