After all, a city that was founded in the 5th century is basically guaranteed to have quite the story with incredible sights to discover. Take in the colorful sights of Old Town and stroll down Rustaveli Street, which runs north through south through most of the city.
Admire Sioni Cathedral and pop into the surrounding shops on Sioni Street. This is the oldest structure in Tbilisi, dating back to the 5-6th centuries, and it is also one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the city. People come into town to sell their goods off of carts along the street outside, and all the Tbilisi locals recommended buying the traditional Georgian candy churchkhela (shaped like a candle and typically made from grape must, nuts and flour) from one of these carts since they’re the best homemade ones you can get –– they weren’t wrong. I also bought some delicious churchkhela from a vendor down the street from his open air shop to bring home to friends and family. There’s also a really nice rug shop with gorgeous traditional Georgian rugs of all shapes and sizes you can bring home, which the country is famous for.
Grab a bite at the Bakery at Sioni. You can walk right by this hidden gem without even knowing what it is. The sign to the oldest bakery on Sioni Street is in faded Georgian, but is the last building right next to a swanky looking restaurant with a golden statue on its outside wall, then walk down the stairs. This bakery produces Georgian bread (puri) in cylindrical ovens. I’m so bummed that I didn’t discover this bakery until my last day in Tbilisi, but you can bet I bought all the pastries I thought I could fit in my bag to last me through my return flight the next day. My favorite was a sweet bread with white cheese inside.
Walk through Rike Park and across the Peace Bridge. Rike Park is so charming and visited by tourists and families alike. Enjoy the Tbilisi sunshine on a bench and snap some great IG-worthy shots in front of the odd tubular structure, which is the unfinished Concert Hall & Exhibition Center.
Walking across the bridge will give you really neat views of both the bridge’s unique architectural structure and the city. But beware of tourist traps and pickpockets, since the bridge is quite narrow and a funnel for this type of unwanted attention.
Soak in the Autotubani. Soak in the beneficial natural sulphur hot springs. Legend has it that Tbilisi was founded when the King of Georgia discovered the springs, which gave the city its name, meaning “warm place.” These dome-looking structures are actually the roofs of bathhouses down below! Choose from a variety of baths across varying price points. The public bathhouses are the least expensive, or splurge a bit for your own private room. I had a great experience at Chreli Abano, which is housed in the beautiful blue mosaic building at the end of Abano Street (you can see it to the left of my head poking over one of the brick domes). Most bathhouses will show you their available rooms for you to choose from, but I highly recommend you booking a room in advance because the most popular ones get booked up quickly.
Hike up to Narikala Fortress & Kartlis Deda. Be prepared in somewhat study walking shoes – the hills and stairs up to the top are steep and on rough cobblestone. Climb the fortress walls and prepare for stunning panoramic views of Tbilisi. From the fortress, you can hike on a well-traveled path along a ridge with continued views of the city down below up to Kartlis Deda. The statue is dubbed the Mother of Georgia as she holds both a glass of wine and a sword, representing hospitality to those who come to Georgia as friends, and protector to those who wish to cause harm.
Stroll the narrow cobblestone streets of Old Town. Take in the unique architecture in this neighborhood. The district is full of peculiar wooden houses with open, carved balconies that cling to the mountainside under Narikala Fortress.
Enjoy brunch, coffee, or something stronger at the Stamba Hotel. The Stamba Hotel is one of the swankiest spots in all of Tbilisi, and its reputation is well-deserved. Housed in a former publishing house in Tbilisi, Stamba Hotel combines 1930s nostalgic references with a contemporary hotel concept and has enough charm to make you swoon. I got treated to a private tour – literally just upon request because I was interested in what the rest of the hotel looked like! – and this is hands down my favorite hotel I’ve never stayed in (not yet, anyways).
Cafe Stamba is a multi-functional space divided into several sections, including a swanky restaurant, coffee and chocolate bar where they make their own chocolates, an Asian eatery with food prepped before your eyes, and I mean, LOOK at this bar and massive chandelier! We hear the cocktails are also especially impressive. While you’re here, visit the Rooms Hotel bar, which is a fun, more casual spot in the Stamba Hotel’s sister hotel right next door.
Kick your feet up and enjoy the patio weather at Hotel Winery 1896 or Tbili Sio. I discovered this magical patio away from the bustle of Rustaveli Street by complete accident when I was wandering through a small flower market next to the Hard Rock Cafe. I noticed there was a cute-looking park that led to a cozy courtyard which several cafes opened onto around the backside of the building. The house red wine was fantastic, and really I don’t think this atmosphere could be beat. I was more than happy to sit back and listen to the cheerful banter in a language I can’t understand and just totally take in the magical evening.
Hopefully you’ll have more than just 48 hours to explore Tbilisi, but we hope this list is a great place to start.
What other questions do you have about Tbilisi? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
Coming soon: Where to eat and drink in Tbilisi – according to locals!
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