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Tbilisi
capital city of the sovereign state of Georgia
Europe > Caucasus > Georgia (country) > Kartli > Tbilisi
Tbilisi (Georgian: თბილისი), archaic spelling Tiflis, is the capital city of the country of Georgia, lying on the banks of the Mtkvari River. The metropolitan area covers 726 km² (280 mi²) and has a population of approximately 1½ million (2019).
Tbilisi at night
Districts
Map of Tbilisi
Tbilisi is a big city that harbours 1.1 mln people; the Tbilisi agglomeration includes many villages on the outskirts of the city. Administratively, the city is divided into raions (districts), which have their own units of central and local government with jurisdiction over a limited scope of affairs. This subdivision was established under Soviet rule in the 1930s, following the general subdivision of the Soviet Union. Since Georgia regained independence, the raion system was modified and reshuffled. According to the latest revision, Tbilisi raions include:
Understand
Tbilisi lies in the centre of eastern Georgia, in the foothills of the Trialeti mountain range. According to Georgian legends, it was founded in the 5th century by King Vakhtang Gorgasali who, while hunting, shot a pheasant which fell into a warm spring and was either boiled or healed. Either way, the king was inspired to found a city on the site, and the name of the city derives from the Georgian word tbili meaning "warm". Although the city has been destroyed and rebuilt 29 times, the layout of the Old Town is largely intact with narrow alleys and big crooked houses built around courtyards.
Climate
Tbilisi experiences relatively cold winters and hot summers. Because the city is bounded on most sides by mountain ranges, the close proximity to large bodies of water (Black and Caspian Seas) and the fact that the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range (further to the north) blocks the intrusion of cold air masses from Russia, Tbilisi has a relatively mild micro-climate compared to other cities that possess a similar continental climate along the same latitudes. The average annual temperature in Tbilisi is 12.7 °C (54.9 °F). January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 0.9 °C (33.6 °F). July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 24.4 °C (75.9 °F). The absolute minimum recorded temperature is −24 °C (−11 °F) and the absolute maximum is 40 °C (104 °F). Average annual precipitation is 568 mm (22.4 in). May and June are the wettest months (averaging 84 mm (3.3 in) of precipitation each) while January is the driest (averaging 20 mm (0.8 in) of precipitation). Snow falls on average 15–25 days per year. The surrounding mountains often trap the clouds within and around the city, mainly during the Spring and Autumn months, resulting in prolonged rainy and/or cloudy weather. Northwesterly winds dominate in most parts of Tbilisi throughout the year. Southeasterly winds are common as well.
Tourism
1
Tourism Office, Freedom Square, Rustaveli Ave (north side of the square). Daily 09:00-21:00. They provide a free, very detailed booklet with city map. (updated Oct 2018)
Get in
By plane
1
Shota Rustaveli Tbilisi International Airport (TBS IATA, Georgian: თბილისის საერთაშორისო აეროპორტი, Tbilisis saertasoriso aeroporti), Airport St (17 km east of city centre), ☏ +995 32 310 265, fax: +995 32 310 322, ✉ info.tbs@tav.aero. Small but reasonably modern terminal. Seven food and drink outlets, four duty free shops. There is an ATM and a branch of Liberty Bank (☏ +995 322 555500). Several bureau de change operate 24/7. The three main mobile phone companies sell SIM cards in the arrivals area.
(updated Oct 2018)
See this section for the very limited domestic flights to the city.
International flights go to Tbilisi regularly from Aktau, Almaty, Amsterdam, Antalya, Athens, Baku, Doha, Donetsk, Dnipro, Dubai, Istanbul IST & SAW, Kazan, Kharkiv, Kiev KBP, London LGW, Minsk, Moscow DME & ZIA, Munich, Novosibirsk, Odessa, Paris CDG, Prague, Riga, Rome, Rostov-on-Don, Sochi, St Petersburg, Tallinn, Tel Aviv, Vienna, Vilnius, Warsaw, Yekaterinburg and Yerevan. There are summer seasonal flights to the Med and Red Sea resorts.
You may also want to consider arriving in the Kutaisi airport. Flight prices from Asia and Europe can be as low as €20-30. The low fare routes are (as of May 2021) from Vienna, Larnaca, Prague, Tallin, Berlin, Dortmund, Memmingen, Athens, Thessaloniki, Budapest, Milan, Rome, Riga, Vilnius, Gdansk, Katowice, Kraków, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw and Abu Dhabi. From Kutaisi to Tbilisi you go 4 hours in a marshrutka for 20 lari. Or you can take the train.
From Tbilisi airport to the city
Bus 37/137 leaves from the right corner of the arrival area. From 07:00 to 22:35 every 20-30 min, and 23:00 to 06:30 every 30 min. Via Avlabari, Freedom Square, Rustaveli, Republic Square and Tamar Bridge to the main train station; allow 50 min. The fare is 0.50 lari. Coins (or a Metromoney Card) are required to purchase a ticket – get them by exchanging a small amount of money and ask for a 50 tetri coin. Also see: (Tbilisi Transport Company[dead link])
Taxis between the airport and the city cost 20–30 lari. Standard rates are listed on a board by the taxi rank as you exit the airport, on the right hand side. As of early 2019, the tourist information in the airport quotes 30–50 lari, but Yandex.Taxi, Cabify and Bolt can already be had for 20 lari. Beware: taxi drivers (even of the "official" taxis) outside might insist that the official rate is 80 lari.
Trains to the airport cost 0.50 lari and take 35 min, pay the conductor. But there are only two trains a day, from Tbilisi at 07:50 and 16:55, from the airport at 08:35 and 17:40.
By train
2
Tbilisi Central Station (თბილისი ცენტრალი; Tbilisi Tsentrali), Station Square (Sadguris Moedani) (Metro stop: Station Square). After an extensive refurbishment, the lower levels are now a shopping mall. Tickets and platforms are on the upper levels. There's no Wifi at the station.
(updated Oct 2018)
Domestic trains
Trains run twice daily between Tbilisi and Batumi, departing each city around 07:30 and 17:30 and taking 5 hr. These trains also connect to Yerevan (Armenia).
Trains also run from Gori, Borjomi, Kutaisi I + II, Marneuli, Poti and Zugdidi.
International trains
Baku – Trains run daily: a 2nd class sleeper berth (4 places) is 57.10 lari, 1st class (2 places, not superposed) is around 100 lari. Train 37 departs Tbilisi around 20:30 arriving in Baku around 09:00 (train 38 departs Baku 21:00 and reaches Tbilisi around 10:40). Buy tickets on the top floor of the mall-station, then descend to lower floor to access the platform. There is currency exchange but it will be closed in the evening. The border is 1 hr out from Tbilisi; procedures may take 2-3 hr. No catering, but hot water is available. Upper beds are actually 5 lari less. For more information also checkout Baku#By train.
Yerevan – There is a brand new train servicing Tbilisi to Yerevan. All of the information which follows this sentence may be outdated.
An overnight train runs between Tbilisi and Yerevan in Armenia. From Oct to mid-June this departs from Tbilisi (as Train 371) at 20:20 on odd dates of the month, reaching the border at 22:00 and Yerevan 06:55 next morning. It departs from Yerevan (as Train 372) at 21:30 on even dates, reaching the border at 04:20 and Tbilisi at 07:50. The 31st/1st of the month may be skipped to maintain the alternation. Border procedures either side take 90 min. In summer these trains may be booked out for days ahead, so buy your ticket as soon as possible - you can do so online. The coaches are standard ex-Soviet behemoths, but with fairly comfortable sleeping compartments. No catering, so bring your own food, water, vodka etc.
The one way fare is 54.50/61.25 lari (upper/lower bed) in 3rd class, and about 90 lari in a 2nd class sleeper berth. 3rd class can be sticky and uncomfortable if it is fully booked—check ahead.
From mid-June through Sept this train runs daily from Batumi on the Black Sea coast. As Train 201, it departs Batumi 15:35 and Tbilisi 22:15, reaching Yerevan at 07:25. As Train 202, it departs Yerevan 15:30 and Tbilisi 00:45, reaching Batumi at 07:10. Other domestic trains link Tbilisi and Batumi. Batumi is close to the Sarpi/Hopa border crossing between Georgia and Turkey, which is the main overland route into this region.
Ankara – The long-delayed railway between Tbilisi and Ankara via Kars is expected to have its inaugural passenger service in early 2020.
By bus or marshrutka
Prices, marshrutka drivers and travel hours
Since marshrutkas are privately owned vehicles, some drivers try to charge tourists several lari more than locals. If you want to save a penny, ask a local about the price and give money straight to the driver or pay at a ticket office (სალარო) if such exists.
Also, start early, because marshrutkas mostly start in the morning and become sparse in the afternoon. After 16:00 it can be hard to catch a marshrutka to/from Tbilisi, or any other city in Georgia for that matter.
There are three main bus stations in Tbilisi, and several smaller ones. In Georgian, bus station is ავტოსადგური or ავტოვაგზალი. Most often than not, large bus stations are located adjacent to big train stations (called sadguri სადგური or vagzaliვაგზალი). To transfer between Didube and Ortachala, use marshrutka 150 or metro.
3
Station Square bus station, Station Square and along Abastumani street (Located in the large plaza in front of the train station and along Abastumani street.). This station generally serves larger cities in Georgia: Kutaisi, Batumi, Zugdidi, Telavi, Rustiavi, Gori, Akhaltsikhe, Borjomi, but also has buses from/to Mestia.
(updated Dec 2020)
Didube bus station:
  Zone 1: Western Georgia and Rustavi
  Zone 2: Mtskheta-Mtianeti region
  Zone 3: taxi, Imereti region, Russia
  Zone 4: Western Georgia
  Zone 5: Western Georgia
  Zone 6: Western Georgia
  Zone 7: Shida Kartli and Imereti
4
Didube bus station (დიდუბე ავტოსადგური), Akaki Tsereteli Ave (2 km north of downtown, via metro "Didube" stop (fastest option), or marshrutkas 6 and bus 46 from Freedom Square, and bus 21 from the center—ask the driver, or a younger local, when to get off). For all north-western and western destinations, incl. Turkey, Russia and Greece. Regular bus lines run from inside the terminal, occasional and private operators run from the small street around the station. Has regular connections between Tbilisi and Mtskheta, Stepantsminda/Kazbegi (for Russia). (updated Oct 2018)
5
Avlabari bus station (right across the side road from the north exit of the metro). Regular connections from/to Kilikia bus station in Yerevan, Armenia—every other hour between 09:00-17:00, 40 lari. From Yerevan the go 08:30, 10:30, 13:00, 15:00, and 17:00 for 7,000 dram. Phone: +995593229554, +995592408800, +37494929281, +37494414748, +37443305555. They go by Alaverdi village, shortly after the border, and of course Vanadzor. According to other travellers, the marshrutkas from this station are far more reliable and modern than the ones at Ortachala. (updated Nov 2019)
6
Ortachala bus station (ორთაჭალის ავტოსადგური / "Central" Station, though it's 4 km SE of centre), Dimitri Gulia St 1 / Vakhtang Gorgasali St (Marshrutka 70, 81, and 150; nearest Metro Isani is across river 1 km north), ☏ +995 32 753433. Serves southern destination like Marneuli and Rustavi, including Armenia and Russia, as well as Qax and Zaqatala in the northwest pocket of Azerbaijan. Money-change and ATM available. Toilets are squalid, 1 lari. (updated Oct 2018)
7
Samgori bus station (სამგორის), Ketevan Tsamebuli Ave (east of the city, 300 m from Samgori metro station). This serves (less frequently) the east Georgian towns of Sighnaghi and Telavi (updated Oct 2018)
By thumb
Getting into Tbilisi through hitch-hiking is mostly not a problem, because most people go into the centre. And even a little further away, you can always catch a cheap (yellow) bus the last metres.
Getting out though can be challenging, as you need to find a place where the traffic goes to where you want. It is best to take a marshrutka or regular bus a few kilometres out of the city and start from there. Also, check the Hitchwiki for detailed instructions.
Get around
Map of Tbilisi
Tsereteli metro station
The primary transport inside and outside the Tbilisi city are metro, buses and marshrutka (converted transport vans aka minibuses aka microbuses). Taxis are also cheap, but two-wheeled transport is rarely seen and pedestrians have to contend with significant neglect of the pavements. As far as motorists are concerned pedestrians are allowed to use zebra crossings, but when doing so they do not have priority over vehicular traffic. However, pedestrians do have the advantage of being able to cross the pedestrian only peace bridge and travel on the cable car and funiculars.
To find the correct bus route, GoogleMaps has comprehensive bus network information with numbers and routes. If you click on one of the numerous bus stops around the city or next to you, you will get displayed the bus lines, their routes and frequency.
Metromoney
This IC card can be used for most of Tbilisi's transport options. While trolleybuses and marshrutkas can also be paid with cash, metro and cable car require the Metromoney card.
The card gives discounts when transferring between metro and trolleybuses, specifically the first ride is 0.50 lari and all subsequent rides are free within the next 1½ hr. Several people can use one card together, however, only the first person can profit from the free transfer.
You can buy the card at any metro station, with an one-time non-refundable deposit of 2 lari. The card can be topped up with any amount in metro stations or at Bank of Georgia pay-booths around the city.
By metro
Freedom Square metro station
Tbilisi Metro logo
Tbilisi has a two-line metro system, which operates from 06:00–24:00. However, sometimes the last metros leave at around 23:00 from either end.
All signs inside the metro are in Georgian and English, but station name signs are not always visible from the train. Station names are also announced in two languages. There are rarely system maps on the train cars themselves. You will be lucky to find English speakers riding the Metro. You will however have better luck with Russian which is widely spoken. Take a bilingual map with you if you are not proficient with the local alphabet/pronunciation.
A trip with the Metromoney card costs 0.50 lari.
Some newer metro cars have USB charging ports near the doors so that passengers can charge their phone. Cell coverage exists in most stations.
By trolleybus
City buses are yellow, and come in various sizes. The bus number and a description of the route are usually listed on signs in the bus windows, but only in Georgian. The city has installed electronic arrival boards, with reasonably accurate estimated arrival times, at bus stops on major roads. The signs alternate between English and Georgian and display the bus number, minutes to arrival and destination.
Board through any door you like, usually the double doors in the middle are easiest. A journey costs 0.50 lari, payable by exact change or Metromoney. Hold onto the ticket you receive on the bus—you will need to present it to the yellow-shirted ticket checkers.
By marshrutka
Minibuses (aka marshrutkas) in downtown Tbilisi
Marshrutkas are vans which service the side streets of the city. They are independently owned. Like buses, the route is posted in the front window (often only in Georgian), but marshrutkas use a different route numbering system, and the route descriptions may be more general than the buses, e.g. "Vake" rather than a specific street in the Vake area. The fare is mostly 0.80 lari. If paid with Metromoney, every trip after the first one during the day is reduced to 0.65 lari.
Shout "Stop" or "Gaacheret" when you want to get off, and hand the driver your fare on the way out.
By taxi
Kura river, Tbilisi
Taxis in Tbilisi are typically privately owned vehicles, and are not metered. If you're going anywhere other than the nearest metro station, major hotels, or tourist destinations, or if you don't speak Georgian or Russian, it's likely that your driver will stop multiple times and ask pedestrians for directions. Even then, he may not know how to get to your destination. If the driver has difficulty finding your destination, he will charge you for his trouble. Always negotiate a price beforehand, unless it is a metered taxi. Prices start at 2 lari for very short trips. A trip in the center of town should rarely cost more than 3–5 lari, and anywhere in the city should never cost more than 15 lari. The taxi drivers can be persistent when trying to get customers.
Consider making an account with Bolt, MAXIM or Yandex.Taxi. They are quite cheap and especially going with several people more convenient. They can also help when the metro is closed and you are stuck—mostly less than 1 lari per km. If you are 3-4 people taxi is an inexpensive alternative to even marshrutkas.
By car
End on parking is widespread, but the ubiquitous informal parking attendants will help you reverse out into the traffic. It is all part of the service they offer in return for the usual tip.
See
Dolmens in the Ethnographical Open-Air Museum
Freedom Square
Museums
Religious architecture
Other sights
Buildings
Nearby (50-150 km) popular sights that allow for a day trip from Tbilisi are Mtskheta, Uplistsikhe, David Gareja Monastery Complex, Dmanisi archaeological site, Sighnaghi and Rustavi with its Sioni Church and the Auto Trade Center, the biggest market for used cars in the Caucasus.
Do
Narikala fortress at night
1
Sulphur Baths (Abanotubani), Bath Street (აბანოს ქუჩა) (from Metro Avlabari 1 km SW, south side of the Metekhi bridge). The main bath district is easy to spot with its small domes on ground level. There are several small baths offering different levels of comfort. The baths are relatively small, and you may have to wait for a pool to become available. English service is not guaranteed. Massages are available; however, they are more like a washing, but well worth it for the experience. You should bring your own towel and beach sandals but also they are available for a small fee, but pricey compared to the 3 lari if you use the public bath. Some travellers have suggested the Royal Baths is a much better alternative to Sulphur Baths (they are next to each other). Sulphur baths tend to double the price at the end of the massage and bath in spite of your original agreed price. Private pool: 50–200 lari/hr; massage/scrub 5–20 lari. 
The Funicular reopened in December 2012
Theatres
Events
Tbilisi Marathon. Held annually in October, with full & half-marathon, 10 km race and kids' runs. The start and finish is at Rustaveli Avenue. The last event was 30 Sept 2018, the 2019 date has not yet been announced.​Participation fee 10 lari/10 km and 15 lari/Half marathon. (updated Oct 2018)
Buy
Money
Money exchange kiosks generally have a spread of less than 1% between "buy" and "sell" rates for major currencies—excellent value by western standards.
Shopping
Shops and restaurants around Kote Afkhazi Street (i.e. Old Tbilisi) are overpriced tourist-trippy-rippy places, double or more of what you pay elsewhere.
What
Where
Markets:
2nd hand:
Tbilisi is a great place to get cheap and good quality 2nd-hand cloths. Sure, there is lots of cheap stuff from China all over this city, but considering environment and durability, you are probably better off with the former.
Various:
Eat
Georgian cuisine
Street side stalls selling Georgian fast food are all over the city. Some kind of hot snack will cost 0.70-2.50 lari.
KGB Still watching you
Asian cuisine
European and American
Italian cuisine
Other
Some outlets of sterile international hamburger "restaurants" exist, also some "freed chicken" imitators in the city, offering the same kind of material Americans consider "food" at prices which are high by local standards.
Drink
One is never far from a corner store opening late selling the bare essentials of life late into the night, which always include booze and bread. Georgia is known as the cradle of wine having produced wine since the neolithic period; and locals are very proud of this. Georgian wine was and still is the best in post-Soviet culture and there are many wine tasting shops in the upmarket areas of the city where wine culture is greatly respected. Try one of the famous wines from Kakheti or the other popular regions.
It is possible to have a great night you may or may not remember for only 10 or 15 lari if you follow students to the cheaper bars where tourists are welcome, but you might be shortchanged a few lari.
Also of note (especially for non-drinkers) is the famous Georgian "Laghidze Waters", sweet drinks based on soda and natural fruit and herb syrups, listed as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Georgia. There is a Laghidze Waters restaurant in Tbilisi selling the genuine article, but Natakhtari is quite similar and sold in corner shops all over.
Bars
Cafés
Tbilisi is the one city in Georgia where coffee vending machines 0.50-0.80 lari may be found, though with a huge load of sugar.
Unless you would like to forget you are in Tbilisi and drink in fancy expensive places where only tourists and immigrants may be found, Chardini and its connecting streets should be avoided as the most blatant tourist trap in the country. The best pubs and cafes in Tbilisi are tucked in unlikely looking side streets of the Old City, often underground or sometimes without even a sign to mark their presence. Keep your eyes and ears open.
Clubs
Be wary about scams and tourist traps – see #Stay safe below. Some shady clubs/bars have specialised in forcing tourists to pay unjustified amounts of money for drinks and services, especially strip bars. If it's shiny and classy, be wary.
Wineries
Sleep
Budget
Due to the countless budget options, prices have dropped significantly in the city. Check out prices on the usual suspect websites and turn up on site stating the price; hostel owners will happily give you the online rate, so they can skip the fee they pay via such websites.
Mid-range
Splurge
Stay safe
Tbilisi is very safe after the Rose Revolution. You will be welcomed with the cheerful hospitality that is a hallmark of Georgian culture. The police system was reformed completely and the public's trust in police rose dramatically. The police are usually quick to respond, though usually only Georgian and Russian are spoken.
While walking is generally fine, even for solo women, it makes sense to take a bus or taxi home at night. Use common sense and big-city awareness. Night time at the clubs and bars are generally safe but fights between locals can escalate quickly. The taxi service is safe as long as it's a company taxi like "009" or others. The public bus is also a good, safe option for 0.50 lari.
Extreme caution should be exercised when frequenting any establishment in the "Shardeni" area, between Kote Apkhazi street and the river, on streets "Chardin", "Bambis Rigi", and "Rkinis Rigi". These bars, clubs, and restaurants are well known for operating expensive scams, charging upwards of US$1,000 for a few drinks and forcing tourists to pay. Although a few establishments in this area have a reasonable reputation, such as "KGB", it is safer and cheaper to completely avoid this area. This is the only area of the city where such caution should be taken.
As always, cab drivers will try to cheat tourists; especially coming from the airport, rigging the meter, misrepresenting the value of the lari or quoting a price in lari then demanding payment in US dollars. Stand your ground and walk away if necessary.
Beggars have become more aggressive in the tourist areas, children may cling to the legs of wealthy-looking tourists or several adults may cling to a tourist whilst pickpocketing them; yell for help and fight back- unfortunately the police appear to be in on this and will often turn a blind eye; or encourage you to let the perpetrators go.
Stay healthy
2
Medi Club Georgia, 22a, Tashkenti St (Metro: "Medical University" 300 m walk to Taskent lane corner opp- of its), ☏ +995 32 2251991, +995 599 581991 (Emergency), fax: +995 32 2250911, ✉​mcg@mediclubgeorgia.ge​. One of designated medical clinic for foreigners—meaning overpriced. Apparently, official bills from here are accepted more commonly by international health insurances, but this really depends on your insurance. 
Cope
The Government postal service is notorious for being over-priced and unreliable with many thefts, and lost or damaged packages. Use a private postal company for anything important.
Embassies
More details here: https://www.embassypages.com/georgia
Go next
Within Georgia
Day trips
East
Not far east of Tbilisi is the beginning of the Kakheti region with various sights, including:
North
West
All sights are covered under the according region article and its cities, especially Rioni Region, Samtskhe-Javakheti and Northwestern Georgia. Some highlights:
Armenia
Azerbaijan

This city travel guide to Tbilisi is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.

Last edited on 3 August 2021, at 16:50
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