The Complete Guide to Exploring Tbilisi, Georgia

So excited to welcome you to #IBWTJ22!!! We’re taking Tbilsi, Georgia by storm. I’ve done all the footwork for you, so have fun discovering the ins and outs of this unique city.

Where is Tbilisi, Georgia?

Georgia straddles Europe and Asia. It shares borders with the Black Sea, Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Russia. The original name for Georgia is Sakartvelo. Georgians call themselves Kartvelebi and the name of their language is Kartuli. 

Will I Need to Apply for a Visa Beforehand?

Citizens of 98 countries don’t need to apply for a visa before entering Georgia and are permitted to stay 365 days. That includes Americans, Canadians, South Africans, Australians, and British passport holders. That means you just roll up to the airport and you get a visa stamped in your passport when you arrive.

I’ve never traveled to Europe before. What is the process like?

  1. Make sure your passport is up to date and has a validity past six months of your visit (for example, as you’re arriving on Thursday, September 29th, your passport needs an expiration date past March 29, 2023).
  2. Search for plane tickets to Tbilisi, Georgia. You can put a price alert on the trip to scout for good prices. More than likely, it will be two flights to get here, depending on where you’re coming from. Since you’ll just be transiting through (likely Turkey) you won’t have to worry about any visas for the short time you’ll spend in the airport. Visas are only for if you’re leaving the airport in whatever country you’re in.
  3. Search for accommodation in Tbilisi and book for how long you’d like to be here.
  4. Pack your bags, board your flight, arrive in Tbilisi, and get to your hotel and we’ll see you on Friday, September 30th!

What Currency Do They Use?

Georgia has the Georgian Lari also called GEL. If you have a dope bank *cough Charles Schwab cough*, then you just casually stroll up to an ATM and can take out however much Lari you like (or how much you have in your bank account).

The strangest thing in life is normal here. You can actually take USD out of the ATMs as well. Why?!?!? I do not know.

To pay for goods, most everywhere, you can simply tap your bank or credit card or swipe. If you’re buying from fruit and veggie stands, or in some markets, cash only is accepted (Lari, not USD).

What’s the Food Scene Like?

Two words. Bread and cheese 😅 The “street food” is found in what they call bakeries which are everywhere. The bakeries have various combinations/forms of bread and cheese, and sometimes meat and beans for a little razzle dazzle. Bakeries also serve Georgian sweets.

Restaurant-wise, you can find traditional Georgian food, and some international food like shawarma, pizza, Thai, etc. There are some American brands like Domino’s, Subway, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, KFC, and Dunkin Donuts around the city. There are also some vegan/vegetarian restaurants sprinkled around.

They also have food delivery apps so you can order from the comfort of your accommodation!

What is There to Do?

Girl, this city is JUMPING! There are events every single night of the week for my city dwellers. For my adventurous girls, the country has a lot to going on too.

In the city: live music, board games, latin dancing, improv, karaoke, art events, sulfur baths, language meetups, meetups, museums, and lots of tourist attractions.

In the country: hiking, vineyard tours, cultural tours, and general nature site seeing.

What Language Do They Speak?

Kartuli is the official language of Georgia. Most folks speak enough English for you to get around.

Some helpful phrases:
Thank you-Madloba
Goodbye-Nakhvamdis (knock-vam-dees)

How Can I Get Around?

The bus system is pretty good here. You can get a metro card at any metro station. Once you tap in with your metro card, you even get a free transfer within a certain amount of time (maybe half an hour?). So you can take the train to a bus and pay just 1 Lari. You can also just pay with your tappable bank card as well, though I don’t think the transfer applies using your bank card.

All rides on the train, bus, or marshrutka (blue vans), regardless of distance are 1 Lari, or $.36. Other than that, taxis are everywhere and most find them affordable, with short distance rides usually being under 10 Lari, which is about $3.62.

A lot of folks use the two rideshare apps here (like Uber or Lyft), Bolt (Download it on Android or Apple), and Yandex (Download it on Android or Apple) to order cars. I’ve heard a few unsavory stories about the taxis you hail from the street. That said not everyone is dishonest of course, but a rideshare app can help to dispel any conflict.

Use code WANDADYS on Bolt for 5 Lari off of your first ride.

Use code makn9sdt for 3 Lari off of your next ride when you pay with a card on Yandex.

Will I Need a SIM Card?

That depends! Most places have wifi, and there’s even public wifi available in some busy areas called Tbilisi Loves You.

If you’d like to make sure you’re connected at all times, you could get a SIM card and get unlimited wifi for 1.5 Lari per day, or $.54.

The two big companies are Silknet (formerly Geocell) and Magti.

I think both the Silknet and the Magti SIMs are 3 Lari.

When you pay the 3 Lari, with Magti, 1 Lari is on your account for data/phone calls etc. You might be able to get a SIM for free at the Tbilisi Airport. There are two packages they might want to sell which are a bit more than normal prices, but may be inexpensive for you.