For other places with the same name, see Georgia (disambiguation).

Travel Warning WARNING: Massive protests have erupted in opposition to a controversial law that requires organizations that receive more than 20% of their funding from foreign sources to register as foreign agents. Stay away from all protests, as violent clashes between protesters and the authorities have occurred.
(Information last updated 29 May 2023)

Georgia (Georgian: საქართველო, Sakartvelo) is a country in the Caucasus. Sandwiched between Russia in the north and Turkey in the south, it sits along the coast of the Black Sea around where Europe and Asia meet. It is a rather mountainous country and is home to some of Europe’s highest mountain peaks. Despite its modest size, Georgia presents a large mix of other landscapes and micro-climates, ranging from dry wine-growing valleys in the east, to lush Black Sea resorts in the west. In Greek mythology, Georgia, known as Colchis, was the site of the famous Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts. The tales of Georgia's ancient history are not without foundation; modern archaeological evidence suggests that Georgia is the oldest wine-making country in the world, with some wine samples dating back to 6,000 years BC. In testament to this rich heritage, Georgia's cities and countryside are complete with medieval churches, several of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Enjoying low levels of crime and corruption, since the mid-2000s Georgia has developed into a fast-growing destination. The country's tourist infrastructure continues to expand.


Regions of Georgia
The Georgian heartland, centre of East Georgian culture, and the national economic, cultural, and political hub; home to many major destinations like Tbilisi, Mtskheta, Gori and Kazbegi
  Rioni Region
The center of Western Georgia and the ancient kingdom of Colchis, land of the Golden Fleece; today home to magnificent UNESCO sites and fantastical mountainous scenery in both Racha and Imereti
Georgia's fertile wine region, with relatively dry climate, full of valleys, beautiful churches, monasteries and wineries
  Southwestern Georgia
The hub of Georgia's seaside resorts, including the nation's second largest city of Batumi
  Northwestern Georgia
An area of diverse landscapes, transitioning from marshlands and lowlands of western Mingrelia to one of Europe's highest mountains in Upper Svaneti
Home to the cave city of Vardzia and the enchanting Sapara Monastery. The area also contains much of Georgia's ethnic Armenian population
  Disputed territories (Abkhazia, South Ossetia)
Georgia's pro-Russian breakaway regions, not controlled by the central government; Abkhazia is a subtropical beach, while South Ossetia is high in the Greater Caucasus Mountains, with little to offer a traveler beyond danger and mountain vistas. Both areas are controlled by the Russian border guards.

The exclusion of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from the regional hierarchy proper is not an endorsement of any side in the conflict; it is merely a practical distinction, since travel conditions in these two regions differ radically from those in the rest of Georgia.


  • 1 Tbilisi – The most cosmopolitan and diverse of Georgia's cities, Tbilisi is not just the nation's capital but also a hub that contains nearly a third of all of Georgia's population. It is an interesting mix of old classical and ultra modern buildings.
  • 2 Akhaltsikhe – The small capital of Samtskhe-Javakheti is near two popular tourist destinations: Vardzia and the Sapara Monastery
  • 3 Batumi – Georgia's second largest city, a mixture of classical buildings against the backdrop of rising skyscrapers and palm treas on the Black Sea coast.
  • 4 Borjomi – A picturesque small city with famous mineral water, a national park, and a summer mansion of the Russian Romanov dynasty
  • 5 Gori – the birthplace of Stalin, with a museum dedicated to him
  • 6 Kutaisi – Georgia's third largest city and the historic capital of ancient Colchis, home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • 7 Mtskheta – The historic former capital of Eastern Georgia, the centre of the Georgian Orthodox Church, and another UNESCO World Heritage site is an easy day trip from Tbilisi
  • 8 Sighnaghi – A small mountain town popular with tourists for its scenery and wine
  • 9 Telavi – The capital of Kakheti is a good jumping off point for nearby wineries, castles, and monasteries

Other destinations

Rugged alpine landscapes of Svaneti in Northwestern Georgia
  • 1 Georgian Military Highway – running through a high mountain scenery along dangerously steep curves, from Tbilisi to Vladikavkaz, Russia. Sometimes mockingly known as the Invasion Highway.
  • 2 Kakheti wineries – especially the 19th-century Château Mukhrani, Tsinandali Estate and others located in and around Signagi
  • 3 Mount Kazbeg Mount Kazbek on Wikipedia – of the highest mountains in Europe is also home to Holy Trinity church, perched on top of a hill overlooking a ravine.
  • 4 David Gareja Monastery Complex – a 6th-century cave monastery on a mountain overlooking the Azerbaijani desert, with beautiful frescoes.
  • 5 Shatili Shatili on Wikipedia – a high mountainous village near the border with Russia. Located in the deep Arghuni gorge at approximate 1,400 m, the village is a unique complex of medieval-to-early modern fortresses and fortified dwellings of stone and mortar.
  • 6 Mazeri – Svaneti mountain village, surrounded by a stunning alpine landscapes and huge waterfalls.
  • 7 Mestia – in Upper Svaneti, the highest inhabited region of Europe, home to the mysterious Svans and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • 8 Vardzia – a 12th-century cave monastery overlooking a large river gorge
  • 9 Ushguli – in the highest inhabited region of Europe and inhabited by the Svans this small village is home to mountain scenery and medieval towers. and of Georgia's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • 10 Uplistsikhe Uplistsikhe on Wikipedia – a 3,600-year-old Silk Road cave city that was a major regional centre of pagan religions.


Capital Tbilisi
Currency Georgian lari (GEL)
Population 3.7 million (2017)
Electricity 220 volt / 50 hertz (Europlug, Schuko)
Country code +995
Time zone UTC+04:00, Georgia Time
Emergencies 112, 111 (fire department), 113 (emergency medical services), 122 (police)
Driving side right
A classical statue from Georgia, 2nd century BC, displayed at the Georgian National Museum

Georgia is a country of unique culture and rich history, which can be traced to classical antiquity and even earlier. Archaeologists have found the oldest known traces of wine production, dated 6,000 years BC, in Georgia. Thanks to this long history of viticulture, grapevine is one of Georgia's national symbols, adorning medieval decorations, carvings and paintings.

A people of distinct culture, Georgians are not related to the Russians, Turks or Greeks, nor do they have any ethnic or linguistic ties to other nations that surround them. There are academic theories which link Georgians to Basque and Corsican people in Southwestern Europe, but there is no definitive evidence of this. For centuries, Georgians have been embroiled in power struggles against the world’s biggest empires (Roman, Mongol, Byzantine, Persian, Ottoman and Russian), but they nevertheless managed to preserve their identity. In testament to this long history, Georgia's countryside is covered with ancient towered fortifications, monasteries and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which have survived through great adversities.

The exact origin of name Georgia has never been established, but there are a number of theories as to its provenance. Some have explained the name's origin by the popularity of St George among Georgians (St. George is Georgia's Patron Saint). Others link the name to the Greek word γεωργός ("agricultural") or some variations thereof. Georgians usually tell you that the name is related to Saint George, since that is an explanation closest to their heart.

The majority of Georgians are Eastern Orthodox Christian, which encompasses Greek, Russian and other European orthodox denominations. Aside from Russia, Georgia is the only Eastern Orthodox Christian country in the region (contrary to popular belief, Armenia is Oriental Orthodox, which is a separate church). Although Georgia's culture is strongly influenced by Christianity, a large portion of nominally religious Georgians do not actively practice their faith and identify with religion for historical and cultural reasons. Most people attend church only on special occasions, and religious holidays are more about feasts and keeping up with traditions than religious dogma. However, to Western Europeans, Georgians seem very religious.

Nevertheless, they are also very modern at the same time, and their taste of music is outstanding and advanced. Where in Asia you get the typical mix of bad local pop music, tear jerker, and traditional jingle-jangle, Georgians prefer international classics, jazz and blues, and old pop music from the 60s, 70s and 80s. This becomes very apparent when hitchhiking, and locals turn on their radio. In addition, the local music often improvises with styles of Reggae and Ska.

Historical overview

Georgian king Vakhtang VI sought support from France and the Papal States in order to fight Islamic invasions. Allying with Western European powers to resist hostile neighbors is a recurring theme in Georgia's history

Classical and medieval periods


In Greek mythology, western coasts of Georgia were home to the famous Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts. Incorporation of the Golden Fleece into Greek mythology was influenced by an ancient Georgian practice of using fleeces to sift gold dust from the mountain rivers. In addition to ties to ancient Greeks, various early Georgian kingdoms were client states and allies of the Roman Empire for centuries. In the 4th century, a Greek-speaking Roman woman named Saint Nino - who was a relative of Saint George - began preaching Christianity in Georgia, leading to the eventual conversion of this previously pagan kingdom.

By the 10th century, various Georgian-speaking states converged to form the Kingdom of Georgia, which became a potent regional power in the 12th and 13th centuries, also known as the Georgian Golden Age. This period of revival was inaugurated by King David IV of Georgia, son of George II and Queen Helena, who succeeded in driving out the Turks. During this time, Georgia's influence spanned from the south of Ukraine in Eastern Europe to the northern gates of Persia. Like its ally Greece, Georgia was in some sense Europe's gatekeeper throughout the Middle Ages - being a peripheral country, much of the Islamic invasions hit Georgia first.

By the end of the Middle Ages, Georgia began to gradually decline and fracture due to persistent incursions of Mongols and other nomadic peoples. The Mongols were expelled by George V the Brilliant, but various Muslim conquerors followed, not giving the realm enough time to fully recover. Georgia's geopolitical situation further worsened after the Fall of Constantinople, which meant that Georgia was now an isolated enclave, surrounded by hostile Turco-Iranic neighbors with whom it had nothing in common. Under pressure, Georgia soon disintegrated, allowing Ottoman Turkey and Persia to subjugate western and eastern regions of Georgia, respectively.

One of the most prominent Georgian women of the 19th century, Princess Catherine Dadiani is remembered for resisting Ottoman incursions in Western Georgia

18th and 19th centuries

See also: Russian Empire

Since the mid-15th century, rulers in both western and eastern Georgian kingdoms repeatedly sought aid from major European powers but to no avail. King Vakhtang VI of Eastern Georgia sent his emissary, Saba Orbeliani, to France and the Papal States in order to secure assistance for Georgia, but nothing tangible could be secured. Lack of Western European assistance left Georgia exposed - pushed by the invading Ottoman Army, both Vakhtang and Orbeliani were eventually forced to accept the offer of protection from Peter the Great and escaped to Russia. In modern-day Georgia, Orbeliani's diplomatic mission to France would become an allegory of how the West neglects Georgian appeals for assistance.

Left with no good options, in 1783 Eastern Georgia signed the controversial Treaty of Georgievsk with the Russian Empire. Recognizing the bond of Orthodox Christianity between the two nations, the treaty established Georgia as a protectorate of Russia, while guaranteeing Georgia's territorial integrity and the continuation of its reigning dynasty. Despite the promises, however, Russia did not hold its end of the bargain: it failed to immediately render assistance against foreign incursions and instead began to absorb Georgia piece by piece against the spirit of the original agreement. Russia downgraded the Georgian Orthodox Church to the status of a local Russian archdiocese, while also downgrading the Georgian royalty to the level of Russian nobility, all of which offended many Georgians. The country quickly turned into a resort for the Russian Imperial Family, some members of which had respiratory problems and cherished Georgia's clean, alpine climate.

20th century

See also: Soviet Union

Having lived more than a century under the Russian Empire, in 1918 Georgia established its first-ever modern republic with German and British military support. Russia, however, soon cajoled Georgia into becoming a neutral state, which resulted in British troops leaving the country. Once Germany and Britain were out of the equation, just several months later Russia invaded and forcibly incorporated Georgia into the Soviet Union. This unfortunate turn of events would become one of the reasons why in the 21st century, military neutrality is an unpopular concept in Georgia and can end political careers.

During the Soviet era, Georgia suffered terrible repressions at the hands of its own son Joseph Stalin, who had tens of thousands purged and executed. But this period also came with major changes. Georgia turned into one of the more prosperous Soviet republics renowned for its spas, resorts, cuisine and wine. Upon the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia reclaimed its independence but at a heavy price. Pro-Russian separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia waged secessionist wars, dragging the country into chaos for most of the 1990s, and those areas were ethnically cleansed of their Georgian populations.

21st century

Georgian troops in Baghdad, 2006

Georgia's turbulent period started to come to an end following the peaceful Rose Revolution of 2003, when the country implemented a series of major democratic and economic reforms aimed at integration with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and various European institutions. Georgia became the most loyal American ally in the region, much to Russia's chagrin. The Georgian military attempted to reclaim South Ossetia in 2008, which went disastrously as they were quickly overwhelmed by Russian forces that had been sent to back the separatists, with the Russian military eventually overrunning much of Georgia proper. Following a ceasefire, Russia formally recognised the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and pulled its forces back into those regions, citing Western support for Kosovo's independence from Serbia as a precedent, while Georgia in turn left the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). As of 2016, Georgia's ties to NATO and the European Union continue to gradually deepen in the face of strong Russian opposition. Due to continuing political disagreements, Russia and Georgia still have no formal diplomatic relations and are represented by the embassies of Switzerland.

According to Transparency International, Georgia is the least corrupt country in the Black Sea region, including all of its immediate neighbors, as well as nearby European Union countries. Georgia is a member of the Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as Eurocontrol; since 2014, it has also been part of the European Union's Free Trade Area. In 2014 the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted in favour of a resolution, which established that Georgia, along with Moldova and Ukraine, are eligible to become members of the Union, provided they meet requisite democratic standards. Georgia formally applied for EU membership in 2022, and was granted candidate status in 2023.

Visitor information



See also: Georgian phrasebook

For language fans, the Georgian language and its dialects are an object of fascination. For everyone else, however, they could be a nightmare. Georgian is not in any way related to languages spoken outside of Georgia, and it is famous for its consonants. Not only are there quite a few, but many words start off with at least two. It is possible to string together as many as eight consonants, as in vprtskvni (ვფრცქვნი), meaning "I am peeling it". Keep in mind that some of the consonant clusters exist because certain sounds in Georgian can only be expressed in English via multiple letters. Original Georgian words are usually much shorter and less complicated than they appear.

Russian was the official language under Soviet rule, and is widely spoken by the older generations, though less so by the generations who grew up post independence. Speaking Russian is also useful and recommended in areas where ethnic minorities live, especially in the regions of Kvemo Kartli where 50% of the population is ethnic Azeri and Samtskhe-Javakheti where 50% of the population is ethnic Armenian.

Georgians who have been educated since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990 largely prefer to study English, which is in part motivated by their desire to move away from the Russian sphere of influence. Access to good quality English instruction in provinces is low, through starting in the 2000s, many schools received native English-speaking volunteers, and English is rapidly becoming a second language nation-wide. When in need of help, look for younger people; they are more likely to know some English.

Finally, signs in Georgia are often not bilingual (apart from Tbilisi metro); however, most road signs are in both the Georgian and Latin alphabets. Basic knowledge of the Georgian alphabet is very useful to understand road signs, store/restaurant names, and bus destinations. For those traveling without knowledge of Georgian, it may be a good idea to carry a phrasebook or a travel guide.

Get in

Visa requirements of Georgia. Countries in green can travel to Georgia without a visa, while countries in blue or yellow can obtain an eVisa.

Entry requirements

Travel Warning Visa restrictions:
Entry will be refused to citizens of Taiwan, Kosovo, Palestine and Somaliland.

Visa free


Nationals of the following countries and territories may visit Georgia without a visa[dead link] for a year (unless otherwise noted): All citizens of the European Union (may also enter using ID card), Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Bermuda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile (90 days), China (30 days), Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Honduras, Hong Kong (30 days), Iceland, Iran (45 days), Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Macau (30 days), Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, Qatar, Russia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland (may also enter using ID card), Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey (may also enter using ID card), Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay (90 days), Uzbekistan, Vatican City

Visa exemption also applies to:

  • Georgian diaspora members who are citizens of countries that otherwise require a visa – for stays not exceeding 30 days
  • United Nations laissez-passer holders for one year
  • Persons with refugee status in Georgia
  • Holders of diplomatic or official/service passports of China, Egypt, Guyana, Indonesia, Iran and Peru.
  • Holders of visas or residence permits of EU/EFTA/Gulf Cooperation Council countries, territories of EU countries, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea or Israel. Do not require a visa for max 90 days in a 180-day period, though apparently only when arriving by air. The visa/residence permit must be valid on arrival to Georgia.



If you are not from one of the above countries, you can obtain a visa using the e-Visa portal online without a visit to the Georgian diplomatic mission or consulate. The standard fee for a 90-day, single-entry "ordinary" visa, which covers tourism, is 60 lari or its equivalent. Double-entry 90-day visas (only available at consulates) are 90 lari.

Hong Kong and Macau SAR passport holders are also eligible to apply for an eVisa. They should choose “China” in Citizenship/Country section of the e-visa application.

Visas are also issued at the official road and air (but not rail or sea) entry points into Georgia. Issuing procedures are pretty straightforward and can normally be completed in a matter of minutes at entry points to Georgia, although consulates require a few days for processing.

Nationals of Nauru, Nicaragua, Syria and Venezuela are not eligible for an online visa, and should visit a Georgian embassy or consulate instead. However if holding a visa or residence permit of certain countries (see above), they do not need a visa for a stay of max 90 days in a 180-day period, provided showing their visa/residence permit at the border.

Caution Note: The official rules regarding visa and entrance are not always enforced by the border police. For example, some border points officially delivering visa-on-arrival may actually not deliver any (e.g., Sadakhlo/Bagratashen road border point). Furthermore, if you need a visa to enter Georgia and plan to buy one on arrival (as it is officially possible), there is no ATM at some border checkpoints (e.g., Sarpi) and, if you cannot change money into lari (e.g., no bank, or bank closed) and don't have any lari with you, you will be denied entrance; hence, it is highly preferable to ask for a visa beforehand. Finally, although EU citizens can enter with their national identity card, border guards (especially at land borders) are frequently unused to them and will check them much more thoroughly.

Border crossings


Georgia’s international entry and exit points are as follows. Visas, for those who need them, are available at the road and air entry points only.

Name Country Visas Details
Batumi International airport Yes
Batumi Black Sea port No
Böyük Kəsik Rail border Azerbaijan No
Guguti/Tashir Road border Armenia Unknown
Krasny Most (Red Bridge, Tsiteli Khidi, Qırmızı Körpü) Road border Azerbaijan Unknown
Ninotsminda/Bavra Road border Armenia
Poti Black Sea port No
Sadakhlo/Bagratashen Road and rail border Armenia ? for road travellers only
Sarpi/Sarp road border Turkey Yes The Turkish border works 24/7.
Tbilisi International airport Yes
Tsodna (Postbina) Road border Azerbaijan ? between Lagodekhi and Balakən
Vale/Posof Road border (via Akhaltsikhe) Turkey ?
Zemo Larsi/Verkhniy Lars (Верхний Ларс) Russia No Real-time webcams, Latest border news (weather, traffic, open/closeness)

The crossings from Russia into South Ossetia (the Roki Tunnel) and Abkhazia (Psou River between Gantiadi and Adler) are considered illegal by Georgia. Some travellers who continued on into Georgia after entering South Ossetia or Abkhazia from Russia have been fined or jailed. Others have got away without problems.

Visiting Abkhazia from Georgia is possible, but it is not possible to visit South Ossetia from Georgia.



Overland/sea borders to Georgia have re-opened to all approved countries: EU countries, Swiss Confederation, United Kingdom, Kingdom of Norway, United States of America, United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, State of Qatar, Kingdom of Bahrain and State of Israel, Turkey, Ukraine, Republic of Azerbaijan, Republic of Armenia, the Russian Federation, Republic of Kazakhstan, Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Uzbekistan, the republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the People’s Republic of China, Japan, Canada, the State of Kuwait, Republic of Moldova, Sultanate of Oman and the Republic of Korea. PCR tests are mandatory for all of these border crossings, even if you are vaccinated.

All persons crossing the border must fill in registration form[dead link] before entering the country. Medical insurance to enter via any borders is not mandatory.

Up-to-date information and rules about entering the country may be found at the official website[dead link] of Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

By plane


There are flights to Tbilisi from a number of European and Gulf cities, including London Gatwick, Amsterdam Schiphol, Vienna, Kyiv, Prague (Georgian Airways), Munich (Lufthansa[dead link]), Warsaw (LOT Airlines), Athens (Aegean Airlines), Riga (airBaltic), Istanbul IST (Turkish Airlines), Minsk (Belavia).

Kutaisi has numerous flights with Wizzair from many European destinations, including London Luton, Berlin Schönefeld, Milan Malpensa, Budapest, Prague, and Brussels Charleroi. There are also flights to Kutaisi from Moscow Domodedovo with Ural Airlines and S7 Airlines.

Ryanair flies to Tbilisi and Kutaisi, from 4 destinations: Cologne, Milan, Marseille, and Bologna.

Turkish Airlines fly every day between Batumi and Istanbul. Other destinations served by the Batumi airport include Kyiv (Yanair) and Minsk (twice per week with Belavia).

By bus


There are direct bus services from Istanbul, Turkey, which stop at various places en route and terminate in Tbilisi. Metro Georgia [dead link] has bus services from Batumi to Istanbul, Antalya, Izmir and Ankara. MetroTurizm has buses from Istanbul to near the Georgian border, such as at Hopa. There are also several non-stop bus services between Tbilisi and Baku, Azerbaijan. There are direct buses connecting Tbilisi to Thessaloniki and Athens, Greece, which both have Georgian expat communities. There are also buses from Russia, with companies such as Hayreniq Tour providing journeys from Moscow (and other Russian cities) to Tbilisi.

By car

Caution Note: A foreign vehicle is allowed to stay in Georgia only up to 3 months (2 months if the owner is a Georgian citizen). If overstayed one must pay 50 lari for each day of overstay, capped at 1000 lari. Road police may fine you 250 lari for overstay and you'll have 5 days to get out of the country.

To avoid the fine, one should either:

  • do a border-run to reset the limit
  • full import of a vehicle (requires payment of import duty and as a result the car becomes a Georgian vehicle)
  • temporary registration (the most convenient and flexible customs regime, that allows not to pay import duties and get temporary Georgian license plates for up to 3 years; one may exit this regime at any time, get back previous foreign license plates and leave the country, costs 50 lari for registration + 75 lari for plates. Customs center are located in Rustavi, Batumi and other big cities.)
(Information last updated 18 Jan 2022)

Entering with a car is no major problem. It is recommended to carry a power of attorney with you if you are not the car owner. In the past, the International Insurance Card was not valid for Georgia, purchasing insurance at the entry point was necessary (even though the amount covered to be ridiculously low). Only the driver may enter the control area with the car, anyone else in the car has to use the pedestrians' lane.

By train


Georgian Railways are the national rail operator in Georgia, and offer trains around the country.

Passenger rail service to/from Baku, Azerbaijan, ended in early 2020 as a result of the Covid pandemic. No passenger trains operate between the two countries as of May 2023, and it is unclear when any sort of service is due to resume.

There is a sleeper service every other day (daily in the summer) from Yerevan, Armenia operated by South Caucasus Railaways (timetable here, passenger transport on the left). It takes quite a bit longer than a minibus, but the ride is very comfortable, and you will share the compartment with strangers which are usually happy to share a drink and a good story.

The long-delayed rail link between Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan opened on 30 Oct 2017, for freight only. Passenger service on this line is yet to start, however, and there is no clear timeline on this as of 2023.

By boat


There is a ferry from Burgas to Batumi, operated by Navbul[dead link] as well as services to Batumi and Poti from Istanbul. The Turkish Black Sea port of Trabzon is closed to passenger services. The Georgian port of Sukhumi also is closed for passenger boats. All vessels going to Sukhumi must undergo border check with Georgian coast guard in the nearby port of Poti.

Get around


Mountain travel

To get to the more remote regions of Georgia (e.g., Tusheti, Khevsureti, etc.) without a tour company, buses and taxis will only take you so far. At some point, it will become necessary to hike, catch a ride on a goods-transporting truck, or hire a jeep. Catching a lorry requires that you are flexible in your travel plans. Hiring a jeep can actually be quite expensive because of the high cost of gas caused by scarcity in the remote regions. To find out about either option, ask around at the bus station or central market of the last town on the bus or marshrutka line.

On foot and navigation


Georgia is an excellent place for hiking and trekking, providing many interesting trails. Tusheti, Kazbegi, or Borjomi, just to name some destinations. However, due to the often remote nature of these trails, it is important that you are well prepared and have a proper and reliable map with you. In addition, using GPS adds an extra layer of safety, both in cities as well as the countryside.

For reliable maps, GPS navigation, comprehensive trails and map information, consult OpenStreetMap, which is also used by this travel guide and by many mobile Apps like OsmAnd or Or just download the according GPX or KML files for trails on OpenStreetMap through Waymarked Trails. (Note, you just need to change the OpenStreetMap relation ID of the trail to download its GPX or KML files through the same link.)

By bus


Buses are mostly used to ride inside or between big cities or on international routes. Several commercial companies provide bus connections to airports, timed specifically to international flights to/from Georgia, for example from Kutaisi Airport to Tbilisi and Batumi.

For schedules and tickets, see for example GeorgianBus and OmniBus.

By marshrutka


Prices and minibus drivers

Since marshrutkas are privately owned vehicles, some drivers try to charge tourists several lari more than locals. If you want to save a penny, ask a local about the price and give money straight to the driver or pay at a ticket office (სალარო) if there is one.

A marshrutka (from Russian: маршрутка, plural marshrutki; Georgian: მარშუტკა or მარშრუტკა), which essentially is a minibus, is the most common way to travel and operate on established routes. After finding out the number of your route, flag down a marshrutka on the street by holding out your hand, palm facing down.

There are also marshrutkas routes between cities. Their routes end usually at bus stations and city markets. Their destination is written in Georgian, on a sign in the front window. Ask marshrutka drivers if you cannot find the minibus you are looking for.

Start early, because marshrutkas mostly run in the morning and become sparse in the afternoon. After 16:00 it can be hard to catch a marshrutka to/from smaller destinations. Larger cities have connections up to 19:00.

Often, it is better to head to the exit of a city and catch marshrutkas there instead of hoping to get one at the bus station. This way you can even try by thumb if necessary.

By train


Georgian Railway (GR) has an extensive network of trains in Georgia. There are two types of trains: fast (with limited places, almost always modern) or local (slow and old but very cheap with unlimited places).

One of the most popular routes is the Tbilisi-Batumi train, which takes passengers through the scenic Georgian countryside and offers stunning views of the Black Sea coast. The journey takes approximately 5 hours, and the train offers comfortable seating and sleeping options for passengers. There are also trains that connect Tbilisi with other Georgian cities such as Kutaisi, Zugdidi, and Gori. These trains are typically affordable and offer a comfortable and convenient way to travel around the country. There are also night trains available, between Zugdidi or Batumi and Tbilisi, and Tbilisi and Yerevan or Baku.

The train is generally not cheaper than marshrutkas, instead sometimes twice as expensive. But of course it is far more comfortable than being squeezed into a minibus.

There are several ways to buy ticket:

  • (the official website). Needs registration. Has a dedicated app. See instructions (languages: GE, EN, RU)
  • The most convenient and easy to use website of all 4 (languages: GE, EN)
  • (languages: GE, EN, RU)
  • Has a dedicated app (languages: GE, EN)

By thumb


Hitchhiking is the best thing to do in Georgia. It is often called autostop and a great way to get to know locals like nothing else. Specifically mentioning "autostop" will let people know, you are not looking for a taxi or paid ride.

Generally, Georgians do not use the thumb but just stand by the road and are occasionally be picked up by cars. However, since its opening to the west, Georgia has changed a lot and nowadays many people, especially younger folks, understand the meaning of the thumb and due to the ever improving English of the population are happy to take tourists along the way for a chat or even a lunch together to show their hospitality.

Also for longer distances, it is better to hitchhike. Marshrutkas usually do detours into towns and often stop for breaks, so you easily waste 1 hr on a 5 hr ride. Better to go with a local that just wants to arrive.

By taxi


Taxis in Georgia are a convenient method of travel, and they are relatively cheap. Trips within Tbilisi start from 3 lari and will barely exceed 20 lari. It is advised to negotiate a price before getting into a taxi. There is no official "taxi-meter", despite websites claiming otherwise.

At the Tbilisi airport you can find an official airport taxi (in fact, you will be accosted in the arrivals terminal by numerous taxi drivers). The prices are relatively high, but fixed. It is also possible to order a taxi at the airport via one of the following apps. The fixed official rate is 60-70 lari (2023) depending on destination, which is about double the fare on the Bolt app.

The ride hailing services Bolt (in Batumi, Kutaisi, Tbilisi), Maxim (Batumi, Gori, Kobuleti, Kutaisi, Poti, Rustavi, Tbilisi, Zestafoni, Zugdidi), Yandex.Taxi and gg taxi are very popular and convenient in cities. Using them spares you from negotiations and language barriers with potential taxi drivers, and the rating system ensures some form of quality control. Taxis of Bolt are all non-smoking and are considered the best quality. It is also possible to book a longer Bolt (or other app) trip outside of the cities and sometimes even across borders, but you should be prepared to explain what you want to the driver in Russian or Georgian (with the exception of GoTrip - see below).

Everywhere besides the airport, most taxi drivers speak no English. Knowing a little bit of Russian or Georgian is therefore required to state where you want to go, how to get there, and to establish the price.

GoTrip is a website where you can book a driver for an intercity trip (or multi-city trip) for a full day including unlimited stops (but not re-routings). Some drivers act as de-facto tour guides if you're lucky. You choose the driver in advance, with the chance to read reviews and filter by ability to speak English (or Russian). It is quite expensive by Georgia standards, but is very convenient. For example, a trip from Tbilisi to Kazbegi cost US$107 (GEL 280) in 2023. You provide your phone number when booking, and the driver will quickly contact you via WhatsApp.

By bicycle


As the country is relatively mountainous, you should consider a mountain bike. Many roads remain unpaved. But by bike allows you to reach more remote regions. You can rent mountain bikes in bigger towns.

By plane


Georgia has domestic flights, though they're seldom convenient. Georgian Airways fly once a week between Tbilisi International Airport TBS and Batumi. There are other flights, in rinky-dinky light aircraft, to the mountain resorts of Mestia and Ambrolauri, from Natakhtari airfield on the northern edge of Tbilisi and from Batumi. Tickets for internal flights are done by Vanilla Sky.

By car


Roads connecting Tbilisi and other major cities are typically smooth and in good condition, but country roads are often in disrepair. Though traffic laws are enforced, driving can still be very chaotic. In rural areas, cattle and animals may occasionally slow traffic. A car is a convenient way to tour the countryside, but with the abundance of taxis, buses, and minibuses, most visitors may be better off in the passenger's seat.

Be very careful when driving in Georgia. The driver license exam in Georgia is quite lenient: locals only have to pass theory and driving test on a polygon, without a real test on streets. So, Georgians learn how to drive only after getting their driver license or even years before getting one. Also, overtaking without any visibility is a common practice. A 6-yo child sitting on a parent's lap and driving a car on a serpentine road is not that uncommon. So be extremely careful when driving in sophisticated places.

Many of the international rental companies like Budget, SIXT, Dollar, and AVIS are present in Georgia. However, their prices are as high as in Western Europe.

Instead, you can use a local rental company, which have rates from 60 lari (Tbilisi) or 100 lari (Kutaisi) per day with full cover. You won't even have to put down a deposit or have your credit card blocked. Ask your accommodation if they have any contact.

Furthermore, especially in Tbilisi many private people rent their second car to strangers.




  • Swimming in the Black Sea at one of the many sea resorts, like Anaklia
  • Wine route in Kakheti
  • Enjoy Georgian cuisine, otherwise you will have missed one of the most important things to experience here
  • Monastery hopping – The amount of churches and monasteries is overwhelming and seeing all of them will take you a month or two, even though you will probably miss some hidden in the deep forest or country-side
  • Hot springs can be found all around the country, with Nokalakevi Geothermal Park near Martvili probably being the most impressive



There are vast hiking opportunities and to see the Caucasus mountains. A lot of information and up-to-date advices can also be found on Georgia's official Agency of Protected Areas website. For hiking maps and routes remember to use offline maps and GPS–see #On foot and navigation.

The following destinations are worth while mentioning:

  • Mt. Chakvistavi near Batumi
  • Mestia is a hiking paradise with numerous trails like to Ushguli
  • Tusheti offers far less touristy hiking opportunities, but you will need to hire a 4WD or local guide
  • Northwestern Georgia offers equally remote destination, but is easier to reach from Zugdidi
  • Borjomi Kharagauli National Park Georgia's largest national park, with a diversity of physical, geographical and especially climatic conditions set the stage for a wide variety of flora and fauna
  • Lagodekhi Nature Reserve, a managed nature reserve close to the Russian and Azeri border with two serviced huts along the trails





Exchange rates for Georgian lari

As of January 2024:

  • US$1 ≈ 2.7 lari
  • €1 ≈ 3.0 lari
  • UK£1 ≈ 3.4 lari

Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from

How much does it cost in 2022?

  • City bus/metro: 1 lari
  • Overland marshrutka: 6–8 lari/100 km
  • Taxi: 0.80-1.30 lari/km, min. 3 lari
  • Entering churches: free
  • Snack/pastry: 2 lari
  • Hostel bed: 7–15 lari
  • Guest house: 20–30 lari / person

At an average restaurant (+10% service fee):

  • khinkali: 0.7–1 lari/pc
  • filling dish: from 6 lari
  • meal: 6–20 lari
  • meat dish: 10–25 lari
  • beer: 2–4 lari
  • Turkish coffee: 1 lari

At bazaar (fruits and berries):

  • apples: 1–3 lari/kg
  • banana: 3–4 lari/kg
  • oranges: 3–4 lari/kg
  • grapes: 6–7.5 lari/kg
  • figs: 3.5 lari/kg
  • peach: 2.3 lari/kg
  • persimmon: 2 lari/kg (unripe and hard), 3–4 lari/kg (ripe and soft)
  • lemon: 0.5 lari/pc
  • pomegranate: 6–8 lari/kg
  • churchkhela: 1–3 lari
  • kizil: 10 lari/kg
  • tangerines: 1.5–3 lari/kg
  • feijoa: 4 lari/kg
  • kiwi: 4 lari/kg

At bazaar (vegetables):

  • tomatoes: 4–5 lari/kg
  • greens: 0.1–0.3 lari/bundle or 6–7 lari/kg
  • pepper: 2–3 lari/kg
  • potatoes: 1–2 lari/kg
  • aubergines: 3–7 lari/kg
  • onions: 1.5 lari/kg
  • garlic: 8 lari/kg

At bazaars, small grocery stores and bakeries:

  • chacha: from 5 lari/L
  • homemade white wine: 3–4 lari/L
  • homemade red wine: 7 lari/L
  • red wine: from 9 lari/bottle 0.75L
  • white wine: from 8 lari/bottle 0.75L
  • imeruli cheese: 11 lari/kg
  • suluguni cheese: 15 lari/kg
  • fresh chicken: 6–7 lari/kg
  • fresh pork: 15 lari/kg
  • fresh beef: 18 lari/kg
  • imeruli khachapuri 3 lari
  • penovani khachapuri 2 lari

The national currency is the Georgian lari (ISO currency code: GEL), denoted by the official symbol "" or sometimes by letter "" /l/. It is divided into 100 tetri. Banknotes are issued in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 lari, and the rarely-used 200 and 500 lari. Coins are issued in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 tetri, 1 and 2 lari.

There are two issues of the 20-, 50- and 100-lari notes: from 2004 and (in stronger colours and updated security features) from 2016. Both are valid, and no date has yet been announced for withdrawal of the older notes, but you obviously don't want to leave the country with these. Indeed it's difficult to redeem any form of Georgian currency outside of Europe.

Always have small money with you. 50- or 100-lari notes or so might be difficult to use for payment, especially with taxi drivers. But the latter is often just an excuse not to give change, just ask ahead if the taxi driver has change.

Many Georgians are not very good with numbers and money. Don't bother paying amounts of money, so you get back an even amount, like 10.75 if you owe 7.75. That will confuse them infinitely, and you will never get your desired change.

Money exchange


Exchange kiosks in Tbilisi and Kutaisi generally have only a 1% spread between "buy" and "sell" for US dollars or euros, but could be as little as 0.25%. Rates for other currencies like Turkish lira or ruble, or outside of cities, usually is much worse. The kiosk may ask for your ID, but usually they won't for routine amounts.



ATMs are available countrywide, and it is generally good to have a card from providers like Visa or MasterCard. In smaller towns or villages ATMs become more sparse.


If withdrawing lari (GEL), never accept on-site currency conversion at ATMs, always let your home bank do the conversion–ATM rates can be off 7% or more. Your foreign bank is usually 1-3% off, in addition to some potential fixed fee. Here are ATM fees of local banks for lari withdrawals:

  • TBC – No fee; max 400 lari
  • BasisBank – No fee
  • HalykBank – No fee
  • Bank of Georgia3 lari per withdrawal
  • ProCreditBank€8 per withdrawal

US dollars:

Almost all banks allow their ATMs to withdraw US dollars (except for VTB bank, which allows it only to their customers).

  • BasisBank – No fee
  • CartuBank – No fee
  • HalykBank – No fee
  • ZiraatBank – No fee
  • Bank of Georgia – US$1 fee
  • Terabank – US$1 fee
  • Liberty – 2% fee
  • TBC bank
  • US$100–200: Fee US$5
  • US$300–500: Fee US$10
  • US$600–1,000: Fee US$20


ATM locations
BANK City Address
ProCredit Bank Tbilisi ალ. ყაზბეგის გამზ. 21 (headquarters)
TBC bank Tbilisi 7 Marjanishvili
13 Chavchavadze ave.
2 Gr. Abashidze
6 Pushkin
24 Kazbegi
138 Aghmashenebeli
1/6 sector Mukhiani district (TBC Bank branch)
34 Guramishvili ave. (TBC Bank branch)
Kutaisi 58 Chavchavadze ave.
International Airport, Kutaisi
Batumi 37 Zubalashvili
Zugdidi 3 Tabukashvili
Batumi 37 Zubalashvili
Gori 13 Stalin
Poti 5 Rustaveli Circle

Very few banks and ATMs allow withdrawing euros (€) with foreign bank cards. There are only 2 banks (as of November 2020):

  • ProCredit Bank have 24/7 working places that have a special ATM to withdraw USD/EUR: 4 in Tbilisi and one in Batumi, Kutaisi and Zugdidi. Maximum amount of withdrawal is €500 and the fee is €8 (as of November 2020).
  • TBC bank has higher withdrawal fees, but much wider network — 8 ATMs in Tbilisi and one ATM in each big city: Kutaisi, Batumi, Gori, Zugdidi, and Poti (see "Cash withdrawal and deposit" section here) (as of November 2020)
  • €100–200: Fee €5
  • €300–500: Fee €10
  • €600–1,000: Fee €20


  • Gold & other jewellery – Gold, silver, handmade & other miscellaneous jewellery and precious stones are very cheap in Georgia and the quality of the precious stones, gold and silver is superb.
  • Art & paintings – Georgian artists, such as Pirosmani, Gigo Gabashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili, Korneli Sanadze, Elene Akhvlediani, Sergo Kobuladze, Simon Virsaladze, Ekaterine Baghdavadze and others, are famous for their work. In Georgia you will find many art shops, paintings and painters who sell their works on the streets. Their work is of high quality and is often very good value.
  • Antiques & other miscellaneous gifts – In Georgia you will able to find many antiques not only from Georgia, but also from the Middle East, Russia, the Mediterranean and other parts of Europe.
  • Georgian wine. Georgia is the cradle of wine making, and with 521 original varieties of grape you will be sure to find excellent wines. Wine can be bought in vinoteques and thise have a great choice, but in supermarkets might have some those wines for a cheaper price. Some home-made wine might be cheap and tasty, but beware buying wine that is ubelievably cheap, since, according to some locals, it might be concocted from a wine powder. The quality of wine making improved immensely following re-orientation of wine exports to EU markets.
  • Cognac. Georgian cognac is unique as it is made from Georgian wine. Try Saradjishvili 'Tbilisi' cognac.
  • Outside the cities, you might find hand-made carpets for sale.
  • Georgians love to drink, so the country has a seemingly infinite number of beers, wines, liquors and distilled drinks. To take home, buy a bottle of chacha, a potent grape vodka somewhat similar to Lebanese arak, Italian grappa or German obstler.
Some souvenir stands present only Georgian honey and Turkish dried fruits, which are not very authentic
  • If you'd like to bring souvenir food to home, you may easily find packaged churchkhela or tklapi (Georgian: ტყლაპი), clay bottles with wines, or spices. By the way, some supermarkets are included in the tax free system, so you can contact the store administrator and apply for a tax refund on your purchases.

Georgian export commodities (especially wine and mineral water) used to be widely counterfeited in the domestic and former Soviet Union markets. For example, the Borjomi bottling plant used to produce roughly one million bottles of Borjomi per year, but there were three million bottles sold in Russia alone! In 2007, the government and business groups began a large-scale fight against counterfeit wine and mineral water so the sale of counterfeit products has almost been eliminated. However, when stocking up on bottled wine or mineral water, it is best to buy it at large supermarkets which have better control of their procurement than smaller stores.



In supermarkets, you will find all the usual food products, mainly brought from Russia, Turkey and sometimes Europe.

There are only 2 hypermarkets chains: Goodwill (გუდვილი) and Carrefour (კარფურ). An average locals frequent Carrefour; Goodwill is a bit more expensive. Smaller chains could be found in any district of any town. The most popular chains are: Nikora (ნიკორა), SPAR (სპარი), Smart (სმარტი), and Ori Nabiji (ორი ნაბიჯი). The latter is the cheapest of them. There is also a special chain of supermarkets called Europroduct (ევროპროდუქტი), that imports food from EU.

Besides mentioned supermarket chains, small no-name shops are very popular with locals. You can buy groceries there, although the choice will be much more modest. However, those shops have a friendly and homely atmosphere, because the locals are regulars; if you visit the same place for 4 or 5 times, shop vendors who are usually the owners will start to recognise you.



Travelling in Georgia is very affordable. Restaurants, street food and hotels are cheap for a Western traveller. But keep in mind not to brag around about your money or expenses, because many locals are very poor. A taxi driver in Tbilisi earns around 50 lari per day (working 8–10 hr), and monthly pensions is about 200 lari. So the next time you haggle over a trinket, it may be a good idea to yield.

A budget traveller would have no difficulties getting by (staying very well fed and exploring many of the sights) on less than 500 lari per week, even in the capital. If you visit Georgia for one week, you would have a great time if you bring US$400 (€350) with you. With this amount you will be able to stay in a good hotel, go on wonderful sightseeing tours and eat good food. If you want to travel like a king, everything beyond US$800 (€700) per week will bring you close to this goal.

Good indicators whether you are in a very touristy area or not, is the price of 1 khinkali (0.70-0.80 lari is a normal price).



Tipping is common in Western-style restaurants in the capital, but almost never expected in more traditional establishments. In many restaurants, especially in big cities, there is a 10% service charge. In some places in Tbilisi it could be even up to 15%. This is almost never explicitly mentioned and may be added to your bill without warning, so it is advisable to ask beforehand.

Also, tipping is never expected in bars.


See also: Georgian cuisine
Guests partaking in a supra, a Georgian banquet

Georgian traditional cuisine is delicious, cheap, and universal. It is also justly famous throughout the former Soviet Union (visitors to Moscow will have noticed the large number of Georgian restaurants). Georgia fills a list of wonderful, often meat, dishes, usually flavored with garlic, coriander, walnuts, and dill. A traditional Georgian feast (supra) is a sight to behold, with a spread that no group could finish, accompanied by at least 20 toasts set to wine or brandy.

Just wandering into the likeliest looking local joint in any neighborhood whatsoever, even just a block or two from the main tourist streets, will inevitably provide an excellent dining experience at bargain prices, and quite possibly any amount of proud attention and invitations to drink wine from staff and regulars delighted that a foreigner has discovered their haunt. Simply pick by random off the menu and let the unique tastes of Georgia surprise you. Italian- and American-style dishes (pizzas, hamburgers, etc.) are usually a pale copy of the originals. It is much better to try local food.

Alternatively, try finding one of the cantine style cafés. There they cover a great variety of Georgian food, and at least Phkali, Khachapuri and Kuchmachi if you are lucky. Try Tartan in Tbilisi.

If you can, try to get yourself invited to dinner at someone's home (this is not too difficult in Georgia, owing to their hospitality and general desire to stuff foreign visitors full of all the food they can afford). The food in restaurants is an odd set piece of the same dishes over and over. But Georgian cuisine is far richer, and has an untold number of dishes to try, prepared from scratch with fresh, locally grown products (although supermarkets are now spreading throughout Georgia).

One special kind of meal in Georgia is the supra, which means a banquet to celebrate something like a wedding or a birthday. These events, led by a tamada (master of ceremonies), include an abundance of food and drink (wine especially) and go on for hours.


Khinkali and lobiani

One of the most famous dishes of the Georgian cuisine is khinkali. Khinkali / Khincali (Q971820) on Wikidata Khinkali on Wikipedia. These are dumplings with different fillings: minced spiced meat, mushrooms, cheese, or vegetables, served in enormous quantities. But not like what you are used to doing with dumplings. Georgian men will easily eat 15 huge dumplings, and begin by seasoning the dumplings with pepper. Then grab the dumpling however you like, from the top "handle" if it pleases you (locals often stick a fork in the side of the knot so as not to puncture the dumpling), and take a small bite out of the side to slurp up the juice. Do not let any juice fall on your plate, or you will get your chin messy. Then, still holding the khinkali, eat around the top, finishing the dumpling and then placing the twisted top on your plate—traditionally the top is not eaten. It is also nice to look with pride upon all your tops once, with practice, you get into the double digits with these dumplings. Wash them down with wine, Kazbegi beer, or a "limonati" of whichever flavour you prefer (most common flavours are lemon, pear, and estragon/tarragon—which is quite refreshing).

Few get through their first encounter with khinkali without getting meat juices splattered over their front, so dress accordingly.

Another signature dish is khachapuri. Khachapuri (Q279575) on Wikidata Khachapuri on Wikipedia – a cheese filled bread, which more resembles cheese pie. It comes several different varieties:

  • imeruli (იმერული) or imeretian: These are the most common and often come with every meal, just filled with (imeruli aka cooking) cheese. Often circular, similar to Lobiani.
  • megruli (მეგრული) or mingrelian: Like imeruli but topped with additional cheese.
  • acharuli (აჭარული) or adjarian: Boat-shaped like puri (break) with an open face and filled with egg in addition to cheese. This one is much more filling and a single proper dish. Use your fork to mix the egg into the cheese before you start eating it.
There also exist these less common variations:
  • guruli (გურული) or gurian: This one, looking like a half moon, has cut boiled eggs as additional filling.
  • phenovani (ფენოვანი): A version made with puff pastry dough instead of normal dough.
  • samepho (სამეფო): Instead of regular Imeruli cheese, the better Sulguni cheese is used.
  • mkhlovana (მხლოვანა) or mtiuluri (მთიულური) : Besides the cheese also spinach is included.
  • osuri: The Ossetian version, with potato added.

Lobiani. Lobiani (Q16909052) on Wikidata Lobiani on Wikipedia, a bean-filled bread is another notable dish and the most popular version is Rachuli Lobiani (რაჭული ლობიანი), like a Khachapuri, but with bean and bacon. Imeretian , again, is just bean-filled. One is mostly too much for one person.

Any one of these just listed dishes beyond 5 lari in a reasonably priced local restaurant is probably too much for 1 person. So, you better combine only one dish with salad and drinks for two people.

As in most traditional cuisines, there are many meat dishes. They are common in the form of stews or sauces, but also barbecued meat is popular: mtsvadi which is known as shashlik in Russia is not just a favorite at outdoor meals but at restaurants too. Pork is common, either on its own or blended with beef.

Bladdernut salad

There are lots of vegetarian dishes too (mostly in western parts of Georgia) which are quite tasty and accompany most of local parties with heavy wine drinking. However, vegetarianism as such is an alien concept to Georgians, even though the Georgian Orthodox Church obliges its followers to "fast" at various times of the year including the run up to Christmas (7th January). Such fasting means abstaining from meat and fish and eating vegetables and dairy. So vegetarians will find eating much easier if they visit Georgia during one of those fasting periods

Bread plays a big role in the Georgian cuisine and (shotis) puri. Shoti (Q2920132) on Wikidata Shotis puri on Wikipedia (შოთის პური) is the most regular bread found in Georgia, made of white flour, and shaped like a canoe. There is also Lavashi, which is larger.

Unfortunately, there are certain problems with milk and dairy products in Georgia. There are few cows in the country, the Georgian strains yield much less milk than in Western countries, and the government doesn't subsidize the industry. For these reasons, almost all dairy products are imported from Europe, Russia and Turkey and hence are not cheap. Strangely, despite all this home-made cheese is very popular ingredient in dishes and is sold almost everywhere.

One signature sweet of Georgia is Churchkhela. Churchkhela (Q1477592) on Wikidata Churchkhela on Wikipedia (ჩურჩხელა), a candle-shaped candy made of grape must, nuts, and flour. 1.5-2 lari.





Chacha (ჭაჭა) is a (often) home-made fruit-based distilled clear spirit made from grape pomace (grape residue left after making wine), but can also be produced from non-ripe or non-cultured grapes and in some cases fig, tangerine, orange or mulberry.

Chacha, or just fruit spirit, is very common in close-by countries like Turkey, Albania, Italy, or the Balkans, while in Turkey the process is a little more complex and involves anis. Since each country got its specific fruit, it is usually made from that fruit. In Italy, grappa is won from the leftovers of the vine production, like in Georgia. In Bosnia, slivovitz is won overwhelmingly from fruit fly infested barrels of plum mud at many local homes in Srpska. In Albania, different fruits are used to make rakí, depending on the region, but rakí rushi (from grapes) is also common, besides rakí mani (from mulberry).

Home-made chacha is usually bottled "manually" and can be purchased in corner markets, Farmers Markets, under the table, and at some village roads throughout Georgia. 0.5 l start at 2.50 lari and generally come in regular water bottles. When bought, it is a good idea to check it right away. Sometimes it can be sour, you will note a weird taste right away. It doesn't mean though you will get blind, Georgians understand what they are doing, otherwise everyone would already be blind here. (Nevertheless, it doesn't hurt to prefer a shop which looks properly frequented by locals.)

There is also commercially-made chacha that can be found in many wineries, shops and supermarkets, throughout available in Tbilisi, where you will have a hard time finding home-made one. The industrial however is much more expensive, starting at 10 lari for 0.5 l.

You can still find home-made one in Tbilis in the underground stalls near Grigol Orbeliani Square towards Freedom Square for example.


Saperavi wines

Georgia has one of the oldest wine-making traditions in the world and has been called the birthplace of wine (also as "Cradle of Wine"), due to archaeological findings which indicate wine production back to 5000 BC. Georgia produces some of the best wines in the world, and thanks to the ancient tradition of wine production and amazing climate, it holds its own with French and Italian wines. Georgian wines are quite famous. It may be true that they are little known in the West, but they certainly are famous among the roughly 280 million people in the former Soviet Union, where Georgian wines remain a welcome drink at any dining table.

Export of home-bottled wine, which is often the best type, is prohibited.


  • Saperavi (საფერავი sah-peh-rah-vee)
  • Mukuzani (მუკუზანი moo-k'oo-zah-nee)
  • Khvanchkara (ხვანჭკარა khvahnch-k'ah-rah) - semi-sweet
  • Kindzmarauli (კინძმარაული keendz-mah-rah-oo-lee) - semi-sweet


  • Tsinandali (წინანდალი ts'ee-nahn-dah-lee)
  • Kakheti (კახეთი k'ah-kheh-tee)
  • Tbilisuri (თბილისური tbee-lee-soo-ree)
  • Rkatsiteli (რქაწითელი rrkah-tsee-tellee)

Imports of Georgian wine and mineral water have been banned by the Russian government, because of the political tension between the two counties.



Georgia produces a growing number of local beers. A beer tradition has existed in Georgia since ancient times in the mountainous regions of Khevsureti and Tusheti. After independence from the Soviet Union, Georgia revived its beer production and introduced its high quality beers to the market. The first and most popular Georgian beer was Kazbegi. Today, beer production in Georgia is still growing, offering high quality beers (thanks to the high quality mountain spring waters in Georgia and to German designed beer factories). There are also many foreign beers such as Heineken, Bitburger, Lowenbrau, Guinness, etc.

Georgian beer

  • Aluda
  • Argo
  • Batumuri
  • Bavariis Herzogi
  • Kasri
  • Kazbegi (ყაზბეგი q'ahz-beh-gee)
  • Khevsuruli
  • Lomisi
  • Natakhtari
  • Tushuri

Mineral waters

Public mineral water source in Borjomi

Georgian mineral waters have exceptional and interesting tastes, which are very different from French and Italian varieties. The most famous Georgian mineral waters are Borjomi (ბორჯომი bohr-joh-mee), Likani (ლიკანი lee-k'ah-nee), and Nabeglavi (ნაბეღლავი nah-beh-ghlah-vee). But there is a plethora of less well-known springs located in small towns and alongside roads throughout the country that is worth sampling. Borjomi isn't just ordinary sparkling water as it has a very high fluoride content and it may take some time to get used to the taste. It is however quite popular also outside Georgia (in the former Soviet republics).

Lagidze waters (soft drink)


Mitrofan Lagidze (ლაღიძე lah-ghee-dzeh) is a surname of a famous Georgian businessman of the 19th century who produced very popular soft drinks in Georgia. Nowadays these waters are called “the Lagidze Waters”. Lagidze soft drinks are made only with natural fruit components, without any chemical, artificial sugars or other additives. The most popular flavours are estragon/tarragon and cream & chocolate.



The number of major Western European hotels and also budget hostels is growing every year, and not only in Tbilisi, but also in Batumi and other Georgian cities. Throughout much of the countryside, however, private homes are the cheapest and most enjoyable option, though this option is very much a home-stay; expect little privacy.

Since many hostel-like places are popping up rapidly, they are often poorly signposted, and from the outside a great hostel might look like an ordinary apartment. Hence, make sure beforehand to get a detailed description (including GPS) of where to find the place and which apartment to ring at—90% of the time GPS and address are correct. Otherwise, you might be lost forever and even locals won't know where this newly popped up place is. On the other hand, there are countless guesthouses all over the country, often marked with a guest house sign. So, don't bother too much about booking ahead, go with the flow and see where you end up.

Check prices on the usual reservation websites and turn up on site stating the price; owners will happily give you the online rate, so they can skip the fee they pay on such websites. Use Viber or Facebook Messenger to communicate with them.



There are a handful of universities in Georgia which offer degrees or exchange programs taught in English, and among them are:



Georgians are hard-working people in general, but they also like to have enough free time to enjoy life. Work can start at 10:00 or 11:00 and end at 18:00–19:00. Georgians like to take an hour lunch break and enjoy their food while socializing with their co-workers. People often take two weeks or a whole month off work to enjoy holidays with family. It is an attitude in many ways similar to southern Europe and Mediterranean ones. Approaches to punctuality used to be very relaxed, but this is now changing (at least, in Tbilisi and other main cities).

Foreigners from most countries, including all major English-speaking countries and EU members, are allowed to live visa-free in Georgia for 360 days (and can renew their stay by leaving and re-entering), and to work and engage in business without a visa. Despite this, work for foreigners is generally very limited due to the local salaries being below a living wage by most standards, even for people from other parts of Eastern Europe and the more "well off" former USSR countries like Estonia and Lithuania. A local wage will typically be around 300–400 lari a month, with only a small section of professional managers earning 2000–2500 lari a month. However, most Georgian families have one or more apartments and houses in the countryside, and when one does not have to pay full private sector rent and can share utilities, the local wages will be sufficient for food and drink. If looking for a hospitality job in Georgia, expect to be overworked (14-16 hour days are hardly unheard of), and remember hourly wage isn't really a concept here so any overtime is effectively unpaid.

Foreigners working in Georgia are either employed by the main NGOs like the UNHCR, Save the Children, Danish Refugee Council, etc. Some large Georgian companies may employ foreign managers and consultants. These workers are generally salaried according to Western European norms. One great way for travelers to experience Georgia is to participate in the Teach & Learn with Georgia program. This program places English-speakers in Georgian schools all over the country to assist local teachers in public schools. The Georgian government has set ambitious goals to make English the second language of the country (replacing Russian) by 2020. Participants in the program will have their airfare paid for, will be housed with a local family and will receive 400–500 lari stipend a month, there might not be vacancies, though. However, there are a handful of language schools, especially in Tbilisi that pay roughly the same, though without providing airfare, room or board.


In general always consider Volunteer travel.

One opportunity would be the 1 Temi Community, Gremi (Follow the wineroute-signs 2 km from the Gremi Cathedral into the village.), +995 591633633. 6.7 ha of organic kvevri wine produced by a community of deprived but very friendly people. There are English, German or Russian speaking volunteers most of the time.

Stay safe

Georgian police car

Most of Georgia is very safe for foreigners. Crime rates are among the lowest in Europe. The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs provides some useful information[dead link] for foreign visitors.

Corruption, once a big hassle for tourists, has become far less visible since the Rose Revolution. It is now safe and reasonable to trust the Georgian police, as the infamous and corrupt traffic police have been disbanded. Police cars patrol streets in Georgian cities and towns regularly, and can help in case of car trouble or any other problem on the road.

Use of seat belts is now obligatory and strictly enforced. Radars are installed at all main junctures and on key streets and highways throughout the country. However, Georgia leads the South Caucasus in reported road traffic accidents. A person is injured every hour in a traffic-related accident, while one death occurs every 18 hours, according to a study released by a Georgian NGO, the Safe Driving Association. The World Health Organization puts the number at 16.8 fatalities per 100,000 a year (compared to Azerbaijan at 13 and Armenia at 13.9).

Women should be aware that many Georgian men do not believe "no" means no. They believe that no means maybe and maybe means yes. It is not uncommon for men to be very pushy with foreign women in particular. It is best to stay with groups and not to smile or give men attention. If you make a Georgian friend or get to know a Georgian man well, they will take care of you when you go out. There are many kinds of Georgian men, but keep your guard up. As for dressing, follow the general rules of being more conservative in the countryside than in cities. An easy way to avoid unwanted attention is to cover your legs. Georgian girls don't show a lot of leg even in summer, so even a naughty hint of knee can elicit public ogles. Conversely, tight clothes are fairly standard.

According to new marijuana laws, as of early 2019 it is decriminalized to be actively smoking a joint but not legal to have marijuana in your possession (or to sell, etc.) If you are out with young Georgians, you're likely to be invited to smoke, but even if you find somewhere, usually best not to risk actually buying it. It's not great quality outside of Svanetia anyway.

Taking picture inside of churches is not welcome, and taking a picture of a priest in churches is an offence and even a crime.

The display of Soviet and communist symbols is illegal in Georgia, with only limited exceptions within Stalin's hometown of Gori.



Things in Tbilisi and the surrounding countryside have calmed down a lot. Although Tbilisi sometimes has been singled out for its (not always deserved) reputation for street crime, muggings are rather rare.

In the early 2000s, other crime-related hazards in Tbilisi included apartment break-ins and car-jacking, but the situation has changed dramatically, and today Georgia boasts one of the lowest crime rates in Europe.



The available evidence indicates that Kutaisi, the second largest city in Georgia, suffers from crime rates significantly higher than the national average. It is very important to exercise caution in Kutaisi after dark.



The conflict between Adjara and the central government ended with little violence, and it is now perfectly safe to travel throughout the region. The once rampant corruption should now be a rarity for foreigners. Passing through customs at the Sarpi-Hopa border crossing is now routine and uneventful for most tourists, though at certain times it may take two hours or longer, due to long queues.

LGBT travellers


While support of LGBT rights has been slowly increasing among the general public over the past several years, homosexuality is considered a major deviation from highly traditional Orthodox Christian values prevalent in the country, where public discussions of sexuality in general tend to be viewed in a highly negative light.

Georgia prohibits discrimination against all LGBT people in legislation, labor-related or otherwise (one of few former Soviet countries that does). Since 2012, Georgian law has considered crimes committed on the grounds of one's sexual orientation or gender identity an aggravating factor in prosecution.

Homosexuals are often targets of abuse and physical violence, often actively encouraged by religious leaders. LGBT persons must exercise maximal caution when showing affection towards a person of the same sex. Doing this anywhere outside the capital centre or designated spaces might result in violence.

Hugging, kissing on the cheek and touching in public between heterosexual men is pretty common and is an innate part of the Caucasian culture. Hence, such actions between partners are often unnoticed, but they are still dangerous if they show you are more than friends.

There are one or two places in the country that are safe places for LGBT people: one of them is the Bassiani club, which has a weekly LGBT night.

Stay healthy

Trashed cemetery in Tskneti, Tbilisi, Georgia

In terms of ecology, Georgia has a lot of problems with waste management, especially in villages and small towns, where municipal services are almost non-existent. Many Georgians don't feel any guilt, when throwing away trash just outside their property. Whole slopes of hills could be filled with trash thrown out, even close to sacred places such as cemeteries.

Good quality prescription drugs can be easily obtained in pharmacies without any prescription. Highly recommended to pay attention to the warranties, since pharmacies would want to ditch outdated drug as fast as possible.

In Tbilisi you will be able to find many gyms and fitness centres with swimming pools and brand new training equipment. In other cities they are rarer. The whole Georgia is covered with white-blue outdoor fitness stations, but those are not functional to work as a gym replacement.


Macrovipera lebetina obtusa

While encounters are rare, one might stumble upon levant blunt-nosed vipers (Macrovipera lebetina obtusa). Locals call it გიურზა (from Persian gyurza). These vipers live in desert, semi-desert and mountain-steppe areas. They are common in dry foothills and on mountain slopes overgrown with bushes, in rocky gorges with streams and springs, in river valleys. Gyurzas are also found on the outskirts of large cities, where they have the necessary shelter and a good food base in the form of rats.

Euscorpius italicus
Euscorpius mingrelicus

In Central and Western parts of Georgia there are two types of scorpions: Euscorpius mingrelicus and Euscorpius italicus. Both types reach lengths of 4 cm. Locals assure, that these scorpion bites are not pleasant (similar to a wasp bite), but never deadly.

Take suitable measures in tick habitats. There is a small risk of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE).

Stray dogs are everywhere in Georgia, about a half of which are not vaccinated. Being a vestige of the old times and outdated needs, many locals get themselves a dog not as a pet, but to guard their property. Most of the time stray dogs are not aggressive, but there are quite some cases when people get bitten by them. Georgians are very cautious and afraid of dogs, and very often aggressive towards them; dogs in their turn are quite afraid of people (especially those holding a stick) and might get aggressive out of fear as well.



Passive smoking could be a big problem, since tobacco is very cheap compared to Western countries and many men smoke, even inside taxis, bars and restaurants.

Several industrial towns like Rustavi or Kaspi have problems with air pollution. Regulation concerning air pollution entered into force only in 2020, hence it's not advised to live in these places.



Giardia is a common issue for foreign visitors. Contraction is most likely via:

  • tap water
  • swallowed water from lakes, rivers, pools, or jacuzzis
  • raw fruits & vegetables
  • unpasteurized milk or other dairy products

Drinking tap water is generally safe, but it's better to ask house owners if they drink it themselves.

A big health problem is high concentration of lead in air, some food, spices and water in Georgia. In 2018 several EU diplomats found out to have high concentration of lead in their blood tests. If you plan to stay beyond a short travel, be aware of possible dangers of living in old apartments with old wall paints and close to high traffic zones.



NCDC (Georgian National Center for Disease Control and Public Health) recommends vaccination against COVID19 before travelling to Georgia, but does not provide instructions on other vaccinations. But CDC recommends these vaccination to have completed:

  • routine vaccinations: these include Chickenpox (Varicella), Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis, Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR), Polio, Shingles
  • COVID-19
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Measles
  • Flu (influenza) season (Jan-Mar) is perhaps worse in Georgia than in, say, Western Europe and vaccinations might be a consideration for the particularly vulnerable.
  • Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) needs to be taken well ahead your visit

Rabies: One shot costs 18 lari (Indian vaccine). The French vaccine called Verorab costs 45 lari in a pharmacy and 70 lari in a clinic. Developing partial immunity takes more than 1 month. If you get bitten by a dog (even having being vaccinated), immediately visit one of below-mentioned state hospitals:



Georgians in general are friendly, welcoming people, and they are hospitable to a fault. If a Georgian invites you somewhere, they will often pick up the tab. Even raising the subject of who will pay the bill can be considered embarrassing for your host. As the country is an emerging capitalist country, don't take advantage of people's hospitality. Georgian manners and etiquette is broadly similar to those of other Europeans, but very much at the traditional end of the spectrum.

Georgians in general are direct communicators. They are unafraid of expressing their emotions and thoughts on something, no matter how bad or good something might be. They also use aggressive body language and raise their voices in conversations; to most visitors, this implies that Georgians may be an argumentative bunch, but Georgians tend to use emotions to convey interest in a conversation. What may seem like a shouting match in public may actually be a simple, friendly discussion!

Direct personal questions are commonly asked. To Georgians, it's not considered impolite, but rather it is a way to get to know someone fully.

As in many places around the former Soviet Union, women are treated with chivalry. Women should not be surprised or alarmed if their male Georgian friends take the initiative to pay the bills at a restaurant, open every door in front of them, and/or help them carry items or objects. Men should understand that these nuances will be expected by Georgian women, even if they're not in a romantic relationship with them.

Sensitive issues


Georgia is home to a few separatist/nationalist movements, namely in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. There is virtually no "safe middle ground" position in these topics, so just don't bring them up. If you do, be aware that Georgians find the term "South Ossetia" offensive and prefer to refer to the region as "Samachablo".

Be very cautious when talking about Russia. Georgia and Russia have had a hostile, strained and violent history, and discussing Georgian-Russian relations can very quickly make Georgians emotional. Although most Georgians only dislike the Russian government, some Georgians take it a notch further by expressing hatred towards Russian people.

Respect Georgia's development. Historically, many Western Europeans visited Georgia because they were attracted to the country's ruins and derelict classical buildings. But as Georgia recovers from years of instability, these signs of neglect are inevitably fixed-up, painted and repaired. This causes some ruin enthusiasts to sneer at revitalized historical districts as no longer "authentic". Such comments can be rather offensive because they imply that locals are not the "real" themselves unless they are dirty, poor and living in buildings with collapsing ceilings. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many of Georgia's now-derelict buildings were glitzy aristocratic abodes.

Do not draw parallels between Georgia and neighbouring Islamic cultures. Many tourists are surprised to learn that much of the "exotic flair" in Tbilisi was imported from Europe, as opposed to Asia. Most of the "Oriental", "Moorish" and "Asian"-looking buildings were constructed by famous European architects in the 19th century during Europe's fascination with exotic styles. These landmarks are purposefully designed to look as they do. It is therefore inaccurate, not to mention clichéd, when visitors describe these elements of Georgia as "authentic" or "local"; such descriptions can irk the locals.



While it may appear difficult on first glance, the Georgian alphabet has a Greco-Latin base. Learning it is thus pretty straight forward and is immensely helpful for moving about -- especially outside of Tbilisi.

Knowledge of the alphabet can also help to read signs on busses and marshrutkas.




  • Hostels and hotels usually have free Wi-Fi for their guests, even in Mestia. The same is occasionally true for cafés and restaurants.
  • There is a free Wi-Fi network all over Tbilisi named "Tbilisi Loves You", including the airport. However, it frequently does not work, getting stuck on the login pages.



Georgia's country code is +995. Georgia uses GSM, 3G, and LTE for mobile phones.

Here are the operators:

  • Magti — is reported to have the best coverage, but might be slightly more expensive. Tariff prices as of July 2023:
    • 30 days: Unlimited data and calls 60 lari; 3GB and calls 30 lari
    • An eSIM costs 10 lari by itself and can be installed using the MyMagti app (iPhone) before you arrive in Georgia.
    • Tethering is allowed, including on the unlimited plan.
  • Beeline[dead link] – a Russian company, the cheapest, but does not get the best reception in some areas. Prices as of Sep 2019: 4 weeks, 4 GB, 9 lari. 2 weeks, 10 GB, 10 lari. 3 weeks, 10 GB, 15 lari.
  • Geocell — a Turkish company, does not has the best reception in some areas. Tariff prices

SIM cards are given out for free at Tbilisi airport. Each mobile operator has a desk at the airport, and offers the same deals at the airport as elsewhere.

Magti and Beeline allow tethering.

If you plan to use Georgian SIM-card outside of Georgia in the future (for example, for SMS-authorization for banking), it is impossible to receive any a service if you hadn't turned on roaming in person at an operator salon.



Communication with accommodations, airlines, drivers, restaurants, tourist information and so on, universally use WhatsApp (usually), or Viber, Facebook Messenger, or Telegram. This means you should install and activate WhatsApp before you arrive in Georgia, as you will not be able to activate WhatsApp if you can't receive SMS while roaming.

If someone asks for your phone number, it is implied they will message you on WhatsApp. If someone says "send SMS", they really mean WhatsApp. If you do not have WhatsApp it will be impossible to electronically communicate in Georgia.



Postal services in Georgia have almost ceased to exist. There are no letterboxes or home delivery. Mail does not arrive to recipients, but they are notified and have to collect mail at a post office. Postal rates are very high (it costs 4 lari to send a postcard to another country without tracking number and 14 lari to send it with a tracking number, while in neighbouring Armenia it costs ~1 lari). Postcards cost 1-2 lari throughout the country. The few post offices still maintained by Georgian Post are badly signposted and often in derelict buildings.

Go next


The land border can be crossed to Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia. Check the current state about travelling by land to North Ossetia in Russia and Abkhazia. South Ossetia can be only entered from Russia.

This country travel guide to Georgia is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!