Airbnb. Try this place: Keta’s apartment in Old Town
The old town in Tbilisi is compact and super interesting. We have stayed in 3 different places here and Airbnb provide the best experience for the best prices in our opinion.
Best App for your phone:
The Calvert Journal, Near East Travel Guide. It’s mainly for Russian cities but happily includes all that is hip and cool in Tbilisi. Has great offline maps in it too. The app is free. Check out the app here
Top Things to do:
Dry Bridge Markets. Don’t miss this amazing bric-a-brac, vintage, Russian souvenirs, antiques and anything you can think of from used bullet casings to chandelier parts. Open all year, outdoors…so not in snow or rain I imagine.
Walking through Old Town: Tumble down buildings, rickety balconies, wine shops, souvenirs, outdoor dining, more wine shops, Cobbled streets, old sulphur baths, crazy traffic, wine bars, abandoned buildings, art deco masterpieces, open stairwells that you can walk into and see the most beautiful painting, cornices and mosaics, restaurants in basements, art shops, tea houses.
The cable car up to the old fort is great. Mother Georgia is a short walk away and you can take a walking track back down into the old town through the Betlemi Quarter of the Old Town.
State Silk Museum is a quirky museum well worth a visit. Strange unrelated to silk art exhibitions and lighting that cant be turned on mean you walk through history like a ghost yourself. Fascinating and weird. All in a building that looks to be crumbling.
Mtatsminda park and Funicular up to it on a hill overlooking Tbilisi are a must even if only to experience that the amusement park is very soviet era strange…….setting for a crime novel if ever there was one.
There is a piano in many of the restaurants and they are often played so live music is common in the old town…..even when its my husband doing the playing…for his dessert at Azarpesha!
If you love wine you really must visit Georgia as it has the record for the earliest recorded wine making. The local Qvervri style of wine is pretty amazing. Of the whites we really enjoyed some incredible flavours of the Mtsvane and opted almost every time for a Saperevi Qvervri red. They are fermented in these large clay amphoras that are set in the ground to maintain the temperature.
Try some local wines at The Wine Buffet on Ovanes Tumaniani Street 15, 15 Ovanes Tumaniani St, T’bilisi, Georgia. This place is new and the staff are super sweet and will pair wine with some seriously stylish smoked artisan cheeses. A great place to go for a drink before dinner. They have a balcony built just for 2 people that is pretty amazing as the sun goes down.
We have found the Georgian food to be pretty wonderful and have dined in some extraordinary restaurants. They are super cheap and some are stunning as well. Food, wine, ambiance and service all come together in Tbilisi to make dining a real pleasure.
Our favourites, not to be missed if you have the stamina! (We have made 2 trips there now remember…)
- Café Littera 13 Ivane Machabeli St, Tbilisi, Georgia In summer this restaurant is set up in the grounds of the Tbilisi Literary Society and is pure perfection as candles light small tables spaced throughout the lovely garden. It’s really magical and worth reserving a table. The food was a mix of modern Georgian with an Italian twist. I drank the most spectacular wine I have ever had there however they couldn’t find another bottle so I didn’t even get the name. What I did learn was that the sommelier was really knowledgeable and willing to take the time for you to find the right wine by either bottle or glass
- Azarpesha 2 Pavle Ingorokva St, T’bilisi, Georgia. A big surprise of amazing food and lovely wine. Very well priced. Menu changes very regularly. Cosy atmosphere. Very traditional.
- Orshimo 7 Erekle II St, Tbilisi, Georgia in the centre of the old town on a pedestrian street don’t be fooled by it looking like a tourist only spot. Food, atmosphere, organic wines, incredible piano player make this place a must. We sat out on the balcony in about 0 degrees but loved the ambiance and the cosiness.
- Keto da Kote. 3 Mikheil Zandukeli Dead End, Tbilisi, Georgia Sophisticated, white table cloths, slightly bored looking waiters, amazing food, glorious all round really. Don’t miss it. We had lunch there and looked out at the snow falling though the timber framed windows. A little hard to find and not signposted but close to Rustaveli Metro Stop.
- Shavi Lomi at 28 Zurab Kvlividze St, Tbilisi, Georgia. Beautiful garden, amazing entry and super lovely food and wine. The tripadvisor reviews are patchy but we loved it. Went for lunch after visiting the State Silk Museum which is fairly close. Very few tourists but menu in English.
- Barbarestan at D. Aghmashenebeli ave. 132, Tbilisi 0112, Georgia takes you back to Georgian cuisine from the 1800’s. Faithfully reproduced from an old recipe book found at the Dry Bridge Market they have gone to a lot of effort to make the interior as close to the period in time as possible. Its quaint, the food is really good but we felt just a bit over-serviced by the wait staff.
- Café Leila 18 Ioane Shavteli St, Tbilisi, Georgia Beautifully decorated with great vegetarian food in the heart of the tourist area. Good place to have a cold drink or lunch.
- Pur Pur 1 Abo Tbileli St, Tbilisi 0155, Georgia has a lovely vibe and great food. When it’s warm they open the windows of this second-floor restaurant and it overlooks a small park. It’s quaint and has a grand piano played by a smiling old guy.
- Famous is a restaurant/bar on the first floor of the building Pur Pur is in. We didn’t eat there but watched an amazing piano player play wonderfully on an out of tune piano…and it still sounded good. He was like a character from a Dostoyevski novel – melancholy, bored, alcoholic and wonderfully talented. Worth it just to see him.
- The beautiful Rooms hotel at 14 Merab Kostava St, Tbilisi 0108, Georgia is worth a visit to eat in their gorgeous restaurant or in their outdoor garden area if the weather is good for it. It is so hip – food was all locally sourced and produced. Great wine knowledge all served in a mix of Danish mid-century meets chic hunting ranch. Apparently their bar across the road called Lolita is great too.
- Finally if you are feeling like a trip to another place and another time and can cope with smoking inside and grumpy but efficient service you must try Racha at 4 Mikheil Lermontovi St, Tbilisi, Georgia. It’s downstairs and at night you may rub shoulders with pontificating smoking university professors, priests, students and backpackers. They come for the cheap food and wine but it’s not to be missed. The English on the menu is something else. They owner adds up your bill with an abacus…I am not kidding. We drank their home made wine and ordered way more than we could eat and it cost about $10 US for 2.
There is much more about Georgia on my previous 2 posts and this is by no means exhaustive. Walking is probably the best thing to do in Tbilisi. Around every corner there is a surprise whether it’s a gorgeous old building or balcony, a quirky remanant of the soviet era, a modern bridge or an amazing piece of sculpture or street art.
Ohhhh and one last thing….when your feet are sore the best coffee in town is here: at Double B Coffee and Tea Galaktion Tabidze St 9,T’bilisi,Грузия, T’bilisi, Georgia