Destinations

48 Hours in Tbilisi

Two hedonistic days exploring the historic old town, vibrant nightlife and eclectic food scene of Tbilisi.

February 5, 2021

by Breanna Wilson

Destinations

48 Hours in Tbilisi

Two hedonistic days exploring the historic old town, vibrant nightlife and eclectic food scene of Tbilisi.

by Breanna Wilson

No matter what you think you know about Georgia, from the food to the landscapes to the locals, the truth is—life here is so much better than anything you’ve heard.

From the wine history, which dates back 8,000 years, to the beautiful courtyards and stained glass windows of the old houses, there are many reasons why Georgia has found its way onto every “must travel” list.

It’s especially true of Tbilisi, the country’s lively and progressive capital, where there’s something new to discover around every corner. From crowd favorites to hidden gems, when you only have 48 hours to discover the best of the city, this is where to start.

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Where to Stay

Tbilisi is full of great hotel, guesthouse, and hostel options—three stand out.

The Communal Hotel Sololaki is a small, funky hotel in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. Not only does it have a great central location, but any hotel with a negroni cart is worth staying at if you ask me!

Another option is the even more centrally located Rooms Hotel Tbilisi 93. It’s a buzzing, well-designed hangout known for attracting the city’s coolest crowd—and for good reason. With great cocktails and a breakfast buffet that even locals take advantage of, Rooms is the coolest of cool when it comes to hotels in Tbilisi.

Last but not least, if you’re on a budget, Fabrika Hostel & Suites 81 is a steal, with bunks starting at $10. The hostel’s back courtyard is always full of people and is a great spot to make friends if you’re traveling solo.

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Communal Hotel Sololaki

Day One

Morning

Put on some comfy shoes because today you’re exploring the city on foot.

Your adventure begins in Sololaki, one of the oldest and coolest neighborhoods in Tbilisi—thanks to the traditional wooden houses lining the narrow streets. Start by grabbing a coffee and bagel sandwich from Co. Co. by Valiko, one of the few coffee shops that opens before 10 AM. It also happens to serve the best latte in the city. 

Fueled up on food and caffeine, walk towards Freedom Square, which is, and has always been, the heart of Tbilisi. This two-hundred-year-old landmark has seen caravanserais, theaters come and go, protests, bank robberies, and even an assassination attempt made on President George W. Bush with a grenade.

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Freedom Square

From Freedom Square, continue your walk along Rustaveli Avenue, the main avenue running through the city, which is named after famous Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli.

As you make your way up the avenue, you’ll need to decide which museum to explore—The Georgian Museum of Fine ArtsThe Georgian National Museum, or The National Gallery—they’re all next to each other. If I had to choose just one to spend the morning in, The National Gallery would be my pick.

Once you’ve had your fill of art, continue along Rustaveli Avenue. You’ll see the parliament building, and Tbilisi’s 170-year-old Opera and Ballet Theatre.  At the top of the street is an abandoned cableway station. Urban explorers sometimes sneak inside to check out the beautiful architecture.  

Keep an eye out for Prospero’s Books at Number 34. One of the best book shops in the city, they have plenty of titles in English, as well as books about Georgia, and their own coffeehouse.

Afternoon

By now your stomach will be starting to grumble, and one dish you should definitely try is Khachapuri Adjaruli, a boat-shaped, cheesy, bready dish that Georgia is famous for. Café Stamba and Lolita serve excellent versions, along with other modern takes on Georgian dishes, including Kharcho (Georgian soup), Elarji (a kind of cheesy porridge), Lobiani (bread stuffed with beans) and Nadughi (a soft cheese dish). All these are worth tasting your way through!

After lunch continue your walk into the beautiful Vera neighborhood, where you’ll fall even more in love with the city’s traditional  architecture.  While here, stop at Buka’s Bakery, where cinnamon rolls come out of the oven fresh at 1 PM every day of the week.

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Try the classic Georgian dish Khachapuri Adjaruli

Now you’re officially full to bursting, it can only mean one thing—it’s wine o’clock. Take the metro or jump in a taxi back down to Freedom Square. It’s time for some wine tasting! Dadi Wine Bar and ShopVino Underground, Ezo, and Cafe Littera are all good places to start your Georgian wine education.

If it’s still daylight and you’re not tired of exploring for the day, Tbilisi Botanical Gardens (open until 7 PM) and Narikala Fortress are worth seeing. Otherwise, end your afternoon at ChaCha Time, where you’ll have a chance to taste the famously potent brandy all Georgians love.

Tip: You can walk between all of these stops, but taxis are cheap in the city. Use Bolt to get one right to your door.

Evening

After all that alcohol, a quick nap might be in order before heading  to Shavi Lomi for an outdoor dinner in a charming Georgian courtyard.

From Shavi Lomi pop down to Fabrika, or check out one of Tbilisi’s clubs like BassianiCafé GalleryMtkvarze, or Khidi.

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Popular restaurant Shavi Lomi dishes up creative Georgian cuisine

Day Two

Morning

Today you might be moving, how shall we put it? A little slowly. Okay, a lot slowly. Chacha does that to you! But if Georgians have perfected anything, it’s how to get over a hangover. And this means you should start the day with a sulfur bath.

Book into one of Abanotubani district’s bathhouses and spend your morning detoxing the previous night’s indulgences. Two of my favorites sulfur baths in this area are Chreli Abano and Gulo’s Thermal Spa.

Afternoon

Now that you’re feeling human again grab lunch at Culinarium Khasheria. If you’re still struggling, try some Khasheria, a Georgian tripe soup, which is a famous hangover cure.

From Abanotubani, call a taxi and head to the Dry Bridge Flea Market where you can find kitschy Soviet odds and ends. Afterwards, walk up to Althaus Tea House for afternoon tea in this cozy café.

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Dry Bridge Flea Market

Evening

End the day by taking the funicular to the TV Tower on Mtatsminda Mountain to watch the sunset over the city. Grab a bottle of wine along the way—ending an epic 48 hours in Tbilisi deserves a toast!

For your last Georgian meal, head to the underground Klike’s Khinkhali for the best Khinkali in the city, or the hilltop Keto and Kote for a more refined take on Georgian food in a beautiful old house. And if you don’t want to miss out on a cocktail, the best in the city can be found at Cocktail Factory41 Gradus, and Valiko Mansion

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Valiko Mansion is a quirky bar inside an old mansion house

COVID-19 update: Georgia is currently open to travelers from 18 European countries. You can find the full details here

Breanna Wilson is the author of meanwhileingeorgia.com


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