Before going to Tbilisi on holiday I saw lots of photos of beautiful colorful old houses, the fort perched majestically on the top of a hill and quirky modern architecture. But it was near on impossible to find where most of these buildings were and from where the photos had been taken.
This post forms the guide I wished I had. It shows where the best views in Tbilisi can be found as well as the best time of day for photos.
You Might Also Be Interested in
- Georgia Travel Guide
- The Ultimate Georgia Itinerary for 1 or 2 Weeks
- The Complete Guide to Kazbegi
- Rooms Hotel Kazbegi – Should You Stay Here?
- 24 hours in Gori – What to See and Do
- Mestia to Ushguli Trek – The Complete Guide
- How to Visit Svaneti National Park Without Hiking
- 7 Things to Know Before Driving in Armenia, Georgia or Azerbaijan
1. Royal Baths
This was the view I really wanted to find. Before going I could not work out where the old houses with the colourful overhanging wooden balconies were. Both this photo and the one below are often used in posts about Tbilisi but nobody mentions where it is taken. I thought it would be easy to find but I was wrong and we nearly missed it.
The location is marked on the map above. It is on the other side of Narikala Fortress to the old town. To use your phone for directions put in Abanotubani or the Royal baths. At the busy square you can see the brightly painted balconies but to get the best view you must climb a little bit further up away from the fort.
There are two ways to get the view above:
- Go to the terrace of Marani restaurant. It is located on the left side as you walk up along the river in the middle of the gorge, or
- At the end of the square take a left before the dome-shaped roof of the baths. As soon as you start climbing you will see Old Tbilisi Boutique Hotel on your right. Take this small road into what looks like a hotel car park and the baths entrance. Continue to the end of the road and onto the large roof on the right. This is where the above picture is taken
Best time to take photos: before noon to avoid the sun glare in the afternoon
2. Panorama of Narikala Fort
The panorama above is probably one of the most used photos of Tbilisi. It is a bit of a climb but the views are worth it.
There are two options depending on how high you want to climb:
- Rather than taking the road to Old Tbilisi Boutique Hotel take the next right. There is a lot of construction going on but you can see glimpses of the fort in between the new houses. When you reach a large parking lot climb the little hill on the left for fantastic views. If you get to an unusual white building shaped like an S you have walked too far
- For loftier views of the city and the fort walk all the way to Tabor Monastery of the Transfiguration. I would suggest using an app such as maps.me for directions. If you have read some of my other posts you will have seen that I love this app since it allows you to download maps with your hotel wifi and use the GPS on your phone so it is free to use. In my Mestia-Ushguli trekking guide I have included some basic instructions on how to use it
Best time to take photos: the sun shines on the fort and the city in the morning, which together with sunset, is the best time to take photos
3. Bird’s eye view of Tbilisi
Narikala Hill sits high above the city. From the viewing platform located between the fort and the botanical garden there are sweeping views of the old city and the modern architecture along Mtkvari River.
To get here it is either a steep hike or, the best option in my view, is the Arial tramway. It departs close to the Rike Concert Hall and the Bridge of Peace (see below) in Rike Park on the opposite side of the river to the old town.
As you sail over the old town the views from the cable car nearly makes this journey deserve its own spot on this list. The only reason it did not get one is the windows do not allow you to take good photos. They all come out with a funny rainbow glow.
Tickets cost 2 GEL with a metro card. The card costs 2 GEL which can be refunded by returning the card at any metro station. Just remember to keep your receipt as without it you cannot return the card.
Best time to take photos: the sun rises above the hill between mid-morning and noon depending on the time of year. To avoid a large shadow over the old town save this spot until later in the day
4. Futuristic Architecture
For some reason many of the capitals in the Caucasus and Central Asia are full of futuristic architecture. Tbilisi is no exception. The best examples are the Bridge of Peace, Rike Concert Hall, the Presidential Palace and The Public Service Hall. If you like modern architecture consider adding Baku to your itinerary.
All these buildings can be seen from Narikala Hill but to view them up close head to the Bridge of Peace.
The old town is easy to walk around. However, as soon as you get outside this area large motorways cut through the city centre making it very difficult to walk. Getting close to the Public Service Hall is more difficult than the distance on the map would suggest.
Best time to take photos: any time from mid-morning when the sun climbs above the hills south in the city
5. Get Lost in Tbilisi Old Town
Every street in the old town has a different and interesting view. From ramshackle buildings with balconies that look like they may collapse at any minute to recently renovated brightly painted houses with detailed carved wooden verandas.
Tbilisi can feel touristy at times. But as soon as you leave the busy main streets you will most likely be walking on your own.
Getting lost in the maze of narrow cobbled side streets is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. It is small enough that you will either get back to somewhere you know or walk downhill to end up by the river.
Best time to take photos: any time of day. Remember to look up to see the balconies and into court yards for a view of a world that has not changed much over the last hundred years.