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Tbilisi Self-Guided Walking Tour: A Georgia Experience

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At first glance, Tbilisi, Georgia can be overwhelming. The contrasting architectural styles, the congested and chaotic city streets and an alphabet that is more beautiful than decipherable can all boggle the mind. With this Tbilisi Walking Tour, however, you can quickly get acquainted with the fascinating capital city of Georgia (the country).

 

Self Guided Walking Tour Tbilisi: Top Tips

Before you set of on this Tbilisi free walking tour, there are a few things to know. Having a basic understanding will help you get around and more deeply experience Tbilisi.

 

Tbilisi History

Tbilisi is a complex city with an ancient history and a relatively recent independence. The Georgian capital city dates to the 5th century AD, although there had been settlements on the land as early as the 4th century BC.

Tbilisi is where Europe meets Asia and was on the historic route of the Silk Road. The city has long been an important cultural and political center of the Caucasus.

Our Tbilisi Self-Guided Walking Tour is an introduction to the best sights of the city – old and new.

 

Tbilisi Walking Tour Map and Directions

We highly recommend getting a Tbilisi Map for this free walking tour. Free maps, in English, are available at the Tbilisi Tourism Information Centers (there is one in Pushkin Park, which is on the north side of Freedom Square).

To help get you from sight-to-sight, we have provided written walking directions. Plus we include a printable City Tour Tbilisi Map at the end of the article.

Additionally, we have provided a link to Google Maps for each sight, but you will need to be connected to the internet to access them while on the walk. We use GlocalMe Pocket WiFi to stay connected when we are abroad and out exploring new destinations.

Otherwise, consider using Google Offline Maps…or at the very least take screen shots of the route prior to setting out on the Tbilisi Self-Guided Walking Tour.

Keep in mind that street signs are few and far between – and likely not in the Latin alphabet.

 

How Long is the Self Guided Tbilisi Walking Tour? 

The duration of the free walking tour will depend on your pace, interest and ability to navigate the city streets. Plan to spend about 3 hours walking in Tbilisi at minimum. 


 

Tbilisi Self-Guided Walking Tour

Where to get the Best view of Tbilisi, Georgia

Start your Tbilisi Self-Guided Walking Tour by hiking up or taking the Cable Car to the…

 

#1 Narikala Fortress, Tbilisi 

Map Link to Narikala Fortress

Looking up at the Narikala Fortress, Tbilisi 

The ancient Narikala Fortress dominates the steep hill rising above the Tbilisi Old Town. Built in the 4th century, the fortress was expanded and damaged many times throughout history, leaving little more than an impressive wall standing today. The church at the fortress, St. Nicholas, was built in the late 1990s on the site of a 13th century church that burnt to the ground.

The Narikala Fortress is free to enter and explore (at your own risk; use common sense). The views of Tbilisi from the fortress are phenomenal (which is exactly why the fortress was built where it was) and we particularly enjoyed sunset from the fortress walls.

From the Narikala Fortress, walk west past the Cable Car Station to the…

 

#2 Mother of Georgia Statue

Map Link to Mother of Georgia Statue

Mother of Georgia, Tbilisi, Georgia

The aluminum Mother of Georgia Statue (Kartlis Deda) stands 65-feet-tall on the Sololaki Ridge watching over her beloved country. She both welcomes and defends her land: wine in one hand for friends and a sword in the other for enemies. The statue was erected in 1958 to celebrate Tbilisi’s 1500th birthday.

On the road that leads from the fortress to the statue, we encountered some inventive purchase opportunities: a cafe operating from the back of van, homemade “only pay if you like it” chacha liquor and a pay-to-play spin-and-win homemade wheel of fun.

Retrace your steps to the Cable Car Station. Behind the station, find the stairs that lead down to the entrance to the…

 

#3 National Botanical Garden of Georgia

Map Link to National Botanical Garden of Georgia

Founded in 1625 as the Fortress Gardens and converted into an official botanical garden in 1845, the National Botanical Garden of Georgia is located in the Tsavkisis-Tskali Gorge on the southern side of the Sololaki Ridge. The gardens cover 400 acres of land and feature 4,500 species of plants, several footpaths and a 130-foot-tall waterfall. The western end of the park backs up to the pool of an ultra-modern private residence, which belongs to Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia’s former Prime Minister (2012-2013) and the country’s richest citizen.

Fee: 4 GEL ($1.20 USD).

Leave the National Botanical Garden at the eastern entrance on Botanikuri Street. Walk past the Tbilisi Mosque – which dates to 1895 and is a place where both Shia and Sunni Muslims pray together – and follow the road as it curves north. At the end of the street, turn right (east) and walk to the garden (Haydar Aliyev). Turn right (south) and walk into…

 

#4 Abanotubani District Tbilisi – The Bathhouses

Map Link to Abanotubani

According to legend, in the 5th century, King Vakhtang Gorgasali was so taken by the sulphur spring water in what is now the Abanotubani district that he declared the land the new capital. He called the new city Tbilisi, which means ‘warm.’

Whether or not that is true, the history of bathhouses in Tbilisi stretches back over 2000 years, as people have long been attracted to the hot, healing water – and evidence proves Roman baths were present in the 1st century AD.

The pungent-smelling sulphur water is naturally heated by the earth (75-105 degrees Fahrenheit), which is pooled and piped through the bathhouses. At one time, there were more than 60 bathhouses in the area. Today, there are five functional baths and their distinctive brick domes in the Abanotubani district can’t be missed.

Pro Tip: Read about our experience and the Tbilisi Sulphur Baths to prepare for your visit!

Tbilisi Sulphur Baths Our Experience by JetSettingFools.com

From the bathhouses, walk north (toward the river) to Vakhtang Gorgasali Street. Turn left (west) and walk to the Metekhi Bridge. Turn right (northeast) and cross the bridge. After crossing the bridge, if the gates on your right to the lower chapel are open, take a detour down to the riverside and take a peek inside. Past the gate, stay to the right (east) on Metekhi Rise – and then turn right (south), followed by another immediate right (west) into the parking lot of the…

 

#5 Metekhi Church of Assumption and King Gorgasali Statue

Map Link to Metekhi Church and Gorgasali Statue

In the 5th century, after King Vakhtang Gorgasali declared Tbilisi the new capital, a church and palace were built on the cliff overlooking the Mtkvari River. Destroyed in 1235 by the Mongols, a new Georgian Orthodox church, the Metekhi Church of Assumption, was built between 1278 and 1284. Although the church was damaged and expanded, used as barracks and as a theater, and was set to be destroyed, it survived – and has been functioning again as a church since 1988.

The enormous equestrian statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasali was erected in 1967 on the cliff where the king first settled in Tbilisi. He is looking over the Mtkvari River toward the hot springs.

Leave the Metekhi Church via the parking lot and turn right (south) onto Metekhi Rise. Follow the road as it sharply turns left (east) and walk to Metekhi Street. Turn left (north) and follow the street to the large roundabout (look to your left for the underground pedestrian walkway and cross to the north). Continue walking north on Lado Meskhishvili Street to Samreklo Street. Turn right (northeast) to the entrance of the…

 

#6 Sameba Cathedral, Tbilisi

Map Link to Sameba Cathedral

Located on Elia Hill on the left bank of the river is the grandiose Sameba Cathedral. Many say the church is a symbol of the renewed Georgian spirit that has flourished since regaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Standing at 330-feet-tall and able to accommodate 15,000 people, the cathedral – also called the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi – ranks worldwide as the third tallest Eastern Orthodox cathedral and one of the largest religious buildings (by total area). The cathedral complex includes the Patriarch residence, a monastery, a school of theology and nine chapels, five of which are underground.

The cathedral was built between 1995 and 2004, however, it was intended to be built several years earlier to commemorate 2,000 years of Christianity and 1,500 years of independence of the Georgian Orthodox church.

As impressive as the church is from afar, it is even more so up close. However, we were a little surprised to find that neither the grounds, nor the interior, are yet complete. 

Leave the Sameba Cathedral and walk southwest on Samreklo Street. Continue walking on the street (the name changes to Malkhaz Abdushelishvili Street) to the…

 

#7 Presidential Palace, Tbilisi, Georgia

Map Link to Presidential Palace

Georgian Presidential Palace, Tbilisi, Georgia

Housing the Presidential Administration of Georgia, the Presidential Palace eloquently sits high on a cliff on the left bank of the Mtkvari river. The president of Georgia is the highest government position in the country, a position which was incorporated in 1991 after Georgia declared independence from the Soviet Union.

The building, originally used for the military, was redesigned in 2009. Although visiting is off limits, you can peek through the side gate for an up-close view.

From the north gate of the Presidential Palace, walk north on Elene Akhvelediani Rise and take the stairs down to N Baratashvili Garden. At the major street, take the underground pedestrian walkway to the west side of the street and continue walking south past the tubular structures to the terrace. Enjoy the view, then take the stairs that lead down to…

 

#8 Rike Park, Tbilisi

Map Link to Rike Park

Rike Park sits on the bank on the Mtkvari River below the Presidential Palace. The spacious park has several gardens, walking paths and play areas. The distinctive features, however, are the dancing musical fountains, a cable car to Narikala Fortress, an enormous piano and two tubular concert halls.

Leave Rike Park via the…

 

#9 Peace Bridge, Tbilisi

Map Link to Peace Bridge

The contemporary pedestrian bridge, which is made of steel and glass and is illuminated at night by 30,000 LED lights, is a symbol of Georgia’s path to a brighter future. The 490-foot-long Peace Bridge opened in 2010, to rave reviews and criticism.

Some think the modern structure looks out of place in the heart of the Old Town and the unique shape have earned it interesting nicknames, like Sushi Bridge and Always Ultra (referring to the maxi-pad shape). Regardless, a walk across the bridge provides stunning views of Tbilisi’s Old Town.

After crossing the bridge, continue walking west to Erekle II Street. Turn right (north) and walk along the street (which changes name to Shavteli Street after crossing Antimoz Ivereli Lane) to the…

 

#10 Anchiskhati Basilica of St. Mary, Tbilisi

Map Link to Anchiskhati Basilica of St. Mary

Anchiskhati Basilica of St. Mary, the oldest church in Tbilisi, Georgia

The 6th century Anchiskhati Basilica of St. Mary is the oldest church in Tbilisi. Although the church was originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it was renamed in 1675 when the church received an icon (icon of Ancha), which is now on display at the Art Museum of Georgia.

From the Anchiskhati Basilica of St. Mary, walk north on Shavteli Street, zigzagging left to the…

 

#11 Theater Clock Tower, Tbilisi

Map Link to Clock Tower

Unusual clock tower at theater on Shavteli Stret in Tbilisi, Georgia

The unusual Clock Tower next to the puppet theater on Shavteli Street was built in 2010. Although it is new, it resembles many of the buildings in the Old Town that lean at various angles and are propped up by support beams. On the hour, an angel emerges from the tower and strikes a bell – and at noon and 7pm, a short (and overrated) show called, ‘The Circle of Life,’ is played.

From the Clock Tower, continue walking north on Shavteli Street to N. Baratashvili Street. Turn left (west) and walk, following the road as it turns south (and changes name to Pushkin Street) and walk into…

 

#12 Freedom Square, Tbilisi, Georgia

Map Link to Freedom Square

Freedom Square and St. George Liberty monument, Tbilisi, Georgia

Freedom Square – really a large traffic roundabout connecting six streets– is a hub of activity in the center of the city.

Under Soviet rule, it was called Lenin Square. A statue of Lenin that stood in the center was torn down in 1991 and was replaced by the Liberty (or Freedom) Monument in 2006, which is topped by a golden St. George slaying the dragon.

The square is often used for celebrations and demonstrations – and is the site of an assassination attempt on President G.W. Bush. Notable buildings on the square include the Tbilisi City Hall, the former Bank of Georgia and the Marriot International.

From Freedom Square, walk northwest on…

 

#13 Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi

Map Link to Rustaveli Avenue

A main thoroughfare through Tbilisi, Rustaveli Avenue runs northwest from Freedom Square. The tree-lined street is home to many of Tbilisi’s cultural buildings, such as the Georgian National Opera, the Rustaveli Theater and the National Museum.

At #8 Rustaveli is the…

 

#14 Parliament Building, Tbilisi

Map Link to Parliament Building

Parliament Building at #8 Rustaveli Street in Tbilisi, Georgia

The grand Parliament Building at #8 Rustaveli was built between 1938 and 1953. It was used by the Georgian Parliament until 2012, when the parliament moved into a new building in Kutaisi, a town 125 miles from Tbilisi. The move has been surrounded in controversy and there has been a bid to move the parliament back to this building.

Across the street from Parliament is…

 

#15 The Kashveti Church of St. George

Map Link to Kashveti Church of St. George

Kashveti Church of St. George on Rustaveli Street, Tbilisi, Georgia

Located catty corner from the Parliament Building on Rustaveli Avenue is the Kashveti Church of St. George. The church was built between 1904 and 1910 on the site of a previous church that dated to 1753.

The church obtained the unusual name – Kashveti can be translated to mean ‘stone birth’ – from a 6th century legend. According to the tale, a monk was accused of impregnating a woman. He denied it and proclaimed all would know he was telling the truth when the woman gave birth to a stone…which she did.

From the Kashveti Church of St. George, continue walking northwest on Rustaveli Street to Besik Street. Turn left (west),  following the road as it curves to the south (and changes name to Mtatsminda Street), to Daniel Chonqadze Street. Turn left (south) to the…

 

#16 Tbilisi Funicular

Map Link to the Lower Station of the Funicular

The Tbilisi mountainside railway first opened in 1905. The Funicular was built in an effort to expand Tbilisi onto the mountain plateau (which failed due to lack of water supply). While the lower station building on Chonqadze Street has remained unchanged, following an accident in 2000, the funicular underwent complete renovation (reopening in 2012).

There is a stop halfway on the 1/3-mile-long track and a trail that leads to the Mamadaviti Church. At the Upper Funicular Station is a new restaurant complex (housing five restaurants), a viewpoint and an entertaining, throwback theme park.

Fee: One-way ride – 6 GEL ($1.80 USD). A rechargeable Funicular card must be purchased (2 GEL, non-refundable)  and money loaded on to it. One card can be used for a group. The card is also used for rides and games at the theme park. For two people, the card and round trip ride costs 26 GEL ($7.85 USD)

After completing your round-trip ride, exit the Lower Funicular Station and turn right (south). Walk south on Daniel Chonqadze Street into the Sololaki neighborhood. At Mikheil Lermontoi Street, turn left (east) and make your way into the Old Town and wander through…

 

#17 Visit Tbilisi Neighborhoods

Although there are many sights to see in Tbilisi, Georgia, there is no better way to get a feel for the city than to wander the streets of the Tbilisi Old Town neighborhoods.

A walk through the twisting lanes – some cobblestone, some paved, some dirt; none level or without cracks – reveals a side of Tbilisi that some tourists miss. Mangy cats, laundry on lines, nearly falling down structures and the scent of fresh baked bread all linger in the streets of the neighborhoods.

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Tbilisi Self-Guided Walking Tour Map

Map of Tbilisi Self-Guided Walking Tour, Tbilisi, Georgia


 

Tbilisi Self-Guided Walking Tour Tips: What You Need

As you prepare for your walking tour in Tbilisi, we have a few tips of what you will want to bring along for the walk. 

 

Walking Shoes

Wear practical walking shoes! The streets of Tbilisi are not designed for fashionable footwear. I wear lightweight versatile sneakers for my travels. 

 

Day Pack

Whether you travel with a backpack or suitcase, you’ll also want to carry a great day bag to organize and secure all your essential everyday travel items! Your day pack should be big enough for your water bottle, a hat (and/or sunscreen) and your camera.

 

Travel Scarf

If visiting any of the churches, women should bring a scarf to be used to cover their head prior to entering. 


 

More Tours Tbilisi 

We outlined a fantastic free walking tour of Tbilisi that allows you to sightsee at your own pace. That said, fellow travelers can opt to join a Tbilisi tour guide for tours in Tbilisi.

 

Guided Old Tbilisi Tour

Our free Tbilisi Self-Guided Walking Tour is great for travelers who like to explore on their own. However, on a Guided Old Town Walking Tour of Tbilisi, visitors get an introduction to the city by a local. Find out more!

 

Tbilisi Walking Tour – plus More! 

Travelers who want to tour Tbilisi with a group might consider joining the very popular Tbilisi Walking Tour that also includes a taste of the local wine and treat from a traditional bakery. Get the details!

 

Tbilisi Food Walking Tour

Join a guide on a historical tour of the city while getting a taste of some of the absolute best Georgian cuisine. Learn more!

 

Private Tbilisi Day Tours

Want to discover more of the city? Consider booking a private tour of Tbilisi with guide and driver! Book it here!

 

Hidden Tbilisi Tour: Soviet Past

Learn about the Soviet past and the stark Soviet architecture that decorates the city on this off-the-beaten-path tour. Reserve your space!

 

Tbilisi Free Walking Tours

There are a few different companies that offer free tours of Tbilisi. Just keep in mind that you need to tip the guide of your free tour. 

 

Things To Do Near Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi is an ideal base for exploring other cities in Georgia and the surrounding region. During our stay, we were so fascinated with the city that we didn’t end up wandering too far from the center.

However, these tours interested us and we look forward to seeing more of the country on our next visit (because we already know there will be a ‘next visit’!). 

 

1-Day Wine Tour in Kakheti Region

Spend the day in the Kakheti Wine Region learning about the culture and history of Georgian wine. The tour includes three tastings and lunch. Find out more!

 

Full Day Private Tour in Kazbegi Ananuri Gergeti

Leave Tbilisi behind for a full day tour of the mountainous region of Kazbegi. Let the local guide handle the road as you take in the scenery. Learn more here!


 

Our Top Tips For Your Trip to Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia Locals

Now that you are set for your walking tour, use these tips for planning your Tbilisi, Georgia trip!

 

Where To Stay in Tbilisi

During our visit to Tbilisi, we stayed in a great Airbnb Apartment. Renting a holiday apartment in Tbilisi comes with some pros and cons – so be sure to read fellow traveler reviews and read the fine print on the fees before booking. 

 

Tbilisi Hotels

Travelers who prefer staying in traditional accommodations will find that there are many Tbilisi hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center. Two top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews!) are Hotel Marlyn and Rustaveli Boutique Hotel.

Budget travelers can find an affordable place to stay at one of the Tbilisi hostels – like Gallery.

Start your search for Tbilisi, Georgia hotels on Booking.com – but read our tips for finding the best hotels first! 

 

Before You Go To Tbilisi, Georgia: What To Pack

We have a few tips that will help you determine what to pack for your trip! You can find all of our Packing Hacks and advice on our Travel Packing blog page. 

 

Shoes for Walking in Tbilisi

We already mentioned that you need a good pair of comfortable shoes for your walking tour of Tbilisi, but we feel the need to mention it again. Make sure to pack a pair of slip-resistant and comfortable travel shoes – like these

 

Travel Camera

The sights in Tbilisi are incredibly photogenic. We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos.

We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos and is great for beginners) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures and is a slim and lightweight budget camera).

 

Travel Insurance

We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip to Tbilisi, travel protected with World Nomads.

 

Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for our complete packing list and other travel resources!

 

We Want To Know: What are your Top Things To Do Tbilisi, Georgia? What would you add to our Tbilisi Self-Guided Walking Tour? Tell us in the comments below! 

 

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