35 Unique Things to Do in Tbilisi: The Ultimate City Break Destination

Georgia

Published on 3 April 2024

Oohhh, Tbilisi. Georgia’s captivating capital city became our home away from home during our six month trip to explore the whole country. We ended up essentially living here for over two months because we fell head over heels for this authentic and welcoming city. There are so many unique things to do in Tbilisi, and I feel like we will always be adding to this guide because we will always be returning to this fascinating city. So, for the meantime, we’ll start with 35 things!

Tbilisi is a street photographer’s dream. Honestly.

Dilapidated, yet characterful buildings line the old cobbled streets. Rusted spiral staircases sit above communal courtyards with lacey-style balconies. Classic Ladas are parked outside tiny bakeries selling freshly baked shoti or lobiani, while friendly stray dogs wait outside hoping to be thrown the end of the bread. Intricate street art murals and Soviet mosaics decorate otherwise empty walls. Bright orange persimmon hang from the trees well into December, bringing a bit of colour to the leafless trees.

grand entrance, sololaki, unique things to do in tbilisi

But even if street photography isn’t your thing Tbilisi has many unique things to see, experience, eat and drink. Our favourite capital city, and our second home, I am feeling the pressure to do this beautiful city justice. Without further ado, here are our 35 unique things to do in Tbilisi.

If you’re planning a winter trip to Tbilisi, give this post a read too!

35 Unique Things to Do in Tbilisi: The Ultimate City Break Destination

Unique Things to Do in Tbilisi

Explore Sololaki for Street Photography Opportunities

Take a Free Walking Tour (or Three!)

Climb Betlemi Stairs for City Views from Upper Betlemi Church

Admire Mother of Georgia

See Juma Mosque Minaret

Experience a Traditional Sulphur Bath with Optional Kisi Scrub

Admire the Mosaic Tiling of the Tbilisi’s Most-Photographed Bathhouse

Witness Tbilisi’s Leghvtakevi Waterfall

Try Wine Ice Cream

Explore Fabrika and Grab a Drink in the Courtyard

Search for all the Street Art

See the Colourful Stained Glass of Gallery 27

Wander over the Bridge of Peace

Bargain for Retro Souvenirs at the Dry Bridge Market

Take the Steps up to Mtatsminda Pantheon

Savour the Panoramic Views from Mtatsminda Park

Wander through Meidan Bazaar

Discover your New Favourite Artist at the Georgian Museum of Fine Arts

Take in the City Views from Tabor Monastery of Transfiguration

See the Ancient Inscriptions on Metkehi Virgin Mary Assumption Church

Walk the Wooden Balcony of Queen Darejan Palace

Find the Ruins of an Armenian Church

Stroll amongst the Chronicles of Georgia

Marvel at the Wedding Palace Architecture

Search for Soviet Mosaics and Friezes

Explore Residential Tbilisi for More Street Photography Opportunities

Learn All About Traditional Georgian Wine at the Wine Museum

Learn about Georgia’s Tea History

Search for All the Artwork in the Unfound Door Hotel

Be Bemused by the Wonky Clock Tower

View the Grandeur of the Holy Trinity Cathedral

Gorge on Khinkali and Khachapuri

Get a Fresh Shoti or Lobiani from the Local Bakery

Taste the Georgian Wines and the Local Chacha

Try Georgian Snickers: Churchkela

Unique Things to Do in Tbilisi

Explore Sololaki for Street Photography Opportunities

The intricacy on the facades of these buildings is exquisite – and I don’t use this word lightly. This was an area of the city where the Bourgeoisie lived. Competition between neighbours to have the fanciest house was fierce, so you will find lacey balconies, detailed door ways, statues. But, the fanciness doesnt stop at the outside; the entrance ways to the buildings were richly decorated with marble, lavish staircases, and extravagant paintings on the ceilings and walls.

After all this time, the houses are still stunning with all their character, but are starting to deteriorate: a little bit wonky, paintwork peeling, staircases rusting. But (for me anyway), this even elevates their charm! 

Wander the streets with camera in hand and snap all the shots you want. Then, if a door is open or unlocked, step inside to see the entrance ways. The locals we met were more than welcoming for us to step inside (the entranceways are communal areas anyway). 

grand entrance, sololaki, unique things to do in tbilisi

Take a Free Walking Tour (or Three!)

Tbilisi Free Walking Tours has three different free walking tours concentrating on different areas of the city. The guides are really informative, engaging, and passionate about Tbilisi. We were in the city for so long that we took all three, and we thoroughly enjoyed them all! 

If you only have time for one, make it the ‘Old Tbilisi Tour’. This is the classic tour where you learn all about the history of the city.

If you are more into the fancy entrance ways and facades like mentioned in the Sololaki paragraph, go for the ‘Hidden Tbilisi’ tour. You’ll get access inside entrance ways that you likely wouldn’t be able to by yourself, and they are stunning!

If you’re in to the classic courtyard culture of Tbilisi, take the ‘Backstreets of Tbilisi’ tour. The tour takes you into many residential areas over the other side of the river, in Chugureti near Fabrika.

Climb Betlemi Stairs for City Views from Upper Betlemi Church

Close to one of our favourite bars, The Tipsy Bee, is the start of Betlemi Stairs. Definitely stop in on the way up or down for a drink and mushroom stroganoff chips, and yes, they really are as good as they sound!

The stairs lead you to the Upper Betlemi Church and a large courtyard area with benches and trees. From here, you’ll get great views over the city.

Then for views from higher up, keep following the steps up to the Mother of Georgia monument.

Betlemi church views, unique things to do in tbilisi

Admire Mother of Georgia

Most ex-Soviet republics have a very propaganda-esque female statue made of metal standing high over a city as a protector, and Tbilisi is no exception. Mother of Georgia stands above Sololaki, above Upper Betlemi Church. You can reach her by climbing up Betlemi stairs and then continuing up, or the more popular option is to get the cable car up. Tickets cost 2.5 GEL if you tap your Tbilisi transport card, or are 3 GEL if you use a regular credit card.

Mother of Georgia is seen holding a bowl of wine to welcome those who are friendly, and a sword to ward off those who don’t. And I think this perfectly represents the Georgian people!

Mother of Georgia, Tbilisi

See Juma Mosque Minaret

The only mosque in Tbilisi, Juma Mosque stands tall overlooking Abanotubani sulphur bath area. Wander up the cobbled street to see the mosque and minaret, and then head behind the mosque and follow the narrow alleyways between buildings to get you to a spiral staircase. Head down the staircase and then look back up at the mosque for a great view of the minaret in amongst the traditional style buildings and balconies of Tbilisi old town.

Experience a Traditional Sulphur Bath with Optional Kisi Scrub

Tbilisi is located where it is today due its hot mineral springs; the city’s name literally means ‘warm place’. As you wander down Abanotubani, or towards the waterfall, you will smell the sulphur lingering in the air. 

The high mineral content of the water is understood to cure ailments, and so has been used for bathing for centuries. You’ll find many different baths with different styles and different ‘dress codes’, so definitely do your research before you throw yourself in!

It was a very intense, but also very interesting experience, and I would urge you to give it a go. I really do think it is one of the top unique things to do in Tbilisi. Check out our full blog post on how to help you feel more comfortable and prepared for your sulphur bath experience.

Gulo's Thermal Spa, Tbilisi sulphur bath

Admire the Mosaic Tiling of the Tbilisi’s Most-Photographed Bathhouse

If you just walked past Chreli Abano Bathhouse, you would likely think that it was a beautifully decorated mosque! Small mosaic tiles adorn the Islamic architectural style of the bathhouse’s façade. I’ve heard really good reviews about the whole bathhouse experience too, but it is definitely on the higher end compared to its neighbours.

Chreli Abano Bathhouse, tbilisi

Witness Tbilisi’s Leghvtakevi Waterfall

At the bottom of the spiral staircase (mentioned above with Juma Mosque), turn right and follow the paths to the end. Here you will find a waterfall! A waterfall in the middle of a capital city? Yes. Truly a unique thing to do in Tbilisi!

Leghvtakevi waterfall, things to do in tbilisi

Try Wine Ice Cream

On the boardwalk towards the waterfall, you will find huts selling wine ice cream in the summer, and mulled wine in the winter. (I tried the wine ice cream in the winter too though!)

wine ice cream, Georgia

Explore Fabrika and Grab a Drink in the Courtyard

Fabrika is a cultural hub in the Chugureti neighbourhood set in a building that used to be a Soviet sewing factory. The courtyard is surrounded by a huge hostel with co-working space, as well as art studios, shops, and hipster bars and cafes with outdoor courtyard seating. The area is also used to host events: we attended a Christmas market here. And make sure you have a look at all the street art inside the courtyard as well as the surrounding buildings outside!

Fabrika, Tbilisi

Search for all the Street Art

The street art in Tbilisi is really good. Huge life-like murals on the sides of buildings, smaller provocative pieces or fish with feet (you’ll know what I’m talking about once you get to Tbilisi!), you’ll be stumbling across street art wherever you go. Some pieces by Niko are marked on Google Maps, so give it a search. The hot zone for street art is around the Chugureti neighbourhood, near Fabrika, but you’ll be finding it everywhere you go in the city!

tbilisi street art mural
tbilisi street art mural
stained glass staircase tbilisi
colourful windows, tbilisi gallery 27

Wander over the Bridge of Peace

The glass and metal wave-shaped structure appears very modern compared to its surroundings of the old town. Hilariously, the bridge is also known as ‘Always Ultra’ due to its sanitary pad shape! Across the bridge you can get nice views down the river lined with trees, but also interesting photos from within the bridge due to its unusual design.

bridge of peace, always ultra bridge, tbilisi

Bargain for Retro Souvenirs at the Dry Bridge Market

This market feels like a smaller, less organised version of Vernissage in Yerevan. It’s full of antiques, Soviet paraphernalia, and handmade and second hand products. I found a pair of earrings made from a couple of old keys that I absolutely love!

retro cameras at dry bridge market in tbilisi

Take the Steps up to Mtatsminda Pantheon

Another great viewpoint of the city, Mtatsminda Pantheon is actually a cemetery for Georgia’s loved public figures: writers, poets, actors, and artists. As well as admiring the view, take a look around at the gravestones; you’ll find some very extravagant and flamboyant stonework. Then carry on up the steps to reach Mtatsminda Park.

mtatsminda pantheon cemetery

Savour the Panoramic Views from Mtatsminda Park

Common in ex-Soviet cities, you’ll find a fairground on top of a hill which is connected to the city by a cable car (or in Tbilisi’s case, an expensive funicular). Head up here for the city views, but stay for the ponchiki! At the top of the hill is a super fancy looking restaurant called Funicular that we wouldn’t normally even step foot in because you can just tell it has that ‘way out of our budget’ feel about it. However, the ponchiki is reasonable (and bloody good), so order yourself a ponchiki and sit on the balcony, and soak in the outrageous views of the city. (A ponchiki is essentially a big old donut filled with a vanilla cream.)

To use the funicular to get up to the park, you have to buy a rechargeable Mtatsminda card for 2 GEL, and then top it up with credits to use the funicular, get on the ferris wheel etc., but it is not cheap. The funicular journey is 10 GEL each, so you’re much better off walking up from the city. It shouldn’t take too long – maybe 30/40 minutes – and you can break it up with a stop at Mtatsminda Pantheon. Use Maps.me to show you the route.

tbilisi city views from mtatsminda park

There is no fee to enter the park, only if you want to go on the rides: they cost anywhere from 50 tetri to 6 GEL. You can buy and top up the card when you are inside the park as well as at the funicular desk.

ferris wheel, mtatsminda park

Wander through Meidan Bazaar

This bazaar is an interesting see even if you don’t plan on buying anything, though you might be tempted! Set in an underground brick tunnel, you’ll find typical Georgian products here: wine, cheese, churchkela (more on that further down), traditional instruments, souvenirs etc.

meidan bazaar

Discover your New Favourite Artist at the Georgian Museum of Fine Arts

We are not people with much appreciation for art, and the ticket price was more than we would have usually gone for but, we actually really enjoyed this art museum! Showcasing art by Georgian artists, there is some weird stuff (which is the problem I generally have with art), but there was also a lot that we could actually appreciate. The beautiful Georgian city street scenes were my favourites!

Ticket price: 18 GEL

georgian museum of fine arts

Take in the City Views from Tabor Monastery of Transfiguration

The monastery itself is not the reason to head up here – it’s pretty small and unassuming. The reason to go up here is the phenomenal view without the crowds, and it’s worth the climb up all the steps!

trabor monastery of transfiguration views

See the Ancient Inscriptions on Metkehi Virgin Mary Assumption Church

Another historic church with old inscriptions on the outside walls. Raised high enough to give beautiful views of the city and river Kura, but not so high that you have to really climb to get there.

Metkehi Virgin Mary Assumption Church

Walk the Wooden Balcony of Queen Darejan Palace

The palace has free entry because there’s not too much palace to it really; it’s more of a fortress. But, for a free entry, this is a great stop to add to your Tbilisi itinerary. You’ll find a beautiful rose garden with a pond, and then a blue, wooden, lacey balcony with great views. If you’re looking for a relatively quiet spot to take some stunning photos, this is the place! This is still relatively unknown to tourists, so you would likely have the place to yourself.

queen darejan palace, unique things to do in tbilisi

Find the Ruins of an Armenian Church

After you’ve seen the palace, wander the residential streets behind for some characterful doors, and eventually the ruins of an Armenian church. And when I say ruins, I really mean ruins. The building in serious disrepair and is cordoned off, but it is an interesting sight nonetheless. Armenia says it was bombed, Georgia says it was damaged in an earthquake. Who knows?

stained glass staircase tbilisi
colourful windows, tbilisi gallery 27

Stroll amongst the Chronicles of Georgia

The Chronicles of Georgia is a monument commemorating 3000 years of Georgian statehood and 2000 years of being a Christian state. Sixteen huge stone and bronze pillars are covered with depictions of significant stories throughout the country’s history. The site is on top of a hill in the northern part of Tbilisi, overlooking what is named ‘Tbilisi Sea’, even though it is a reservoir. Climb the steps, be amazed by the monument, take in the views of the city and the sea, and also make sure you take a quick peek inside Annunciation Church on the hill too! 

I would recommend getting a Bolt there and back, or at least to and from the closest metro station. The neighbourhood didn’t feel the most friendly, and there are some ferocious stray dogs.

chronicles of georgia

Marvel at the Wedding Palace Architecture

A prime example of opulent yet cold Soviet architecture. The wedding palace isn’t open to the public as standard, however, I understand that they have started running tours of the inside recently. If you have been on this tour or know about it, please let us know in the comments.

tbilisi wedding palace

Search for Soviet Mosaics and Friezes

This is a controversial one, and some Soviet mosaics are being removed because of their representation of this oppressive period. They are in true retro propaganda style, and some are huge and intricate. We used this GeoAir map to find their locations around the city. Our favourites were at the emergency services building and the Ortachala bus station. Conveniently, these are both close to each other, so even though they are out of the main part of the city, you can see them both in one hit. The intricacy and detail in each one is worth the walk.

soviet mosaic tbilisi fire station
soviet mosaic ortachala bus station

Explore Residential Tbilisi for More Street Photography Opportunities

On Google Maps find the area between Abanotubani and Ortachala, and that’s where you should head. You’ll see the untouristy side of Tbilisi: authentic and genuine. We rented an apartment here for five weeks over Christmas, and really loved the laid-back, non-touristy feel of the place. Classic Ladas, rusted house signs, and Soviet-style apartment blocks.

soviet architecture, tbilisi

Learn All About Traditional Georgian Wine at the Wine Museum

This was a fascinating museum (not just because we like the wine!). It is set in a grand building that used to be a caravanserai on the ancient Silk Road, but has since been renovated. Tickets cost 15 GEL which includes a guided tour. Our guide was really knowledgeable, giving us all the history of winemaking as well as anecdotes.

My absolute favourite thing we learnt is to do with why we clink glasses together before we drink. Back in the olden days, wine was served in wide and shallow bowls. Before drinking your wine, you would clink the bowls together which would splash some of everyone’s wine into everyone else’s wines. And this would prove that your host had not poisoned your wine. Fascinating, eh?

Top tip – After the tour, ask at the bar if you can have a few free tasters of some wine that they have open at the moment. You might just get lucky like us!

Truly a unique thing to do in Tbilisi, learning about the history of wine in the world’s oldest wine-making country, is an absolute must!

wine museum, tbilisi

Learn about Georgia’s Tea History

Bitadze Tea Shop is more than just a shop. Yes, you can buy Georgian teas here, but there is also a mini museum inside. The guys who work there have loads of knowledge on Georgia’s history of growing tea, and will talk you through it for free. And afterwards you could even try some of the teas! Bear in mind that Georgian tea is strong, so you won’t need much of it!

tea museum, BItadze tea shop, tbilisi

Search for All the Artwork in the Unfound Door Hotel

This is a hotel with a cafe/bar inside, but the best part about this place is the décor. It has beautifully painted murals throughout the property from the early 20th century. Head in through the front door, and see the hallway, take a look in the cafe on the right, but make sure you take the stairs all the way up to see the murals in the stair well.

wall art at the unfound door hotel, tbilisi

Be Bemused by the Wonky Clock Tower

The clock tower is quirky and wonky, and a small angel marks the turn of each hour by ringing a bell. It is a relatively new addition to Tbilisi old town, built in 2010. Make sure you take a look for the tiny clock on the side of the clock tower too!

tbilisi wonky clock tower
tiny clock at the wonky clock tower, tbilisi

View the Grandeur of the Holy Trinity Cathedral

This is a huge cathedral that has a dramatic outlook, grand courtyard, and golden topped domes. It really is pretty extravagant, and is definitely worth a visit, even if you’re not into religious buildings. The symmetry of the outside alone makes for some great photos!

holy trinity cathedral, tbilisi

Gorge on Khinkali and Khachapuri

You cannot leave Georgia without tasting the lip-smacking carby goodness of khinkali and khachapuri. Khinkali are large soupy dumplings filled with meat and herbs, however, there are mushroom options which are spot on! And then, where do I even start with khachapuri? Beautifully chewy bread stuffed or topped (or sometimes both) with salty, stringy, creamy cheeses. Find varieties with greens and herbs, eggs on top, boiled eggs inside, or maybe potatoes added into the mix. My love for khachapuri is intense, so much so that I made it my mission through our six months in the country to try as many regional variations as I could get my hands on. Full blog post is in the works.

khinkali, cafe daphna, tbilisi
svanetian khachapuri

Get a Fresh Shoti or Lobiani from the Local Bakery

Georgian bread is something of an institution. Nothing compares, in my opinion – not even French breads. I know that’s a big statement, but really, head over to Georgia and tell me I’m wrong! 

Local bakeries throughout the country will bake long boat-shaped breads in a tone (similar to a tandoor oven). This results in a crisp bottom (that sticks to the tone) and a fluffy chewy top. The bread is so good, that you will often see people biting off the end of the bread as they leave the bakery because they can’t wait til they get home! 

Many of the bakeries also sell lobiani, which is a bread stuffed with a spiced bean mixture. We lived off of these – it’s a whole on-the-go-meal. Stunning stuff.

lobiani

Taste the Georgian Wines and the Local Chacha

Georgia is where is recognised as the birthplace of wine, thanks to the finding of the oldest winemaking vessels in the world, right here. So they really do know how to do wine. My favourites are Tsinandali, Pirosmani, and Tsolikauri – all whites. If you are more into reds, the best known and favourite is Saperavi. You can find Georgian wine in all restaurants and bars, so no need to go for an expensive wine tasting in the city. Make sure you visit the Tbilisi wine museum (a few points up in the list). Alternatively, jump in a marshrutka for two and a half hours to get to Telavi or Sighnaghi in Kakheti wine region. You can tour the vineyards, and learn all about the grapes and its history.

Try Georgian Snickers: Churchkela

I guarantee that when you are walking around Tbilisi, you will see churchkela strung up in shops and market stands. On first sight, you might think it looks like candles, or maybe some weird sausage (like us). It definitely does not look like a sweet! In fact churchkela is known as ‘Georgian snickers’ due to its high calorie content. Traditionally, a string of walnuts is dipped into a mixture of grape juice mixed with flour to create the churchkela. But nowadays there are many different varieties and flavours with different fruits and nuts.

churchkela, georgian snickers

Have you been to Tbilisi or are you planning to visit? Is there anything else you would add?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, recommendations or questions.

Thanks for reading!

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