When visiting Georgia, it’s mandatory to spend at least a couple of days in Tbilisi, the nation’s capital and hub for the arts, culture and food. Tbilisi’s history dates back to at least the 6th century and its position at the geographical and figurative crossroads of East and West has meant it’s always found a way to incorporate the best of both worlds.
Tbilisi lies in a valley ringed by mountains, each with a soaring cable car or funicular at the ready to whisk you away towards magnificent views. The medieval Narikala Fortress and Soviet-embellished Mtatsminda face off from opposing hills, standing guard over ancient churches, the domed bathhouses of Abanotubani, and modern marvels including the Bridge of Peace and Rike Concert Hall.
Tbilisi is a symphony of different religions, cultures and traditions. Synagogues, Orthodox cathedrals, Armenian churches and a mosque are all within shouting distance of each other, while old bazaars and merchant’s mansions allude to the city’s history as a trading hub.
Tbilisi is a city of details, so after a broad overview from afar, it’s time to take the streets with a magnifying glass. Hours can be spent examining the heritage buildings in the Old Town and in Sololaki, Tbilisi’s oldest neighbourhood.
Rove the vibrant Dezerter Bazaar for spices and churchkhela and the iconic Dry Bridge Market for vintage trinkets. Brush up on your history by visiting a few of Georgia’s most important museums and galleries, starting with the Soviet Occupation Hall at the National Museum, the Folklore Museum, and the Open Air Museum of Ethnography.
Tbilisi’s wine bars and Georgian restaurants showcase the best of the country’s fresh produce, regional cuisines and organic winemaking techniques. And beautiful boutiques and studios trade in handmade lurji supra blue tablecloths, cloisonne enamel and other beautiful objects to satisfy all your earthly desires.