Which Neighborhood In Tbilisi Should I Stay In?
A guide to the districts of the Georgian capital
Tbilisi is becoming one of the hottest tourist destinations in Europe – not just because of cheap flights and cheap wine. In fact, this multifaceted culture has stood the test of time and has a unique charm unlike anywhere else in Europe.
Now, I might be biased, but I really do believe that everyone should come to Tbilisi and check out what this city has to offer. But when you do, which neighborhood in Tbilisi should you stay in?
There are several different neighborhoods in Tbilisi and each one has its own charm and unique characteristics. Here’s some more info on some of the best parts of the city, so you can choose the right one for you.
The historic heart of Tbilisi, this is the central Old City you’ll see featured in all the tourism videos of Tbilisi. The architecture here is fascinating – a rambling jumble of brightly painted wooden structures with ornate balconies and delicate stained-glass windows. The buildings lean precariously over the cobbled streets, some propped up by metal beams.
If you don’t feel like huffing and puffing up the steep sloped streets you can always take the cable car from Rike Park up to the top of the hill. The view of the Old Town and the rest of the city stretching out below you is spectacular. At the top of the hill you’ll find the Narikala Fortress, also known as the Mother Fortress. It was built around the 4th century, when the city was founded
Abanotubani is also the home of the thermal baths in Tbilisi. Getting scrubbed down at these baths is a wonderfully luxurious experience and it’s much more affordable than a spa. For around 160 lari (Approximately $55) two people can enjoy one hour in a private bathing space with a dry sauna, hot pool and cold plunge pool, a full body exfoliating scrub, a full body massage and two bottles of beer.
Pros and Cons of Staying in Abanotubani
- You’ll be right downtown in the heart of the historic district, close to the most famous attractions of Old Tbilisi.
- You’ll be able to get a stunning view of the city whenever you like, thanks to the cable car and the many great cafes perched high on the hill.
- Many of the restaurants in this part of town are overpriced tourist traps. You might end up paying more than you should, for poor quality food.
- The streets are steep and uneven, so if you have any mobility issues this neighborhood will be tough to navigate.
- Most services and conveniences in this area are aimed at tourists, so it’s difficult to live in this area long term.
Sololaki is a pretty cool hipster hangout, not too far from the center of the city. In fact, it was included on Time Out’s list of the 50 coolest neighborhoods in the world. This area of Tbilisi begins from Freedom Square and stretches up to Mount Mtatsminda.
The area gets its name because the Arabs built a canal here in the area to water the gardens. The word for canal in Arabic is sululakh, so the name stuck.
This peaceful and friendly neighborhood is composed of historical buildings, narrow streets and sidewalk cafes. There are many great spots for enjoying wine, food and beer – as well as cool art galleries and shops. A few of my favourite spots are here, such as Black Dog Bar and Cafe Volver.
A lot of the charm of Sololaki is in the authentic historic houses here. Take a peek into the courtyards and you’ll see ornate staircases, marble entrances and beautifully decorative balconies. These mansions were commissioned by the most well-off citizens of Tbilisi in late 19th-early 20th centuries.
photo of Black Dog Bar courtesy of TripAdvisor
Pros and Cons of Staying in Sololaki
- You’ll be within walking distance of the Old City, which is great for sightseeing and nightlife.
- There are several bars and restaurants to choose from in this area when you want to go out for the evening.
- There are a lot of hotels, guesthouses and Airbnbs in this area, so you’ll have lots of choices for where to stay.
- The buildings in this part of the city are quite old, so you might find them creaky and draughty.
- Accommodations in this part of town will be slightly more expensive, because you’re closer to the center.
Avlabari is a neighborhood on the left bank of the Kura River, in Old Tbilisi. It’s one of the oldest parts of Tbilisi and it was historically inhabited by Armenians, which lends a multicultural aspect to this side of town.
Some of the main attractions in Avlabari include the Armenian Theater, Metekhi Church and the Sameba (Trinity) Cathedral. The cathedral is one of the most visible landmarks in the district. It towers over all buildings around it and can be spotted from all over Tbilisi.
Rike Park is a beautiful open space with unique architecture and plenty of fountains and paths. It’s where many events are held, such as concerts, food festivals and more.
Avlabari is also home to Wine Rise, a street lined with wine bars. It leads up from Rike Park and it’s a great place to do an authentic tasting of Georgian wines.
Pros and Cons of Staying in Avlabari
- You’ll still be close to the downtown area and the main attractions of the historic core.
- You can walk to Freedom Square easily by crossing Baratashvili Street.
- There are good connections in this area for bus, minibus and metro.
- There aren’t a lot of supermarkets in this area, so you might struggle when it comes to shopping for food.
This is one of the largest districts in Tbilisi. These streets were the main area where the Georgian capital was created back in the day. Mtatsminda is named after the mountain of the same name, one of the iconic sights in the city. The name translates to “Holy Mountain.”
This neighborhood has a lot to offer. There are great restaurants here, friendly coffee shops and lots of cute little local stores. Take a few twists and turns away from the main street of Rustaveli Avenue and explore the smaller streets.
This area of town has some of the best examples of Art Nouveau era architecture. Art Nouveau was rejected during Georgia’s Soviet years when officials considered this art form to be frivolous and unimportant and a “crime of ornamentation.” However, these decorative motives and curved lines still exist and can be seen on an Art Nouveau walking tour. (Here’s a great guide to follow!)
While in Mtatsminda, you’ll also want to reach the top of the mountain that gives the district its name. You can get to the top on the Funicular, which is a popular mode of transport with tourists. Or, you can walk up the hill, or take the bus.
At the top you’ll find the Mtatsminda Amusement Park, complete with a Ferris Wheel, a haunted house and stunning views over the city.
Pros and Cons of Staying in Mtatsminda
- Transport connections from here are good. You can head down to Rustaveli Avenue and catch buses going to and from the Old City.
- If you are visiting Tbilisi during New Year, staying higher up on the hill in this area will give you great views of the fireworks.
- Although this is not really a touristy area, it’s very close to the city center. Therefore, prices for hotels in Mtatsminda will still be at a premium.
- There isn’t really a large supermarket – the closest place to shop is Smart on Rustaveli, near the Wendys and the Radisson Hotel.
Saburtalo is a mostly residential district in Tbilisi. If you want to be as close as possible to the historic and cultural sights, this is not the best place for you to stay.
However, if you want to stay somewhere quiet and close to plenty of grocery stories, shops and restaurants – it’s perfect. You can hop on the metro or take a cheap taxi and be in the heart of the city in less than half an hour.
If you are visiting Tbilisi for medical tourism, this will be a good area to stay. There are many clinics, dentists and medical centers in Saburtalo. Medical tourism is increasing in Georgia, due to the affordable prices and high quality of Georgian medical care.
Pros and Cons of Staying in Saburtalo
- You’ll have plenty of shops and supermarkets to choose from, so it’s easy to find the items you need.
- Since you aren’t right in the heart of the city, the prices for accommodation will be more affordable in this area.
- Sometimes traffic can be heavy in this area, which makes it take longer to get downtown if you are traveling by car.
- The buildings in this area are mostly big concrete behemoths – not very attractive or culturally interesting.
The leafy, hip, sophisticated neighborhood of Vake is known for a growing cultural scene and great dining. During the Soviet Era, this residential neighborhood was filled with scientists and politicians. After Georgia gained independence, Vake slowly became the trendiest area in town.
If you like to eat and drink, this is a great Tbilisi neighborhood for you to stay in. I live in Vake and I make a point to check out new cafes, restaurants and bars. There are so many here that I’ve barely managed to scratch the surface!
Vake is home to Vake Park, a large green space filled with fountains, cafes, children’s play areas and walking trails. There’s a steep set of stairs up the mountainside, with a large sculpture at the top looking over the park – the Statue of Victory.
If you keep walking up the mountain, you’ll eventually reach Turtle Lake – a small lake high at the top, surrounded by cafes and restaurants with outdoor patios.
Pros and Cons of Staying in Vake
- A wide range of diverse cuisine, from Thai to Japanese to an Austrian bakery and more.
- There are a couple of great swimming pools in Vake (Neptune Sports Center and Vake Swimming Pool) where you can relax and enjoy the sunshine.
- This district doesn’t have any metro connections. (Although you can take a bus down Rustaveli Avenue towards the center.)
- This area doesn’t have any historical or cultural sights for you to explore.
- Since this is more of an upscale neighborhood, the prices will be a bit more expensive.
Vera is a pleasant, green neighborhood with a central location and lots of quiet gardens and yards. It’s a classic Tbilisi-style neighborhood, with some beautiful architecture that has been unchanged since the turn of the century. If you’re wondering which neighborhood in Tbilisi you should stay in long term, Vera would be a great option.
Vera Park is a peaceful green space where you can stop and relax in the shade – and there are plenty of great cafes in this area. The Tbilisi Concert Hall sits on the main intersection and it’s a great place to see shows. Also, there’s a very nice gym on the top floor of the concert hall building. It’s a bit more expensive than other gyms in the city, but the views are worth it.
On Merab Kostava you’ll find Rooms Hotel, a stylish hotel built from a former printing factory. It has a luxurious 1930s vintage feel and a cosy cocktail bar. It’s a more expensive place to stay compared to typical Tbilisi accommodations. However, a similar high end boutique hotel in other capital European cities would cost so much more.
Pros and Cons of Staying in Vera
- This area is centrally located and you won’t be far away from the main attractions in the city if you live near the main road.
- It’s also connected via public transport, so you can catch a bus or a metro to where you need to go.
- Lots of expats live in this area, so you’ll likely meet others who have come to Tbilisi from another country.
- This is a stylish neighborhood and rent and restaurant costs might be higher than other areas in the city.
- Depending on how far back from the main streets you live, you might find transport a little more awkward. (For example, further back up the hill on Nino Zhvania)
If you love shopping, wine bars and kebabs, you’ll be right at home in Marjanishvili. Located on the Left Bank of the Mtkvari River, this area of town has a large Arabic and Turkish influence. The streets are lined with hookah bars and Turkish restaurants and the architecture has a distinctly different feel than in the Old City. The original residents of this area were German colonists – which contributed a lot to the architecture of the district.
The main street in Marjanishvili is Agmashenebeli Avenue. It’s one of the longest and prettiest streets in the city, with historic buildings decorated with twinkling lights and outdoor patios alive with friendly chatter.
Football fans take note, Marjanishvili is where you’ll find the Dinamo Arena, home to local team Dinamo Tbilisi. Also, this district is home to Station Square. It’s a huge and authentic bazaar packed with stalls selling food, clothing, jewellery, electronics, appliances and much more.
Marjanishvili is also home to Fabrika. Once a textile factory, this large industrial building has been transformed into a hip hostel and a collection of bars, shops and eateries. The complex includes a co-working space, an art gallery, a few clothing stores, a sushi restaurant and even a board game cafe. The shabby-chic decor is designed to look randomly pulled together, yet perfectly in sync. Some say it’s an inauthentic imitation of Tbilisi’s counter-culture scene, but it can still be a cool place to hang out.
Pros and Cons of Staying in Marjanishvili
- There are quite a few affordable hotels to choose from in this area, as well as several great restaurants.
- Whenever you are craving a Turkish kebab, you’ll be in the right place!
- This neighborhood has been recently renovated and therefore doesn’t have the same historic, gritty charm as other areas of Tbilisi.
- You won’t be near to the City Centre, so this might not be the most convenient location for sightseeing.
- When it comes to supermarkets, there are a few in this area but not many. The best large supermarkets are in Vake. You’ll be mostly doing your shopping in small to medium sized markets and individual grocers (which could be a good thing!).
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We stayed in Marjanishvili and found some of the city’s best restaurants nearby as well as a variety of decent bars. It isn’t far to walk into town if you’re at the dry bridge end of Agmashenebeli Avenue, over the bridge, through the park and along Rustaveli Ave.
I did find some of the food on Agmashenebeli Ave to be poor and wasn’t fussed with Fabrika (you could be anywhere).
True. In my opinion, Fabrika has a bit of a manufactured hipster vibe that does make you feel like you could be in any city. And you’re right, if you stay at that end of Marjanishvili, it’s not too far of a walk into the center!
Thanks for this, Kelly. Really helpful for my GF and I when deciding where to settle in Tbilisi long-term. Really appreciate that perspective here; vs just being tourism / short-stay-oriented.
Thanks Zach, I’m glad you found it helpful!
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The old town of Tbilisi is one of the nicest spots to stay in the city. In Tbilisi, there are numerous hotels and hostels to choose from. This is the tourism district’s hub, and it’s a smart place to start if you don’t have much time to see everything or need to get to and from your lodging during the day. But don’t forget to check out casual card collecting game called Plants vs Zombies Heroes, or CarX Highway Racing for PC.
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