50+ Typical Bulgarian Dishes & Drinks

Bulgarian Spices: Sharena Sol

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Traditional Bulgarian Food: Want to know what to eat in Bulgaria? Or what are the best Bulgarian dishes? This article takes a comprehensive look at typical Bulgarian cuisine, from famous Bulgarian salad (like Shopska Salad) to the Bulgarian national dish, Bulgarian breakfast, Bulgarian cheese and even some of the best Bulgarian alcohol to try.

We’ve visited Bulgaria multiple times in search of Bulgarian traditional food – photographing it, chatting with locals and learning all about the history of the cuisine. Why does Bulgarian Food have such a unique taste? Find out below.

Brief History & Introduction To Traditional Bulgarian Food

Food is always tied directly to history. The city of Plovdiv is not only Bulgaria’s oldest continuously inhabited city, but currently is considered Europe’s oldest city, having been lived in for over 6,000 years. So Bulgaria has seen a lot of human history!

Bulgarian Food is a mix of what grows well locally, especially dairy products and certain herbs and spices we’ll discuss below. Also, dishes influenced by Turkey, as Bulgaria was occupied by the Ottoman empire for some 500 years. You’ll even find elements in Bulgarian food culture going back to 1,500BC when parts of modern day Bulgaria were ruled by the Thracians, a society well known for making wine.

In the 20th century, Bulgaria was enveloped by communism, behind the Iron Curtain. Though industrialization damaged rural tradition, Bulgarian Food continues to hold onto its past into the 21st century, celebrating their delicious culinary history.

Some Essential Ingredients That Make Things Taste “Bulgarian”

The flavor profile of Bulgarian cuisine is produced by frequent use of some very specific local produce.

Common Spices

Bulgarian Spices: Sharena Sol

The unique spice blends of a country often form the basis of many dishes, representing the country as a whole. Some important spices and blends that characterize Bulgarian cuisine include:

Chubritsa (Summer Savoury) – Probably the most defining herb of Bulgaria, simply because it is rarely used in other countries. Chubritsa’s unique herbal character blends well with meats and other dishes.

Sharena Sol – Translates as “colorful salt”. The blend mixes chubritsa, paprika and salt as it’s key ingredients. Some recipes include fenugreek and/or cumin. Sharena salt brightens up meat dishes and more but it’s so good just mixed with a little olive oil and used as a dip for warm bread – a perfect Bulgarian snack.

Dzhodzhen (Spearmint) – Used in stews and soups which contain beans or lentils, also popular to accompany lamb and rice dishes.

Samardala (Bulgarian honey garlic) – A local garlic variety which is dried and salted before being crushed into a powder.

Devesil (Lovage) – A herb that makes fish and soups instantly taste Bulgarian. The flavor sits somewhere between celery and parsley.

Also essential in the Bulgarian spice cabinet are Cumin, Paprika and Fenugreek.

Kiselo Mlyako (Bulgarian Yoghurt)

The history of Yogurt deserves its own article (Which we’ll be releasing later in 2019). In brief, although the exact origin of yogurt is contested, Bulgaria and Turkey (specifically, the nomadic Turkic tribes from central Asia who preceded Turkey) both have strong claims to consider.

But it was a Bulgarian scientist, in 1905, that first identified the essential lactose eating bacteria (L. Bulgaricus) that leads milk to become yogurt.

Kiselo mlyako means “sour milk”. The thick and slightly sour Bulgarian yogurt is used in much traditional Bulgarian food and brings a unique flavor to Bulgarian cuisine.

Sirene – Bulgarian Cheese (Salty White Cheese)

Another essential dairy product is Sirene. This Bulgarian cheese is similar to Greek feta cheese, in that it is a salty white brined cheese. However, some Bulgarians contend that sirene is the original, or at least better version, of Greek feta cheese.. This is another topic that needs a longer investigation – coming soon.

Suffice to say, sirene brings a salty yet creamy taste to so much Traditional Bulgarian Food. It’s used in many of their most famous dishes. It’s almost more like a condiment or seasoning as it is used to pervasively throughout the cuisine. 

 

Bulgarian Traditional Food: Top 5 Must Eats

If you are on a short trip and only have time to briefly enjoy the food highlights of Bulgarian food, this top 5 features some of the most popular iconic dishes as well as my personal favorites.

Bulgarian National Dish 1: Shopska Salad

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Shopska Salad

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Shopska Salad (A Bulgarian National Dish)

Shopska salad makes use of the salad combo seen in so many salads in Europe and the Middle East: Tomato, cucumber, bell peppers, and onions. It focuses on the use of local ingredients that grow in Bulgaria. But what makes it uniquely Bulgarian is the addition of Sirene cheese. As Bulgaria is not a big olive oil producer, sunflower oil is more typical. Also in the dressing, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. A simple and refreshing summer classic.

You’d think a salad this simple had been around for hundreds of years… You’d be very wrong. Even though salad is plentiful and popular in Bulgarian cuisine today, historians believe that it was barely eaten at all until the 20th century. Furthermore, the Shopska salad appears to have been invented or adopted in the 1950s and ’60s by chefs at “BalkanTourist”, the state run tourism agency at the time, as a way to promote tourism to Bulgaria.

Apparently, other national salads were also created, each named after a region of Bulgaria, but Shopska salad (named after the Shopluk region) eventually won out over the years as the most popular Bulgarian salad. Today you’ll find Shopska on almost every restaurant menu.

The colors of the salad are said to represent the colors of the Bulgarian flag – Red, white and green. Giving it an even more nationalistic tone.

Bulgarian National Dish 2: Banitsa

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Banitsa

Bulgarian Traditional Food: Banitsa (cheese stuffed pastry – a Bulgarian National Dish)

In its most traditional form, Banitsa is a phyllo dough pastry filled with layers of egg and sirene cheese mixed together. But banitsa is made with many different fillings, including typical savory fillings like spinach or cabbage and at Christmas, pumpkin. It can also be made sweetened.

It’s most popular as a Bulgarian breakfast food, served with a glass of ayran (salty yogurt drink) but is also eaten as a snack or for some special holidays. Banitsa’s prolific existence within Bulgarian food culture may be one reason it is also a Bulgarian national dish. Similar layered phyllo dough dishes exist all around the Balkan region.

It’s said that in times gone by, mothers would choose a wife for their sons based on the woman’s banitsa making skills. Today, you don’t have to get married to enjoy some Banitsa – you’ll find it in bakeries, restaurants and bus station kiosks country-wide!

Bulgarian Cuisine: Gyuveche

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Gyuveche (Thracian Style)

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Gyuveche (Thracian Style)

Gyuveche is one of the most popular Bulgarian dishes but also one with the most variety. Recipes vary wildly and, in home kitchens, the dish is quite often prepared with whatever the cook has left that day. It’s normally prepared in a small pot (of the same name) as individual servings.

The base ingredient should be eggs whisked with sirene cheese – though I’ve actually seen recipes that don’t even have this. The cheesy mix may go on top, or be mixed with, various veg and meat – depending on who’s making it and the region you are in. Then it is topped with some additional ingredients of choice.

My favorite was at Restaurant Old Plovdiv where it includes lukanka (a cured Bulgarian sausage) and chili. This was described as “Thracian style”, referring to the region, though its best to ask your server exactly what ingredients you are going to get to avoid disappointment.

Elena Fillet

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Elena Filet

Bulgarian traditional food: Elena Fillet

Elena Fillet is cured/dried pork loin coated in pepper and the very Bulgarian chubritsa herb. While cured pork may be on the menu in countries all over the world, it’s the herb coating that makes this a unique Bulgarian food to try. We were told by a tour guide that Elena Fillet is a DOP (Origin protected) product of Bulgaria – though I have not been able to confirm this.

Bulgarian Traditional Food: Katak

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Katak

Bulgarian Cuisine: Katak

Katak dip is fermented katak curd (though Bulgarian yoghurt often substitutes) that is mixed with sirene cheese, roasted peppers and garlic to make a king of Bulgarian snacks.

Bulgaria has so many dips to choose from. We’ll go into more of them in the Bulgarian Salad section below. Katak was our top pick.

We saw katak on many Bulgarian menus but the version at Pavaj in Plovdiv was killer. Reservations essential.

 

Bulgarian Food Podcasts – Coming Mid 2019

Listen to episodes that are already released using the links below

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Cold Starters: Dips & Bulgarian Salad

Already mentioned in our Top 5 above:

  • Shopska Salad
  • Elena Filet
  • Katak

Popular Bulgarian Salad Dips

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Dips: Lyutenitsa, Kiopoulu, Snezhanka, Katak

Some Bulgarian Dips

There are lots of great dips to choose from. Sometimes both the salads and the dips are called salads on the menu.

Lyutenitsa: Sort of like a relish made with grilled tomatoes, garlic, and peppers. Other ingredients may include carrots, eggplant, onions.

Kiopoulu: An eggplant puree with tomatoes and garlic

Snezhanka (Snow-white): A yoghurt based dip with cucumbers, walnuts, garlic, and dill, sometimes decorated with black olives.

Katak: Yogurt & sirene cheese mixed with roasted peppers.

Typical Bulgarian Sausage & Cold Cuts

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cold Cuts: Lukanka, kashkaval, elena filet

Bulgarian Sausage / Cold Cuts: Lukanka, kashkaval, elena filet

Bulgarians have a lot of sausages, and a few other cold cuts too. Here are some of the most popular. 

Lukanka: A semi-dry Bulgarian salami from pork, veal, and spices with a distinguishable flattened shape.

Kashkaval: A yellow mild cheese, popular all over the Balkans. Similar to mild cheddar cheese.

Pastirma: An air-dried, cured beef with some similarity to Italian bresaola. More popular in Turkey and Armenia.

Sudzhuk: Dry and spicy flat pork & beef sausage. Spiced with cumin, sumac, garlic, salt, and red pepper.

Nadenitsa: A dry-cured beef & pork sausage.

Banski Starets Sausage: Dry-cured pork sausage flavored with cumin, paprika, black pepper, and other spices. From the Bansko region in the Rila Mountains.

Fillet Elena & Bulgarian white sirene cheese (mentioned earlier) are also popular cold cuts.

Bulgur Wheat & Tomato Salad

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Bulgar Salad

Bulgarian Salad: Bulgur Salad

This salad is like Bulgarian Tabbouleh mixed with sirene cheese. Don’t be confused by the name, bulgur wheat originates from the middle east, not from Bulgaria, but this spin on tabbouleh really impressed us (tried at Pod Lipite, Sofia).

More Bulgarian Salad Options

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Salad: Ovcharska salata (Shepherd's salad)

Bulgarian Salad: Ovcharska salata (Shepherd’s salad)

Bulgaria is one of the few countries in the world we get truly excited to visit because of salad. So many to choose from. It’s like we can eat out every day without overeating – though overeating still happens quite a lot anyway…  We already mentioned the Shopska salad and Bulgarian tabbouleh. Here are some other salads to look out for:

Ovcharska salata – Shepherd’s salad (Pictured): tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onion, mushrooms, ham, boiled egg, and white cheese. Second to the Shopska salad on most menus.

Kalugerska salata: boiled haricot beans, gherkin, onion, chutney from roasted red pepper and tomatoes, olives

Starosofiska salata: roasted marinated red pepper, white cheese, walnuts, olive oil, garlic, and dill

Turshiya – Pickled Salad: Pickled vegetables, such as celery, beets, cauliflower, and cabbage, popular in winter. Variations are selska turshiya (country pickle) and tsarska turshiya (king’s pickles).

Tarator

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Tarator

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Tarator (cold cucumber yogurt soup)

A cold soup made with watered down Bulgarian yoghurt as the base. Flavored with cucumbers, walnuts, garlic, dill, salt, pepper, vinegar, and oil. It’s everywhere in the summer, harder to find the rest of the year. Locals go crazy for this Bulgarian traditional food.

 

Bulgarian Traditional Food: Hot Starters, Soups & Snacks

Already mentioned in Top 5 above:

Supa Topcheta (balls soup)

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Supa Topcheta (balls soup)

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Supa Topcheta (balls soup)

A buttery wonderland of a soup containing small pork meatballs and some vegetables. Definitely our top pick for Bulgarian soups. This version tried at Dayana-3 in Plovdiv. Most bad reviews on TripAdvisor were for the service, which I admit was hit and miss. Food was all good.

Shkembe (Tripe Soup) & Other Soups

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Shkembe (Tripe Soup)

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Shkembe (Tripe Soup)

Shkembe (Tripe Soup) is popular throughout the Balkans and is considered to be a hangover cure. It’s tripe cooked in milk and beef stock and normally involves a lot of butter, which could be doing more for the hangover than the tripe… Vinegar balances out the fat and salt. Another element for the hangover cure is you are supposed to pair it with rakia (Bulgarian alcohol – brandy)

Bob chorba (Beans Soup) – Bulgaria has plenty of beans to choose from and they actually make quite a few different beans soups. The most popular is bob chobra, which has beans in a tomato based broth, normally flavored with spearmint. Other varieties may be boiled with a ham hock or other meat and veg.

Chicken Soup Or Beef Soup – Bulgarian Style rich meat soups.

Teleshko vareno (veal soup) – Chunky pieces of potato, carrot, and onions boiled with veal.

Pacha (sour lamb’s-trotter soup) – Lamb’s trotters are boiled with pickles or vinegar or both.

Zelenchukova supa – A vegetable soup with lots of herbs like parsley, celery leaves, Chubritsa etc.

Gubena supa – A forest mushroom/boletus soup

Ribena chorba – fish soup made with thyme & fresh lovage

Kashkaval Pane

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Kashkaval Pane

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Kashkaval Pane (Deep fried, breaded kashkaval)

Yellow kashkaval cheese is breaded and deep fried. This may be served just as is – because what else do you need with deep fried cheese? A slightly less Bulgarian version that we enjoyed was at Hadji Nikoli in Veliko Tarnovo – which came with cranberry compote and orange pieces.

Chushki Burek (Чушки Бурек)

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Chushki Burek (Peppers stuffed with white cheese)

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Chushki Burek (Peppers stuffed with white cheese)

Not to be confused with Bourek (A Balkan pastry similar to Banitsa). Chushki Burek is bell pepper stuffed with sirene cheese and deep fried with an egg coating.

Zelevi Sarmi & Lozovi Sarmi

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Sarmi (Cabbage Rolls)

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Sarmi (Cabbage Rolls)

Zelevi Sarmi are cabbage rolls – filled with minced pork and rice. They are popular all over the Balkans. They are considered a national dish in Romanian Cuisine, where they are called sarmale. The Lozovi Sarmi are the same concept but rolled in a vine leaf, not cabbage.

Grilled Kashkaval Cheese With Honey & Walnuts

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Grilled Kashkaval Cheese With Honey & Walnuts

Bulgarian Cuisine: Grilled Kashkaval Cheese With Honey & Walnuts

Take kashkaval cheese, grill it on the hot plate, smother it in honey and ground walnuts. Enough said.

 

Bulgarian Food: Meats, Fish & Baked/Grilled/Stewed Mains

Already mentioned in Top 5 Above:

Sach

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Sach

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Sach

The word “sach” refers to the clay dish the food is served on. The food is cooked on the dish and it comes out searingly hot and keeps the food warm for ages. The ingredients thrown on the sach can really include anything! Pictured, a sach with potatoes, Bulgarian sausage, chicken and plenty of melty cheese.

Bulgarian Moussaka

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Moussaka

Bulgarian Moussaka

Who invented the Moussaka? Turkey, Bulgaria, and Greece all claim to have invented the dish. We intend to do some full research into this complicated origin story in the future. For now, what you need to know is, eat it! Bulgarian moussaka, unlike Greek, is focused on the potato and meat and typically does not include a layer of eggplant.

Kyufte – Bulgarian Meatballs

Kyufte - Bulgarian Meatballs

Kyufte – Bulgarian Meatballs

Kyufte is another dish that is contested to be of Turkish origin (kofte). It’s juicy Bulgarian meatballs.

Kyufte Stuffed With Cheese

Kyufte Stuffed With Cheese (Bulgarian Food)

Kyufte Stuffed With Cheese

The only way to make kyufte better… stuff it with oozy yellow cheese. I don’t know how they make them so juicy.

Tongue In Butter

Beef Tongue Fried In Butter (Bulgarian Food)

Beef Tongue Fried In Butter

Simple but perfect. There’s nothing like frying something in butter to make it better. Even better when the tongue goes just a little crispy on the outside, without drying out on the inside.

Duck Hearts

Grilled Duck Hearts (Plovdiv Bulgaria)

Grilled Duck Hearts

A big old plate of duck hearts. This seems to be a favourite meaty course in Plovdiv. Great with a glass of red Bulgarian wine.

Karnache

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Karnache

Bulgarian Food: Karnache

Karnache is a spiral sausage normally made from fresh pork, sometimes lamb, in a sheep casing.

Kebapche

Bulgarian Kebapche: Skinless Kebab Sausages

Bulgarian Kebapche: Skinless Kebab Sausages

Kebapche is the caseless minced meat kebab of the Balkans. It’s actually the national dish of Bosnia Herzegovina, where each kebab is small. In Bosnia, it is made from beef, but in Bulgaria expect a long kebab of pork or a pork/beef mix.

Stuffed Peppers / пълнени чушки (pŭlneni chushki)

pŭlneni chushki - Peppers stuffed with rice

pŭlneni chushki – Peppers stuffed with rice

Peppers stuffed with meat and rice – similar to Turkish dolma. Once peppers arrived in Europe from the Americas, it was only a matter of time before someone in the Balkans stuffed rice and meat in them.

Keremida

Keremida - Chicken cooked in a roofing tile (Plovdiv Bulgaria)

Keremida – Chicken cooked in a roofing tile

Bulgarians love naming dishes after the thing they are cooked in. The word “Keremida” refers to a roofing tile. Similar to sach (above) meat/veg/cheese is cooked in the tile. This is certainly not the most common dish. We tracked it down at Anita restaurant, spa & guest house in a small village south of Plovdiv.

Grilled Trout

Grilled Trout - Bulgarian Food

Grilled Trout

Aside from on the Black Sea coast, the most common fish on the menu in Bulgaria is Trout. Grilling with lovage as the herb seasoning is the classic way.

Potatnik / Patatnik

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Potatnik - baked mashed potato pie

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Potatnik – baked mashed potato pie

Patatnik is a potato pie cooked in the Sach or sometimes another clay dish, in an oven or heated from below. Get ready for buttery indulgence. This baked mash is laced with bubbling fat and mixed with onions and Bulgarian spearmint. The dish originates from the Rhodope Mountains, south of Plovdiv on the way to the Greek border. The original dish, in it’s simplest form, doesn’t have egg or cheese mixed into the mash but that seems to have become a popular choice in restaurants – which is no surprise because it’s awesome.

This regional dish was until recently only available in the mountains but is now being seen on some restaurant menus in Plovdiv and elsewhere. Eaten at Rahat Tepe, Plovdiv.

Katino Meze

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Katino Meze

Bulgarian Cuisine: Katino Meze

Katino Meze is a meat in gravy dish, normally with chopped pork and onions – traditionally served in a copper pan, though the version we got in Sofia was an obviously lazy presentation – just using the Sach. Sometimes it’s spiced up with hot pepper. Without cheese is more traditional but what can I say, we like cheese…

Shishche / Shashlik

Shishche / Shashlik - Bulgarian Skewered Meats

Shishche / Shashlik – Bulgarian Skewered Meats

Marinated meat, grilled on a skewer.

Kavarma / Kapama

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Kavarma

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Kavarma – Stew in a clay pot

Kavarma is a slow cooked stew with a choice of meat, onions, and spices – normally with chubritsa too. It’s supposed to be baked in the traditional gyuvech clay pot but some restaurants speed things up by pan cooking it and just serving it in the pot – or just on a plate.

Fancy versions may feature multiple types of meat (pork, chicken, lamb, rabbit, veal, and sausage), and have other ingredients added like sauerkraut, dried plums and spices, and red or white wine. Some say this version is called kapama rather than kavarma but we were unable to track down kapama.

Zelen Fasul – Green Beans Stew

Traditional Bulgarian Food | Bulgarian Cuisine: Zelen Fasul - Green Beans Stew

Traditional Bulgarian Food: Zelen Fasul – Green Beans Stew

A traditional Bulgarian Food that is typically Bulgarianized with all the essential herbs: spearmint, chubritsa. 

 


 

Sides, Breads & Other Traditional Bulgarian Food

Some additions to accompany your mains…

Bulgarian Breads: Pita & Palenka

Bulgarian Pita Bread

Bulgarian Pita Filled with Egg and Cheese

Bulgarian pita bread is sometimes called Greek bread on menus, it’s one of the few dishes Bulgaria freely attributes to Greece, it seems. However, they sometimes choose to take pita to the next level by filling it with a cheesey-egg mix (pictured).

Palenka is also called Arabic Bread on some menus and is a thin flatbread.

Kachamak (Polenta With Cheese, Sometimes Bacon)

Kachamak (Polenta With Cheese, Sometimes Bacon)

Kachamak (Polenta With Cheese, Sometimes Bacon)

Polenta mixed with white cheese and butter is a favorite through Bulgaria and Romania / Moldova – where it is called Mamaliga. We discussed it in our Romania food podcast and we believe it came to Bulgaria from Romania, not the other way around. That said, the Bulgarian version with sirene cheese is always a winner too. 

Drob sarma

A rice dish which is typically mixed with chopped offal and Bulgarian spice, sometimes with mushrooms. Good as a side but sometimes served as a main.

 

Bulgarian Breakfast

Already Mentioned in Top 5 above:

  • Banitsa – Bulgaria’s national cheese pastry. A perfect Bulgarian breakfast as well as an anytime snack!

Other Bulgarian Breakfast Choices:

Popara – A cheeky little Bulgarian breakfast that resembles a quick bread pudding. Chopped bread, milk, butter, sugar (optional) and the most important ingredient, Sirene (white cheese).

Princesses – A variety of things on toast, though the most common with this name features ground meat mixed with some herbs/spices and spread on toast then grilled. Add a slice of kashkaval yellow cheese too if you like. You might also find egg whisked with white cheese as a topping.

Mekitsas – Deep fried dough pieces made from flour, baking powder, eggs, yogurt, water, oil, and salt.

Boza – A popular Bulgarian breakfast drink. Boza is a malt drink made from millet flour. Boza is mildly alcoholic (1%) and has a thick consistency, with a slightly sweet and sour flavor.

 

Bulgarian Desserts

Bulgarian Desserts: Baklava

Bulgarian Baklava

Bulgarian Desserts To Try:

Baklava – This famous phyllo pastry dessert is found all over the Balkan region and beyond. Everyone does it just a little different. The Bulgarian dessert version uses walnuts, layered with phyllo and soaked in sugar syrup, with cinnamon.

Tikvenik – A sweet variation of the Bulgarian national dish, Banitsa, stuffed with walnuts and pumpkin.

Orehovki – A Bulgarian cookie made with ground walnuts, egg whites, and sugar.

Tulumba – Fried choux pastry, sort of resembling short pieces of churros, coated in a thick sugar syrup.

Palachinki – Bulgarian crepes.

Garash cake – A popular layered chocolate cake invented in the late 19th century.

 

Bulgarian Drinks & Bulgarian Alcohol

Menta

Bulgarian Drink / Bulgarian Alcohol: Menta

Bulgarian Alcohol: Menta (Mixed with sprite)

Menta is a mint spirit with about 25% alcohol. We fell in love with this during our most recent visit to Bulgaria. It’s the quintessential Bulgarian summer drink, normally mixed with sprite, or sometimes milk. Super refreshing on a hot day.

Rakia

Bulgarian Drink / Bulgarian Alcohol: Rakia

Bulgarian Alcohol: Rakia (Fruit Brandy)

Rakia is a fruit brandy. It’s a popular spirit around the whole Balkan region. In Bulgaria grape rakia is the most popular, though plum, apricot, peach, apple, cherry, and quince are also available. It’s about 40% alcohol normally. Order a shot of rakia with a Shopska salad to begin any meal like a local.

Bulgarian Wine

Bulgarian Alcohol: Wine

Bulgarian Wines From the Thracian Valley Region

Did you know that Bulgarian Wine has some unique varietals? Almost the whole country produces wine and you’ll find a big selection while there which is hard to find internationally. Here are some to look out for:

  • Mavrud: An indigenous red grape, with a profile somewhere between CabSav and Shiraz. You can get bold, tannic, spicy wine
  • Rubin: A hybrid red grape created in the 1940s as a combination of Shiraz and Nebbiolo. Rubin produces dry, semi-dry and sweet wines with pungent red berry flavors.
  • Gamza: Used to produce both dry and sweet red wines with deep aroma and color.
  • Pamid: One of the oldest winemaking grapes in Bulgaria – used back in Thracian times. Pamid is low acidity, ideal for making young wines with some similarity to Beaujolais.
  • Shiroka Melniska: A red grape from the south of Bulgaria, near the Greek border. Produces tobacco notes, ages very well in oak and has similar characteristics to Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
  • Rkatsiteli – Bulgaria’s most popular white grape – but it actually originates in Georgia, the birth country of wine.
  • Dimiat: An indigenous Bulgarian grape and second most popular white grape after Rkatsiteli. Normally light bodied and highly aromatic.

Bulgarian Beers & Craft Beers

Bulgarian Beers (Megsy enjoying a brew in Veliko Tarnovo)

Bulgarian Beers (Megsy enjoying a Shumensko brew in Veliko Tarnovo)

Bulgaria was historically a wine & Rakia drinking country until the 19th century. Now beer is everywhere with Bulgaria ranking 15th in the beer drinking per capita chart! There is even a fledgling craft beer scene kicking out some domestic brews.

Some of the mass produced beers you’ll find around:

  • Shumensko (Our Top Pick) – A malty easy drinking lager.
  • Astika – A blond pilsner from South Bulgaria, definitely worth a chug.
  • Zagorka – A Czech style lager
  • Kamenitza (Not A Fan) – The most pervasive lager in Bulgaria, brewed in Plovdiv. Simply a boring, average beer in my opinion.

Non-Alcoholic Bulgarian Drinks

Ayran – A salty thin yogurt drink also popular in Turkey and around the region.

Boza – Discussed in Bulgarian Breakfast section above.

—-

That’s it for our Bulgarian Food & Bulgarian Drink guide!

 

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17 Best Restaurants In Tbilisi inc. Cafes in Tbilisi & Best Khinkali in Tbilisi

17 Best Restaurants In Tbilisi inc. Cafes in Tbilisi & Best Khinkali in Tbilisi

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What are the best restaurants in Tbilisi? Good question!

If you are a foodie like us (and I assume that’s why you are here on our foodie website) You’ll be wondering how you’re going to find the best food to eat while in Tbilisi Georgia. The good news is, I have rarely had a bad meal in Tbilisi. The bad news is that prices in the old town are quite inflated and you really need to venture out a bit to find some of the real best restaurants in Tbilisi (in our opinion)

In this article, we asked some of our favourite travelling foodies what places they think are the best restaurants in Tbilisi – so you don’t just have to take our word for it! These guys have come up with so many super tasty options that you are going to have purchase a bunch of stretchy pants in anticipation of how much food you’re going to consume – trust me! 

 

Visiting Georgia? Get Our Food Fun Travel Tbilisi Map – Free:

As well as top attractions and other points of interest, the map includes every restaurant listed in this Best Restaurants In Tbilisi article – plus many more. Make it easy to find the best of Tbilisi all on one easy to use google map overlay. Works on any device. Get The Map.


 

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi

Thanks to guest contributors for their suggestions.

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – For Georgian Cuisine (inc. Tsiskvili)

Pasanauri – Bilyana, Owl Over The World 

One of the first Georgian foods that I tried and fell in love with was khinkali. Khinkali is the Georgian version of dumplings. You can find them pretty much in every restaurant in Georgia and they are being offered with varieties of fillings – cheese, potatoes, cheese & potatoes, meat, mushrooms, spices, etc. My favorites are with meat and with cheese.

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - For Georgian Cuisine

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – For Georgian Cuisine

For the best khinkali in Tbilisi, you need to go to Pasanauri restaurant. The restaurant is located in the center of the city, on an intersection of Rustaveli Avenu, 5 minutes walk from Rustaveli metro station.

The first time when I visited this restaurant, I was taken there by a local friend who loves the place and their khinkali. The interior of the restaurant is pretty nice, too.

Visit Pasanauri with friends and make the famous Georgian competition of who will eat the most khinkali (trust me, it’s a thing in Georgia).

 

Bina N37 – Margherita,  The Crowded Planet

Any person who’s been to Georgia will tell you how amazing Georgian food is, and I totally agree! On top of that, Tbilisi is full of quirky and unusual restaurants where you can experience the delights of this incredible cuisine – just like Bina N37, my favourite restaurant in town. Bina N37 means ‘apartment n.37’ because the restaurant is located in an eighth-floor apartment, in the Vedzisi neighbourhood of Tbilisi.

It’s actually the spin-off of another unusual and typically-Georgian business – a rooftop winery! It was opened by a doctor who started making wine in terracotta urns buried on his balcony, into what used to be his son’s swimming pool.

The wine business was successful and he started preparing simple dishes for guests who came to taste wine – and then cooking became more and more elaborate, and Bina N37 became a full restaurant. It’s a great place to visit not just because of the quirky vibe, but also because Georgian favourites like khinkali and vegetables stuffed with walnut paste are truly on point!

 

Old Vake – Sean & Jen, Venturists

Old Vake is this small, family-run restaurant outside the center of Tbilisi. The service is attentive, with the waiters more than willing to make recommendations or describe their specialties. And because of its location, you’ll usually just find Tbilisi locals at this lively place, but intrepid tourists can find it easily enough.

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - For Georgian Cuisine

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – For Georgian Cuisine

Old Vake has all the standard Georgian cuisine, and they’re all fantastic. But it’s the shkermuli that stands out, and had us coming back again and again. The crispy roasted chicken is moist and tender, with a rich sauce made from milk and lots of garlic. Rich, creamy, luxurious, and a million other taste bud tantalizing adjectives can’t do this dish justice. Make sure to order some Georgian bread to sop up the delicious sauce.

You can find it at 32 Paliashvili Street in Tbilisi

 

Samikitno – Sarah,  A Social Nomad

There are 2 branches of this popular chain to be found in downtown Tbilisi. The first is in Meidani Square and it’s usually pretty busy. For a quieter time head to the Freedom Square location. Both serve the same menu and if you’re looking to knock off a few items on your Georgian Food bucket list then this is the place to come to.

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - For Georgian Cuisine (inc. Tsiskvili)

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – For Georgian Cuisine (inc. Tsiskvili)

You’ll be able to try all your Georgian food favorites – although we recommend going as a group and ordering family style to be able to try absolutely everything, alternatively, go for a cold or hot tasting menu where you’ll get a small amount of a huge variety of dishes including chicken with garlic sauce, veal stew, gomi, steamed beef with walnuts and sulguni cheese (there’s a lot on the menu, these are just examples!)

The restaurants are well priced and provide menus in English, Georgian and Russian – and there are also photos so it’s easy to see what you’re going to get too!

 

Check out Our full and extensive article on What to Eat in Georgia + 2 part Podcast: HERE

 

Culinarium Khasheria – Nadine,  Le Long Weekend

Cosy, yet contemporary, Culinarium Khasheria is the perfect pit stop when touring Tbilisi’s old town. Located in the bath district, its inviting exterior is sure to pull your attention, as it did mine! Inside, the social theme continues with large tables to share a meal, and homely touches in the décor. Named after a traditional dish known to be a hangover cure, you’d do well to stop in here after a night on the town.

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - For Georgian Cuisine (inc. Tsiskvili)

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – For Georgian Cuisine

The food is famously good, and that makes this a popular spot for the locals to indulge in their favourite traditional dishes, with a modern twist. It was hard to decide what to order from the veggie-friendly menu, so we got a bunch of dishes to share. I found the flavours incredible – fresh, vibrant and so varied. Do yourself a favour and order a large jar of Ajika to accompany your meal too – they make the best in town!

 
Ethno Tsiskvili – Megan MeganStarr.com

There is something about food in the Caucasus – whether it is eating by the Caspian Sea in Baku or sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Yerevan. And then there is Tbilisi- a city that is anything but void of delicious food. My favorite restaurant in Tbilisi is Ethno Tsiskvili, a very local restaurant located a bit outside of the touristy Old Town. I was first taken there after making dinner plans with a friend who is from Tbilisi. When I told her to come to my area close to the Old Town, she instructed me that she would not eat food anywhere in that vicinity. She then gathered a group and took me to Ethno Tsiskvili via a taxi.

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - For Georgian Cuisine (inc. Tsiskvili)

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – For Georgian Cuisine (inc. Tsiskvili)

We arrived there and the restaurant had no other languages aside from Georgian on it. There were locals having parties and copious amounts of wine all while eating delicious Georgian food. We ordered a plate of khinkali, several bottles of wine, and some khachapuri and had an incredible night. The food stood head and shoulders above anything I had eaten in Tbilisi’s city center. If you have time, definitely take a taxi to Ethno Tsiskvili and enjoy a genuinely local dinner experience.

 

Racha – Kamila, Kami And The Rest Of The World

One of the places you can’t miss when you travel to Tbilisi is Racha. Located only a few steps away from Liberty Square, at the corner of Lermontov and Dadiani streets, it’s easy to miss the place. The random door you most likely wouldn’t notice lead you to the underground restaurant where the time has stopped.

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - For Georgian Cuisine

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – For Georgian Cuisine

The site has improved a lot over the years (I’ve been a frequent visitor since 2011), there is now the menu in other languages than just Georgian (English and Russian) and proper chairs to sit on (before there were only stools), but Racha didn’t lose its charm. The lady behind the counter doesn’t use the proper cash register but the old school abacus. You can see how the food is prepared in the open kitchen in the next room.

Racha serves all the classic Georgian dishes as well as the local home-made wine or chacha, and everything is delicious here. Prices are very affordable, among the cheapest ones in Tbilisi. The place might not look very fancy, but it is part of the Tbilisi experience.

 

Ezo – Rohan, Travels of a Bookpacker 

One of the best things to do in Tbilisi is eat! There is a huge range of local restaurants selling everything from tourist versions on mass to homecooked meals by someone’s grandmother. Ezo (means ‘yard’ in Georgian) is the perfect mix of atmosphere, fresh ingredients and local cuisine. Set in a gorgeous hidden courtyard you won’t stumble upon this place walking through the main tourist streets. Popular with visitors and locals alike this place always has a lively atmosphere and, in the summer, the outdoor area is filled with candle-lit seating and a small bar.

The food is nothing short of brilliant, offering seasonal and staple dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. Everything comes in decent portions and is, in true Georgian style, flavoursome and hearty. The waiters speak excellent English and are happy to explain the items on the menu or you can simply take a lucky dip and see what you end up with!

 

Barbarestan – Gigi, Vicousfoodie.com

At Barbarestan, Tbilisi’s fanciest fine dining restaurant, the cookbook is the star of the show. Why? Because this isn’t any old cookbook. It’s a book authored by a 19th century Duchess who also happens to be Georgia’s first feminist.

Inside, you’ll find hundreds of recipes that take Georgian cuisine and merge it with specialties and techniques from around the world. Every two years, Barbarestan hires on a new chef to interpret those recipes with their own twist.

Cafes in Tbilisi - Barbarestan

Cafes in Tbilisi – Barbarestan

If you go, expect romantic low lighting, excellent wines. Try the Winiveria or ask the waiters for pairing recommendations, and a menu that changes with the seasons. Order the cheese plate if you see it on the menu and don’t skip the spicy, crisp walnut bread served up shaped like pizza slices.

 

Keto and Kote – Emily, Wander-Lush

Perched high above Tbilisi inside a beautifully restored home, Keto and Kote (ქეთო და კოტე) is one of Tbilisi’s finest Georgian restaurants.

The menu at Keto and Kote is typical Georgian with a modern European twist. The Megrelian-born chef specialises in western Georgian dishes, such as Gebjalia and Elarji. Every time I eat there, I can’t go past the classic Georgian salad. Keto and Kote’s rendition of the deceptively-simple-yet-utterly-addictive tomato and cucumber salad is the freshest and tastiest I’ve eaten anywhere in Georgia. Make sure you request a side of walnut paste, a slice of sulguni cheese and a piece of house-baked bread to go with it.

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - For Georgian Cuisine

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – For Georgian Cuisine

A big part of Keto and Kote’s charm is its ‘hidden location’. To get there, you need to walk through a specific archway off Merab Kostava Street, down an alley behind Rustaveli Metro Station, and finally up a steep flight of stone stairs. Outdoor terrace seating and a balcony both command beautiful views of Vera, while inside, the interior is old-world Tbilisi chic at its finest.

 

⇒ Looking for somewhere to sleep off your food coma? Discover the best areas in Tbilisi to stay & best hotels in Tbilisi

 

Cafes in Tbilisi

Cafe Littera – Kiara, Gallop Around The Globe

 
One of my favourite restaurants in Tbilisi was Cafe Littera – as much for the setting as the food itself (although, admittedly, the food was delicious).

Cafe Littera is hidden away the lovely leafy walled garden of the 120-year-old Georgian Writers’ Union Building. Although the entrance is a little tricky to find (yup, this is not a restaurant you’re just going to ‘stumble upon’), when you do so you’ll feel as though you’ve discovered one of Tbilisi’s best kept secrets.

Chef Tekuna Gachechiladze ran her own cooking school in Tbilisi before opening Literra in 2015. She serves traditional Georgian food with a modern twist, taking influences from the latest tastes and trends.

Cafes in Tbilisi

Cafes in Tbilisi

As you’ve probably gathered, this isn’t a budget eatery in the city, but it’s totally worth blowing the budget for one night to eat here.

I can personally recommend trying a selection of local dips as a starter. We ordered smoked eggplant pkhali with pomegranate, pumpkin pkhali with walnuts and red adjuka, and homemade nadugi with red adjuka and mint, all served with lavash – the local flatbread. And then, if you’re a fish lover, the seared scallops on Sheela-pilaf with Georgian truffle sauce were amazing!

 

Cafe Linville – Lauda, Adventures With Luda

 
Cafe Linville may be hard to find (look for the metal door and go upstairs) but once you do, you’re rewarded with one of the kitschiest and best-decorated cafes in all of Tbilisi!

The place has a very unique style that looks like something out of your great-grandmother’s house (if she lived in Georgia) combined with little surprises like an aquarium made out of an old television; antique chairs that look like they came straight out of Versailles; and charming decor.

Cafes in Tbilisi - Cafe Linville

Cafes in Tbilisi – Cafe Linville

Like any good restaurant in Georgia, Linville has a wonderful selection of wines, along with classic dishes like meats, pizza, sandwiches, and desserts. If the weather is nice, you can sit on the balcony and enjoy watching people go by — especially since Linville is conveniently located in the old town.

If you have an hour or so, I definitely recommend taking a break and hanging out at Cafe Linville – you might even see the weekly tango class dancing in the main hall!

 

Café Leila – Annie Symonds, Londoner In Sydney 

Café Leila is one of Tbilisi’s brilliant little gems, located around the corner from the very touristy Leaning Clock Tower. You probably wouldn’t even notice this unassuming restaurant if you walked past it but what awaits you inside is an absolute delight. Café Leila is completely decked out in the most beautiful Persian theme you’ve ever witnessed. The ceiling is completely covered, as well as the walls and furniture is what can only be described as an Instagrammers dream.

With Georgian cuisine being a tad heavy on the bread and pastry side, Café Leila brings a welcomed break from the excess carbs and offers up a healthy food that’s locally grown, and non-processed. Expect a mainly vegan and vegetarian menu with a few fish options that will have you wanting to go back for more.

 

Best Khinkali In Tbilisi – Our Top 3 Picks

 

Golden Mug 

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - Best Khinkali in Tbilisi

Image By Golden Mug – Best Khinkali in Tbilisi

This restaurant in Tbilisi is a bit out of town so can often be undiscovered by tourists who tend to stay closer to the old

town of Tbilisi, but, for the cost of a very affordable uber ride you are sure to find out that this restaurant is a gem and a must visit during your stay in Tbilisi.

We have been there a few times before because of their live music and tasty beer but it wasn’t until our most recent visit when we ran into the owner of Baia’s Winery who told us that Golden Mug was her favourite place for Khinkali and that we should absolutely try the spicy meat khinkali. We didn’t need to be told twice! And she was right, the spicy meat khinkali is very possibly our pick for The Best Khinkali in Tbilisi! You have to go and try it for yourself…trust us! 

 

Zakhar Zakharich

 

 This little restaurant is for us the best restaurant in Tbilisi for hand made khinkali. You may not know this but today they often have a special device that helps restaurants make loads of khinkali without them having to all be made individually by hand. You can often tell the difference between ‘machine’ made and ‘hand’ made through the thickness of the dough. The dough is often fatter and not as smooth with hand made khinkali and you can feel like you’re eating more dough than filling. That said Zakhar Zakharich is doing a GREAT job at making hand made khinkali. Their khinkali are just flavour central, and a must try for sure! 

Situated right by the Dry Bridge Market, this is a great little traditional and very local place to get some delicious authentic Georgian food.  

 

Samikitno / Machakhela Restaurants 

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi - Best Khinkali in Tbilisi

Best Restaurants In Tbilisi – Best Khinkali in Tbilisi

While this may be a chain restaurant that you can find in quite a few locations around the city – they still offer super tasty khinkali and more options of fillings than most other restaurants. If you are looking for more than just a meat or cheese filling you can try their mushroom, red beans, or potato and cheese khinkali (a great option for vegetarians). They also have a creamy spinach khinkali which is one of the best khinkali in Tbilisi in our books! (They are listed sometimes as Samikitno and sometimes as Machakhela – or both!)

 

Best Khachapuri In Tbilisi – There is really only one…

Retro

Best Khachapuri In Tbilisi - Best Restaurants in Tbilisi

Best Khachapuri In Tbilisi – Best Restaurants in Tbilisi

Yes, of course, you can find khachapuri all over Tbilisi. Yes, it is pretty much amazing wherever you have it… Because it’s bready, cheesy, heaven on earth. But if you are seeking the Best Khachapuri in Tbilisi there is only one place that holds the crown – Retro.

In our opinion, its the best because the dough is less eggy/cakey and more bready. Also, ask any local about Retro and they will ALL know it – their khachapuri is legendary in Tbilisi. Come here to indulge in a single serving or take on the Titanic challenge (we couldn’t even finish it it’s that big). 

Best Khachapuri In Tbilisi - Best Restaurants in Tbilisi

Best Khachapuri In Tbilisi – The Titanic

 

There is an abundance of authentic Georgian food to find and try in Tbilisi and this Tbilisi food guide will help you to find the best Tbilisi Restaurants from the get go, to make sure you always get a tasty meal! From the best khinkali in Tbilisi to the best khachapuri in Tbilisi and all the other incredible foods in between we know that you will fall in love with Georgian cuisine just like everyone in this post did. Us especially! 

 

Visiting Georgia? Get Our Food Fun Travel Tbilisi Map – Free:

As well as top attractions and other points of interest, the map includes every restaurant listed in this Best Restaurants In Tbilisi article – plus many more. Make it easy to find the best of Tbilisi all on one easy to use google map overlay. Works on any device. Get The Map.

 

 

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13 Best Vineyards In Georgia (Europe) inc. Georgia Wineries Map

13 Best Vineyards In Georgia (Europe) inc. Georgia Wineries Map

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Vineyards In Georgia (Europe) & Georgia Wineries Map: Georgian wine is some of the most unique in the world with a focus on traditional production techniques. In this article, we round up our top Vineyard choices from our extensive testing of wine at cellar doors around the country. It’s a tough life!

From tiny home wineries to a 7KM (4 miles) underground wine tunnel. We figure out where to go for the most interesting experiences, wine tastings and… places where they speak English.

With more trips to Georgia planned, find our ever growing Georgia Wineries Map & Wine Regions Map at the bottom of this article.

 

Georgia has the oldest archeological evidence of winemaking in the world – dating back to about 6000 BC. Unlike other countries around the world, Georgia still makes many wines in the same way they would have been made 8000 years ago – by fermenting the grapes in clay pots (called Qvevri) buried underground to stabilize their temperatures.

The traditional method involves pressing the grapes for juice, but also including skins and stalks in the mix that is placed inside the qvevri. This is left to ferment for 3 to 6 months on average. Traditionally no additional maturation in oak is performed, though today some oak aged wines do exist.

Be aware that as well as these traditional qvevri wines, there are plenty of wines in Georgia using local grape varieties (there are estimated to be over 500 grape varietal endemic to Georgia) that are being made in the modern European style. So always ask if you are getting a qvevri wine or not.

Almost all vineyards have qvevri wines, only some, normally the larger ones, are mass producing non-qvevri wines.

 

Top Vineyards In Georgia

We chose to mainly feature vineyards in Georgia which had at least 1 English speaking staff member during our visit. Some have food options (booked in advance) some have a full restaurant. Every single option has its own unique reason to visit. Will you visit them all?

Baia’s Winery (Near Kutaisi)

Baia is one of Georgia’s top Female entrepreneurs with a focus on bespoke small batch qvevri wines – especially white wines with a magical hint of honey aftertaste. Baia’s winery focuses on 100% organic processes, but due to the prohibitive cost of international certification, it’s almost impossible for independent Georgian wineries to afford to get certified.

When you visit you’ll discover how they follow organic methodology as well as having the option for some fantastic home cooked food!

⇒ Heading to Kutaisi? Our friend Zurab is a local guide there who offers personalised tours.

Khareba Wine Tunnel (Near Telavi)

Khareba is one of the biggest wine producers in Georgia. Although they don’t offer the personal experience you get with the small family wineries, they do have a lot of reasons to visit the main Wine Tunnel site in Kvareli.

First, the 7KM wine tunnel itself. You don’t get to look around the whole 7KM, but you do get to walk through some of the tunnels to the massive wine tasting tunnel (pictured). They also offer bonus experiences like making traditional Georgian shoti bread and churchkhela (sweets). Plus, you can see there Chacha room in action – where they make Georgian grappa. The full service restaurant above the vineyard has an amazing view of the valley and great food with wine priced at… $1 per litre. They do have some more premium wines too though! 

Twins Wine Cellar (Near Telavi)

The owner at Twins always has his eye on a business opportunity, so Twins is a mix of commercial and family style. Good news if you want to get to do some fun wine activities like stomp grapes yourself with your feet! Unlike other vineyards which mostly only offer this stomping briefly at harvest time (or, for most places, it’s not available at all), Twins have some early harvest grapes so you can start picking in late August and then stomp the grapes you picked.

Vine Bridge – ვაზის ხიდი – (Near Kutaisi)

Vine Bridge is a brand new facility with big plans to become the must visit vineyard near Kutaisi Airport. They are building a wine hotel. They are also focusing on Georgia’s most successful wine variety – Saperavi (Red) – even though Saperavi does not grow well near Kutaisi. Instead, they are transporting grapes from east Georgia in order to make the Saperavi on site. The Saperavi was excellent!

This one is not well listed online yet. Search “Vine Bridge” on our Georgia Wineries Map below for the location.

Numisi Cellar Museum (Near Telavi)

We loved Numisi wine cellar for their quirky museum. Tours are mostly in Georgian but tours in English are sometimes available if someone is around that day who happens to speak English. The wine is also pretty good (home style). Rather than a “tasting” it’s pretty common in Georgian wineries with home wine, rather than bottled premium wine, that you get a jug of wine rather than a sip of wine! Between 3 people we got a 1/2 litre jug of both red and white. That’s a serious tasting.

Gogi Dvalishvili Wine Cellar (Near Gori)

Giogi’s place is a real home winery. You enter through his house, and down to his personal cellar where we tasted a really interesting selection of premium wines – including a rose (not common in Georgia yet). As well as being a former member of the Georgian national dance team, Giogi has become an expert winemaker, taking over the business from his father and expanding. Reservations essential.

Iago’s Winery (Near Tbilisi)

Iago’s makes the list as it is one of the closest vineyards to Tbilisi. If you want to visit a vineyard, rather than just do a wine tasting, you’d normally have to drive a couple of hours outside the city. Iago’s is just a few minutes drive from Mtskheta, just north of Tbilisi.

Learn More About Iago’s Winery

Shumi (Telavi)

Shumi is quite a large producer and they make some really good mid price wines. The star of their vineyard though is the very old Qvevri in their museum (3000BC) and their grape garden – featuring some 100 or so different grape varieties all in one little plot.

Pheasant’s Tears (Sighnaghi)

Pheasant’s Tears are one of the most famous all natural wine producers in Georgia. They’ve done a great job on their marketing, their restaurant, and their wine. So much so, that a stop at Pheasants Tears in Sighnaghi is on many a wine tour itinerary. However, the stop is not a Vineyard Tour. It’s a restaurant in town. The quality is great so we recommend it but if you are looking to visit some vines and see production, this is not the place.

Secret Home Winery & Bottle Museum (Near Kutaisi)

We visited a few very homely vineyards. Most families in the countryside make their own wine. It’s just a part of life. Some make extra wine to sell or send to family in the city. Some are listed on the national wine route (brown road signs), but when you turn up at their door, they don’t speak any English. Which can make things tricky. On our map below I list a few of the home wineries that are very much just someone’s house selling off some excess wine.

However, there are some places that are not on the wine routes, which you need a local guide to visit. Essentially, you are just getting invited to someone’s home for a drink. The most interesting of these we did was in a small village near Kutaisi. The homeowner actually broke the seal on one of his qvevris and served us the first new glass of Georgian amber wine (pictured). This was a pretty unique experience. In addition, he has a private museum of old Soviet and Georgian bottles and memorabilia.

The only way to visit is with a local guide, you can’t turn up by yourself and it’s not listed anywhere – it’s just a private residential home. If too many people go, the guy will likely start turning people away, so even with a guide, there is no guarantee.

To have a chance for this sort of experience, or to get shown around the other vineyards and nature of the area, setup a personalised tour with our guide friend Zurab in Kutaisi.

 

Take A Wine Tour Or Day Trip

Some of the best scenery and history in Georgia is outside of Tbilisi. Although you can rent a car, some of the roads (and road rules) are pretty terrible. Even google maps should not be trusted outside of Tbilisi as some routes marked as roads are just rocky tracks – we found this out the hard way when trying to self drive to David Gareji Monastery. Plus, if you want to try lots of the amazing Georgian wine and stop in at one of a huge selection of vineyards, getting a guide is the best choice. Here are some popular tour options:

 

 
 

 

Wine Tasting In Tbilisi

Can’t make it out to the countryside to visit a vineyard in Georgia? Taste Georgian wine in the capital, Tbilisi, instead.

8000 Vintages

The most fun wine tasting classes in Tbilisi are at 8000 vintages. Join a group, get to know new people and enjoy a really interactive experience with their expert sommelier. Contact 8000 vintages on Facebook in advance for dates and times of classes.

 Karalashvili Wine Cellar

Wine tasting, rather than a full class, is awesome at Karalashvili wine cellar in downtown Tbilisi. Try a well prepared selection of wines in an old wine cellar. We loved it so much we even got some of our wedding photos done there after we got married in Tbilisi.

Shumi Cellar Door (Tbilisi)

Wines on tap, as well as many in bottles. Shumi’s Tbilisi cellar door is an interesting interpretation of a traditional country wine room. Find the location, and that of all the items listed in this article, on the Georgian Wineries Map below.

 

 

 

Georgia Wineries Map

 Want Your Vineyard, Wine Shop or Cellar Door featured on our Georgia Wineries map? Submit Your Information Here.

To See What Each Colored Region Is Called, Open The Index Key Using The Button On The Top Left Of The Map Window – This will also reveal the names of wineries.

In order to search winery names from above, open the map in full screen using the top right icon.

 

Tbilisi Map (Interactive Google Map): 100+ Points of interest – Get Free Access Now

We’ve put together a Tbilisi google map overlay with all our top picks of attractions, restaurants, foodie experiences, accommodation, transport locations and more! Save yourself a bunch of time by having our huge list of Tbilisi highlights instantly at your fingertips. Get Our Tbilisi Map NOW – Click Here.

  • Works on any device over 4G or wifi – follow the Tbilisi map as you travel
  • It’s FREE!
  • 100+ highlighted spots to visit / eat
  • Super easy to use on google maps app or on any browser

 

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40 Activities & Places to Visit in Tbilisi

Things To Do in Tbilisi attractions

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Things To Do in Tbilisi & Free Tbilisi Map: Our Tbilisi Travel Guide includes an extensive list of places to visit in Tbilisi and fun things to do in Tbilisi. Whether you are after food, culture, history or nightlife we cover the best Tbilisi Attractions and activities.

As well as this guide with more than 40 things to do in Tbilisi, or Tbilisi Map (Interactive Google Map Overlay) features a total of 100+ items including everything in this article and our top restaurant choices, Tbilisi cafes, bars, clubs, accommodation and essential transport locations.

Discover what to do in Tbilisi with our comprehensive guide. Plus our Top 5 Tbilisi must see list to help you prioritize if you are on a very short trip. So let’s get started!

A Brief Intro To Tbilisi

Tbilisi is the capital of the Republic of Georgia. It has a turbulent history of conquest and trade. Being repeatedly occupied over the years by the Romans, Ottomans, Persians, Russians and more. Tbilisi was an East-meets-West hub for the silk road. Through all this change, and even after 70 years of communism, the spirit of the people of Georgia remains infectiously and proudly Georgian.

Georgia has a unique alphabet, unrelated to its neighbours. Their influence on regional cuisine makes them stand out as a food destination in their own right that has not been subdued by strong influences from Turkey, Iran and Russia. Just south of Tbilisi, the oldest archaeological evidence of winemaking in the world – from about 6000 BC. Wine is still made around Georgia as it was 8000 years ago.

Tbilisi brings together flavors and culture from all over the country into a city where the modern and the historic writhe together, fighting to be seen. It’s said that those who enter Georgia as a guest, will be treated with more hospitality than anywhere else in the world because it’s a welcome change to have people visit who are not trying to invade them! I can confirm that Georgian hospitality is certainly some of the best I’ve ever experienced.

 

Top Things To Do in Tbilisi: 5 Essentials (Tbilisi Must See)

These are our top choices for things to do in Tbilisi if you only have limited time (24 to 48 hours in Tbilisi). Hopefully, you’ll have more time than that though, so you can enjoy all the other fun things to do in Tbilisi – all of which are listed on our Free Tbilisi Tourist Map.

Take The Cable Car For Views Of The Old Town: Visit Narikala Fortress & Mother Of Georgia

Top Things To Do in Tbilisi: City Views From Narikala Fortress

Our number 1 Tbilisi must see: take the cable car from Rike Park (It only costs a couple of dollars!) and up to the top station near Narikala Fortress for sensational views across Tbilisi. The cable car runs late, so it’s easy to head up there a couple of hours before sunset, visit the fortress and the Mother of Georgia statue, then grab a seat at Grilisi bar and watch the city lights turn on while sipping on a tasty beverage. In the view, you see the Peace Bridge (middle left), the old town (bottom left), Rike Park and the parliament building (centre) and St Trinity Cathedral (top right). Out of the photo, views all the way up the river valley of the whole city.

Eat Traditional Georgian Food

Things To Do in Tbilisi attractions | Places To Visit In Tbilisi Map Google: Eat Traditional Georgian Food

Top Things To Do in Tbilisi: Eat Traditional Georgian Food

Georgia very quickly landed as one of our top 5 foodie destinations in the world! It’s not hard to fall in love with almost every traditional dish – especially the most famous national dishes Khachapuri (Cheese filled bread – pictured) & Khinkali (giant soup dumplings). Finding fantastic restaurants and trying Georgian food should be right at the top of your what to do in Tbilisi and Georgia list.

Check out our Georgian Cuisine Mega Guide & Podcast (With 60+ dishes to try)

Things To Do In Tbilisi: Tbilisi Free Walking Tours

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Top Things To Do in Tbilisi: Take A Tbilisi Walking Tour

Get oriented in Tbilisi and learn from an expert guide – for free (well, for tips, so for very cheap!). One of the fastest ways to get a taste of Tbilisi, without getting lost, is to take one of the Tbilisi Free Walking tours. Aside from the classic free tour, which will take you to some of the most iconic sites of the city, they also offer backstreet tours that help you discover lesser visited spots. Although we’ll mention a couple of our favorite Tbilisi must see secret spots in this article, to find the rest, you should take some of the tours.

From communist history (Did you know Stalin was born in Georgia?) to street art: see a list of all the Tbilisi Walking Tours. (Free & Premium Tours Available)

Explore The Meidan & Streets/Architecture Of The Old Town

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Tbilisi Attractions: Explore Tbilisi Old Town

The Meidan is the bustling central square of Old Tbilisi. Classic Georgian architecture, with colourful wooden balconies, cobbled streets, and a constant throng of people from morning until very late at night. From the Meidan, head up in any direction away from the river to explore the attractive side streets and historic buildings. Easily find your way around the sights of the Meidan and Old Tbilisi with our free interactive Tbilisi map.

What To Do In Tbilisi: Drink Traditional Wine In An Old Cellar

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Places To Visit In Tbilisi: Discover The Old Wine Cellars. Photo Credit: https://mywed.com/en/photographer/Ioseb/

Georgia is famed for their wine culture – being that archeological evidence shows Georgia as being the birthplace of winemaking, around 6000 BC. Many natural wines are still made using the ancient traditional process. This is not a gimmick that was brought back recently, it’s a long standing tradition of family winemaking across the country, where wine is fermented in buried clay pots, called qvevris. 

Although you can find qvevri wine in restaurants and bars across Tbilisi, our favourite wine experience in the old town is to enjoy wine in one the wine cellars. Our top pick is Karalashvili wine cellar – it’s just on the fringe of the tourist centre so it’s a little less touristified. Most importantly, they take real care and pride in their wine and we love the subterranean atmosphere – and the old piano. So much so, when we got married in Tbilisi, we stopped in to get some wedding photos done there (Since then they’ve now got amazing ratings on Tripadvisor too).

They offer lots of different wines and a wine tasting option.

If you have more time in Tbilisi, take a full wine tasting class (See more below in the Things to do In Tbilisi For Foodies section)

 

 

Tbilisi Map (Interactive Google Map): 100+ Points of interest – Get Free Access Now

We’ve put together a Tbilisi google map overlay with all our top picks of attractions, restaurants, foodie experiences, accommodation, transport locations and more! Save yourself a bunch of time by having our huge list of Tbilisi highlights instantly at your fingertips. Get Our Tbilisi Map NOW – Click Here.

  • Works on any device over 4G or wifi – follow the Tbilisi map as you travel
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  • 100+ highlighted spots to visit / eat
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Places to Visit in Tbilisi: Top Tbilisi Attractions

Already covered in our Top 5 Things To Do In Tbilisi above:

  • Take The Cable Car For Views Of The Old Town
  • Explore The Meidan & Streets/Architecture Of The Old Town

Sulphur Baths Tbilisi

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Places To Visit In Tbilisi: Take a soak in the Sulphur Baths (Hot Springs)

The sulphur baths are considered by most guides to be one of the main Tbilisi tourist attraction.

Tbilisi sits on a natural thermal spring which is used to supply 40-50 degrees C water to about 10 bathhouses in the Abanotubani area. Legend says that Tbilisi was founded exactly where it is because the ruler of the region at the time, King Vakhtang Gorgasali, discovered the hot springs while out hunting. 

Aside from strolling around the baths to admire their exteriors, you’ll probably want to get in and enjoy the healing waters for yourself. It’s typical to get a private room which you can share with your own group. This will include your own hot-spring bath, and varying levels of sophistication and design depending on the price. A private room tends to cost between 3o and 200 GEL ($12 to $90 USD) per hour. Extra for massage services. Though prices are increasing rapidly as tourism grows in the city. 

Some Sulphur Baths Tbilisi You Can visit:

  • Orbeliani Baths – Beautiful Mosaic Exterior. Reasonable prices.
  • Bathhouse No. 5 – Supposedly the oldest traditional bathhouse. Higher prices, busy.
  • Queen’s Sulphur Bath – A more modern facility
  • Gulo’s Baths
  • Royal Bath Tbilisi

Gallery 27 – Kaleidoscope House

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Tbilisi attractions: Gallery 27 (Kaleidoscope House)

Gallery 27 is actually a residential home with apartments where locals live. But you can visit the entrance way and deck area, as well as little arts & crafts gift shop. The stained glass is beautiful and it’s free to walk around. A quirky sidestreet attraction away from the main tourist zone.

Discover The Secret Downtown Waterfall & City Walls

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Places To Visit In Tbilisi: Explore Behind the Sulphur Baths To Find The Secret Waterfall

Behind the Sulphur Baths Tbilisi, follow the river upstream and you’ll pass the rear part of the baths and old town. In this photo, you see a mosque and a church in the same vista, as well as the domes of the baths and colored balconies. If you keep following the river towards the cliff face, you will eventually find a waterfall just behind the old town. You can swim there too.

Georgian National Museum

Tbilisi’s main museum features collections highlighting the history of Georgia. The ideal place to gain more depth of knowledge of their turbulent past. Plus, discover the archeological history of the oldest winemaking tradition in the world.

Anchiskhati Basilica

Things To Do in Tbilisi attractions | Places To Visit In Tbilisi Map Google: Anchiskhati Basilica - Tbilisi's Oldest Church

Tbilisi attractions: Anchiskhati Basilica – Tbilisi’s Oldest Church

The Anchiskhati Basilica is the oldest surviving church in Tbilisi built by the King Dachi of Iberia in the 6th Century, shortly after Tbilisi became capital of the region. 

What To Do In Tbilisi: The Italian Courtyards

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Things To See In Tbilisi: The Italian Courtyards

One of the most surprising things about Georgian culture is their openness to interaction with guests. Tbilisi is littered with courtyards which, to foreigners at least, probably seem like private property. Actually, it’s a completely acceptable thing to do in Tbilisi to just walk into these shared courtyards and socialise. On occasions, stumbling in unannounced may lead to being offered free drinks or snacks too! Called “Italian courtyards”, but really more Persian in design. Expect grape vines, laundry and a real local atmosphere. If you don’t feel comfortable just walking in, it’s best to join one of the free walking tours.

Liberty Square (Freedom Square) & Rustaveli Avenue

Like all many ex-communist capitals, a bombastic square with bold architecture has been renamed to reflect newfound independence. Freedom Square has had many names over the years, including being previously called Freedom Square back in 1918 when Georgia had also briefly won their independence. During the communist time, this was Lenin Square, now Freedom Square once again.

Running North-West from Freedom Square is Rustaveli Avenue. An important street for trade and culture. Along Rustaveli you’ll find the Opera House, National Museum and many shops, cafes and restaurants. As you head to the north end of Rustaveli, you eventually reach a quieter district with tree lined and cobbled streets.

What To See In Tbilisi: The Sioni Cathedral

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Tbilisi attractions: Sioni Cathedral

Sioni Cathedral is right in Old Tbilisi. Its construction began in the 5th century, but was not completed until 639AD. It’s been destroyed and rebuilt in part many times and the current structure is mostly from the period of King David the Builder – one of Georgia’s most important rulers from the 11th/12th century. Find Sioni Cathedral, and every other item listed in this article, on our free interactive map of Tbilisi.

The National Botanical Garden of Georgia (Tbilisi Botanical Garden)

The Tbilisi Botanical Garden is a 161 Hectare parkland which can be accessed from the top of the Cable Car, departing from Rike Park. The gardens were first established in 1625, or perhaps earlier, as a royal garden. Today they can be enjoyed by all. You’ll find over 4,500 different plants etc.

Things To See In Tbilisi: The Bridge Of Peace

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Places To Visit In Tbilisi: The Bridge Of Peace

The 150 meter long bridge of peace (pedestrians only) connects Old Tbilisi on the west bank, with Rike Park and newer parts of Tbilisi on the east. This modern bridge was completed in 2010 and is lit with LED lights. The structure was considered controversial by many residents of the city for being a grossly modern design pulling attention away from historical buildings nearby. Love it or hate it, it’s become a popular crossing for tourists taking photos, and for locals going about their daily business.

Places To Visit in Tbilisi: Saint Trinity Cathedral

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Places To Visit In Tbilisi: St. Trinity Cathedral

The distinctive golden roof of St. Trinity Cathedral has become another icon of the Tbilisi skyline. But St. Trinity Cathedral is also a new addition, completed in 2004. It was built to commemorate 1,500 years of the Georgian Orthodox church. It also became a symbol to the return to freedom of religion after the end of Communism.

Views From Vera Park

Although we prefer the panoramic views of Tbilisi from the top of the Rike Park cable car, Vera Park, north of Rustaveli Avenue is a less crowded spot offering city views looking south, rather than north. Vera park is also a popular choice for people watching and relaxing.

Street Art

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Making a boring window more fun: Tbilisi Street Art

Like many big cities, street art is a popular form of expression in Tbilisi. The highest concentration of art pieces are found near Fabrika and the new (19th century) Tbilisi area on the east side of the river. Join the Backstreets Of Tbilisi Free Walking Tour to be guided to some of the best pieces.

 

What to do in Tbilisi: Fun Activities & Tbilisi Nightlife

Already Mentioned in Top 5 Above:

  • Free Walking Tours
  • Drink Traditional Wine In A Cellar

Traditional Dancing & Polyphonic Singing

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Things To Do in Tbilisi: See Traditional Polyphonic Singing & Georgian Dancing

The first time we heard traditional Georgian polyphonic singing we were sitting in a 24/7 beerhouse at 2 am. 3 Guys in the corner spontaneously broke into song. Quite a unique experience, or so we thought. But after spending many months living in Tbilisi, we found that spontaneous harmonising is in the fabric of the culture and it’s typical in the more local restaurants to find groups of Georgians singing at their tables.

Of course, if you don’t want to rely on luck, there are some restaurants that have dinner theatre with sword dancing and live Georgian singing. Some to consider:

  • Ethno Tsiskvili – Amazing venue with a purpose built waterfall in the courtyard, wine tasting room and a variety of song and dance entertainment in multiple venues. Dress Code: Shoes and long trousers. Reservations essential. For Polyphonic singing, ask on the phone for times. This is way out of town, but taxis are cheap and it’s totally worth it.
  • In The Shadow Of Metekhi – Central venue with daily traditional music and dancing. On Fridays, they have singing waiters. Contact in advance to check the music program and times.
  • Phaetoni (Pictured) – Best example of polyphonic singing, in my opinion. Food at a lower standard than Tsiskvili. After the main band finished, the lead singer came back out to host karaoke… Things went downhill from there. So check times of main performance in advance.

Fun Things To Do In Tbilisi: Mtatsminda Park & Funicular Tbilisi

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Take The Tbilisi Funicular

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Explore Mtatsminda Park At The Top Of Tbilisi Funicular

A short walk west of Freedom Square you’ll find the Tbilisi Funicular which takes you up to Mtatsminda Park and the Funicular restaurant. From here you are much higher than at the Rike Park cable car viewpoint, so you can see the whole city spread out around you. The Tbilisi Funicular restaurant is surprisingly affordable and a great place to eat or drink and enjoy the view – day or night.

Mtatsminda Park, just a few minutes walk from the Tbilisi Funicular top station is a quirky amusement park with an old time ghost house, 4D cinema for kids and more.

Places To Visit In Tbilisi: Fabrika

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Things To Do in Tbilisi: Party at Fabrika

Fabrika is the number 1 hipster hot spot in Tbilisi right now. Built into an old communist textiles factory, Fabrika has multiple bars and restaurants backing onto an inner courtyard, a hostel (With dorms and private rooms) and a co-working space. Expect a lively atmosphere most nights, especially in the summer – you don’t have to be a guest to party there. A night at Fabrika is definitely one of the top things to do in Tbilisi for the under 40’s.

What To Do In Tbilisi: Dry Bridge Market

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Things To Do in Tbilisi: Hunt For Russian Memorabilia @ Dry Bridge Market

The old Russian antiques and flea market. During communism, free commerce and capitalism were illegal. When communism collapsed, Georgians looking to make ends meet came to the dry bridge – a busy crossing with lots of passing trade – in order to buy and sell. Soviet memorabilia and pretty much any non-food item that could be sold became a part of the market.

Want to find this market and everything else on this list + restaurants, bars and more? Get our free interactive Tbilisi Map (powered by Google maps)

Davit Agmashenebeli St – Alternative Dining & Entertainment Street

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Things To Do in Tbilisi: Dine Al Fresco @ Davit Agmashenebeli St

Tbilisi is certainly a top dining and nightlife city. Most tourists quickly find the excellent Erekle II dining street and stumble into the overly touristy Jan Shardeni St (avoid at all costs – unless you love overpaying for average quality food). But a third choice for a vibrant atmosphere in the evening is the south end of Davit Agmashenebeli St.

Chacha time – Drink Traditional Georgian Spirits

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Things To Do in Tbilisi: Drink Georgia’s Famous Chacha

Chacha is Georgia’s traditional grape based spirit – similar to grappa. Chacha is a protected drink that can only use that name if it is made in Georgia. At many restaurants and bars, you’ll find some pretty rough chacha. At Chacha Time, you’ll find an extensive, sophisticated selection with knowledgeable staff waiting to guide you through the finer side of flavored and aged Chachas from the best producers in Georgia.

Rezo Gabriadze Puppet Theatre & Clock Tower

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Things To Do in Tbilisi: Rezo Gabriadze Puppet Theatre Clock Tower & Shows

The small 80 seat Rezo Gabriadze puppet theatre opened in 1981. The clock tower outside was added in 2010 and now draws crowds every hour during the day, waiting to see the hourly clockwork puppet show. Show performance in the theatre are in varying languages, check the Rezo Gabriadze website for more details.

Where To Go In Tbilisi: Rike Park

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Places To Visit In Tbilisi: Rike Park

Rike Park, as well as containing the Cable Car base station, also hosts art exhibits, free cultural shows and is just a pleasant place to hang out.

Fun Things To Do In Tbilisi: 24/7 Food & Wine

Things To Do in Tbilisi attractions | Places To Visit In Tbilisi Map Google: 24/7 food and wine at Khinkali house

Things To Do in Tbilisi: 24/7 food and wine – our late night khinkali feast

Tbilisi’s 24/7 food and wine culture is certainly a novelty for many visitors who didn’t grow up in a 24/7 dining culture. If you want a big plate of khinkali and a jug of wine at 4am… you are in the right city. Not every restaurant is 24 hour, of course. We always seemed to end up at Khinkali house on Rustaveli after a night out – there are other branches around Tbilisi though. There is nothing remotely classy about Khinkali house, but at 4am, who cares?

Easy Wine – 100+ Wines In Dispensers

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Things To Do in Tbilisi: Try 100+ wines and spirits on tap @ Easy Wine

Wine tasting is an easy thing to do in Tbilisi. But few venues have anything like the selection of wines by the glass as easy wine. Normally more than 100 Georgian wines and spirits from easy dispensers – with a card system to track spending. If you turn up during the afternoon, before dinner gets going, you may also get some individual attention from the head sommelier, like we did.

Enjoy Some Tbilisi Craft Beer

Things To Do in Tbilisi attractions | Places To Visit In Tbilisi Map Google: Craft Beer Tbilisi @ no.8 Bar and grill

Craft Beer Tbilisi @ No.8 Bar and Grill

The craft beer revolution has started to find a footing in Tbilisi – fighting the historic tradition of wine drinking. Though the offerings of quality craft beer are still limited and require a bit of work to find, we pick No. 8 Bar & Grill as our top microbrewery. The Zulu Run IPA was a winner, their English bitter was also a slice of malt heaven which was hard to stop drinking. Their house made mustard and smoked meats were a bonus to accompany the beer too.

 

Things To Do In Tbilisi For Foodies

Already mentioned in our Top 5 Above:

  • Eat Traditional Georgian Food

NOTE: Our Where To Eat In Tbilisi Guide Is Coming Very Soon – 25+ restaurants & cafes you must try.

 

Wine Tasting Class – Learn About Georgian Wine Tradition

Things To Do in Tbilisi attractions | Places To Visit In Tbilisi Map Google: Wine Tasting Class at 8000 Vintages Tbilisi

Things To Do in Tbilisi: Wine Tasting Class at 8000 Vintages

Instead of just doing some basic wine tasting, you can experience a full guided class and meet some other people while learning about the styles and history of Georgian traditional wine. Our top pick for wine tasting in Tbilisi is at 8000 vintages. Contact them on Facebook in advance for dates and times of classes.

As well as the wine tasting, they are also a wine bar with charcuterie and cheese plates of local products and they are a very well stocked wine shop. The sommelier and staff blind taste every new wine (tough job!) which they intend to stock, to make sure it’s good enough to hit the shelves.

Take A Tbilisi Cooking Class

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Things To Do in Tbilisi: Take A Tbilisi Cooking Class To Make Traditional Georgian Cuisine

Not only should you eat a lot of Georgian food, but you should learn how to cook it! Over our extended time in Georgia, I’ve learned a few classics and re-created them back home – Khachapuri, Khinkali, Ostri and a few others. As it’s tricky to find Georgian food outside of the Caucasus region, you are going to miss it once you leave. So you better learn the secrets!

Explore a selection of cooking classes in Tbilisi.

What To Do In Tbilisi: Visit The Dezerter Bazaar

Although Tbilisi’s largest municipal market (about 2,000 square metres) was refurbished in 2012, it still retains the charm and atmosphere of the last 100+ years. Mainly because of Georgia’s fierce commitment to local produce and local vendors. It’s pretty typical for products you buy to have moved down the family chain. Everyone in Tbilisi seems to have relatives who live in the country and local shops and traders almost always bring that family supply direct to their own stores.  

The Dezerter Bazaar got its name in the 1920s when Russian soldiers who deserted the fighting in the region were known to sell off their weapons and belongings in the market.

Today, produce is the main thing for sale. And one thing you’ll find is the most famous Georgian dessert…

Eat Traditional Sweets

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Things To Do in Tbilisi: Eat Churchkhela – Traditional Georgian Dessert

Churchkhela: A smart use of the byproducts of winemaking. Grape must is boiled and then thickened with flour. The thick mixture formed is used to encase nuts (often walnuts) into these long sausage like sweets. They are often referred to by locals as “Georgian Snickers”. Unlike snickers, they are naturally sweet and sugar is not added. A much healthier alternative!

Try An Extensive Range Of Georgian Cheese

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Things To Do in Tbilisi: Try Georgian Cheese @ Cheese House, Vake

The King of Georgian cheese is Sulguni – it’s on every restaurant menu and it’s a bit like a firm mozzarella. Great for melty cheesey cooking. When it comes to eating cheese raw though, we found restaurants were not so well stocked. To try some truly interesting Georgian cheeses we headed to Cheese House in Vake – just north of Rustaveli. The owners went sample crazy and we got to try quite a few before settling on a firm cheese with rosemary and thyme in it to buy.

Visit A Traditional Wine Shop – Shumi Cellars

It’s traditional to get wine (and beer) on tap at shops in Georgia – even at the modern supermarkets you may find taps. Many of the large wineries in Georgia are represented with their own cellar doors in Tbilisi. Though these are normally purpose built, some have been designed to re-create a little more faux country atmosphere. My top pick for the most interesting cellar door is the Shumi Wine Shop on Sulkhan Tsintsadze St. Get the exact location with our free interactive Tbilisi Map.

See Traditional Georgian Shoti Bread Made

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Things To Do in Tbilisi: See Georgian Shoti Bread Being Made @ Bread House

Salty perfect bread! I have to say that Georgian Shoti bread is up there in my top 2 favorite breads along with proper artisanal baguettes in France (not the factory stuff they sell in supermarkets). And the reason, I believe, is both these types of bread are a little salt heavy and feature a rustic crispy outside with a soft inside.

Shoti bread is closer to naan bread in shape, and is cooked in a similar way – stuck to the side of a round stone oven. But it tastes nothing like naan. You Have to try it! Most little bakeries around town are happy to let you see them make the bread, even if they don’t speak English. To see it made in an open kitchen, drop into Bread House, a downtown Tbilisi restaurant, and enjoy some bread and a glass of wine.

 

Things To Do Outside Central Tbilisi

We loved central Tbilisi, but there are a few locations within 30 minutes drive of the centre that are worth getting out of town to see. 

Jvari Monastery

Things To Do near Tbilisi attractions | Places To Visit In Tbilisi Map Google: Jvari Monastery, Mtskheta

Things To Do Near Tbilisi: Jvari Monastery, Mtskheta

The Jvari monastery is perched on a hill north of Tbilisi, overlooking the confluence of the Aragvi & Mtkvari rivers. Though most visitors drive up there for the view, less realise the significance of the site. Legend says it is here that King Mirian III was converted to Christianity here in the early 4th century AD by the evangelist Saint Nino. A cross was erected and eventually a church as the kingdom became Christian. The current Jvari Monastery was completed on the site around 605 AD and is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Mtskheta & Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

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Visit Mtskheta & Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

The city of Mtskheta was founded in the 5th century BC and became the capital of the region in the 3rd century BC until the capital was moved to Tbilisi in the 6th century AD. It is where the Georgian Orthodox Church was founded and still where they have their HQ.

As well as the Jvari Monastery (Seen on the hill far behind the Cathedral – pictured) the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (1029 AD) is another important UNESCO site. The cathedral was built on an older site from the 4th century AD.

Jvari Monastery and Mtskheta are most easily reached by car or tour (It’s not so possible to walk between the two as there is no nearby river crossing). We could not find a bus to Jvari. Given the low price of taxis and shared tours in Georgia, it’s easier just to take one of those options anyway. See This Affordable Tour Option.

 

 

Outdoor Ethnographic Museum

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Things To Do in Tbilisi: Outdoor Ethnographic Museum of Georgia

One of our surprise favorite museums in Tbilisi, or anywhere. We went in with very low expectations as the Ethnographic museum is a little run down – though is under slow refurbishment. However, for a dollar or two entry, we were impressed. For 50+ years, the museum has been moving traditional dwellings from all over Georgia to this one outdoor location on the hill above Vake. With a huge variance in climate across Georgia, the types of dwellings are all surprisingly different.

The best draw of the museum was that they have volunteers hanging out in some of the dwellings who will explain to you how people used to live in them and what each room was used for. That personal interaction with locals who spoke English, combined with being in the authentic buildings was a great experience. Don’t expect light shows and choreography but the museum was charming.

Why spend forever searching google maps for all the places on this list – Just get our free interactive map and you’ll find every point of interest PLUS restaurants and accommodation all highlighted in one easy tourist map of Tbilisi.

Tbilisi Sea & Water Park

A huge reservoir to the North East of Tbilisi is known to locals as the Tbilisi Sea. In one location they have an artificial beach. In another, you’ll find the Gino Paradise Waterpark. Locals flood to the beach and waterpark during the hot mid-summer days to cool off.

Turtle Lake

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Things To Do Near Tbilisi: Turtle Lake

Dining and swimming at Turtle Lake is another spot to escape the heat, and the tourists, as this is almost exclusively a local spot. You can reach it by taxi/car or by taking the lesser known small cable car from Vake Park.

What To Do In Tbilisi: Chronicles of Georgia

A giant stone monument and statue park created by Georgian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli in 1985 – but never finished. The project was designed to chronicle the history of Georgia. It’s not that well known by locals (and taxi drivers!) so we suggest using an app like Taxify (Better than Uber in Tbilisi) so the driver knows where to go.

Take A Wine Tour Or Day Trip

We released a guide to Georgian Wineries including a map.

Some of the best scenery and history in Georgia is outside of Tbilisi. Although you can rent a car, some of the roads (and road rules) are pretty terrible. Even google maps should not be trusted outside of Tbilisi as some routes marked as roads are just rocky tracks – we found this out the hard way when trying to self drive to David Gareji monastery. Plus, if you want to try lots of the amazing Georgian wine and stop in at one of a huge selection of vineyards, getting a guide is the best choice. Here are some popular tour options:

 

 

 

Accommodation in Tbilisi

Accommodation in Tbilisi (Best Hotels – opens in new Tab) – Our Popular Tbilisi Accommodation article outlines some of our top picks for where to stay in Tbilisi.

 

Or Browse Tbilisi Hotels On: Booking.com | Agoda | Expedia | Hotels.com

We stayed in an Airbnb apartment during our extended trips in Tbilisi. Get $25 Off Your First Stay With AirBnB by using our link.

*Please support our blog by using our hotel links, rather than searching on google.

 

DON’T FORGET! Get Our Tbilisi Map (Interactive Google Map): 100+ Points of interest – Get Free Access Now

We’ve put together a Tbilisi google map overlay with all our top picks of attractions, restaurants, foodie experiences, accommodation, transport locations and more! Save yourself a bunch of time by having our huge list of Tbilisi highlights instantly at your fingertips. Get Our Tbilisi Map NOW – Click Here.

  • Works on any device over 4G or wifi – follow the Tbilisi map as you travel
  • It’s FREE!
  • 100+ highlighted spots to visit
  • Super easy to use on google maps app or on any browser

 

 

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