Why Tbilisi is the Perfect AUTUMN Break for Digital Nomads
Autumn has always been my favorite season. Maybe because I grew up in a place where the transition from the hot, sunny, “school-free” summer to winter has always been smooth, pleasant, full of exciting changes and nostalgic, bittersweet feelings.
September and October in the Northern hemisphere on the Southern European latitude are accompanied by the prettiest colours on the trees, clear blue skies, warm sun, and shorter days which in somehow keep you a bit longer indoor drinking tea, thinking, dreaming, planning, and doing all of those things you left on the side when you were too busy making the most out of your summer days.
This is probably why I love autumn in the Caucasus so much – especially in the little paradise called Georgia.
When the season starts to change I feel the need to settle in, nest. I need just a bit longer than a week for the whole process. A time when I need to find familiar feelings, flavors, places, the warmth of friendly people, and the beauty of art and history around me.
This and much more is what I find while settling in for a month or so in the relaxed, laid back, colorful city of Tbilisi.
The country has everything a digital nomad needs, including an extremely relaxed entry policy that allows all EU passport holders plus 67 other countries to enter without the need for a visa.
As for now, during the COVID emergency, Georgia allows entrance to the country with no restrictions to the citizens of Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, and Lithuania. For select other nationalities, a 14-day self-quarantine is required.
Some of the best news for digital nomads is Georgia’s recently-released Remotely from Georgia program that allows remote workers (and us digital nomads) to live and work in Georgia for up to one year! And a bonus for our USA, Canadian, and UK nomads, the program even accepts them who are otherwise banned due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The sweet, nostalgic, and constantly changing autumn in Georgia lasts until the end of November. Until then, the sun is still warm, the air clear, and running up to the Mtatsminda Park still gifts you with an incredible, colourful, satisfying view of the city spreading around from Freedom Square and the banks of the Mtkvari (Kura) River, which runs through the city.
You can easily spend half day in one of the many co-working spaces scattered in the city sipping coffee and eating Khachapuri (the national dish, a deliciously hearty cheese pie). After working, treat yourself with an afternoon of wandering around the cobbled alleys of the North part of the city or exploring the local area of Avlabari next to the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
In Tbilisi, I love to escape from the touristy area behind Freedom Square and instead get lost in the many parks. Ciskari is my favorite, where you hike through a little forest to get there. Once there, you’ll find a lovely little lake (also called Turtle lake) and a cafe. The best part? It’s far enough from the city center to enjoy the freedom from the busy traffic and buzz of city life.
Autumn is the time to start enjoying art, museums, and exhibitions again. And in Tbilisi, there’s plenty to keep you busy and entertained during any rainy days.
Living in Georgia is relatively cheap (from the European standard).
Even eating out is quite affordable and there are plenty of options for any pocketbook. The city offers a great variety of places to chill, hide, work, and meet locals. There are lots of cafes, restaurants, bars, bakeries, etc. to explore.
The list could go on and on, so I will list just a few of my very favorite ones to make sure you will have your first coffee, bread and dinner sorted. For the rest of the time you can explore, talk, and find out by breathing in the city and its people.
- Coffee Lab. It is far from the main square but the walk there is worth it. This little but spacious and bright two-story building next to a little park in the University and hospital area promises a real, deep coffee experience. Besides coffee, they serve great breakfast and brunches, and it’s also a great place for digital nomads to work.
- Guliani. The smells of fragrant fresh bread coming out of this open bakery will pull you to this cozy, modern bakery/cafe located right next to the river. The big windows are perfect to have a glimpse of nature and the city outside. They serve amazing desserts, brunch, lunch, and many traditional dishes with a modern twist. Perfect for a coffee break, lunch, or brunch with enough space and quiet to work as well.
- Keto and Kote. Hidden at the end of a dark alley just on the top behind Rustaveli metro station, this restaurant is one of my favorites for a special dinner. The location is beautiful, the atmosphere relaxed and cozy and the traditional dishes are the tastiest ever.
- Kala. If you are looking for a more casual dinner in the center of the city stop here for a Khachapuri (a fresh walnut salad), and a glass (or a bottle!) of Qvevri wine (made with the traditional Georgian method used for 8000 years!). This spot is on a busy alley filled with options, but the Khatchapuri here is divine and they also play live music in the evenings.
- Salobie Bia. Lobio is one of my favorite Georgian dishes, a pie filled with beans (and sometimes meat). Come to this little, full-of-personality-and-art cafe to try it!
- Dezerters bazaar. For all your grocery shopping, this is definitely the place to come. The main bazaar is not far from the city center and is in a nice area to explore. Come here to buy all your veggies, fruit, nuts, dairy, bread, etc. Bring your reusable bag and get ready to practice your Georgian or Russian (not much English being spoken there)!
Tbilisi, as is every Georgian town, is best walked and explored on foot. The “eastern style” courtyards and the beautiful wooden balconies eveywhere will keep your curiosity busy while climbing up and down through the old town and eating fresh fragrant, warm, irresistible bread bought from one of the tiny bakeries you find at every corner, all filled with smiling big ladies and pies.
The city is a great place for a digital nomad to be based, and with a vibrant city life that’s not too chaotic. It’s not large enough to be driven away by the craziness of the larger capitals and it’s an easy place to leave to go and explore the rest of the country. Catching buses, Marshrutka (little local minivans), or renting a car is very easy, and travel around the country is easy, fun and hassle-free.
Most of the young people speak fluent English and Russian so you won’t have problems communicating (even though you will probably start learning a little bit of the fascinating, mysterious, and unique Georgian language).
Georgian culture is alive with my favorite aspects of Eastern culture such as hospitality, love, and the importance of food, family, friends, and community.
It’s a place that will hold you for longer than you expect. It is a place that makes you feel at home, a place which “adopts” you, a place where you want to come back to, especially when autumn comes and it’s time to plan and dream of being back on a routine of work and life as only us digital nomads can experience.