The beautiful country of Georgia nestled in the South Caucasus region of Eastern Europe, right on the cusp of Asia, is one of the most interesting, dynamic and fascinating places to visit in the entire world. Known for its beautiful natural scenery, hospitable people, great food and a wine culture that dates back more than 8,000 years, this Georgia travel guide is meant to help you plan the best trip possible to this incredible nation.
Though interest in international travel to Georgia has been increasing in the past few years, it is still considered to be a relatively off-path destination. And despite its newfound popularity amongst “western” tourists, travelling to Georgia does pose some challenges not found elsewhere in Europe.
Having spent more than a year travelling and living in Georgia ourselves, we have experienced the best of what this beautiful country has to offer and hope that this guide to Georgia can assist you in planning an unforgettable trip to this underrated nation.
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Planning a Georgia Route
Though deceptively small at first glance, Georgia has a lot to offer visitors beyond the bustling streets of Tbilisi and the alpine vibes of Kazbegi. In fact, you could easily spend months and months travelling here and still have countless places left to visit.
Because it offers everything from beautiful mountain villages to thriving metropolises to a shining seaside to sprawling vineyards, planning out the perfect itinerary through Georgia can prove a difficult task, especially if you only have a limited amount of time to visit.
There is just so much to see and do in Georgia that it can prove impossible to try to pack it into one trip, but luckily, we have travelled extensively throughout the country and know how to best plan a trip here.
So if you planning a trip to Georgia either as a stand-alone destination or as part of a longer journey through neighbouring Armenia and Azerbaijan, then make sure to have a look at the detailed itineraries below to ensure that you plan out the best route possible and don’t miss a thing!
Places to Visit in Georgia
Georgia can seem like a small country and, especially when compared to its neighbours of Russia and Turkey, it is, relatively, but that doesn’t mean it lacks in amazing places to visit and things to see!
Quite the contrary, actually, as Georgia is chock full of everything from charming mountain villages, romantic hill towns, bustling cosmopolitan cities, seaside resorts and much, much more.
There is so much ecological and cultural diversity in Georgia that from one region to the next you are sure to discover something new and exciting. From regional cuisine and customs to vastly differing climate zones, there are countless incredible places to visit in Georgia that will give you a holistic view of this seemingly small nation.
If you’re wondering where to go in Georgia, then make sure to browse the articles below to help kick start your Georgia trip planning.
Best Time to Visit Georgia
Georgia can gloriously be a year-round destination to travel to so figuring out the best time to visit Georgia for you can really just depend on your travel preferences and what you hope to do while in the country. Georgia experiences relatively mild temperatures throughout the year, so there isn’t much of a bad time to visit, however, there are certainly some times that are better than others.
We’ll start with the most popular season to visit — summer. Summer in Georgia is the height of the tourist season and though the country doesn’t see nearly as many international tourists as other European destinations, it can still mean that crowds in major attractions and tourist hotspots will be at their peak.
Summer in Georgia is also HOT. How hot it is generally depends on where you happen to be, but unless you’re high up in the Caucasus, don’t expect the mercury to dip much below 30°C (86°F) during the day.
In Tbilisi, it can get much hotter, with it not unusual for temperatures to soar past 40°C (104°F) some days. While in the capital and in other large cities like Batumi, you can generally expect your accommodation to have air conditioning, don’t plan on it if you’re visiting somewhere more rural or staying in some of the smaller guesthouses.
The temperatures in the mountains can be a full 10°C cooler (about 18°F cooler) so it will be no surprise that this is where many city dwellers flock to in the warmer months.
Conversely, winters in Georgia (in the lowlands, at least) tend to be relatively mild, with high temperatures rarely going below freezing even in the coldest months of January and February. They also can be fairly bright and sunny and as Georgia doesn’t observe daylight savings time, days are decidedly longer in the winter than elsewhere in Europe.
Georgia is also home to a handful of ski resorts and it can be an excellent place to hit the slopes on a budget if that is something that tickles your fancy. The Gudauri resort lies only a short way outside of Tbilisi, Bakuriani is located just north of the spa town of Borjomi and even the Svaneti town of Mestia has slopes to enjoy.
Spring can bring very mild temperatures, with some lovely days in April and May hovering around 20°C (68°F) and warming up as May progresses. March can be a mixed bag, as we’ve experienced both snowfall and 20°C+ weather all within a week of each other in Tbilisi.
If you’re looking for the absolute perfect time to visit Georgia, then set your sights on the autumn months of September and October (November can be pretty pleasant, as well). Not only is this when the heat of summer dissipates — expect high temperatures to hover around 22-25°C (72-77°F) — this is also the time for wine harvest, or rtveli, in Georgia! So if you’re interested in visiting Georgia for its 8,000-year-old wine tradition, then come in September or October.
Really, it doesn’t matter when you choose to visit Georgia, but if you were to choose the absolute perfect season, then make it autumn.
Cost of Travelling to Georgia
If you’re on the hunt for a truly affordable destination to visit as a Western traveller, then Georgia is a great destination. Compared to the vast majority of Europe — even in more affordable areas like the Balkans and Central Europe — prices in Georgia are significantly discounted and a small amount of money can get you quite a long way in this country.
So if you’re a budget traveller, then you’re sure to love visiting Georgia. And even if you’re not all that concerned about your travel budget, you are sure to be thrilled by what your money can buy you in Georgia.
Georgia has countless ways to save money and some of these options are actually, in my opinion, preferable to some more expensive options. I’m speaking, specifically, to staying in family-run guesthouses rather than in a more expensive hotel. These guesthouses are scattered throughout Georgia and are where you will really get to experience the true sense of the country’s famous hospitality.
Often, guesthouses will also include an option for breakfast and dinner, saving you money even further while getting to experience the local cuisine.
Generally, you can expect prices in cities like Tbilisi and Batumi to be marginally higher than elsewhere in the country, but this isn’t normally significant if you know where to visit and what to look for. After having lived in Tbilisi, we are well-versed on the costs of the city and find it to be incredibly affordable, especially when compared to many other European destinations.
Look, let’s be real — you would be completely forgiven if you want to visit Georgia simply to dine on the country’s incredible cuisine. Georgian food is gaining in popularity worldwide, with dishes like cheesy khachapuri and soupy khinkali dumplings taking over Instagram feeds.
However, there is far more to this complex and flavourful culinary tradition to explore that you would be forgiven for leaving Georgia with your waistbands feeling a fair bit tighter.
What is wonderful about Georgia is that, contrary to a lot of other Eastern European countries, there are plentiful vegetarian options and vegetables play a huge role in traditional cuisine. In fact, it is actually quite an easy country to travel in if you are a vegetarian or a vegan.
There are always vegetarian options available due to the high proportion of fasting days on the Georgian Orthodox calendar (days where the devout will not eat meat), almost every major meat-forward dish also includes a mushroom version, as well!
Along with the flavourful and diverse cuisine, it would be remiss if I didn’t mention wine. Georgia claims to be the birthplace of wine, with archaeological evidence dating to wine production more than 8,000 years ago. And Georgian wine is really something special. With countless endemic grape varieties, wine is traditionally fermented with full skin contact (white wine, too!) in subterranean clay pots called qvevri.
Many families make their own wine and, along with that, they also use the by-product of grapes to produce the local spirit — Chacha! This is Georgia’s answer to Italian grappa and it is incredibly potent — some homemade varieties can have alcohol contents that exceed 60%!
All in all, sampling Georgian food and drink is one of the absolute highlights of travelling to this incredible nation. And if you want to learn more about what dishes to expect, make sure to browse the article below!
Transportation in Georgia
If there is an aspect of travelling in this country that can be a bit confusing and hard to navigate, it’s transportation. Things in Georgia are a little bit different from the rest of Europe and it can be a bit daunting if you’re not familiar with it.
Luckily, travelling around Georgia doesn’t have to be too tricky, especially if you’re travelling between well-trafficked areas as there tend to be numerous different options available for you. The other thing that is great about travelling in Georgia is that the public transport network, though quite different from other European countries, is extensive and as reliable as can be expected in Georgia.
If you’re travelling on a budget or want a local experience, then your best bet for getting around Georgia is via marshrutka, or minibuses, that offer connections throughout the country.
Keep in mind that the vast majority of marshrutkas in Georgia don’t operate on a tight timetable per se and tend only to leave the station when they are full (or nearly so). They are affordable but can be cramped, hot and a bit uncomfortable, especially in the warmer months.
It is also quite common to travel between cities by shared taxi, another affordable option, though this tends to be a bit more expensive than a marshrutka. You agree on the price of a car before your journey and then you will wait until you get enough travellers to fill the car before leaving.
If your budget is a bit higher, many people choose to hire a private driver for their trips around Georgia. This is a very common practice and there are countless drivers offering their services all over the country. You can either hire a driver for the entirety of your trip, or you can opt to just get a driver for the occasional day trip and get around using a mix of public transit and this.
There is a rail network in Georgia, but there aren’t too many routes and it’s not an option for travelling across the majority of the country.
Of course, you could always opt to hire a car and drive yourself around Georgia. It’s worth noting that Georgian drivers can be erratic and road conditions aren’t always the best, especially the more rural you venture, however, plenty of visitors take this option.
Finally, there are city taxis. Taxis in Georgia are quite affordable, in fact, a taxi ride across Tbilisi typically costs about the same as a bus ride in London.
However, it is worth pointing out that it’s not recommended to hail a taxi from the street. There are no meters in Georgian cabs and you must agree upon a price before getting into the taxi. To avoid potential language barriers or overpaying, we recommend using the Bolt app to get around the major urban areas.
If you want to know more about getting around Georgian then make sure to browse the article below, outlining how to undertake some of the most popular routes in Georgia!
Accommodation in Georgia
From budget-friendly dorm rooms to luxury hotels, Georgia has it all.
If you are travelling on a tight budget or are a backpacker, you will find that Georgia doesn’t have too much to offer in the name of the traditional backpacker hostels, especially outside of the main cities. There are, of course, hostel options in Tbilisi and the cities of Batumi and Kutaisi but, outside of these urban areas, choices can be few and far between.
For those on a budget, family-run guesthouses are really the place to be when travelling in Georgia. This is where you can really get to know the famous Georgian hospitality while getting stuffed to the gills with chacha, homemade wine and freshly made meals while having an affordable place to sleep for the night.
There are countless guesthouses located all throughout Georgia and you can book them through platforms like Booking.com very easily.
Airbnb is also a decent option in the bigger cities like Tbilisi and Batumi, where there are lots of options available on the platform, however, it can be very slim pickings outside of these areas.
If you’re the kind of traveller who tends to rely heavily on Airbnb for your accommodation needs, do keep this in mind if you plan to spend a good amount of time outside of Batumi or Tbilisi.
And finally, you are going to find hotels in most major cities and tourist attractions in the country and these can vary in quality. In places that attract a number of tourists, you will have lots of different options that can suit an array of budgets, however, the options can dwindle the more rural you get.
All in all, the most consistent (and one of the most affordable) accommodation option in Georgia is a family-run guesthouse, and this is also one of the best options if you really want a great insight into the local culture!
Language in Georgia
One thing that can prove difficult when it comes to travelling in Georgia is the language barrier, especially if you only speak English. Outside of Tbilisi and, to a lesser extent, Batumi, English isn’t widely spoken in Georgia and communication can prove quite difficult.
The Georgian language is a unique language that uses its own alphabet and isn’t particularly easy for foreigners to understand, let alone read. Russian is widely spoken by the older generation, however, those under around the age of 30 are far more likely to have learned English as a second language, if they will have learned a second language at all.
The good thing to note is that will almost always encounter English descriptions on things, even if the language isn’t spoken at a high level. In fact, having travelled in Georgia extensively and having lived in the country for over a year, we have rarely encountered a restaurant menu that didn’t have an English option.
Georgians are likely to be friendly and accommodating if there is a language barrier, however, it is always a good idea to learn a few words in the local language just to be respectful. Gamarjoba means “hello,” madloba means “thank you” and bodishi means “sorry.” Include these into your lexicon and you should be just fine when travelling in Georgia!
Religion in Georgia
Georgia is a deeply Orthodox country and was, in fact, only the second country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion — neighbouring Armenia being the first. So it can be said that Georgia has a vast Christian tradition that dates back centuries.
Because of how Christian Georgia is in all of history, there are countless religious sites to visit in Georgia. Beautiful churches and monasteries are scattered throughout the country and holidays like Orthodox Easter and Christmas are truly events to be seen.
While you won’t see things like businesses being affected in Georgia due to religious reasons (things are very much open here on Sundays), there is a very conservatively religious mindset in Georgia that is worth being aware of. For instance, it can be difficult for open LGBTQ+ travellers in Georgia as there is, unfortunately, quite a bit of homophobic sentiment coming from the Church, and that holds a lot of weight in Georgian society.
It is also worth knowing that if you plan to visit some of the many churches in Georgia (and it really can be unavoidable), then please note that you do need to be conservatively dressed in order to enter.
Both men and women need to make sure that their knees are covered (no shorts or shorter skirts!) and women must also cover their heads with a scarf. Many churches will provide scarves at the entrance, but I recommend keeping one in your day pack just to be a bit more sanitary.
All in all, Georgia is a very Christian nation with countless beautiful churches and monasteries throughout the country.
Travelling in Georgia is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have in Europe. Providing challenges not found elsewhere on the continent, this Georgia travel guide is meant to help you plan the best trip possible to this incredible country.