Travelling To Tbilisi, Georgia: A Guide For First Time Travellers

Travelling to Tbilisi, Georgia, for the first time? Here is everything you need to know about your trip to Georgia.

Are you travelling to Tbilisi, Georgia? Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, is not on many people’s travel bucket list, but it was on mine. 

That’s why I wanted to visit Georgia and experience the lifestyle first-hand in Tbilisi. 

In 2023, I set myself up for a challenge – to finish visiting all European countries (not just the EU) by the end of the year. So Georgia was one of the 16 new countries I visited in 2023. I was in Georgia in October 2023, and I would love to visit more of it, sometime in the future. 

Travelling To Tbilisi, Georgia
Me with the Mother of Georgia statue behind

But before I can make any new travel plans to Georgia, here’s everything I know right now about planning a trip to Georgia. Hopefully, you can use this info to plan a trip to an off-the-beaten-path destination in Europe. So, if you’re not a big fan of crowds but a huge fan of history, please do yourself a favour and add Georgia to your European itinerary

Travelling To Tbilisi, Georgia

How to get to Tbilisi, Georgia

You can get to Georgia by car or plane. 

By car

By car, you can drive from Turkey, Armenia or Azerbaijan. Here are the borders with each country:

My experience on the Armenia – Georgia border crossing

Note that you will have to drive with the car through customs, as with other border crossings, but passengers need to take their luggage out and go through immigration inside the building, just as you would in an airport. I noticed some didn’t take out their luggage, but I was driving from Armenia with a driver, and he told me to do this. 

In the immigration room, the customs officers got through all my stuff and were quite curious about why I wanted to visit Georgia. My vitamins and supplements were of special interest to three of the officers on site. Here’s the entire story of how I travelled from Armenia to Georgia and visited Armenia for the first time

Georgia’s border crossings with Turkey and Azerbaijan

I have been to the other two crossings, but my initial plan was to drive to Georgia, so I did some research. 

There is only one border with Turkey, at Sarpi, and it is a very nice one; usually, it doesn’t take too long to cross, but it might depend on the traffic. There are a lot of trucks, but there’s a special lane for trucks. Custom officers are nice. 

The Red Bridge crossing with Azerbaijan is the one recommended by the Foreign Ministery office, and it depends on the traffic and available customs officers. It can take a very long time to cross, especially if you are crossing with a bus full of other tourists. Driving can be ok, but you might need to get all your luggage checked. It also depends on your passport and the diplomatic relationship of your country. Prepare to spend some time here. 

By plane

You can take a plane to travel to Georgia. There are two international airports – Batumi and Tbilisi.

The best connection is the Tbilisi International Airport. I used this airport to travel to Baku, Azerbaijan, because I didn’t want to spend 12 hours on the bus from Tbilisi to Baku. If you can afford it, this is the best option to travel between Georgia and Azerbaijan. 

Travelling To Tbilisi, Georgia

Important travel tips for Georgia

Generally speaking, I found that Georgia is very friendly and easy to travel in and around. 

Check if you need a visa for Georgia here

Make sure your passport is valid for 6 months from the moment of entering Georgia. 

Travelling in Georgia is generally safe, but apply common sense travel measures. 

Get travel insurance before travelling to Georgia. 

Most tourists in Georgia are from Russian-speaking countries, so most locals speak Russian. English is commonly used in tourist areas, but less outside attractions and big cities. 

Even though not everybody spoke English, all the locals were very friendly and accommodating. 

I stayed in Tbilisi for about one week, and I had plenty of time to visit all that the city has to offer. The old part of the city is right next to the centre, and it is walkable. I didn’t use any public transport in Tbilisi, except for the capable car and funicular, as I walked everywhere. Tbilisi also has a metro, which might be useful. 

You can use taxis and car-sharing apps (Bolt), which are very popular. I used Bolt twice, and it was a good service and very affordable. 

Chances are your roaming will not work in Georgia. I used Airalo to get an eSim (for internet access), and it worked wonderfully. 

Travelling To Tbilisi, Georgia

Car rental

If you want to explore more of Georgia and get outside the cities, you will need to rent a car in Georgia

Outside the cities, the traffic is normal, but exert caution. Locals might not always signal where they want to go, some drivers stop or park in inadequate places. If you have experience driving in other countries, driving in Georgia shouldn’t pose any issues for you. 

Travelling To Tbilisi, Georgia Peace bridge
Peace Bridge, Tbilisi, Georgia

What to visit in Tbilisi, Georgia

As the entire centre of Tbilisi is walkable, you can simply discover the most popular spots in Tbilisi on foot. 

Here’s what to see in Tbilisi, Georgia, must-see places that offer a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty: 

  • Tbilisi Peace Bridge and Rike Park. A pedestrian bridge connecting old and new parts of the city, surrounded by a green park with fountains, art, and flowers.
  • Sachino – Queen Darejan Palace. A historic palace with a charming turquoise balcony, offering great views and free access.
  • Narikala Fortress. Reachable via a cable car from Rike Park, this ancient fortress provides a panoramic view of Tbilisi.
Travelling To Tbilisi, Georgia
View from the top of the Narikala Fortress
  • Georgian National Museum. I decided to visit the museum because the weather wasn’t great, and wanted to learn more about their history. The highlight of the museum is the National Golden Treasure exhibition in the basement. 
  • Chronicles of Georgia. A monumental structure standing 30 meters tall, offering impressive views and free access.
  • Gardenia Shevardnadze. A beautiful garden and tea house, perfect for relaxing and enjoying cakes, coffee, and tea.
  • Mtatsminda Park. Located at the city’s highest point, it’s an amusement park with no entrance fee, offering great views and a variety of attractions.
Travelling To Tbilisi, Georgia
View of Tbilisi from Mtatsminda Park. You can drive up there or take the Funicular. At the top, there is an amusement park and a nice restaurant and bar, with this view.
  • Georgian Wine Tasting. Experience the local wine culture, as Georgia is known for its long history of winemaking.
Travelling To Tbilisi, Georgia
Clock Tower in the old town of Tbilisi, Georgia

Where to stay in Tbilisi, Georgia

I think it’s best to stay somewhere close to the centre, so you can explore the city on foot. That’s what I did, and I recommend you do the same. Here are my recommendations for places to stay in Tbilisi:

  • Mit Hotel Tbilisi (ask for a room with a view)
  • TbiliSee Hotel has a beautiful terrace with a city view
  • Hotel Avlabari Terrace (get the deluxe room with a balcony)
  • Hotel Nata (budget accommodation close to main attraction points)
  • Mohika Aparthotel (budget studio close to the old centre) 
  • Ambassadori Tbilisi Hotel (luxury hotel next to the old centre)
  • Boutique Apart Hotel Adagio (This is where I stayed in Tbilisi. It’s located in an old traditional house in the centre of Tbilisi but with a renovated and modern itinerary. I had a lovely apartment, but the only issue was with the heating, as it was not working in October. If you’re going during summer, that is fine, and a great location, but I would avoid it during colder months because I caught a cold while I was there.)
Travelling To Tbilisi, Georgia

Where to eat in Tbilisi, Georgia?

Tbilisi is surprisingly modern and reminds me of a lot of Eastern European cities. I was also very surprised that there are many craft beer places in the old town and a lot of hipster bars and pubs that many appreciate. 

As for the restaurants, you’ll find a great variety, everything from a quick street food stall to traditional restaurants. 

I don’t eat meat, and I am always looking for vegan alternatives wherever I go. So that’s why my selection of restaurants from Tbilisi will include a bunch of cute and affordable vegan restaurants. So here are my recommendations on where to eat in Tbilisi. 

Sakhli # 11 for a traditional experience. It’s located in the centre of the city, accessible from all parts. The setting is nice, and prices are higher than in other restaurants, but it’s a lovely traditional restaurant with lots of wine options. 

Chaduna is a lovely hipster cafe with great options for brunch, lunch and even dinner. The coffee was great, and they offered a nice selection of wine. The setting is quite interesting, located in an old house, not far from Liberty Square. 

Kiwi Vegan Cafe is a hidden vegan restaurant in the old town in Tbilisi, with lovely staff and great vegan food. 

Mama Terra Veggie Corner is an exotic restaurant on the streets of Tbilisi, with international dishes inspired by Mexican and Asian cuisine. 

Living Vino: Vegan Food & Kitchen has a nice setting for vegans looking for a fresher vegan restaurant in Tbilisi, which offers vegan options for traditional Georgian dishes. It’s a bit more pricey, but overall, it’s a good value. As with all restaurants in Georgia, this one also has a nice selection of wine.

Travelling To Tbilisi, Georgia food
Street food (khachapuri and cheese pie)

Craft beer in Tbilisi

Tsota Craft Beer Pub has a more alternative vibe and offers some interesting selections, such as their popular tomato beer. Both locals and expats enjoy this tiny beer spot in Tbilisi. My boyfriend loved it so much here, that we ended up going there at least three times, which was enough to taste all their craft beers. I personally enjoyed the lager and the raspberry sour, but what do I know about beer?! 

travelling to Tbilisi, Georgia, craft beer
Lager at Tsota Tsota

2 Tona Craft Beer and Brewery is a place recommended by locals. It was always full, and they also served some snacks. 

Day trips from Tbilisi, Georgia

If you want to see more of Georgia, consider booking a day trip from Tbilisi, as there are so many options. 

If you want more freedom, you can also rent a car and drive to these places yourself, but then you won’t have a guide. It’s all up to you.

Travelling To Tbilisi, Georgia-8211

3-day itinerary for Tbilisi, Georgia

Day 1: Explore Old Tbilisi

  • Start with the historic area of Old Tbilisi.
  • Visit Narikala Fortress, accessible by cable car, offering city views.
  • Explore the sulfur baths district.
  • Visit the Tbilisi History Museum and the Anchiskhati Basilica.
  • End the day at Rike Park and the Peace Bridge.

Day 2: Cultural and Religious Sites

  • Begin at the Holy Trinity Cathedral (Sameba).
  • Visit the National Museum of Georgia.
  • Explore the Dry Bridge Market for unique souvenirs.
  • Visit the Mtatsminda Pantheon, reachable by funicular, for panoramic views.

Day 3: Modern Tbilisi and Day Trip

  • Start at the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre.
  • Visit the Public Service Hall and the contemporary Bridge of Peace.
  • Consider a day trip to Mtskheta, the ancient capital, to see historical sites like Jvari Monastery.
Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a travel expert, blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter, and a curiosity-driven personality. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth, and that's the main topic of her blog, Juliasomething.com.

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