Most western tourists don’t dare to travel to Eastern Europe let alone going to Georgia. When I tell my friends (or family) that I am going to Georgia (the country) they often confuse it with Georgia the State in U.S.A. Georgia is still a hidden gem in Europe with its iconic monasteries, delicious wine, world renowned cuisine, pomegranate trees and friendly people.
Tbilisi, capital of Georgia is smack down in the middle of Caucus region. Historically Georgia has been tossed around among many empires – Roman, Persian, Ottoman and recently Russian. As you can imagine Georgian culture and gastronomy gets some of its influences from these empires.
1. Go to the castle for the view point
Tbilisi old city is located on both sides of Kura River enveloped by Mount Mtatsminda and the iconic Narikala fortress. The Narikala fortress was built during the 4th century by the Persians to defend against the Mongol invasion and expanded further under the Arab control during the 8th and 9th centuries. The city almost didn’t survive thanks to the devastating Persian invasion of 1795. But now it is the most vibrant city in the Caucus region.
Tbilisi is filled with tourist attractions such as old orthodox churches, museums, sulphur bathhouses, fortress, waterfalls and wooden houses with carved balconies. There is also an Armenian quarter. and a German quarter on the left bank of the Kura River.
2. Experience the Sulfur Bath treatment
Abanotubani, also known as the Bath district is famous for having several Turkish style Sulfur bathhouses and old historic houses. It is said that this is where Tbilisi was founded. You will find many round domes that host these baths which are still functional and used by the locals and tourists.
3. Visit the Monasteries
Georgia is somewhat a religious country. You can see many orthodox cathedrals in Tbilisi. The architectural style of these cathedrals is somewhat different from what you see in Ukraine or in Russia.
4. Walk around the center
Tbilisi old town is pretty small and you can walk around and explore the old town in half a day. There are pedestrian only pathways where you can take a leisurely walk and enjoy the historical churches and houses.
4. Visit the Wine country – Khaketi
Your visit to Georgia is not complete without visiting the wineries in Georgia. Luckily the wine capital of Georgia, Khaketi region is only a couple of hours away from Tbilisi. The best time to visit Khaketi is during the harvest season in October.
5. Try the Georgian delicacies
Georgia is known for its cuisine and hospitality. Some of the unique things you must try in this Caucasian kingdom include Khinkali dumplings, Kharchov soup, Khachapuri (bread filled with cheese), Barbeque with salsa, Eggplant rolls with walnut-garlic filling and much more.
Also a nice snack would be the Chuchkhela which is usually a fruit flavored nut filled delicacy. You find it everywhere in the center of Tbilisi.
Pomegranate. The country is abound with Pomegranate trees everywhere. If you are in Tbilisi I recommend you to try the juice. Also people don’t mind plucking a fruit or two from their backyard.
So what’s the best time to visit Tbilisi, Georgia? Even though Georgia gets fewer tourists compared to western European countries it is better to avoid the summer season where the city sees more tourism. I recommend March to May and October to December as the best time to visit Tbilisi.
Remember to check out the local festival Tbilisoba annual festival in early October.