Trinity Gergeti Church, Kazbegi, Georgia
Trinity Gergeti Church, Kazbegi, Georgia

Trinity Gergeti Church

Gergeti Trinity Church is a popular name for Holy Trinity Church near the village of Gergeti in Georgia. The church is situated on the right bank of the river Chkheri, at an elevation of 2170 meters, under Mount Kazbek.
Photo by Iman Gozal

GEORGIA

Asia

Georgia Travel Information

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Key facts

Capital:

Tbilisi

Location:

Southwestern Asia, bordering the Black Sea, between Turkey and Russia, with a sliver of land north of the Caucasus extending into Europe; note - Georgia views itself as part of Europe; geopolitically, it can be classified as falling within Europe, the Middle East, or both

Currency:

laris (GEL)

Area:

69,700 sq km

Population:

4,933,674 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

Georgian (official) 87.6%, Azeri 6.2%, Armenian 3.9%, Russian 1.2%, other 1%; note - Abkhaz is the official language in Abkhazia (2014 est.)

Religion:

Orthodox (official) 83.4%, Muslim 10.7%, Armenian Apostolic 2.9%, other 1.2% (includes Catholic, Jehovah's Witness, Yazidi, Protestant, Jewish), none 0.5%, unspecified/no answer 1.2% (2014 est.)

TimeZone:

UTC+4

Tel Code:

+995

Weather

Georgia has a diverse climate, with influences from the Black Sea, the Caucasus Mountains, and the country's location on the border of Europe and Asia. It is generally divided into three main regions: the coastal region, the central region, and the mountain region. Overall, the populated areas of the country tend to have fairly mild winters and very hot summers, while the more sparsely-populated mountain areas are warm in the summer and quite cold in the winter.

The coastal region, which includes the city of Batumi, has a humid subtropical climate with mild winters and hot, humid summers. Average temperatures in the winter range from 5 to 10 degrees Celsius (41 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit), while in the summer they can reach up to 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). The region receives a significant amount of precipitation, with an annual average of around 2,000 millimeters (79 inches).

The central region, which includes the capital city of Tbilisi, has a transitional climate between the humid subtropical climate of the coastal region and the humid continental climate of the mountain region. The region has hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters. Average temperatures in the winter range from -3 to 5 degrees Celsius (27 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit), while in the summer they can reach up to 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). The region receives an average of 1,000 millimeters (39 inches) of precipitation per year.

The mountain region, which includes the Greater Caucasus mountain range, has a humid continental climate with cold, snowy winters and cool summers. Average temperatures in the winter can drop as low as -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit), while in the summer they can reach up to 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). The region receives an average of 1,500 millimeters (59 inches) of precipitation per year, and in many regions snow is often so heavy that it routinely blocks the roads.

Transportation

Getting In

Georgia has three major international airports. Tbilisi's is the biggest and most well-connected, but there are many budget airlines that fly to Kutaisi instead, with bus connections easily available to other parts of Georgia. Batumi's airport is the logical choice for those headed to the western regions.

Georgia also shares land borders with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkey, most of which have border crossings usable by travelers. Armenia and Azerbaijan are also connected to Georgia by passenger train.

Ferries are another option, as they run between Batumi and other cities on the Black Sea.

Intercity Transportation

Georgia's intercity transportation network is still a bit rough around the edges, but it's still possible to reach most destinations in Georgia within a few hours. Some aspects of using transportation within Georgian can be quite confusing if you're not used to them, so a tolerance for some chaos and a willingness to ask locals for directions is essential. Basic Georgian reading skills can be a significant help as well, as many destination names and other markings are not in English.

Train

Georgia has a limited rail network, but trains run to and from major destinations like Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Zugdidi, Gori, and other cities along their routes, as well as the aforementioned international destinations. The rolling stock is a mix of new, high-speed machines and older, slower Soviet ones.

Tickets for seats more modern trains can be bought online and at the stations. The older trains often have no assigned seating, and instead rely on paying cash to a machine on board the train.

Intercity Bus

Large intercity buses do exist in Georgia, though their routes are somewhat limited and several companies are exclusively focused on routes to and from Kutaisi's airport. Intercity bus tickets are typically available online, and those running to and from the airport will often time their routes to match arriving and departing flights.

Marshrutka (minibuses)

The most common method of inter-city travel in Georgia is the marshrutka, or minibus. Most cities, large and small, have an area where these large vans can be found waiting for passengers to arrive. Their destinations are typically identified by a sign in the front passenger-side window. This sign is generally written in Georgian, but popular tourist routes will also have English.

Once you find the correct marshrutka, either by reading signs or with the help of a local, you simply board and wait for the van to depart. This typically only happens when the vehicle is full of passengers, even if there was an approximate departure time listed. Cash payment will be collected before or during the trip.

Car

Georgia's road network is fairly well-developed and maintained, making intercity driving a fairly painless process, especially if the destination is near a highway or other major road. Rental cars and/or hired drivers are fairly easy to find in the larger cities.

There are, however, some very dangerous areas scattered around Georgia's many mountainous areas, such as Tusheti and Svaneti. Be sure you have a good vehicle, capable driver, and favorable weather if you plan to visit these areas.

Airplane

Most cities in Georgia can be reaching in five or so hours driving or train, so intercity flights are not very common. They may be available, though, and generally run between Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Mestia, and Ambrolauri. As of 2023, only one company runs a small plane between these destinations, and tickets can only be booked directly with them.

One of the primary reasons people sometimes choose to fly in Georgia is travelling to Mestia, which is one of the highest towns in Georgia and a popular ski destination. Due to mountain roads, driving there can take 9+ hours, while the flight is under an hour.

Transportation in Cities

Public Transportation

Georgia's larger cities, like Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, etc. have reasonably good public transportation infrastructure in place. Tbilisi is the only city with a metro system, which has two lines and connects large portions of the city quite well. Tbilisi and several other cities also have bus systems, which is becoming fairly modern and is relatively easy to navigate using a smartphone.

In both the bigger and smaller cities, marshrutka (minibuses) are quite common. Large cities may have marshrutkas with scheduled routes and stops, but they are more irregular in the smaller areas and may require you to flag them down on the side of the road and also notify them when you wish to get off. Some may be connected to public transit cards, but it's generally safer to assume that they're cash-only.

Taxi

Taxis in Georgia's larger cities are common, and most people use an app like Bolt or Yandex to book rides. They are generally quite safe, though basic precautions like safety belts may be missing in some cars.

Hailing taxis off the street is also possible, but these drivers tend to overcharge locals and foreigners alike, and the language barrier may make directions difficult. Using apps whenever possible is generally advised.

Driving

Georgia's larger cities can be a challenge, even for experienced drivers, as traffic tends to be heavy and the driving style is somewhat aggressive. Signage is generally available in both Georgian and English, however, so navigating is relatively straightforward.

Bicycle

Georgia's bike-friendliness varies by city, but the hilly nature of the country, lack of designated bike lanes, and aggressive driving make it, as a rule, not a popular mode of transportation.

Georgia's major cities are fairly dense and walkable, though sidewalk quality is not always guaranteed. Most neighborhoods are safe and easy to navigate on foot, though crossing between them can be a challenge if there is a major highway in your path.

The smaller towns typically have walkable cores where most of the services and amenities are located, but travel outside the core area will typically require a car.

Accommodation

Georgia experienced large increase in tourism starting in the 2010s, and the number of hotels, guesthouses, hostels, AirBnBs, resorts, and other accommodations has grown accordingly. There is no shortage of options here, especially in the larger cities, where you will find everything from backpacker hostels to international hotel chains.

Online Booking Services

AirBnB and Booking.com are the two most active sites for booking accommodations in Georgia. You'll often find the same property listed on both sites. Every city and town with some degree of tourism has listings on these sites, and in smaller areas without conventional hotels, this can often be one of your only options. Hosts typically speak enough English or Russian to communicate in either language, and most travellers will find the housing up to international standards, at least on the interior.

If you're staying in an older building you may be in for a somewhat grim first impression of your place. You may open a rusty metal door, walk up stairwells that looks almost bombed-out, or step into a tiny, shaky elevator that demands coins to operate. Then, however, you'll most likely open your door and find yourself in a perfectly lovely apartment that wouldn't be out of place in any other European capital. Don't let Georgia's Soviet history and the common lack of care for the exterior and public areas of buildings dissuade you--conditions are almost certainly better on the inside.

Georgian apartments are also generally built with heat and air conditioners to cope with the chilly winters and scorching summers that many parts of the country experience.

Depending on the place you stay, you may find yourself making friends with the owner and their family--Georgians are famously hospitable, and they really mean it when they invite you to try their homemade wine or eat a meal with them!

Hotels

Hotels, both locally and internationally-owned, aren't only located in the centers of the major cities, but also in locations where the natural beauty, beaches, or winter sports draw tourists. These are generally up to international standards, and easy to book online through various booking platforms or directly with the hotels. Staff are likely to speak English and/or Russian as well as Georgian.

Smaller, boutique-style and/or family-run hotels are also available for a wide range of tastes or budgets.

Guesthouses

If you're interested in a more local flavor, guesthouses are popular all over Georgia! The experiences they offer vary widely, but you may find yourself doing everything from making wine to riding horses. Of course, you're always free to simply enjoy a quiet stay in the guesthouse, but the best guesthouses in Georgia are a great way to experience real Georgian hospitality and, often, get off the beaten path to experience the lesser-scene parts of the country.

Money

The official currency of Georgia is the Georgian lari, represented by the ₾ symbol, which roughly approximates the shape of the Georgian letter ლ. The lari is divided into 100 tetri, which is the unit several of their coins are denominated in.

It's generally a good idea to keep some cash on hand for the occasional restaurant, shop, or street vendor that doesn't accept cards, but Georgia is well on its way to becoming a cashless society. Card or NFC payments are accepted almost everywhere, even by people selling produce from street-side stalls. The major exception is older apartment buildings, where some elevators will actually require a small coin payment in order to operate.

Georgia has made significant improvements to their financial infrastructure since the 2000s. Banking, paying bills, transferring money, and other common money-related activities are all very easy to do via websites and mobile apps. The biggest obstacle will often be the lack of English translations for some key services, but translation software is generally enough to overcome this.

If you come from a tipping culture, you're probably wondering who, when, and how much to tip. Like most European countries, though, it's not it's not really a social requirement to tip in Georgia. However, it's also not a breach of etiquette, and it is typically appreciated by the recipient. Restaurants, bars, taxis, and delivery services are the most common places to tip, and the amount can range from 1-15% of the total. Though, of course, you're welcome to tip as much as you like for good service.

Mobile

When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

eSIM

Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

Dual SIM phone

If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

Extend your home plan

Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

Keep your primary SIM

With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

Community

For such a small country, Georgia has a lot of lively online and offline communities for you to dive into! Online, Facebook is the undisputed ruler of social and business interactions, with WhatsApp taking second place. Offline, there are regular events, meetups, and spaces where you can just pop up and meet people!

Insurance

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

Medical Coverage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

Lost or Stolen Luggage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

Liability coverage

Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

Entry Requirements

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
Georgia Open
Test
Not required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Things to Do

      1. Old Tbilisi

      Tbilisi is a city with layer upon layer of history, and though most of the structures are quite recent due to the many times the city has been destroyed and rebuilt, the old town remains an essential item on the to-do list. The area is walkable and quite picturesque, and also serves as the main downtown area for the city, making it easy to find a wide variety of food, drink, and entertainment alongside the assorted architectural and natural sights you'll come across.

      2. Kazbegi/Stepantsminda

      A few hours drive from Tbilisi, this mountain town holds some truly stunning views of the Caucasus range and is one of Georgia's most popular hiking destinations. The Gergeti church, located a steep hike or a short drive up the mountain, is the best place to get a panoramic view of the town and the surrounding peaks.

      3. Gori + Uplistsikhe

      Stalin's real name, Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, is actually Georgian--because he was born right here in the town of Gori! If you're anything of a history buff, you can check out the town's museum, complete with his childhood home and his own personal train car.

      If Stalin doesn't really intrigue, you, Gori also has a massive old fortress sitting on top of a hill right in the center of the city, and the views are excellent! Alternatively, Gori also has an archaeological museum and a museum about the 2008 war with Russia.

      And, about 20 minutes drive away, Uplistsikhe is a cave city dating back approximately 3000 years--and you can walk around in it! This is a can't-miss for anyone impressed by ancient things, and the audio tour does a good job explaining the layout.

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