Tbilisi

Andrea Kirkby
Oct 3
Tbilisi has a fascinating mix of characterful old quarters, crazy modern architecture, and shady nineteenth century boulevards.

Night time in Rike Park

Enjoy night photography or just a walk to see the illuminated musical fountains, the moving lights on the Peace Bridge, and enjoy people watching. Maybe grab a juice or some snacks from some of the many vendors around the park.


Gold, gold, gold

Head for the National Museum on Rustaveli Street and get your fill of Georgian gold. The Treasury display starts with 'temple spirals' made in the third millennium bc - rams' horns inspired Georgian metalworkers right from the start (and you can buy real drinking horns today, just up Rustaveli towards the Rustaveli Square metro) - and continues with gold-covered medieval icons. If you're fed up with gold, you can head upstairs for a sobering exhibition on the Soviet occupation.

Try some craft beer

Wine and chacha may be more popular, but there are some good beers in Georgia. If you want to explore craft beer, take a turn up Lado Asatiani Street to find the Black Dog bar, serving craft beer and flavoured chachas backed up by a burger and burrito menu. On your way back, visit Naturale beer shop to buy a litre of take-home craft beer from the pump. Their rye beer is particularly good.

Bath time!

Visit one of the sulphur baths in the little gorge east of the Old Town. The little brick domes are the giveaway sign of old hammams - you can reserve a room for you and your friends or brave the public baths (don't bother to take a bathing suit, birthday suits are de rigueur here).  Get a massage if you're feeling masochistic or brave.

All the fun of the fair

Take the funicular railway up to Mtatsminda funfair for one of the best views of Tbilisi from the Big Wheel. You'll also get a close up view of the TV tower, which always reminds me of a piece of space junk. Lots of stalls sell food, drink, and souvenirs - including delightful 'magic trees' made of wire and semi-precious stones.

Into hiking? There's a 'tourist track' which runs all the way from Narikala fortress to Mtatsminda on good tracks with paved steps. Great fun, but don't disturb the lovebirds communing on the park benches!

Holy, holy, holy

Explore Tbilisi's old churches. Mtekhi church on its rocky crag over the river has been rebuilt a few times since it was founded, but it's still atmospheric, and priests sometimes hold healing ceremonies in the little park beside it. The two Betlemi churches in the old town have modern but interesting frescoes, as well as a community of cats who hang out there, while the Anciscati basilica is dim and lovely, and popular for weddings.

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