3 Days in Tbilisi, Georgia
While many places in Georgia have recently started getting worldwide attention, its capital, Tbilisi, remains to be the showstopper. The city is the first thing you see as you step out of the aeroplane (unless you land in Kutaisi, which is less common), and the faultless mix of culture, history and trendy.
Roaming the streets of Tbilisi is akin to getting a crash course in all things, Georgia while being showered with attractions that would leave you astounded. The city has something for everyone and will make you fall in love with Georgian life, but if you have only a few days to give, how can you fit all this love in that time frame? We are here to tell you exactly that with this three-day itinerary of Tbilisi with stellar, top-rated attractions and a few local gems to help you make the most of your time.
DAY 1: Old Town Charm in Tbilisi
Bridge of Peace
The peace bridge is much like the Charles Bridge in Prague, as it connects the new to the old, but unlike the other, the Peace Bridge does nothing to blend with its surroundings or give off the air that you’re entering the old town. While Tbilisi’s old town is a place filled with heritage and streets that will leave you gawking, the bridge itself is a piece of avant-garde architecture that has mixed opinions.
However, no one can deny that experiencing this bridge’s beauty is something you must do yourself. The bridge is also a representation of Georgia itself, with old and new standing side by side, trying their best to commandeer the space and a perfect trailer for the rest of your trip.
Once you enter the old town, wander through the streets overlooking wooden balconies and dilapidated structures, heading into gorgeous courtyards before heading to the sulphur baths. Sulphur baths are a delight, with natural mineral deposits that have healing properties, soothing your skin as you soak into the bath for an hour. Relaxing before you start a trip packed to the brim while also trying out a local attraction is essential. We recommend the Chreli Abano Bathouse for this experience, as its blue, dome-shaped structures are one of the most popular choices and offer lucrative packages.
Don’t forget to book online in advance.
Leaning Clock Tower
The Rezo Gabriadze Marionette Theatre puts on many puppets that show themes of a darker nature and are generally a hit with tourists and locals alike. While this may seem like a selling point itself, the theatre is popularly known as the building that hosts the leaning clock tower. Getting Instagram-able pictures here and looking on as the clock performs an elaborate ting at noon and 5 PM is a right of passage when a tourist in Tbilisi. The clock also hosts the smallest and largest clock in the city and is an intricate piece of work, straight out of a movie set.
Head to the Meidan ground and take the stairs down to discover the Meidan Bazaar. The underground bazaar is home to beautiful trinkets and tourist favourites, all produced locally and sold at negotiable prices. If you’re looking for something specific to Georgia, chances are you will find it here. After strolling through the bazaar, you can also take a quick bite from the underground bakery that you will encounter on the way to Liberty Square. The bakery, while famous, has non-descript signage and can be hard to spot with your eyes alone. Use your other senses, and reach this underground gem to get some of the best-baked goods in the city and curb your hunger.
Liberty Square and Rustaveli Ave
Once you’ve grabbed your bite, you can head to Liberty Square, the heart of the Old Town and take in the hustle and bustle around you. The square is a symbol of the country’s freedom and has a proud monument standing tall in the centre. The structure is topped with St. George, the patron saint of Georgia and represents the namesake of the square. From here on, you can walk along Rustaveli Avenue. If Liberty Square represents Georgian freedom and history, the avenue represents the country’s art and culture and Tbilisi.
Rustaveli Avenue is the main thoroughfare of the Country and holds many important buildings, such as that of the parliament and tonnes of museums and galleries. The place is always busy and bustling with people with an event going at every alternate place. You will never find yourself getting bored, and if you do, you can easily book a free walking tour to keep you entertained.
Chronicle of Georgia
While you will find plenty to do at Liberty Square and can end the day at Bassiani, the city’s biggest nightclub, or any of the outdoor cafés for a quiet dinner, you can also choose to continue the adventure. The Chronicle of Georgia is an incomplete monument of 16 pillars standing 30 metres tall and overlooking Tbilisi’s sea. The place is a gem to look at and definitely worth the short half-hour drive from Liberty Square.
DAY 2: History and Culture
Queen Darejan Palace
Starting day two amidst royalty is a great feeling indeed. Queen Darejan Palace or Sachino has a rich history that is evident in its bones. It was originally built for Queen Darejan, then rebuilt by the Queen in her later years, and after her exile to St. Petersburg, the castle has been the grounds of parish schools, a warehouse and a theatre. Today, the place is a popular tourist attraction, the main piece being the stunningly decorated balcony that juts out of the stone structure and overlooks the city. You can roam the palace before heading down to Rike Park, which is a short 5-minute walk.
Rike Park is a modern, trendy park and the perfect place to be, whether to enjoy a picnic in the day or the LED lights at night. You can access the park from the Queen Darejan Palace or make a short walk from the Bridge of Peace. The park keeps the cities artistic influence alive, with artists setting their easels on the grass and offering their services. You can also partake in the giant chess game or any of the other numerous activities. However, we must say this park’s main attraction is the cable car with a glass surface that allows you to overlook the Mtkvari River and Old Town as you head to the infamous Narikala Fortress.
Narikala Fortress and Botanical Gardens
After viewing the city through the glass cable car, it is time to take in the view atop a 4th-century fortress. The Narikala fortress offers a great viewpoint, surrounded by the remnants of history. From here, you can either walk down the 1500 metre trail that ends at the Old Town or take the cable car back to Rike Park. You can also visit the National Botanical Gardens of Georgia to get a whiff of nature. The garden also has its own waterfall and a stellar collection of wild, live plants.
DAY 3: Art, Architecture and Browsing
Start the day having brunch at the Fabrika, a Soviet sewing factory that is now transformed into a multi-functioning space for the trendy tourist and locals. The Fabrika has unlimited brunch at a price and is free to roam, from its street art and art-deco halls to its galleries and cafes. The entire place has an air of modernisation that anyone would be mesmerised with.
You can also fit in a visit to Gallery 27 for similar vibes, beautiful stained-glass staircases and modern art pieces.
After eating your heart out at the Fabrika, you can head to Sameba Cathedral of the Holy Trinity Church. The Cathedral is difficult to miss as it towers over Tbilisi and can be seen anywhere in the city. It is the largest church in Georgia and one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in Europe. The place also has a fountain, a green open garden space and a swimming pool built in 2004. It is a must-visit in Georgia, especially since the country holds its religion as one of the most important pillars and is riddled with orthodox churches.
When visiting, ensure that men are wearing long pants and women cover their shoulders and head and wear a skirt.
Dry Bridge and Dezerter Bazaar
After visiting the cathedral, you can get the last of your shopping in by heading to the Dry Bridge. The Dry Bridge Flea Market held from 11 AM daily is the ideal place for those looking to dabble in rare finds and antiquities. The market is filled with vinyl records, old books, cameras and cloth pieces. Even if you aren’t interested in buying, just seeing these forgotten history pieces is a treasure in itself.
After the antique bazaar, head to the heart of Georgian food at the Dezerter Bazaar, the largest market place in Tbilisi. The grand bazaar is the centre for local produce and fresh food. You will find your pick of raw materials and wine used to make even the most authentic dishes, and it will leave you salivating. Visit the place covering almost 2000 metres and get yourself something to eat on the go, or even ingredients to cook a Georgian meal.
The Mtatsminda Park makes for an ideal fairy tale ending for a magical time in Tbilisi. The park is situated on top of one of the highest hills in Tbilisi, and visiting it at sunset is a view to behold. You can ride the funicular to reach the park, where you will be greeted with a tonne of attractions as well as restaurants and cafes to rest your feet and grab a bite with a view. You can even enjoy the amusement park with rollercoasters and joy rides. Finally, ride the Ferris wheel, which is arguably the best seat in the city and say goodbye to Tbilisi and continue your tryst with the rest of Georgia.
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