Tbilisi

Tbilisi At Night

Tbilisi (Georgian: თბილისი) is the capital city of the country of Georgia, lying on the banks of the Mtkvari river. The city covers an area of 726 km² (280.3 square miles) and has a population of approximately 1,345,000.

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 some 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.

Get in

By plane

Tbilisi International Airport entrance/exit

The following airlines operate service to/from Tbilisi:

Air Astana (Almaty) airBaltic (Riga), Alitalia (Rome), Arkia Israel Airlines (Tel Aviv), Austrian Airlines (Vienna), Azerbaijan Airlines (Baku), Belavia (Minsk), bmi (London-Heathrow), Czech Airlines (Prague), Donbassaero (Donetsk), Dniproavia (Dnipropetrovsk), Estonian Air (Tallinn), Euroline (Almaty, Donetsk, Dubai, Kharkiv, Odessa, Vilnius) flyDubai (Dubai), Georgian Airways (Amsterdam, Athens, Dubai, Kiev-Boryspil, Minsk, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Tehran-Imam Khomeini, Tel Aviv, Vienna), LOT Polish Airlines (Warsaw), Lufthansa (Munich), Pegasus Airlines (Istanbul-Sabiha Gokcen), Qatar Airways (Doha,Baku), SCAT (Aktau), Sky Georgia (Batumi, Antalya), TAM Air (Donetsk, Kharkiv), Turkish Airlines (Istanbul-Atatürk), and Ukraine International Airlines (Kiev-Boryspil)

Bus 37 leaves from the right corner of the arrival area every 15–30 minutes between 8:00–20:00, then every hour until 23:00, to the city center. It travels via Avlabari, Freedom Square, Rustaveli, Republic Square and Tamar Bridge to the main train station (Vagzal). The trip can take over 50 minutes. The fare is 0.50 GEL. Coins (or a smartcard) are required to purchase a ticket.

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.

Trains from the airport to the main train station cost 0.50 GEL and take 35 minutes. You pay the conductor. As of June 2014 there are only two trains daily: at 8:45 and 18:05 (vice versa at 8:00 and 17:20).

By train

By bus

Lüks Karadeniz and Metro Turizm operate daily buses from Turkey, costing 110 Turkish liras. Bus services from Russia have been suspended. Regular buses or marshrutkas run between Tbilisi and Batumi or Kazbegi as well as Azerbaijan and locations in Armenia.

By minibus

Minibuses are generally privately owned vans. They operate at different frequencies depending on destination. They usually have leave on time, but leave earlier if filled up. From Yerevan minibuses leave the Central/Kilikia bus station from 08:30 and cost 6500 AMD.

Bus stations

There are three main stations in Tbilisi.

Get around

Tsereteli metro station

The primary transport inside and outside the Tbilisi city are metro, buses and minibuses — marshrutka. 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 don't 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.

By metro

Freedom Square metro station
Tbilisi Metro logo

Tbilisi has a two-line metro system, which operates from 6:00 until 24:00.

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 metro in Tbilisi costs 0.50 GEL. But you will have to buy a Metromoney card (2 GEL) at the counter (more than one person can use the card). You can top up the card with any amount you like, and use it for travel both on the metro and on buses. In Fall 2012, Tbilisi introduced free transfer system between metro and buses, allowing for an hour and a half of free transfer. It applies across metro-to-metro, and bus-to-bus, as well as across systems. You can use one card for multiple people, however, the second person will cost 0.50 GEL each time.

By bus

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 recently 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 GEL, and exact change is required if you don't have a touch card (which can be purchased at metro stations). Metromoney cards allow free transfers, and can be topped up at many pay boxes around the city, in addition to metro stations. Hold onto the ticket you receive on the bus; you will need to present it to the yellow-shirted ticket checkers.

By minibus

Minibuses 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 (on average) 0.80 GEL. If paid with a touch card, every trip after the first one during the day is reduced to 0.65 GEL; shout "Stop" or "Gaacheret" when you want to get off, and hand the driver your fare on the way out. In the new yellow Ford Transit vans you can pay also with the electronic card you need for the metro.

Kura river, Tbilisi

By cab

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 GEL for very short trips. A trip in the center of town should rarely cost more than 3–5 GEL, and anywhere in the city should never cost more than 15 GEL, unless you're going to the airport.

By car

End on parking is widespread, but the ubiquitous informal parking attendants will help you reverse out into the traffic; it's all part of the service they offer in return for the usual tip.

See

Dolmens in the Ethnographical Open-Air Museum
Freedom Square

Museums

There is a common English website for most museums.

Religious architecture

Other Sights

Further afield

Ananuri's fortress

Do

Narikala fortress at night

You can find sulfur baths in other districts, for example close to the metro station Marjanishvili, around the corner of hostel Green Stairs, there is an old, characteristic bath. (#4 Kiev Street). Upstair is a men's sauna for 7 lari but also a gay hangout. In the evening you can get a private bath for 10 lari and an additional towel is 2 GEL. Public Pool: 3-4 GEL; Private Pool: 10–80 GEL per hour; Massage 5–20 GEL.

The Funicular reopened in December 2012

Theatres

Buy

Eat

Georgian cuisine

Stree side stalls selling Georgian "fast food" are located all over the city. Some kind of hot snack will cost between 0.70-2.50 L.

KGB Still watching you

Asian cuisine

European/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. Georgian wine was and still is the best in post-Soviet culture. Georgia produces wine, and Georgians respect wine culture. Try one of the famous wines. The region which is popular for its wine production is Kakheti. This place has a great history of wine.

Cafés

Tblissi is the one city in Georgia where coffee vending machines 0.50-0.80 Lari may be found.

Clubs

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

Tbilisi is very safe after the Rose Revolution. The police system was reformed completely and the recent polls show that public's trust in police shifted from nearly 10% to 88%. 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 safe, and 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.

Stay healthy

Quality drugs without a prescription, can be obtained from pharmacies. Recommended the priority attention to the warranties of the drugs!

About H1N1 or any other infectious diseases you could get information on the website

Connect

There are 3 GSM operators of mobile phone service:

Cope

Ask at Marriott Courtyard if you're lost - the staff are fairly fluent in English, and they are more than happy to provide you with free maps, and help you locate whatever you're looking for on a map before you leave.

Be careful about renting DVDs from Prospero's bookstore - there is quite a selection, but as most of them are pirated, almost half of all their DVD stock is of a poor quality. For your peace of mind, you can check any DVD on a player in the cafe before you rent it.

Embassies

Mount Kazbeg

Go next

Armenia

Azerbaijan

Within Georgia

View of Mestia, Georgia
This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 30, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.