Nestled in the narrow valley of river Mtkvari and surrounded by the magnificent mountain range, historical capital Tbilisi is saturated with colourful national and cultural palette. The old town is a historical heart of the city where 2-3 storey houses adorned by carved wooden balconies are quietly overlooking the narrow streets. The beautiful 'georgian courtyards' were often romanticised in classical literature for their intimate atmosphere and the peculiar art of line-drying linen. Yet, over the past twenty years, the city has overcome some extensive architectural and infrastructural developments introducing modernist projects, such as Peace Bridge to stand alongside traditional XIX century architecture, altering the historic urban landscape.
Tbilisi holds an intriguing mix of sights and activities as if it's trying to emulate its new progressive identity without losing the historical charm. In 2012, the modernised transport infrastructure introduced aerial cable cars, which will take you from contemporary Rike recreational park to ancient Narikala fortress, allowing you to relish 360 degree panoramic views of the city by day. By night, the city offers vibrant nightlife scene hosted by a number of lounge bars and nightclubs.
As some travellers dare to say, one week in Tbilisi is not enough. The city is rich with museums, art galleries, theaters, flea markets offering the insight into Georgia's life in the crossroad between some of the world's most powerful empires. In spring, prepare your Sunday best as the Mercedez-Benz Fashion week turns the city into the style capital, while in autumn, the ancient streets transform into a cultural hub hosting Tbilisi's international theatre and film festivals. If one feels overwhelmed by Tbilisi's cultural scene, the city's ancient bathhouses can offer a peaceful refuge for the body while velvety Georgian wines will soothe the soul. The warmth of Tbilisebis' character and richness of culture won't leave anyone indifferent to Georgia, book your tickets now to experience this gem of destination.
Things to do
Tbilisi's rich folklore and strong cultural character, developed over the centuries under the heavy-handed rulers, created an enormous legacy of historical monuments and traditions which survived into the present day and continues to awe its guest. The Georgian capital offers a warm welcome to the body, mind, and soul.
Visit the stream which melted the King's heart
Sulfuric Baths are the lifeblood of the city. Tbilisi's thermal baths are built on naturally formed hot springs, and, allegedly, inspired King Vakhtan Gorgashvili to move the city borders to its present location and name the city Tbilisi, which in Georgian means 'warm'. Orbeliani's dome-shaped bathhouses served as the main attraction for some of the world's most famous bathers such as hedonist Alexander Dumas and Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.
The heart and soul of the city
The fragments old Narikala Fortress, towering in the skylight of the Old Town, dates back to the 4th century, offering some of the best views. Locals call it 'the heart and the soul of the city.' In 1827 most of the fortress was destroyed by the powerful earthquake, yet today, the remaining towers of Narikala are the pinnacle of ancient city's heritage. It's easily accessible by taking the aerial cable car which also offers up some stunning views.
The symbol of modern Tbilisi
Peace Bridge is an elegant glass-and-steel brainchild of an Italian architect Michele De Lucchi, spanning across river Mtkvari. This modernist avant-garde footbridge connecting Rike Park with the old town serves practical application, as well a 156 meter-long eye-candy with more than 10,000 built-in LED light bulbs communicating the Mendeleev's table in Morse code. The messages can be seen 90 minutes before the sunset daily.
Something for antique's lover
Visit Tbilisi's Dry Bridge Flea Market. The Citie's rich cultural and historical heritage produced a heavy collection of antiques, handmade jewelry, paintings by local artists, antiquated paraphernalia, Russian samovars, vintage clothes, old Soviet and Georgian books carefully laid out on sheets and car boots. Be prepared to flex your bargaining muscles when scavenging for presents, as some of the prices can be inflated for tourist, nevertheless, the day trip to Dry Bridge Flea market will prove to be therapeutic and authentic cultural experience.
Traditional wining and dining
Wining and dining in Tbilisi is for true hedonists. For those who are looking to experience some authentic local cuisine, make sure you try Khachapuri (Ka-cha-pu-ri) which is a Georgian doughy flatbread stuffed with triple cheese, topped up with a runny egg, and Khinkali (Kin-ka-li) which is a Georgian dumpling stuffed with meat and spices. For world wine lovers, you can whet your Georgian whistle with a velvety flavour of Georgian Kindzmarauli wine, sourced from Kakheti region. Almost all restaurants in Tbilisi will offer a dash of tradition with their menus. Allow yourself to be indulged.
Calendar of events
Tbilisi has been developing a strong presence on the international scene. Outdoor music festivals are attracting artists and music lovers from around the world, while in autumn the city turns into cultural hub hosting film and theatre festivals.
Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week has put Tbilisi on the international fashion map, thanks to Georgian-born Demna Gvasalia, the creative director of Balenciaga. The week-long event is showcasing the next generation of fashion designers and promoting the capital as a hub for culture and business. The Fashion Week takes place twice a year in May and November.
Open Air is a live music festival taking place in the picturesque valley in the backdrop of stunning Georgian mountain range. The festival attracts alternative music lovers, with headlining performances dominating current Georgian and Russian music scene as well as the international music artists from Europe and US. The festival takes place in the third week of June.
Tbilisi International Festival of Theatre is one of the most important cultural events founded in 2009 to broaden Georgia's cultural landscape. The festival has been attracting the attention of theatre production troupes from around the world and offering creative and innovative theatre performances. The festival takes place from mid-September to October.
Tbilisi's International Film Festival has been established to showcase some of the best pieces of Georgian cinematography and to encourage the young generation of Georgian filmmakers. Since its debut in 2000, the festival grew in size by the growing accepting more participants each year. The festival runs in the first week of December.