Facts about Tbilisi
The most important theatres are the Griboyedov Theatre, where Russian dramas have been performed since 1845, and the State Academic Theatre Shota Rustaveli, founded in 1921. The main museums are the National Simon Janashia Museum on Rustaweli Street and the State Museum of Arts on Freedom Square (Tavisuplebas Moedani).
The Festivals Tbilisoba and Art Gene
Throughout the year, Tbilisi hosts numerous cultural festivals that are well worth a visit. Tbilisoba is one of the most important and most popular events among the locals. The capital city festival takes place every last weekend in October in the old town and in Rike Park. Surrounded by a festive, exuberant atmosphere, numerous open-air concerts and performances are presented. Everywhere, traders sell handicrafts, delicious traditional food and Georgian wine.
The Art Gene festival takes place every summer in various places in Georgia – including Tbilisi, of course. The festival is dedicated to Georgian music, dance, culture and traditional crafts. The musicians inspire the visitors with their concerts, craftsmen present their art and give courses and you can taste Georgian food everywhere. The Art Gene Festival is the ideal event to immerse yourself in Georgian culture.
Other interesting events are the Tbilisi International Festival of Theatre, which takes place for two weeks in September or October, and the Tbilisi International Film Festival, which takes place in November or December.
Nightlife in Tbilisi is becoming increasingly popular
At night, there also is a lot going on in the Georgian capital. Those who come to Tbilisi for the first time as a tourist will inevitably end up at Shardeni Street, a party mile consisting of two parallel alleys full of restaurants, bars and clubs, when visiting the old town in the evening. The audience mainly consists of tourists, the prices are relatively high and the service of reasonable quality.
Aghmashenebeli Street on the other side of the river Mtkvari is similar, but a little quieter. It was partly made car-free and now there are also bars and restaurants lined up.
Of course one should have a look at these two streets. But the authentic nightlife takes place elsewhere, as you can read in our tips.
Restaurants in Tbilisi
Based on the recipes of a more than 100-year-old cookbook by Barbara Jorjadze, the Barbarestan Restaurant team spoils its guests with old, traditional Georgian dishes that in this form cannot be found anywhere else in Georgia. The atmosphere in the vaulted cellar is unique, the furnishings are vintage and the service is outstanding. Most of the seats are inside. There are only 2-3 small tables outside. Address: Davit Aghmashenebeli avenue 132, Tbilisi
The Meama in the old town of Tbilisi is a new restaurant. The restaurant, which is located in one of the historic houses with blue balconies, is enchanting even at first glance. But the food, mostly traditional Georgian dishes, which are interpreted in a new and modern way, is excellent as well. What you should definitely try with the internationally renowned chef, Levan Kobiashvili, are his modern creations of the Ajarian speciality Kaimagi or Pelamushi cakes. The 75-percent Chacha served in the Meama is not for the faint hearted. Address: Dzmebi Zdanevichebi Street 8, Tbilisi
The Shavi Lomi, «black lion» in English, opened in 2011 and is a real eye-catcher right from the very first glance: The interior, which is reminiscent of a mix of flea market and art gallery, and the beautiful, secluded garden give the guests a pleasant feeling. The Shavi Lomi serves traditional dishes of Georgian cuisine on the one hand, but on the other hand guests can also enjoy newly interpreted dishes. Address: Zurab Kvlividze Street 28, Tbilisi
If you want to turn night into day, we recommend a visit to one of the following bars or clubs.
Bars and clubs in Tbilisi
The Drama Bar is located directly on Shota Rustaveli Avenue on the upper floor of a historic house – with a view of the magnificent boulevard. The spartanly furnished bar with dim light is especially popular with locals. Address: Shota Rustaveli Avenue 37, Tbilisi
The Bassiani is the largest and certainly one of the most popular clubs in Tbilisi. It is located directly below the football stadium «Dinamo Arena». Top DJs from all over the world regularly play in the Bassiani. Address: Akaki Tsereteli Avenue 2, Tbilisi
The Cafe Gallery is located more or less directly on Shota Rustaveli Street, a few meters from Rustaveli Metro Station. During the day, the Cafe Gallery is a cosy, vintage-style café. At night, however, the tables are cleared away and the lamps pulled up to the high ceiling, turning the place into one of the city's hottest clubs. Address: Alexander Griboedov Street 34, Tbilisi
Khidi means «bridge» in Georgian, because the hip club is located right next to the Bagrationi Bridge in Tbilisi. Resident DJs like Boston 168, Fiedel, Luigi Tozzi, Vulkanski and many more provide the right music at night. Address: President Heydar Aliyev Embankment, Vakhushti Bagrationi Bridge, Tbilisi
A history full of conquests
Tbilisi was not always so vibrant and full of life. After Persians had left their first traces in the 4th century with the construction of the Nariqala fortress on Tbilisi's present territory, the Georgian king Wachtang Gorgassali I conquered the town in the 5th century, turned it into a city and made Tbilisi his capital.
Over the following centuries, Tbilisi was conquered several times: Arabs, Persians, Byzantines and Seljuk invaded the city successively. After Davit Aghmashenebeli, known as David the Builder, succeeded in liberating Tbilisi and making it one of the richest cities of the Middle Age, it was devastated again in the 13th century by the Choresmians. Tbilisi then belonged to the kingdom of Timur Leng (also known as Tamerlan). Two invasions by the Turks followed, before the city was conquered by the Persians in 1795 and completely destroyed during the Battle of Krtsanisi.
Tbilisi during Russian Empire and Soviet Union
The eventful history of the city and the entire country, marked by hostile takeovers, was far from over: in 1801, Georgia was annexed by the Russian Empire. Between 1918 and 1921, the country was able to regain its independence as the Democratic Republic of Georgia, but this was followed by 70 years of membership of the Soviet Union.
After Georgia declared itself independent again on 9 April 1991, difficult years followed for the small Caucasus republic and its capital Tbilisi: poverty, a devastated economy, crime, corruption and high unemployment depressed the mood in Tbilisi in the 1990s. Since the millennium, however, the city – and the whole country – has been on a continuous upward trend.
Tourism in Tbilisi is booming
The whole economy has developed well in recent years, especially tourism. More and more tourists come to Tbilisi every year to admire sights such as the historic old town with its colourful wooden balconies, the Nariqala fortress, or the Tsminda Sameba church. More and more people want to profit from the boom. Hotels and guesthouses are springing up like mushrooms and the builders are trying to outdo each other with larger and more modern buildings. Every medal has two sides, it is no different in Tbilisi.
How to get to Tbilisi
The best route to Tbilisi from Western Europe is via Balkan, Bulgaria and Turkey. We don't recommend the route via Ucraine and the North Caucasus (Russia).
There are regular minibus connections to Tbilisi from nearly every city and village in Georgia. It's the cheapest way to travel in Georgia.
A large number of airlines fly to the Tbilisi International Airport. Amongst others, there are are direct flight from Athens, Brussels, Istanbul, London, Kiev, Moscow, Munich, St. Petersburg, Tel Aviv, Warsaw and Vienna.
There are several train connections from different countries to Tbilisi.
Things to do in Tbilisi
Located at the northwestern end of the Tbilisi reservoir, the Chronicles of Georgia monument tells all the important aspects of the Georgian history and offers a fantastic view on the city of Tbilisi. Read more ...
At night, the Bridge of Peace, which in Georgian is called Mshvidobis Khidi, is particularly worth seeing because more than 1,000 LEDs will then provide a fantastic play of light. Read more ...