Georgia Travel Tips (by a Local)
Insider tips by a local guide to make your trip to Georgia easier, cheap and safer
by Anahit SargsyanCaucasus Region Local Guide
Honored to show all the secret places and cultures in the Caucasus
A list of 12 local guide tips for first time or returning visitors to Georgia, whether traveling alone or in groups.
From a local guide that knows the Caucasus region very well and shows it to tourists for decades.
When to Visit Georgia (Best Time to Visit)
The best time to travel to Georgia really depends on your interests, because the country has a lot to offer. You have plenty of reasons to visit Georgia.
Weather shouldn’t be a problem. But if you really have to choose a season, then Spring might be the best overall, as it is not too hot or too cold. However, Georgia is an excellent travel destination all year round.
Winters are not very cold, and although snowfall can occur, it is not very frequent. Expect it to be hot during summer, especially in July and August, but not as hot as in Algerian desert regions.
Which Season to Visit Georgia? And What to Do?
- ☀️ Summer: the ideal period for trekking in the Caucasus Mountains. The average temperature during summers in Georgia varies from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius, which means that it is quite hot during this time. Coastal areas are quite humid.
- 🍂 Autumn: The best time to travel to the wine areas. Georgia is very beautiful in autumn, with frequent rains and multicolored trees. Autumn is typically the wet season in Georgia.
- ❄️️ Winter: The best period for winter sports enthusiasts especially those interested in skiing and strong sensations. The weather in Georgia during winters is usually cold, with temperatures ranging from 2 to 6 degrees Celsius.
- 🌱 Spring: better time to travel to Tbilisi and the rest of Georgia, exactly when it is not too cold and not too hot. However, note that there may be frequent rains during the late spring months.
The official language is Georgian. Not much to hang on to as it is so unique. Georgians have their own alphabet.
However, in the big cities and tourist areas, you will not have trouble finding people who speak English and Russian is also spoken in most of the country.
In Georgia the accommodation offer is wide and you can find accommodation in various quality/price categories, from budget hotels where you share a room to luxurious five-star hotels or resorts in truly spectacular locations.
The spectacular progression of tourism in Georgia in recent years has resulted in the opening of new hotels and a constant modernization and rehabilitation of accommodation in Georgia.
You can easily find accommodation in the big cities (Batumi, Kutaisi, or Tbilisi) and even in remote areas such as Svaneti, or Omalo living with locals in the more than numerous “guesthouses“.
The average cost of a hotel in Tbilisi is much higher than in any other part of the country.
Transportation – Getting Around in Georgia
To get around the country, the easiest way is to rent a car or hire a driver.
If you choose to rent a car and drive yourself, you will have to be very careful. Driving in Georgia is somehow dangerous. Passing animals on the road (sheep, cows, pigs, dogs…) is common. Landslides and landslides are not rare in the mountains either. And the driving of Georgians can also be dangerous.
It is therefore recommended to drive carefully. Not to drive too fast, to slow down at each interception even if you think you have the right of way, to anticipate as much as possible the risky behaviors of other users, and not to venture on any road in the mountains.
If you want to venture into the mountains, you will absolutely need a 4X4 or SUV. Some roads are really bad.
Even though that things are slowly changing, most of its public transportation is either slow, less frequent than desirable, or not that safe for tourists.
If you travel through Georgia with a rental car, check your itinerary well.
Don’t rely too much on the GPS and make sure you are going the right way. Road conditions leave much to be desired and sometimes the shortest way is not the fastest. For example, to get to Ushguli the GPS can send you via Lentheki, which although it is closer to the road at a given time becomes almost impracticable, especially in case of rain or snow.
In Georgia, there are many cars that run on gas and therefore in many gas stations, there is only gas. In remote areas check the GPS for the last gas or diesel station on your way to avoid getting stranded in these places.
It is advisable to avoid driving at night and outside the cities as much as possible. Another aspect to take into account when driving in Georgia is the permitted blood alcohol level, which is exactly 0 g/l.
By Taxi or Private Taxis
On some routes shared cabs are used. You can also hire private cabs, where you can make a stop to take pictures of the country and you can save time by including several visits in a single excursion. It is very cheap compared to other European destinations.
You can also rent cabs on the street to make certain tourist routes through the country with a specific predetermined route (both half-day excursions, as well as several days).
If you rent a cab, do not forget to negotiate in advance the total price, including the round trip, what are the waiting times, and the extra costs for the driver (food and lodging).
In Tbilisi, in the center, you can see in the most touristic streets the destinations that each cab offers on posters with photographs on top of the cabs themselves.
Uber or other worldwide famous ride-hailing apps are not available in Georgia, but there are alternatives.
Yandex or Bolt are apps similar to Uber through which you can book a ride exactly the same way you do with Uber. All you need is a working credit card, and a local phone and you’re good to go. The rates are very, very reasonable but only available in Tbilisi and Batumi.
Trains are slow and infrequent but safe. They are very useful when you have to travel long distances.
The night train from Tbilisi to Zugdidi allows you to connect to the Svanetia region at an early hour. Tbilisi-Batumi to finish the trip and close the loop also comes in handy. The train is very slow, it is not expensive and on top of that, it is safe to make sure you buy it in advance in high season on the internet or at any station.
International trains to travel to Azerbaijan and Armenia: Tbilisi-Baku and Tbilis-Erevan, are a very useful option to gain a day and avoid the road.
Only on the longest and most important routes, there are buses, such as Tbilisi-Baku or Tbilisi-Batumi.
On most of the routes, there are no buses but “marchrutkas“, vans that once they are full leave the predetermined stations.
The “marchrutkas“ are usually frequent, and easily recognizable because their destination is usually labeled and can be approached within their urban route or at any point on the road making the stop, if there are free places they will stop, if not they will continue on their way.
Everyone knows where the “marchrutkas“ leave, it is a bit like a bus station. You ask someone and they tell you. The prices are fixed, you can’t bargain but it’s very cheap. And if the place is remote, there may not be any or only one a day, you have to ask around.
Souvenir? Consider Georgian wine
For a typical souvenir that is not too expensive and that you are sure will not gather dust on a shelf, consider Georgian wine. Georgian wine culture is one of the oldest if not the oldest in the world.
It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Although less famous, Georgian wines have nothing to envy over French or Italian wines. There is something for every taste and you can find, in addition to the usual wines, tastes, and colors that do not exist in Europe such as orange wine or semi-sweet red wine.
You will be quickly tempted to come back with full suitcases (not beyond 4 liters though, as it’s the maximum without declaring it at the customs).
The official currency of Georgia is the Georgian Lari, abbreviated GEL. 1 lari is divided into 100 tetri (lari cents).
US Dollars and Euros are accepted in some establishments, but payments are generally made in GEL. In Tbilisi, Batumi, or Kutaisi the use of credit cards is quite common and seen in most of the stores.
ATMs can be found in large and medium-sized population centers. Exchange offices abound in the country. Money can also be exchanged in stores and hotels. GELs are also available at the international airport and at the borders.
Safety While Travelling in Georgia
Most of Georgia is very safe for travelers. Crime rates are one of the lowest in Europe, making it really safe to travel. Similar to Armenia, their neighboring country. Overall, common sense should be your “compass” and you will be ok.
But, if you search on the internet, you might get the feeling that traveling to Georgia is dangerous. Well, that has changed in recent times and now the country is very safe for its visitors.
Corruption, a few decades ago was a big nuisance, but it has become much less visible since the Rose Revolution. Now the country is safe and it is reasonable to trust the Georgian police, as the infamous and corrupt traffic police have been disbanded. Policemen regularly patrol the streets of Georgian cities and towns and can help in case of car trouble or any other problems on the road.
Safety Tips for Traveling in Georgia
- In mountainous areas, there could be bears, sheepdogs, wild boars, and wolves. Such wild animals can be dangerous. Try not to venture alone on treks in wooded areas, and avoid approaching sheep herds guarded by dogs.
- If you plan to climb a mountain, be aware that altitude sickness can also be a problem.
- If you are a girl and you are traveling alone in Georgia, a priori you will not have any problem (same case as Armenia while traveling solo as a woman). However, you should have common sense always, and be cautious, especially in more remote areas. In those areas, opt to travel with a group whenever possible.
- The only diseases that you can find in Georgia are related to the ingestion of raw food.
- Fruits and vegetables should be washed properly, water should be consumed bottled, and avoid ice cubes.
What to Wear
The Georgian Orthodox Church is quite conservative, so certain rules must be observed in sacred places.
Men, with the exception of small children, are not allowed to wear shorts inside the church. Women are expected to cover their heads with a headscarf and wear a dress in church.
In any case, it is a good idea not to wear a skirt shorter than the knee. There are headscarves at the entrances of churches to cover heads and legs in case a skirt or short or long pants are worn. In some monasteries, access to women is forbidden.
To travel to Georgia from a list of around 100 countries, including the United States and all European countries a visa is not required, as long as you are staying less than one year.
If you have another nationality you can the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for the latest updated information on the procedures to be followed.
Borders and Areas to Avoid
(Please note that this information might become outdated considering the various political conflicts in the Caucasus region in recent times)
Georgia’s borders with Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan are secure and open. If you are traveling from the United States or EU country you will need a visa to enter Azerbaijan, but it is an easy visa to obtain.
For now, South Ossetia does not allow any foreigners to enter. Ministries of Foreign Affairs from most countries advise not to travel to this region.
To enter Abkhazia you must apply for a visa via the Internet, which usually takes seven working days.