Interested in a break from the norm? Takeover Tbilisi with our breakdown of the coolest things to see and do in Georgia’s capital city
Words Sabrina Nunez
As the capital and largest city in Georgia, Tbilisi has transformed over the course of its long history into a city that embraces its uniqueness with a vivid nightlife, rich history and emerging fashion scene. Besides wandering through roaming hills, you can expect to browse bazaars, take to the healing powers of sulphuric baths and experience art as you sip on a cup of coffee.
We’ve rounded up the reasons that make Tbilisi worth a visit…
As a crossroads for eastern Europe and western Asia, Tbilisi has been the site of political unrest and constant shifts in power. The architecture reflects the city’s changing influences, where different styles show the city’s political phases.
The Tsminda Sameba Holy Trinity Cathedral is a vision by day but transforms when illuminated at night. If castles and ruins call your attention, Narikala Fortress is situated next to the Botanical Garden at the top of a hill with views that make the short hike worthwhile. For a touch of modernity, the Bridge of Peace is a functional pedestrian bridge crossing the river. It connects the Old Town to Rike Park, the curvaceousness of the bridge a stark contrast to the historical structures around it.
With all the hills you’ll be walking, you’ll need to refuel with some Georgian carbs. Try Kveba’s khinkali – dumplings made up of dough, spices and meat. A Georgian staple, khachapuri at Funicular is a bread filled with three different kinds of cheese and topped off with a runny egg – comfort food epitomised.
Tbilisi’s geographical position means the city’s food is also influenced by neighbouring countries. Seafood, Indian, Middle Eastern and loads of vegetarian-friendly options are also found in the city, suiting even the pickiest of eaters.
According to legend, the city was settled by King Vakhtang Gorgasali because of its sulphuric hot springs. As the city developed, so did the bathhouses with their domed roofs and manicured gardens. Masseuses are available to assist with the healing powers of the waters that tout skin and health benefits. Located among the city’s rolling green hills and decorated with tiles, the bathhouses are absolutely worth a visit.
Over a century of literary works and art pieces are at home at the Writer’s House of Georgia. The Writer’s House has celebrated authors from around the world with an International Festival of Literature. Tbilisi is also known for its art cafes which, as the name suggests, allow you to take in contemporary art while downing a coffee. Art-Cafe HOME perfectly displays this quirky cultural combo by lining its walls with pages of books and creating gallery walls out of hanging wooden spoons.
More recently, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week has made a new home in Tbilisi, showcasing mainly Georgian designers. Spring shows made the most of the History Museum-Karvasla’s grand openness. Impressively fusing art, food, history and architecture, it’s no wonder fashion week has made its way here. Definitely keep an eye on the fashion brands coming out of Georgia.
Tbilisi has recently gained notoriety as the nightclub hub of Eastern Europe. Major in this scene is Bassiani, equipped with Grade A soundsystems, a mix of musical genres and a lineup of in-house DJs. Sky7 Terrace and Lounge Bar will take you from day to night with its rotating location-based brunch menu before hitting you with happy hour deals to whittle away the evening hours.
PLUS WHERE TO STAY…
With its large windows and veranda, this hotel is perfectly situated to display the sights of the city including the nearby Narikla Fortress, Botanical Garden and Bridge of Peace, as well as the Tsminda Sameba Holy Trinity Cathedral across the water. The hotel itself offers seven categories of rooms, some with balconies. While the exterior reflects the ancient style of architecture, the interiors are grand, light and open.
The unique shape of the Biltmore juxtaposes its surroundings, towering over the rest of the city with its glass exterior. Luxury oozes from every corner with upscale amenities, amazing views and luxury offerings of sauna, spa and sun terrace. With modern rooms and three restaurants, it would be hard to resist a night here.
Hotel Old Tibilisi
Perched on the river, this hotel offers views across the city made better by nightfall. This hotel embraces the old town and despite the name, offers sleek and modern interiors rich in warm colours. The terrace restaurant allows visitors to take advantage of the hotel’s lush greenery and scenic views with food or drink.