A Weekend In Tbilisi

The GeorgIan capItal Is a charmIng mIx of Its European and SovIet pasts wIth a vIbrant youNG populatIon. Here are 48 hours in Tbilisi.

Saturday

9 a.m.
Find your bearings in the Georgian capital by starting your day with a stroll down Rustaveli Avenue. Stop at lovely old buildings like the Opera and the Kashveti church. This wide tree-lined street is one of Tbilisi’s main thoroughfares, running from the Old Town, past Parliament, to the neighborhood of Vake and beyond.

10.30 a.m.
Immerse yourself in history by heading to the National Museum of Georgia complex. For the more distant past, check out the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia, named for the late Georgian historian, which displays the country’s main archaeological finds.

1 p.m.
You could try Georgia’s famous dumplings, khinkali, at lunch. Delicious and amazingly cheap dumplings of every sort, from popular meat to cheese and mushroom, are available.

3 p.m.
At the Dry Bridge Market, vendors lay out their wares on the sidewalk for your perusal. You could pick up a phonograph or a complete set of crystal glasses being sold by housewives.
 
5 p.m.
Hail a taxi to the Maydani area of the Old Town. Here, you can work up an appetite for dinner by climbing up to the stunning Narikala citadel on Mount Mtatsminda, overlooking all of Tbilisi. Built in the fourth century, it has an amazing view of the sunset.


7 p.m.
Walk down the hill from the citadel to the bustling streets of Shardeni and Leselidze. Here, you will find rows of cafes and restaurants of every flavor. For dinner, you have everything from Chinese to Moroccan – and yes, Georgian – in your reach.

Sunday

9 a.m.
20 minutes out of Tbilisi to Mtsketa, Georgia’s ancient capital, where the country’s two largest rivers join up. Mtsketa is famous for its churches, notably the Life-Giving Pillar Cathedral (Sveti Tskhoveli), which dates back to the 12th century.

1 p.m.
There are several lovely riverfront restaurants in Mtsketa. Dishes that must not be missed: Khachapuri, Georgia’s ubiquitous cheese pie, eggplant spread with spinach and pomegranate, and peasant salad with walnut paste.

5 p.m.
Head back to Tbilisi and go to Abanotubani in the Old Town. Take your pick from the numerous sulfur pool bathhouses, and make sure to go for a scrub and massage too.

8 p.m.
Cap off the weekend with a visit to the Rustaveli Theatre. This theatre features acclaimed Georgian productions, as well as hosting a steady stream of visiting performances from around the world.

Getting There
Turkish Airlines has Istanbul-Tbilisi-Istanbul flights daily. Departure times are 1:20 p.m. and 11:25 p.m. from Istanbul and 5:20 a.m. and 6:25 p.m. from Tbilisi. www.turkishairlines.com