20 Jan The Ultimate Tbilisi Travel Guide
Tbilisi, the Capital City of Georgia, is really an up-and-coming destination that you need to add to your bucket list! I traveled there in March 2019 and I was blown away! In order to help you plan your trip, I have decided to write this Tbilisi Travel Guide. I am answering here to all the questions you may have before traveling to this amazing place!
Tbilisi is the largest city of Georgia and has been the capital throughout the centuries. Founded around 1500 years ago it is full of history, and it has a lot to offer nowadays. So, without further ado, here are all my travel tips to have the best trip to Tbilisi!
Tbilisi is a real gem! You will find here all the reasons why you should visit this city! In this Tbilisi travel guide, I am giving you a quick recap of the main arguments.
Firstly, you can visit Tbilisi for its beautiful and diverse architecture. In the Georgian capital you will find a lot of different influences: European, Persian, Asian… There is an interesting contrast between traditional and charming style and bold and modern style depending on where you are in the city.
Secondly Tbilisi is famous for its Sulphur Baths. Since centuries people enjoy the natural warmth and healing properties of those Sulphur baths.
Thirdly, the Georgian food is yummy, and Georgia is one of the oldest wine regions in the world.
Last but not least Tbilisi is a hidden treasure: it’s not too touristy yet and worth the visit ASAP!
What is the best time to visit Tbilisi?
The best time of the year to visit Tbilisi is in Spring and September.
Winter months can be cold, especially from November to beginning of March.
March and April offer some nice blooms. May and June are warmer and pleasant to enjoy the outdoors.
The months of July and August are quite hot. Even the locals prefer to leave the city at this time of the year to go to Batumi on the seaside or to the mountains. That’s why in this Tbilisi travel guide I do not recommend going there in summer.
September and the beginning of fall are nice to visit Tbilisi. The temperatures are still not too chilly, and the fall foliage is giving the area beautiful colors.
How many days to stay in Tbilisi?
Tbilisi is perfect to visit for a long weekend. The city is not too big, so you won’t lose time in transportation. And many of the best places to visit are not so far from each other. Therefore, I would advise you in this Tbilisi travel guide to book at least 3 days for your stay.
You can count one day of walking around in the Old Town and the district of Abanotubani, stroll in Ride Park and finish the day at Sameba Cathedral. Then you can count half a day to discover the area around the Narikala Fortress. Take half a day to enjoy a Sulphur Bath, one of the best activities to do in Tbilisi. You can use some extra time to visit the Chronicles of Georgia, make some shopping, take a look at the Kaleidoscope House or anything else you would like.
If you read the Best Things to do in Tbilisi you will get more ideas!
Is Tbilisi budget-friendly?
Tbilisi is a perfect destination if you travel on a budget! It’s actually one of the reasons why I recommend you visit this city in this Tbilisi travel guide!
Everything is rather cheap, and many sightseeing activities are free. Here are some examples of costs for you to evaluate your budget:
- Meals: around 15 GEL, which is only around 5 EUR / 6 USD for a meal in a mid-range restaurant.
- Drinks: around 5 GEL, which is less than 2 EUR / USD for a beer.
- Transportation: most of the taxi rides I did in Tbilisi costed me around 5 EUR / 6 USD. And for public transport one-way costs 0.50 GEL, around 0.15 EUR / USD.
- Accommodation: a bed in a dormitory room hostel is around 6 to 10 EUR / 7 to 12 USD, while a well-located apartment on AirBnb is from 25 to 40 EUR / 30 to 50 USD, and a 4-star hotel room is around 80 euros / 100 USD in the center of Tbilisi.
How to get to Tbilisi?
You can reach Tbilisi by plane, by train, by bus or by car.
In this Tbilisi travel guide I am telling you that the easiest way to get there from abroad is by plane. The main airport of Georgia – Shota Rustaveli Tbilisi International Airport, a.k.a. “Novo Alexeyevka International Airport” – is located 17 km south east of Tbilisi.
If you wonder how to go Tbilisi from the airport, there are 3 different ways. Firstly, you can take a taxi. The price varies from 30 to 50 GEL depending on the distance (7,50 to 12,50 EUR / 9 to 15 USD). The service is available 24/7. It will take you 20 to 30 min to arrive to Tbilisi depending on traffic and distance. Secondly you can take the Airport railway from the railway station (at only 70 meters from the airport buildings). It will cost you 0,50 GEL (around 0.15 EUR / USD) and you will arrive in Tbilisi city center in around 20 min. The trains from the Airport to Tbilisi start at 8:35 AM and last departure is at 5:40 PM. And the trains from Tbilisi to the Airport start at 7:55 AM and last departure is at 4:55 PM. Thirdly, you can take the bus #37 from the public bus stop located in front of the Arrival hall. It costs only 0,50 GEL one way and it will take you from 40 to 60 min to arrive to downtown Tbilisi. It is available 24/7.
What are the Best Places to Stay in Tbilisi?
In this Tbilisi travel guide I will give you some of the best places to stay in Tbilisi. I chose a selection that covers all kinds of budget. Although, as I mentioned earlier, Tbilisi is rather budget-friendly, so you won’t waste money with accommodation!
Fabrika is a good budget recommendation for a place to stay in Tbilisi. This former sewing factory during Soviet times has been turned into a multi-cultural center featuring the biggest hostel in the region of Tbilisi. Fabrika is a cool budget place to stay, especially if you want to meet people and enjoy the creative side of Tbilisi! You will pay from 8 EUR – 6 USD for a bed in a 6 mixed dorm to 50 EUR – 60 USD for a private double room.
Moxy Tbilisi by Marriott is a good mid-range recommendation for a place to stay in Tbilisi. This 4-Star hotel is modern and stylish. The rooms are comfortable, and the staff is helpful! I stayed there for 3 nights and I appreciated it! Also, the central location is ideal. The rooms are around 80/100 EUR – 105/120 USD (prices can vary depending on the time of the year).
Stamba Hotel is a good luxury recommendation for a place to stay in Tbilisi. This 5-Star hotel is located within the former Georgia’s most important printing house in the center of Tbilisi. The guest rooms and suites of the hotel offer an industrial-chic deco with high ceilings and brick walls, but all luxury and comfort. Inside the hotel you will also find a gourmet cuisine restaurant, a chocolaterie and roastery and more! The rooms are around 110 EUR – 135 USD
The Biltmore Tbilisi Hotel is another good luxury recommendation for a place to stay in Tbilisi. This 5-Star hotel is the first glass skyscraper in Georgia and the highest hotel in the Caucasus Region! It’s ideally located in the historical center and provides breathtaking views over the city. The hotel also features an indoor pool, a spa, a fitness center and a restaurant. The price for a room starts at 150 EUR – 180 USD (the big suites and the higher rooms are more expensive).
What are the Best Things to Do in Tbilisi?
There are many things to do and see in Tbilisi! But let me give you in this Tbilisi travel guide the highlights of the city. You will find many stunning landmarks to admire: the façade of Orbeliani Bath, Sameba Cathedral, the Chronicles of Georgia, the Leaning Clock Tower, or the Kaleidoscope House just the name a few. You can walk around in the pretty Old Town or in Rike Park. And do not leave Tbilisi without trying the century old tradition of the Sulphur Bath! Many activities are possible in Tbilisi!
What are the Best Places to Eat in Tbilisi?
Georgian cuisine is delicious, so I recommend you try it when you are in Tbilisi! And do not miss on Georgian wines, as Georgia is one of the oldest wine regions in the world! But you will also find good restaurants serving other kind of cuisines in the city.
Here are some of the restaurants I have tried, and I recommend in this Tbilisi travel guide:
- Leila: a charming Georgian restaurant with a delicious vegetarian cuisine. Address: 18 Ioane Shavteli St, Tbilisi.
- Zala: this great restaurant located in an historic building provides an interesting Georgian fusion cuisine. The talented Chef Luka Khinkiladze is member of the Bocuse d’Or Georgia team. He likes to modernize some of the traditional Georgian dishes. Address: 24 Tamar Chovelidze St, Tbilisi.
- Vino: this restaurant has a nice atmosphere and a cool decoration that serves amazing wines and Georgian food. Address: 6 Ekerle II st, 6 Erekle II St, Tbilisi.
- Rooms Kitchen: here you will enjoy the best dishes of the Georgian cuisine in a modern decor. They promote a ‘farm to table’ concept ensuring you to get fresh, local quality products. Address: 14 Merab Kostava St, Tbilisi 0108.
- Keti’s Bistrot: this cozy restaurant serves a French and European cuisine with local ingredients. Address: 3 Tamar Chovelidze St, 0108 Tbilisi.
How to move around in Tbilisi?
One of the important things I can share in this Tbilisi travel guide is how to move around in the city. You can find taxis in the street close to the touristy sites and in front of the hotels. But if you need any taxi services and do not see any around, you can download the app Taxify. You can also use public transport: buses and subways will take you in many places in Tbilisi. The public transport card Metroman is available at any subway stations. You can charge it in all the bus and subway stations. One-way costs 0.50 GEL, around 0.15 EUR / USD.
How to deal with money in Tbilisi?
The Lari (GEL) is the currency used in Georgia. You can change money or find ATMs at the airport. If you want to change money, the most popular exchange rate is GEL to USD rate. In hotels, restaurants, shops and markets in Tbilisi you can pay in cash or with debit and credit cards. You will find ATMs everywhere in the streets and many exchange offices (for example in metro stations, train stations and bus stations).
How to get a Phone SIM Card in Tbilisi?
If you want to stay properly connected with the Internet during your trip to Tbilisi, you must wonder how to get a SIM Card for your smart phone. So, I thought it would be great to give you my recommendations in this Tbilisi travel guide!
You can easily find a SIM Card at the airport when you arrive. The three main providers in Georgia are Magti, Beeline and Geocell. I decided to go for Magti, as it was suggested by other travelers. Apparently, they have the best coverage accross the country and a good speed. It was a good choice as I didn’t have any issue. I remember it costed me 42 GEL (13 EUR / 15 USD) but do not have the details of my bundle. On the Magti website I have found some of their current bundles:
- Bundle at 30 GEL with a free SIM Card, 3GB of data, 30 Min international calls, Free local calls and Free local SMS/MMS. Valid for 15 days.
- Bundle at 15 GEL with a free SIM Card, 5GB of data and Free local SMS/MMS. Valid for 15 days.
- Bundle at 30 GEL for 20 GB (data only). Valid for 30 days.
The SIM card providers take credit cards in case you do not have GEL. They will just need your passport for registration. The staff will activate the SIM Card for you, it just takes a few minutes. Just make sure that you phone is unlocked before leaving your country.
Also, free wifi is available in most of the hotels and restaurants, and throughout the terminal the airport.
Is Tbilisi safe?
I traveled with a friend in Tbilisi and as women we never felt insecure or unsafe. We were wandering early in the streets to take some photos at sunrise and no one bothered us. Sometimes some older men were talking to us, but my friend speaks Russian and she told me they were giving us some very polite compliment on our beauty and beautiful dresses. It was never disrespectful. Of course, we stayed in the touristy areas and we didn’t take any risks.
We have seen a few stray dogs in the streets in Tbilisi. But we noticed all of them have a special tag on the ear, with an identification number. In fact, they are all examined by a veterinarian from the Tbilisi Animal Monitoring Agency, sterilized, and vaccinated. And if everything is in order, they release the animals into the street from where they were taken. The dogs were friendly and sometimes following us in the street, like a furry guardian angel!
Do people speak English in Tbilisi?
The younger generations in Georgia can speak in English, at least the basics. And you shouldn’t have too many issues in hotels and restaurants in the touristy areas.
But keep in mind that the older generations usually don’t speak English at all. So, my best tips in this Tbilisi Travel Guide if you want to chat with them, is to know some words in Russian, or in Georgian of course (see some of them below)!
What are some Basic Georgian Words and Essential Phrases?
My last tip for you in this Tbilisi Travel Guide is to learn a few basic Georgian words and essential phrases. It can help you during your trip!
- Hello: Gamarjoba (ga-mar-jo-ba)
- Goodbye : Nakh’vamdis (na-khvam-dis)
- Yes: Ki
- No: Ara
- OK: Kargi
- Thank You: Madloba (mad-lo-ba)
- You are Welcome: Arapris (ara-pris)
- Excuse Me: Ukatsravad (u-kats-ra-vad)
- Sorry: Bodishi
- Please: Tu Sheidzleba (tu she-id-zle-ba)
- I Don’t Understand: Ver Gavige (ver ga-vi-ge)
- How Much is This?: Ra girs? (ra girs)
- How are You?: Rogor khar? (ro-gor khar)
- Good, and You?: Kargad, Tavad?
- Nice to Meet You: Sasiamovnoa sheni gatsnoba (sa-si-am-ov-noa she-ni ga-tsno-ba)
- Georgia: Sakartvelo
- Georgian: Kartveli
- Noli / 0
- Erti / 1
- Ori / 2
- Sami / 3
- Otkhi / 4
- Khuti / 5
- Ekvsi / 6
- Shvidi / 7
- Rva / 8
- Tskhra / 9
- Ati / 10
I hope all the travel tips and informations I have shared in this Tbilisi travel guide will be useful for your trip there! If you have any remaining questions, feel free to ask it to me in the comments or by email. I will do my best to answer them!
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