Georgia is a small country in between Western Asia and Eastern Europe with a population of around 4 million. Tbilisi is the capital and the largest city of Georgia. Even though Georgia is not a top tourist destination, the tourism industry is growing rapidly, especially since Georgian Airways launched direct flights from London Gatwick airport to Tbilisi in 2017. Here I will talk about everything you need to know before travelling to Tbilisi.
How to get to Tbilisi
If you travel from London, you can get a direct flight from Gatwick to Tbilisi. The flight will take you there in around 4 hours. If this is not a case, there are other airlines that (not directly) fly to Tbilisi, like Turkish Airways, Pegasus, and Lufthansa.
Georgian LARI is the official currency of Georgia. The currency code for Lari is GEL. There are various currency exchanges in the main streets of Tbilisi, most of them exchange USD and EURO to GEL. Exchanging Sterling Pounds to GEL is not available in every currency exchange but it is still possible to find some. I would recommend having dollars with you as you will be able to spend it even without exchanging them to the local currency.
Where to stay in Tbilisi
There are several hotels in the city of Tbilisi. Based on your budget you can choose the type of hotels you like the most. If you are travelling with your family and friends, like we did, you can book an apartment on Airbnb. Booking via Airbnb will allow you to spend time with the locals and get to know the Georgian culture better.
You can sign up to Airbnb by clicking here and get £25 off.
What to do in Tbilisi
Stroll around the Old Town
Strolling around Tbilisi old town is a must when you are there. The old town, known as Tbilisi Historic District, is the busiest part of the city. You can spend hours getting lost in the old alleys and enjoying the lively vibe of the city.
Bridge of Peace
The Bridge of Peace, a bow-shaped pedestrian bridge, opened in May 2010 and since then it has become one of the main attractions in the capital city of Georgia. The bridge is a connection between Rike Park and the old part of the city.
Mother of a Georgian
The Mother of Georgia statue, or the Kartlis Deda monument, was erected on top of the Sololaki hill and has become the symbol of the city. You can walk from the old town to Rike Park where you can take a cable car and head to the top of the hill.
On the other side of the city, you can have a funicular ride to the top of Mount Mtatsminda. For the ride, you only need 2 Gel ($0.78 or £0.61). By getting the ride you can go directly to the top, where there is Mtatsminda Park or stop on the way and visit one of the historical churches in Tbilisi and then go to the top.
Try Georgian Cuisine and Wine
One of the best ways to experience a new country is trying its cuisine. Georgians are proud of their culture and their food and I now understand why. I was surprised by the diversity of Georgian dishes. All the dishes we tried were really tasty and delicious. I must confess that not all the dishes were... light, Take it as a warning, if you don’t watch your calories intake, you could easily gain some weight in Georgia. Georgian meals come with bread, but not normal bread, bread stuffed with cheese, and you can even ask to add some cheese on top!
Georgia is one of the oldest wine regions in the world. Therefore, trying Georgian wines is a must when you are in Tbilisi.
You can also read my "FOOD GUIDE: GEORGIAN DISHES YOU SHOULD TRY"
Take a day trip
Georgia is not a big country, but it has a lot to offer to the visitors including beautiful landscapes, medieval villages, historical and cultural attractions and vast nature. While staying in Tbilisi you can take a day trip to other parts of the country. You can go with group tours or you can book a taxi for the whole day. We were a family of six people so booking a taxi with a local driver was more convenient than booking a tour. The driver gave us all the information we needed and he also drove us to places many tourists are not aware of.
You can also read about our "DAY TOUR FROM TBILISI TO KAZBEGI"