Soak Up Tbilisi’s Glorious Sulfur Baths

Elizabeth Lavis
5 min readMay 8


Photo by Radmila Miheeva on Unsplash

Tbilisi’s namesake directly references the piping hot, sulfur-scented restorative waters that flow under the Georgian capital. The name, თბილისი, is a play on the term for “warm.” As legend has it, King Vakhtang Gorgasali made the happy discovery when he was traveling with his falcon through ancient Tbilisi in the 5th century.

His unlucky falcon fell into a simmering sulphury bath. Apparently, Gorgasali was delighted. His falcon was likely much less so.

Today you can experience the delights of Tbilisi’s healing waters in Abanotubani, its bath district and tourist hot spot reasonably close to old Metekhi, the Narikala Fortress, and the cable cars. As in Gorgasali’s (and his ill-fated falcon’s) times, the waters are steaming, averaging 39 degrees Celsius, or 102 Fahrenheit.

Hot springs have some medicinal benefits and can help your skin feel fab, plus they’re just downright luxurious. If you want to cosplay Georgian royalty for the afternoon and have an utterly unique and decadent experience while getting your skin buttery smooth, get thee to the baths.

Before You Go

Photo by Vadym Lebedych on Unsplash

Some baths, especially ones in the Abanotubani area, are tourist-oriented. You’ll still get the authentic experience, but you’ll have to pay for it. If you don’t speak Georgian and aren’t particularly keen on venturing too far outside the city center, these are excellent bets.

Make your reservations in advance, especially for baths in tourist areas, on the weekends, and if you’re looking for a special kind of room. Some private baths have huge rooms with gorgeous tiling, deep sulfur pools, chilly plunge pools, and saunas. If you’re looking for the primo package, reserve early.

Speaking of primo, opt for the kisi scrub, a deep body exfoliation that will leave you feeling fresh and squeaky clean. Pro-tip- don’t sneak a peek at the kisi mitt afterward. It’s normal to shed a lot of skin, but it can be a bit jarring and gross to see.

Most places offer kisi scrubs, but the costs vary. You could also enjoy a Turkish massage or facial, depending on the bathhouse.

Birthday Suit or Swimsuit?

You can rent robes, towels, and slippers at most baths or bring your own. Whether you wear your birthday suit or swimsuit is up to you, although if you’re going to a public bath, expect to see some nudity. Women who get kisi scrubs will have to take their tops off, but swim bottoms are fine.

Expensive jewelry is a big no-no in the baths, as it can get discolored or damaged. Leave your good stuff at home. Other than that- bathe nude, swimsuit-clad, or however else you’d like.

Bath Options

Photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash

Public baths will be more expensive than private ones, but you’ll get a more local feel and flair if you venture into shared spaces. Public baths are usually separated by sex.

Bohema Sulfur Bath

For 50–120 gel private rooms and some of the most gorgeous interiors you can imagine, head to Bohema Sulfur Bath, also known as Mirzoyev Bath. Reservations are mandatory, but they will give you peace of mind and get you into the more coveted rooms.


The big blue public bath with the cute courtyard is a tourist favorite for a reason. It’s got loads of private rooms, plenty of spa services, and jaw-dropping, modern interiors. Splurge on the room with the plunge pool, sulfur bath, and sauna. You won’t be disappointed.

Gulo’s Thermal Spa

A decidedly bohemian experience, Gulo’s balances whimsical art with sophisticated private rooms that you can rent by the hour. Look for the brown domes that dot the bath district; you can’t miss it. You should also not miss the homemade jam and tea.

King Erekle’s Bath

One of the more affordable options in the bath district, King Erekle’s Bath, is less ornate than some of the other options on the list, but it’s got a more local vibe. Plus, you can get peeling treatments here.

Royal Bath House

If you’re on the fence about trying a public or private bath or want to compare both options, check out this establishment. With Persian design and plenty of statues dotting its vast interior, it’s a gem amongst gems.

№ 5 Sulfur Bathhouse

Outside the bath district but still highly accessible from just about anywhere in downtown Tbilisi, this public and private bath is bright, colorful, and unapologetically authentic. Plus, there’s a wide array of spa services, friendly staff, and huge rooms to sprawl out in. The public bath option here is cheap-cheap, costing you six gel, or about $2.50, per hour.

Lisi Bath

Outside the city proper but still accessible, Lisi Bath is an excellent option for the perfect wind-down after hiking around the lake. Don’t let the modern exterior fool you; there are plenty of high-end services inside, plus a grand view of the lake itself.

Queen’s Bath

This option is virtually as local as you can get in the bath district, with public-only baths costing a mere five gel. You’ll have to pay extra for things like sauna access, but you can still get a kisi massage and enjoy the sulfur-rich waters of this district.

Kiev Sulfur Bath

Head to Chugureti near the Marjanishivili metro station for Kiev Sulfur Bath, a private room-only option famous for its hot stone massages. Since it’s a bit off the beaten path but still central, expect fewer tourists and a more authentic feel. Plus, you can explore Marjanishivili, Fabrika, and the Dezerter Bazaar afterward!

Hit Up Them All!

Map of Tbilisi Baths

Tbilisi is full of choose-your-own bathing adventures, so grab your rubber ducky and get ready to bask in the healing waters that flow under this iconic capital city.



Elizabeth Lavis

Hello and thanks for stopping by! I write for Lonely Planet, American Way magazine, HuffPost, Canadian Traveller, Matador Network, Travel Awaits, and Prevention