The heart of Georgia: Top things to do in Tbilisi

low angle shot of kalantarov house

Tbilisi, the charming capital of Georgia, is a city where ancient, cobbled streets meet modern urban life. Nestled in the Caucasus region, this city boasts an eclectic mix of Eastern and Western influences, evident in its architecture, culture, and cuisine. Here are some of the best activities to experience in this unique metropolis:

1. Wander through the Old Town

Delve into the historical soul of Tbilisi by strolling through its Old Town. Admire traditional Georgian houses with their distinctive wooden balconies, explore hidden courtyards, and discover ancient churches, like the iconic Metekhi Church perched on a cliff-side.

2. Relax in the Sulphur Baths

A visit to the Abanotubani district, known for its sulphur bathhouses, is a must-do in Tbilisi. The natural thermal waters are believed to have healing properties and offer a perfect way to unwind after a day of exploration.

3. Take a Cable Car to Narikala Fortress

The Narikala Fortress provides a panoramic view of the city. Reach it by a short and scenic cable car ride from Rike Park, and enjoy the breathtaking scenery, including the Botanical Garden that sits on the fortress’ slopes.

4. Visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral (Sameba)

Sameba is one of the largest Orthodox cathedrals in the world. Its towering presence is hard to miss, and its beautifully adorned interior offers a peaceful retreat amidst the bustling city.

5. Engage with Art at the Tbilisi State Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema, and Choreography

For art enthusiasts, this museum is a treasure trove of Georgian creativity, showcasing a vast collection of costumes, scripts, and musical instruments that highlight the country’s rich artistic traditions.

6. Take a Stroll Down Rustaveli Avenue

Rustaveli Avenue is the main thoroughfare in Tbilisi, lined with boutiques, theaters, and cafes. Whether you’re shopping, people-watching, or simply enjoying the vibrant street life, it’s a great way to feel the pulse of the city.

7. Taste Georgian Cuisine

Georgian food is a highlight for many visitors. Try authentic dishes like khachapuri (cheese-stuffed bread), khinkali (dumplings), and grilled meats, accompanied by a glass of traditional Georgian wine.

8. Discover the Chronicles of Georgia Monument

Standing tall on the outskirts of Tbilisi, the Chronicles of Georgia monument features towering pillars depicting scenes from Georgian history and is an impressive sight, especially at sunset.

9. Dive into the Dry Bridge Market

Head to the Dry Bridge Market to find a wide array of antiques, art, and trinkets. It is the perfect place to shop for unique souvenirs and experience local daily life.

10. Enjoy the Rezo Gabriadze Puppet Theater

For a unique cultural experience, catch a performance at the Rezo Gabriadze Puppet Theater. Here, intricate puppetry and storytelling come to life in an intimately charming setting.

11. Explore the Georgian National Museum

For history buffs, the Georgian National Museum is an essential stop. Its collections offer a deep dive into the country’s past, from prehistoric times to the modern age. Marvel at archaeological finds, medieval treasuries, and learn about Georgia’s struggle for independence.

12. Take in the Sights from the Peace Bridge

The modern architecture of the Peace Bridge stands in stark contrast to the ancient structures of Tbilisi, symbolizing the city’s progressive spirit. This pedestrian bridge stretches over the Kura River and is especially stunning at night when it is illuminated with countless LED lights.

13. Sample Local Wines at a Traditional Wine Cellar

Georgia is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. A visit to a traditional wine cellar, or ‘marani’, offers a glimpse into ancient winemaking traditions. Savor the unique flavors of Georgian wines, such as Saperavi and Rkatsiteli, and learn about the qvevri method of winemaking. This uses large earthenware vessels to ferment wine underground.

14. Attend the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre

At the heart of Georgia’s classical arts scene is the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre. With its splendid facade and richly decorated interior, the theatre hosts a regular program of opera and ballet performances, showcasing local and international talent in a lavish setting.

15. Explore the Dezerter Bazaar

For a real taste of local culture, visit the Dezerter Bazaar, Tbilisi’s largest open-air market. Here, locals come to buy everything from fresh produce to spices, cheese, and meat. It’s a bustling, colorful place where you can haggle with vendors and taste the freshest ingredients used in Georgian cooking.

16. Visit the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia

This museum, part of the Georgian National Museum, holds the country’s main archaeological collection, featuring ancient artifacts that tell the tale of Georgia’s cultural development through the ages. Its most famous exhibit is the prehistoric human remains found in Dmanisi, which challenge our understanding of human evolution.

17. View Contemporary Art at the Tbilisi Art Fair

The Tbilisi Art Fair has quickly become an important event on the international art circuit. This brings together contemporary artists from Georgia and beyond. It’s the perfect venue to experience the creativity that thrives within the city and to acquire a piece to take home.

18. Chill Out at Mtatsminda Park

Perched atop Mount Mtatsminda overlooking the city, Mtatsminda Park is a funfair and a leisure park all in one. Accessible by the Tbilisi Funicular, the park offers thrilling rides, a large Ferris wheel, and plenty of entertainment options for families. It’s also a wonderful place to simply relax, enjoy the fresh air, and take in the magnificent view of Tbilisi below.

19. Explore the David Gareja Monastery Complex

A day trip from Tbilisi, the David Gareja Monastery Complex is a rock-hewn Georgian Orthodox monastery complex located in the Kakheti region, near the border with Azerbaijan. Its caves, frescoes, and remote setting make it a mystical place for pilgrimage and exploration.

20. Listen to Georgian Polyphonic Singing

Recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Georgian polyphonic singing is an ancient and profound tradition that visitors can experience in many venues across Tbilisi. From formal concerts to impromptu performances in local taverns, the harmonies of this unique singing style are hauntingly beautiful and not to be missed.

Conclusion: Top Things to Do in Tbilisi

From the winding paths of its ancient heart to the vibrant energy of its modern streets, Tbilisi offers a wealth of experiences. Whether you’re soaking in history, indulging in the local cuisine, or enjoying its thriving cultural scene, Tbilisi is a city that’s sure to enchant.

Tbilisi’s allure doesn’t stop at its main attractions; the city’s soul is found in the nuances of daily life and subtle hidden gems. The cultural tapestry of Tbilisi is as diverse as the history of Georgia itself. Having endured invasions throughout the centuries, Tbilisi has become a resilient hub that has absorbed various influences.

With every corner turned, Tbilisi reveals another layer of its story, inviting you into the rich tapestry of Georgian life. Tbilisi is a city that embraces the old while stepping into the future. Visitors will leave with memories as vibrant and diverse as the city itself.




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