Georgia is a small country at the intersection of Europe and Asia, which gives this country a unique cultural and ancient heritage. Home to gorgeous Caucasus Mountain villages, Black Sea beaches, natural hot sulfur baths, 12th-century cave monastery Vardzia, and its ancient culture of wine-making, Georgia is becoming very popular among tourists and backpackers. Here are 12 things you need to know before traveling to Georgia.
Do you need a visa for Georgia?
Georgia allows visa-free entry to citizens of the European Union, North America, Australia and other countries listed here for one full year.
However, if your country of residence is not on that list, you can apply for an e-visa here on the official Georgia e-Visa portal. E-visa allows you to stay in Georgia for 30 or 90 days, depending on your country of residence. For a full list of eligible countries and necessary documents for e-visa, visit here.
Documents needed for Georgian E-visa:
When applying online, you will have to upload scanned copies of your photo and travel document/passport. Although, you must be able to present all the other required documents to the Georgian immigration officer:
- Travel Document/Passport
- Document proving the purpose of travel
- Proof of accommodation
- Travel and health insurance
- Document proving sufficient financial means
E-visa fee is 20 USD + bank service charge.
What’s the best time to visit Georgia?
Generally speaking, the best time to visit Georgia is from mid-April to mid-October. Months of May-June and September-October are most suitable for visiting mountain areas and sunny days in July-August are more suitable for hitting the beaches on the Black Sea coast on the west of Georgia.
November to March is typically the winter season here. Winter in Georgia is cold and snowy. If you enjoy snow-covered mountains and don’t mind the coldness, it is still a good time to visit Georgia. You can visit ski-resorts here and indulge in sports activities. These ski-resorts typically are open from January to March.
Also Read: 11 Best Places to Visit in Georgia
Gergeti Trinity Church located on Mount Kazbek, Georgia © rmac8oppo / pixabay
How to reach Georgia?
You can reach Georgia by flight, road or train, flight being the most convenient way.
Georgia shares friendly borders with Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkey so you can enter and exit Georgia from these border crossings.
There are also trains connecting Georgia with Azerbaijan and Armenia. More information below in the toggle box.
Here is more information about Georgian International Airports, border crossings, and trains. (including ticket prices and booking websites)
Arrival by flight:
Georgia has 3 international airports for your arrival and departure:
Tbilisi International Airport
It is Georgia’s main international airport, located 17 km south-east of the capital Tbilisi.
Transportation from Tbilisi Airport
Taxi: Many taxis are available outside the airport. Taxi fare should not be more than 30 GEL for a ride. Negotiate for the price if the driver quotes you more than this.
Bus: Bus no. 37 runs between Tbilisi airport and Tbilisi Central Station, stopping near several main attractions of the city on the way. Costs 0.50 GEL per person.
Also Read: Top 9 things to do in Tbilisi
Kutaisi International Airport
David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport is located 14 km west of Kutaisi, the second-largest city in Georgia. Increasing numbers of cheap flights to and from Mainland Europe makes it a popular airport among passengers from Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, and Austria.
Transportation from Kutaisi Airport
Taxi: Taxi costs around 20 GEL for a ride between Kutaisi airport and the city center.
Bus: Bus from Kutaisi airport to Kutaisi city center costs 5 Gel per person. You can also catch a bus to other destinations from the airport. The bus to Tbilisi costs 20 GEL and costs 18 GEL for Batumi. Tickets to these destinations can be bought at the Georgian bus counter present near the terminal exit.
Batumi International Airport
Batumi International Airport is located 2 km south of Batumi and is the second biggest airport in Georgia.
Transportation from Batumi Airport
Taxi: Usual price ranges between 15 and 20 GEL for a taxi to Batumi city center. Always negotiate and confirm the price before getting in the taxi.
Bus: Bus no. 10 runs between Batumi airport and city center. The bus stop is located in front of the terminal. A bus ride costs 0.40 GEL and takes about 20 minutes to get to the city center.
Also Read: Top things to see and do in Batumi
Batumi International Airport © Gmaisuradze15 / Wikimedia Commons
Border crossing by land:
It is also possible to cross the borders to and from neighboring countries by road or railway.
Border crossings are possible at the Georgian border with Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.
There are 3 border crossings between Georgia and Turkey, Hopa-Sarp being the most popular and comfortable one. Also, there are bus services between popular cities in Turkey and Georgia.
There is 1 border crossing at Georgia-Russia border between Kazbegi (Georgia) and Vladikavkaz (Russia). You cannot cross it on foot, must hitch a ride or take a bus. Busses and taxis are available connecting Vladikavkaz with Kazbegi and Tbilisi (Didube terminal).
Georgia and Azerbaijan share 2 border crossings, one is Matsimi-Balakan and the other one is Red Bridge(Tsiteli Khidi)-Shikhli. Public transports are available at both border crossings.
At the Azeri border, if you want to cross and enter Azerbaijan, it is not a problem to have an Armenian border stamp. However, it is a problem to have Nagorno-Karabakh stamp in your passport; you won’t have permission granted to enter Azerbaijan.
Georgia and Armenia have 3 border crossings available for international travelers: Bagratashen-Sadakhlo, Gogovan-Guguti, and Bavra-Ninotsminda. All 3 border crossings are fairly easy and hassle-free.
Bagratashen-Sadakhlo is the most popular border crossing between the two countries. It connects both capital cities Tbilisi and Yerevan, and there are lots of transport services available between these two cities.
Trains between Georgia and Azerbaijan
Georgian railways has daily train connecting to Azerbaijan.
Train ticket for a ride from Baku to Tbilisi Train no. 38) can be bought online on Azerbaijan Railways website and also in person at Baku Central Railway station. Both trains are overnight trains.
Train from Tbilisi (Georgia) to Baku (Azerbaijan) is an overnight train (train no.37) and the ticket can be bought at the Tbilisi Central Railway station.
Train between Baku and Tbilisi 38/37 © Shankar S. / flickr
Trains between Georgia and Armenia
Yerevan (Armenia) to Tbilisi or vice versa train tickets can be bought online on Armenian South Caucasus Railway website. You can buy tickets up to 40 days prior to your journey. It is only allowed to buy up to 4 tickets at a time and can only pay by Mastercard (no Visa or Paypal). An additional 2000 AMD service fee is applicable on the purchase of online tickets.
Do you need a travel Insurance for Georgia?
Georgia immigration officers can ask you to show Travel Insurance covering the period of your stay in Georgia. This case is not observed if you are a citizen of one of the Visa-free countries. However, If you are entering Georgia with an e-visa, most of the times you are asked to show the Travel Insurance.
When applying for an e-visa on the official Georgian e-visa portal, you will find an option there to buy Travel Insurance.
Currency of Georgia
Georgian Lari (GEL) is the currency of Georgia. 1 USD = 2.8 GEL. (January 2020)
ATMs are easily available in most cities, except small towns in mountain regions.
Most shops accept card payments. In small towns, it is better to carry cash with you.
Money exchange counters are easily available in big cities like Tbilisi, Batumi, and Kutaisi.
TBC bank’s money exchange counter at the airport and in the cities provide you the best currency exchange rates.
Languages in Georgia
Georgian is the official language of the country.
If you speak only English, you are going to have a hard time communicating with locals. Present youth in Georgian cities can speak fairly good English. Hostel/hotel staff can speak and understand English.
Russian is a widely known language in the whole of Georgia because it used to be a part of the former Soviet Union. Therefore, if you speak and understand the Russian language, you have a great advantage here.
Religion in Georgia
Georgia is a religious country. Most population of Georgia identifies themselves as Eastern Orthodox Christian. When visiting churches and cathedrals be respectful to their religion and dress modestly.
Ladies and gents both have to cover shoulders and knees before entering the orthodox churches. Ladies also need to cover their heads with a scarf.
Holy Trinity Church, Tbilisi, Georgia © Somesh Rai / @worldnestler
Accommodation in Georgia
It is fairly easy to get accommodation in Georgia. There are many hostels and hotels available in big cities such as Tbilisi, Kutaisi, and Batumi. You can find accommodation which suits your budget.
If you are visiting mountain villages and other little towns in the country, you can find homestays in those villages. Those homestays are very welcoming and you get more insider look into Georgian culture. Also, you can book accommodations by using websites such as Booking.com.
Book your accommodation in advance if you are visiting Georgia in peak seasons (May – September).
Food and Drinks in Georgia
Georgian food is kind of a unique fusion of Mongolian, Turkish, Greek and Arabic food. Georgians were sitting at the middle point of the ancient East-West Silk Road trade routes. Therefore, they had the advantage of tasting and picking the best cooking styles from these countries.
Khachapuri and Khinkali are the most popular dishes in Georgia. You don’t want to miss out on Georgia’s wine culture and the ritual of Supra (Georgian feast). Georgia is believed to be the birthplace of wine.
Also Read: 6 Must-Try Foods in Georgia
Adjarian khachapuri with soup, chips, and sausages © Somesh Rai / @worldnestler
Transportation in Georgia
Most of Georgia is well connected by buses, taxis, trains, and marshrutka (mass transport minibuses).
Marshrutka is the cheapest way to travel in Georgia. These minibuses are usually painted yellow and you can use these minibusses for intercity travels and for commute in the cities. These are most convenient for traveling to small villages.
Georgian trains are a more comfortable and faster option for traveling between cities. You can see the train schedule and book train tickets on the official Georgian Railways website here. Users need to sign-up on the website before booking the tickets.
Georgian Railways © Babach / Wikimedia Commons
Free sim cards are available at all 3 international airports.
Our preferred Mobile network company in Georgia is Beeline. 2 GB data costs 5 GEL = approx. 2 USD.
Magticom is another popular network provider.
Power sockets in Georgia
Georgia uses Type C and Type F power sockets. Standard voltage = 220V, Standard frequency = 50 Hz.
Carrying a Universal Travel Adaptor is highly recommended if your electronic devices’ power/charging cables have different plug specifications.
Picture showing Type F power socket © Marco Verch / flickr
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