You will be hard-pressed to find a person who doesn’t almost instantly fall in love with Georgia’s lively and chaotic capital city of Tbilisi. Though it is not the most beautiful city in Europe, Tbilisi has a unique energy and a personality that is all its own and has been charming travellers for years. For too long, though, the city hasn’t received the international attention it so very much deserves and only a handful of travellers were planning a Tbilisi itinerary.
However, Tbilisi — and Georgia in general — has been gaining in popularity year on year and more international tourists are visiting this beautiful country than ever. So if you’re planning a visit to this incredible Caucasian nation and wondering what to do in Georgia’s capital, how to plan a Tbilisi itinerary, or how to spend 3 days in Tbilisi (or more!), you’ve come to the right place!
We instantly fell in love with the Georgian capital and it became something of a de facto home while we were travelling through Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. We’ve spent a number of weeks in this wonderful city and can very much tell you the best things to do in Tbilisi for any length of visit.
3 Days in Tbilisi Itinerary
Many people wonder how many days is adequate to spend in Tbilisi and while we would honestly recommend spending upwards of one week in the city (there really is a lot to see and do!), I would say that if you want to get the most out of the city and get a feel for its history and culture, then plan to spend 3 days in Tbilisi.
However, we realise that some Georgia itineraries are shorter than other and not everyone has the luxury to spend even that amount of time in the capital. If you only have 2 days in Tbilisi, then I would suggest following the first two days of this itinerary. That would still give you a good feel for the city, however, you will likely not be able to go beyond the main sites in that short of a time period.
If you only have one day in Tbilisi, then the first day of this Tbilisi itinerary should be able to give you a taste for the city and a long list of things to do should you ever return!
However, if you’re wondering what to do in Tbilisi for 3 days, then this is the itinerary for you!
Day 1 – Explore Old Tbilisi
Day one in Tbilisi will see you exploring the main sites in the Old Town, Sololaki and Rustaveli areas of the Georgian capital.
Morning: Rustaveli Avenue & Dzveli Tbilisi
Begin the first day of your Tbilisi itinerary by taking a stroll down the lively Rustaveli Avenue toward Liberty Square. This is the main thoroughfare in central Tbilisi and is filled with upmarket shops and restaurants and, while it isn’t always the most budget-friendly place to shop in Tbilisi, it is pleasant to stroll down and take in the sites.
Along Rustaveli, you will see the beautiful Tbilisi Opera, and pass some of the most important museums in the city. If you’re interested in seeing a show at the opera (which is home to both the national opera and ballet), then you can easily purchase tickets at the box office along the side of the theatre. Tickets are affordable and the building is truly spectacular. You can usually find seats with little advance notice.
Once you find yourself in Liberty Square, you can continue heading south into Tbilisi’s Old Town, where you can see the remains of the old city walls and admire the balconies and courtyards of the old town.
This area of the city is on the waiting list to be protected by UNESCO and, therefore, there are lots of renovations happening, however, they all need to meet certain criteria to be able to be carried out to the Old Town and retain the same aesthetic it always has.
Because many locals still live in this area, this can prove to be both a blessing and a curse as, while there is a bit more funding to get much-needed repairs done on the buildings, residents have to go through miles of bureaucratic red tape or face spending lots of money to gets basic renovations done on their homes.
Despite the troubles, there is no doubt that the Old Town is a charming and relaxed area of the city that is definitely worth wandering through.
Make sure to take the time to make a stop at the Rezo Gabriadze Marionette Theatre, which is arguably the quirkiest building in Tbilisi. Every day at noon and 5 PM the, figures come out of the crooked clock tower and put on a bit of a show. While this is, honestly, a bit disappointing and not really worth fighting the crowds of tourists in order to get a view of it, it is still worth stopping by the theatre as it is truly an interesting building. There are still some characters that come out and ring the bell every hour, anyhow.
The theatre itself puts on puppet shows with dark tales aimed at adults. There are only limited seats inside so it can be difficult to get tickets (which you can buy online here or at the box office), but it is an interesting thing to do in Tbilisi. Keep in mind that they don’t admit children under 12 as the subject matter of the shows can be scary and not appropriate for kids much younger than that.
If you want to get a more historical side of Tbilisi’s Old Town, get more context, and some great suggestions for your remaining 2 days in Tbilisi, we recommend taking a free walking tour. There are two companies that offer free tours of the city every day: Tbilisi Hack and Tbilisi Free Walking Tour. The former has mostly expat guides and is the more popular one and you can expect there to be a lot of people on the tour. However, the guides are knowledgeable and engaging.
The latter tour is run only by locals, however, they can be hard to find and don’t attract as many people as Tbilisi Hack. We went on tours with both companies and can recommend both highly. Both tours leave from opposite ends of Liberty Square every day at 12 PM. Booking is not necessary.
Afternoon: Narikala Fortress & Botanical Garden
After exploring the old town or your free walking tour, it’s time to head to lunch. We recommend walking over to Racha, which serves delicious Georgian cuisine and in a divey yet authentic setting. Salobie Bia is also nearby on Rustaveli Avenue and is one of our favourite eateries in the city — make sure to try their tomato salad and lobio.
After getting your fill of fantastic Georgian food, it’s about a 15-minute walk (downhill) to Rike Park, where you can catch the cable car to the Nirakala Fortress. The cable car uses the same card as you would use for the metro and a journey costs 5 GEL each way. The ride takes about 5 minutes and it commands beautiful views of Tbilisi and the surrounding area. You will also get fantastic views from the fortress.
Take the time to climb to the top of the fortress to get the best views of the city and to admire the Mother Georgia Statue, with one of her hands grasping a sword to fend off enemies and the other raising a glass of wine to welcome guests.
It is also easy to get to the lovely Tbilisi Botanical Garden from the fortress and the cable car will help you avoid a killer walk uphill. The botanical garden is a huge complex consisting of some beautiful flora and even its own waterfall. It is an incredibly pleasant place to wander around in Tbilisi and is one of my favourite areas in the city. Entry into the gardens costs 4 GEL.
Evening: Dinner in Old Tbilisi
End your day with a great Georgian meal. If you want something a bit more fancy and upmarket, then head to Zala — a modern Georgian dining establishment in the Vera neighbourhood, not far from the Old Town. They serve beautiful renditions of classic Georgian cuisine in a very romantic setting.
Alternatively, you could head to the lovely Sulico Wine Bar which has a nice outdoor seating area and a fantastic wine list along with delicious food. Keto & Kote is another fantastic option for dinner, with a wonderful courtyard tucked into a quiet corner of central Tbilisi.
Day 2 – Marjanishvili and Museums
Your second day in Tbilisi can be spent browsing through antiques and kitsch at one of the city’s most well-known flea markets before exploring the area on the other side of the Mktvari River.
Morning: Dry Bridge Market & Marjanishvili
Begin your second day in Tbilisi searching through silver jewellery, old kitchenware, and Soviet relics at the Dry Bridge Market. This flea market is open from 11 AM daily and it is filled to the brim with independent sellers hawking everything from old Red Army war medals to crystal stemware to bundles of extension cords and it is truly a delight to wander through.
From the market, it is time to explore the other side of the Mtkvari River and head over to the trendy Marjanishvili neighbourhood. Originally a German settlement separate from Tbilisi altogether, this is a significantly less touristy area of the city and is a great place to explore to see a more local side of the capital while on your Tbilisi itinerary.
Begin at the trendy Fabrika, a former sewing factory turned hostel and cafe popular with local hipsters and digital nomads. They make some of the best coffee in town, but there are also a number of cool restaurants, cafes, and shops around the back of the complex. The walls surrounding it are completely decorated in street art, giving it a very hip feel. Fabrika is reminiscent of the Aparaaditehas complex in Tartu, Estonia.
From Fabrika, you can head to St Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Church, which is one of the few Catholic churches in the city (Georgians are largely Orthodox), or you can head to the Museum of Cinema and admire the beautiful architecture of this former palace which has an interesting story.
If you want some historical context and local knowledge about the Marjanishvili neighbourhood, we recommend yet another free walking tour. Tbilisi Hack runs a wonderful alternative tour that meets every Wednesday and Saturday at 12 PM from the reception area of Fabrika.
The tour is free of charge but keep in mind that, like all free walking tours, the guides work only for tips so make sure to pay what you think the tour was worth once it’s over. We usually recommend about 15-30 GEL per person depending on the quality.
If you aren’t able to go on the tour, make sure you still take the time to stroll down Aghmashenebeli Avenue, the main thoroughfare in this area of Tbilisi.
Though a portion of the street is pedestrianised and filled with cafes and restaurants, we would recommend walking further down the street to Mapshalia (try their kharcho!) for lunch. This truly local joint has a small menu serving local favourites at incredibly affordable prices. Expect a meal with an entree, two main dishes, and a half-litre of homemade wine not to cost more than 20 GEL here.
Alternatively, if you want to head back to the other side of the river, we recommend having lunch at the delicious Sofia Melnikova. This place is a little bit hard to find (it is located through a yellow door directly behind the Tbilisi Theatre just below Rustaveli Avenue), but it serves delicious local cuisine and some western and Asian dishes as well. They have a great service and a lovely outdoor seating area.
Afternoon: Georgian National Museum
After lunch, wander back to Rustaveli Avenue and head to the Georgian National Museum. This museum is home to a number of wonderful exhibitions over a few floors spanning the entire history of Georgia, from the prehistoric age to the modern-day and it is a must-visit for anyone interested in learning more about this beautiful country.
We were particularly moved by the exhibition about life in Georgia under the communist regime. It is a well-curated exhibit with lots of detailed explanations written in English where you can learn about just how different life in Georgia was not all that long ago. There is also an interesting collection of Soviet art in the exhibit as well.
Entry into the museum is 8 GEL for adults, with discounts available for students and seniors.
Evening: Tbilisi’s Performing Arts Scene
After spending time at the museum, it’s time to end the second day of your Tbilisi itinerary taking in a show if you were able to score tickets. The Tbilisi Ballet or Opera are always a great option or a feature-length puppet show at the Rezo Gabriadze Marionette Theatre is another popular choice.
Have a great meal at one of the restaurants mentioned above that you haven’t been to yet!
Day 3 – Day Trips, Sulfur Baths or Markets
If you plan to spend 3 days in the Georgian capital rather than just 2 days in Tbilisi, then there are lots of options for the day you could choose from.
Option 1: Morning Day Trip to Mtskheta & Sulfur Baths
Because the first two days of this Tbilisi itinerary are packed with a lot of things to do in the city proper, your third day can be very well spent if you decide to go on a day trip to the surrounding area.
One of the easiest and most popular day trips from Tbilisi is to the lovely town of Mtskheta. Located only a 20-minute marshrutka ride from the city, Mtskheta is the former capital of Georgia and is a charming and historic place to visit for a few hours. Planning a day trip from Tbilisi to Mtskheta is very easy, as well.
Try to get an early start so you can beat the crowds as Mtskheta can get busy. You only need a couple of hours in the town to see all that it has to offer, which means that you can be back in central Tbilisi in time for lunch!
Wander into the Old Town and head to lunch at either Cafe Leila or any of the above recommended restaurants that you haven’t been to yet! The former is a vegetarian-friendly cafe that serves traditional Georgian cuisine without all of the meat! Because of the ample fasting days on the Georgian Orthodox calendar (almost half of all days in the year, in fact), vegetarian options are quite easy to come by in traditional Georgian cuisine.
The latter, Gvimra, is a chic wine bar serving traditional Georgian food and fantastic local wines. Try their sauteed mushrooms in almond sauce — you won’t be disappointed! Both restaurants are conveniently located in the old town.
After lunch, head a bit further south to the sulfur baths and spend an hour soaking in the naturally warm and healing waters. There are numerous different bathhouses to choose from, but we would recommend heading to the Chreli Abano Bathhouse. This is the most tourist-friendly out there and they allow you to book your room online. Generally speaking, advance booking is necessary and there are a range of prices and rooms that you can choose from to suit any budget.
After you’re well-relaxed and chilled out from the sulfuric water, we recommend finding a nice wine cellar to enjoy a traditional glass of Georgian red or white or taking the time to wander through the lesser-explored alleys of the old town. There are lots of art galleries and local artisans who have opened shops out of the refurbished houses where you can pick up a unique souvenir from your 3 days in Tbilisi.
Option 2: Dezerter Bazaar, Jewish Museum, Sameba Cathedral & Mtatsminda
If you’re not interested in a day trip, we recommend starting your day off at the lively Dezerter Bazaar. This is Tbilisi’s largest marketplace and it is an excellent area to visit if you want to see how and what locals eat. It is located close to Station Square metro station and runs every day from 7 AM – 5 PM — it is busiest in the morning.
Though it is not as lively or bustling as the Green Bazaar in Kutaisi, it is still at Tbilisi institution and well worth a visit. You won’t find many tourists here, either, which makes it a more off-beat activity.
After the market, it can be worth heading back to the other side of the city and taking the time to learn about the Jewish population of Tbilisi. Though there isn’t much of a Jewish presence in the city today, there is still a history spanning back that you can learn about. Take the time to pop into the Great Synagogue (both men and women must cover their heads — kippahs and scarves are available at the entrance).
If you want to learn more, you can wander over to the nearby David Baazov Museum of the History of Jews in Georgia. This is an interesting museum as it teaches you less about what Judaism is and rather explores Georgian-Jewish relations throughout the years.
If that doesn’t interest you, then head over the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Georgia. Also known as the Sameba Cathedral, this beautiful church is the largest church in Georgia and one of the largest Eastern Orthodox Cathedrals in Europe. It was opened in 2004 to commemorate the 1000th birthday of Christ.
End your three days in Tbilisi itinerary by taking the funicular up to Mtatsminda Park. This park, located at the top of one of the highest hills in Tbilisi not only commands amazing views of the city below but is also home to a few restaurants and an entire amusement park with a Ferris wheel, roller coaster and many games and other activities. It is most lively in the summer months.
Have More Time?
If you have more than 3 days in Tbilisi, there are numerous ways that you could fill your time.
For one, there are many more museums and art galleries that you could visit to get a broader understanding of the history and culture of Tbilisi and Georgia as a whole.
Spending more time in Tbilisi will also give you the opportunity to embark on a few of the other easy day trips from the capital. Popular options include visiting Stalin’s birthplace of Gori, venturing to the historic cliff monasteries of Davit Gareja, or head to the beautiful hilltop town of Sighnaghi for some wine tasting in the Kakheti region. While we would recommend spending at least a couple of days in Sighnaghi and Kakheti, it is easy enough to visit as a day trip if you’re pressed for time.
All in all, there is an endless array of things to do in Tbilisi and visitors could spend a week or more in the city without getting bored.
Where to Stay in Tbilisi
Tbilisi is becoming a more and more popular destination for travellers by the minute and, therefore, there is no shortage of great places to stay throughout the city. From family-run guesthouses to backpacker hostels to boutique hotels, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to Tbilisi accommodation. If you’re wondering where to stay in Tbilisi, have a look at these suggestions:
Marco Polo Hostel — This centrally-located hostel situated just off of Rustaveli Avenue is one of the highest-rated hostels in Tbilisi. They have a range of private and dorm rooms available, a friendly and helpful staff, great common spaces for meeting other travellers, and clean facilities. This is an excellent option for both solo and budget travellers looking to meet others. Click here to see their latest prices
Guest House Rampa – This budget guesthouse located in the Abanotubani neighbourhood just across from the sulphur baths is an excellent option for those looking for more of a local experience. They have a range of private rooms available for both solo travellers and couples and a kitchen available for guest use. The staff are also always willing to lend a helping hand to make your stay in Tbilisi a great one. Click here to check their latest price
Hotel Flower — If you’re looking for something a bit more on the high end for our stay in the Georgian capital, then this centrally-located hotel is a great choice. It’s situated within easy walking distance of the top sites in Tbilisi, they have a number of great rooms available (some even include their own jacuzzi!) and include breakfast in the nightly rate. Click here to see their latest prices
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Tbilisi hotels
When to Visit Tbilisi
Like everywhere in the Caucasus countries, Tbilisi has a continental climate and very much experiences all four seasons. While winters tend to be short and relatively mild compared to those in North America or northern Europe and summers can linger well into October and start as early as April, there are still better times than others to visit the Georgian capital.
The shoulder season months between March-May and September-October see the mildest temperatures, with highs averaging in the mid-20s Celcius (70s Fahrenheit). Obviously, it is colder in March and late October and you can expect some very hot days in late May and early September. However, this is when you will see the most pleasant temperatures with still very few tourist crowds.
The summer months between June-August can get very hot, with temperatures sometimes clocking in at about 40°C (104°F) and average about 35°C (95°F). Mornings and evenings, however, can be pleasant once the sun has left its highest point. If you do visit Tbilisi in the summertime, as well, it is worth knowing that many places throughout the city do have air conditioning, so there is some respite from the heat. And, if all else fails, you can seek refuge in a wine cellar, which are cool all year long!
While winters tend to be short in Tbilisi, they do get cold and you will need to make sure that you pack accordingly. Expect temperatures to hover around freezing, especially during the months of December, January and February. Early November and late March can see warmer, more pleasant temperatures.
No matter what time of year you visit Tbilisi, there are always lots of things to see and do!
How to Get Around Tbilisi
While the Old Town and tourist centre of Tbilisi is fairly compact and easy enough to navigate on foot, the Georgian capital is quite a large city and many things can be fairly spread out and require long walking times. There is good news, however, as the city is well-served by an efficient public transport system and taxis are plentiful and affordable.
The Tbilisi metro system is easy to navigate and use and connects the city very well to most areas that are of interest to tourists. To use it, you must purchase a travel card from one of the desks that are present at every station. The card itself costs 2 GEL (about $0.70 USD) and each journey costs 0.50 GEL (about $0.18 USD). If you plan to transfer trains (there are two lines of the Tbilisi metro), there is a one-hour hopper fare so you only will pay 0.50 GEL for one hour.
The transit card can also be used on the city buses, however, these can be difficult to navigate if you’re just a tourist for a couple of days and it is much easier just to use the metro system. The card is also used for the cable car from Rike Park to the Narikala Fortress.
Taxis are also an effective way to get around Tbilisi and they are very affordable. While Uber isn’t available in Georgia’s capital, there are a few taxi apps that you can use to hail a cab if you don’t want to risk a dishonest driver or trying to negotiate a fare. The apps we recommend using are both the Bolt app and the Yandex Taxi app.
Both of these apps operate similarly to Uber. It is worth noting that taxis in Georgia don’t tend to have meters, so it is customary to agree upon a price before getting in the taxi, which is why it is easier to use the taxi apps, especially if there is a language barrier.
If all else fails and you would rather not use the metro or taxi system, Tbilisi is still accessible by foot, especially if you stay in a central location. Keep in mind that the Old Town and central area is very hilly, though!
Piecing together the ideal 3 days in Tbilisi itinerary can be difficult when you consider how many things there are to do in Georgia’s capital. However, three days is the optimal amount of time to spend in Tbilisi in order to get the best feel for the city in a short amount of time.
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Are you planning a Tbilisi itinerary? Have you been to Tbilisi? Let us know in the comments!