I feel like Georgia is one of Europe’s hidden gems.
When I was planning my backpacking trip last year, there was something within me that just wanted to head to this unknown country – I literally knew nothing about it’s climate, culture or cuisine but something was drawing me in. So I figured since I was going to be visiting that area of the continent anyway, I may as well just give it a go.
And oh my word, I am so glad that I did.
To be honest, within about 2 hours I’d completely fallen in love with Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital city. From the phenomenal scenery, to the history that was so heart-breaking but so hopeful, and the incredibly kind people I met along the way. Tblisi completely stole my heart, and I cannot wait to go back.
Here are 6 reasons why you need to visit this charming city…
Italy, Eat your Heart Out
So we all know Italy is renowned for it’s delicious food, but let me tell you, Georgia is not far behind. If you’re a fan of carbs, then Georgia is the place for you. As a northerner, I love a hearty meal – in fact, the more carbs the better. And so I almost felt at home when we went out for a meal and we were given the biggest plates of food I have ever seen. Meals here are social occasions, and so their dishes are often served on sharing plates – so unless you’re auditioning for an episode of Man vs Food, maybe just get a couple of things to share.
Two dishes you absolutely have to try are Khinkali (a dumpling stuffed with meat-or potatoes for you veggies-spices and a delicious broth) and Khachapuri (a bread filled with rich melted cheese and topped with an egg). I’m honestly drooling just thinking about these two magnificent meals.
So now we have our food sorted, I think we need something to wash it all down with…
Georgia has a near perfect climate for growing grapes for wine. And if that doesn’t sell it to you, perhaps the fact that their wine industry dates back 8000 years will – these guys know what they’re doing when it comes to wine.
I’d highly recommend booking onto a wine tour – if you’re using Tbilisi as your base you can simply pop into tourist information or any of the local tour operators and book yourself onto a day trip.
When the wine is made, the entire grape is pressed (skin, seeds and all) and transferred into clay pots which are then stored underground to ferment. This results in a deep flavoursome wine, and the grape residue which is left from the process is turned into ‘Chacha’, a pomace brandy. I tried some of this when I was on my wine tour and as nice as it is, it’s not for the faint-hearted. With an alcohol content traditionally ranging from 40-65% (the chacha I tried was 80%!), this is a serious drink!
Free Walking Tours
Surprise! Honestly, I don’t think I can write a single post about a place without mentioning walking tours.
I went on 4 or 5 walking tours around Tbilisi, and they were amazing. You learn so much about it’s history and the city’s hopes for the future, as well as discovering some really cool legends and stories. It’s such a great experience just being able to learn about a place from the people who live there, who are a part of that history, who are hopeful for a bigger and brighter future. You can check out the various walking tours on offer here, and honestly? They were some of the best walking tours I’ve ever done.
Charisma to Boot
Walking around the streets of Tbilisi is such a crazy experience. From tiny cobbled streets, to grand open squares and rolling hills, there’s something different around every corner. With it’s vibrant mix of modern architecture, restored buildings from centuries past, and the stunning Narikala Fortress on the hillside, it wakes up all of your senses. The Narikala Fortress dates from the 4th Century, and offers incredible views of Tbilisi, and you can also pay a visit to the Mother of Georgia statue whilst you’re there – symbolising Georgian character, with a glass of wine in one hand and a sword in the other, she stands guard over her beautiful city.
Day Trip Galore
There are so many great day trips from Tbilisi.
I’d highly recommend heading to the Uplistsikhe Caves. Uplistsikhe Caves translates as “Lord’s Fortress“, and is an abandoned rock-hewn town, 10km from Gori. One of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia, archaeologists have discovered temples which were dedicated to a sun goddess.
You can easily spend hours discovering all the hidden nooks and crannies and just taking in the phenomenal views that surround you. If you’re lucky you might even spot some lizards darting around!
If you’re looking to head out on a day trip, simply pop into one of the many travel agents in Tbilisi, or head to tourist information!
Local People, Local Knowledge
The locals to Tbilisi are honestly some of the friendliest people you’ll meet. If you’re lost, looking for some place good to eat, or just wanting to know more about an interesting building – just ask a local! They’ll be more than happy to give you all the information you need.
And because they’re locals, they’ll know all the best spots to visit. They’ll know which restaurants offer the best food for the best prices, and which streets to avoid on a night.
One of the best things about travelling is simply getting out and meeting people. Discovering new cultures, traditions and beliefs that makes a country and its people tick.
I hope I’ve at least peaked your interest in this glorious city. If you want to know more about what you can expect visiting Tbilisi, or what to do on your trip, you can check out my post here.
Been to Tbilisi before? Let us know in the comments below!