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Georgia: A Practical Guide – Karavanly

Georgia: A Practical Guide

Georgia is a country of rich history, wild nature, and centuries-old traditions. It represents a perfect blend of old and new, making it one of the charming countries of the South Caucasus.

Thinking of visiting Georgia but don’t know what to expect? Here is a handy guide to make your travel planning as easy and your journey as enjoyable as it can be!

Getting In/Out

© ConvertKit

By Air

Georgia has three international airports located in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi.

Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air flies from over 35 European cities to Kutaisi International Airport. Ryanair recently started offering flights from Italy, France, and Germany to Tbilisi and Kutaisi.

Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airlines and Air Astana offer good-value flight between various Asian cities and Tbilisi, with a transit in Istanbul, Doha and Almaty respectively. Other budget-friendly airlines that Tbilisi International Aiport serves include Pegasus, Ukraine International Airlines, flydubai, Air Arabia, etc. Most of these airlines fly to Batumi as well during summer.
 

Georgian Bus and Omnibus provide coach bus services between Kutaisi International Airport and major cities of the country: Tbilisi, Kutaisi city center, Batumi, and Gudauri. You can purchase tickets online in advance or right upon arrival.

Over Land

Georgia is accessible by land from Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Russia. The more common checkpoints are:

  • Sadakhlo (Armenia): to Tbilisi
  • Bavra (Armenia): (from Gyumri) to Ninotsminda/Akhaltsikhe
  • Hopa-Sarpi (Turkey): to Batumi
  • Balakan (Azerbaijan): to Lagodekhi
  • Verkhny Lars (Russia): to Kazbegi
     

Overnight train between Tbilisi and Yerevan (Armenia) runs every other night, while that between Tbilisi and Baku (Azerbaijan) runs every night. Departure times and dates, which change with season, available on the official website of Georgian Railway.

Visa Requirement

Visitors from over 95 countries can travel to Georgia visa-free for up to one year, just get stamped in with your passport at airport or land border crossings, no forms to fill, no fees to pay. If you are not on the list, a simple e-visa is all you need.
 

Can’t be bothered? Take advantage of Karavanly’s visa support add-on service available to your travel pass. We’re happy to take care of that for you.

Getting Around

By Marshrutka

© Tiia Monto/WikiCommons

The primary public transport for traveling around Georgia is marshrutka (minibus). Most of those marshrutkas are least comfortable but takes you to a destination quite fast.

Didube and Navtlughi are the two main bus stations in Tbilisi. The former serves marshrutkas that travel to western part of the country, while the latter is more convenient if you plan to visit eastern Georgia.

By Coach Bus

© Metro Georgia

Metro Georgia provides coach bus services from Tbilisi/Batumi to various cities of Turkey, which make stops along the way in cities/towns such as Kutaisi, Batumi, Kobuleti, and Lanchkhuti, etc. The company operates on the Tbilisi-Batumi and Tbilisi-Kutaisi International Airport routes four times a day. Buses leave from Ortachala bus station.

By Train

© Superalbs/WikiCommons

The majority of trains in Georgia are of Soviet times and are very slow. It connects major cities and small towns of Georgia to the capital with either a daily coach or overnight trains.

Due to the popularity of Batumi as a seaside resort for many locals and travelers, the Tbilisi-Batumi route is the only relatively new and fast train which takes 5 hours to reach the destination.

By Karavanly

© Karavanly

Karavanly’s flexible and freestyle hop-on hop-off rides offer a brand-new and unique way to travel around Georgia.

It takes you on a safe and enjoyable journey through hard-to-reach gems as well as beaten path that’s worth exploring, with transportation, local guide, family lunch, admissions and paid activities all included.

You’re free to stay at each destination for as long or as short as you need to have as much fun as you want, before hopping back on.
 

Karavanly rides also give you authentic and enriching experience with the rural communities that we work closely with, while having your travel money spent in the way local families can benefit most.

Check out our all-in-one travel passes and join us to experience your ultimate adventure across Georgia!

Money

© National Bank of Georgia/WikiCommons

Georgia’s local currency is Georgian Lari (₾ / ლ / GEL; 1 lari = 100 tetri). The exchange rate is about 1 EUR ≈ 3.15 GEL or 1 USD ≈ 2.77 GEL (see most updated rate here.)

ATM can be easily found in major cities/towns, and smaller towns usually have one at least. Most ATMs allow GEL and USD withdrawal. Credit cards are widely accepted in cafes, restaurants, and grocery stores in major cities/towns (except small/family-run ones.)
 

When traveling to villages/remote areas, make sure to take out enough cash in advance.

SIM Cards

© Dmitrii Vaccinium

The three mobile carriers in Georgia are:

  • Magti – Excellent coverage, slightly higher price (can be easily compensated with their various promotion bundles), accept international credit cards for both online and in-app top-up;
  • Beeline – Best value packages, good coverage, but might not accept international credit cards for online top-up;
  • Geocell by Silknet – Poor services, thus not recommended.
     

Some stalls/booths at the airports might only sell the “Tourist/Welcome Packages”. Often advertised as “free sim card”, those tourist bundles are in fact more expensive than other options available at the providers’ stores in town.

It’s easy to get a local SIM in Georgia, just make sure that you have your passport with you on purchase.

Culture

Language

© Jaqeli/WikiCommons

Georgia has its own language spoken only by 4 million Georgians across the world. The Georgian language, one of the oldest spoken languages, has its own alphabet and is among the world’s 14 unique scripts.

Georgian language can be quite a challenge for tourists. But like other ex-Soviet countries, older generation speak Russian. And English is spoken by service staff in major tourist areas and by younger generation.

Tipping

© Sam Dan Truong

There are no particular rules for tipping in Georgia. Almost every restaurant or cafe adds a service fee to the bill. This fee varies according to the venue and is between 10-18%. Therefore, in such cases, tipping is not mandatory, but depends on the visitor’s will. If you don’t see a service charge on your bill, consider leaving a 10% tip for the waiter.

Dress Code

© Karavanly

Loose-fitting clothes and pants with elastic waistbands – as delicious food comes in great variety and abundance! Humor aside, while there is no need to cover yourself from head to bottom, it is advised to avoid very revealing mini-skirts/shorts or see-through clothes.

When visiting churches, make sure to have a scarf to cover bare shoulder and knees.

For girls:

  • no shorts, short skirts or tank tops
  • head needs to be covered
  • pants often not allowed

For guys:

  • no shorts or tank tops

While some churches do provide head scarfs and wrap-around robes, it’s always handy to bring a large scarf or thin hoodie jacket (with sleeves) when you travel around.

Alcohol Consumption

© Karolina Grabowska

Alcohol is legal in Georgia, and drinking is an essential part of the culture. While Georgia is well-known for its wine and chacha, note that there are some dry villages of Muslim communities in the country. Be well-informed and respect local custom of no alcohol consumption during your visits.

Safety

© Jairph

Despite the country’s political instability with Russia, Georgia remains a safe place to travel, both in major cities and remote villages. Just watch for traffic, as local driving can be rather overwhelming for foreigners.

Like anywhere else, be cautious of your belongings and always pay attention to your bag and pockets in crowded touristic places. With good common sense and awareness, you can surely enjoy a trouble-free travel in Georgia.
 

According to Georgian legislation, inbound travelers should have travel and health insurance policy valid throughout the territory of Georgia for their entire period of stay in the country.

What to See & Do

© Zoltan Tasi

Georgia is a diverse country offering endless possibilities for nature, history, and culture lovers. From wandering through narrow cobblestones streets of Tbilisi lined with typical Georgian courtyards, exploring remote mountainous regions adorned with medieval defense towers, hiking up to gorgeous lakes and churches, enjoying snow-covered slopes, to sunbathing at the Black Sea…

Check out our handy guides (more coming up, stay tuned!) for you to make the most out of your trip in Georgia:

Don’t want to go through all the hassle in organizing your trip? We’ve got you covered! Our flexible travel passes take care of time-consuming logistics and let you focus on the fun part of your trip.

Not sure how to make the most out of our travel passes and create your own perfect itinerary? Get in touch! We’re happy to help.

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