With a population of nearly 1.5 million, Tbilisi is the largest city in Georgia and the nation’s capital. It is a fascinating place that has a rich history with its location on the border between Asia and Europe. It lies on the banks of the Mtkvari River and is beautifully surrounded by mountain ranges.
A snapshot of Tbilisi
The weather in Tbilisi has lovely summers but the winters can be a little harsh at times. It’s generally a humid city and enjoys a lot of rainfall throughout the year. It allows for the beautifully snow-capped mountains and the lush green landscapes.
The city itself is multicultural with over 100 ethnic groups residing there. It leads to a lovely and welcoming atmosphere with around 89% of the population being ethnic Georgian who are predominantly Christian.
Tbilisi is served by an airport which is approximately 18 kilometers to the southeast of the city. Getting around the city is easy with a metro system that is quick and easy to use. Aside from that, there are trams, buses, cable cars to get you around and you also have the option of getting Georgia car rental.
The areas of Tbilisi
As with any city, Tbilisi is separated into districts and neighborhoods that are all slightly different in their way. It’s great to know about these areas to not only make understand the history of the city that you’re visiting but also to ensure you don’t miss anything on your trip.
Some of these areas are purely residential and not worth a visit but others are a must-see. Here we have a look over the most important areas of the city, starting with one of the oldest and most fascinating districts.
If you visit Tbilisi one of the activities that you should do is enjoy a Sulphur bath. They are situated in the Abanotubani region which is one of Georgia’s most ancient districts. It’s very close to the city center and easy to get too.
Even if you don’t visit the Sulphur baths you’ll love simply walking around the area which has a plethora of beautiful old buildings but also some great modern architecture to complement it. It has a lot of wistful elegance and has a romance to it that you rarely get in many large cities.
The district is full of historical buildings with many beautiful religious buildings. With this type of beauty and many things to see and do, it is one of the busiest places in the city for tourists. Not all the areas that we look at here are must-see but this one is.
Old Tbilisi is the historical center of the city and where its origins begin. There are many old buildings here which makes walking through the area on a nice day a lovely thing to do. The Kartlis Deda monument is here which is a statue of a 20-meter high Georgian woman in traditional dress.
There are plenty of religious buildings to see here to what really dominates the area is the Narikala Fortress which looks over the city. It’s a well preserved and breathtaking fortress which can be seen from any area in the city and is beautifully lit up at night.
Mtatsminda is another must-see district of Tbilisi but for a much different reason as it has more to do with the landscape than the buildings. Mtatsminda is the name of the mountain that towers nearly 800 meters over the city.
The Funicular is a ride that you have to do in Tbilisi as it’s an incredibly steep railway that will take you up the mountain and offer up some incredible views. There many things to do up there including some fine Tbilisi restaurants, cafes, bars and also the TV Tower.
Perhaps the main attraction is Mtatsminda Park where you can have immense fun with a Ferris wheel, water slides, carousels and a roller coaster. There are plenty of hotels at the foot of the mountain and it a great place to stay with its central location.
Saburtalo is a short and wide part of the city which has many old soviet-style buildings from when the city was under the rule of the Soviet Union. It’s one of the best shopping areas in the city with many fast food outlets where you can eat.
The biggest attraction in this district is Tbilisi Zoo which is a great place to visit with the family. It suffered a harrowing flood in 2015 which claimed the life of around half of its inhabitants but thankfully it is thriving once again.
While not technically in Saburtalo, just to the north of it is Lisi Lake which is a beautiful and relaxing place to visit. In big cities, you rarely have such a beautiful spot so close to the center.
Avlabari has a bit of a different vibe to the rest of the city as this is where Armenians first populated the city. It’s a traditional district and one that you should take a walk around as there is plenty for you to see and do.
One of the most breathtaking buildings in Tbilisi is the Sameba Trinity Cathedral which has rich beauty. It’s situated over the river from the Old Town and easy to get to from the center of the city. As well as that cathedral, there is also the Metekhi Church to enjoy.
If you wanted to have some downtime when there is also the beautiful Rike Park which is a great place to spend an afternoon on a sunny day. You’ll be able to take some stunning photos in Avlabari and you can even catch a show at the Armenian Theatre.
Vake is a district that is sandwiched between Mtatsminda and Saburtalo. It’s not a very big district but you’re still going to be able to find things to do. There is plenty of architecture with many shops and bars for you to enjoy.
Wake Park is a lovely place for a walk or a bike ride and to the south of that park is the Open Air Museum of Ethnography which is perfect for those that love the history of crafts and artifacts.
The best part of Vake can be found partway up Mtatsminda Park where there is a beautiful body of water called Turtle Lake. Its near-700m high views over the city are an epic and the café at the end of it is a great place for you to relax.
If you look straight across the river from Narikala Fortress you’re going to see Metekhi. It’s one of the oldest districts in Tbilisi. It’s very distinctive as its border on the river is a sheer cliff that is lined by buildings that peer over the river.
The place has a lot of charm with Metekhi Church being one of the buildings on that cliff edge. Before you get there it’s great to stand at the other side of the river and take in the majestic view. Often the river will perfectly reflect the skyline above it which makes for some epic pictures.
Just up from the busy Rustaveli metro station is the Vera district. There is a lot of greenery here and nowhere is that more the case that Vera Park which is lovely to see. There are also plenty of gardens too which will add to that greenery.
It has many beautiful buildings from the 19th century and as with many areas of Tbilisi, there are many architectural wonders here. Just outside the park is the Tbilisi Event Hall where you may be able to catch something interesting going on.
Straight across the river from Vera is Marjanishvili. It’s a lovely part of the city and another that has a lot of history. It’s lined with impressive stone buildings that are well maintained and it’s great to be able to walk around the area.
There aren’t a lot of attractions here but there are a few theatres with many cafes and shops for you to enjoy. With it having a main metro station, this is a great place to get a Georgia hotel as they are usually a little cheaper and the great transport links make getting around the city very easily.
Many cafes, shops, and theatres are located in this region, and are mostly Arabic and Turkish. Make sure you visit the bank of Mtkvari River, where you can shop, go to theatres, or stop by the huge bazaar at the main square.
Other areas of Tbilisi
As well as these beautiful places to visit there are also other districts of Tbilisi which don’t quite have the same level of attractions but have their own charms.
Chugureti – There is a good selection of restaurants and shops here and is also the best spot in the city of antiques with plenty of paintings, jewelry and cutlery to be found.
Didube – if you wanted to see the Dynamo football station, this is in Didube. Under the stadium is also two of the best clubs in Tbilisi, Bassiani and Spacehall
Gldani – This is mainly a residential area but it also contains the Tbilisi Sea which is a large reservoir with stunning natural beauty.
Kakheti – While not technically Tbilisi, Kakheti borders Tbilisi on its east side and is perfect for a wine enthusiast. It produces great wine and it’s a great idea to be able to explore that.
See it for yourself
There are also a few outer areas of Tbilisi that are residential areas. On the whole, the city is made up of many diverse areas that come together to make a truly fascinating city. All that’s left to do is for you to travel to Georgia and see it all for yourself.