Looking for the best things to do in Tbilisi Georgia? Grab this epic Tbilisi travel guide with the 10 best things to do in Tbilisi Old Town. From wandering the charming streets of Old Tbilisi to seeing the best Georgian Orthodox churches and riding a cable car, here are the 10 best things to do in Tbilisi Old Town.

Top 10 Things In Old Tbilisi That You Cannot Miss

Last Updated on June 27, 2024 by Soumya

Looking for the best things to do in the Old Town of Tbilisi? You’re in the right place.

Here’s my epic travel guide for Old Tbilisi, Georgia, with the best tourist attractions and hidden gems.

Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia (Country) and one of the most beautiful places to visit. Its historic center is home to beautiful Orthodox churches, unique sculptures and landmarks, and atmospheric lanes filled with houses sporting exquisite balconies.

From the famous Georgian landmarks like the Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Bridge of Peace to the hidden gems like the lamplighter monument and shushabandi balconies, here are the Top 10 Things to Do in Tbilisi Old Town.

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10 Best Things to Do in Tbilisi Old Town

Stroll Through the Winding Alleys of Old Tbilisi

Wooden balconies of Old Tbilisi

The best way to begin your exploration of Old Town Tbilisi is by walking through its winding lanes.

These narrow, atmospheric streets are adorned with stunning examples of traditional Georgian architecture, featuring old brick houses with magnificent wooden balconies that hang over the streets.

These intricately carved balconies are fine examples of craftsmanship. Some are covered with stained glass, known in the local language as shushabandi.

As you wander through these historical alleys, you’ll encounter charming courtyards (Italian courtyards are a thing in Tbilisi), ancient churches, and colorful facades that capture the essence of Tbilisi’s multicultural heritage.

Pro Tip: I began my Tbilisi visit with this excellent Old Town Walking Tour with Friendly GE. Our tour guide, Oksana gave us a complete picture of the historic center and many local insights. Check out this tour here.

See Interesting Sculptures in Old Tbilisi

Sculptures of famous Georgian actors and personalities

One of the most unique things to do in Tbilisi Old Town is to notice the interesting sculptures that line the streets.

The monument to the lamplighter, located on Nikoloz Baratashvili St., is a tribute to the city’s past when lamplighters played an important role in illuminating the streets.

On Ioane Shavteli St, you’ll find several sculptures depicting Georgian actors and even a janitor based on a painting by Niko Pirosmani.

Do not miss the Tamada (Toastmaster) statue on Jan Shardeni St., which honors the traditional Georgian Toastmaster who leads the country’s traditional feast called the “supra.” He is holding a drinking horn called the “khantsi,” which he uses to drink Georgian wine. You can buy these drinking horn souvenirs throughout the country.

Watch the Clock Tower Performance

Tbilisi Clock Tower

Visiting the leaning clock tower is a fun thing to do in Tbilisi. Erected by the puppet master Rezo Gabriadze, this whimsical structure stands out with its crooked, fairy-tale-like appearance.

Every day, at noon and 7:00 pm, the clock tower comes alive, enchanting onlookers with a delightful puppet show called “The Circle of Life.” An angel emerges to strike the bell with a hammer, followed by life scenes such as marriage, birth, old age, death, and then marriage again.

Charming cafes and boutiques surround the clock tower, making it a perfect spot to sit and soak in Old Tbilisi’s lively atmosphere.

Step into One of the Numerous Orthodox Churches

Orthodox churches in Tbilisi Georgia

Georgia is the second-oldest country in the world to have adopted Christianity (after Armenia) and the oldest Orthodox Christian country.

Visiting the orthodox churches of Tbilisi is an immersive journey into the city’s rich history, culture, and spirituality.

These churches are not just places of worship but also feature striking architectural elements such as unique frescoes, intricate carvings, and sacred icons preserved through time.

Pro Tip: Be sure to dress modestly when entering a church in Georgia. Both men and women should cover their shoulders and knees. Women should cover their heads (most churches will have scarves at the door, or you can carry a small one with you). Men should remove their caps/hats before entering.

Most Remarkable Orthodox Churches in Tbilisi

Sioni Cathedral

Located in the heart of Old Tbilisi, Sioni Cathedral is one of the city’s most important religious structures.

Initially built in the 5th century, the cathedral has undergone several reconstructions, melding various architectural styles. It houses the highly revered cross of St. Nino, who converted Georgia to Christianity.

Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi (Sameba)
Sameba Cathedral in Tbilisi

One of the newest yet most splendid churches in Tbilisi, Sameba was completed in 2004 and is the main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church in Tbilisi.

It is the third-tallest Orthodox cathedral in the world, and its massive golden dome is visible across the city.

Some of the other remarkable churches in Old Tbilisi are the Anchiskhati Basilica, the oldest surviving church in town; Metekhi Church, perched on a cliff and offering stunning views of the city; and Kashveti Church, known for its beautiful frescoes.

Relax at Rike Park and See the Bridge of Peace

Rike Park and Bridge of Peace in Tbilisi

Rike Park, located along the banks of the Kura River, is a vibrant and scenic urban park in the heart of Tbilisi, perfect for relaxation.

You can explore well-manicured gardens (lots of lavender bushes here in spring), walking paths, and fountains that create a relaxing atmosphere.

The cable car for Narikala Fortress also starts at the Rike Park.

There’s a giant hot air balloon that just goes up and down at the same point and is super expensive. Not worth it, in my opinion. But if you are planning a romantic proposal, this might just be the place.

Rike Park is also home to the striking Peace Bridge, a pedestrian bridge known for its distinctive glass and steel design. The bridge connects the park to the historic district of Tbilisi and offers stunning panoramic city views.

Trivia: Peace Bridge is lit with thousands of LED lights every evening. It also showcases the names of all the periodic elements using Morse Code!!!

Take the Cable Car to Narikala Fortress

Cable car views in Tbilisi

One of the best Tbilisi experiences is riding the cable car from Rike Park to Narikala Fortress on a hill overlooking the city.

The ride offers breathtaking city views, with the Kura River, old town, and modern urban landscapes wrapped up in the most perfect frame.

Unfortunately, the 4th-century fortress no longer allows visitors, but you can walk to the Mother of Georgia statue beside it.

This is a great spot to get some good views of the National Botanical Garden in Tbilisi.

Explore One/Many Museums of Tbilisi Old Town

Tbilisi History Museum

If you’re a history buff or art enthusiast, you’ll enjoy the numerous museums of the Old Town.

One of the best Tbilisi museums is the Georgian National Museum, which comprises several exhibits. Here, you can delve into Georgia’s rich history through its extensive collections of artifacts, ranging from archaeological finds from the pre-Christian period to artifacts from the Christian era.

Another must-see is the Tbilisi History Museum. This museum provides insight into the evolution of Tbilisi, its people, and its culture. It features exhibits of local art, traditions, and prominent historical figures.

Right under the History Museum, inside the basement, is the Tbilisi Wine Museum, where you can learn all about the journey of winemaking in Georgia.

Enjoy a Warm Sulfur Bath and Spa

Chreli Abano Bath and Spa

A visit to Tbilisi is incomplete without experiencing a traditional warm sulfur bath and spa.

Tbilisi is home to warm sulfur baths, which date back centuries and are renowned for their therapeutic properties. The naturally hot sulfuric waters are believed to aid in the relief of various ailments, including rashes, rheumatism, arthritis, and joint pain.

Remember that the water can be boiling hot (temperatures can reach 110°F/43°C), so you’re not supposed to remain inside it for too long.

The best place to indulge in this unique experience is the Abanotubani district, famous for its charming, domed sulfur bathhouses.

The Chreli Abano Bath & Spa stands out for its exquisite blue mosaic façade and luxurious interior. You can choose from private rooms, where you can enjoy the baths in privacy, or public baths if you wish to share the experience.

Indulge in Local Cuisine

Pkhali at Cafe Leila in Tbilisi Old Town

When visiting the Old Town in Tbilisi, be sure to try the local food at the dining establishments that offer an authentic taste of Georgian culinary traditions.

An inexpensive way to do it is to head to the underground Caravanserai Bakery (located right in front of the Tbilisi History Museum) and try one of the stuffed breads. There are many vegetarian-friendly options here, including potatoes, mushrooms (my favorite), and cheese.

For a more upscale dining experience, Barbarestan is a fantastic choice. This restaurant revives 19th-century recipes from the cookbook of Barbare Jorjadze, Georgia’s first feminist and cookbook author, delivering a unique historical taste.

Another popular place to eat is Cafe Leila, known for its Instagrammable decor with beautiful wall paintings and a unique ceiling. Be sure to try their Phkali platter and selection of traditional Georgian desserts.

Of course, everywhere in Old Tbilisi, you’ll find stores stacked with churchkela, the famous Georgian sweet made by dipping stringed walnut or hazelnut clusters in grape juice.

Pick Authentic Georgian Souvenirs

Painting souvenirs in Tbilisi

Old Tbilisi is a great place to pick up authentic Georgian souvenirs, such as Georgian enamel jewelry, known as “Minankari,” Georgian wine, fridge magnets, and paintings.

The streets of Old Tbilisi are lined with souvenir shops and streetside vendors selling their stuff. Or you can head to the Dry Bridge Market to sample antiques and new stuff.

Best Places to Stay in Tbilisi Old Town

Tbilisi’s Old Town is a great place to stay for a few nights because all the major attractions are nearby.

Some of the best hotels in Old Town Tbilisi include Makmani Boutique Hotel and Taberne Boutique Hotel.

If you want something more budget-friendly, check out Hotel Best and Hotel Voyager. We stayed at both of them, and they were good value for the price. Hotel Voyager has fantastic views from its balconies.

Practical Information for Visiting Old Tbilisi

How to get to Old Tbilisi from the airport?

The most convenient way to get to Tbilisi Old Town from the Shota Rustaveli Tbilisi International Airport is to take a taxi directly from the airport.

Local taxis are available 24/7 outside the arrivals terminal but charge hefty amounts.

We booked a BOLT (ride-hailing app) taxi to get us to the Tbilisi City Center. The journey typically takes 45-60 minutes, depending on traffic. We paid around 25 GEL ($9) to get to the Old Town by BOLT.

Be sure to install the BOLT app before you leave your country and purchase a SIM card when you land at the Tbilisi Airport.

Balconies in the historic center of Tbilisi

Tbilisi Airport’s wifi was terrible.

Tbilisi airport wifi was very patchy and did not work on my or my husband’s phone (both of us have iPhones), let alone help us book a cab.

There are two wifi networks: Tbilisi Airport and Tbilisi Loves You. Both keep taking you to several ad pages with no connection in sight. I could only briefly connect to Tbilisi Loves You, and then it was gone!

So, buy a SIM once you exit the arrivals door. Many SIM providers sell their services. The physical SIM is free everywhere; you just need to pay for the plan.

We got a Magti SIM because it has the best coverage in Georgia. Since we were traveling to the remote Truso Valley in Kazbegi, Magti was the perfect choice.

Getting to Tbilisi Old Town by bus and train

For a more budget-friendly option, consider taking Bus #337 if you arrive between 7:00 am – 11:00 pm. The ticket costs about 1 GEL per person.

Another not-very-helpful option is the Airport Shuttle Train, which only runs twice daily.

Pro Tip: Booking a private transfer from the airport to Tbilisi Old Town beforehand is a great way to ensure peace of mind. Book a reliable and highly-rated transfer here.

Author at Sameba Cathedral in Tbilisi

How to get around Tbilisi’s Old Town?

Walking is the best way to explore the Old Town of Tbilisi, as most attractions are close to each other, and the streets are pedestrian-friendly.

The local bus or minibus service known as marshrutkas can be an economical choice for longer distances. These frequently run through the Old Town and can take you to different parts of the city for a small fare.

You can also use ride-hailing apps like Bolt and Yandex in Tbilisi. They are not very expensive.

Taxis are available throughout the area, but I recommend agreeing on a fare beforehand.

Loved our Tbilisi Old Town Guide? Pin it for later!

Looking for the best things to do in Tbilisi Georgia? Grab this epic Tbilisi travel guide with the 10 best things to do in Tbilisi Old Town. From wandering the charming streets of Old Tbilisi to seeing the best Georgian Orthodox churches and riding a cable car, here are the 10 best things to do in Tbilisi Old Town.

Soumya is an acclaimed travel writer who has traveled to 30+ countries and lived in 8 while pursuing her passion for history and culture. Her writings have been published in BBC Travel, Architectural Digest, National Herald, and many more. She loves exploring world heritage sites and has a deep affinity for everything ancient, especially the lost civilizations of Mesoamerica!

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