Surrounded by hills, sliced in two by the Mtkvari (Kura) River, with tree-lined boulevards, charming lanes, towering churches and pastel-painted houses, Tbilisi is unexpectedly lovely.
Like a lovely lost kingdom, Georgia's capital city lies deep in the country's heartland, watched over by ancient towers and churches. The central city unfurls along Rustaveli Avenue, the intriguingly eclectic architecture reflecting Georgia's dynamic history.
Broad and leafy streets, grand neo classical buildings and space-age modern designs sit alongside ancient churches, mosques, synagogues and a teasing maze of twisting, balconied side streets. Here and there, honeysuckle blossom and mulberry trees give shade to surprising courtyards.
Founded in the 5th century, the city has always attracted people from around the world, illustrating Georgia's ancient role as a merging point of cultures along the Silk Road. Today, most trips to Georgia start in Tbilisi, often striking travellers as both reassuringly familiar and genuinely exotic. The name Tbilisi derives from the Old Georgian word "Tpili", meaning warm and was given to the city because of the area's numerous sulphuric hot springs.
Geography and climate
Located in East Georgia, this city of approximately 1.5 million people sits within a large basin surrounded by hills. The Mtkvari River slips purposefully through its streets.
The summer months in Tbilisi are long, dry and hot and the winters are relatively cold. July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 24 °C. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of approximately 1 °C and snow falls on average 15–25 days of the year.
What to see and do
Take the new cable car up to the 17th-century Narikala citadel for a bird’s-eye vantage over the city and a close-up of the oversized Mother Georgia statue and her gaze of steely self-assurance. Explore the spidery lanes of the old town with its ornate balconied houses and Byzantine churches or spend a relaxing afternoon in the beautiful tiled surroundings of one of the city's ancient bath houses, immersed in the hot springs that bubble up beneath the city.
Stroll through Maidan Square, Tbilisi's historic center, with its outdoor cafés and bars. Breathe in the thick sweet smell of incense at Kashveti Church on Rustaveli Avenue. Visit the shiny trappings in the National Gallery of Georgia next door and indulge in a night of luxuriant dreams at the Marjanishvili Theatre, housed in a curvaceous Art Deco building.