Tbilisi, Georgia travel guide and things to do: Nine must-do highlights

THE ONE WALK

Squished between Europe and Asia, the Georgian capital of Tbilisi is a city in bloom, set in a dramatic valley through which the Mtkvari river flows. Starting in the city's main Freedom Square, wander the cobblestoned streets of the old town, passing an intoxicating architectural mix of Orthodox churches, ornate art nouveau buildings and the colourful 19th century wooden houses that tumble down the hill. But do it soon, because Tbilisi won't stay crowd-free for long. See crooked-compass.com

THE ONE VIEWPOINT

Take a cable car (or, if you're feeling energetic, hike) up to the 4th-century remains of the Narikala Fortress, then walk along the clifftop path lined with pomegranate juice sellers to the iconic Mother of Georgia statue. You'll get panoramic views over the old town in front, and the botanical gardens sweeping into the valley behind. See gnta.ge

THE ONE RESTAURANT

If you're itching to peek inside one of the colourful wooden houses you've been seeing around town, you can do so at Keto & Kote (Zandukeli Dead End, 3, Tbilisi 0179), a hilltop restaurant set within one of them. Inside you'll find high ceilings and chandeliers, and a menu filled with Georgian classics including kinkali soup dumplings and oozy khachapuri cheese bread.

THE ONE WINERY

Georgia is the oldest wine-producing country in the world, with use of the kvevri, the UNESCO-protected traditional earthenware winemaking vessel, dating back 8000 years. Georgians are said to drink an average of two litres of wine a day, and you can attempt to match them at Iago biodynamic vineyard in Chardakhi village, just a short drive out of town. Its wines can be found on the list of unique wines of the Ritz Hotel in London. See iago.ge

THE ONE HOTEL

Set above the old town, Terrace Hotel is an elegant, 26-room property with pared-back interiors, high ceilings, tall windows and spectacular views over the city. It's a 20-minute walk to the main Freedom Square. The breakfast served on the rooftop terrace restaurant is particularly impressive. See theterracetbilisi.com

THE ONE BATHING EXPERIENCE

After a day of furious sightseeing, Tbilisi's famed Abanotubani sulphur baths are the place to be. You'll likely smell their eggy aroma before you see the elegant domed brick structures they lie beneath. Once inside, choose between public and private bathing options in the mineral-rich springs, in which Alexandre Dumas and Pushkin are both said to have bathed. Consider adding a sauna or massage session.

THE ONE SNACK

Don't miss trying a sausage-shaped churchkhela candy from a street stall. Made with grapes, nuts and flour, locals call it the Georgian Snickers. In reality, it's more like eating a candle, but still it must be sampled.

THE ONE MONASTERY

Set on a hilltop above Mtskheta, Georgia's religious centre and one of the country's oldest cities, the UNESCO-listed Jvari Orthodox monastery dates back to the 6th century. A half hour drive out of Tbilisi, it has excellent views over the ancient city below.

THE ONE MONUMENT

One of Tbilisi's most emblematic structures is its clock tower. That might sound boring but it was built by Georgian puppeteer Rezo Gabriadze, and it looks like something out of a fairytale. Grab a glass of cha cha Georgian brandy at one of the cafes in front of the topsy-turvy creation while you wait for the hour to strike: an angel will pop out of the top of the tower to hit the bell, while below a puppet show depicting the circle of life begins.

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ONE MORE THING

Georgia's true delights, it has to be said, lie in its countryside. Once you're done exploring Tbilisi, book in a four- or five-day trek through the stunning Svaneti region. You'll discover tousled meadows filled with yellow and purple wildflowers, and dotted with ancient villages characterised by the region's emblematic stone watchtowers.See crooked-compass.com

Nina Karnikowski travelled as a guest of Crooked Compass.

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