Tbilisi Sulfur Baths: What are they, and Where to go

Eggy, atmospheric and unusual, Tbilisi’s sulfur baths are always a big highlight of visiting the city.

But which are the best baths? Do you need to be naked to visit them? And are the rumors true: will a big hairy man really give you an aggressive body scrub?

Coming up, we’ve covered all that and more. This is your ultimate guide to Tbilisi’s sulfur baths.

Bring a towel, a cute little swimsuit, and some ready-to-be-rubbed-off dead skin cells!

Tbilisi Sulfur Baths: Your Complete Guide

Tbilisi Sulfur Baths: What Are they?

Good question.

You’ve probably visited baths in different parts of the planet before. But Tbilisi’s are pretty different to any others, with some unique and unusual quirks.

Fun fact: the word ‘Tbilisi’ translates into “warm place.”

And the springs of this “warm place” were once (allegedly) discovered by some king. According to the old tale, he was so impressed by the hot springs that he wanted to build a massive city around them.

(Presumably so people like you could visit them thousands of years later)

Anyway, the hot water of the baths comes from natural hot springs, which run underneath the surface of the earth. While some bathhouses around the world are powered by artificially-heated water, the baths in Tbilisi are heated by the real thing.

And the water is HOT!

Sulfur bath interior in Tbilisi, Georgia

I’ve visited bathhouses in probably around 10 or 15 countries… but I’ve never experienced anything this toasty. The waters usually sit at an average temperature of around 38-40 celsius (but because the rooms are so stifling and steamy, they often feel a lot hotter).

This hot water is allegedly capable of healing (or at least helping to heal) a whole load of health problems… including eczema, acne, dry scalps, stomach problems, insomnia, skin rashes, arthritis, and poor circulation. Because I’m not a doctor, I don’t know if any of that’s true—I’m just here to tell you what I’ve heard.

Inside the bathrooms, you’ll find hot pools, cold showers, and dry areas where you can enjoy some respite from the super-hot temperatures of the fiery water. Some of the bigger bathrooms also have cold pools, so you can alternately hop between high and low temperatures.

Most of Tbilisi’s baths are in the Abanotubani district, which is part of the old town. In this area, you’ll find eggy smells, dome-shaped roofs, and loads of lovely architecture. Even if you don’t have a little dip, you should still visit the district—it’s pretty, charming, and atmospheric.

Sulfur baths in Old Tbilisi

Compared to other sulfur baths you might have visited (in Budapest, or Turkey, or central Asia or whatever), Georgia’s are different. They’re less touristy, they’re (usually) a lot more traditional, and they sometimes feel a bit more ‘strange’ (I mean that in the best possible way).

So to get you prepped, here’s what you can expect…

What to Expect Inside Tbilisi’s Sulfur Baths

First, it’s important to make the distinction between public rooms and private rooms.

Some bathhouses offer only private rooms (for you and your friends or your partner or whatever). Some offer only public rooms (in which you’ll be sitting around with whichever other people have turned up that day). Some offer both.

If you visit a public bath, you sit around in a pool (or a collection of several pools) with a bunch of strangers. Most people are naked, and the baths are strictly separated by gender (so, if you’re male, you’ll be sharing your bath with other males).

If you visit a private bath, you share a bath with people you know. Some rooms only have enough space for 2 people, while some have space for 10 or more. If you just want a solo bath because you have no friends, you can also book a private room for yourself. In all of these private rooms, you can choose whether or not you want to be naked.

A sulfur bath house in old Tbilisi

I recommend trying both public baths and private baths, as both experiences are very different to one another.

If you want a traditional experience, you should visit one of the rugged and rudimentary public baths. If you want a fancy touristy experience, you should book a private room in one of the well-known luxurious baths. If you want something in the middle, visit a public room in one of the fancier baths.

I prefer public baths, because I think they’re more interesting.

But because the baths are gender-seperated, a private bath is your only option for spending time with a partner (assuming you’re in a heterosexual relationship). And on top of that, using a private bath also allows you to enjoy more treatments. So both have their perks.

The most famous (and most common) treatment in Tbilisi’s sulfur baths is a ‘kisi scrub.’ During one of these scrubs, a ‘mekise’ (that’s the person who gives you the scrub) comes into the dry part of your bathroom. Here’s how it plays out:

Your mekise enters. They pour hot water over your head and body. They get lots of soap, and give you a soapy massage-like wash for 3 or 4 minutes. After your soapy wash, they take a thin sponge-like scrubbing pad, and scrub you with it. They then wash you again, and pour hot water on your head and body again. The whole experience is usually pretty rough (in a good way), it lasts around 15 minutes, and typically costs approximately 15 or 20 lari.

If you’re gonna visit the baths (and you probably are, since you’re reading this guide), you should absolutely get a kisi scrub. They’re unique and interesting, and they’re pretty good fun. In my experience, the mekise will be the same gender as you. But if you particularly want a certain gender, you should make a specific request.

When I’ve had my kisi scrubs, I’ve always been naked. But you don’t need to be. I honestly don’t know what the actual protocol is… but people are pretty open with in-bath nakedness in Georgia, so it seems like the right thing to me. But I’m sure no-one really cares either way.

Some of the higher-end (and touristy and non-traditional) places also offer massages (face, body, feet and more). I’ve never had a massage at any of these places, so I can’t recommend (or not recommend) them.

When you visit the baths, take a towel, some type of swimwear (that’s if you don’t want to be naked), and lots and lots of water (you don’t want to be dehydrated). You should also carry a little plastic bag to take your wet stuff away with you.

What Happens when I Arrive at Tbilisi’s Sulfur Baths?

Your experience will differ according to which bathhouse you visit, whether you choose public or private, and which treatments you want (if any).

But if you visit a popular upmarket place (such as Chreli Abano, for example) for a private bath, here’s what you can expect:

You book in advance of turning up. Sometimes online, sometimes over the phone, and sometimes in person.

After you arrive, you check in at the desk. A staff member will show you to your bathroom, before then leaving you alone. This bathroom will be made up of… the bath area (featuring a hot pool, a cold shower, and maybe a cold pool), a dry area close to the bath, and another small separate area where you can keep your belongings (and get changed).

You’re free to frolic around in your bath as you please. At some point, your mekise (if you’ve ordered one) will enter. At that point, you sit on the bench-style slab in the dry part of your bathroom. You get your scrub. They leave again. You then keep enjoying your bath until someone knocks or calls to tell you your time is almost up.

And that’s it!

If you visit a basic public bathhouse (such as Bathhouse Number 5, more on that place later), it’s all a bit more rudimentary and laid-back. In that case, here’s what you can expect:

You walk into the foyer area. You tell a member of staff you want to use a public bath. This member of staff shows you where the baths are, where the lockers are, and where the changing rooms are. They then tell you what time you need to leave.

They leave you alone, and the rest is up to you. Simple!

Again, in the public baths, you can choose whether you want to be naked or not. Most people are naked, but no-one really seems to care either way.

How Much Do Tbilisi’s Sulfur Baths Cost?

This can massively vary, depending on which bath you visit, which type (public or private) of bath you choose, and whether or not you want any treatments.

But here’s a vague insight into the types of costs you can expect in Tbilisi’s sulfur baths:

  • One hour in a public bath: 5-10 lari
  • One hour in a private bath: around 60-250 lari, depending on which room you choose, how many people you’re with, and how much luxury you want
  • A kisi scrub: usually around 15-20 lari
  • Massages (if your bathhouse offers massages): anything from 50 to 250 lari, depending on the type of massage, the length of massage, and how upmarket the bathhouse is

Best Sulfur Baths in Tbilisi

1. Chreli Abano

The vast majority of Tbilisi’s bath-seeking tourists head here.

The most modern, luxurious and attractive of all the bathhouses in the city, this fresco-fronted place sits at the beginning of the baths district, and it’s one of the city’s prettiest buildings.

When I first saw it, I unironically thought it was a mosque. But then, admittedly, I am a little bit of an idiot.

Anyway, it’s massive and beautiful. If you’re on a date, or trying to impress someone, or on the hunt for some luxury, this is the place for you.

It has 11 rooms, a bizarrely-named snow room (I haven’t actually seen it, so I have no idea what’s inside), clean facilities, friendly staff, elegant rooms, and lots of treatments and massages (options include chocolate massages and candle massages, though I don’t know what they entail).

The smallest private rooms have space for 1-2 people; the biggest rooms have space for up to 12 people.

They don’t offer public rooms.

  • Address: 2 Abano Street
  • Prices: The smallest rooms are 70 lari, and the biggest rooms are 400 lari. A kisi scrub costs 20 lari, and the various massages cost between 85 and 250 lari. You pay online for the rooms, but you pay for the treatments in cash
  • Are reservations required? Yes, you need to reserve—either online (here), or by calling over the phone

2. Bathhouse Number 5

For people who want a local, no-frills experience, this is usually the popular place to go.

I love places like this—there’s no pretentiousness, no formality, and no pretending this is anything more than a functional hot bath.

They offer both public and private rooms… but I reckon coming here for a private room is a waste of time.

Don’t expect much English language, much ‘friendly’ service, or much touristy stuff. But expect to sit around in some baths with lots of welcoming Georgians, who’ll probably laugh at you for how unaccustomed you are. Highly recommended.

But for an even more no-frills experience, check out our next entry…

  • Address: 4 Mirza Fatali Akhudovi Street
  • Prices: Public baths are 8 lari per person per hour—and private rooms start at 70 per hour
  • Are reservations required? You don’t need to reserve for the public baths. For the private baths, you should reserve to guarantee a spot (though you don’t necessarily need to). You can make reservations via phone call, or by visiting in person

3. Queen’s Bath

This place is pretty similar to Bathhouse Number 5, but (somehow) even more rudimentary.

They only offer public baths, and the prices are super low (we’re talking 5 lari, which is basically the same price as a Tbilisi on-street snack).

If you want the most basic public bathhouse experience you can find, this is the place for you. It’s a little dirty, it’s very old-school, and you’ll sometimes find people smoking in the changing room. But for me, that’s part of the appeal, rather than some sort of deterrent.

It’s usually filled with old naked lifelong locals, who all know each other, and who (seemingly) come here very often.

The kisi scrubs are very rough (and I mean that in the most positive way possible)—so expect to feel like you’ve had 10 layers of skin peeled off. If you can visit only one sulfur bath in Tbilisi, you should make it this one. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a real experience.

  • Address: 11 Ioseb Grishashvili Street
  • Prices: 5 lari per hour for public baths (they have no private rooms), and 10 lari for a kisi scrub
  • Are reservations required? No

4. Gulo’s Thermal Spa

Gulo’s Thermal Spa is another good option for an authentic experience.

It’s pretty without being too touristy, and it’s popular with locals. But they only offer private baths.

The staff are smiley, the kisi treatments are rough and thorough, and the rooms are very clean. The water here (to me) seems hotter than the water at other places. So be prepared.

They also have a sauna, and they offer tasty free tea after you’ve finished all your bathing and scrubbing.

  • Address: 3 Ioseb Grishashvili St
  • Prices: Private rooms start from 90 lari per hour (they don’t offer public rooms)
  • Are reservations required? Yes. You can either call them, or try contacting them on Facebook

5. Bohema Sulfur Bath

Allegedly one of the oldest baths in Tbilisi, this place is no longer much of a local hangout.

They only offer private rooms, and it’s spa-style and relatively fancy (rather than laid-back).

They provide a massive range of different packages, including massages, kisi scrubs, a VIP room, and special experiences for couples. If you want a cute little romantic time in one of Tbilisi’s sulfur baths, this is your best option.

The experiences here are surprisingly affordable—these are among the cheapest private rooms you’ll find.

  • Address: 11 Ioseb Grishashvili Street
  • Prices: Private rooms start at 45 lari per hour (they don’t have public baths)
  • Are reservations required? They’re not necessary, but the place sometimes gets pretty busy. You can either contact them on Facebook, message them on their website, or call them via phone

6. The Lisi Lake Bathhouse

If you want to get away from the tourist crowds, this is your best option.

In the northwestern part of Tbilisi’s outskirts, there’s a medium-sized lake (that’s Lisi Lake, in case you’re struggling to follow).

Right beside the lake, you’ll find a bathhouse—but because it’s not in the city center, very few tourists ever come here. The place is basic (in a minimalistic way rather than a dirty way), and isn’t ornate or decorative.

But here’s the best bit of hitting this bathhouse: you can make a full action-packed day of visiting the area in and around Lisi Lake.

Around the lake, there’s a paved path, which is nice for (admittedly short stretches of) running and cycling. You’ll also find a smattering of cafes and restaurants, along with some excellent long-distance hikes (if you have time, I recommend hiking from here to Mskhaldidi—it’s my favorite close-to-Tbilisi trek).

But of all the highlights here, my favorite is Dog Organization Georgia, a lovely shelter just west of the lake. These guys take sick and abandoned dogs, and give them a new life. You can visit the shelter to feed the dogs, walk the dogs, and even volunteer.

  • Address: The eastern shore of Lisi Lake (no official address)
  • Prices: The public baths cost 15 lari per person per hour, and the private baths start at 65 per hour. A kisi scrub costs 15 per person
  • Are reservations required? Because it’s a quiet place, reservations usually aren’t required. But if you want to be safe, you can call, or you can contact them on Facebook


There are other baths in the city, but the above 6 (as far as I know) are the best of them. Of all the six above, I’ve either visited them, or I’ve spoken to people who have visited them. I haven’t shared details for the places I know nothing about… cos if I did, that would make me a big fat liar.

Top Tips on Tbilisi’s Sulfur Baths (and Things to Know Before You Visit Tbilisi’s Sulfur Baths)

  • The baths are much more popular during the city’s colder months (because they’re warm, obviously). So if you want a busy traditional-style experience with lots of locals, head to the baths between November and February.
  • Private rooms can be 5-10x more expensive than public rooms. Bear that in mind if you’re budget-conscious.
  • Don’t spend more than 5 constant minutes in the hot baths. You should frequently hop out, and either jump in some cold water, or just sit in no water. When I first went to the baths, the staff told me exactly this, and I thought they were being dramatic. When you experience the temperatures for yourself, you’ll realize they aren’t.
  • Most of the baths aren’t the cleanest places in the world. Luckily for me, I’m a scruffy little beggar who doesn’t really care about hygiene standards. But if you do, you should visit one of the more luxurious baths (and/or book a private room).
  • You shouldn’t visit if you’re pregnant. I’m not a scientist or a doctor, so I have no idea why that is. Apparently babies don’t like hot water or something.
  • I’ve mentioned this already, but you should definitely carry lots of drinking water. When you leave, you’ll want to guzzle water at the frantic pace of a person who’s just escaped from three days lost in the desert.
  • Georgia isn’t known for having a committed attitude to punctuality. But the baths are surprisingly punctual. If you’ve made an appointment, that’s the time you’ll be expected to actually enter your bath. So arrive at the venue around 10 minutes before.
  • If you’re unsure which of the various baths you want to splash around in, you can ask the staff for a quick tour. They’ll always be happy to show you around the place, and let you see the various rooms.
  • If you’re particularly bothered about privacy, here’s some good news: most of the private rooms have locks on the inside, so there’s no danger of anyone accidentally (or not accidentally) strolling into your bathroom.

Before You Go

Dry yourself off!

Quick as that, we’ve splashed and splished our way to the end of your ultimate guide on Tbiliis’s sulfur baths.

For more information on exploring one of my very favorite places, check out our guides on what Tbilisi is famous for, the 17 reasons I love Tbilisi, and whether (or not!) Georgia is safe to visit.

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