Landing in Tbilisi, I was so excited about the coming weekend because I had only visited gem on business. Now it was finally time for us to get acquainted on a more personal level – and what a weekend we had! Of course, here I talk about my favorite places to visit in Tbilisi and where to eat in Tbilisi.
Tbilisi has so much to offer, not to mention it is full of hidden treasures. The Georgian hospitality, the picturesque streets, the food, the wine, well the list can be long, but I will stop at 7… So, have a look below at my 7 reasons for falling in love with Tbilisi! Do you have any more reasons to visit this beautiful city? Then please leave a comment, because I would love to hear about them!
1. The Georgian Hospitality
I was greeted at the airport by a bald man called Gaggi. My guide and, as it turned out, the man that would teach me all about the history of Georgia, show me the most beautiful corners and secrets of this city, engage me in exciting discussions and give me a glimpse into the life of locals. He didn’t just take me to the coolest places to visit in Tbilisi, besides he showed me the pulse of his city!
“Just so you know I do not consider you as a client but as a guest” was his opening phrase. As a matter of fact, after my days with him, I understood what he meant. Gaggi was the most fantastic guide, making everything to make my stay as perfect as it could be, customized our days together fully to my interests and stayed with me much longer than planned. Thanks to Gaggi, my days in Tbilisi became much more than an ordinary city weekend, and for sure, he was a substantial contributing factor to our love story!
But it was not only Gaggi that showed the best hospitality. So did most of the Georgian people I met. Moreover, they were all friendly, smiling and service minded, making you feel like their guest wherever you went!
2. Places to Visit in Tbilisi: the Streets, the Yards & the Doors
I know, I am a bit obsessed with these picturesque streets, but I cannot get enough of them. And the streets of Tbilisi were something special…!
We started our day by strolling down the Rustaveli Avenue, the main street of Old Tbilisi, passing by the beautiful National Georgian Opera Theater, the Parliament House, the local street markets filled with carpets, handicrafts and the traditional “churchkela” that looks a bit like sausages but is confections made out of concentrated grape juice and walnuts. This market quickly became one of my favorite places to visit in Tbilisi!
Strolling Down Tbilisi
We mixed our homemade lemonade a la Georgian style in a cellar that was previously a subway station, which we would never have found without our guide. Because of Gaggi, we discovered many incredible places to visit in Tbilisi!
But it was when we entered the 19th century part of Old Tbilisi, the quarters beyond the Freedom Square, called the Sololaki District, that I got spellbound. Beautiful Georgian architectural houses and buildings line these streets, and influenced by Near Eastern and Art Nouveau design with the prettiest iconic balconies and entryways. If I hadn’t had Gaggi, I would have strolled down these streets, admiring and enjoying these romantic hoods but then I would have missed all the hidden treasures behind the walls.
Evergreen at the Georgian capital
We stepped into the yards. One belonging to the wealthiest man of that time with an exhibition of both paintings and part of his home, one occupied by the cutest hipster café, another with fresh water from the mountains. Still, the prettiest was the yards of today’s people, filled by flowers and signs of their daily life.
We entered the buildings and found amazingly decorated staircases in typical colorful Tbilisi style. Ordinarily, we would have seen much less, but we had Gaggi to thank! He even got us invited to the home of one of the most famous baking ladies in Tbilisi. She opened the door to her small apartment with a warm smile and open arms. Just wished we had come a bit later when the cakes were ready for tasting!
3. The Baths
In the outskirts of Old Tbilisi, you will find the baths, another iconic attraction. It’s without a doubt one of the most popular places to visit in Tbilisi. Unfortunately, I did not have time to try them out this time, but if they are as beautiful on the inside as on the outside, it is a must during my next visit.
Entering this area is a bit like stepping out of the city and into nature. We walked along the river and in the end, we found a small waterfall and some highly-appreciated shadow!
4. The Contrasts & Contemporary Tbilisi
Tbilisi has many faces and is a city full of contrasts. We left the old part behind to explore the new and more modern side, the German quarters. What can be a better way to change scenery than by crossing the new landmark built in 2010 – the Bridge of Peace. Even though controversial, it has almost a magnetic effect, and it’s quickly become one of the “it” places to visit in Tbilisi. Its contemporary steel and glass design, the view and its 1208 LED light installation, attract people day and night.
The German part of Tbilisi offers a very different experience versus Old Tbilisi. Here the avenues are wider, the architecture has evident influences from Germany and France, and this is where I found my street art sweet spot!
Fabrika, once a Soviet sewing factory, now an urban hot spot for locals and travelers looking for a creative and artsy oasis. We had a healthy lunch, got some well-deserved rest after a long day and left full of inspiration. I loved the cool design in the lobby and the colorful street art in this hood.
5. The Food & Wine: Where to Eat in Tbilisi
Around the corner of Fabrika, one of the highlights of the day was waiting for us – wine tasting! Georgia is a bit like Eastern Europe’s Italy: a paradise for wine lovers. Georgian food is unique, and I was excited about where to eat in Tbilisi. Having tasted Georgian wine in Moscow, I must admit that I was not impressed as I am not a fan of sweet or semi-sweet wine. Luckily I learned that Georgia also has more dry options and some bottles made it to my wine shelf at home!
When in Georgia you need to try out the famous and delicious Georgian food. I started my first days here by only eating khachapuri (cheese bread), khinkali (big dumplings), various Pkhali (vegetable mixes/pures) and delicious Georgian salads. As Gaggi said, Georgia is not a country suitable for diets; it is a country full of temptations, all for you to enjoy life. Of course, he handled where to eat in Tbilisi, and his choices always marveled me!
On the top of my list of where to eat in Tbilisi was Keto & Kote. A relatively new restaurant, located in a beautiful old house in the picturesque hoods of Vera, yet with a contemporary design and with delicious dishes from the West part of Georgia.
6. The Scenery & View
Exhausted after a long day we arrived at the terrace of the Radisson Hotel, an altogether perfect spot to enjoy the view and scenery of Tbilisi. The river, the architecture, the mountains as well and the new glass skyscraper – the Biltmore Hotel – as the neighbor. Coupled with a glass of wine or two, the Radisson is the right spot to end a busy day!
However, for the perfect view, a ride up the mountains with the funicular is a must. I did not do it this time but have done it twice before and can ensure that the view up there is stunning, especially from the balcony of the top restaurant!
7. The Hip & Cool Places
In addition to everything else, here’s another description of Tbilisi: heaven for hipster lovers.
First out was my hotel, the Rooms Hotel, located in the shabby chic Vera neighborhood, although much fancier. It’s a hip little boutique gem mixing industrial chic elements with strong New York vibes. Conversely, you can read all about my experience in this hotel in my blog post “Hotel Review: The Rooms Hotel Tbilisi”.
In case you want to hang out with the cool artsy Tbilisi crowd, you do not have to go far. Across the street from the Rooms Hotel, is one of the newest addition to Tbilisi’s nightlife – Lolita. Granted, I loved everything about this place: the atmosphere and vibe, the drinks, the unpretentious food, and the design. To put it another way, Lolita is the perfect spot to start or end the evening or figure out where to eat in Tbilisi!
Food, food, food!
Of course, Georgian food is amazing but after a couple of days on this diet or maybe non-diet, it might be good with a change. Also, I ended my Tbilisi visit in the Culinarium Kasheria, for a notably unique dinner. Even if small, this modern place with healthy experimental food and lovely waiters took my heart. All in all, if you’re looking for where to eat in Tbilisi to taste new things, it’s the perfect place.
Tbilisi has made it to many “upcoming travel destination” lists lately because of its many charms. If this picturesque and romantic yet hip and cool city is not on your list, you better add it there before all tourists conquer this Eastern European gem. Most importantly, there are still many places to visit in Tbilisi that feel untouched by the west!
When it comes to myself, I am sure I will soon be back to explore Tbilisi and Georgia even more. I particularly look forward to finding more places to add to my list of where to eat in Tbilisi!
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