Wedged into a confusing crossroads between Europe and Asia, Georgia and its capital city of Tbilisi are shrouded in an appealing mystery. That’s all about to change, however: this little-known ex-Soviet city is quickly rising on travelers’ radars as budget airlines and increased visibility make it all the more appealing. Check out this list of the top eight reasons why Tbilisi tourism is primed for a bright future. Then, discover the things you would most want to see and do by using this Tbilisi trip planner.
1. Tbilisi’s architecture mixes ancient with ultra-modern—and everything in between
With origins in the 5th century, it comes as no surprise that Tbilisi’s appearance is a sometimes-eclectic hodgepodge of styles and sites. The town’s ancient Narikala Fortress stands as an archaic city icon, and the old town is a jumble of Persian-era temples, 18th-century homes, and medieval churches. Of course, these all stand in stark contrast to monolithic Soviet-era constructions and futuristic 21st-century government buildings.
2. Secluded backstreets are adventures in themselves
Striking out into the old town’s network of residential lanes and losing yourself among the bustle of everyday local life is one of Tbilisi’s great pleasures. You’ll wander under countless distinctive wooden balconies decked out in pastel colors, past stunning verandas outfitted with stained glass, and through courtyards with some precariously leaning houses. Expect plenty of encounters with noisy stray cats and the occasional friendly dog.
3. The warm-hearted Georgian people love to show off their homeland to visitors
No matter where you go in Tbilisi, whether it be wandering around town, stopping by the market, or even sitting out at a streetside cafe, you’ll get plenty of attention from locals excited to hear about your impressions of their hometown. Guests in Georgia are honored, and Tbilisi is no exception, though you might quickly find yourself drinking more than you planned. Don’t shy away from the contact— tbiliselebi (Tbilisi natives) are happy to help with directions or recommendations for things to do in Tbilisi.
4. Tbilisi’s restaurant scene has it all—from fine dining to delicious Georgian cooking
The toughest part about eating in Tbilisi is simply deciding among the plethora of options. Whether at a posh restaurant around Freedom Square or a local diner on Rustaveli, Georgian cooking won’t disappoint. Do not leave the country without sampling some khinkali, a meat-filled dumpling that’s best enjoyed in large quantities along with plenty of vodka. Late-night escapades got your stomach growling? Never fear, as Tbilisi plays home to numerous 24-hour restaurants.
Stumped for a way to spend a sunny afternoon? Find a laid-back city park or square (there are plenty to choose from), order up a crisp Kazbegi beer, and watch the world go by. Alternatively, stroll through the botanical garden or make for the canyon waterfall at the base of the fortress. Of course, it’s hard to beat the Abanotubani baths, where you can rent a private room and indulge in soothing natural thermal pools and refreshing cold dips.
6. The capital is the country’s transportation hub
Tbilisi is the gateway to the vast array of places to visit in Georgia, as its transportation routes link the capital up with other major cities and towns. The main train station services regular routes to towns like Mtskheta, Zugdidi, and Batumi, while a network of “marshrutkas” (minibuses) pick up the slack in between. Use a combination of these different transport methods, and your Georgia trip will be a breeze regardless of where you’re headed.
7. Nightlife in Tbilisi is inclusive and energetic, especially if you like karaoke
When night falls, don’t miss out on a visit to Shardeni Street near the old town or Perovskaya Street at the north end of Rustaveli, some of Tbilisi’s main nightlife districts. Open-air cafes and hookah lounges stand alongside local joints and Irish-themed pubs, so the choices are practically endless. You’ll find that many regular bars transform into impromptu karaoke hot spots on weekends, so bring your A-game to belt out your favorite tune.
8. Tourist infrastructure is catching up to Europe
Tbilisi tourism and its development have taken a step up in recent years, with big restorations of many city landmarks bringing a new shine to some previously worn out sites. Ever since the pro-Western Rose Revolution of 2003, Georgia has as a whole placed great emphasis on foreign accessibility, and you’ll find plenty of helpful signs and maps in English.
Georgia’s up-and-coming capital
As more and more visitors from around the world trickle into Georgia’s stunning capital, it’s clear that Tbilisi tourism is on a definite upward path. If you’re ready to explore this rising star, try planning your trip with Inspirock to make the most of your visit. You can use this sample Tbilisi itinerary for inspiration: