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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
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.)
Things to Do
1. Explore Old Tbilisi
Discover the historic architecture and cobblestone streets of Old Tbilisi. Visit famous landmarks such as the Narikala Fortress and the Peace Bridge.
2. Hike in the Caucasus Mountains
Embark on a thrilling hiking adventure in the breathtaking Caucasus Mountains. Enjoy stunning panoramic views and explore the diverse flora and fauna of the region.
3. Visit Sighnaghi
Experience the charm of Sighnaghi, a picturesque town known as the 'City of Love'. Explore its medieval walls, wine cellars, and enjoy panoramic views of the Alazani Valley.
4. Bathe in the Borjomi Springs
Indulge in the healing properties of the famous Borjomi mineral springs. Relax and rejuvenate in the natural hot springs surrounded by beautiful forest landscapes.
5. Discover Uplistsikhe Cave Town
Explore the ancient rock-hewn town of Uplistsikhe. Marvel at the unique cave dwellings, tunnels, and ancient temples that date back to the 1st millennium BC.
6. Wine Tasting in Kakheti
Embark on a wine tasting journey in the fertile region of Kakheti. Visit vineyards, learn about traditional winemaking techniques, and sample a variety of Georgian wines.
7. Experience Georgian Cuisine
Indulge in the rich and flavorful Georgian cuisine. Try traditional dishes such as khachapuri, khinkali, and chakhokhbili, and discover the unique flavors of Georgian spices.
8. Relax at Batumi Beach
Unwind and soak up the sun at the beautiful Batumi Beach. Enjoy the sandy shores, crystal clear waters, and vibrant beachside atmosphere.
9. Visit Jvari Monastery
Step back in time at the Jvari Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Admire the panoramic views of Mtskheta and the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers.
10. Ski in Gudauri
Hit the slopes in the popular ski resort of Gudauri. Enjoy an adrenaline-packed day of skiing or snowboarding surrounded by the stunning Caucasus Mountains.
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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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
- The currency in Georgia is the Georgian Lari (GEL).
Cash And Cards
- It is best to carry both cash and cards when traveling in Georgia.
- Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and larger shops.
- However, it is recommended to have some cash on hand for smaller establishments or markets that may not accept cards.
- ATMs are widely available in cities and larger towns in Georgia.
- It is advisable to withdraw cash from ATMs located within banks or secure areas.
- Always be cautious of your surroundings when using an ATM.
- Tipping is not expected in Georgia, but it is appreciated.
- If you receive good service, you can leave a small tip.
- In restaurants, rounding up the bill is common practice.
- For tour guides or drivers, a small tip is also appreciated.
Cost Of Living
- The cost of living in Georgia is relatively low compared to many other European countries.
- Accommodation, transportation, and dining out are generally affordable.
- However, prices can vary depending on the location and season.
- Be cautious of street vendors or shops that offer counterfeit or low-quality products.
- Avoid exchanging money on the street and use reputable exchange offices or banks instead.
- Be wary of anyone offering overly good deals or requesting personal information.