Walking Tour: Tbilisi New & Old
- Start Rustaveli metro station
- End Botanical Gardens
- Length 3.5km; three hours
This walk takes you along Tbilisi’s main avenue and into the narrow lanes of the Old Town, across the river and then up to the Narikala Fortress, ending with the lovely Botanical Gardens.
Start at the monument to Shota Rustaveli outside Rustaveli metro station. Pass the Stalinist Academy of Sciences at Rustaveli 52, with an informal souvenir market outside, then walk along Rustavelis gamziri to imbibe the busy atmosphere of Tbilisi’s main artery. The street is strung with handsome and important buildings such as the Moorish-style Opera & Ballet Theatre, built in 1896; the baroque-cum-rococo 1901 Rustaveli Theatre; the Parliament building; and the Georgian National Museum. Rustavelis gamziri ends at wide Freedom Sq (Tavisuplebis moedani) with its landmark St George and Dragon monument.
Head to the left down Pushkinis qucha, skirting the old city walls. At the bottom turn right into traffic-free Shavtelis qucha to Tbilisi's quirkiest building, the Gabriadze Theatre's rakishly crooked Clock Tower. Continue to the city's oldest and one of its prettiest churches, Anchiskhati Basilica. Cafe Leila across the street here is one of Tbilisi's most charming cafes and a perfect drinks stop. Continue south then turn left on to the most emblematic of Tbilisi's new structures, the elegant Bridge of Peace over the Mtkvari River, taking in the views of the Presidential Palace and the massive, golden-domed Tsminda Sameba Cathedral up on the east side of the river.
Walk through charming Rike Park and pay a visit to the hilltop Metekhi Church for some fabulous views before crossing back into the Old Town at busy Meidan square. From here, make your way up the hillside to Narikala Fortress, which you can clamber around before wandering along the top of the ridge to Kartlis Deda, the Soviet-era statue of Mother Georgia that overlooks the city. From here you can walk down the hill through the Botanical Gardens, the perfect shady respite from the sun.