Heading off to a new country is always exciting and a little scary as well especially when you have an 8 year old with you who has a very limited idea of crime and bad people due to living in the middle east with virtually no crime.
We took chance and booked an apartment through booking.com and didn’t choose to stay in a hotel, we going to be there for a week and preferred to be able to cook our own food and not have to eat out all the time and it gave us more space. The place we found was amazingly located right opposite a new fancy mall, on the shopping street in the middle of the city and very close to everything we needed.
Even with extensive Googling we didn’t find too much info on the city or things to do , so thought I would point out a few things we learnt in our week there which could possibly help you.
So here are my helpful tips when you planning to visit, NOT IF, when, add this city to your list :
- Make sure when looking up any information that you getting Georgia , next to Turkey, not the one in the USA, sounds silly, but easy mistake to make
- Visa on arrival for a lot of countries, process was fast and easy and didn’t cost anything, but make sure you don’t need one
- Currency is Lari ( GEL ) tricky to find in most airports when leaving your country, so suggest get EURO or USD and easy to change once you land in Tblisi
- Once you exit airport, you will be approached by every man and his dog with a car as a taxi, we chose to go with the official taxi as there is a meter , which we found out he doesn’t use and i think 50 GEL was too much to center of town, should be around 25-30, you can negotiate with cab drivers, so always ask price first and make a counter offer and don’t be afraid to walk away as they 100% come after you and agree
- Most people speak English and were super friendly and helpful, the Georgian people in general are used to tourists as ts one of their major money makers in the country, but learning hello and thank you and good bye, goes a long way with them
- So things to do, there is so much to do and see and Georgia has a very unique mix of old and new and modern and old that its very interesting, sometimes 2 buildings right next to each other, but the city is a smart city which was amazing to experience
- #ilovetblisi is the FREE WIFI available just about everywhere in TBLISI. Super fast and unlimited free WIFI for all, even on public transport, buses and metro. We didn’t feel we needed to roam with our phones with this amazing offering from city, which makes using google maps etc very useful
- UBER doesn’t work, there is a local taxi app, but we spent more time walking around and flagging down taxi if needed, but then need local currency to pay
- First day find metro station and buy a metro card and load some cash onto it, not a lot, 20 GEL is enough, a one way trip is 0.50 GEL and you only need 1 card and can use for multiple people, we were 3 and used one card. This card works on Buses, Metro, Trains as well as cable cars etc
- We did cable car first and you can skip cash line if you already have your card, amazing view on way up and takes 90sec to reach the top, easy to find on a map of the city, which i suggest you get, old school paper map which was very helpful. Amazing bridge and park at the bottom to spend some time in as well
- The cable car goes up to the Mother of Georgia and the old fort which are worth a visit and seeing the city from above is breathe taking. We walked down the path from the top and was a nice easy walk down in 15min , so don’t que to get down, take the walk and puts you back very close to center of town at bottom again and wondering the streets you will find lots of cool little shops, cafe’s and bars to stop in, perfect way to waste a day wondering around
- Next we took the funicular to very top of mountain, this is one where you need a different card as used on rides in theme park called Mtatsminda which was built in 1905 on top of a mountain, rides are around 2-5 GEL each, so make sure you load enough for 4 or 5 rides each. Definitely worth a visit and even better views as you are higher up. BE WARNED, you need to be over 1.45m tall to do the 3 big attraction rides and Geena was 1.41m and they wouldn’t let her ride and its a long ass uphill walk to get there to be turned around, but lots of other ones to do and lots of fun to be had. The Ferris wheel is a big attraction and would be the highest point to take photos on , unfortunately it was being refurbed so didn’t get to ride it, but good news will be in tip top shape for when you get there
- Next day we did a wine tour, we have a great guy for this, so get in touch if need it, cost 250 GEL which is a private car and driver for the day, its a long day started at 9am and home around 7pm but well worth it, stops off at a bunch of different places, from small little local houses who make their own wine, cheese, vodka and bread and eat on side of road to a very big wine farm and cellar carved into the mountain, all in all with a fancy lunch at a modern restaurant on farm, day cost us around 450 GEL for 3 of us
- The museums are also worth having a visit, cost was 8 GEL each for adults and kids was 1 GEL, there are a bunch to choose from and range from old artifacts and history to modern art, we enjoyed a day out visiting museums and stopping at little shops along the way for food and drinks. Most of them located on Rustaveli street, which is also the main shopping street
- Last big thing we did was the Gino Paradise water park, we caught metro to Nadzaladevi station and then caught taxi from there for 10 GEL, which is cheapest way to do it, a taxi from main street in town would be 30 GEL if you didn’t want to mission on metro, which is super simple, reliable and fast, so have different options
- Once at park, its actually a resort and spa and in great condition, family package was 80 GEL for the day which included all the rides, we sat pool side and enjoyed the wave pool and water slides, which are all in door, so even if cold outside you can still be at water park as water heated up and you walk through tunnels up a tower and end up inside at end, which is strange but also pretty good idea. Park was in good condition and not too busy as was mid week, so we had a lot of fun, Lunch next to pool was pretty decent and cost us 70 GEL for 3 of us, they give you electronic band around your wrist which has 200 GEL credit per band which you use to pay for stuff and then settle bill when you leave. The also had very secure lockers which are free and uses same band to open and close and you can hire towels there for 5 GEL each
So those are just a few tips that might help you, if you want to see more pictures, have a look at MY INSTAGRAM FEED