24 Hours in Tbilisi, Georgia

by Levan Aleksandre

The monument of King David the Builder (David Aghamashenebeli), who ruled Georgia from 1089 until his death in 1125, greets visitors coming into Tbilisi from the west as they approach the completely enchanting capital of Georgia. From his seat on the freeway, he seems both confident and noble astride his steed, surveying the landscape beyond the Soviet-era buildings.

David, who also gave his name to Kutsai Airport (officially, David Aghmashenebeli Airport), successfully warded off invaders and ushered in the Georgian Golden Age, making his monument a potent symbol of success and fortification.

He will be able to see the revitalization of this lovely, harmonious, and welcoming metropolis firsthand as tourism ushers in yet another Golden Age and shines a spotlight on Tbilisi’s stunning topography. This city’s many landmarks, rolling hills of greenery, a winding river with towering cliffs, and lovely residences with intricately carved wooden balconies—make it a sight to see from any vantage point.

A visit to the city is perfect for a quick getaway. There are many sights to see in the city that can be seen in half a day, making it a good option if you just have a day to explore. You can take a private half-day tour of Tbilisi with Georgian Holidays for only €29. This includes a private guide and admission to all of the city’s top attractions, including the Holy Trinity Sameba Cathedral, the Narikala Fortress, and the Sioni Cathedral.

Aside from that, here’s how to maximize your time in Tbilisi during the weekend.

Must Stay

There is no cooler place to stay than Rooms Hotel. You can anticipate artwork, interesting design, dark lighting, and expensive flourishes at this casino since it is owned by a colorful individual. Take a look at the complete Rooms Hotel review here.

TIP: Fabrika Hostel, created from a converted sewing factory, offers a hipper experience at low pricing. Hostel-style rooms start at £10 per person, with upgrades available for a small additional fee. However, the nightlife here continues late into the night, making it difficult to get enough rest.


Must check out the Old Town (Altstadt)

Old Town’s winding, cobblestone streets are home to a mix of colorful, weathered structures and newly rebuilt brick houses with their trademark balconies. The combination of them with Art Nouveau and traditional Russian architecture creates a visually beautiful whole.

The grand-looking Freedom Square, with its neo-classical architecture, was the site in 1991 when a monument to Lenin was taken down to symbolize the end of Soviet rule. Take a look up to see a glittering St. George statue perched atop a soaring column that sprouts from the center of the circular road. This is the beginning of Rustaveli Avenue, the major drag of the city. Along its length are the National Museum, the Opera and Ballet Theatre, and the Parliament.

A stunning view of Freedom Square (Liberty Square) in Tbilisi, with the iconic St. George Statue against a blue sky background.

Captivating View of Freedom Square in TbilisiImage source: Efired/Shutterstock.com

Going deeper into the center, the roads narrow and twist past the town’s one and only mosque, where Shiite and Sunni Muslims pray in gorgeous mosaic interiors; the 6th-century Sioni Cathedral (named after Mount Zion in Jerusalem and rebuilt by David the Builder in 1112); and the Great Synagogue, built in 1895–1903 by Georgian Jews from Akhaltsikhe.

St. Ilya Hill, on the opposite side of the river, is home to the Sameba Cathedral, the third-tallest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in the world, with its distinctive gold dome.

A magnificent view of the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi (Sameba) against a clear blue sky.

Majestic Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi (Sameba)Image source:badahos/Shutterstock.com

In the heart of the center is a strange-looking puppet theater with a clock tower that is all over the place. It was constructed just a few short years ago as part of the Gabriadze puppet theater, yet it seems like it belongs in a fairy tale.

Every hour, at the top of the hour, a puppet angel appears from a door and taps the bell with a hammer. You might miss it if you blink.

A picturesque view of the old town of Tbilisi, Georgia, featuring the whimsical Clock Tower of the puppet theater by Rezo Gabriadze.

Enchanting Old Town of Tbilisi with Rezo Gabriadze’s Fairy Tale Clock TowerImage source:Boris Stroujko /Shutterstock.com

Unless you know where you’re going, you probably won’t find the Meidan Bazaar in the middle of the city. This bustling marketplace is located in a tunnel under Gorgasali Square, which leads to both sulphur baths and botanical gardens. Several small stores offering Georgian souvenirs, paintings, honey, and wine can be found throughout this tunnel’s brief length.

View of the underground Meidan Bazaar in Tbilisi, Georgia, showcasing a vibrant marketplace.

Underground Meidan Bazaar in Tbilisi, GeorgiaImage source:Matyas Rehak/Shutterstock.com

Must see the views

A 65-foot monument of the Mother of Georgia (Kartlis Deda) decked out in traditional Georgian garb can be seen atop Sololaki Hill. In 1958, to mark the city’s 500th anniversary, she was born. She’s got wine for her friends and a sword to ward off her enemies. Join her on the hilltop for a bird’s-eye view of the city by hiking up or using the cable car for 5 LARI.

The view of the botanical gardens, which span 97 ha, can be seen on the other side of the slope.

A stunning panoramic view of Tbilisi city from Sololaki Hill, showcasing a blend of old town and modern architecture.

Panoramic View of Tbilisi City from Sololaki HillImage source: nikolpetr/Shutterstock.com

The Peace Bridge offers a different perspective. This contemporary bow-shaped bridge is the architect Michele de Lucchi’s crowning achievement. Steel and glass compose the structure, which is lighted by a plethora of LEDs. Beautiful by day, it turns heads at night.

The Metekhi Church, where a statue of the city’s founder, Vakhtang Gorgasali, stands, and the Narikala Fortress, which spreads out on a hill between the sulphur baths and the botanical gardens, are all visible from this bridge, which spans the Mtkvari (Kura) River at an elevation of 150 meters (490 feet).

A stunning morning view of Tbilisi's City Clock, Old Meidan Square, and the majestic Narikala ancient fortress in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Captivating Morning View of Tbilisi’s City ClockImage source: kavalenkava/Shutterstock.com

Must visit a spa

The bathhouses and sulphur springs are located in the Abanotubani District, which has domes from the 17th century that hint to the existence of underground baths. Tbilisi’s thermal springs have been a focal point of culture for over two millennia. It was recently discovered that the Romans used this spot for bathing as early as the first century AD.

An underground view of the ancient sulfur baths, a popular city landmark in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Enchanting Sulfur Baths, a Popular Landmark in TbilisiImage source: Try_my_best/Shutterstock.com

Once upon a time, there were sixty spas, but now there are just five that are open for business. Find Bathhouse No. 5, which has beautiful mosaics on the outside of the building, even if you don’t plan on using the baths.

A stunning waterfall, practically invisible from the road, can be seen if you keep going away from the river towards Leghvtakhevi.

A tourist woman in a hat walks towards a waterfall surrounded by autumn trees in the Botanical Garden in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Serene Autumn Escape: Exploring the Botanical Garden in TbilisiImage source: Pikoso.kz/Shutterstock.com

Must Eat

Cafe Leila, unusually furnished in Asian and Persian styles, is an excellent spot to enjoy lunch (particularly for vegetarians) due to its convenient position close to the clock tower.

Kharcho, often cooked with beef, is provided as a vegetarian option here with mushrooms and blackberry sauce and is accompanied with mchadi (corn bread) for either in-house or take-out dining. Naturally, classics like Georgian cheese bread Khachapuri are delicious.The soko ketze sulgunit (mushrooms in a clay dish topped with Sulguni cheese) is also highly recommended. The homemade lemonade is a welcome treat on a hot day.

A terrace of a restaurant overlooking Tbilisi's old city, adorned with delectable desserts and tea.

Indulge in Delightful Treats: Desserts and Tea in the Heart of TbilisiImage source: fornStudio/Shutterstock.com

Churchkella is the perfect dessert. Walnuts and grapes come together in this delicious dessert. Candle-shaped sweets are made by stringing walnuts together and dipping them in hot grape juice thickened with flour, then letting them cure for a couple of weeks. In certain cases, chocolate, almonds, and even raisins are included. You can buy this everywhere, and it makes a wonderful souvenir or gift for friends and family at home.

Must visit the National Museum

Amazing ancient artifacts and pre-Christian gold jewelry that would be at home in Tiffany & Co. window displays can be seen in the National Museum on Rustaveli Avenue. The first level has a macabre display of Homo Neanderthal skulls, some of which date back 70,000 years.

Interior view of the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi, showcasing artifacts and exhibits.

Immersed in History: Interior of the Georgian National Museum in TbilisiImage source: saiko3p/Shutterstock.com

The upstairs part is perhaps the most heartfelt. The Soviet reign in Georgia from 1921 to 1991 is the subject of an exhibition with cinematic lighting and set design.
The store is open from 10 am to 6 pm every day except Monday. Gate fee, 3-7 GEL.

Must detour to Uplistsikhe rock town

Travel time to Uplistsikhe, often known as “the lord’s forest,” a town carved out of rock, is roughly 90 minutes. However, a visit to this incredible town of rocks and tunnels is well worth the trip. From the sixth century B.C.E. until the first century A.D., they were home to a population that peaked at 20,000.

Ruins of Uplistsikhe Cave City in Georgia, showcasing ancient rock-cut structures.

Ancient Wonders: Remains of Uplistsikhe Cave City in GeorgiaImage source:MehmetO/Shutterstock.com

It overlooks the Mtkvari valley and is situated near the Mtkvari River. Sturdy footwear is recommended for navigating the area’s ups and downs and winding rock formations, but the wine cellar, pre-Christian Kartli temples to the sun goddess, conference hall, and even miniature underground prisons capped with grills are all easy to identify. It would be possible for people to walk right on top of them.

Fact file

GETTING THERE: HOW TO GET THERE: Round-trip tickets on Wizz Air from Luton to Kutaisi, located around 150 miles north-west of Tbilisi, cost about £70.

PACKAGE: Georgian Holidays offers a package for €29 that includes a private guide and admission to all of Tbilisi’s top attractions, such as the Holy Trinity Sameba Cathedral, the Narikala Fortress, and the Sioni Cathedral, for a half-day.

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