Experience Tbilisi off the beaten track - a guide for wanderers

November 7, 2019

by Evija Ridūze Skujiņa

When I go places I try to blend in with the locals and do things the locals do, rather than going to all the must-see places.
Here is my more local tourist guide to Tbilisi:

Where to stay

If you are up for exploring Tbilisi, I would recommend staying in Rustavelli area. Why? It is one of the most central areas in Tbilisi and cafes/ shops/ museums/Old town are at your easy reach. No hassle.

How to get around

Public Transport in Tbilisi

Be like a local and use public transport. Metro is super convenient, departs every 4 minutes and gets you safely from A – B. Do not expect to find fancy-looking metro stations, but they do the job. One journey costs only 15 Euro cents and for those 15 cents, you can use the metro network for 1 hour! All you need is to purchase a metro card from one of the stations and you are good to go!

Taxi in Tbilisi

Another option is using Bolt or Yandex taxi apps (Uber alternative). It is quite common there and cheap as hell. We were going around the city by cab quite a lot and it never got more expensive than 2-3 euros per trip. But please, do not catch a taxi on the street. That can end up quite pricey. A friend of mine paid 50 euros to get from Tbilisi airport to the city centre with a standard taxi while Bolt priced it around 8 euros. You get the idea.

What to experience in Tbilisi

Check out Fabrika

A very trendy area of Tbilisi. If you need to get some work done, Impact Hub is a coworking space located in one of the old factory buildings in the area. There are some nice looking cafes and small artsy shops as well. Check out Fabrika’s facebook page to be in the loop of interesting events and markets which might happen while you are there!

Address: Fabrika Tbilisi, 8 Egnate Ninoshvili St, Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi Fabrika

The trendy Fabrika area in Tbilisi

Go to Dezerter Bazaar

It’s a farmer’s market popular with locals. A variety of grapes, figs, pomegranates, peaches, fresh walnuts, local cheeses can be found there.

Address: The Dezerter Bazaar, 5 Abastumani St, Tbilisi, Georgia

Dezerter Bazaar

Local nuts and sweets in the Dezerter Bazaar

Check out Stonehenge of Tbilisi

A huge monument which resembles the real Stonehenge and looks as ancient but it’s construction started only in 1980. Whatever the history, the grandness of the monument will leave you breathless. If not the monument itself, the view over Tbilisi city will for sure. Perfect place to get a piece of nature in the city.
It is located just 12km from the centre of Tbilisi, near Tbilisi Sea and can be easily reached by taxi. It is also called as The Chronicles of Georgia.

Tbilisi Stonehenge monument

Tbilisi Stonehenge

Drink trendy coffee at Stamba

Are you into having your coffee specially brewed? Head to Stamba for your morning freshly roasted and brewed cup of V60 or cold brew. This place is not only for coffee lovers, but they also make chocolate bars in-house. Isn’t that great? And it is located in a former factory – the cafe is huge, industrial and very hip. If you appreciate good interior, definitely a must-visit!

Address: 14, 0108 Merab Kostava St, Tbilisi, Georgia

Stamba coffee roastery

Stamba cafe

Have a Friday cocktail at Rooms Hotel backyard

Uhh, the hotel and the backyard is gorgeous and yes, staying is a bit pricey. A room for one night costs more than 140 euros. If that seems too much for one night’s stay it doesn’t stop you from enjoying their backyard for a good cocktail! For Tbilisi the price for one cocktail seemed quite above the average, but, hey, 6-8 euro for an amazing cocktail with specially selected ingredients isn’t that much, is it? Treat yourself, you deserve it!

Address: 14 Merab Kostava St, Tbilisi 0108, Georgia

Rooms Hotel bar in the backyard

Rooms hotel backyard

Experience local food accompanied by a live musical performance and local dance party

Khinkali house is the place. It is no surprise, khinkali are served here and a variety of other local dishes too. Do not forget to take a jug of wine which costs next to nothing here. This place is special because mostly locals come here – large groups of people having enormous amounts of foods and going for a quick dance when their favourite song comes on, definitely an interesting experience. If you are looking for a more intimate experience, this will not be a place because of the noise. It was hard to even speak with the person seated next to you.

Address: Shota Rustaveli Ave 37b | Opposite Metro Rustaveli Station, Tbilisi 0150, Georgia

food dishes

Khinkali house

What to eat and drink?

Khinkali – special Georgian dumplings with meat, potatoes, mushrooms or cheese.

Khachapuri – One of the Georgian style of bread. Would recommend trying any of the Georgian bread, there are bread stalls on every street corner.

Lobio – beans cooked in a hotpot, gives a very warm feeling in the tummy.

Shashlik – give it a try, not much to say, Georgia is the heart of shashlik, cannot miss it.

My best suggestion would be to take different kinds of dishes and share them with your friends, otherwise, you will end up eating only meat, or just bread. Why? Georgian foods mainly consist of one main ingredient meaning if you order shashlik, you will get shashlik with no sauce or any sides. If you order Lobi hot pot, you will get only that, with no bread or any sides. It is better to get some meat, some bread, some vegetable salad and share with your friends!

Chacha – Georgian national drink made of grapes. Well, it is a must-try, but I can warn you, in some places it can taste like petrol, in some places like an okay spirit. All I can say, don’t expect much from it and do not get scared if the first chacha tastes rather bad.

Wine – We can get only sweet or semi-sweet Georgian wines in the country where I am from but you will be surprised Georgia produces some very good dry wines too. Tbilisi is the place you can try them out. Two of my favourite red wines are the most common grape Saperavi made in qvevri – traditional barrel. And the second one is Mukuzani which is also made from Saperavi grapes which is aged in oak casks, in the region of Mukuzani.

Few tips:

  • Buy one of the SIM cards at the airport and get data whenever and wherever you need it.
  • Most places take cards, but for easy market shopping, do have some cash on hand ready. If you have a Revolut or one of those other fancy travel cards, take your money out in any ATM. If you don’t have it, exchange some money on your arrival.

Experience Tbilisi like a local and get the vibe of this upcoming and trendy city!

Evija Ridūze Skujiņa

By Evija Ridūze Skujiņa

I am a social and cultural anthropologist who loves food, people and travelling. I am constantly looking for opportunities to explore more of our big world. What I like the most during my travels is to live like a local, learn and cook their food, shop at their local stores, stay with locals and go by their rules.

Read more at evi-notes.com

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