Transportation in Georgia

Transportation in Georgia

Once you find your way to Georgia you need to find your way around: in the city, between other cities and towns, and through her beautiful countryside destinations. Here are ten modes of transportation used by locals and travelers alike.

Legs

Be it your own or a horse’s, foot power is the original way of getting from here to there. In the city or in the mountains it is the simplest, most economical, and dependable method. The terrain everywhere in Georgia can be challenging. Roads in the city are often congested and parking difficult while in the countryside they can be rough and muddy, with constant problems caused by landslides and washouts. For shorter trips “hoofing it” can be your best choice of travel.

Bike & Scooter

These low power people propellers are great for zipping around town. Moving through traffic jams and parking is no problem but sadly has drawbacks as its only good for commuting on dry days and may not be practical for all itineraries. However, it is a fun and economical way to get around without breaking a sweat or your bank account. However, driving a scooter or bike can be dangerous in Georgia. Car drivers are violating too many rules and they are not used to driving along scooters. So, accidents are common here. 

Bike is a very healthy and reasonable choice you would agree, but not in Tbilisi for sure. It’s because of many reasons: no rental, no bike lanes, dangerous drivers. Although it’s worth mentioning that Batumi has its own quite advanced bike rental system – Batumvelo. Only thing needed is to buy Batumvelo card in tourist information center near dancing fountains, and take any bike located in 23 bike terminals. Check terminal map here.

Marshrutka

This holdover from soviet times is a minibus service that courses through Georgia like its lifeblood. These vehicles pulse through city arteries and secondary causeways into villages delivering people in relative ease and comfort. Usually you can find a plush seat while paying approximately $0.35 crosstown to $10 cross-country.

City Bus

These yellow buses in Tbilisi are cheap but you get what you pay for. They have no air conditioning or decent suspension and are often overcrowded. However, they do provide a vital service that reaches the main areas of their cities. You can find out bus schedule and routes on the Tbilisi Transport Company web page. 

Two points to note: Payment can only be made with exact change or using a prepaid transit card (which you can buy in every metro station) via an honor system when boarding. Fares are approximately $0.21 to ride. Be sure to hold onto your receipt on each ride because monitors will randomly board the bus or waiting at a the bus stop to check that passengers have paid. Common Georgian courtesies require riders to give up their seats to women, the elderly or anyone else looking less able bodied than you to endure the bar clinging, yellow rodeo bull of a bus.

Fares are almost same for buses in Batumi, although ticketing system is bit different. Tickets can be purchased in stores or on buses (price is higher). In other Georgian cities buses are old, obsolete and only cash is acceptable.

Recently there have been a small fleet of modern blue buses turning up on a few of Tbilisi’s major routes with advanced comforts like AC and adequate shocks.

Subway

Tbilisi’s city rail service runs underground as well as on the surface along limited routes. Although it can be crowded at times, it is reliable and fast. Metro fares are $0.21 deducted from the same prepaid transit card used for the bus. While the trains are quite dated with no AC and are furnished with hard seats, the ride is acceptable and a good choice if you’re getting around the central areas of the Tbilisi.

 Taxi
 Georgian taxis are are everywhere, unregulated and quick to take advantage of the unsuspecting with inflated fares. Two tips for anyone using taxis in Georgia:
  • Agree on the price you will pay before you get in the car and
  • Carry exact change to pay for your ride.

Otherwise two things you will probably be overcharged for the ride and the driver will not have any change of larger bills you might present for payment. To get around these issues, use a reliable cab service where you can call to order a car or use a mobile app on your smartphone such as Taxify for the best quality at a fair price. Note: There is a fixed price between Tbilisi airport and the city of $15. Otherwise, you will find the average fare around town to be between $2 and $5.

 Automobile
One of the best ways to ruin your experience of Georgia is to get behind the wheel of a car and drive around in Tbilisi. Georgians drive crazy, the roads in the city are often congested and parking is difficult in many areas. However, if you are planning a trip to the mountains or other destinations outside of the capital a car rental can be a good choice. Although there are many luxury and small economy cars buzzing around, an SUV might make a better choice for getting down the country’s many unkempt side streets and narrow alleys and curb hopping needed for getting around cars and various other obstacles blocking your path. If traveling through the mountains to villages with badly maintained roads such as Omalo, Tusheti, and the like; a larger, stronger SUV such as a Land Rover will be necessary. However, please note that these roads are extremely dangerous, especially in winter, so  you will have to apply to professional drivers.

Air Carrier

Time is money and if you want to save some time you will have to spend some money. Traveling between Tbilisi and Batumi or Mestia is a long drive (6 and 8 hours, respectively). There is available scheduled air carrier service via the charter company  Vanilla Sky to get to either of these interior destinations, and flights are surprisingly cheap as well:

From To Flight Duration Appr. Price for Roundtrip
Tbilisi Batumi 45 min. $70
Tbilisi Mestia 50 min. $60
Tbilisi Kutaisi 30 min. $40
Kutaisi Mestia 30 min. $35
 
 Train
 The Georgian Railway has lines that cover much of the country connecting the capital, Tbilisi, with different regions within Georgia as well as its neighbors Azerbaijan and Armenia. There are night trains, fast trains and first-class cars available to choose from. The commuter trains are electric while the long haul lines use traditional diesel powered engines. The ticket prices vary based upon services selected. A one-way ticket from Tbilisi to Batumi might cost $10 for a second-class and $17 for a first-class ticket. For schedule and fares visit railway.ge. 
 
 Cable Car
 The rope car between Old Town and Fort Narikala is a lovely way to glide over some of the best scenery Old Town Tbilisi has to offer. Using the same prepaid transit fare card that can be used for the buses, Marshrutkas, or metro you can ride a cable car for less than $0.50. Both ends of this line are worth spending some time exploring with great photo opportunities found everywhere. You can enjoy cable car rides in many Georgian cities like Kutaisi and Batumi, and have an extreme riding experiences in Khulo and Chiatura.
 

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