We decided to go to Georgia during the Christmas holidays so we could check out Gudauri Ski Resort and also spend New Year’s in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. If you’re looking for things to do in Tbilisi especially in the Winter, look no further.
We were originally unsure what there was to do in Tbilisi during New Years and in winter as we’ve always known Georgia to be a country worth visiting for the hiking season in Summer.
Hopefully this post might be able to help you if you’re also looking for suggestions for things to do in Tbilisi during winter.
11 things to do in Tbilisi in Winter
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Where to stay in Tbilisi
We stayed in this airbnb right in the centre of Tbilisi for £50 a night.
We found a really lovely airbnb right in the middle of the city for £50 a night over New Years. Located just off the main street, Rustaveli Avenue, it was absolutely the perfect place to spend New Years as it’s so close to everything.
I’m glad it had a kitchen as we cooked all of our food here. This airbnb was actually more than we’d usually pay at nearly £200 / AU$378 for 3 nights. We heard you can get an apartment for $10 a night but we wanted to stay somewhere nice for New Years.
We didn’t get a taxi into Tbilisi from the airport because we bussed it down from Gudauri Ski Resort, and we then took another bus to Kutaisi and flew out to Barcelona.
If you’re looking for cheap flights out of Georgia, Kutaisi have just opened up an international airport. We got a last minute flight from Kutaisi to Barcelona for £70 each.
The taxi’s we did use around Tbilisi and Kutaisi were super cheap, for example a 30 minute cab from Kutaisi’s centre to the airport cost us 30 GEL (AU $15 / UK £8). A 4 hour bus from Tbilisi to Kutaisi cost us 10 GEL each (AU$5 / £2.50).
Where to shop for food in Tbilisi
We found a supermarket on Rustaveli Avenue which we shopped at all the time over the few days we were there. Be warned though, supermarket food isn’t that cheap in Tbilisi. We spent AU$50 on the above.Local food in Georgia consists of baked bread, cheese and eggs which all of the above came to about AU$15.
We actually only ate out when we went to Gudauri Ski Resort and also in the city of Kutaisi to try the local cuisine. I can’t say we were overly impressed but I’ve heard the restaurants in Tbilisi are amazing, specifically one I mention below in this post called Cafe Leila.
What to do on New Years Eve in Tbilisi
Did you know Georgian’s celebrate Christmas on 7 January? We had to do a bit of research about New Years in Tbilisi and in the end we bought some awesome wine for just 6 GEL (AU$3 / £1.50) and had a few drinks at home before heading into Rustaveli Avenue to the fireworks. Just be careful because everyone lets them off, even small children!Free New Year’s Eve concert in Tbilisi.
There’s a great atmosphere in the air, the main street is closed so you can walk down it and there’s a big free concert they film for TV on as well.
The Christmas Tree in Tbilisi is quite spectacular!
We danced the night away with the locals and we didn’t actually see any tourists at all. It was honestly one of the best New Year’s I’ve had in ages!The main street on Rustaveli Avenue is pedestrianised for New Years Eve!
If you’re up for going to a bar, Dive Bar at Fabrika is the place to go for both locals and tourists.
So now we’ve got the basics covered, here’s the top 11 things to do in Tbilisi in Winter!
11 things to do in Tbilisi in Winter
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1. Free Walking Tour
We randomly found a walking tour at Liberty Square, also known as Freedom square which started at 1pm. I’m sure there’s probably other times but we just stumbled across this one. It’s up to you how much you want to pay the guide as a tip but our guide was awesome so we gave him 20 GEL between us as it was New Year’s Eve as well.
He took us to some of the most beautiful buildings in the old town and told us stories about them before showing us some great restaurants, the leaning tower and finishing off at the Sulphur Baths.This two hour two tour was worth it as we’d just arrived in the city so it was great to learn a bit about the history and to get our bearings quickly.
2. Leaning Clock Tower
Our walking tour guide introduced us to Cafe Leila, a Persian vegetarian restaurant and it looked so cool, we really wanted to go there. Unfortunately, because it was New Years, we didn’t get a chance to as it was closed. They serve healthy veggie food at affordable prices. Think salads, burritos, mediterranean platters and more.
4. Old Town
The old town of Tbilisi is really where the charm of the city is. I love the mixture of the old town, the soviet buildings and the modern architecture of the city. Wandering through the narrow streets in the old town gives you a sense of quietness and beauty which shines through this part of the city.
5. Sulphur Baths
One of the biggest attractions in Tbilisi are the sulphur baths. The brick roofs which pop out near the main square of the old town are not to be missed!
We ended up going to apparently the best bathhouse as told by our guide called Orbeliani bathhouse. We got our own private room complete with sulphur bath, shower, changing area and bathroom which we paid 50 GEL for (AU$25) for. We also added in a massage each for an extra 20 GEL each (AU $10 each). Basically we got it all for under AU$50 for an hour in the sulphur bath.Inside our private room.
Things to note, bring swimmers with you. You can hire a towel for 5 GEL each if you need to. Also, you don’t need to hire the slippers, the rooms are pretty small and we didn’t find them slippery at all.Stevo getting a Georgian massage.
I’d also recommend wearing clothes that are easy to take off and put back on again. The room gets quite hot so you’ll want to put your clothes on quickly at the end of the session. If I were to go again, I’d wear some tracksuit bottoms or leggins rather than stiff, skinny jeans. It took me ages to get them on again!
6. Peace Bridge
The peace bridge is one of Tbilisi’s well known pieces of modern architecture and is definitely worth a visit to walk over the Kura River which splits up the city. It’s also known as the always ultra bridge for its similar resemblance to a sanitary towel product!
7. Bank headquarters
The bank headquarters is like something you’ve never seen before but also resembles a transformer or a jenga set. It’s worth getting a photo out of the window of your cab ride when you pass it on your way into the city from the airport.
8. The Rhike Park Building
The music theatre and exhibition hall is a great example of the modern influence which lies opposite the Peace Bridge. We wondered what it was and asked our cab driver when passing near it one day. We wish we could have popped inside but because it was New Years, we didn’t get an opportunity.
Narikala is an ancient fortress overlooking Tbilisi, consisting of two walled sections on a steep hill between the sulphur baths and the botanical gardens of Tbilisi. On the lower court there is the recently restored St Nicholas church.
You can get up to the castle by taking a cable car. We attempted to get a cable car on two occasions but there were a lot of people queueing so we didn’t go unfortunately. I wish we did this now looking back on it as the views would have been spectacular.
10. Soviet buildings
As mentioned, I loved the mix of the old town, modern architecture and soviet looking buildings. We stayed behind this derelict looking block of flats pictured above which we found fascinating. I also read a bit about the newly converted Raddison Hotel which was originally a hotel until the war began. It then turned into a refugee apartment blocks before the Radison took it over.
11. The museums
Tbilisi Art Museum
If it obviously wasn’t New Years, we would have visited some of the museums in Tbilisi, mostly the History Museum and Art Museum. For a list of the top museums to visit, check out this post.
How much money did we spend in 8 days in Georgia?
All in all, we didn’t spend a lot in Georgia at all. The Gudauri Ski Resort was super cheap (read more here), and we didn’t spend much money at all apart from a couple of food shops. All in all, I think we both spent about AU$300 / £150 each for 8 days in Georgia (plus the accom which we went for the higher end AU $800 / £400). In total we spent around £700 / AU$1500 between us.
What we would do next time
If we were to come to Georgia again, we’d come back to the warmer months to check out the hikes it’s also known for.
Go Skiing at Gudauri Ski Resort
If you’re into skiing or want to learn then it’s a great place to visit in winter. I’d recommend a couple of nights skiing and 2 days in Tbilisi. We spent three nights in both and two nights in Kutaisi.
There wasn’t a lot going on in Kutaisi to write about although we went to a cool monastery below which was worth a visit.Gelati Monastery, near Kutaisi is definitely worth a visit.
It was also quite cold in Georgia during New Years (it was about -1C when we were there) but there’s central heating everywhere. Make sure you bring a decent warm coat, a hat, and a good pair of walking boots.
It’s one of the few countries we’ve seen to date that’s not over run by tourism as of yet, people were generally friendly and I think it’s just a matter of time before tourism picks up more and more.
If you’re looking for more information about Tbilisi, check out a post by a well known blogger here.
11 amazing things to do in Tbilisi Georgia
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