Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, has become all the latest craze with people living in Dubai and Doha. I’ll tell you three reasons why: it is a short distance from Dubai (3 hours on Fly Dubai), has a lot of history and scenery, better weather especially in the summer, very cheap (actually one of the cheapest cities I’ve been to)
In preparing for my trip, I did a lot of research on the right places to visit, hotels to stay in, restaurants to eat at and I came up with a short itinerary that we used whilst at Tbilisi, I hope this is useful to any of you planning any trips there soon!
Where to eat
Before listing my top picks for food in Tbilisi, it is worth it to speak a bit about Georgian cuisine in general. Of course, one of the main food items they are famous for is the Khachapuri (bread stuffed with cheese and eggs). Khachapuri is a dish that people have for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can be stuffed with eggs, cheese or both. It can also be served plain. Another famous Georgian dish is the dumplings (Khinkali), mainly filled with minced meat. Their cuisine is big on stews too!
My top restaurant picks in Tbilisi:
- Sakhachapure #1: The best place to have a Khachapuri in Tbilisi! They have several branches around the city, and what I loved about their menu is that they have different types of Khachapuri and different size options. We had the large cheese and egg filled Khachapuri and it was delicious! This restaurant is casual and good for a quick lunch.
- Barbarestan: This restaurant is number one in Tbilisi and I heard so many good reviews about this place. They have Khinkali there! Make sure to book in advance if you want to go. We went there hoping to find a table for dinner but were told the place was fully booked out. The interior of the place looked beautiful and I know it is a family owned restaurant.
- Pur Pur: This was one of the best discoveries in Tbilisi. Whilst the food isn’t very “traditional”, it is located in a building that looks like its been run down but the interior of the restaurant was so beautifully decorated with flowers and antique furniture. For dinner, they have live piano or jazz music which makes the vibe really nice. The restaurant is more on the expensive side compared to typical Tbilisi prices.
- Cafe Gabriadze: One of the best restaurants for dinner in Old Town. I loved this cafe, the menu is very traditional and they have great service and a cozy vibe. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any Khinkali.
- Rooms Hotel Restaurant, Le Marais, Sakhli, Famous
Breakfast at Old Rustavelli Hotel: Selection of Khachapuri, Eggs, Cheese, Yoghurt, Salad, Salmon, Honey, Jams and drinks
What to do
- Visit Mtskheta: A mere 20 minutes away by cab, Mtskheta is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is one of the oldest cities in Georgia! It has several churches that you should visit and it has the feel of a village from the 60’s. On the way to Mtskheta I would recommend you make the taxi take a tiny detour to Jvari Monastery, a beautiful monastery atop of a hill with very nice views overlooking Mtskheta. Don’t make the mistake of not making the taxi waiting for you, because we ended up walking for 1.5 hours to get to Mtskheta lol!! At Mtskheta, some of the things that you should see are the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, fortress of Bebris Tzikhe, Samtavro Monastery… I would budget around 4-5 hours in total for Mtskheta
- Funicular and Mtatsminda Hill: Back in Tbilisi, I would suggest going to Mtatsminda Hill, a nice place to get a high view of the city. On Mtatsminda hill there is a “theme park” and the Funicular restaurant but not much to do otherwise. You can maybe grab a drink at the cafe next to the restaurant. Would recommend going there for sunset.
- Walk along Rustavelli Avenue: Down to freedom square and old Tbilisi. I loved walking along this avenue, they had the opera and ballet, museums, city council and parliament just before you get to Freedom Square.
- Old Tbilisi: There are a lot of shops in Old Tbilisi and its very nice just to take a stroll around the old part of the city. This is the perfect place to get all of your souvenirs and you can haggle with all the shop owners! There are also a lot of options for food and cafes. From there you can also easily get to the Dry Bridge Market, the flea market in Tbilisi with all sorts of collectibles vinyls, paintings, furniture, you name it they have it!
- Telepherique and Narikala Fortress: Also close to the old town is the telephrique where you can get a ride straight to Narikala Fortress, a fortress overlooking Tbilisi. At the fortress you can also see the botanical gardens and sulphur baths. A nice hike would be downhill where you can go back to the Old City.
- Walk along the Peace Bridge to the Presidential Palace
- Other things to do are Vake Park to go paddle boating
Where to stay
Personally, I preferred to stay at a hotel while visiting Tbilisi due to the added comfort over an airbnb, especially that hotels are in abundance there and have very reasonable prices. The top picks that I saw on many blogs are:
- The Biltmore Hotel (5 stars): The best choice for a luxury hotel that has all the amenities you’re looking for (spa, sauna, bar), the location is very central on Rustavelli avenue. Average prices are $250-$300 per night for a twin room.
- No. 12 Boutique Hotel (4 stars): A hotel that was recommended quite a lot during my research. It was located in Old City though so not really central. Average prices are $100-$150 per night for a twin room.
- Old Tiflis Boutique Hotel (4 stars): Another hotel that was recommended through online research. Like No.12, it is located in the old city with average prices $100-$150 per night for a twin room.
- The hotel we stayed at was Hotel Old Rustavelli (3 stars): This hotel was very central and close to the Biltmore Hotel. It was located right on Rustavelli Avenue and was very easy to get taxis from there. I would recommend it for the service, breakfast and location. I will not recommend it for cleanliness, noise level of neighbors, luxury/comfort. If you’re planning to spend your entire day out, then this is a good choice. Average prices $80-$120 per night for a twin room.
If you’ve been to Tbilisi let me know what you think of my suggestions! If you haven’t yet, I hope you find these tips useful!