Georgia (in Europe) has been a bit of a hot-spot for a while now; everyone I know has been, or is planning a trip. The country offers visa-free travel for many countries, visa-on-arrival for many others, and has a simple e-visa process; it is definitely climbing up the list of destinations to visit.
Plus: for those travelling from Dubai (which is where I travelled from, obvs), there are direct flights with flyDubai, which is pretty convenient.
Georgia, as a country, certainly has a lot to offer. While I used Lonely Planet’s guide (from my library, woohoo), I also booked a variety of tours to find my way around the country. One was Taste Georgia (which I’ve written about here), and also Culinary Backstreets (post to come, will update the link when it’s ready). Unfortunately, I wasn’t there long enough to go beyond Tbilisi and Kakheti, but on my next trip, I hope to visit other areas such as Kazbegi and Batumi. On my list!
Now, when in Tbilisi, here are a few things you can do (not necessarily related to food):
Go on a free walking tour of the city…
…and you’ll see things like this:
I found this free walking tour after some web searches, and I’m so pleased I tried it. We met at the spot mentioned on the website, and Anna was our guide for the day. We walked across the Peace Bridge (the first photo on this post) to Rike Park, we took a ride up in the cable car to take some photos under Mother Georgia, and scrambled over to the Narikala Fortess where we overlooked the Natural Botanical Gardens.
And of course we saw many more things, before winding up in front of the “I heart Tbilisi” sign right opposite the Metekhi Bridge, where we took a photo with Anna. What I loved about it was the way she shared facts about culture, history, architecture, food, and so much more, into the few hours we spent with her. It was easily one of the most informative ways in which to learn more about Tbilisi in particular, and Georgian culture and history overall. I’d really recommend taking this walk early on in your trip – definitely a must-do.
Take the funicular up the mountain!
I’m a sucker for cable car rides, funicular railways, and all that sort of thing (I mean, I gratuitously took it while in Montmatre on Christmas Day 2016 while I was perfectly capable of walking, but that’s another story). So when I heard there was not just a cable car (which I’d taken during the free walking tour – see above), but that there was also a funicular… I could’ve screamed with joy. I rather think I did! The funicular takes you up to Mt Mtatsminda – you can obviously enjoy the views on the way to the top or back down, but there’s things to do once you’re up there. For one, there’s a building at the point where you disembark to eat and drink, and then you can walk further into the park, which has rides, a carousel and so on for entertainment. At the top, you’re also really close to the 274.5m-high Tbilisi TV Tower.
Take a touristy bus tour
Before you decide to do this, I will say that it’s quite a ‘touristy’ thing to do, and there are a lot of buses carrying out this route.However, it does cover quite a bit of ground and takes out the hassle of finding your own way to some of these sites. I found Holidays in Georgia on Facebook, along with a schedule of its tours and decided we should try it out. I used Facebook Messenger to buzz the company and a rep responded very quickly.
I walked off Liberty Square into one of the side streets – Kote Afkhazi – and I found the office where we could purchase the tickets. We bought a bus tour going to Mtskheta, Jvari, Gori, and Uplistsikhe. The tour started with the Jvari Monastery, from where you overlook the old city of Mtskheta.
Then we headed over to Gori, whose claim to (dubious?) fame is hosting the Stalin Museum. It was quite, quite odd if I’m honest – but it was a fascinating insight into the personality. Finally, we were at Uplistsikhe, which is basically a sprawling complex, with structures cut straight into the rock. There’s a lot of walking to do here, but the views are breathtaking, and it’s just awe-inspiring once you’re there.
The trip lasted the whole day – and it was a convenient way to see a lot of the sights without having to worry about transport.
Other than this, let me know what else I need to do in Tbilisi the next time I visit! Or where I should explore within Georgia next.