With visa-on-arrival offered to UAE residents, Georgia will always be a top destination for desert dwellers looking for a quick, contrasting getaway. Tourists flock to see the charming capital, Tbilisi – a quirky picturesque old town known for its cobbled streets, pastel-coloured buildings, tree-lined avenues, and monasteries riddled with history, and to sample Georgian wine and delicious cuisine.
If you’re visiting Tbilisi for a short trip, here are five spots you must not miss
An attraction that’s hard to ignore in the heart of the city is the Bridge of Peace. The pedestrian bridge stands out thanks to its blue hue and has a unique contemporary bow-shaped design. But don’t just admire it from afar. Step on the bridge for some of the prettiest views of Tbilisi and get from the historic old town of Tbilisi to Rike Park for some more exploring.
During the weekends and at night, performers fill the air with music, and every day just before sunset, the bridge twinkles beautifully when the 10,000 LED light bulbs are switched on.
Did you know that Tbilisi derives from the Old Georgian word ’Tbili,’ which means warm, and it extends beyond the hospitality of the cobblestoned old town. The site of the city features a dense network of naturally occurring sulfuric hot springs, which were often used as baths, and it was for this reason that an ancient King of Georgia decided to put a defensive ring around it and establish a formal settlement.
Visitors can head to any of the central public baths for a soak, scrub and massage under the domed roofs. The alleged medicinal properties of the water are said to help with a number of skin problems, arthritic pains, and more. You won’t have to look hard to find them, just keep your eyes peeled for brown brick domes.
Whether you get the chance to visit Mother of Georgia up close or not, don’t worry. She’s always watching you from atop of Sololaki Hill. Also known as Kartlis Deda, this monument was erected in 1958. Baring the Georgian national dress, she holds in her left hand a bowl of wine to greet those who come as friends, and in her right hand is a sword for those who come as enemies. It is a testament to the spirit of Georgians and their determination to preserve their identity.
This is ‘how we met the Mother’. Head to the Tbilisi Cable Car and once you’re at the top, you’ll also be treated to beautiful views of Tbilisi, including the Mother of Georgia.
Here, you can also explore the fortress of Narikala, which served as a military stronghold throughout Tbilisi’s many military conflicts – another visceral emblem of the city’s resilience. Heading back? You can use the marked hiking paths to make your way back down or hop back on the cable cars.
Created by the renowned Georgian puppeteer Rezo Gabriadze, the leaning clock tower stands out as one of the city’s most unusual buildings. It leans to one side and is ‘propped’ up by an iron column. If you time your visit just right, on the hour a screen pops open and an angel strikes the bell.
Need a pitstop to scoff up some grub during your walking tour? Bluefox Tbilisi in The House Hotel Old Tbilisi, a few minutes away from the Peace Bridge serves up an array of international cuisine and Georgian faves for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sit outdoors and soak in the weather and the pretty Instagrammable decor for the perfect breather before you mosey on over to your next stop.
A gem hidden in plain sight, Chveni is located on an internal street right next to Radisson Red Tbilisi, and one that is worth tracking down. Across its floors, you’ll find an eclectic range of decor from digital paintings to musical instruments, and statues. The menu deals in Georgian (with a unique spin) and Asian cuisine put together by Chef Guram Bagdoshvili who has prepared meals for three Georgian presidents. Try the mushroom chips, and khinkalis doused in cheese sauce or pepper sauce.
Want to switch up the cuisine? Located in Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel, Tbilisi City Centre, Filini was named one of the city’s best Italian restaurants offering authentic Mediterranean flavours. In warmer months you can enjoy meals outside on the terrace complete with live music. Head here during sunset to get the view of the cityscape lit in a golden hue, and as the sun fades, you get stunning views of the city lights.
Nestled in the heart of the city, at first glance, the newly opened Radisson RED Tbilisi doesn’t seem to slot neatly into its surrounds. Standing out baring an almost-museum-worthy architecture, the hotel set up home in a 100-year-old former post office building which is considered a cultural heritage monument on the iconic Davit Aghmashenebeli Avenue.
The post office, also previously a residential house, dates back to the 1920s. It was one of the many houses and buildings with historical importance that underwent renovations as part of the government-led, city-wide New Tiflis project, tasked with transforming the city. Now, it is home to 111 chic rooms and suites combining historic elements and bold designs.
In keeping with the cool and playful tone of the Radisson RED brand, Radisson RED Tbilisi brings together a blend of the past and future. In the room, you will find standout elements from days gone by, from a red rotary phone to a large decorative panel above the bed showcasing correspondence letters of a Georgian public figure – a sweet ode to the post office.
Outside the hotel, the avenue, which bears a 19th-century classical architecture style, is dotted with cafes, restaurants, a 24-hour grocery store and there’s a souvenir store right opposite the hotel for that last-minute shopping before you depart.
The best news? The hotel is also pet-friendly so you can bring your cat or dog with you on your Tbilisi adventure.
Room rates start from Dhs428 per night in November.
flydubai flies from Dubai to Tbilisi, Georgia three times a day from Dhs1,385
Images: Getty Images, Unsplash and What’s On2023-11-20T11:54:53Z dg43tfdfdgfd