Everything you need to know to plan a visit to Mtatsminda, including directions for the Tbilisi TV Tower hike.
Towering 300 metres above the city, Mtatsminda (‘Holy Mountain’) is the highest point in Tbilisi. The plateau is instantly recognisable for the Tbilisi TV Tower and Ferris Wheel (part of Mtatsminda Amusement Park) that sit on top.
Panoramic city views are the main attraction on Mtatsminda. There are other things to do in the area, including the Tbilisi TV Tower hike and visiting Mtatsminda Pantheon, one of my personal favourite spots in the city.
Throw in a plate of ponchiki donuts (you can taste the Soviet nostalgia) at the iconic Restaurant Funicular – and maybe a ride on the funicular – and a few hours on Mtatsminda has all the makings of a fun evening out in Tbilisi.
This quick guide to Mtatsminda covers everything you need to plan a visit.
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Are you planning a trip to Tbilisi?
Here are a few quick links to my favourite accommodations, tours & services.
Where to Stay in Tbilisi:
- The House Hotel Old Tbilisi – wake up in your own typical Tbilisi courtyard.
- Communal Hotel Plekhanovi – my favourite boutique hotel has a wine bar & gift shop.
- Vagabond B&B – budget-friendly option for solo & social travellers.
- Unfound Door Design Hotel – luxe rooms set inside a historic mansion in Chugureti.
- Fabrika Hostel & Suites – popular creative space & co-working hangout.
Best Tbilisi Tours & Day Trips:
- Tbilisi Food & Drink Tour – a food-themed walking tour of the city.
- Day Trip to Kazbegi – with plenty of stops along the Georgian Military Highway.
- Off-road Adventure to David Gareja & Udabno – use WANDERLUSH for 10% off.
- Kakheti Wine Experience with Eat This! Tours – mention WANDERLUSH for 5% off.
- Day trip to Northern Armenia – another stamp in the passport!
Last-minute Private Transfers in Georgia:
Plan the perfect mini road trip & find a professional driver on GoTrip.ge. The price is locked in when you book, and you can stop wherever you want along the way.
Go Your Own Way:
Car hire in Georgia doesn’t have to be expensive – I regularly use Local Rent to find great deals. Pick-up & drop-off from any address in the country for complete flexibility.
A very brief history of Mtatsminda & the Tbilisi TV Tower
Mtatsminda is one of several peaks that form a natural buffer around Tbilisi and the valley. At the turn of the century, plans to construct an ‘upper Tbilisi’ on the Mtatsminda plateau started forming, and a funicular railway was constructed to link the two parts of the city.
The scheme never eventuated, however (something about running water pipes uphill?), and in the late 1930s, a landscaped park was added to the plateau instead. Restaurant Funicular was built around this time and for many years served as one of the city’s top eateries.
In 1972, the most recognisable feature of the city skyline, the Tbilisi TV Tower, was constructed nearby. It replaced an older 1950s communications tower, which was uprooted and transplanted to Gori.
Then in 2007, a local philanthropist sponsored the construction of Mtatsminda Park, a large amusement complex complete with an 80-metre-high Ferris Wheel.
Restaurant Funicular was refurbished in 2014, and there are now plans to further develop Mtatsminda and open the TV Tower up to the public for the first time.
Planning your visit to Mtatsminda & the Tbilisi TV Tower
- Mtatsminda Park is officially open every day from midday until 11pm (on weekends, it opens an hour earlier at 11am). You can still visit outside these hours (including for sunrise) as the viewpoints and trails are accessible when the park is shut.
- Mtatsminda is a popular spot among local families and gets very busy at night, especially on weekends. I recommend visiting in the early evening when the atmosphere is buzzing then catching sunset from the top.
- Come hungry – one of the highlights of visiting Mtatsminda is grabbing a snack at Cafe Funicular (more details below).
- The funicular isn’t the only way to get to Mtatsminda – you can save some coin by taking a city bus to the top or better still, by walking up via one of two trails. More details on how to get to Mtatsminda later.
- If you do plan on hiking up to Mtatsminda, for safety reasons I recommend you find a hiking buddy rather than walking solo.
- If you’re visiting the church and pantheon along the way, make sure you’re dressed appropriately (covered shoulders and knees, and a headscarf for women).
The Tbilisi TV Tower hike
One way to reach Mtatsminda from the city is by hiking the Tbilisi TV Tower trail. This is a rough, partially unmarked track that takes about 40 minutes to complete.
The terrain is uneven and it’s quite steep and rocky in places, but it’s not overly challenging. Good walking shoes are definitely required. I don’t recommend doing this hike after heavy rain – I imagine it gets quite muddy.
The hike starts from the Church of Mikhail of Tver, 350 metres behind Rustaveli Metro Station. To access the trailhead, cross the street from the church and take the concrete stairs (represented by the green dotted line on Google Maps).
The first section is paved, but it quickly becomes an off-road scramble through brush. There are a number of different ‘paths’ to choose from – we just picked one that looked like it was veering uphill and hoped for the best. The TV Tower eventually comes into view so you can’t go too wrong.
The views from this side of the mountain are a bit different: instead of looking over Old Tbilisi, you see Rustaveli, Diamo Stadium and Digomi (characterised by huge Soviet-era housing blocks) in the distance.
As you near the top of the mountain, you pass through a patch of pine forest and an outdoor gym. The final stretch of the hike brings you directly to the foot of the TV Tower.
From the tower, it’s a short walk to reach Mtatsminda Park. Follow the TV Tower fence line in the direction of the Ferris Wheel then duck under the fence at the marked spot.
This is the shorter of two hiking routes that lead to Mtatsminda, the other more adventurous route being from Turtle Lake.
Essential reading: 15 best hikes in and around Tbilisi.
Alternative route via Mtatsminda Pantheon
I much prefer this alternative walking route for several reasons: it’s entirely paved and easier to navigate, the city views are nicer, and it goes right through Mtatsminda Pantheon. If you hike up the TV Tower trail, you can always come back down via the Pantheon to make a tidy loop.
This path starts from Sololaki, just north of the Lower Funicular Station. Start by following Mama Daviti Rise – a steep, winding street with a pedestrian path and benches – all the way up to the church.
Mtatsminda Pantheon is located in the church yard (more on this later). There are a number of viewing platforms here as well and some seats.
After you’ve visited the Pantheon, the trail continues on the far left between the gift shop and the toilets. The next part is a combination of stairs and steep pathways through a shady forest. At one point you walk directly under the funicular track which is pretty cool. Eventually you pop up in the carpark near Restaurant Funicular in the heart of Mtatsminda Park.
This route takes slightly longer – budget at least an hour to get up.
How to get to Mtatsminda without hiking
If you’re not up for either of the hiking trails, there are several other ways to reach Mtatsminda from the city centre.
Designed by a Belgian engineer, the Tbilisi Funicular made its maiden voyage up Mtatsminda in March 1905. It took some convincing at first – apparently the owners had to pay people to ride the 500-metre-long ropeway.
Board at the Lower Funicular Station, a beautiful brick building with arched windows and deco details. The ride to the top takes around 8 minutes. There is one stop along the way at Mtatsminda Pantheon.
To ride the funicular, you need a special rechargeable Mtatsminda card (cash isn’t accepted, and the regular transport card you use for the metro wont work). The card itself costs 2 GEL (non-refundable). A ride to Mtatsminda will set you back 10 GEL one-way. Note that if you do want to stop at the Pantheon, you will be charged again.
The funicular runs 7 days a week between 9.45am and 10.30pm. Hours are extended during summer.
Bus to Mtatsminda
If you don’t want to spring for the funicular, you can easily reach Mtatsminda Park by city bus for the regular 1 GEL fare.
From Liberty Square, take bus #124 to reach the park in around 40 minutes depending on traffic. Buses #90, #170 and #171 also stop at Mtatsminda.
Once you reach the crest of the hill, the station you want is located at the roundabout near the carpark (see the exact location here). From there, it’s a short walk to the park and restaurant.
Taxi to Mtatsminda
A taxi to Mtatsminda from Freedom Square costs around 15 GEL when booked through Bolt.
I highly recommend picking up a local sim card so you can use the app on the go.
Things to see & do on Mtatsminda
Once you’ve made it up to Tbilisi’s highest point, here’s what you should see and do.
The Tbilisi TV Tower
Berlin has the Fernsehturm, Belgrade has Avala, and Tbilisi has the Tbilisi TV Tower. Built in 1972 to replace an older structure from the 50s, this 275-metre-tall communication tower has long been the city’s north star.
There are plans to open a viewing deck and a restaurant inside the TV Tower, but for now, it remains closed to the public. It’s fenced off along the bottom, but you can stand almost directly below for an up-close view.
Sunset at Mtatsminda Viewpoint
One of the top reasons to visit Mtatsminda is of course for the panoramic city views you get from the top. It’s not my favourite viewpoint in the city, but it’s spectacular nonetheless.
A huge viewing deck stretches along the front of Restaurant Funicular like a balcony over the city. You can easily spot just about every major Tbilisi landmark, including Sameba Church and Narikala Fortress in the distance.
Ponchiki at Cafe Funicular
Restaurant Funicular, the large Soviet-style building at the top of the funicular track, was once the city’s most prestigious venue. When politicians visited Tbilisi, this is where they were wined and dined. Meanwhile, everyday Tbilisians made a tradition out of visiting the cafe on the bottom level.
The thing to order here is ponchiki – light, puffy donuts filled with sweet custard. I always assumed ponchik(i) were Armenian because I first tried them in Gyumri, but apparently they’re eaten all over the region (a leftover from Soviet times).
The cafe also serves bread snacks (khachapuri, lobiani, etc.) and cold drinks, all with a modest price tag.
For something more substantial, you could try one of the two restaurants on the upper level (they are quite flashy, so maybe don’t go there after the hike!). The third level is an event space.
The cafe is open from 1pm on weekdays and from midday on weekends.
Mtatsminda Park & Tbilisi Ferris Wheel
Majority of the plateau is taken up by Mtatsminda amusement park, a large complex of carnival rides, performance areas and concession stands.
You might need a few shots of chacha before you jump on the Ferris Wheel (trust me), but the view from the top is breathtaking. It only costs a few GEL to ride – purchase coupons from the ticket booth first.
The rides at Mtatsminda Park operate from Monday to Friday from 12pm and on weekends from 11am.
If you’ve been looking for Tbilisi’s much-Instagrammed ‘upside-down’ houses, you’ll find them here in Mtatsminda Park. I didn’t notice them until my third or fourth visit.
Mtatsminda Pantheon & St. David’s Church
The Pantheon and church are located on the lower part of the hill, below the park. This is one of my favourite spots in the entire city and a must-see if you’re in the area.
Officially the Mtatsminda Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures, this park is the final resting place of some of Georgia’s most celebrated national writers, artists and scholars.
It was established in 1929, but many of the graves date back long before that. Russian author Alexander Griboyedov was the first to be buried here and many tombstones were relocated later. Politicians, dissidents, historians and other prominent figures have also been awarded a place in Tbilisi’s most beautiful cemetery over the years.
The Pantheon is filled with unique, flamboyant sculptures – it feels more like an outdoor sculpture park than a cemetery.
Amongst the headstones, you’ll also find a symbolic grave for Pirosmani, Georgia’s most beloved painter whose real burial place is unknown.
The gates to the Pantheon and churchyard are open between 10am and 7pm. Daily mass is held at St. David’s, so be respectful if there’s a service taking place during your visit.
Behind the church, there’s a stone passageway and water spring that are quite interesting too.
Where to stay in Tbilisi
See my Tbilisi neighbourhood and accommodation guide for a detailed break-down of the different areas and options. Here are my top overall Tbilisi hotel recommendations:
TOP CHOICE: The House Hotel Old Tbilisi (⭐ 9.7). Located in the heart of Kala Old Town, this intimate 17-room hotel features turquoise balconies overlooking a typical Tbilisi courtyard. Complimentary breakfast is served at the onsite restaurant-bar, Blue Fox, while some of the city’s best restaurants are an easy stroll away.
BOUTIQUE: Communal Plekhanovi (⭐ 9.2). Located in my favourite Tbilisi neighbourhood, this boutique hotel is among the finest in the city. Rooms are thoughtfully decorated with modern art and antiques, and there’s a fantastic restaurant, a wine bar and a gift shop onsite.
MID-RANGE: Graphica Hotel (⭐ 9.2). Explore the lesser-travelled Avlabari neighbourhood when you stay at this chic boutique hotel. Graphica is footsteps from the metro for easy access to the rest of the city. Rooms feature work desks, and a complimentary breakfast is included.
BUDGET: Pushkin 10 Hostel (⭐ 9.2). Located footsteps from both Orbeliani Square (near the Dry Bridge Market) and Freedom Square, this popular hostel has bright dorms and private doubles. The breakfast room overlooks the city from its 3rd floor location.
More Tbilisi posts you’ll love
- Georgia Travel Guide – all my 200+ posts for Georgia
- 25 Tbilisi travel tips – essential reading for first-timers
- The ultimate Georgia itinerary – the best of Tbilisi & beyond in 1-4 weeks
- How to plan your Caucasus travel itinerary – discover Georgia, Armenia & Azerbaijan
- What to pack for a trip to Georgia – and what to wear in Tbilisi
- How to get from Tbilisi airport to the city – 5 best transport options
- The best things to do in Tbilisi – the ultimate insider’s city guide
- Where to stay in Tbilisi – best neighbourhoods & accommodations
- The best restaurants in Tbilisi – where to find the best Georgian food
- The best cafes in Tbilisi – for coworking, coffee & more
- The best breakfasts in Tbilisi – cafes that open early
- The best gift shops in Tbilisi – where to buy authentic souvenirs
- The best walking tours in Tbilisi – discover the city by foot
- Tbilisi’s best walking streets – architecture, people-watching & street photography
- The best boutique hotels in Tbilisi – art hotels, wine hotels & more
- The best hostels in Tbilisi – accommodation on a budget
- Visiting Gulo’s Spa – the best sulfur bath in Tbilisi
- Visiting the Dezerter Bazaar – Tbilisi’s incredible green market
Here are the websites and services I personally use and recommend for Georgia. Check out my full list of travel resources for more tips.
FLIGHTS: Search for affordable flights to Tbilisi, Batumi or Kutaisi on Skyscanner.
TRAVEL INSURANCE: Insure your trip with HeyMondo, my preferred provider for single-trip and annual travel insurance (get 5% off when you book with my link).
SIM CARD: Magti is my preferred provider, with prices starting from 9 GEL/week for unlimited data. See this guide for all the details about buying a Georgian SIM card.
AIRPORT TRANSFERS: Most flights into Georgia arrive in the early hours. For ease, pre-book a private transfer from Tbilisi Airport to your hotel (from $17) or from Kutaisi Airport to Tbilisi (from $90) with my partners at GoTrip.ge.
ACCOMMODATION: Booking.com is the most widely used platform in Georgia. Use it to find family guesthouses, private apartments, hostels and hotels around the country.
CAR HIRE: Find a great deal on a rental car in Georgia – use the Local Rent website to book through a local agent (prices start from $20/day).
DAY TRIPS & CITY TOURS: Use Viator or Get Your Guide to browse a range of day trips and city tours. For off-beat programs, I recommend Friendly.ge (use the promocode wanderlush for 10% off). For in-depth day trips to Georgia’s wine regions, I recommend Eat This! Tours (use the promo code wanderlush for 5% off).
PRIVATE TRANSFERS: GoTrip.ge is a terrific service for booking a private professional driver and car for the day. Use it for A-to-B transfers, a customised round-trip itinerary, or a multi-day trip. You can stop wherever you like for as long as you like without the fixed price going up.
NEED SOME HELP?: Need feedback on your itinerary or personalised travel tips? I offer a one-on-one consultation call service for Tbilisi and Georgia. More information and bookings here.