Tbilisi Georgia Travel Guide A Vagabond Life
Tbilisi Georgia Travel Guide
Tbilisi is the capital city of Georgia with a population on about 1.5 million people. The city is on the Kura River and is known for its historic buildings that developed over many years.
Georgian legend says Tbilisi was founded in the 5th century by King Vakhtang Gorgasali when hunting in the area shot a pheasant which fell into a warm spring and was either boiled or healed. Whatever happened, the king was so impressed with the area and the hot sulphur springs he founded a city on the site. The name Tbilisi derives from the Georgian word “tbili” meaning “warm”.
Although the city has been destroyed and rebuilt some 29 times, the layout of the Old Town is largely intact with narrow alleys and big crooked houses built around courtyards.
Tbilisi Georgia is a delight to visit and is well worth spending several days here enjoying the sights and eating the delicious Georgian food.
Table of Contents
Tbilisi Georgia Map
Travel Tips Tbilisi Georgia
Tbilisi has a 2 line metro system that was built by the Soviets. Signage is all in Georgian and English.
Tickets: You will need to by a Metromani card (GEL2) at the ticket counter which can be loaded with GEL. The Metromani card can be used on buses, the metro, and the new yellow marshrutkas.
A single trip on the metro and buses is 0.50 GEL and 0.40 – 0.80 GEL on the marshrutkas depending on the trip.
City buses are either blue or yellow and display a number and destination. Most bus stops in the centre have electronic boards showing the bus number and arrival time – which are pretty accurate.
Tickets: If you have a Metromani card simply touch it in the card reader. if you do not have a card you will need to pay the fare of 0.50GEL – exact money is required.
Marshrutkas are a mini van type vehicle and privately owned. They usually service the back streets and smaller roads. If travelling on a Marshrutkas and you want to get of shout “gacheret” to the driver and then pay the driver as you get off.
Tbilisi has hot summers with temperatures in July reaching into the high 30’s c and cold winters with snow and temps below zero.
May – June and September are the best months to visit for sunny days and cool nights.
What To Pack In Tbilisi Georgia
- 2 pants, include one black pair that can double as ‘good’
- 1 shorts
- 1 x singlets – good for layering and sleeping in
- 4 short sleeve tee shirts or shirts.
- 1 x long sleeve sloppy joe or similar
- 1 x polar fleece jumper
- 1 x zip-up shell jacket
- 1 x lightweight windproof raincoat
- 3 x socks
- 5 x underpants
- 2 x bra
- 1 x Northface Dipsea
- I x warm hat (if there in winter)
- 1 x sun hat (if there in summer
- 1 x warm gloves (if there in winter
- 1 x pair walking shoes
- 1 x pair flip flops (great for showers)
- Travel Towel
- Lush Bar Shampoo
- Bar of Soap
- Brush / Comb
- Hair Ties
- 1 x Earbud headphones. Light and small,
- 1 x 6S iPhone loaded with music and podcasts
- 1 x power bank
- 1 x GoPro Hero 5
- 2 x Spare GoPro Batteries
- 1 x LUMIX TZ80
- Spare micro SD Card
- 1 x headlight or torch **essential
- 1 x Swiss knife
- 1 x medical kit
- Refillable water bottle
Things To See & Do In Tbilisi Georgia
Tbilisi Old Town
Tbilisi Old Town
One of the highlights of a visit to Georgias capital Tbilisi is wandering the lanes and alleys of the old town with pretty balconies, ancient churches and winding streets. The Old Town of Tbilisi is full of strange and eclectic sights including. museums, galleries and restaurants.
The ancient churches and sulphur baths are a must see along with the crooked clock which is right next door to the puppet show.
The Metekhi Virgin Mary Assumption Church sits high on Metekhi Cliff on the left bank of the Mtkvari or Kura river in the Avlabari neighbourhood directly opposite the old town of Tbilisi. Time of the church construction is still arguable and varies between the 5th, 6th, 11-12th or 13th centuries.
Built in the Georgian tradition of temples having a architecture of temples having a harmonious relationship with the surrounding natural landscape, Metekhi Church actually does look like it is a continuation of the cliff, visible from many city points.
A statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasali stnds proudly at the front of the church looking up the river. This is the site the King built his first palace and church.
Murals inside the church have not been preserved and icons tell of the cities history including a particular gruesome masscare in 1226 when citizens of the city refused to walk on icons that had been dropped on Metekhi bridge by the invading forces of Kwarazm-shah, Jalalad-Di. Over 100’000 Georgians were beheaded and there heads were dropped into the river.
Address: Metekhi St, Tbilisi, Georgia
The NariKala Fortress was built in the 4th century, it sits high on a hill overlooking Tbilisi Old Town and the Mtkvari river. The original structure was built in the 4th century and then expanded in the 7th century and then again in the 11th century.
On the lower court there is the recently restored St Nicholas church. Newly built in 1996–1997, it replaces the original 13th-century church that was destroyed in a fire. Inside the church are frescos showing scenes both from the Bible and history of Georgia.
If you are energetic you can walk to the fortress alternately catch the cable car.
Tbilisi Cable Car
Catch the cable car from the south end of Rike Park to Narikala Fortress for stunning views of the city and the Mtkvari river.
You will need a Metromani card which can be purchased at the ticket office. This card can also be used on the metro, buses and mini vans so it is worth having one.
Tsminda Sameba Cathedral
Tsminda Sameba Cathedral
The Tsminda Sameba Cathedral can be seen from all over Tbilisi during both the day and the night. The church is perched high on Elia Hill above Avlabari, took 10 years to build and was s consecrated in 2004.
The building is massive with the exterior dome standing at 84 metres and the interior boasting 5 aisles seating 10,000 people. Inside there are frescos of the history of Georgia.
Address: Tbilisi Georgia
Hours: 8AM – 10PM 7 days.
Tbilisi Sulphur Baths
Tbilisi Sulphur Baths
The sulphur baths can be found in the ancient district of Abanotubani on the south side of the Metekhi bridge.The baths all feature domed roofs at ground level and are easy to find.
If you wish to par take there are several baths, however as they are small you may have to wait for a pool to become available. English service is not guaranteed.
Massages are available, however don’t expect a traditional massage this version they are more like a good wash down, but well worth it for the experience.
Bring your towel and runner sandals.