Tbilisi, with it’s winding cobbled streets, ornate churches, and clusters of riverside buildings, exudes a unique mix of old world charm that can seldom be found elsewhere. Stir in it’s connection with Stalin, and the Soviet influence on the architecture (Read: Bars on windows), and you have a romantic’s dream.
In centuries past, both the Iranians and the Russians have lay claim to this historic city. As a result, Tbilisi today is home to over a 100 different ethnic groups. Tbilisi reflects this diversity in both it’s culture and in it’s relief. Dissecting the city is the Mt’k’vari River, on it’s left is flat land the extends onwards to another river, on it’s right the city is carved into the foothills of the Trialeti Range.
In this Post
- Tbilisi 101
- How to Get To Tbilisi
- Getting Around
Georgian and Russian, although English, albeit in varying degrees, is widely understood
Georgian Lari (GEL)
1 USD = 2.13 GEL 1 Euro = 2.40 GEL
Note: In most countries, it’s usually cheaper to convert your money in town rather than at the airport. This is not the case in Georgia, make sure you convert your money at the airport. SIM Cards are free, so if connectivity is important to you, pick one up at the airport and load a few Lari on to it.
Georgia is extremely cheap. Flying in from Qatar, the entire trip costed me approximately $700, that’s including airfare, accommodation and food for five days, as well shopping, transportation and miscellaneous expenses.
History enthusiasts, Nature enthusiasts
How to Get There:
Arrival in Tbilisi is through the Tbilisi International Airport.
Visas are not required for nationals and residents of the following countries:
|Antigua and Barbuda||Canada||Kyrgyzstan||Panama||Tajikistan|
|Australia||Costa Rica||Malaysia||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Turkmenistan|
|Azerbaijan||Dominican Republic||Mauritius||San Marino||United Arab Emirates|
|Bahrain||El Salvador||Moldova||Serbia||United Kingdom|
|Belize||Iran||New Zealand||South Africa||Uzbekistan|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Israel||Norway||South Korea||Vatican City|
Staying in or near Freedom Square is highly recommended simply because it’ll make getting around town that much easier. Almost every major site in Tbilisi can be reached on foot from Freedom Square.
While in Tbilisi I used AirBnb to stay in this beautiful apartment. The host was extremely helpful, arranged airport pickups and soothed any of last minute concerns.
While most of Tbilisi can be explored on foot, there is also a fairly cheap cab system as well as an extensive metro network. You can purchase a metro card at the station for 5 Lari.
Local food is decadent and smothered with gooey cheese. No trip to Georgia is complete without Khachapuri and Khinkali.
Oh and for the alcohol aficionados amongst you, there is wine EVERYWHERE, and in some places, it’s cheaper than water. Vegans and Vegetarians beware, there is very little in Georgia that is served without meat and dairy. Thanks to Eminthecaucasus for pointing out that “vegetarian and vegan food are actually pretty easy to find…it’s just not called that, it’s called “fasting food”. Religious Georgians are expected to fast and keep an animal-product free diet for about 1/3 of the year. The Georgian word for it is “samarkhvo”. Most restaurants mark which dishes are acceptable for fasting, and sometimes there is a separate menu.”
Another thing you must try in while in Georgia is the fruit leather, you’ll see it lining the streets being sold in colorful bundles.
As a Muslim traveler, finding food on such trips can often be challenging. Note that a lot of restaurants claim to serve Halal food but also serve pork, one self-proclaimed Halal shawarma place even claimed to serve ‘Halal’ Chicken and Pork shawarma. Here are two restaurants in Tbilisi that exclusively serve Halal food.
- Kafe Leila (Erekle 2 St., 18, Tbilisi, Georgia)
- Taj Mahal Restaurant (Leselidze, 42, Tbilisi 54000, Georgia)
Both are within walking distance of Freedom Square.
Tbilisi while great for small local trinkets, doesn’t rank high on the shopping scale. While the local jewelry is very pretty, I would advise against buying the fake Pashmina scarves that are sold everywhere, as they’re both overpriced and not real Pashmina wool.
Tbilisi is fairly safe, with low homicide and violent crime rates. A word of caution about street hawkers. Under no circumstances should you engage with them, these interactions can quickly turn sour.
Have you been to Tbilisi? How did you like it? Do you have any tips to share?
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