Gorgeous Georgia, short gateway to Tbilisi
by Anna Daleki
Sunday, July 8, 2018
It was quite a surprise for me to discover that I’ve got a few days off in my busy schedule. I found it an excellent opportunity to finally realize my small dream and visit Georgia – the country famous for its beautiful nature and friendly people.
I immediately booked my tickets and the next day flew from Dubai to Tbilisi. The flight isn’t longer than three hours. I spent two wonderful days in the city and I’m planning another trip to Tbilisi soon. Georgia has stolen my heart forever!
It was early June. The weather was perfect: sunny and not too hot yet. However, at this time of the year, it might be raining so keep it in your mind while planning your trip. The best time to visit the country are either summer months or winter time but honestly speaking Georgia, especially Tbilisi, is a great place to visit throughout the whole year.
Getting around Tbilisi – public transport
First of all, you have to know that you don’t actually need transportation for exploring the old part of the city. All historical sites are in the walkable distance so you can wander the streets and easily get from one point to another. If you’ll feel more adventurous to travel out of Old Tbilisi, simply a little bit lazy or stingy with time, you can take the subway or one of the public buses.
How to get to Tbilisi from the airport?
If you don’t want to rent a car you can choose one of two ways: take a cab or travel by bus. Taxis are parked in the designated areas out of the terminal. The price for a ride from the airport to the city center should be around 30 GEL (Georgian Lari) which is less than 13 USD. The other convenient way is to take a bus number 37 to Liberty Square.
How to pay for public transport?
You can get your metro card called MetroMoney Card in one of the ticket offices and top it up with the amount you want. The fee for the card is 2 GEL. Traveling by public transport is very cheap and easy. A single ride costs 0.5 GEL regardless of the distance. I bought my card at Liberty Square subway station. Friendly cashiers explained to me how to use it and where to get off the train to get to the point I wanted to reach. Stations name are announced via loudspeakers in Georgian and English.
What to do in Tbilisi?
Narikala and Kartlis Deda
As I mentioned before you can explore the heart of Tbilisi – the old part of the city, by foot. If you’re a hiking lover like I am, you’ll like the idea to hike up to Narikala and Kartlis Deda that are two of the main tourist attractions in Tbilisi. Narikala is an ancient castle and fortress with beautiful National Botanical Gardens of Georgia a short walk behind the fortress walls. Kartlis Deda is a monument also called the Mother of Georgia. It’s a huge, impressive statue of a woman who protects the city and its inhabitants.
If you prefer, you can also ride the cable car up from a station in Rike Park and enjoy the aerial view of the city. The ride shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes and the one-way ticket costs 2 GEL per person. To pay for the ticket you have to purchase the MetroMoney Card so get it as soon as possible. The cable car station is near Kartlis Deda. If you will choose this way to reach the top, you can still walk down the hill via Narikala fortress and the National Botanical Gardens of Georgia.
Even though this steep hill is full of tourists, it is a nice place to visit plus the view of the city from the top is amazing! Totally worth it! You will feel even more rewarded after a short hike up. I started my hike in Rike Park, crossed Mtkvari, the river with Bridge of Peace and then wandered the streets all the way up.
On the second day, I hiked at the top of Mount Mtatsmida. This time I wanted to use the cable railway to get there but Tbilisi Funicular station was closed so I had no other choice but to walk. The hike was very pleasant but took longer than I expected. In order to reach the peak, you can choose one of two paths. The first one, the one I chose, starts nearby the cable car station. If you travel there by subway you should get off the train at Rustaveli station. This path is shorter than the second one but a little bit more wild. If you are not running out of time, I would recommend you to follow Mtatsminds-Narikala Tourist Path which is longer but more enjoyable.
On top of the mountain, you will find an amusement park and several restaurants. It’s a great place for entire family. You can easily spend all day hanging out there solo, with your friends or family members. While you are in this area you can also visit Mtatsminda Pantheon where some of the most outstanding people (writers, artists, national figures) of Georgia are buried.
Enjoy Georgia to its fullest
Don’t forget to taste Georgia! Without trying the local cuisine you cannot say that you’ve experienced Georgia. If you’re a wine enthusiast you must try delicious Georgian wine and even bring some home with you. If you are a foodie – don’t leave the country without trying local food. I am an absolute fan of sulguni which is a brined cheese that goes perfectly with wine.
In case you travel alone you shouldn’t worry that you will feel lonely. Georgians are very friendly, hospitable and helpful, always keen to chat for a bit and give a helping hand in case you need one.
Have an awesome Georgian experience! I believe you’ll fall in love in this country as I did.