Practical Travel Guide
Rejoice! Citizens of 94 countries don’t need a visa to travel to Georgia. If your country is on this list, you can travel to Georgia visa-free for one year. This means you’ll get a stamp in your passport at the airport or land border crossing without having to fill out any visa forms or pay any money.
If you are one of the unlucky ones that does need a visa, don’t despair. It is relatively straightforward to get an e-visa: just head to the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to apply.
Georgia is by all means a cheap place to travel. At the time of writing, €1 was 2.68GEL and $1 was 2.48GEL. The following overview is based on budget accommodation and food choices, and is for one person. Read our budget report to get a full rundown of exactly how much it costs to backpack in Georgia.
Food and drinks
- Beer or soda: 2 – 5 GEL
- 1 L of water: 0.50 – 1.5 GEL
- Coffee or tea: 2 – 5 GEL
- Breakfast: 1 – 3 GEL
- Lunch: 3 – 5 GEL
- Dinner: 7 – 20 GEL
- Budget hostel: 10 – 30 GEL per night per person
- Budget hotel/guesthouse: 30 – 60 GEL per night
- Museum: 3 – 8 GEL
- Churches, cathedrals, monasteries: free!
Georgia is serviced by bus, train, metro, taxi and marshrutka (minibus).
Buses and marshrutky (minibuses)
Buses and marshrutky (singular: marshrutka) are the cheapest way to get from city to city or town. Short distance marshrutka rides within cities are usually around 0.5 to 1.5 GEL a person–we’re never entirely sure exactly how much they’re supposed to cost. Longer distance rides are usually in the range of 10-20 GEL, and you can buy tickets ahead of time or pay the driver.
You can hail a bus or marshrutka from anywhere on the street; just make some kind of gesture and eye contact with the driver. To get off, say “kacheri” (ka-cherry) and move towards the front of the vehicle to show you want to get off. For short distances, you pay for the ride once you get off.
Taxis range from around 10-30 GEL, depending on your destination and bargaining skills. Most taxis do not have meters, so decide on a price ahead of time. If you want to tip, just round up to what feels like a nice, even number.
The metro in Tbilisi is very cheap and easy to use. You need to purchase a metro card for 2 GEL, and load credit on it when you purchase it (see link for more information on where to get a card). Metro rides are 0.5 GEL regardless of distance–you only need to check in, not check out. You can use one metro card for multiple people.
Once you’re done with your metro card, you can return it to the ticket counter to receive your 2 GEL back.
For train travel, you can check out the Georgian Railway website (in English). The site is not the easiest to use, but you should be able to see the fares for different trips. If not, ask your guesthouse, or go directly to the train station. E-tickets via the Georgian Railway site are also possible for train journeys.
Trains in general are quite decent, but definitely the slowest option for travel. There are sleeper trains available for some routes. First class is only a few GEL more than second class, and generally worth the upgrade. Some trains even have working WiFi for the entire journey.
Check out our destination specific posts for price breakdowns from place to place.
Entering and exiting
Because of the generous visa rules, entering and leaving the country is very straightforward. In fact, entering Georgia through Tbilisi airport has been one of the easiest entries of our lives. It took about five minutes, of which four were spent standing in line.
A taxi from the Tbilisi airport to the center city should cost about 20 GEL, or up to 25 if traveling late at night.
Georgia has no entry or exit fees for entering/leaving the country.
Ninotsminda – Bavra (Armenia) border crossing
We crossed from Georgia into Armenia via the Bavra border crossing near Akhaktsikhe, Georgia and Gyumri, Armenia.This is a less common land border crossing in the mountains, used mostly by locals. You can read more about it here.
Sadakhlo – Bagratashen (Armenia) border crossing
The more popular border crossing, for those heading from Tbilisi to Yerevan or Alaverdi. The same as our crossing at Bavra applies–smooth sailing and no fees. You can go on this route by marshrutka from Ortachala bus station in Tbilisi, or by a night train from Tbilisi to Yerevan. Night train times can be found on the Georgian Railway website.
Tipping in Georgia
There’s a 10% service charge added to most bills in eating establishments, so tipping isn’t necessary. If you do want to tip or if there isn’t a service charge added, just round up to whatever feels like an even number (just add a couple more GEL or tetri).
Getting around as an English speaker can be tricky. Most older Georgians only speak Georgian and Russian. Some of the younger generation speak a bit of English.
It’s a good idea to learn a couple of key phrases in Russian before you go, such as “Where is…?” and “No thank you”. Duolingo is a great and free (!) language-learning resource for that.
Georgians are generally accepting of whatever clothing you want to wear on the streets (… with the exception of nudity, of course). However, all of the religious sites in Georgia have a dress code.
Guys: No shorts or tank tops.
Girls: No shorts, short skirts, or tank tops. Heads need to be covered with some kind of scarf, and oftentimes pants are also not allowed. Most churches have scarves and wraps for visitors, but always be sure to carry a scarf around, just in case.