Exploring Tbilisi: Routes and interesting places
The Georgian capital holds so many treasures that they would be enough for several ordinary cities. We tell you about the most interesting places in Tbilisi, which are worth visiting during an independent trip to Georgia.
Tbilisi means “warm spring” in Georgian. Settlement in the valley of the Kura River has existed since Roman times. In the capital of Georgia and its immediate suburbs are several ancient temples and monasteries, fortresses and colorful medieval buildings, museums and green parks. You can see them on your own in 1-5 days.
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Tbilisi sights on the map
What to see in Tbilisi in 1 day
If you have not decided for yourself the question of what sights to see in Tbilisi first, feel free to go to the historical part of the city. The old city consists of Zamokala and Kvemokala, that is, the Upper and Lower parts. The streets are paved with vine-covered houses and the aromas of shashliks and braziers are wafted through the air.
Narikala City Fortress
The ancient citadel of Narikala rises on the spur of the mountain Sololaki from the IV century. Wars and earthquakes have badly damaged stone fortifications, but they still leave a strong impression. On the territory of the fortress there is a fully restored church of St. Nicholas of the XII century.
There are no paved paths along the citadel, so don’t forget to wear comfortable gym shoes. Get to the walls of the old fort at least for the best viewing platform in Tbilisi.
Opening hours and tickets . You can walk up to the fort on foot. But faster, more convenient and more spectacular – by cable car from the Rike Park on the left bank of the Kura River. Narikala is accessible around the clock and can be visited for free. The ropeway operates daily from 11:00 to 23:00. The ascent lasts 2 minutes and costs 2.5 GEL one way. The fare is paid by Metromoney card, which is a universal travel card of the Georgian capital.
(Photo: varfolomeev / flickr.com / CC BY-NC 2.0 license)
Behind the fortress stretches a picturesque green area of 128 hectares. The botanical garden in Tbilisi appeared at the end of the XIX century, and today it has more than 3.5 thousand plants. Come to the garden to stroll along the shady paths, admire the flowering trees and beautiful landscapes.
Hours of operation and tickets . The Botanical Garden opens at 9:00 a.m. and, depending on the time of year, is open until 5:00-20:00 p.m. The day off is Monday. Admission to the grounds costs 2 GEL, and you pay 1 GEL to visit the Greenhouse with tropical plants.
(Photo: hr.icio / flickr.com / CC BY 2.0 license)
You can also see the hot sulfur springs in Tbilisi in 1 day. They are located in the historical district of Abanotubani, on the right bank of the Kura River. The Persian architecture of the buildings, especially the Pestrovaya bath with minarets, attracts lovers of oriental architecture.
It is known that the health baths of Tbilisi were visited by Alexander Pushkin and Alexander Dumas-father. Today, as before, people come here for relaxation and pleasant recreational procedures.
Opening hours and tickets . Sulfur baths are open daily from 8:00 to 0:00. The most expensive VIP bath costs 150 GEL per hour. Ticket prices for other bathing complexes start from 30 lari.
(Photo: Andrea Kirkby / flickr.com / CC BY-NC 2.0 license)
Church of Anchichati
In the northern part of the Old Town is the oldest church in Tbilisi, dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. It was built in the middle of the VI century and is now a functioning Orthodox church. The best views of it are from the east – from the parking lot and from the north – from the Gabriadze theater. Inside, you can see rows of round columns and 19th-century frescoes in the half-light.
Opening hours and tickets . The temple is open at any time and admission is free.
There are many ancient temples in the Old City, but Zion Cathedral stands out prominently. Any pilgrim thinking about what to see in Tbilisi in 1 day plans a visit to this ancient temple. Sioni is a beautiful single-domed church of the XII century, inside there are still frescos of the 19th-century painter Grigory Gagarin.
Until 2006 the church had the status of the cathedral of Georgia. It is consecrated in honor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and keeps the main Christian relic of the country – the cross of Saint Nina.
Hours of operation and tickets . The church is open any day from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. You can enter it for free.
(Photo: Diego_Delso / flickr.com / License CC BY-SA 2.0)
What to see in Tbilisi in 2 days
What else can you see in Tbilisi on your own? On the second day of your trip to the Georgian capital, we advise you to explore the neighborhoods of the Old City and visit museums that tell about the history of Georgia and Tbilisi.
The crosswalk of the Kura River is one of the trademarks of modern Tbilisi. The bridge is 156 m long and serves as a link between the old and the new city. An unusual glass dome protects those who walk across the bridge from the heat. In the evenings, it plays host to spectacular installations – lights come on and the bridge shimmers in all the colors of the rainbow.
(Photo: George Mel / flickr.com / CC BY-SA 2.0 license)
The oldest settlement in ancient Tbilisi, the Metekhi district is located on a steep cliff, on the left bank of the river. It was founded by the Georgian king Vakhtang Gorgasali. There was a royal residence in the center of the settlement, and the word “metekhi” meant the usual buildings around the palace.
The pride of the area is the XII century temple of Metehi, towering on a rock. In the XIX century, the church suffered a sad fate – it was given to the soldiers’ barracks. During the Soviet period it had its share of troubles as well. During the reconstruction in 1974 all the interior walls were torn down and the Experimental theater started working in the building. In 1988, the church dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady was restored and handed over to the faithful. In front of the church stands a bronze monument to Vakhtang Gorgasali.
Opening hours and tickets . The temple is open any day from 9:00 to 17:00. Entrance to it is free.
(Photo: rmac8oppo / pixabay.com)
On day 2 in Tbilisi, we advise to see Rustaveli Avenue – so you will get acquainted with many architectural monuments and enjoy the ancient color.
The 1.5 km long street is planted with old plane trees. There are monuments to Pushkin and Shota Rustaveli. Here you can see the Vorontsov Palace . The majestic building housed the Tsar’s viceroy, and lived Stalin’s mother – Catherine Dzhugashvili.
One of the architectural landmarks of the avenue is the Melik-Azaryants’ lodging house, which was erected at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries. Before the revolution, the huge building housed entertainment establishments and coffee houses. Today the old house with the bas-reliefs is slowly falling into decay.
The southern part of the street faces Freedom Square . There is a tourist information center, where you can get a map of the city.
In the house number 3 is the National Museum of Georgia . Here comes everyone who is interested in the historical past of the country and wants to look at the archaeological finds made on the territory of Georgia .
Opening hours and tickets . The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Depending on the chosen exhibit, admission costs 3-7 GEL.
(Photo: JohnDodelande_Georgie / pixabay.com)
The Atsruni Caravanserai.
The inhabitants of old Tbilisi were mainly engaged in trade and crafts. The city’s three-story trade center was built in 1818. It housed two and a half dozen shops, living quarters and warehouses where goods were stored. Today, the caravanserai building at 8 Sioni Street has been restored. It has souvenir stores, exhibition halls and a small museum of Tbilisi history.
Opening hours and tickets . The museum accepts visitors Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Admission costs 3 lari.
What to see a tourist on day 3
On the third day of an independent trip to Tbilisi, you can see ancient temples and check out the local ethnographic museum.
Tsminda Sameba Cathedral
Georgia’s tallest temple was built in 2004. It rises to 101 m and is clearly visible from different parts of the city. The cathedral is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and stands on the site where for centuries lived the Armenians and there was an ancient Armenian cemetery. The facades of the building are decorated with graceful arches and unique carvings. In the unusual building, apart from the above-ground part, there are two underground floors.
Nowadays the church has the status of a cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Inside you can see a handwritten Bible, beautiful wall paintings and icons painted by Patriarch Ilia II.
Hours and tickets. The cathedral is open any day from 9:00 to 20:00. Entrance to it is free. To get here take buses #91 and 122 from subway station Avlabari.
(Photo: Alexxx1979 / flickr.com / License CC BY-SA 2.0)
Atypical for an Orthodox country, the Muslim temple is very beautiful, so it is usually included among the sights worth seeing in Tbilisi. The ancient red-brick building with a minaret is located at 22 Botanikuri Street.
The mosque has an expressive domed roof and is decorated with colored tiles. Today its worshippers are Sunni and Shiite Azerbaijanis living in Tbilisi.
Opening Hours and Tickets . The iconic building is open to all comers on any day from morning to evening, except during namaz. Admission is free.
Vake Park and Ethnographic Museum
From Chavchavadze Avenue begins the territory of a large city park. In Georgian, “vake” means plain. The green recreation area for the residents of Tbilisi was laid out in 1946 on the site of a former wasteland.
There is an unusual ethnographic museum near Turtle Lake in Vake. The open-air exposition occupies 52 hectares. There tourists find themselves among traditional Georgian buildings – openwork wooden houses, stone watchtowers, wineries and water mills. The museum keeps samples of national clothing and household items, ancient spinning wheel, pottery, carved furniture and carpets.
Opening Hours and Tickets . The museum doors are open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 to 16:00. The price of the entrance ticket is 3 GEL, excursions – 10 GEL.
(Photo: peteranta / pixabay.com)
What to see on days 4 and 5
After three days, when it was possible to see the main sights of Tbilisi, usually plan routes to historical and natural monuments in the vicinity of the capital of Georgia.
The ancient monastery was founded in the 11th century by Queen Tamara. Today the temple complex in the gorge of the river Vere is a functioning monastery. On the well-groomed territory of the monastery live permanently a few monks. Unique icons, carvings and frescoes are kept here. Although Bethany is only 16 km from the city, it is not accessible by public transport, so the best way to get to the monastery is by cab.
Working hours and tickets. The monastery is open to tourists and pilgrims during daylight hours. The entrance is free.
(Photo: Khuroshvili Ilya / flickr.com / License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
To relax in nature, head to a beautiful body of water – west of Tbilisi. Lake Lisi is a popular resort area for city residents, and shuttles run to it from the train station.
The natural body of water has dimensions of 800 by 550 m. Nearby there is a large green area, boat rentals are available, and tennis courts are opened. People come to Lisi to walk along the waterfront, swim, feed the ducks and play paintball.
Hours of operation and tickets . You can relax by the lake at any convenient time. The amusement park is open daily from 11:00 to 21:00. Rent a deck chair on the beach costs 4 GEL.
Getting to Know Tbilisi: In 48 Hours
This article is for those who want to know what to see in Tbilisi in 2 days. Below is an itinerary that will allow you to cover almost all the main attractions of the Georgian capital. I will not say that two days for Tbilisi is catastrophically short. If you are reading this post, it means that you have the indicated amount of time for the city. One good thing: you will see much more in two days than you would in a day.
There is a material on the website dedicated to a one-day itinerary around Tbilisi. I have borrowed something from it, but on the whole these routes are quite different from each other.
Itinerary for 1 day in Tbilisi
On the first day I suggest you get acquainted with the newer part of the Georgian capital, which is located within the Rustaveli and Liberty Square metro stations. The main attraction of this area is Shota Rustaveli Avenue. The street is located between these subway stations, so as a starting point will suit even those who do not live in the center of the city (read more about Metro Tbilisi in a separate article).
The avenue begins from Rustaveli Square, where there are a lot of expensive stores and restaurants. If you go down Rustaveli Avenue, the first interesting sight is the city Opera and Ballet Theater (it is interesting to look at from outside, but it is better to visit one of the performances, maybe during your next visit to Tbilisi).
Dry Bridge and the House of Justice
Farther down the avenue is the 19th-century Kashvety Church, and opposite it is the building that formerly housed the Georgian parliament. This is where you can stop and have a look around: in addition to the church and the parliament, the large April 9th Park is to the left and April 9th Street is to the right. If you turn off the avenue toward the park, behind it you will find the Dry Bridge over the Kura River. This is one of the most famous “flea markets” in the city, where you can find quite interesting and unique things. Here you can also find a unique building of the House of Justice, which looks like a brood of giant mushrooms that grew after the rain.
If you go to the right from the crossroads, you will soon get to Chonkadze street, where the city funicular station is located (read more about it here). On this interesting form of transport you can climb Mtatsminda Mountain, where the following attractions are located:
- Bombora Amusement Park, a great place for families with children. Here you can find several rides, green areas and a 62-meter Ferris wheel;
- pantheon of writers and public figures of Georgia – a necropolis where Georgian national writers, poets, scientists and artists are buried;
- the top station of the funicular railway with the restaurant “Funicular”;
- a large green park, ideal for walks in the hot season.
It takes a few hours to explore Mtatsminda, and after descending the mountain, return to Rustaveli Avenue. From here you can see not only things that you can see in Tbilisi in two days, but also things that you really should see. In the third house on Rustaveli Avenue, there is the National Museum of Georgia, a large complex, in which several museums are located at once. In addition to the classic expositions about the history, culture and art of Georgia, there is a section called “Museum of Soviet Occupation. To visit the museum or not, it is up to you. Just don’t forget about the time. The avenue will take you to Freedom Square, which is included in any itinerary in Tbilisi (for 1,2, 3, and so on days). Here, Pushkin Square and the statue of St. George, the patron saint of the country, are of greatest interest.
Peace Bridge and Rike Park
If we were discussing what to visit in Tbilisi in one day, we would go further, deeper into the Old Town. But with plenty of time, let’s not leave the confines of the new center of Tbilisi on the first day. First, from Freedom Square you can go along Leonidze Street to Chonkadze Street and the familiar funicular station. Secondly, you can go along Pushkin Street to the also familiar Dry Bridge. But much more interesting to walk through the winding streets to the east to the Peace Bridge.
This futuristic work, which beautified the city in 2010, is equipped with an original canopy of metal and glass (at night the bridge pleases spectators with illumination from 30 thousand light bulbs). The bridge leads to the interesting modern Rike Park, where there are many art objects, such as a huge grand piano.
If you have time left (but it’s no more than 5 p.m.), hurry to the most famous market in the Georgian capital, Desertirka. This place is definitely on the list of things to see in Tbilisi in 2 days. We will go to the market by subway from Avlabari station, located near Rike Park, to Station Square (“Station Square”) station. By the way, the road to this station is uphill and the laziest are better to go back to Freedom Square to the metro station of the same name and go to the market from there.
The Desertirka market is located just outside the subway station, between the tracks and the Dynamo Stadium. The shopping area here is the largest in all of Tbilisi, so you can buy almost anything at Desertirka.
- Here you can buy clothes from Chinese or Turkish producers.
- There is a full variety of household goods.
- Electronics and home appliances.
- Most importantly – a huge amount of food (vegetables, fruits, nuts, cheeses and sweets) and spices (adjika, hmeli suneli, svan salt).
Walking around the bazaar is usually seriously exhausting. Therefore it is worth having a good rest in the evening of the first day. You can do this either at home or at a hotel with a bottle of local wine, or in one of the many restaurants in New Town on Rustaveli Avenue. In the evening program, I advise you to start from your place of residence, because from the metro station “Station Square” you can go to any tourist center of Tbilisi.
Itinerary for Day 2 in Tbilisi
Tbilisi reveals itself much better in two days than in a day. That’s why we will spend the whole second day in the Old City. I advise to start the route of the second day from the main church of Tbilisi – Tzminda Sameba (second name – the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity). For this you need to come to the subway station Avlabari.
After seeing the temple, take a course to the southwest and through European Square you will get to the ancient district of Metekhi, where the city began. Here you can see a small church and next to it the equestrian statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasal. The district of Metehi itself is very small, but it literally breathes with history.
Behind the Metekhi bridge begins the real Old Town. We can give you tips about what to see here, but the best way to find your way around is to walk around and experience the authentic Georgian countryside. As they say, the best way to get to know a city is to get lost in it. And the slopes of Sololaki ridge, on which stands the ancient fortress Narikala, will serve as a guide for you. If you still have doubts about what to see in Tbilisi in 2 days, then your way is just to the fortress. But first find the main temple of Tbilisi – Sioni in the Old City (to find the church is simple – just turn left from the bridge of Metekhi, facing the same district and with your back to the Old City and walk a few dozen meters along the waterfront). This ancient church was historically considered to be the main church in the city, but after the construction of the grandiose Saint Trinity cathedral it lost its former glory.
After we walk the streets of Old Tbilisi to the foot of Sololaki. The best way to get to the fortress is Orbiri Street which leads you to the main entrance of Narikala. Here you can buy souvenirs and visit the church of St. Nicolas. I highly recommend you to take a walk up to the upper castle, which lies in ruins. From here, from the top of the ridge you have an impressive view of the city (especially good photos come from the tower with the big cross). You can go down from the top by another road, guided by the tall Mother Kartli Monument. One of the symbols of Tbilisi stands near the upper station of the cable car, where you can go back down to Rike Park, which you visited the previous day.
Tbilisi Botanical Garden
If you decide to go down by foot, be sure to check out the Tbilisi Botanical Garden. It’s clean, beautiful and quiet, and on a hot day it’s also cool. In the garden you can see the waterfall, but if you want you can skip the entrance fee and see another waterfall nearby (I’ll mark it on the map below). The ideal end of the day would be to go back to Old Town and visit the famous Tbilisi sulfur baths. Here, in the Abanotubani area, you can finally relax and unwind in the hot waters that emanate directly from natural springs beneath the city.
The route of Tbilisi in 2 days on the map
The main points of the route of the first day I have marked on the map with the numbers
- Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater.
- Kashvety Church.
- Dry bridge and flea market.
- Mtatsminda mountain.
- National Museum.
- Freedom Square.
- The Peace Bridge and Rike Park.
- Desertion market.
The main sights from the route of the second day are assigned letter designations.
- A – Tsminda Sameba;
- B – Metekhi Church;
- C – Church of Sioni;
- D – Narikala Fortress and Mother Kartli;
- E – Botanical Garden;
- F – Sulfur Baths.
If any letter or number is not visible, try zooming in or out on the map.
sightseeing tours in Tbilisi
A sightseeing tour is a great alternative to exploring Tbilisi on your own.
Into the Centuries of Tbilisi – a group tour for a group of up to 20 people. Lots of positive reviews. You will see the main squares of Tbilisi and other interesting things.
Soulful walk in Tbilisi – a group tour of Tbilisi. According to the tour guide, her walk is an uplifting combination of facts about Tbilisi, colorful stories, songs and toasts.
Tbilisi with a light is another group tour. You want a non-boring introduction to the sights of Tbilisi. Book a tour with this guide .
Still have questions about the two-day conquest of Tbilisi? Ask them in the comments: I’ll help in any way I can. Don’t forget to rate the article!
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