Georgia is about people, cuisine, nature, history, and wine. Travelers experience and indulge in all of these in generous portions at very reasonable prices, leaving everyone satisfied. Most, already on their way home, contemplate an “encore” and plan a return visit to this country even while still in the air.
I am professionally involved with Georgia, visiting the country annually for several years now, and that’s how this article came to be. I’m confident that this post will assist you in planning your first, and hopefully not the last, independent trip to Georgia.
How to travel to Georgia in 2024
In 2024, tourists will be able to visit Georgia without restrictions, just like before the pandemic. To travel to Georgia, there are still several questions to address, a routine I follow before each journey. Besides those listed below, other aspects may arise – having answers to each in advance is beneficial, although with Georgia, you can often address issues as they arise during the trip. So,
- Check if a visa is required for Georgia (not needed for Ukrainians).
- Plan your route through Georgia.
- Transportation and car rental in Georgia.
- How to find cheap flights to Georgia and choose accommodation independently in Georgian cities.
- Where to eat during the trip.
- Must-see attractions.
- The cost of a week-long vacation in Georgia for two.
Insurance in Georgia
While mandatory insurance for a trip to Georgia is not required, opting for travel insurance is a wise choice. It’s better to spend a little money and travel with peace of mind than create unnecessary problems where they might not have existed. Buying insurance online from a reliable company, such as Hotline Finance, is a good option with a variety of choices.
Visa for Georgia
Citizens of Ukraine do not need a visa for Georgia; simply purchase a plane ticket and arrive at one of the airports.
Getting to Georgia from Ukraine and where to buy cheap air tickets
Access to Georgia from Ukraine is primarily by air, as other methods are either time-consuming or somewhat extreme. In 2024, you can reach Georgia from Ukraine through the Baltic countries, Poland, or even Cyprus. International airports are in Tbilisi, Batumi, and Kutaisi, and each city offers the opportunity to plan interesting routes.
You can find flights with layovers, but at the current airfare, this is quite exotic. The average cost of a flight to Georgia is around 50-100 euros. With a little time investment, early booking, and monitoring airline promotions, you can purchase discounted tickets for 40-80 euros. There are numerous flights to Tbilisi, Batumi, and Kutaisi from Europe and Asia. To find cheap flights, you can use the Aviasales website for quick searches, booking, and purchasing with good prices and no hidden fees.
Getting from Tbilisi Airport to the city center
- Taxi: Transfer can be pre-booked online.
- Bus: Bus number 37 operates 24/7 from Tbilisi Airport to the city center, with a fare of 0.5 lari, payable in cash. The bus stop is located opposite the airport terminal exit. More details can be found in the article “How to get from Tbilisi Airport to the city center and where to exchange money.”
What to see in Georgia. Choosing a route
This is the most challenging question. Despite its small size, Georgia offers enough routes for at least three to five trips for a complete journey, from mountain trekking to sightseeing in Tbilisi and beach resorts like Kobuleti and Batumi. Georgia is also an excellent country for road trips.
Depending on where you managed to buy a plane ticket – to Batumi, Kutaisi, or Tbilisi, plan your route through Georgia. If you have about a week, you can visit Batumi and Kobuleti. Alternatively, spend three to five days in Tbilisi, Mtskheta, and the Alazani Valley, then travel along the famous and picturesque Georgian Military Road – see the Ananuri fortress, Truso Canyon, and the Cross Pass. Also, spend at least two days in the village of Kazbegi at the foot of Mount Kazbek, staying at the best hotel in Georgia, Rooms Hotel Kazbegi.
A separate trip is worth dedicating to the most beautiful part of Georgia – the mountainous Svaneti. It can be conveniently combined with Kutaisi and Tskaltubo. Not far from Kutaisi, a visit to the beautiful Okatse Canyon and Prometheus Cave is a must. If you have time and seek tranquility, stay overnight at the spa resort in Tskaltubo. Then head to Svaneti, either by minibus from Kutaisi via Zugdidi or, better yet, by car, and spend from three days to a week there. If time allows, from Svaneti, head to the sea in Batumi – this way, you’ll experience the full range of impressions – caves, canyons, mountains, and the sea, not to mention food and interactions with people.
For preparation, I recommend carefully studying my Three Routes for Independent Travel in Georgia and evaluating what you can see in Georgia in a week. Don’t rush to see everything, because after the first visit, you will come back. Guaranteed. In any case, the aftertaste of Georgia lasts a long time.
Best time to visit Georgia
Many consider the Black Sea coast of Georgia only in the summer, but I also recommend the shoulder seasons – spring and autumn. Especially autumn when it’s still warm, but there are fewer tourists, local fruits are abundant, and prices during this time of the year make you fall in love with this country completely.
Currency in Georgia – lari. 1 US dollar equals 2.46 lari, 1 euro equals 2.70 lari. Dollars and euros are not accepted everywhere; it’s better to exchange money at the airport or, preferably, in cities. You can withdraw cash from an ATM. Credit cards are not accepted everywhere. I plan to have a cash to card ratio of 2 to 1.
An essential aspect of independent travel. You can book a car remotely through numerous booking websites and pick it up right at the airport. Through trial and error, I found the perfect platform for myself and reserve a car on the LocalRent website, which brings together local Georgian rental companies. I can recommend them as a regular user – I have been traveling around Georgia regularly since 2012. Even in the pandemic year 2020, I managed to ski in Gudauri and Bakuriani, drink Borjomi, and stroll through Tbilisi.
What car to choose for a trip to Georgia?
In 90% of cases, a sedan will be sufficient, as the quality of roads has improved in recent years. It’s not advisable to choose a too cheap car, as they may not always be new. Most roads to tourist destinations in Georgia are of good quality. A midsize sedan or a small SUV will be enough. Where a sedan can’t go, locals can always take you in their jeeps for a reasonable price. For example, to the foot of Mount Kazbek from the village of Stepantsminda (Kazbegi) or to the Okatse Canyon near Kutaisi or from Mestia to the village of Ushguli in Svaneti.
The average car rental price in Georgia is USD 30 per day, and a jeep is a bit more expensive – from USD 50. A car with a driver is approximately USD 50-80 per day. Locally, for traveling to canyons or waterfalls for half a day, a car with a driver will cost from USD 20 to 40. Detailed information on car rental in Georgia can be found in the article: Car Rental in Georgia: Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi.
Do you need a navigator for traveling in Georgia?
I usually recommend navigation, but not in the case of Georgia. Firstly, everything is relatively simple and clear even in cities, and secondly, asking for directions means interacting with local people, and that’s one of the five things we came to Georgia for. But if navigation is uncomfortable without it, I recommend offline maps like maps.me for smartphones – a very convenient tool for city travel, and Google Maps through mobile internet.
Mobile internet in Georgia
There are no problems buying a SIM card with prepaid 5-6 GB of mobile internet for around 10–12 euros right at the airport. In Tbilisi, there is a SIM card sales counter to the right when you exit, where they will insert it into your smartphone and set it up.
Is it possible to travel in Georgia without a car?
You can also travel without a car in Georgia, using minibusses, trains, and hitchhiking. From any major city such as Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Gori, Mestia, Zugdidi, minibusses run throughout the country. I have written in detail about how to get to the most interesting places in the articles in the Georgia section.
Accommodation in Georgia
Accommodation in Georgia is divided into three unequal categories: expensive, sometimes very expensive hotels of global chains in Tbilisi and Batumi, small hotels and guesthouses in tourist areas, and various-level apartments.
- Find budget accommodation in Tbilisi on Booking.com >>
- Find budget accommodation in Batumi on Booking.com >>
The average cost of budget accommodation in Georgia is $20-50 per day for two people. This price level is comparable to Eastern Europe. However, the quality of accommodation does not always correspond to the price and varies significantly from guesthouse to guesthouse.
Moreover, due to the extreme hospitality and responsiveness of Georgians, hotel guests usually do not leave bad reviews even for mediocre accommodation.
The only solution is to search more carefully and not rely solely on Booking.com reviews. Read articles dedicated to accommodation in Georgia, ask those who have already been to Georgia; often, this helps to get oriented.
The best hotel with a view of Kazbek is Rooms Hotel Kazbegi; we stayed here twice and enjoyed it immensely. I recommend it, and you won’t regret spending your money. There is no similar alternative in the village of Kazbegi, and rooms are booked months in advance. Here is my review of the best hotel in Georgia, according to most travelers.
How to find a hotel or budget accommodation in Georgia
It is better to search, check prices, and book accommodation in Batumi, Tbilisi, or other cities through Booking.com.
In addition to standard hotels, if the trip lasts more than two days, it is worth considering the option of booking apartments or flats through the Booking.com service.
Dining in Georgia
One of the most pleasant aspects of traveling in Georgia, usually combined with wine and socializing with local residents. You can have breakfast and lunch in city cafes and restaurants or cook at home by buying groceries at markets. Away from tourist places, food will be cheaper.
In tourist spots, delicious food will be accompanied by beautiful views. Budget travelers usually alternate between these methods. For example, having breakfast and/or lunch at home and going to a new place for dinner. In this case, food expenses will be approximately $15-30 per day for two, including wine.
You can’t really save on food, and there’s no need to – deprive yourself of the main pleasure. I wrote about the most delicious places in Tbilisi in the article “Tbilisi – Top Attractions and City Itinerary“.
Travel Budget for Georgia
Let’s estimate the main expenses for a trip to Georgia for two people for a week. I base this on my own trips, although expenses varied – I’ve highlighted optimal costs.
- Airfare: $100-$200 * 2 = $200-$400 USD – it depends on how you manage to purchase the tickets, start looking for them right away.
- Accommodation: $20-$50 * 6 days = $120-$300 USD – it depends on individual comfort preferences; in the mountains of Svaneti, you might not have to pay for accommodation and can stay in a tent.
- Car rental plus fuel: $350 USD, this is the most significant expense, so it’s better to travel to Georgia with a group. The country is perfect for group trips. This amounts to $175 per couple if traveling in a group of four.
- Food: $10-$25 * 2 * 6 = $120-$350 USD – it’s possible to reduce this, but not significantly and not worth it.
- Souvenirs: $50 USD
TOTAL: $665 – $1500 could be the cost of a rich, quality trip for two to Georgia.
Can it be even cheaper? Yes, down to “free,” though that’s an extreme scenario!
You can realistically further reduce the cost of a trip to Georgia by:
- Finding cheap airfare
- Renting an apartment instead of a hotel
- Traveling in a group
- Alternating between self-cooked meals and dining out
- Skipping car rental and using marshrutkas/trains for transportation
Useful websites for trip planning
These are not just a list of websites found on the internet; these are tools that can help solve any travel-related or work-from-home question.