Tbilisi, the heart and soul of Georgia, is a city that offers a fascinating blend of the old and the new. Founded in the 5th century, the city has been a melting pot of diverse cultures, religions, and influences, from Persian and Byzantine to Soviet. With a population of over 1.1 million, Tbilisi is not just a city; it's a tapestry of stories waiting to be discovered.
The optimal time to explore Tbilisi is during the spring months of April to June and the autumn months of September to November. During these periods, the city experiences a mild climate with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F), making it ideal for outdoor activities. Here's a closer look at what each season offers:
Spring (April to June)
Spring in Tbilisi is a season of renewal, where the city's gardens and parks burst into bloom. The mild weather is perfect for walking tours, picnics in the Botanical Garden, or leisurely boat rides on the Mtkvari River. It's also a photographer's paradise, with vibrant flowers providing the perfect backdrop. Cafes spill onto the sidewalks, inviting you to enjoy a glass of traditional Georgian wine or a cup of coffee in the open air. Don't miss the Tbilisi Open Air music festival in June, where you can groove to local and international tunes.
Autumn (September to November)
Autumn transforms Tbilisi into a canvas of warm colours, making it a romantic destination. This is the season for wine aficionados; Georgia's ancient winemaking traditions come to the forefront, offering ample opportunities for wine-tasting tours. The Tbilisoba city festival in October is another cultural highlight, featuring Georgian music, dance, and an array of local cuisine.
While summer can be quite hot, making outdoor exploration less comfortable, winter offers its own charm with Christmas markets and festive decorations. However, be prepared for some wind, especially in March and November, which also see occasional rains.
When it comes to choosing the perfect base for your Tbilisi adventure, location is key. Here are some top recommendations:
• Old Town The heart of Tbilisi, the Old Town is a labyrinth of narrow streets, charming courtyards, and historic architecture. This area is ideal for first-time visitors, offering easy access to major landmarks like the Narikala Fortress, Sioni Cathedral, and the Peace Bridge. You'll find a plethora of dining options, from traditional Georgian eateries to modern cafes, as well as unique boutiques and souvenir shops.
• Liberty Square and Rustaveli Avenue These bustling areas are the modern face of Tbilisi, lined with shops, restaurants, and cultural institutions like the Georgian National Museum and the Rustaveli Theatre. Staying here puts you in the middle of the action, with excellent public transport links to other parts of the city.
• Marjanishvili and Fabrika For those looking for a more bohemian vibe, the Marjanishvili area and the nearby Fabrika, a converted Soviet-era sewing factory, offer a trendy, artistic atmosphere. Here, you'll find hip cafes, art galleries, and a younger, international crowd. It's a great area for those interested in Tbilisi's contemporary culture.
• Vera If you prefer a quieter, more residential atmosphere, Vera is a great choice. This area is known for its leafy streets, beautiful parks, and an array of cozy cafes and wine bars. It's a bit removed from the tourist hustle but still offers easy access to the city's main attractions.
Getting around Tbilisi is a breeze thanks to its well-connected public transport system. Whether you're hopping on a bus, catching a metro, or taking a scenic ride on a cable car, the city's transport options are both convenient and efficient.
One of the standout features of Tbilisi's public transport is the ease of payment. Buses, metro, and cable cars all accept contactless payments, making it incredibly convenient for travellers from all around the world. You can use cards, Apple Pay, or Google Pay to quickly pay for your ride without fumbling for change or buying tickets.
To make your journey even smoother, Tbilisi Transport Company offers a mobile application for smartphones. This app allows you to access all the services offered by the company right from your phone. It's a handy tool for planning your routes, checking schedules, and even tracking your bus or metro in real time. Download app
If you're looking for a more private way to get around, taxis are abundant in Tbilisi. However, for added security and convenience, it's best to book through a trusted taxi app rather than hailing one off the street. This ensures your ride is metered and provides a record of your journey. Bolt is a reliable option, offering a user-friendly app and transparent pricing. Yandex Go is another popular choice, known for its straightforward rates and easy-to-use app.
Be wary of drivers who approach you at the airport offering rides. For your safety and peace of mind, it's best to stick with trusted transfer options.
• Seamless and personalized experience, consider booking an airport transfer with GoTrip. They provide a warm welcome and treating service, ensuring your arrival in Tbilisi starts on a high note. A driver will greet you at the airport, assist with your luggage, and guide you to your comfortable ride. Book now from 45 GEL
• Bus 337 If you're landing during the day and are looking for an economical way to reach the city, Bus 337 is your go-to option. Operating from Tbilisi Airport to the central station via Rustaveli Avenue, this service is both convenient and budget-friendly. Please note that the bus doesn't operate at night. The fare is just 1 GEL, and you can easily pay using your bank card or Apple Pay right on the bus.
While Tbilisi is widely considered a safe destination for travellers, it's important to exercise caution in certain areas, much like you would in any popular tourist city.
The Old City and Rustaveli Avenue are vibrant hubs teeming with historical sites, eclectic shops, and cozy cafes. As much as these areas are essential stops on your Tbilisi itinerary, they're also known for tourist traps and pickpocketing activities. To ensure a secure and enjoyable experience, consider the following safety measures:
Whether you're a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or an adventurer at heart, Tbilisi has something for everyone. So why wait? Start your journey through the layers of this enigmatic city today.
Navigating the financial landscape of a new city can be daunting, but Tbilisi offers a range of convenient options to make transactions smooth and hassle-free.
• Currency Exchange Offices are abundant in Tbilisi, especially in tourist-heavy areas like the Old Town and Rustaveli Avenue. While rates are usually competitive, it's wise to shop around at a few locations for the most favourable exchange rate. Avoid using bank offices for currency exchange, as their rates are typically less advantageous.
• ATMs are widely available throughout the city and most of them accept international cards. They offer the option to withdraw cash in both Georgian Lari (GEL) and other major currencies like USD or EUR.
• Contactless Payments are widely accepted in Tbilisi. Whether you're hopping on public transport or paying for a meal, you can easily use your contactless card, Apple Pay, or Google Pay for quick and secure transactions.
ª Banking Georgia has a modern and efficient banking system. Most banks offer services in English and some even have dedicated services for tourists. Major international banks are also present, providing a familiar option for those from abroad.
• Cash is King (Sometimes). While digital payments are convenient, it's advisable to carry some cash for smaller expenses. Public restrooms, for example, often require a small cash fee, and some local markets or taxis may not accept cards.
In today's digital age, staying connected while travelling is more important than ever. Thankfully, Tbilisi offers various convenient options to ensure you're never out of touch.
• Free Wi-Fi is readily available in many public spaces, cafes, and the majority of hotels and guesthouses. Whether you're sipping coffee at a local café or exploring a museum, chances are you'll have access to free internet.
• SIM Cards. For those who prefer a more stable and private connection, SIM cards with various data packages are available. You can easily purchase one at the airport or from local telecom shops scattered around the city.
• eSIM Options. If you're looking to streamline your connectivity, consider opting for an eSIM, which can be purchased online even before you arrive in Georgia. Starting at just 5 GEL, eSIMs offer a hassle-free way to stay connected without the need for a physical SIM card.
There's no better way to kick off your journey in Tbilisi than with a guided city tour. Not only will you get to see the city's iconic landmarks, but you'll also have the chance to meet a local expert. They'll share insider secrets, answer all your questions, and give you a deeper understanding of this captivating city. So why wait? Begin your Tbilisi adventure today and uncover the hidden gems that make this city truly unforgettable.