Tbilisi Travel Guide / Georgia Arrival Guide: Welcome to Tbilisi, Capital of the Republic of Georgia, nestled between the Caucasus mountains to the north, the Black Sea to the west, Azerbaijan and the Caspian sea to the east, and Armenia and Turkey to the south.
This Georgia arrival guide will get you up to speed with all the essential information you need to have a straightforward, safe and easy trip. Including:
- What to know before you travel – Visas, weather, language etc.
- Where in Georgia & Tbilisi to visit / stay.
- Airport Arrival Guides (Tbilisi & Kutaisi)
- Essentials: Money, Communications, Apps, Transport, food&drink, health&safety etc.
- Long Term Stay Advice: For potential expats/digital nomads. Finding an apartment, visas, coworking, jobs and more.
Whether you fly into Tbilisi or Kutaisi, the below information is invaluable for a smooth trip.
If you are coming on a long term trip (more than 6 months) then you need to consider your tax liabilities before you arrive.
Listen To the Tbilisi Podcast
Love to consume information in podcast form? Then listen to our Tbilisi Arrival Guide episode on the Tbilisi Podcast. Learn: Where is Tbilisi? Tbilisi Airport Arrivals Information, Getting a Sim Card in Georgia, Tbilisi Weather, and more…or continue to the full article below.
About Georgia – Brief Intro
Georgia has a population of about 4 million. About 1 million of which live in the Tbilisi Metropolitan area. It’s a country of diverse landscapes, ancient culture and the oldest history of winemaking in the world (6,000 BC).
If you like food, wine, scenery and incredible hospitality, you are going to love Georgia (aka. Sakartvelo, the traditional name for Georgia)
The main language of Georgia is Georgian. A unique language with no root relation to any other alphabet or language in the world. English is spoken in most restaurants, shops and bars in downtown Tbilisi. Beyond there, English is common though not universal.
If you speak Russian and English, then you’ll be able to communicate in one of the two almost everywhere.
The local currency is The Georgian Lari (GEL) and has fluctuated between 3 / 2.5 lari to 1 USD over the last few years.
Cost of living is very low. About 1/4 that of the UK/USA.
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Before You Arrive
Georgia currently has one of the best visa waiver programs in the world. If you qualify (EU, UK, USA, Canada, SA, NZ, Australia and many others do) 1 year visa on arrival. No questions asked. I’ve entered multiple times, even in the same year, and never yet been asked why I’m visiting or for how long.
I can’t guarantee this, but anecdotally at least, you are unlikely to have any dramas at all.
You don’t need proof of onward travel or any other documents but your passport.
The only surprise you are likely to have at passport control is the free bottle of wine the passport agent hands you after stamping your passport. I can’t promise they always give out wine, but I’ve had that about 50% of the time I’ve arrived.
DISCLAIMER: Visa rules can change periodically, you must check here that you are eligible at the time of your trip.
Georgia: Where To Visit & How Long
Georgia has such a diverse landscape that you can pretty much explore mountains, traditional vineyards and then take a swim in the black sea, then spend the night clubbing, all in one day. Depending on your interests, you are likely to prefer certain areas over others.
The below map is a non-exhaustive list of some of the best destinations in georgia. The shadings on the map are not exact political boundaries, so the names listed for each area are for convenience only, not as an exact political representation.
Tbilisi – The Capital between Gori & Kakheti. The cuisine of the whole country is represented in one city. At around 1 million people, it’s big but not too big. You’ll find ancient history and just a little adventure too. Things To Do in Tbilisi.
Kakheti – The premiere wine region of Georgia. Sitting mostly along the Alazani valley, bordered to the north by the Caucasus mountain range. Wineries of Georgia.
Imereti / Kutaisi – The Imereti region is known for both cuisine and wine (quite different because of a more humid climate). You’ll find canyons, UNESCO monasteries and plenty of rolling hills. Things To Do In Imereti.
Gori / Mtskheta (Shida Kartli) – Just north of Tbilisi, the UNESCO Jvari monastery sits above the confluence of 2 rivers. Gori, the birthplace of Stalin. A dry valley where you’ll find wine and ancient Georgian history.
Batumi / Adjar (& Megrelian Region) – Batumi is Georgia’s most popular black sea tourist resort full of bars, casinos and nightclubs. Smaller seaside villages dot the coast north of Batumi, if you are looking for something a little more low key.
Svaneti – The mountainous region in north-west Georgia. Ski resorts or hiking. You’ll also find the UNESCO protected Ushguli settlement. Things to do in Svaneti.
Gudauri / Kabegi – Mount Kazbegi looms, close to the Russian border. Find a wild landscape with hiking. Gudauri, around two hours north of Tbilisi, is the largest ski resort in Georgia.
Borjomi / Bakuriani – The spa town of Borjomi is famous for their natural sparkling mineral water. Bakuriani, famous for their still water and the second largest ski resort in Georgia.
Vardzia – On the border with Turkey, as you drop down from the mountains around Borjomi, you arrive to a dry region with ancient cave dwellings (Vardzia) and fortresses (Rabat).
How Long To Stay In Georgia?
I love Georgia, so I’m biased. But for a realistic tourist trip, it will depend on your interests. Tbilisi itself deserves a minimum of 48 hours to scratch the surface. For wine tourists, 2 days to visit the Kakheti wine region is much better than a 1 day trip.
If you want to go further a field, then anything less than 1 week will leave you only catching some highlight.
So, for a fly in fly out city break with a trip to wine country, 3 day is doable. To explore much more of the countryside and UNESCO sites, at least 1 week is preferable. But you could easily spend a year here and still be discovering new thing every weekend!
Where To Stay Tbilisi
As the cosmopolitan capital of Georgia, Tbilisi is one of the most fun cities, with tons of history. Any visit to Georgia is not complete unless you spend at least some of your trip in Tbilisi. The international airport is just 30 minutes away from the old town of central Tbilisi.
Areas to stay in Tbilisi
Read Our Full Guide to Accommodation & Where to Stay In Tbilisi
Main Tourist Areas
Freedom Square / Sololaki / Old Town (Yellow): The main tourist area with a high concentration of bars, restaurants, attractions, souvenirs shops, cobbled streets, historic buildings, walking tours and a general buzz of activity day and night. Stay at: The Terrace Hotel Agoda | Booking.com | Hotels.com
Rustaveli/Vera (Purple): The main avenue of Tbilisi connecting the northern suburbs to the old town. A grand avenue of 19th and early 20th century style buildings. Restaurants and brand name shops. Stay At: Rooms Hotel Agoda| Booking.com | Hotels.com
Avlabari (Red): Has some back streets and historic buildings, Rikhe park (with the cable car). A little more chaotic than old town, but a short walk down to the river.
Marjanishvili (Orange): Here you’ll find Little Istanbul (unofficial name) where there are tons of Turkish restaurants and hookah bars (All down Davit Aghmashenebeli Avenue, bars mostly at the south end). This area is more focused for muslim tourists. A little to the west of that main avenue, the old German neighbourhood, it’s become a bit hipster due to Fabrika opening (Hipster coworking/hostel & entertainment complex in an old factory – Booking.com / Agoda / Expedia).
Vake (Green): The leafy parisian style suburb to the north west of the centre. It’s really not that far from the centre, but for stays of only a few days, for tourists, it’s too much of a bubble, away from the real Tbilisi to want to stay there. If you are staying a month or more, and want a quieter area with plenty of mod-cons and foreigners around, it’s great.
Saburtalo (Blue): The budget friendly option for long term stays. Lots of modern apartments, or refurbished old soviet blocks. It’s not the pretty area of town though, and it’s sort of far out. For real budget travellers though, being connected to one of only 2 metro lines makes quick, traffic free travel convenient.
Read Our Full Guide to Accommodation & Where to Stay In Tbilisi
Taxi Apps & Essentials To Install
It’s worth installing a few useful apps before you get to Georgia.
Taxi Apps: Bolt vs Yandex
There is no Uber in Georgia. When visiting major cities in Georgia (Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi) you can use either Bolt or Yandex. Both have very low prices compared to other parts of Europe. Rides in Tbilisi start at 4 lari ($1.40USD) for the first few KMs. In Kutaisi, less than 2 lari ($0.70USD) for most rides.
After using both apps, although Yandex is fractionally cheaper, the service is massively inconsistent compared to Bolt. Yandex drivers often refuse to use the GPS and instead try to communicate with you in Russian for directions.
The Bolt system just works better (though neither are perfect) and the drivers and vehicles are mostly better too.
Food Delivery Apps: Wolt vs Glovo
Uber eats is also not available here. If you don’t intend to eat out for every meal, then an easy delivery meal to you hotel or apartment is great. Delivery is rarely more than $1 USD.
There is no clear winner, so getting both is worthwhile.
Wolt is the best for straight up food delivery and I think the app is easier to use and the restaurant selection slightly better. Get The Wolt App (First Delivery Free With This Link)
Glovo, though a bit clunkier to use is still a very useful app – mostly because, as well as food delivery, they also deliver pharmaceuticals, wine, spirits & beer, and pretty much anything from groceries to homewares. Get The Glovo App (2 Deliveries Free With This Link)
Google translate will work for both Georgian & Russian back to English. It’s useful to make both languages offline. The Russian option provides you with audio and the conversation function making it more useful in many occasions.
Offline Google Map
Although google maps is a little unreliable in Georgia, it’s still pretty good, especially in the major cities and main roads. You can make the whole map of Georgia available offline using the offline maps function in the menu on the app.
Other Essentials (Voltage, Mail etc.)
Mostly Euro style socket (2 round pins) – but also you may find a few places with the 3 round pins, and even a few places with UK or USA style sockets.
International Phone code: +995
The National Postal Service is unreliable. Ok for sending postcards home though. Beyond that, you need to use a courier or shipping service. Learn more in the Long term stay FAQs below.
Emergency Services: 112
Weather / When To Visit
Georgia has a wide range of climates, from humid near the black sea, to very dry around Tbilisi where it rarely snows, to ski resorts just 2 hours drive from Tbilisi.
If you want location specific weather, you’d be better off looking up annual weather for different cities around the country, due to the variance. Below is just a general guide to the tourist seasons.
Summer: The Busiest tourist season is from June to mid September. Expect hot weather (30+ celsius is typical) and plenty of dry days with blue skies and some clouds. Head to the mountains, or the black sea coast, to cool off.
Spring & Autumn/Fall: Very pleasant temperatures, in the 20s Celsius in Tbilisi. Both seasons can have rain. These are both considered shoulder season. But for wine tourists, they are the two best times to come. In spring, wine is being bottled. In the fall, wine is being harvested.
Winter: Tbilisi is typically dry with a reasonable amount of sunshine days. Ski resorts officially open early December, though in practice many won’t open until mid to late December.
May & September are my favourite months – daytime temps mostly fall under 30 celsius, so sightseeing is much more pleasant but its still warm enough to enjoy most evenings in a t-shirt. Dry and sunny weather and the perfect season for fresh produce and wine. Less tourists than the peak months of June/July/August.
At The Airport
Passport Control / Arrivals / ATM (Tbilisi)
Passport control is refreshingly easy. If you are one of the preferred countries that get visa waiver on arrival for 1 year, then it’s unlikely they’ll even ask you why you are there or how long you’ll be in Georgia.
Stamp, stamp, free bottle of wine. Not joking. They do regularly hand out free bottles of wine at the immigration desk. Not always, but this is a real thing.
The airport has free wifi. So you can get access to that as soon as you reach the terminal.
The airport is relatively small. At baggage collection, you may be approached about the official airport taxi. Read more about your transport options in the section below.
In the arrivals hall, after customs control, you’ll find ATMs and Sim card stands – more on sim card options below.
All the ATMs are safe. They all take international cards. They dispense cash in Lari (GEL) and USD – so be careful to select lari, or you may get a much bigger wad of cash than you wanted! Almost all places in Tbilisi take lari, they don’t want USD. Also, in the city, every restaurant, hotel, supermarket etc takes card, even on small payments. Cash is useful for tips and for buying things at market stalls and small independent shops. Also for taxis, if you want to pay cash rather than use a taxi app.
Bank Of Georgia (Orange with a lion logo) is my prefered bank. But they are all fine. About $1 USD fee is charged per withdrawal.
Sim Card / Phone
Georgia has an excellent 4.5G mobile network for cell phones. So long as you have had your phone unlocked, and didn’t go and buy a phone in the USA that is blocked from being unlocked, then you can use a Georgian sim, no problem.
You’ll find the 3 main networks represented in the airport arrival hall. You need just your passport to get a sim card.
By far the network with the widest and most reliable coverage is Magti. They have some good tourist packages starting at 15lari ($5 USD). If you are staying less than 15 days this is sufficient. If you stay longer, you can either try and get a non tourist package where you can just buy whatever data or calls you need, or you can take the tourist package for now, and start buying regular add ons once it runs out.
NOTE: They promote the 30 lari package, ask about the 15 lari one. Or ask about just buying the sim and data add ons, if you don’t need calls. I pay 9 lari per month for 3GB of data.
The cheapest option is Beeline. And that’s how they get you. Coverage is bad compared to Magti. Outside of urban centres, good luck! If you are only staying in Tbilisi, and you really want a lot of data for all your live streaming social stories, then Beeline is fine and much cheaper per GB. Aside from that, I don’t recommend it.
GEOCELL Network – Don’t even bother. Expensive, no better than Magti.
Transport To The City (From Tbilisi Airport)
It’s a 30 minute drive from Tbilisi airport to the old town centre.
In 2019, the airport finally started an official taxi service. The touts, who would often charge more than double the standard rate, have been pushed outside into the parking lot. But they are still there! So be wary of any offer from anyone that is not an official taxi selling ticket office (airport staff).
Official Airport Taxi
From 30 to 50 lari, depending on your drop off location. To old town/freedom square it’s 40 lari. Buy tickets from one of the official staff inside the terminal or baggage collection area.
At time of writing, drivers using taxi apps are still allowed to pickup at arrivals. About 25 Lari to downtown. If you purchased a sim card, and already added a credit card to the Bolt Taxi App (This link gets you a 5 lari credit) before arriving, then just order and go (Drivers are always waiting, and 1 minute pickup time is typical.) If you didn’t get a sim card, you can order using the free wifi next to the exit door of arrivals. Using this process, you can avoid visiting the ATM at all.
Pre-Booked Private Transfer
If you want someone waiting for you when you arrive, along with a fixed price and a more luxury car (optional) than taking a Bolt, you can book a private transfer.
Rent a Car
Many major car rental agencies are located at the airport. If you are looking to spend most of your trip outside of Tbilisi, then renting a car from day 1 can be a smart choice.
Check out online prices for car rental here.
Considerations: Inner city parking is mostly uncontrolled and hence, unpredictable. Check your accommodation includes parking. Don’t park on a tight street as losing a mirror or getting a big scratch from passing cars is typical, and they will not leave their insurance details. If you are not familiar with the aggressive nature of East European driving, then driving in Georgia is very intense. We use taxis and hire a driver for out of town trips. More on that in the tours section below.
Bus or Train
Bus #37 operates from arrivals to downtown (Rustaveli/Freedom square/station square) from 7am to 11.40pm and only costs 0.5 lari. You must have the exact money, in coins to use the bus. They take 40 minutes, and leave every 20 to 30 mins. A less frequent night bus #137 runs from 00:15 until 06:05.
Though a train station is close to the terminal, the service is yet to begin properly. At this time, there are 2 trains per day – one at 8.45am and one at 18:05. It’s not really worth it right now.
Kutaisi Airport Arrival
Kutaisi airport is 25 minutes drive from Kutaisi about 4 hours drive from Tbilisi and 2 hours drive from the black sea resort town of Batumi.
Kutaisi has flights from major cities all over Europe, mainly via budget carrier Wizz Air.
Arrival and passport control is simple if you are eligible for the visa waiver program. Get stamped, collect your free bottle of wine (if you are lucky) and proceed to baggage and arrivals. The terminal is very small, so it’s easy to navigate.
As in Tbilisi, sim cards and ATMs are available in the arrivals hall.
For comfort, convenience and a slightly quicker journey than waiting for a bus – with the added benefit of nicer vehicles and someone there to help you at arrivals, private transfers are easy in Georgia.
To Tbilisi – About $95 to $300 USD
To Batumi – About $75 to $200 USD
To Kutaisi City – $25 to $40 USD
The local rate to Kutaisi city from the airport should be 25 to 30 lari. But regulation is limited and it’s likely drivers will ask for much more. If you argue a bit, you should be able to get 30 or less.
The Bolt Taxi App does function at Kutaisi airport, but less actively than Tbilisi, so you may have a 15 minute wait or more for a car. You can get a car for about 20 lari with the app.
If you’d like to explore some of the regions between Kutaisi and Tbilisi, and beyond, then renting a car might be your preference.
Many major car rental agencies are located at the airport.
Check out online prices for car rental here.
As mentioned above – driving standards and road quality are low in Georgia. Be prepared for crazy drivers and potholes.
The organised bus service is based around flight times, rather than being at periodic intervals. This is useful as flight delays will normally mean the bus will wait for the flight to arrive. Georgian Bus uses modern, 54 seat big buses for most of their routes.
Bus to Tbilisi: 20 Lari per seat
Bus to Batumi: 15 lari
Bus To Kutaisi City: 5 Lari
Bus to Gudauri (Ski Resort, Seasonal): 60 Lari
From Kutaisi City To Tbilisi
If you choose to visit Kutaisi before going to Tbilisi, there are trains (limited departures) which take 5 to 6 hours, but are much more comfortable than the other option (Though most do not have aircon in summer).
Minibuses called martshukas. These leave hourly from the central bus station to Tbilisi north (Didube). They are cramped and drive pretty crazy. About 12 lari for a one way trip. About 3.5 hours journey.
Tbilisi: After Arrival
Food & Drink / Supermarkets
Tbilisi is a 24 hours city. There are a number of supermarkets and restaurants that are open 24 hours for food & alcohol. It’s actually harder to get a good coffee at 7am than it is a litre of wine and a pizza.
I love Georgian Food! You’ll want to eat yourself silly while you are here, and there are a lot of Restaurants in Tbilisi to check out. Khinkali (giant soup dumplings) and Khachapuri (Cheese stuffed bread) are the two national dishes. We have a comprehensive guide to traditional Georgian cuisine.
Georgians don’t really do breakfast. If you do want to eat breakfast out, the Entree cafe chain open at 8am and are decent. Other places, breakfast may start at 9 or 10am.
24 hour restaurants are your best bet to eat any earlier than 8am. The two most popular are Bernard and Machakhela/Samikitno – though not every branch is open 24 hours, central location mostly are.
Food delivery is not 24 hours, but is most of the day and night. Wolt & Glovo are the 2 easiest apps to use, in English. I find Wolt has a better interface. Get a free delivery credit with those links.
As mentioned above, Georgia is the birth places of wine. They have unique wines that you just won’t taste anywhere else, as well as over 500 endemic species of grapes.
There are plenty of mass produced beers, but also a small but growing craft beer scene.
Georgian Lemonade is a national drink. It’s not just made from lemons. It comes in a crazy selection of colours and flavours. From Tarragon to Saperavi (a red grape, normally used to make wine).
Then, there is chacha… A right of passage to drink this fiery spirit. You can discover that on your own.
You’ll find a wide selection of bars across the city.
Best All Round: Carrefour. They have hypermarkets out of town, and good size supermarkets in most suburbs of the city, including downtown. They have a decent selection of international foods. They are cheaper than most competitors
Best Produce: AgroHub. A touch more expensive, but higher quality. Mainly their stores are further from the centre.
I avoid Goodwill if possible. Same range as carrefour, mostly, but with less and everything at a higher price.
Corner Stores/Mini marts & 24 Hours
Both Spar or Nikora (Purple sign with a bulls head) are moderately priced, normally open 24 hours. Spar doesn’t always stock fresh produce.
Tbilisi is littered with small independent corner stores, each with a different selection. They might not be marked on google maps. Support local business by shopping at these if you can.
ATMs & Money
I mentioned above that my preference for ATMs is Bank of Georgia. But TBC or Liberty Bank are also fine. I haven’t yet seen the Euronet machines arrive to Georgia, like they have in the EU. If you see one, run away! They are rip-off central.
They also don’t yet have the “Would you like us to use our own conversion rate” scam, like they do in Europe. So withdrawing money is easy really, for now.
Almost all international cards accepted. About $1USD fee for international withdrawal. USD & GEL (lari) available at most banks. The only reason you’d normally need USD is if you are renting a car from an independent supplier who doesn’t accept cards, or you are paying rent offline.
Money Changers / Currency Exchange
With ATMs being so easy to use, and with decent enough rates. There is little reason to use money changers unless you are changing cash you just happened to have on you and don’t need anymore. There are money changers all over central Tbilisi (Old Town, Rustaveli, Marjanishvili, Freedom Square). They all have obvious digital displays with currency rates outside.
The money changers do offer better rates than the bank, typically. But although most are honest, not all are.
Always check the transaction will be commission free. Watch very carefully when they type in the exchange value on the calculator to check they are not cheating you. Its best to calculate the rate yourself, before walking in, on your phone, so you know exactly what it is supposed to be. Then you can question a discrepancy. Always take the receipt. Always re-count the money in front of them so you can both agree it is the right amount.
Taxis are surprisingly cheap (Think, less than $2 USD for most inner city trips less than 4KM, and only about 30cents per KM after that), and since about 2017, many old cars have been replaced with modern vehicles.
Unless you are a very budget backpacker, the price an convenience makes it mostly pointless to use any other form of transport while in Tbilisi or Kutaisi. As recommended above, Bolt Taxi App (This link gets you a 5 lari credit) is the Uber of Georgia, and it’s the best of the available app services.
The old Tbilisi metro is an attraction in itself, with some old soviet stations. Using the metromoney card (cost 2 lari for the smartcard) and then loaded with some credit, it costs 0.5 lari per ride, for any distance.
The red metro connects the far north of the city, through Station square, Marjanishvili, Rustaveli, Freedom square, Avlabari and then half way to the airport.
The green line connects Station Square to the Saburtalo district.
The metro is open 06:00 to 24:00 daily.
City Buses / Marshrutka
Tbilisi is slowly adopting more modern buses to their major routes. Upon boarding, you can swipe your metromoney card. That first swipe (0.5lari) entitles you to 90 minutes of travel on city buses and the metro without additional charge. The larger Green and blue buses, as well as smaller yellow buses, are included in this network, with scheduled stops. More info of routes on the official website. Although, google maps does a reasonable job with estimating these routes too.
Other independent mini buses marshrutka also connect additional routes. These will stop and pick up anywhere. Though the process may be a little confusing for foreigners, and generally unnecessary for inner city routes for most tourists. 0.80 lari per ride. Metromoney card accepted in some.
Inter City Marshrutka (mini buses)
To get from Tbilisi to any number of other destination in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, you can buy a spot on a mini bus. Typically they cram people in, so it’s not the most comfortable or safe way to get around. But it’s very cheap. For example, a 1 way trip to Kutaisi (3.5 hours) is 12 lari ($4USD)
There are multiple departure stations around the city, depending on where you are heading.
The main bus stations are:
Didube (North & West Routes – Kazbegi, Kutaisi, Borjomi, Batumi etc)
Ortachala (Telavi (Kakheti) plus many international routes from larger bus companies – to Russia, Istanbul, Yerevan etc.)
Avlabari (South Routes – Yerevan)
Samgori (East routes – Signagi)
Station Square (Rail) (Various routes, inc. Mestia, Yerevan, Batumi)
Bus routes seem to change frequently, so it’s best to google the exact destination you want and see which is most convenient and at what time it will leave, looking at recent listings.
The bus stations are mostly hectic. There are no signs. You just need to walk around asking for your destinations, and people will point you to the right area for your departure.
Buses leave on an approximate schedule, booking tickets in advance is almost impossible, so for popular destinations, it’s best just to turn up about 15 to 30 minutes before you want to leave and buy a ticket direct from the bus driver. Seats are first come first served, so getting in early can be a more comfortable plan.
Private Driver / Transfer (Inter City)
If you want a comfortable trip, with seatbelts, your choice of pickup time and no waiting around, private transfers are very cheap compared to West Europe/USA.
For point to point transfers between towns and cities in Georgia/Armenia/Azerbaijan KiwiTaxi covers most of them.
For smaller destinations, you can contacts us directly [email protected] and we can connect you with one of or private drivers.
For multi stop trips, please see our Tours section below.
Cable Car / Funicular
The cable car from Rike park to Narikala fortress in downtown Tbilisi runs from 10am to 11pm and costs 2.5 lari one way. The metromoney card is required and can be purchased at the cable car.
The funicular runs from Mtsminida to the theme park & restaurants above. It uses a separate payment card, purchased at the base station, metromoney cannot be used. Many events and festivals happen at the top park.
The ropeway from Vake Park to Turtle Lake is currently under renovation.
National & International trains depart from Station square. A mix of slow and fast trains. The basic schedule is available here.
Safety / Health / Insurance
Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals or police. This advice is for information only and we take no responsibility for how you use this information.
Emergency number in Georgia: 112
Tbilisi and Georgia in general is very safe. Violent crime and theft/mugging is low compared to other countries. People are typically helpful, especially towards foreigners. Scams are infrequent. Walking alone at night, even as a single female is considered safe. Standard precautions such as avoiding protests, walking away from groups of drunk people that hang around outside bars smoking, etc. is sensible.
The most unsafe thing about a visit here is the driving. Be careful when walking near to roads. Vehicles are not required to have seat belts in the back.
Should you carry your passport?
It is not necessary, though it is sometimes useful as it is the primary form of ID requested if you want to do anything at the bank, buy a sim card etc. Some hotels may request 1 passport per group booking.
Your concern should not be about theft or being stopped and asked for a passport by authorities – this doesn’t happen under normal circumstances. If you are prone to losing things, leaving it in your hotel room should be fine.
Health & Insurance
Hospital Care is affordable and hospital standards are high, with multiple international standard facilities.
Ambulance services are hit and miss for response time, but do certainly operate. For non-critical emergencies you might consider taking a taxi as a faster way to get to a medical centre. That said, for all serious matters, getting paramedics on the scene should be your first call.
Pharmacies a located all over the city. There are also 24 hour pharmacies in every district of Tbilisi. You can get medicines delivered 24 hours using the Glovo App (2 Deliveries Free With This Link)
Few restrictions on pharmaceuticals means you can order medicine without prescription. In fact, a typical doctors prescription is normally just plain paper with them writing out what you need. Some popular pharmacies:
Doctor consultation, when paying in full, is typically about 80lari ($28 USD). Major operations and emergencies can rack up much bigger bills, of course, so you should have complete travel insurance to cover your medical costs and other travel issues. Most tour companies, drivers and other companies do not carry liability insurance, so it is always better to have your own insurance.
See Georgia: Tours & Tour Companies
In the Georgia: Where To Visit section above, we gave a brief intro on some places to visit around the country.
Our partner company, Eat This! Tours, focuses primarily on Food & Wine tours with unique itineraries visiting family wineries tasting artisan wines and homemade food.
We are also connected with a number of other tour companies that offer sightseeing tours to every corner of Georgia.
Online booking will be available soon. Until then, if you need a professional driver/guide contact us [email protected]
For more info on wine routes and wine itineraries, check out our Georgian wineries guide.
For a wide selection of generic tours, bookable online check out Get Your Guide.
For Long Term Stays (Expats/Digital Nomads etc.)
Under the logic of “It sounds too good to be true” most travellers assume that the 1 year visa free entry to Georgia would be for tourism purposes only…
However, the homepage of the official government office of the Georgian ministry of foreign affairs, clearly states that:
“The visa policy of Georgia became comparatively liberal, allowing citizens of 98 countries to enter, reside, work and study in Georgia without the necessity to obtain either visa or residence permit”
How long this policy will persist, it’s hard to say. But for now at least, you can travel and work here for 1 year legally. You can leave the country and then return almost immediately and the 1 year begins again from the date of return.
I’ve read reports of people who have entered georgia some 35 times since this policy was implemented a few years ago, with barely an eyebrow raised by customs officials.
That being said, this is anecdotal evidence and we take no responsibility for your choices. A very limited number of people report being denied entry, but that normally seems to have been down to being flagged for some reason, not due to the amount of time spent in the country.
Long/Mid Term Accommodation
For mid term accommodation, finding a suitable property on AirBnB (Get $25 off your first stay with our link) and then contacting the owner through the contact option to negotiate a better rate for a longer stay, is common practice for simplicity. NOTE: Payments should still be handled by AirBnB. Making arrangements outside of AirBnB after making contact is in breach of their terms of service and can see you banned. Do so at your own risk.
Other options would include trawling facebook groups – there are a few specific rental groups you can search out on facebook. This is a longer process though. But, once agents on those groups see you are looking, you’ll get a bunch of messages (check your other messages inbox) from agents asking what sort of property you need.
For Long Term Accommodation, Myhome.ge is mostly in English and is full of property options all over the city at local prices. Be aware that the map function sometimes defaults to the location of the real estate office and not the property.
6 to 12 month contracts are typical. Landlord should pay the real estate fees – so if they ask you for a signing fee, be wary. Security deposit equivalent to 1 months rent is normal.
At times when the rental market is low, it might be possible to barter a shorter stay, at a higher monthly price, using the myhome.ge website.
The Most popular expat areas are Vake, Rustaveli/vera and Saburtalo. Also moderately popular would be Marjanishvili and Sololaki/old town – though these two areas are a bit more tourist focused.
For a very rough guideline, with a 6 month rental, fully furnished, decent location, 1 to 2 bedrooms and 60+ meters square, you might be looking at $350 USD to $800 USD pcm, depending on the quality and exact location. There are plenty of places in the sub $600 USD category.
Jobs, Business & Employment
A low economy (Though it is growing remarkably fast) means that taking a local wage will leave you with a relatively low wage compared to western Europe or the USA. So it depends where you come from as to whether you’d see that as a worthwhile choice.
Speaking Russian or Georgian or both would be essential for many jobs.
Most foreigners are either working for an international company that is based here, for government organisations/embassies, or as English teachers. Most other people are remote workers, working online.
With most of those sorts of jobs, you can enjoy a very good quality of life in Georgia.
Alternatively, starting a business as a foreigner is relatively easy. Especially as an Individual Entrepreneur. It’s best to get a local who speaks Georgian, preferably an accountant, to help you navigate the system and tax situation.
Coworking Spaces / Internet
There are plenty of coworking spaces, and cafes with fast internet.
Almost all of Tbilisi is optic fibre enabled. Most airbnbs and apartments come with the cheapest option, which still hits 20mbps Up & 10 to 20 Mbps down. Sufficient for most digital nomads. But upgrading and downgrading is an instant option, so most landlords will allow you to pay a few dollars more a month and they can increase that to 100Mbps almost immediately.
If you prefer a coworking space, options range from full team office solutions, to hipster hangouts or just regular coworking spaces. Check out Coworker for more details.
Setting Up House & Daily Essentials
After trying to do it local the first time we moved here – ie. going to markets and independent stores. We realised that, to just get everything we wanted, simply and in one trip, going to one of the two very big, modern out of town malls was by far the easiest choice.
Tbilisi Mall, in the north. East Point Mall, towards the airport to the east. Both have carrefour hypermarkets, where you’ll find international food and most homewares you could need. But at eastpoint they also have Domino, which is a mix of homewares and DIY. Anything that is not in Carrefour, is probably in Domino.
Postal System / Amazon etc.
Georgia Post, the national mail service, is unreliable at best. Don’t expect to receive anything. If you are sending letters home, or postcards, they might make it to the destination. But mail coming to you, good luck!
For items you can’t find at the mall, you can order off Amazon, posting to the USA to Georgia service. Currently $7 USD per kilo. Items from Amazon ship to Deleware first, so are tax free in the USA. Then they are forwarded to the office in Georgia, via customs and import. Your daily import limit without tax is 300 lari (about $100 USD) Items, individual or grouped together, that total more than that value, will be taxed at around 30%, from dollar 1.
So, heavy or expensive items may be better to track down in Georgia. Items being sent by friends and family, ask them to declare the value under $100 USD. Once your item arrives to their depot in Tbilisi, a courier will deliver direct to your door for a few lari. They will call you when they are outside.
If you want to get stuff from Europe or Asia, INEX provides the same service.
These services may sound complicated, but they work. Unlike Georgia post. Once Amazon delivers to their office, you’ll normally have your parcel at your house within 5 days.
As an example, we needed a letter to arrive from Australia, it was mailed to Delaware, then forwarded here. Total cost was maybe $8. It took about 10 days to get here. Whereas, DHL had quoted us $72 for a direct delivery from Australia.
More Resources On Georgia
See our full list of articles about Georgia, on our Georgia Destination Page.
Georgian Wine Itineraries & Wine Guide (PDF)
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