During many years Georgia used to be famous as a place for summer vacation. Sun and the Black Sea, palm and cypress trees, wine and sunsets, and of course the mountains attracted the tourists in the warm months.
However, in recent years the development of winter resorts and other tourist attractions made people forget about seasonality. They just book the tickets and hit the road.
So you landed in Tbilisi, and you have several days in front of you. Of course in winter a lot of options depend on weather. Despite of the fact that it’s not always snowing in winter, it can be rainy or windy sometimes. In winter 2014 the temperature fell to -5 Celcius at night couple of times, and it was considered as terrible cold! Anyway, the weather still affects the plans. Let’s start with what you can do and see in Tbilisi, if it’s not rainy or snowy.
First, don’t limit yourself by popular Rustaveli Avenue, Kote Aphazi (Leselidze) street with many cafes and souvenir shops, Shavteli street, where Rezo Gabriadze theater and Patriarchate of Georgia are situated, and even with nightlife hubs of Tbilisi – Shardeni and Erekle II streets. Sulfur Baths Disctrict (Abanotubani) is also considered to be unexplored, if you didn’t see a waterfall Legvtakhevi (it is waiting for you just around the corner: go to the source of the small river that flows next to the baths). Go up to the Narikala fortress in the gondola cable car and descend on foot. See Tbilisi from a slightly different angle from the park of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (Sameba). Try the famous Laghidze water and khachapuri. The most popular places to do this are: the yard of Sameba Cathedral, small Laghidze cafe on Rustaveli Avenue or the restaurant on the top of the mountain Mtatsminda.
Go up to the Mtatsminda with funicular is also necessary. See the places you’ve been to from the large observation platform above. Walk through the large nice park (if you’re with children, you can spend almost the whole day there!), Eat typical doughnuts (ponchiki) and drink coffee – that’s people of Tbilisi so there themselves. Watching the sunset from the Ferris wheel is another bonus of going up.
If you have time, stroll through the districts of Vera and Vake. This is another Tbilisi, not the one you are used to see in the guide books, but go see it for the full understanding of the city. Akhvlediani and Kiacheli streets with their loud pubs and cafes, Zandukeli, Barnovi, Abashidze and Paliashvili streets with designer shops, cozy cafes and bars – they are worth exploring! Take a walk around the Vake Park, go up to the Turtle Lake (Kus Tba), if you need more air. See the different sides of Tbilisi!
If rain or snow does not make you feel like strolling around, head to the museums and galleries. Fortunately, a lot of biggest ones are located on Rustaveli Avenue: Museum of Modern Art, National Museum, National Gallery (Blue Gallery), Museum of Fine Arts. Near the church Sioni in the Old Town there is Karvasla – the old building of caravanserai, where merchants from different countries used to stay. Now, there is Museum of Tbilisi History inside, together with souvenir shops and a wine cellar.
In general, wine cellars, shops and bars can be found everywhere: as you know, wine is one of the most important things for any Georgian. If the weather is bad, wine tasting is one of the best options for entertainment and encounter with the local culture. Enjoy the taste and learn more about the unique technology of Georgian wine! The wine will also be a wonderful souvenir from Georgia – it is much more useful and authentic than any cute trinkets.
Still, if you need not just magnets and flags, but unique and valuable gifts from Georgia, look for minankari: jewelry made of membranous enamel, very typical Georgian handcraft.
By the way, if you are in Karvasla, sulfur baths are just around the corner. During the colder months going there is truly a great idea! Strong massage, sulfuric water and warm air will make you relaxed and revived at the same time. If you want more water, go to a more remote area of Tbilisi, where a big water park is located. There you can forget about the cold and have a great time.
If you are into hanging out in the clubs or bars, we recommend checking our web page to find out more about events in the city. You can also try looking for concerts and exhibitions in Tbilisi through Facebook, which is the main place for announcing particular events in Georgia. Small and large concerts, workshops and master classes are held in the city permanently.
In short, winter in Tbilisi is not a sleepy boring period, but vice versa.