Planning a trip to the Georgian capital Tbilisi and wondering what is there to see and do? In this article, I share with you my top 30 things to do in Tbilisi, Georgia including free activities, local secrets, and hidden gems.
I’ve been to Tbilisi twice already. The first time when I visited the Georgian capital was on my first trip to the Caucasus in the summer of 2017. Then, I fell in love with Georgia so much that I returned to the country again in the following summer of 2018.
Tbilisi is one of my favorite cities since then. I love the atmosphere and the resemblance with my home country Bulgaria. I love the local food and the great wine that Georgia produces. I love the gorgeous Georgian mountains and friendly locals. And I love Tbilisi, of course – energetic, fun, and full of surprises!
You can find something new to see or do in Tbilisi at every corner of the city.
So how to make the most out of this fantastic city? Simply follow this list of cool & fun things to do in Tbilisi and I guarantee you, you’ll have an amazing time and you’ll fall in love with the city as I did.
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO TBILISI
If you’re already decided to visit Tbilisi, you can see my top travel recommendations here:
Where to stay in Tbilisi:
For budget travelers and backpackers 111 Hostel, Pushkin 10 Hostel & Fabrika are three of the best choices! If you’re looking for a hotel, check out Rooms Hotel & IOTA Hotel – the perfect choice for couples. Museum Hotel Orbeliani is voted as one of the most family-friendly hotels in Tbilisi.
Top-rated Tbilisi tours and experiences:
Need a Visa for Georgia?
I recommend iVisa, they will sort your Georgian visa quickly and efficiently.
Travel Insurance (Better Safe Than Sorry):
You better not have to use it, but it’s always good to be assured when traveling abroad, as well as in your own country. If you decide to get insurance, check for coverage and rate with my recommended provider World Nomads.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links here are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you make a booking after clicking. It comes at no extra cost to you but it helps me with the running of this site! As always, opinions are my own. Thank you!
|Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2017 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness in December 2020.|
Things to see and do in Tbilisi:
Table of Contents
#1 Explore Tbilisi Old Town
Sitting at the foot of a steep hill, Tbilisi’s historical district also known simply as the Old Town is the most atmospheric part of the city. The cobblestone lanes, narrow streets, historic churches, captivating architecture, and the mixture of old and new make the Old Town of Tbilisi very unique.
The Old Town is located on both sides of the Kura River and is dominated by the Narikala fortress, the Mother of Georgia statue, and Mount Mtatsminda, all of which we will talk about in this post.
This part of the city is one of the most picturesque areas full of colorful houses with ornate wooden balconies and courtyards. The best way to explore the Old Town is by aimlessly wandering around. Needless to say, this is the most obvious place to begin exploring the city and all the things to do in Tbilisi!
#2 Visit the Botanical Garden
Located in the heart of the Old Town, The National Botanical Garden of Georgia is a leading research, cultural-educational, and nature conservation institution of the country.
The garden is huge and you can easily spend half-day exploring it. It contains a collection of over 4, 500 species of the flora of the Caucasus and other parts of the world.
If you’re visiting Tbilisi in summer, you can’t miss escaping from the sun under the shades of centuries-old trees.
Tbilisi’s Botanical Garden is the ideal spot for walking and it’s both tourists’ and locals’ favorite!
- Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, from 9 am to 6 pm
- Ticket: 4 GEL
#3 Swim in the Tbilisi waterfall
Wait! Waterfall? What waterfall? Are you still listing down the best things to do in Tbilisi?
I know that only a few capital cities can praise the fact of owning a waterfall in the very heart of the city and Tbilisi is one of them. I told you that Tbilisi is full of surprises.
There are actually two waterfalls in the center of the city. One is located in the Botanical Garden and you can even swim in it, the other is in the Old Town. The second one is 22 meters tall and is located behind the renowned Sulphur Baths.
The entrance fee to the Botanical Garden includes the visit to the waterfall, so you don’t need to pay extra for the swim.
#4 Walk the Bridge of Peace
They say that you haven’t been to Tbilisi if you haven’t crossed this bridge.
The 150 meters long pedestrian bridge is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the city and it connects the Old Town with Rike Park above the Kura River.
The bridge is equipped with lots of LED lights, which in the evening glow as the Georgian national flag.
Fun fact: Locals call this bridge, ”the always ultra bridge” because it looks like a lady’s pad.
#5 Watch the puppet show at the Leaning Clock Tower
Back in 2010, the Georgian theatre and film director, Rezo Gabriadze built this unique and beautiful clock tower right next to the marionette theatre in Tbilisi. Since then, every hour an angel comes out with a small hammer to ring the bell.
Inside the tower, there is a small puppet theatre. Every day, twice a day, at noon and at 7 pm, you can watch ”The Circle of Life” show.
Also, the biggest and the smallest clock in Tbilisi are situated there. The biggest one is obvious, try to find the smallest clock in the city. A random local person showed it to me. If you find it, let me know.
#6 Get to know the locals
Georgians are very nice and friendly. They will always offer their help, guidance, and knowledge to make you feel happy and comfortable. So, if a random person attempt to start a conversation with you, spare this person a bit of your time and attention.
I’ve met some awesome locals from Tbilisi with whom I shared great conversations and had fun with. However, some people after they visit Tbilisi, tell me that they haven’t experienced the Georgian hospitality and that in fact are left with the exact opposite impression.
Well, Tbilisi is a big city and just like in any other big city, people who live here have busy lives and their own worries.
I strongly encourage you to explore Georgia beyond Tbilisi, but if you’ll be limiting your trip only to the capital city, I hope you experience the Georgian hospitality, too.
#7 Eat traditional Georgian food
As a food lover, one of my favorite things to do in any new place that I visit is tasting the local cuisine. In Tbilisi, you can’t go wrong by trying as many traditional dishes as possible. Georgian food is delicious.
Here’s a list of the most traditional Georgian cuisines that you need to try:
- Puri – Georgian bread
- Khachapuri – Cheese bread
- Khachapuri Adjaruli – Egg, cheese, and butter boat
- Khinkali – dumplings that can be filled with cheese, potatoes, meat, a mix of those, etc
- Lobio – bean soup
- Georgian Cheese
- Pkhali – vegetarian appetizer
- Badrijani – eggplant rolls with walnut paste
- Georgian Salad – fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and walnuts
- Churchkhela & Tklapi – sweets
My favorites are the eggplant rolls and the khinkali.
Recommended restaurants (where to eat in Tbilisi):
- Racha Tavern – a personal favorite. I like this place because the food is good and the prices are low. I also like the location and that the interior is far from fancy, so it has an authentic feel and atmosphere.
- Restaurant Pasanauri – best khinkali in Tbilisi! My local friend brought me here for the first time, but I’ve come back several times later to show it to other people (and eat more khinkali).
- Kakhelebi – I haven’t personally tested it, but it has been recommended to me. The next time when I visit Tbilisi, I’ll definitely visit this place, but in the meantime, if you give it a try, please let me know what you think.
#8 Check out the singing fountains
In the evenings, the fountains in Rike Park start singing, dancing, and glowing.
Rike Park is nice for evening walks. Above the park, there is a restaurant (an expensive one) from where you can enjoy an amazing view of the lights of the city. From there you can see the fountains, the Bridge of Peace, the TV Tower in Mtatsminda Park, and even the Old Town and Narikala Fortress.
Beer there is worth it for the view.
#9 Visit Mtatsminda Amusement Park
Mtatsminda Park is located on top of Mount Mtatsminda and also offers great views over the city. Actually, you can see almost the entire city from up there. One part of the city you can see from the viewing platform in front of the restaurant and the other part where the Ferries Wheel is.
The Park offers lots of activities. There are also restaurants and shops, and even a wedding place.
Personally, I find the view from up there the best thing to enjoy in the park.
#10 Take the cable car to the Mother of Georgia statue
Perhaps one of the most touristy things to do in Tbilisi is taking the cable car from Rike Park to the Mother of Georgia statue. The car goes up passing over the rooftops of the houses in the Old Town and the view is really nice.
Once you’re up the hill, you can enjoy my favorite view of Tbilisi. You can’t see the whole city from here, but you can see the most beautiful part of it in detail.
Alternatively to taking the cable car up, you can do the same on foot. I have done both and would recommend you do both. Going up from the Old Town is not a big deal, but climbing the hill under the hot Georgian sun might not be so pleasant.
Mother of Georgia, the monument that sits on the top symbolizes the Georgian character – in her left hand she holds wine to greet those who come as friends, and in her right hand, she holds a sword against those who come as enemies. The statue was erected in 1958 to celebrate Georgia’s 1500th anniversary.
#11 Dry bridge flea market
Exploring the dry bridge flea market is one of my favorite things to do in Tbilisi! If you, like me, like old and antique, you can literally spend hours walking around the different stalls and exploring the market. Here you can find almost everything that you can think of.
In the past, the market was a place where people would sell some old stuff so they can earn some extra cash. At present, for some of those same people, the market turned into their main business.
If the weather allows it, the market is open every day from 10 am until 5 pm. At weekend there are usually more sellers, but more tourists, too. Prices are negotiable.
TIP: Bring cash and be polite. Vendors don’t accept credit cards and remember that even though haggling is welcomed, people are making their living.
#12 Enjoy the views from Narikala Fortress
Narikala Fortress is an ancient fortress on a hill overlooking the beautiful city of Tbilisi. The fortress is located just a few meters away from the Mother of Georgia statue and also offers some of the best panoramic views.
The fortress was build in the 4th century as a Sasanian citadel. Some say that the name Narikala comes from the Persian word for citadel, but another theory says that this was the name that Mongols used and that it means ”little fortress”.
Narikala fortress can be visited 24 hours a day, 7 days per week for FREE.
#13 Swim in the Tbilisi sea
First it was a waterfall in the heart of the city now a sea.. seriously?!
I know, I know, Tbilisi has it all!
Okay, it’s actually a reservoir, but the locals call it the Tbilisi sea. It’s good for swimming and sunbathing. A bit rocky, though, but still a great escape from the city in the summer.
TIP: If you’re planning to visit the Tbilisi sea and spend the day there, make sure to bring along water and food as there is nothing nearby.
#14 Visit the Memorial of Kings
If you like getting off-the-beaten-path, then you’ll like visiting the Memorial of Kings. When I first visited Tbilisi it was a true hidden gem, but this monument is getting more and more popular.
The Memorial of Kings or The Chronicle of Georgia, call it as you prefer, is an impressive monument on the hill above the Tbilisi sea. There is a small church nearby, too.
The monument chronicles the history of Georgia. The 16 pillars that are between 30–35 meters tall at the top half feature kings, queens, and heroes while the bottom part depicts stories from the life of Christ.
#15 Tbilisi at night
Tbilisi is beautiful at night, especially from above. I like the view from the hill – but not from the top of it – there is a small panoramic balcony just underneath.
There’s nothing more that I can add to this.
#16 Party like the locals do
Georgians like to party and the nightlife scene in Tbilisi is proof of that. Fancy dancing in a club until dawn, joining exciting parties, fun events, or going out for a few drinks with friends – in Tbilisi, there are a lot of those to choose from.
Generally, clubs in Tbilisi open around midnight, so before heading to the club, people warm-up in one of the many cool bars around the city.
If you have local friends, make sure to ask them if there’s any big party or interesting event happening while you’re in town.
On my trips to Tbilisi, I have been to many bars, and those the ones that I can recommend:
- Canudos Ethnic Bar – I really like this bar in summer when there is a garden outside. Drinks are very cheap and the atmosphere is quite nice. The only downside to it is that it has become very popular among tourists and can get crowded with them.
- Dive Bar – A local person recommended this bar to me. Casual atmosphere. Favorite place to locals and ex-pats living in the city. Great place to meet people.
- Warszawa Bar – They say that this is the cheapest and the smallest bar to get super drunk in Tbilisi. It was the first bar that I visited in the city.
- Drunk Owl – Live music on Friday evenings, and a nice cocktail list.
Tbilisi also has a thriving techno scene, so if you’re into that don’t miss Bassiani club & Khidi.
Bassiani is ofter referred to as ”the Berghain of the Caucasus” and it’s situated in an old swimming pool. Khidi is a club inside one of the Soviet-era bridges in Tbilisi. The club is divided into three floors and on the third one, there is an exhibition hall full of works from local and foreign contemporary artists.
#17 Join the free walking tour
I joined the free walking tour on my last day in Tbilisi when I already had seen everything that the tour covers. However, the tour covers a lot so it’s great to start your city exploration with it. It’s also the best way to learn more about the city and its history.
#18 Witness the preparation of a traditional Georgian bread
The traditional Georgian bread aka puri is an essential component on the Georgian table.
The bread’s a bit salty but goes along perfectly with all the traditional dishes.
TIP: If you go on the free walking tour, you’ll go to a bakery where you’ll be able to witness the preparation of puri.
#19 Free wine tasting!
You probably know that Georgia is famous for its wine and Georgians are very proud of this.
All over the Old Town, you will find wine stores that offer free wine tastings. Hop from one to another and try as many sorts as possible.
My honest opinion is that Georgian wine is good, indeed, but not that good as they are labeling it. The Bulgarian wine is way better (just saying / my opinion).
#20 Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi
Also known as Sameba, the Holy Trinity Church is the main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
The cathedral is fairly new as it was constructed between 1995 and 2004 and its the third-tallest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in the world.
Sameba is situated on the Elia hill in Tbilisi and is visible from almost every part of the city.
#21 Ride the zip line
When listing down all the cool and fun things to do in Tbilisi, I can’t miss mentioning the zip line. If you’re bored all wandering around touring the landmarks of the city, why not try something more exciting?
The zip line goes at 30 meters in height from the Narikala fortress to the Botanical Garden of Tbilisi. The distance between stations is 270 meters and it takes only 30 seconds to slide down the wire.
This activity will cost you 40 GEL.
#22 Relax at 9th April Park
Located in the heart of Tbilisi, just across the Parliament building, 9th April Park is one of the oldest parks in the city and it’s known for its old plane and pine trees.
Formerly known as Aleksandar’s park, it was renovated in 1981 and now the park is divided into two parts – upper and lower, the street that crosses the park separates them.
The upper part of the park was given the name 9th April to commemorate the events that happen on that day in 1989. April 9 tragedy refers to the day when an anti-Soviet demonstration was distressed by the Soviet Army resulting in 21 deaths and hundreds of injuries.
On 9th April today, Georgia celebrates the Day of National Unity and is an annual public holiday.
The lower part of the park is named after the Georgian writer Giorgi Leonidze.
#23 Gallery 27
A must see! Beautiful handmade artwork, located in an old building that you’ll never assume is hosting a gallery inside it. When I first visited Tbilisi it seemed that no one knows about this place, but it became quite popular on Instagram and other social media platforms, so now you can find Gallery 27 on almost every list of things to see in Tbilisi.
#24 The Sulphur baths of Tbilisi
One of the best things about Tbilisi is the sulphur baths. With constant temperatures of 38C to 40C, the hot spring are one of the reasons why Tbilisi was built here. The baths have been long used as a therapeutic aid.
There might not be anything better than ending a long, exhausting day with a hot bath.
Public baths cost between 5 – 10 GEL and offer more local experience. If you feel uncomfortable sharing the bath with strangers and getting naked in front of people you don’t know, it might be a good idea to go to a private bath.
Private baths cost starts at 50 GEL and can go all the way up to 500 GEL for luxury rooms. They are perfect for couples.
#25 Try the Georgian sweets
Churchkhela is a traditional Georgian candy.
The churchkhela is a mix of flour, sugar, and grape juice from outside and it’s filled with walnuts or hazelnuts.
They are being sold anywhere on the streets.
#26 Go to Turtle Lake to have some fun!
Turtle Lake is another fantastic place where you can escape from the city. Located on the northern cliff of Mtatsminda Park, the lake is one of the locals’ most favorite spots to enjoy fresh air, have a nice walk, swim in the summer, or have a party on the weekends.
You should remember its Georgian name Kus Tba as that’s how taxi drivers in the city know it. But there’s a better way to reach Turtle Lake – either hiking or by taking the cable car.
The cable car will take you from Vake Park to Turtle Lake in just 5 minutes and as for a little as 1 GEL!
And no, unfortunately, there are no turtles in the lake.
#27 Stroll down Rustaveli Avenue
Rustaveli Avenue is the central avenue in Tbilisi.
Along the way of the avenue, are located many governmental, business, and cultural buildings. Some of them include the Parliament of Georgia, The National Opera & Theatre, Georgian Academy of Science, Georgian Museum of Fine Arts, Kashveti Church, and more.
Don’t miss out to check the Georgian architecture along the way as here are located some of the most beautiful buildings in the city.
#28 Tbilisi Street art
In Tbilisi, street art is a relatively new trend, but today is part of the modern urban culture of the city. You can spot street art all over the city, but one of the most famous locations for murals is Fabrika.
Underpasses are also filled with street art.
Note that, you might not find and see any street art in the Old Town – it’s a UNESCO-listed historic district and the local authorities are trying to keep it clean from graffiti.
#29 Rent an apartment and stay for a while
On my first day in Tbilisi (actually, it was my second, but I don’t really count the first one) I met Slavek (btw, he’s also a travel blogger – check his blog, Travel Surf Repeat). It was Slavek’s second time in Tbilisi. The first time he had spent two months in the city and now he returned to spend one more month here. He knew a lot of places and actually, he showed me most of the city.
Thank you Slavek for being my guide!
P.S. On my second trip to Georgia, Slavek and I traveled together around the country.
Because Tbilisi is now one of my favorite cities, I would definitely love to rent an apartment there for a while one day. Actually, another friend and travel blogger at kashkaval tourist did that recently.
You can rent an Airbnb for your stay in Tbilisi. Use this link and you’ll get a $30 discount off your first stay.
Day trips from Tbilisi
#30 Day trip from Tbilisi to Mtskheta
The formal capital, Mtskheta, is one of the oldest cities in Georgia.
A day trip from Tbilisi to Mtskheta is a must because the city is very pretty and is located only 20 km away from Tbilisi so it’s very easy to get to.
The biggest and most important attraction in Mtskheta is the Jvari Monastery. Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the monastery is among the most significant monuments of Georgian Christian architecture. Translated as ”The Monastery of the Cross”, Jvari was constructed in the 6th century.
Built atop of Jvari Mount, the monastery is overlooking the town of Mtskheta where the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers confluence.
The only way to get to the monastery from the town is by taking a taxi. The taxi will usually ask for 20 GEL per person, which is way too expensive. All you need to do is to bargain. We managed to reduce the cost from 20 GEL per person to 12 GEL for two, so 6 per person.
The Jvari Monastery is far not the only thing to see in Mtskheta. The town itself is super lovely, so make sure to take a walk around it, as well as visit the Svetiskhoveli Cathedral, and eat the traditional lobio soup.
How to get from Tbilisi to Mtskheta:
The first step of getting from Tbilisi to Mtskheta is taking the metro from your nearest station to Didube station. The ticket cost 1 GEL. Once you exit the metro, head to the Didube bus station and find a minibus going your direction.
Minibus drivers are shouting out loud the names of different destinations, so it won’t be difficult to navigate and find a minibus going to Mtkhjeta. The ticket for the minibus is 1 GEL and the journey to your final destination takes around 20 minutes.
Or, you can also hitchhike. We went with the marshrutka and got back hitchhiking.
Alternatively, I can also recommend joining a full-day tour from Tbilisi to Mtskheta, Gori, and Uplistsikhe. The tour is cheap, covers 3 great Georgian destinations, a knowledgeable guide, and you won’t have to worry about navigating from one place to another.
If you’re interested only in Mtskheta, you can then take a half-day private tour, but I’d recommend just doing it yourself and at your own pace.
#31 Day trip from Tbilisi to Kazbegi
Kazbegi, ladies and gentlemen’s, is THE BEST day trip from Tbilisi!
Okay, I only say this because I am a mountain and hiking lover, and hiking to the Gergeti Glacier in Kazbegi is one of the best things I have done in Georgia.
I will highly recommend staying in Kazbegi overnight, but if you’re visiting Georgia for a limited time and want to fit as much as possible in your schedule, then DON’T miss taking a day trip to this beautiful part of the country.
Kazbegi is the old name of the town of Stepantminda located at the foot of Mount Kazbek. Rising at 5, 033 meters above sea level, Mount Kazbek is the third-highest peak in Georgia and seventh-highest in the Caucasus Mountains.
Hiking to the peak, of course, is not for everybody and one day to do that won’t be enough, but you can still enjoy the beauty of Georgian nature at the lower parts of the mountain.
What is Stepatminda most famous for, after Mount Kazbek, is the Gergeti Trinity Church. You can pay for a jeep to take you from the town to the church, but I would recommend hiking. It takes less than an hour to do so.
The Gergeti Trinity Church is situated on a vast lush green meadow. If there are no clouds, the view from there to the peak is incredible!
P.S. One of the most unforgettable moments from my trips to Georgia is my epic paragliding flight in Guadauri – I’m sure you’ll love that experience, too, so if you can manage to fit it in your schedule, GO FOR IT!
How to get from Tbilisi to Kazbegi:
That really depends on what would you want to do.
In my, opinion, a Kazbegi full-day tour from Tbilisi is the best option for those who want to cover more in one day. The tour is very reasonably priced and includes a visit to Kazbegi, a stop in Guadauri, and a visit to the gorgeous Ananuri castle.
If you want to enjoy more time hiking in Kazbegi, then it might be worth it to travel on your own – either by renting a car or by taking a minibus.
Getting to Kazbegi from Tbilisi by minibus is easy. Take the metro from your nearest station to Didube station. From there, take the minibus to Kazbegi. That’s it – easy peasy!
A one-way ticket costs 10 GEL and the journey takes about 3 and a half hours. I would suggest you take the earliest minibus possible. The earliest minibus departs around 8 am. Make sure to be at the bus station around 30 minutes before departing.
#32 Day trip from Tbilisi to Sighnaghi
Sighnaghi is a small town in the Kakheti region of Georgia. Kakheti is famous for its rich history, wine production, and stunning views. Sighnaghi, on the other side, despite being one of the smallest towns in the country is a popular tourist destination, attracting travelers with its fine wines, pastel houses and cobblestone streets, and incredible views of the vast Alazani Valley, plus the Caucasus Mountain is visible in the distance.
One of the things that I enjoyed the most in Sighnaghi was wandering around its Old Town, but you shouldn’t also miss checking out:
- Sighnaghi fortress – Sighnaghi is surrounded by a 4-kilometer defensive wall with 23 towers and 6 gates. It is also being called ”The Great Wall of Georgia”. You can start the walk from the Old Town.
- The Soviet Era Memorial – On the walls of this monument are the names of all Georgian soldiers from Sighnaghi that lost their lives in the Great Patriotic War. They fought for the Soviet Union against the Germans. The monument is located in the central square.
- Bodbe Monastery – Located only 2 km away from the town of Sighnaghi, Bodbe Monastery is nestled among cypress trees on a hill overlooking Alazani Valley and the Caucasus mountains. The monastery is a Georgian Orthodox monastic complex and the seat of the Bishops of Bodbe. On the way to the monastery, you will enjoy views of Sighnaghi’s rooftops and city walls.
- Wine – You’re in the heart of Georgia’s wine region, so try as many different wines as possible!
Sighnaghi is also popular as the ”City of Love” in Georgia. Couples are visiting the town just to get married in the municipality house at the center square that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.
How to get from Tbilisi to Sighnaghi:
The first step of getting from Tbilisi to Sighnaghi is taking the metro from your nearest station to Samgori station. The ticket cost 1 GEL. Once you exit the metro, head to Samgori bus station and find a minibus going to Sighnaghi.
That won’t take you long. Shouting minibus drivers, remember?
The ticket for the minibus to Sighnaghi costs 6 GEL and the journey takes about 2 hours.
Alternatively, I can also recommend joining a Kakheti wine region full-day tour from Tbilisi.
And that’s the end of the list of my top 30 things to do in Tbilisi. I look forward to visiting the city again and discover more of what it has to offer. Make sure to save this post as it will be updated again in the future!
Thanks for reading,