10 Things to do in Tbilisi – The Independent
23 May, 2017
10 Things to do in Tbilisi – The Independent
With direct flights just launched from Gatwick, now's the perfect time to explore the Georgian capital, the Independent says.
What is it about Georgia lately? The country (not the US state) seems primed to be one of the hottest tourist destinations for 2017, as travellers are freshly obsessed with the fashion, the mountain trekking, the architecture, and the good eats. The best news for those travelling from the UK? Georgian Airways launched direct flights from Gatwick to Tbilisi over the
weekend; next month, Wizz Air will start a route to Kutaisi from Luton. Want to see what all the fuss is about? Here are the Independent’s top 10 tips for what to do in Tbilisi.

Browse Soviet relics

From 1921 to 1991 Georgia was part of the Soviet Union. This history is evident everywhere, but most in your face while walking through the Dry Bridge Flea Market near Dedaena Park. Locals who lived the bulk of their lives under Soviet rule spread blankets on the ground and lay out goods they’ve saved from the scrap heap. The range of items is boggling; it’s priceless antiques next to plumbing fixtures, next to tarnished military medals and handmade crafts. Be prepared to bargain, and to receive a history lesson with each purchase.
Strip down and suds up

The ancient district of Abanotubani in Tbilisi’s old quarter is home to several equally ancient sulphur bathhouses. Head underground through brick entrances to pay an attendant for towel and sandal rental, and your choice of communal shower (separate for male and female) or private room with soaking tubs. Add on an exfoliating scrub-down and soapy foam massage for a few pounds more, but be warned that complete nudity is the rule. At the simply named Bathhouse Number 5, exquisite mosaics decorate the domed rooms, making up for the faintly eggy smell of the sulphur water.
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Tbilisi is now in easy reach of the UK (Cynthia Drescher)

Take in some culture


Tbilisi is no backwater destination; the spectacular Zurab Tsereteli Museum of Modern Art plays host to a biannual Fashion Week, the stunning architecture of the modern Peace Bridge lights up the riverfront at night, and the oddity of the 2011-constructed “Leaning Tower of Tbilisi” (aka the Gabriadze Clock) provides plenty of opportunities for Instagramming.
Eat a cheese-stuffed bread boat

Better known as “Acharuli Khachapuri”, this traditional Georgian comfort food is a gluten-free traveller’s nightmare, but heaven to most. The boat-shaped flatbread arrives fresh from the wood oven to the table, its centre bubbling with melted cheese, a runny egg, and a generous pat of butter. Even a small order is enough for two people, especially with a side of khinkali.

Drink what the locals drink


Yes, Georgian wine is fabulous. Red or white, dry or sweet, it’s all extraordinarily drinkable thanks to the fertile environment of the lower Caucasus, one of the most ancient viticulture regions in the world. But branch out beyond the wine for chacha (ჭაჭა), which is no dance in Georgia. Chacha technically refers to any fruit-based liquor, but it’s come to be most synonymous with grape brandy, produced from the leftovers during winemaking. It’s clear and strong, and most similar to Italian grappa. Stop into the parlour-style Books Cafe on Tsinamdzghvrishvili Street (yes, Georgian street names are epic) for a thimble full of chacha, a game of backgammon, and a browse of their used books for sale.

Get high

Tbilisi sits in a valley, cut through by the Mtkvari River and backed by small mountains. Heading up Mount Mtatsminda to reach a small amusement park and the best view over the city is easy via modern funicular. There’s also the option to visit the Narikala Fortress via cable car from Rike Park, which comes with the bonus of gliding right over the twisting streets of Tbilisi’s old quarter before arriving to the medieval ramparts of the fort.

View the full story HERE

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