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  • Writer's pictureTravel Far, Eat Local

Ultimate Guide to Visiting Tbilisi's Dezerter Bazaar

Updated: Sep 15, 2022



History


Dezerter Bazaar is the largest wholesale and retail food market in Tbilisi, Georgia. Located a short metro ride away from the city center, here you will find all varieties of local produce, flowers, herbs, meats, and spices. As the story goes, the market is so named because during Russo-Georgian War in the 1920s, absconding soldiers would lay down their arms, or "desert", at this market. Myth? Truth? I'll let you decide. What is true, however, is that this market is a go-to stop for most of Tbilisi's population in search of fresh produce and other goods. Read on for full information about how to visit this must-see market when visiting Georgia's capital city, Tbilisi.


Getting to the Bazaar


If you are staying in Tbilisi's city center, you will find that getting around is generally quite easy. Taxis are abundant and affordable; nearly everything worth seeing and doing is within walking distance; and there is a cheap, efficient metro system that connects most corners of Tbilisi.


Clean and Efficient


Dezerter Bazaar is located on the northern end of the city, and it is definitely not within walking distance of the city center. Although you can easily take a taxi to the market, we opted for the metro.. mostly because we wanted to experience the Tbilisi subway system and, I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. It was clean, cheap, efficient, and modern.


The main square in Tbilisi is known as Freedom Square, which has played a large role throughout Georgia's history, both pre- and post-Soviet. Most notably, this is where President George W. Bush and former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili addressed a crowd 100K deep in 2005, marking the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.


More practically, however, Freedom Square is where you will catch the metro to get to Dezerter Bazaar. You will get on a Liberty Square, and take the Akmeteli-Varketili line towards Ahkmeteli Theatre. Get off at Station Square, make your way out of the station, and you will come into contact with myriad vendors selling all numbers of goods. Simply walk down the street through all the vendors (Abastumani Street is the street you should be walking down) and you will see the Bazaar pop up on your right. It's maybe a couple hundred yards away from the metro station, so quite easy to walk to after you exit the underground. There is a large, peach-colored facade with an apple on it... hard to miss.





Navigating the Bazaar


There is an upstairs and downstairs, an inside and outside. Not to mention all of the vendors lining the street immediately outside the market. Navigating the Bazaar itself is no easy feat. In fact, when my wife Laura and I initially entered the upstairs market, which is covered and selling nothing but apples (picture a warehouse-sized covered market selling only apples as far as the eye can see), we were kinda bummed. I was like "This it?"


But don't be dismayed. The covered portion of the market is three stories, and the upper-most level is massive and overall not as lively as the non-covered part of the market. You can either head downstairs or simply exit the market and walk a bit further down the street to enter the non-covered portion of the market, which is more lively and has the majority of goods for sale.


If you continue walking down Abastumani St. and cross Davit Aghmashenebeli Ave., there are additional food vendors, although I am not sure this is technically still considered part of Dezerter Bazaar.


It's Not Just Food for Sale at the Bazaar



Backgammon in the Bazaar


Opening Hours

The market is open from 7am - 5pm, 7 days a week. As Georgia has officially re-opened for tourism (if you're fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or can present a negative RT-PCR test with 72 hours of departure), the market is open for normal hours.


Final Words

I hope this guide gives you a little insight about visiting Dezerter Bazaar, what to expect there, and how to get there. Have you been to Dezerter Bazaar?? Let me know in the comments section! Cheers.

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