To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.
— Aldous Huxley, 1894 - 1963

Travel Guide: Georgia

Featured hotels in Georgia »

Tbilisi Marriott Hotel

Price (US$):
$265 - $325 / night

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Location. Tbilisi Marriott Hotel is a business friendly hotel located in Tbilisi, close to Kashveti Church, Parliament Building, and Tbilisi City… more »


Price (US$):
$130 - $325 / night

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Full Service Hotel Year Built 2010 Additional Property Description The newly built Sheraton Batumi offers comfortable surroundings with direct… more »

Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel, Tbilisi

Price (US$):
$329 - $420 / night

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Location. Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel, Tbilisi is a business friendly hotel located in central Tbilisi, close to Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre,… more »

Radisson Blu Hotel Batumi

Price (US$):
$116 - $239 / night

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Location. Radisson Blu Hotel Batumi is a business friendly hotel located in Batumi, close to Era Square, Batumi University, and Batumi Beach.… more »

Georgia Palace Hotel

Price (US$):
$100 - $109 / night

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Location. Georgia Palace Hotel is a beachfront luxury hotel located in Kobuleti. Hotel Features. Dining options at Georgia Palace Hotel include 3… more »

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Georgia (Georgian: საქართველო, Sakartvelo) is a country in the Caucasus. It lies at the eastern end of the Black Sea, with Turkey and Armenia to the south, Azerbaijan to the east, and Russia to the north, over the Caucasus Mountains.


Georgia is a land filled with magnificent history and unparalleled natural beauty. Archaeologists found the oldest traces of wine production (7000-5000 BC) in Georgia. For those of us in the West, we unfortunately get precious little exposure to this stretch of land between the Black and Caspian seas. However, this is changing drastically.

Georgians are not Russians, Turks or Persians, nor do they have any ethnic connection with other people. However, there are theories which link Georgians to Basque, Corsican and North Caucasian people. Georgia is a multi-ethnic state, the dominant ethnic group are the Kartveli, but other significant Georgian ethnic groups include the Mingreli, Laz, and Svan (all of whom speak Georgian languages distinct from the national language, Kartuli). Georgian language is in its own language group, completely unrelated to Indo-European or Semitic languages. Georgians have been embroiled in struggles against the world’s biggest empires ( Mongol, Persian, Ottoman, Russian, etc) for centuries. This little country was invaded many times and destroyed as many. However, Georgians have managed to preserve their cultural and traditional identity for 9,000 years. The countryside is covered with ancient towered fortifications, many of which house ancient churches (including one of the oldest in Christendom) and monasteries.

Christianity was introduced into Georgia in the first century, and became the official national state religion in the mid fourth century (Georgia was the second nation to adopt Christianity, after Armenia) with the evangelism of St Nino of Capadoccia. The Georgian cross is recognizable, for it was forged by St Nino with grape vines and her own hair. The grape and the vine thus hold important places in Georgian symbolism.

The conversion to Christianity meant that Georgians would have a historical cultural leaning to the West instead of the with the Muslims in the region (Turkey and Persia to the South). Nonetheless, Georgian culture stands at the cross-roads of civilizations. Its culture and traditions are the product of the influence of its neighbors and of its own unique civilization.

During the Soviet era, Georgia was the "Riviera of the Soviet Union" and was renowned for its cuisine and wine. Russians may love vodka, but the Georgian wines were favoured by the Soviet elite. During Soviet era, Georgia flooded Russian markets with high quality tea, wine and fruits. The Georgian Black Sea coast, in particular (Abkhazia and Adjaria), enjoys sub-tropical conditions and beautiful beaches (imagine pine trees and mountains covering the coast line).

Georgia, on the periphery of the Soviet Union, also contributed greatly to the dissolution of the Soviet Union with nationalist calls for independence (and the Georgians have catalyzed the dissolution of empires before). Georgia stood on one of the key routes of the Silk Road and now plays a significant geopolitical role, being located at the crossroads of Central Asia, Russia, Europe, and the Middle East, and currently contains important oil pipelines leading from Azerbaijan to the Turkish Mediterranean coast.

This proud nation is still in transition after the fall of the Soviet Union. Tense relations with Russia (and deepening friendship with the USA and the EU) has led Russia to close its markets to Georgian exports, devastating the Georgian economy.

Imagine cities with narrow side streets filled with leaning houses, overstretched balconies, mangled and twisted stairways, majestic old churches, heavenly food and warm and welcoming people. All of this with a backdrop of magnificent snow peaked mountains, and the best beaches of the Black Sea.


The Georgians have exceptionally strong traditions of hospitality, chivalry, and codes of personal honour. They believe that guests come from God. Friendship is prized highest among all the virtues. It is celebrated in Shota Rustaveli's 12th century national epic, The Knight in the Tiger's Skin ("ვეფხისტყაოსანი" or "Vepkhistqaosani"), in which a person's worth is judged the depth of his friendships. The Georgians are proud, passionate, and fiercely individualistic, yet deeply connected with each other by a shared sense of belonging to a greater Georgian family. Women are highly esteemed in society and are accorded a chivalric respect. The statue of Mother of Georgia (kartlis deda) that stands in the hills above Tbilisi perhaps best symbolizes the national character: in her left hand she holds a bowl of wine with which she greets her friends and in her right is a sword drawn against her enemies.


The Georgian heartland, center of East Georgian culture, and the national economic, cultural, and political center; home to the most visited destinations of Tbilisi, Mtskheta, Gori, and Kazbegi  
Rioni Region
The center of West Georgia and the ancient kingdom of Colchis, land of the Golden Fleece; today home to magnificent UNESCO sites, and fantastical mountainous scenery in both Racha and Imereti  
Georgia's fertile wine region, full of beautiful churches, monasteries, and wineries  
Southwestern Georgia
The subtropical section of the country, with a large Muslim population, and a few great pebble beaches  
Northwestern Georgia
Magnificently beautiful, rather dangerous, and politically unstable, but worth the risk of a visit to see the once-in-a-lifetime fantasy of Upper Svaneti  
Home to much of Georgia's Armenian population, Vardzia, and the enchanting Sapara Monastery  
Disputed Territories
Georgia's breakaway regions, in a state of civil war with the national government; Abkhazia is a beautiful subtropical beach and volcano destination, while South Ossetia is high in the Greater Caucasus Mountains, with little to offer a traveler beyond constant danger and mountain vistas (Abkhazia, South Ossetia) 

The exclusion of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from the regional hierarchy proper is not an endorsement of any side in the conflict, it is merely a practical distinction, since travel conditions in these two regions differ radically from those in the rest of Georgia.


  • Tbilisi — the beautiful and interesting capital, Georgia's largest and most cosmopolitan city
  • Akhaltsikhe — the small capital of Samtskhe-Javakheti is near two fabulously beautiful tourist destinations: Vardzia and the Sapara Monastery
  • Batumi — the palm tree lined capital city of Ajara on the Black Sea, near some good swimming
  • Borjomi — a picturesque small city with famous mineral water, a national park, and a summer palace of the Russian Romanov dynasty
  • Gori — Stalin's hometown, located next to yet another cave city
  • Kutaisi — Georgia's second city and the historic capital of ancient Colchis, home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Mtskheta — the historic former capital of Eastern Georgia, the center of the Georgian Orthodox Church, and another UNESCO World Heritage site is an easy day trip from Tbilisi
  • Sukhumi — the capital of Abkhazia is a beautiful beach resort up against the mountains, but has suffered from the war and economic embargo
  • Telavi — the capital of Kakheti is a good jumping off point for nearby wineries, castles, and monasteries

Other Destinations

  • Bakuriani ski slopes — one time Winter Olympics bid and the major ski resort in the south of the country
  • The Georgian Military Highway — running through unbelievable high mountain scenery along dangerously steep curves, from Tbilisi to Vladikavkaz, Russia. Only the section from Tbilisi to Gori is safe for travel.
  • Kakheti wineries — especially the Tsinandali Estate, home to an old Romanov palace, beautiful grounds, and some delicious wines
  • Mount Kazbeg — one of the highest mountains in Europe is also home to Tsminda Sameba, one of the most spectacularly situated monasteries in the world
  • Davit Gareja — a 6th century cave monastery on a mountain overlooking the Azerbaijani desert, with beautiful frescoes
  • Pasanauri ski slopes — the main ski resort in the Georgian Greater Caucasus Mountains, along the Georgian Military Highway to Kazbegi
  • Upper Svaneti — the highest inhabited region of Europe, centered around Mestia, is home to the mysterious Svans and is a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Vardzia — a 12th century cave monastery and city overlooking a large river gorge
  • Uplistsikhe — a 3,600 year old Silk Road cave city that was a major regional center of Caucasian pagan religion

Get In


Citizens of EU countries, the USA, Canada, Japan, Israel, Switzerland, Singapore, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, San Marino, Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, South Korea and CIS nations (except Russia) need no visa to visit Georgia for up to 360 days .

If you’re not from one of the above countries, you can get a visa from a Georgian embassy or consulate.

Visas are also issued at the official road and air (but not rail or sea) entry points into Georgia.

The standard fee for a 90-day, single-entry ‘ordinary’ visa, which covers tourism, is 60 GEL or its equivalent. Double-entry 90-day visas (only available at consulates) are 90 GEL.

Visa-issuing procedures are pretty straightforward and can normally be completed in a matter of minutes at entry points to Georgia, although consulates require a few days for processing. Border crossings

Georgia’s international entry and exit points are as follows. Visas, for those who need them, are available at the road and air entry points only.

Batumi International airport (visas available) and Black Sea port (visas not available).

Böyük Kəsik Rail border with Azerbaijan – visas not available here.

Guguti/Tashir Road border with Armenia.

Krasny Most (Red Bridge, Tsiteli Khidi, Qırmızı Körpü) Road border with Azerbaijan.

Ninotsminda/Bavra Road border with Armenia.

Poti Black Sea port – visas not available here.

Sadakhlo/Bagratashen Road and rail border with Armenia – visas available for road travellers only.

Sarpi/Sarp Road border with Turkey.

Tbilisi International airport.

Tsodna (Postbina) Road border with Azerbaijan, between Lagodekhi and Balakən.

Vale/Posof Road border with Turkey, reached via Akhaltsikhe.

The border with Russia at Zemo Larsi/Chertov Most, north of Kazbegi, was only open to Georgians and Russians for several years until 2006, when Russia closed it (‘temporarily’) to everybody.

The crossings from Russia into South Ossetia (the Roki Tunnel) and Abkhazia (Psou River between Gantiadi and Adler) are considered illegal by Georgia. Some travellers who continued on into Georgia after entering South Ossetia or Abkhazia from Russia have been fined or jailed. Others have got away without problems.

By plane

There are flights to Tbilisi from a number of European, North American and Asian cities, including London (bmi ), Paris (Georgian Airways ), Vienna (Austrian Airlines), Warsaw (LOT Airlines), Kiev (Georgian Airways), Munich (Lufthansa), Athens (Georgian Airways), Riga (airBaltic, ), Istanbul (Turkish Airlines), Prague (Czech Airlines). Just recently, KLM cancelled their flights to Tbilisi but you can fly with Georgian Airways from/to Amsterdam. Belavia (Belarusian National Airlines ) is now offering daily direct flights from Minsk to Tbilisi at great rates, and there are plenty of connecting flights from European cities to Minsk, e.g. from Amsterdam (transit visa is not required if you fly to Georgia). Please note that Georgian Airways (AirZena) has many flights from many different cities. See also airBaltic for cheap flights to many European destinations.

May 26, 2007 saw the reopening of the airport in Batumi. Turkish Airlines flights run every day between Batumi and Istanbul. Other destinations serviced by the Batumi airport include Kharkov, Kiev and from 15 September 2010 - Minsk (twice per week with Belavia). The Batumi airport is located about 10km south of the city center and is accessible by marshrutka and taxi.

Georgian Airways resumed flights to Moscow. The flights will be operated daily (at 18:30). (Besides Moscow regular flights will be launched to Saint Petersburg and Sochi).

By bus

There are direct bus services from Istanbul, Turkey, which stop at various places on the route and terminate in Tbilisi. There are also several non-stop bus services between Tbilisi and Baku, Azerbaijan.

By minibus

There are many minibuses (sing. marshrutka; pl. marshrutki) that operate international routes to and from cities and large towns in Georgia. Minibuses run between Georgia and Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iran, and Iraq. In Tbilisi, these routes usually originate and terminate at bus stations and the Didube market. Outside Tbilisi, minibus routes may stop at either bus stations or central locations (town squares).

By car

Entering with a car is no major problem. It is recommended to carry a power of attorney with you if you are not the car owner. A sticker containing the car plate number will be affixed to your passport in connection with the entry stamp. As the International Insurance Card is not yet valid for Georgia, purchasing insurance at the entry point is necessary and may be controlled (even though the amount covered may be ridiculously low). Note that only the driver may enter the control area with the car, anyone else in the car has to use the pedestrians' lane.

Traffic laws are not enforced—one of Saakashvili's first steps as president was to disband the uncorruptably corrupt traffic police. Norms are, however, strictly observed, particularly on the two lane highways throughout the country. The most important norm to be aware of is that passing occurs in the middle of the road, and cars on both lanes are expected to move to the outside of their own lane to make this as safe as possible. The other thing to expect are awful road conditions; the government here is very poor, and potholes go unrepaired. Nonetheless, driving here is surprisingly unstressful, and is a great way to tour the country, provided your car isn't flashy enough to attract attention from criminal interest.

By train

There are train services from Baku, Azerbaijan which stop at various places on the route and terminate in Tbilisi. Note that the "BP train" has been canceled. Construction of railroad linking the Turkish town of Kars to Baku, Azerbaijan-including both a new line and modernization of existing lines-is underway and will be finished sometime between 2010-2012. This will establish a direct link from Tbilisi to Istanbul and farther to Europe as well as a faster, more comfortable ride into Azerbaijan.

By boat

There are boat services to Batumi and Poti from Istanbul and Odessa. At the time of writing the Turkish Black Sea port of Trabzon was closed to passenger services. Be also aware that Georgian port of Sukhumi is closed for any cargo or passenger boats apart from those with humanitarian purposes. All vessels going to Sukhumi must undergo border check with Georgian coast guard in nearby port of Poti.

Get Around


Taxis in Georgia are the most convenient method of travel, and they are very cheap. Trips within Tbilisi range from 3 to 5 lari, depending on distance, but you can always negotiate a price with the cab driver. The vast majority of taxis in Georgia are unofficial "gypsy cabs," driven by anyone looking to make some money. Unmarked taxi service in Georgia is exceptionally safe and widely used by foreigners living and visiting the country. Drivers will, however, exaggerate the price for foreigners -- it is best to establish your destination and price before getting in the cab.


Minibuses are locally called marshrutki, and they operate on established routes. After finding out the number of your route, flag down a marshrutka on the street.

There are also minibus lines from city to city. Their routes end usually at bus stations and city markets. Their destination is written in Georgian, on a sign in the front window. Ask marshrutka drivers if you can't find the minibus you are looking for.

City Bus

There are new Dutch buses operating in Tbilisi. More or less comfortable (they have no air conditioning), they are the cheapest way to go around (for 40 tetri). However, the buses are old and slow in the Georgian countryside and outside Tbilisi.

Mountain Travel

To get to the more remote regions of Georgia (e.g., Dusheti, Khevsureti, etc.) without a tour company, buses and taxis will only take you so far. At some point it will become necessary to hike, catch a ride on a goods-transporting truck, or hire a jeep. Catching a lorry requires that you are flexible in your travel plans. Hiring a jeep can actually be quite expensive because of the high cost of gas caused by scarcity in the remote regions. To find out about either option, ask around at the bus station or central market of the last town on the bus or marshrutka line.


See also: Georgian phrasebook

For language fans, Georgian and its related languages are a real treat. For everyone else, they could be a nightmare. Georgian is a Caucasian language which is not in any way related to any languages spoken outside of Georgia, and it's famous for its consonants. Not only are there quite a slew, but many, possibly even most, words start off with at least two and it's possible to string together as many as eight, as in gvprtskvni (გვფრცქვნი), the admittedly rather theoretical lament "you peel us". This combination of formidable consonant clusters and an original alphabet make Georgian a hard language to acquire.

While everyone who visits should attempt to learn at least a few Georgian words, it is possible to get by in most areas with Russian. People most likely to understand Russian include: older generations, non-Georgian citizens (Russians, Armenians, Ossetes, Azeris, etc.), members of the elite (who likely also speak English), and taxi drivers. In rural areas, however, it is often more difficult to find Russian speakers (look for the oldest person around!).

The younger generation, largely due to hostility towards Russia, now prefers to study English, but because access to good quality English instruction in province is so low, it is difficult to travel using only English even in the capital. When in Tbilisi and in need for help, look for younger people; they are more likely to know some English.

Finally, signs in Georgia are rarely bilingual (apart from Tbilisi metro) or some stores; however, most road signs are in both the Georgian and Latin alphabets. Basic knowledge of the Georgian alphabet is very useful to understand road signs, store/restaurant names, and bus destinations. Those traveling without knowledge of Russian or Georgian should carry a phrasebook or travel with a guide.


  • Gold & Other Jewelry - Gold, silver, handmade & other misc. jewelry, precious stones are very cheap in Georgia and quality of the precious stones, gold and silver is superb. Many foreigners visit Georgia to buy jewelry, because of its cost and quality.
  • Art & Paintings – Georgian artists, such as Pirosmani, Gigo Gabashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili, Korneli Sanadze, Elene Akhvlediani, Sergo Kobuladze, Simon Virsaladze, Ekaterine Baghdavadze and others, are famous for their work. In Georgia you will find many various art shops, paintings and painters who sell their works on the streets. Their work is high quality and are often very good values.
  • Antiques & Other Misc. Gifts – in Georgia you will able to find many antiques not only from Georgia, but Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Russian and European as well.
  • Georgian wine, as much as you can. Georgia is the cradle of wine making, and with 521 original varieties of grape you will be sure to find excellent wines.
  • Cognac. Georgian cognac is unique as it's made from Georgian wine. Try Saradjishvili 'Tbilisi' cognac.
  • When heading outside the cities, you might find an original hand-made carpet for sale.
  • Georgians love to drink, so the country has an seemingly infinite amount of beers, wines, liquors and distilled drinks. To take home, buy a bottle of chacha, a potent grape vodka somewhat similar to Lebanese Arak.

Georgian export commodities (especially wine and mineral water) are widely counterfeited in the domestic and CIS market. For example, the Borjomi bottling plant produces roughly one million bottles of Borjomi per year, but there were three million bottles sold in Russia only! To be sure that you are getting the real thing, you will need to buy from the source.

Recent update (Dec 2007): government together with business circles has initiated a wide-scale fight with counterfeit wine and mineral water so the percentage of counterfeit products have almost been eliminated. However when stocking with bottled wine it is best to buy it at large supermarkets which have better control of their procurement compared to smaller stores. Such supermarkets are Goodwill, Big Ben or Populi. Same applies to mineral water.


Currency: Lari, 100 tetri=1 lari
Currency code GEL
Exchange rates:
1 USD = 1.71 GEL (January 2010)
1 EUR = 2.41 GEL (January 2010)
1 GBP = 2.78 GEL (January 2010)

When exchanging money in banks be sure to present your ID. With small exchange cabines available almost anywhere in the country this is not necessary. These cabins may also have slightly better exchange rates. When traveling out of Tbilisi and in need of Georgian laris, be sure to exchange money before the trip as exchange rates are more discriminative in rural areas. The Georgian Lari is a closed currency, so be sure to change the remainder of your money back before leaving the country. Most importantly, be aware that some ATMs in Georgia may not accept foreign cards (though this is not usually a problem in Tbilisi). This can be a potentially serious problem if you are caught without cash during non-business hours or on weekends, so have plenty of cash. Also, while prices are generally very reasonable in Georgia, a side effect is that many small establishments and taxis will not have change for large lari notes (especially 50 or higher), so travelers are advised to carry plenty of smaller notes and coins.

If you visit Georgia for one week, you would have a great time if you bring $700-$800 USD with you. With this amount you will be able to stay in a good hotel, have wonderful sightseeing tours and eat good food. All other items such as gifts & jewellery might require more. For more details try searching and contacting travel & tourist agencies.

A budget traveler would have little difficulty getting by (and staying very well fed) on less than 150-200$ per week, even in the capital. Allow another 30-50$ for travel and sightseeing. (November 2008)


Eating khinkali like a local

Eating khinkali is not like what you're used to doing with dumplings. First of all, you use only your hands. (There's a real reason for this, because cutting the large dumpling would spill the juice and ruin the taste.) Locals will begin by seasoning the dumplings with pepper. Then grab the dumpling however you like, from the top "handle" if it pleases you, and take a small bite out of the side to slurp up the juice. Don't let any juice fall on your plate, or the Georgians watching you will start chuckling, and you'll get your chin messy. Then, still holding the khinkali, eat around the top, finishing the dumpling and then placing the twisted top on your plate—it's considered an extreme mark of poverty in finances and taste to eat the doughy top. It's also nice to look with pride upon all your tops once, with practice, you get into the double digits with these dumplings. Wash them down with a Kazbegi beer, or a "limonati" of whichever flavor you prefer (most common flavors are lemon, pear, and tarragon--which is quite refreshing).

The cuisine of Georgia is justly famous throughout the region (visitors to Moscow will have noticed the amount of Georgian restaurants). The two "national" dishes are "khachapuri" (A cheese filled bread, it more resembles cheese pie) and khinkali (minced, spiced meat in a dumpling, served in enormous quantities). While the khachapuri comes with every meal (and it's very possible to get tired of this), khinkali is usually reserved for its own separate meal, where Georgian men will down 15 huge dumplings like it's no big deal.

Shashlik, a tasty grilled kebab with onions, is another staple. But this is by no means the end of the list of wonderful dishes, usually flavored with garlic, coriander, walnuts, and dill. A traditional Georgian feast (supra) is truly a sight to behold, with a spread that no group could finish, accompanied by at least 20 toasts set to wine or brandy.

For a quick snack you can try all variety of "pirozhki," pastry stuffed with meat, potatoes, cheese, or other ingredients, usually sold by babushkas in markets and on the side of the street. Be aware of western-style dishes (pizzas, hamburgers etc) though, which are usually a pale copy of their true selves. It is much better to try local food.

The fruit and vegetables here will spoil your taste buds forever—you may not be able to stomach the produce you get at home forever. Whatever it is here—the lack of any processed foods, a special quality to the soil, the fabled tale of God tripping on the Greater Caucasus mountains and dropping his lunch here—the produce is bursting at the seams with flavor. And it's very cheap. Even if you only speak English and stand out as a foreigner like a slug in a spotlight, you can get fruit and vegetables in the market for a mere fraction of what you would pay in, say, Western Europe. Grabbing a quick meal of tomatoes, fresh cheese, puri (bread), and fruit is perhaps the most rewarding meal to be had in the country—and that's saying a lot.

If you can, try and get yourself invited to dinner at someone's home (this is not too difficult in Georgia, owing to their hospitality and general desire to stuff foreign visitors full of all the food they can afford). The food in restaurants is an odd set piece of the same dishes over and over. But Georgian cuisine is far richer, and has an untold number of dishes to try, prepared from scratch with fresh, locally grown products (supermarkets have barely touched this country). Try and get your hands on ajabsandali, a sort of vegetable ratatouille, made differently according to each family's recipe, and which is wonderful.



Chacha is a clear fruit homebrew, which is sometimes called “vine vodka”, “grape vodka” or “Georgian vodka”. ChaCha is made of grape pomace (grape residual left after making wine). It can also be produced from non-ripe or non-cultured grapes and in some cases fig, tangerine, orange, or mulberry. Since ChaCha is not really commercially made, it is not regulated or sold in real stores. It is usually packaged in used soda bottles {normally Fanta}. It can be purchased in Mom and Pop corner markets, Farmers Markets, back alleys and basements throughout Georgia. Generally a bottle {450ml}costs around 2 Lari {$1}. The term "ChaCha" is used in Georgia to refer to any type of moonshine made of fruits.


Georgia has one of the oldest wine-making traditions in the world and has been called the birthplace of wine (also as "Cradle of Wine"), due to archaeological findings which indicate wine production back to 5000 BC. Due to this fact, Georgians have some of the best wines in the world. Thanks to the ancient tradition of wine production and amazing climate, Georgian wine holds its strong competition with French and Italian. Definitely try out Georgian wine. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to export home-bottled wine, which is often the best kind. Georgian wines are actually quite famous. It may be true that they are little known in the West, but this definitely does not include some 280 million people in the former Soviet Union where Georgian wines remain a welcomed drink at any dining table.


  • Saperavi (საფერავი sah-peh-rah-vee)
  • Mukuzani (მუკუზანი moo-k'oo-zah-nee)
  • Khvanchkara (ხვანჭკარა khvahnch-k'ah-rah) - semi-sweet
  • Kindzmarauli (კინძმარაული keendz-mah-rah-oo-lee) - semi-sweet


  • Tsinandali (წინანდალი ts'ee-nahn-dah-lee)
  • Kakheti (კახეთი k'ah-kheh-tee)
  • Tbilisuri (თბილისური tbee-lee-soo-ree)

Imports of Georgian wine and mineral water have been suspended by the Russian government, because of the political tension between the two counties.


Georgia produces a number of local beers. A beer tradition has existed in Georgia since ancient times in the mountainous regions of Khevsureti and Tusheti. After independence from the Soviet Union, Georgia revived its beer production and introduced its high quality beers to the market. The first and most popular of Georgian beer was Kazbegi. As of today, beer production in Georgia is still growing, offering high quality beers (thanks to the high quality mountain spring waters in Georgia and to German designed beer factories). There are also many foreign beers like Heineken, Bitburger, Lowenbrau, Guinness, etc.

Georgian Beer

  • Kazbegi (ყაზბეგი q'ahz-beh-gee)
  • Aluda
  • Natakhtari
  • Lomisi
  • Bavariis Herzogi
  • Argo
  • Khevsuruli
  • Tushuri

Mineral Waters

Georgian mineral waters have exceptional and interesting tastes - very different from French and Italian varieties. The most famous Georgian mineral waters are Borjomi (ბორჯომი bohr-joh-mee) and Nabeglavi (ნაბეღლავი nah-beh-ghlah-vee). But there is a plethora of less well-known springs located in small towns and alongside roads throughout the country that is worth sampling.

Lagidze Waters (Soft Drink)

Mitrofan Lagidze (ლაღიძე lah-ghee-dzeh) is a surname of a very famous Georgian businessman of the 19th century who produced very popular soft drinks in Georgia. Nowadays these waters are called “the Lagidze Waters.” Lagidze soft drinks are made only with natural fruit components, without any chemical, artificial sugars or other additives. The most popular flavors are tarragon and cream&chocolate. You can find them bottled in stores.


There is a "Tbilisi Old Town hostel" which is located in the center, next to Freedom Sq. (the Main Square). This hostel is on Khodasheni st. 7 (turn from leselidze st. 27 and 29), they have 24 hours hot and cold shower, beds are comfortable and atmosphere is lovely and friendly there, I wish to go there again (+99571004002). Outside of Tbilisi (where there are numerous options for 3 star plus accommodation thanks to the NGO presence in the country) and Batumi, western-style hotels have not made much inroads and crumbling Soviet infrastructure remains the mainstay. Accordingly, throughout much of the country, private homes are the cheapest and most enjoyable option. If you can master a little basic Russian, going to the central square or market will probably land you a lovely big bed and some amazingly fresh home-made food for an agreed price.

  • Tbilisi Old Town Hostel, Khodasheni st.7 (turn from Leselidze st.27 and 29, in front of TBC Bank Leselidze branch) (Walk down from Freedom Sq. to Leselidze st. and in 2 minutes you will see turn on your right (in front of TBC Bank Leselidze branch)), ☎ +99571004002, +99532986188. comfortable beds, clean, cozy and friendly hostel in the center of Tbilisi, all the tourists sightseengs are in walking distance. we provide an airport transfer for extra (16 EUR). You will love it, because we love our guests plus 10 EUR.


There are a handful of universities in Georgia which offer degrees or exchange programs taught in English:

  • University of Georgia
  • Grigol Robakidze University
  • International Black Sea University (English exclusively)
  • Caucasus University
  • Georgian American University (English exclusively)
  • European School of Management-Tbilisi
  • Kutaisi University of Law and Economics
  • Intensive Georgian Language Workshop for Beginners, American Councils

and a few others...


Georgians are hard-working people in general, but they also like to have enough free time to enjoy life. Work can start at 10AM or 11AM and end at 6-7PM. Georgians like to take an hour lunch break and enjoy their food while socializing with their co-workers. People often take two weeks or a whole month off work to enjoy vacationing with family. It is an attitude in many ways similar to southern Europe and Mediterranean ones. Approaches to punctuality are very relaxed - don't be surprised or offended if your Georgian companions don't show up right on time!

Stay Safe

Most of Georgia is safe for travelers. Scammers and thieves do not usually single out tourists, maybe because there are usually not that many tourists in Georgia. Within cities, usual street-smart caution applies.

Corruption, once a big hassle for tourists, has become far less visible since the Rose Revolution. It is now safe and reasonable to trust the Georgian police, as the infamous and corrupt traffic police have been disbanded. (Currently there is no traffic police in Georgia.)

The greatest danger to visitors of Georgia by far is the road traffic. Georgian norms of driving are dominated by a macho, chivalric code that disregards the use of seatbelts and, after dark, headlights. Drivers do not give way to pedestrians, so be very careful when crossing the street.


Things in Tbilisi and the surrounding countryside have calmed down a lot in the last 2 years or so. Although Tbilisi sometimes has been singled out for its (not always deserved) reputation for street crime, mugging is rather a rare phenomenon. However, in the past few years there has been an increase in muggings targeting Westerners in Tbilisi. Usual urban caution should apply -- avoid walking alone after dark while being aware of your surroundings. The safest way to travel around the city after dark is by taxi, which is very affordable. Locals insist that muggings are likely to happen in the suburban, mountainous areas of Tbilisi.

Other crime-related hazards in Tbilisi are the apartment break-ins and carjacking. There is no evidence indicating these crimes would target travelers, but carjackers certainly do target good looking and expensive cars. Pickpocketing and purse-snatching are also a local nuisance that can be avoided by keeping an eye on one's belongings. This type of crime is especially common on the crowded public transportation.


The available evidence indicates that Kutaisi, the second largest city in Georgia, suffers from crime rates significantly higher than the national average. It is very important to exercise caution in Kutaisi after dark.


The separatist conflict between Adjara and the central government has ended with little violence, and it is now perfectly safe to travel throughout the region. The once rampant corruption should now be a rarity for travelers. Passing through customs at the Sarpi-Hopa border crossing is now routine and uneventful for most tourists.

The Mountains

The mountainous areas of Georgia are remote and lightly policed. The safest and most easily to visit regions of the Georgian Upper Caucasus are Kazbegi and Racha. The biggest security hazard in these regions is altitude sickness.

Previous worries of instability in the Georgian northeast, near the border with Chechnya, have subsided, and the Pankisi Gorge is certainly not considered as dangerous a region to visit as Abkhazia or South Ossetia.

Svaneti is perhaps the most romantic and mysterious of all Georgian regions, but its inhabitants, the Svans, have a reputation for fierce independence and distrust of outsiders (as well as legendary hospitality for accepted guests). Travelers should exercise special caution when visiting Svaneti, which is best to see with a local guide.

Tusheti is the most secluded part of the Caucasus range in Georgia. The access is only possible from June to October because of the big quantity of snow. Only few families live there all the year. It remains the most authentic place in Georgia.

Separatist Regions

It is not safe to travel to Abkhazia or South Ossetia. These regions are not under the control of the national government and are marked by violence between the Georgian military and separatist militant groups, who since Summer 2008 are backed up by Russian troops who are considered to be occupiers by the Tblisi government. The area's high rate of crime/lawlessness is facilitated by the absence of the central government's police and legal jurisdiction. Foreign tourists are known to have been kidnapped in the 2 separatist regions, where you'll have no recourse if your passport is stolen. If traveling to these areas, it is advisable to bring an armed escort.

Stay Healthy

In Georgia, especially in Tbilisi you will be able to find many gyms and fitness centers with swimming pools and brand new training equipment, where you will be able to work out. Facilities include:

  • Vake Fitness, Chavchavadzis Gamziri 49b. It is a large, modern place with a big swimming pool.
  • Tbilisi Marriott Hotel, Rustavelis Gamziri 13.

Giardia is a common threat to foreign visitors. Contraction is most likely via:

  • tap water
  • swallowed water from lakes, rivers, pools, or jacuzzis
  • raw fruits & vegetables
  • unpasteurized milk or other dairy products


Georgians are hospitable to a fault (and beyond). If a Georgian invites you somewhere it will be almost impossible to pay for anything and even raising the subject of who will cover the bill can be embarrassing for your host. If invited to a private home for dinner, make sure you arrive amply stocked with wine or sweets because your hosts may well be bankrupting themselves on your behalf.

If traveling in small towns (and in the quieter parts of Tbilisi) it is customary to greet almost everyone who passes you with a friendly "Gamarjoba" (Hello). And the proper response to this is "Gagimarjos". After years of isolation followed by war and economic turmoil foreigners are still regarded with undisguised curiosity and a casual greeting in the street could land you in the middle of the best dinner party of your life.

It is a very ingrained and idiosyncratic characteristic of Georgian hospitality that Georgians wish nothing more than to hear that foreigners are enjoying their experience in Georgia. Expect to be asked whether you enjoy Georgia and its cuisine. And it is expected that you respectfully reply in the affirmative. Otherwise your "hosts" will look terribly dejected as if expressing a feeling of collective failure to show visitors enough hospitality.

Dress conservatively when visiting churches. Shorts are not recommended. For women, head covering and dress or skirt are usually required; in some places, these are provided.


By phone

Georgia uses GSM (900 MHz and 1800 MHz) for mobile phones and there are three providers, Geocell (pre-paid LaiLai card), Magti (two prepaid brands "Bali" and "Mono"). Coverage and BeeLine. Service provided by the first two is exceptionally good and you should be able to use your phone in most non-mountainous areas provided is supports the afore-mentioned technologies. Check with your mobile provider to ensure that they have roaming agreements with at least one of the Georgian operators. Both, Geocell and Magti have UMTS/3G service including video call and high speed data. Roaming is possible if you own a UMTS capable mobile phone. Geocell has cheapest mobile internet solution over its network.


DSL is available in Georgia.

  • Caucasus Online
  • United Georgian Telecom

Fiber Optic line is available in Georgia

  • Caucasus Online

By net

In major hotels WLAN service is available.

Internet cafés are common and cheap. Internet is also available at Café Nikala on Rustavelis Gamziris, the Fashion TV Bar, and Rustaveli. Some places offer free WLAN to their customers.