24 Things to do in Tbilisi, Georgia
+ Tbilisi Travel Guide
Updated March 2023, 24 Things to do in Tbilisi, Georgia + Tbilisi Travel Guide was originally published in March 2021
My first arrival to Tbilisi was near-disastrous, but I’d come to quite like the city over the next few days even though I was battling pouring rain, winds, and a canceled press trip that brought me there in the first place. Return visits have only made my fondness for Tbilisi grow (also waistline, you know, because irresistible Georgian food and bottle after bottle of inexpensive yet exquisite Georgian wine).
So without rambling too much going on about all the things I love about Tbilisi, I’ve created a Tbilisi Travel Guide with a 3 day itinerary covering the 24 best things to do in Tbilisi, as well as recommendations for the best places to stay in Tbilisi, best Tbilisi restaurants (and what to order at them!), as well as tips for getting around the city.
- 24 Things to do in Tbilisi, Georgia + Tbilisi Travel Guide
- A 3 Day Tbilisi Itinerary & the 24 Best Things to do in Tbilisi
- Tbilisi Itinerary: Day 1
- 1. Look for Georgian Souvenirs in the Underground Meidan Bazaar
- 2. Head to the Abanotubani District of the Old Town and Treat Yourself to a Sulfur Bath
- 3. Find the Hidden Lagvtakhevi Waterfall
- 4. Learn About Georgia’s 8,000 + Year Winemaking History at the Tbilisi Wine Museum
- 5. Comprehend the City’s Longstanding History at the Tbilisi History Museum
- 6. Shop at Gallery 27 and Admire the Stained Glass Work at the Kaleidoscope House
- 7. Explore Betlemi Street & Historic Quarter
- 8. Take in the Best Tbilisi Views from Tabor Monastery of the Transformation
- Tbilisi Itinerary: Day 2
- 9. Marvel at the Grandeur of the Holy Trinity Cathedral Sameba
- 10. Watch the Show on the Hour at the Clock Tower
- 11. See the Remaining Old Tbilisi Walls
- 12. Shop at Dry Bridge Flea Market
- 13. Stroll Around Rike Park & Tbilisi Bridge of Peace
- 14. Gaze from the Balcony of Queen Darejan’s Palace
- 15. Check Out the Converted Spaces at Fabrika Tbilisi
- 16. Peek Your Head into the Abandoned Mtatsminda Cable Car Station
- 17. Check Out Narikala Fortress & St. Nicholas Church
- 18. Go Clubbing Underground at Bassiani
- Tbilisi Itinerary: Day 3
- 19. Visit the Chronicles of Georgia
- 20. Crawl Through the Wells at Stalin’s Underground Printing Press Museum
- 21. Liberty Square
- 22. Discover the Country’s Deep History at the National Museum of Georgia
- 23. Understand the Complicated Relations and History During the USSR-era at the Soviet Occupation Hall
- 24. Wander Around Mtatsminda Park
- Where to Stay in Tbilisi
- Best Restaurants in Tbilisi
- Getting Around Tbilisi
- A 3 Day Tbilisi Itinerary & the 24 Best Things to do in Tbilisi
Get Around Tbilisi: A Guide to the Tbilisi Metro
A 3 Day Tbilisi Itinerary & the 24 Best Things to do in Tbilisi
Tbilisi Itinerary: Day 1
1. Look for Georgian Souvenirs in the Underground Meidan Bazaar
Meidan Bazaar sits right in the middle of Tbilisi’s Old Town, having served as a major crossroads along the Silk Road as goods passed from the Levant, Arabia, East Asia, Europe, and just about everywhere in between. And like many of Tbilisi’s delights, sits completely underground.
Dating back to the 4th century, Meidan Bazaar has a long-standing history and is one of the best places to pick up Georgian souvenirs to take home, though it can feel a bit touristy.
Nearest metro station: Avlabari (10-minute walk | 670 meters)
2. Head to the Abanotubani District of the Old Town and Treat Yourself to a Sulfur Bath
Tbilisi was chosen as the location of Georgia’s new capital in the 5th century, owing largely to the wealth of natural hot springs that run underground in the Abanotubani District.
Several domes dot the narrow valley that Abanotubani sits in, home to the famed bathhouses. Of course, the Orbeliani Bathhouse is the most famous, owing to its tiled mosque-like facade.
Nearest metro station: Avlabari (15-minute walk | 1.6 km)
Getting to Abantubani from Meidan Bazaar: 4-minute walk | 320 meters
3. Find the Hidden Lagvtakhevi Waterfall
If you keep walking beyond the famous facade of the mosque-like Orbeliani Baths in the Abanotubani District, you’ll continue along a waterway that eventually dead-ends at 22-meter tall Lagvtakhevi Waterfall. A series of bridges and walkways lead up to a viewpoint of the falls, making it an easy stroll for those already meandering around the Old Town.
Nearest metro station: Avlabari (18-minute walk | 1.3 km)
Getting to Lagvtakhevi Waterfall from Abanotubani: 5-minute walk | 310 meters
4. Learn About Georgia’s 8,000 + Year Winemaking History at the Tbilisi Wine Museum
With a winemaking history that stretches back over 8,000 years, the Tbilisi Wine Museum is a must on your Tbilisi itinerary. Our guide Nino navigated us through the underground labyrinth where she thoroughly explained Georgia’s long-standing winemaking traditions such as the use of the Qvevri- the clay Georgian winemaking vessel.
Wine is undoubtedly a large part of the nation’s history so Nino’s guided tour with us was interspersed with historical facts and developments within Tbilisi and the country, including the series of events and attacks that led to so much of Tbilisi being built underground and about its plethora of underground mineral streams used for the production of wines.
The Tbilisi Wine Museum is conveniently located beneath the Tbilisi History Museum inside the Karvasla building.
Cost: 15 GEL (includes guided tour)
Nearest metro station: Avlabari (13-minute walk | 920 meters) or Liberty Square (14-minute walk | 1.1 km)
Getting to Tbilisi Wine Museum from Lagvtakhevi Waterfall: 11-minute walk | 700 meters
5. Comprehend the City’s Longstanding History at the Tbilisi History Museum
Located inside the Karvasla– a building dating back to the 17th century that served as a caravanserai along the ancient Silk Road, the Tbilisi History Museum houses over 50,000 artifacts that date clear back to the Bronze Age.
Cost: 5 GEL
Nearest metro station: Avlabari (13-minute walk | 920 meters) or Liberty Square (14-minute walk | 1.1 km)
6. Shop at Gallery 27 and Admire the Stained Glass Work at the Kaleidoscope House
Betlemi Street is easily one of the most gorgeous areas of Tbilisi with its colorful homes and art splattered at every turn, but the most famous site on the street has got to be the Kaleidoscope House.
The best time to visit is on a sunny day in the afternoon (we had clouds when we visited, unfortunately) to catch the rainbow reflection of the stained glass on the floor and walls.
But the main reason to trek up the stairs of the Kaleidoscope House is to visit the Gallery 27 shop where you can pick up unique and handmade gifts and souvenirs.
Nearest metro station: Liberty Square (13-minute walk | 1 km) or Avlabari (15-minute walk | 1.1 km)
Getting to the Kaleidoscope House from Tbilisi History Museum/Wine Museum: 3-minute walk | 270 meters
7. Explore Betlemi Street & Historic Quarter
Tbilisi’s Old Town is already pretty artsy, but my favorite part had to be Betlemi Street and its historic quarter owing to its interesting sites and colorfully decorated buildings and art installations. The previously mentioned Kaleidoscope House sits in the Betlemi Historic Quarter in addition to the Check Point Hotel, the colorfully painted and tiled Cafe Frida’s, the Zoroastrian fire temple of Ateshgah, and the Upper Betlemi Church.
Nearest metro station: Liberty Square (13-minute walk | 1 km) or Avlabari (15-minute walk 1.1 km)
8. Take in the Best Tbilisi Views from Tabor Monastery of the Transformation
For the best views of Narikala Fortress and Old Tbilisi, the walk up to the Tabor Monastery of Transformation is well worth the effort. Of course, sunset and sunrise are the best time to be there.
The Tabor Monastery of Transformation itself dates back only to 2012 after taking 10 years to complete.
To get to the Tabor Monastery on foot, you’ll need to follow Baazovi Street from the Abantubani District to its end and then follow a series of stairs and paths (sometimes you will feel as if you’re walking through someone’s backyard) to eventually arrive on a small outcrop from which the monastery is only a short walk up from. For those not looking to go on an adventure, there is a road that goes all the way to the monastery, so going by taxi is a possibility.
Nearest metro station: Liberty Square (31-minute walk | 1.8 km)
Getting to Tabor Monastery from Betlemi Quarter: 26-minute walk | 1.5 km
Make a cool day trip from Tbilisi: Visit the Rkoni Monastery Complex
Tbilisi Itinerary: Day 2
9. Marvel at the Grandeur of the Holy Trinity Cathedral Sameba
At 87 meters in height, the Holy Trinity Cathedral (also called the Sameba Cathedral) in Tbilisi is the tallest building in all of Georgia? and the largest orthodox church in the country.
The cathedral opened to the public in 2004 and is surrounded by a manicured garden, fountains, and more.
Make sure to have a headscarf handy (ladies) and wear either long trousers or a full-length skirt.
Nearest metro station: Avlabari (9-minute walk | 670 meters)
10. Watch the Show on the Hour at the Clock Tower
The Leaning Clock Tower of Tbilisi is one of the city’s most iconic sites, despite not even being that old compared to other highlights. The famous clock tower was constructed in 2011 by renowned puppeteer Rezo Gabriadze, who also built the attached Puppet Theatre in Tbilisi’s Old Town.
On the hour the window at the top of the clock tower opens and an angel comes out onto the balcony and bangs a bell.
Nearest metro station: Liberty Square (12-minute walk | 910 meters)
Getting to the Clock Tower from Sameba: Take the metro from Avlabari to Liberty Square then walk 12-minutes | 910 meters
11. See the Remaining Old Tbilisi Walls
Historically speaking, Tbilisi was a walled city, and not until it was dragged into the Russian Empire in the late 18th century did the city of Tbilisi begin to expand outside these old stone walls.
The best place to see the Old Walls of Tbilisi is along Pushkin Street up to Baratashvili Street.
Nearest metro station: Liberty Square (8-minute walk | 640 meters)
Getting to the Old Walls from the Clock Tower: 5-minute walk | 410 meters
12. Shop at Dry Bridge Flea Market
On either side of the Chughureti Bridge, you’ll find merchants participating in the daily Dry Bridge Flea Market selling all kinds of wares from old vinyl records, jewelry, cutlery, books, cameras, to Soviet-era pins, and even the odd Lenin or Stalin bust.
Nearest metro station: Liberty Square (16-minute walk | 1.2 km)
Getting to the Dry Bridge Market from the Old Walls: 11-minute walk | 790 meters
13. Stroll Around Rike Park & Tbilisi Bridge of Peace
Linking Rike Park to Old Tbilisi across the river, the Tbilisi Bridge of Peace is one of the many funky-modern structures you’ll quickly notice when you arrive.
The Bridge of Peace is a pedestrian bridge that was opened in 2010 and designed by Italian architect Michele De Lucchi. Michele De Lucchi also designed the Ministry of Internal Affairs building as well as the residential Administration of Georgia building.
Nearest metro station: Avlabari (10-minute walk | 590 meters)
Getting to the Tbilisi Peace Bridge from Dry Bridge Market: 17-minute walk | 1.3 km
14. Gaze from the Balcony of Queen Darejan’s Palace
Uphill from Rike Park sits the palace that served as Queen Darejan’s summer home. The main attraction is the turquoise balcony overhanging a cliff.
Nearest metro station: Avlabari (5-minute walk | 380 meters)
Getting to the Queen Darejan’s Palace from Rike Park: 9-minute walk | 550 meters
15. Check Out the Converted Spaces at Fabrika Tbilisi
Once an old Soviet sewing factory, Fabrika was converted into a hip multi-functional space. Inside you’ll find all types of cool art studios, a hostel, bars, cafes, co-working spaces, and even a courtyard to hang out in.
Nearest metro station: Marjanishvili (6-minute walk | 660 meters)
Getting to the Fabrika from Queen Darejan’s Palace: Take the metro from Avlabari Station to Marjanishvili Station and walk 6 minutes | 660 meters
16. Peek Your Head into the Abandoned Mtatsminda Cable Car Station
The Mtatsminda Ropeway stopped abruptly on June 1, 1990, when the cable broke, killing 19 and injuring 40 more. Since that fateful day, the cable car, as well as its stations, have been left to decay for the last 30 years.
The Lower Mtatsminda Station is located just off Rustaveli Avenue, just walk through one of the arches of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences building. You can’t get inside the building (unless the door happens to be unlocked and you don’t get run off by construction workers but you can peek your head through the broken windows to gaze up at the spiraling stairs and graffiti inside.
As of 2021, the Lower Mtatsminda Station is undergoing construction to restore the cable car line.
Nearest metro station: Rustaveli (3-minute walk | 210 meters)
Getting to Lower Mtatsminda Station from Fabrika: Take the metro from Marjanishvili Station to Rustaveli Station and walk 3 minutes | 210 meters
17. Check Out Narikala Fortress & St. Nicholas Church
Narikala Fortress is high up on a steep hill next to the Abanotubani sulfur bath district, offering epic 360º views of Tbilisi. Dating back to the 4th century originally, Narikala suffered severe damages over the years, so the walls today largely were reconstructed in the 16th and 17th centuries.
St. Nicholas Church sits in the lower court of Narikala Fortress, having been originally built in the 13th century suffered a devastating fire and was reconstructed in 1996 and 1997.
You can make the walk along a network of trails uphill from either the Abanotubani or Betlemi areas of Old Town to reach Narikala Fortress and St. Nicholas Church or grab a cable car from Rike Park for 1 GEL.
Nearest metro station: Avlabari (21-minute walk | 1.4 km) or Liberty Square (24-minute walk | 1.6 km)
Getting to Narikala from Lower Mtatsminda Station: Take the metro from Rustaveli Station to Avlabari Station and walk 21 minutes | 1.4 km
18. Go Clubbing Underground at Bassiani
Ever wanted to go clubbing in an underground Soviet swimming pool? Here’s your chance.
Bassiani is located underneath the old Dinamo Stadium where DJs from all around the world put on epic shows. The club is known also for its LGBT-friendly space known as Horoom, which has stirred protests and police-raids as the club helps to push for change in the still conservative society of Georgia.
No photos are allowed to be taken inside Bassiani and camera phones will have a sticker placed over the lens.
Unfortunately, Bassiani has been shuttered for the time being due to the pandemic but will likely resume operations in the future. Check the Bassiani website for updates on its re-opening.
Nearest metro station: Station Square II (7-minute walk | 540 meters)
Getting to Bassiani from Narikala: Take the metro from Avlabari Station to Station Square II Station and walk 7minutes | 540 meters
Headed toward Gori? Don’t miss the Ancient Cave City of Uplistsikhe
Tbilisi Itinerary: Day 3
19. Visit the Chronicles of Georgia
Not going to lie, the Chronicles of Georgia is the only site on this best things to do in Tbilisi article that I have not personally visited on any of my trips to Georgia. It was on my to-do list on my last visit but I just didn’t make it over there- maybe next time.
As the name insinuates, the 16 pillar monument tells the chronicle of Georgia’s history. It was created by Georgian painter, architect, and sculptor Zurab Tsereteli in 1985, but was never completed.
The Chronicles of Georgia is located on a hill overlooking the Tbilisi Sea on the outskirts of the city. The cheapest and easiest way to get there is to get on the Tbilisi Metro Red Line and get off at Ghrmaghele Station and then once outside take Bus #60 from the stop nearest the station entrance to the Military School stop. From there, walk the remaining 500 meters to the Chronicles of Georgia.
Alternatively, order a taxi using the Bolt app to the Chronicles of Georgia and expect it to cost 10-20 GEL (one way).
Nearest metro station: Ghrmaghele (2.4 km from Chronicles of Georgia)
20. Crawl Through the Wells at Stalin’s Underground Printing Press Museum
A small featureless house sat in the Isani neighborhood of Tbilisi hid a series of tunnels where a young Joseph Stalin (still going by his birth name of Iosif Djugashvili) printed various newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets, calling for the removal of the Tsar.
Bolshevik Revolutionaries would be led down a 15 meter deep well that led to another dry well via a tunnel and then up a 10 meter staircase to a basement where an old German printing press where for three years propaganda materials were printed in Georgian, Russian, and Armenian. The printing press was purchased in Ausburg, Germany, dismantled, and then smuggled to Tbilisi by Bolshevik supporters. In 1906 the police found Stalin’s headquarters and removed the printing press, then destroyed the house, filling the well with soil. During the Soviet era, the house and wells were reconstructed and the printing press returned.
Now, the Underground Printing Press and House serve as a museum, managed by the National Museum. We were guided around by quite the character who made the visit to the museum that much better.
These days the museum does get some tourists, though it’s become a pilgrimage site for Chinese visitors paying their respects to Stalin.
Note that you’ll need to have a basic understanding of either Russian or Georgian as the museum guides on hand speak them. They do have a printed sheet in English to explain the history of the museum if you do not understand Russian or Georgian but know that the tour is that much more entertaining if you can understand the guide’s commentary.
Entry to Stalin’s Underground Printing Press Museum is by donation. 10 GEL is recommended.
Nearest metro station: 300 Aragveli (7-minute walk | 380 meters)
Getting to Stalin’s Underground Printing Press from Chronicles of Georgia: Take bus #60 to the Military School and then take the metro from Ghrmaghele Station to 300 Aragveli Station and walk 7 minutes | 380 meters
21. Liberty Square
Liberty Square (also known as Freedom Square) is located on Rustaveli Avenue and has been the epicenter of many pivotal points in Georgia’s historical revolutions. It was the site of the 1907 Tiflis Bank Robbery, numerous demonstrations rallying for Georgia’s independence from the Soviet Union, and the Rose Revolution among others.
Several important Tbilisi monuments are centered around Liberty Square including a bust of Alexander Pushkin, the Tbilisi City Hall, the Liberty Monument, the former Bank of Georgia, and the old Tbilisi local government office.
Nearest metro station: Liberty Square
Getting to Liberty Square from Stalin’s Underground Printing Press: Take the metro from 300 Aragveli Station to Liberty Square Station and walk upstairs
22. Discover the Country’s Deep History at the National Museum of Georgia
Take a deep dive into the natural and human history of the nation of Georgia with a history that dates back over 40 million years and presents relics that go back over 1 million years at the National Museum of Georgia.
Note that the fascinating Soviet Occupation Hall Museum is housed within the same complex as the National Museum of Georgia.
Cost: 5 GEL or 10 GEL if including the Soviet Occupational Hall
Nearest metro station: Liberty Square (7-minute walk | 530 meters)
Getting to the National Museum of Georgia and Soviet Occupation Hall from Liberty Square: Walk 7 minutes | 530 meters
23. Understand the Complicated Relations and History During the USSR-era at the Soviet Occupation Hall
Georgia was occupied by the Soviet Union for seven decades spanning from 1918 to 1991. The Soviet Occupational Hall helps to explain the history of Georgia under the USSR period, as well as the national liberation and anti-occupation movements that took place during this turbulent 73 years.
The Soviet Occupational Hall is located on the fourth floor of the National Museum of Georgia.
Cost: 10 GEL
Nearest metro station: Liberty Square (7-minute walk | 530 meters)
24. Wander Around Mtatsminda Park
Located atop Tbilisi’s highest point- Mount Mtatsminda, sits a park of the same name. It features a Ferris wheel, rollercoaster, waterslides, and more. From Old Town, you can take a funicular ride to the top.
Entrance to Mtatsminda Park is free, but you will need to pay 6 GEL for a ride up the funicular (+2 GEL to purchase the reloadable card for it and other attractions in the park).
Nearest metro station: Liberty Square (14-minute walk to the funicular | 1.1 km)
Getting to Mtatsminda Park from the National Museum of Georgia: Walk 530 meters back to Liberty Square and then make the 14-minute walk | 1.1 km to the funicular and ride it up to the park
Where to Stay in Tbilisi
Envoy Hotel | Namaste Hostel | Apartment Rental
On my most recent visit to Tbilisi my good friend Dan rented an apartment in between the Garetubani and Kala neighborhoods just off of Baratashvili/Pushkin Street, which was a perfect place to based for exploring Tbilisi.
On a previous visit, I had stayed at the Envoy Hostel after a bleary-eyed 3 am arrival for a press trip to the Abkhaz Region that was canceled mere hours before my flight departed. I hopped in a taxi from the airport and asked him to take me anywhere that had a bed and was cheap-ish. I think he could tell I was at end of my rope that day and said he knew somewhere nice and dropped me off at Envoy.
The hostel was clean, the staff was excellent, and the shared spaces led me (who can be a little quiet and not so social sometimes) to meet several other solo travelers to explore around Georgia with. Envoy is also perfectly situated in the Old Town just below Narikala Fortress between Abanotubani District and the Betlemi Quarter.
Nearest metro station to Envoy Hostel: Avlabari (15-minute walk | 1 km)
For those looking for a hostel experience but at a cheaper rate, the Namaste Hostel came highly recommended. The hostel is conveniently located in the Betlemi Quarter.
Nearest metro station to Namaste Hostel: Avlabari (14-minute walk | 980 meters)
Check Point Hotel | Fabrika Hostel & Suites
I didn’t stay at the Check Point Hotel, but I did visit the property as we had popped into the Cafe Freida for a coffee and fell in love with the place. Its located in the artsy Betlemi Quarter of Old Town and is easy to see why this is a favorite among travelers.
Nearest metro station to Check Point Hotel: Avlabari (16-minute walk | 1.1 km) or Liberty Square (15-minute walk | 1.2 km)
Another fan favorite is the Fabrika Hostel & Suites located within the old Soviet-era sewing factory converted into a new and hip hostel, co-working spaces, bars, art studios, and artisan shops.
The Fabrika Hostel & Suites is situated in the Marjanishvili neighborhood.
Nearest metro station to Fabrika Hostel & Suites: Marjanishvili (8-minute walk | 660 meters)
If you’re looking to splurge, the Stamba Hotel would be my top pick after we popped into the hotel on a chilly afternoon. The interior architecture is nothing short of impressive, showcasing a brutalist framework that highlights the industrial era within this hotel inside a former publishing house- the highlights being the 5-story atrium with jungle plants vining up metal frames and the ultra-cool library-themed Lobby Bar.
Stamba is located on Rustaveli Avenue/Merab Kostava Street in the Vera Historic District.
Nearest metro station to Stamba Hotel: Rustaveli (3-minute walk | 270 meters)
Best Restaurants in Tbilisi
So I will preface this section by saying: I fully plan to write a post dedicated to the delicious dishes of Georgia (yes, it’s that good) one of these days, but for now, here is a list of some of the best places I ate in Tbilisi.
I also wanted to throw out there too that I feel you’d be hard-pressed to find truly bad food in Tbilisi, so don’t be scared to pop into a random restaurant you happen to be passing by- that’s how we discovered a number of the places on this list.
Where and What to Eat
Hands down, Amra is my favorite restaurant in Tbilisi… and that’s after eating my way across the city. Amra was the first Abkhazian restaurant in Tbilisi, which originally existed in the city of Sokhumi in the western region of Abkhazia but was recreated in Tbilisi after the owners were forced to leave during the brutal 1990s war.
But moving on from the history and back to the food…
My favorite dish is the spatchcocked chicken in Abkhazian adjika sauce (it says “Chicken on a spatula in Abkhazian adjika sauce). It’s quite similar to Shkmeruli which is a dish of perfectly fried chicken sat in a bubbling bath of creamy garlic-milk sauce, though this Abkhaz twist on the dish adds the delicious and fiery adjika sauce to the mix (I often dream of this meal).
Other mouthwatering dishes we had here were the ghebzhalia, a chunk of sulguni cheese in a bowl of heavy cream and chopped mint leaves; the Kliari fried sulguni with adjika, sulguni friend in breading and adjika and served with a cream sauce; the elarji, a mixture of cornmeal and sulguni that is commonly eaten in both the Abkhaz and Samegrelo regions; and the Sokhumi ice cream, a vanilla ice cream topped with a citrus jam and nuts.
Don’t forget to try some Abkhazian wine– we went with the red and quite honestly it was one of our favorite wines in all of our travels in Georgia and we’ve had some amazing wines there.
Nearest metro station: Amra moved as of my latest visit in March 2023! Amra is now in a round building on Lake Lisi. The closest metro station is Delisi. From there, take a Bolt (6-7 minutes) or walk (about 35 minutes). It’s no longer located outside State University Station.
Sabatono was another favorite of ours, serving up some great Georgian classics.
Some of our favorite dishes at Sabatono were the lobio, a mashed bean soup that texturally reminded me of refried Mexican beans, spiced with utsho suneli (blue fenugreek), crushed walnuts, onion, garlic, coriander, and cilantro; badrijani nigvzit, a popular Georgian appetizer of fried eggplant stuffed with a paste of walnut and garlic, topped with pomegranate seeds; chashushuli, also called ostri (meaning spicy in Russian), is a fiery Georgian beef stew in a tomato-based sauce spiced with onion, garlic, chili, coriander, and parsley; and the Adjarian khachapuri, the famous eye-shaped boat of bread, with melted sulguni and an egg cracked on top.
Naturally, we had to pair this with a Georgian red, so we opted for the Kindzmarauli, which was one of my favorite types of red wine in the country.
Nearest metro station: Rustaveli (5-minute walk | 360 meters)
As the name of the restaurant suggests, khinkali are the main attraction on the menu here at Hinkali Factory, though they do have an extensive menu. In case, you don’t yet know: khinkali are delicious soup dumplings and Georgia’s most popular dish.
First, we kicked off the meal with an appetizer of Ispanakhis Pkhali as a pre-khinkali warm-up round. Ispanakhis Pkhali is a pate of spinach, ground walnuts, utsho suneli, cilantro, and coriander topped with pomegranate seeds.
Next, we ordered heaping plates of their kalakuri khinkali, dumplings stuffed with beef spiced with cumin, onion, parsley, and cilantro, and the sulguni khinkali, which are served up with delicious melty cheese inside.
Tip: There are rules to eating khinkali! First, you must pick up the little dump by its top knot and carefully bite open one of its bottom corners and slurp all of the soupy broth out of the khinkali or else you’ll end up doused in khinkali juice. Once you’ve sucked out its juices you can eat the khinkali, though do not eat the top knot- that’s to be proudly displayed on your plate to showcase how many of these delicious dumplings you can hog down.
Of course, we paired this all with a perfect bottle of Saperavi.
Nearest metro station: Liberty Square (12-minute walk | 870 meters)
In the Shadow of Metekhi
Initially, we popped into In the Shadow of Metekhi after having left Stalin’s Underground Printing Press in search of coffee and a toilet (we had to pee, ok), but we ended up sticking around for lunch. But for starters- the main draw to the restaurant is its outdoor balcony right on the Mtkvari River with perfect views of Old Tbilisi.
Since it was more like a brunch for us since we didn’t have breakfast (but lots of coffee that morning, hence the peeing), we decided to first order the Ajarian chirbuli which seemed reminiscent of shakshuka- only better. Chirbuli hails from the Adjara region of Georgia and is a sauce-like dish of tomato, tkemali (Georgian sour plum sauce), onion, ground walnuts, coriander, garlic, and herbs with eggs poached in the saucy concoction.
We also decided to try out the Mkhlovana khachapuri, which is a round-shaped variation of khachapuri stuffed with cheese, beetroot leaves, and spinach. It’s also called Pkhlovana khachapuri and hails from the Mtiuleti and Khevi regions. A similar variation that originates in South Ossetia called chakhragina khachapuri exists with just cheese and beetroot leaves.
Nearest metro station: 300 Aragveli (9-minute walk | 730 meters)
Kafe Leila is a vegetarian restaurant offering up an array of traditional and contemporary dishes with a cool interior that in a way reminded me of being back in the historic houses in Shiraz, Iran.
We ordered the green salad with mushrooms, figuring that eating a bowl of leafy greens wouldn’t kill us (and we probably needed it); the Imeretian lobio with mchadi, the previously mentioned bean soup prepared Imeretian style with slightly different sices and a side of mchadi, a Georgian cornbread; and the adjapsandali, a traditionally vegetarian dish of eggplant and zucchini stew in a tomato-basil sauce reminiscent of ratatouille.
And since we rolled into Kafe Leila for lunch we paired it with a bottle of Tsinandali, a lovely white wine from the Kakheti region.
Nearest metro station: Liberty Square (13-minute walk | 930 meters)
Chashnagri probably wins the prize for the best cheap food in Tbilisi on this list- it’s also a chain, so you can find several locations around the city.
We ordered a khachapuri (sorry I can’t remember the name of it) but it was a long loaf of bread stuffed with sulguni that was baked on a spit over a flame; some kalakuri khinkali, same meat and herb ones we had at Hinkhali Factory; and the bubbling cast iron of shkmeruli, a dish hailing from the village of Shkmeruli in the Racha region of a perfectly roasted or fried chicken bathed in thick garlic-cream sauce.
We paired dinner here with a bottle of Kvanchkara– a beautiful red wine which, fun fact, was also Stalin’s favorite wine.
Nearest metro station: Liberty Square (9-minute walk | 710 meters)
Right next to the Meidan Bazaar, Restaurant Hide has one thing in common with the ancient marketplace- it’s also underground. Follow a staircase down to find yourself in a hip subterranean bar and restaurant.
We ordered pork ribs in adjika, some delectable gooey sulguni stuffed mushrooms, and washed it all down with a bottle of Kindzmarauli.
Nearest metro station: Avlabari (13-minute walk | 940 meters)
The Cone Culture
If you like ice cream, then a visit to the Cone Culture is in order. The little walk-up shop regularly experiments with new flavors, but their signature is the unique vanilla adjika ice cream that is, as you guessed- spiced with salty, spicy, savory adjika. Other offbeat and unique flavors include persimmon, feijoa, dogwood, blue cheese, whiskey, and many others in addition to more conventional flavors.
Nearest metro station: Liberty Square (10-minute walk | 730 meters)
Kvarts Coffee is a one-of-a-kind, blending art and coffee. The artists on hand will draw your portrait on your coffee cup! And the coffee is excellent too (especially the lavender raf).
You can check out Kvarts Coffee on Instagram, where you can also DM them a photo of you or friends/family and get the portrait drawn on a wine bottle to pick up. How neat is that?
Nearest metro station: Rustaveli (9-minute walk | 670 meters)
Cafe Frida is inside the Check Point Hotel, which is perfectly decorated and offers up an array of light snacks, coffee, homemade lemonades, beer, and wines. They also have a great view of Old Tbilisi’s Betlemi Quarter from their upper terrace. Check out Cafe Frida’s menu here.
Nearest metro station: Avlabari (16-minute walk | 1.1 km) or Liberty Square (15-minute walk | 1.2 km)
Getting Around Tbilisi
Getting around Tbilisi is a cinch with a network of metro stations, buses, cable cars, and the Bolt taxi app. Of course, since I love Soviet-era metros thanks to their grandiose stations in cities like Tashkent and Almaty, it’s my preferred way to get around the city.
To use the Tbilisi Metro, buses, and Tbilisi cable car you’ll need to purchase a rechargeable Metromoney card in a metro station 2 GEL and then top up the card at either a window or from one of the orange machines you’ll see in the station.
A single ride on the metro or bus will cost 50 tetri (0.5 GEL). A one-way ride on the Tbilisi cable car is 2.5 GEL or 5 GEL return.
Finally, for those taking longer rides or to places not covered so well by the public transport system, the Bolt app will come in handy. Bolt essentially functions in the same way as Uber or Yandex where you can input pick up/drop off locations and get cost estimates for the trip.
Check out the Tbilisi Metro Stations
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