Where to breathe in Tbilisi?

Where to breathe in Tbilisi?

A bit unexpected title among “top 5 cute breakfast spots”, right? As my main policy is to be honest with my readers, I should admit: it’s impossible to hide the truth about the quality of air in Tbilisi – it is getting worse every year. Back in 2012 it was much more clean, and in 2018 I am frequently asked by my guests, what the heck is going on.

I blame it mostly on second-hand cars, the petrol they consume and the amount of cars people buy. I wish my article about the transportation services in Georgia would be wider! But no, the intercity connections are so weird sometimes, that the locals prefer to buy a bad car rather than get into a minibus.

While the government hesitates to take serious measures, I am about to recommend you a couple of greener places in Tbilisi. It doesn’t help me stop feeling helpless about the situation, but at least you might enjoy those places as much as I do.

1. Gardenia Shevardnadze, a big plant shop/orangery with a lovely cafe. Open every day except Monday, the entrance fee is 2 lari. If you are going to buy something, it’s definitely worth it – the plants are very affordable. The apple tart with herbal tea taste as sweet as childhood memories!

2. Ethnographic Museum of Tbilisi and Kus Tba (Turtle Lake). They are very close to each other. The museum is off on Monday, and on the other days the entrance fee is 5 lari. On Saturday, there are master-classes about regional crafts and cooking, but the schedule is quite mysterious, so I’m always checking their website before going.

The lake territory is open all the time. You can go there with an oldschool cable car from Vake Park (open from 8 AM to 10 PM). This place is a great illustration of the Georgian reality – some people come there with the cars to run a couple of circles around the lake in a fancy sports suit and indulge themselves with latte afterwards.

Okay, okay, not everybody, but quite often it’s the case 🙂 No offense, megobrebo!

3. Vake Park – so far, the biggest park in Tbilisi. There is a little amusement area for small kids, a couple of cafes and a Mediathek.

4. Mtatsminda Park – the one around TV Tower. Get there with a funicular (a tram, not cable car) from Chonkadze Street or take a bus 124 from Rustaveli Metro/bus 90 from the 9th of April Park (both also stop at Leonidze Street around Freedom Square). You’ll need different cards for the funicular and the bus! The funicular card is for sale immediately at the station, and the buses (as well as metro, Narikala and Vake cable cars are running on the one you get at every metro station or on the Bank of Georgia card).

What’s up there besides the better air? Amusement park, cafes, a giant Ferris wheel. I also hiked from there to the above mentioned Kus Tba and to Narikala Fortress. Was fun!

5. Botanical Garden. The entrance is only 2 lari, and I’m thinking to get a year ticket for 20. There is a waterfall, a little river, trees… what else would you expect from a regional botanical garden? The white futuristic building is not a hotel, by the way. It’s the administration building with the research center.

Another way to get there is actually to take a zipline from Narikala Fortress for 40 lari/person.

6. Expo Georgia – I can’t even explain my affection to this Soviet expo area. If there is a book fair, startup market or something like this, I go there at least one hour in advance to have a walk.

The cafe next to the fountain looks fabulous and is slightly overpriced. But you can always get a coffee somewhere else and have a walk around, if you are on a budget.

About Dariko

Born in Ukraine, now Tbilisi-based. Love seeing new places.