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Die Altstadt von Tiflis, Bild: monticello / shutterstock

Tbilisi – The thriving capital of Georgia

Whether Tbilisi or Tbilisi, as it is called in Georgian – the capital of Georgia has become an increasingly popular destination in recent years. And for good reasons! The city, which was located on the Silk Road at the time, is considered the gateway to the Caucasus. It inspires visitors with its multicultural architectural style and a wide range of gastronomic specialties.

With a population of around 1.2 million people, Tbilisi is ideal for exploring on a short trip. Many travelers use the visit to the city as a start for another exploration of Georgia.

Sights in Tbilisi

Visit to the old town

Tbilisi
Tbilisi, Image: MiGol / shutterstock

Exploring the city is best started with a stroll through the old town. Due to earthquakes and armed conflicts, which led to the occupation of the city by different peoples, it is said that the oldest building in the city is only about 200 years old.

Since the city had to be rebuilt several times, it is characterized by an interesting mix of different architectural styles. Instead of historic trading houses, which used to be busy due to their convenient location directly on the Silk Road, the city now offers a selection of small shops as well as gastronomic eateries. In many corners of Tbilisi, buildings from the socialist era can still be found. These have not been restored even after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

While exploring the city, holidaymakers sooner or later pass by Rustaveli Boulevard. On the former boulevard, shopping lovers also get their money’s worth.

Tbilisi is divided by the Mtkvari River, whose banks invite you to take a leisurely stroll. It can be crossed, among other things, by the modern and architecturally striking Peace Bridge.

For the special view

The best overview of the city is offered to visitors from the ruins of Nariqala Castle or Mount Mtatsminda. Although not much remains of the once magnificent castle, visitors are drawn there because of the panoramic path and the good view over the city. Special tip: Visit Nariqala in the evening and first enjoy the view over the illuminated sea of houses. On a clear day, you might see a spectacular sunset!

Mtatsminda can be climbed either on foot or by cable car. The associated television tower and a Ferris wheel can be seen from most points in the old town. In addition to an impressive panoramic view of Tbilisi, a small, charming amusement park awaits visitors. Especially on weekends, stalls offer barbecue specialties and other small snacks.

Walking in the Fig Tree Gorge

Legvtakhevi Waterfall
Legvtakhevi Waterfall, Image: Igor Dymov / shutterstock

A gorge in the middle of the city? In Tbilisi there is! The Legvtakhevi Gorge is located in one of the oldest neighborhoods on the edge of the Old Town. Translated, the name means something like “fig gorge”, as it was lined with fig trees in earlier times. Nowadays, it is popular with visitors to walk along the riverbed and marvel at the towering wooden balconies of the residential buildings. In summer, the gorge also serves as a refuge from the heat of the city. It will be particularly refreshing if you are near the waterfall.

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Relax in the spa district

A visit to the Abanotubani spa district is definitely part of a city exploration. What could be better than relaxing your tired legs in one of the sulphur baths after a sightseeing tour? By the way, the bathing tradition is also reflected in the name of the city: Since Tbilisi was built on hot sulphur springs, Tblissi translates as “warm spring”.

In the spa district there are a large number of historic bathhouses from the 17th, 18. and 19th century, but they differ in furnishings and architecture.
The sulphur water, which has a temperature of up to 47 °C, is fed from the underground Tbilisi and is said to help with skin diseases and rheumatism, among other things. In addition, the baths offer massages, in which the practitioner is usually scrubbed and kneaded on a stone slab with a coarse glove.

For those who value a lot of privacy, Tbilisi has something very special to offer: the bathhouses offer private rentals.

Food & Drink in Tbilisi

Even during its affiliation to the Soviet Union, Georgian cuisine enjoyed a very good reputation, which has only been further confirmed in recent decades. What is special about the culinary culture is its incredible diversity as well as the combination of Central Asian, North African and European elements.

The day is often started in a Georgian bakery. How about Lobiani, for example; a pastry filled with beans? In the bakery you can also find tasty snacks such as khachapuri, which are comparable to the oval-shaped breads pide known here. In Tbilisi, the variant Khachapuri Adjaruli is particularly popular, where the bread is filled with cheese and egg, among other things.

Almost as popular are the stuffed dumplings known as khinkali, which are offered with a large selection of fillings. To eat in the restaurant in Tbilisi, you will usually be served the flatbread Tonis Puri, which is traditionally prepared in a stone oven similar to the Indian naan.

Although meat dishes have a long tradition in Georgia , the well-being of vegetarians is also well catered for. Especially in the area of stews and appetizers, there are many creative dishes that make the heart of vegetarians beat faster.

Meat lovers can look forward to the Mzwadi – the Georgian version of the shashlik skewer. When strolling through Tbilisi, visitors will come across small barbecue snacks, especially in the evening, which serve the juicy meat skewers with the typical Tkemali plum sauce. The strong alcoholic pomace brandy Tschatscha, with which the Georgians like to toast, goes particularly well with this.

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In short: In Tbilisi, your physical well-being is well taken care of. In addition to small dishes, there is also the largest selection of restaurants, which present guests with a modern twist on Georgian cuisine.

Holidays in Tbilisi: Important information

Important telephone numbers

  • Police: 112
  • Fire brigade: 112
  • Ambulance service: 112
  • German Embassy in Tbilisi: +995 32 291 96 67

Supermarkets

  • Carrefour: Several branches in Tbilisi, e.g. in the Tbilisi Mall and East Point shopping malls.
  • Goodwill: 34 Chavchavadze Avenue, Tbilisi.
  • Smart: Various locations in the city.
  • Fresco: Various locations in the city.

Doctors in the most important places

  • Tbilisi:
    • Dr. David Sergeenko: New Vision University Hospital, Chargali St. 3/5, +995 32 251 00 00
    • Dr. Eka Gotsiridze: MediClub Georgia, Zandukeli St. 12, +995 32 225 19 22
    • Dr. Nino Demetrashvili: Tbilisi Central Hospital, Ketevan Tsamebuli Ave. 67, +995 32 251 09 09

Important words with translation

  • Hello – გამარჯობა (Gamarjoba)
  • Thank you – მადლობა (Madloba)
  • Request – გთხოვთ (Gtokhvit)
  • Yes – დიახ (Diakh)
  • No – არა (Ara)
  • Sorry – ბოდიში (Bodishi)
  • Where is…? – სად არის…? (Sad aris…?)
  • How much does it cost…? – რა ღირს…? (Ra ghirs…?)
  • Emergency – საგანგებო (Sagangebo)
  • Doctor – ექიმი (Ekimi)
  • Hospital – საავადმყოფო (Saavadmqopo)

Holidays

  • New Year’s Day: January 1
  • Orthodox Christmas: January 7
  • Restoration of Independence Day: April 9
  • Orthodox Easter Monday: variable (March/April)
  • Independence Day: May 26
  • Assumption Day: 28 August
  • St. George’s Day: November 23

Opening hours

  • Shops: Usually Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 20:00, many shops are also open on Sundays.
  • Supermarkets: Usually daily from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Restaurants: Lunch from 12:00 to 15:00, dinner from 18:00 to 22:00.
  • Banks: Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Airport

  • Tbilisi International Airport (TBS): About 17 km southeast of Tbilisi city center.

NUDISM

  • Not common: There are no official nudist beaches or facilities in Georgia. Nudism is not practiced and could be considered offensive.

Post / Stamps

  • Post Offices: In all major districts of Tbilisi. Main Post Office at 44 Rustaveli Avenue. Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Stamps: Available at post offices and kiosks.
  • Costs for letters and postcards to Germany: Standard letter up to 20g: approx. 2 GEL; Postcard: approx. 1.50 GEL

Safety

  • Crime: Tbilisi is relatively safe, but as in any big city, you should be attentive. Beware of pickpockets in crowds and markets.
  • Emergency number: 112

Current

  • Voltage: 220 Volts
  • Sockets: Type C and F (as in Germany). Adapters for European plugs are not required.

Tip

  • Restaurants: 10% of the invoice amount
  • Taxis: Round up the amount
  • Hotels: 1-2 EUR per day for cleaning staff

Customs

  • Allowances: Personal belongings are duty-free.
  • Alcohol: Maximum 1 liter of spirits or 2 liters of wine.
  • Tobacco: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.
  • Other items: Value up to 1,500 GEL duty-free.