A First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Tbilisi, Georgia

Hello, Lounger! If you’re looking for a super easy and spot-on Travel Guide to Tbilisi, Georgia, then you are in the right place.

I’m thrilled to tell you about our first-time visitors’ trip to Tbilisi, Georgia. I decided to write an accessible, handy-dandy travel guide to Tbilisi, Georgia, for first-timers who have so little time to grasp vast information about this magnificent place, Tbilisi, Georgia.

Where is Tbilisi, Georgia?

We mostly immediately think of the United States when we hear about Georgia.

Georgia, it turns out, is a beautiful mountainous country located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Tbilisi is its capital city. Georgia is a former Soviet republic with villages in the Caucasus Mountains and beaches on the Black Sea.

Georgia’s neighboring countries are Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.

A First-Timer's Travel Guide to Tbilisi, Georgia - 52stirs.com
Image from Canva.com, Tbilisi Georgia.

What travel documents are required when visiting Tbilisi, Georgia?

From June 15, 2022, citizens of any foreign country traveling to Georgia via any route (by air, land, or sea) are no longer required to present either a Covid-vaccination certificate or a PCR-examination negative result report. Learn more here.

Given that we are a Filipino couple residing in Dubai, UAE, here are the travel documents we decided to bring. It is to ensure a smooth check-in and passport control transaction in both the UAE and Georgia:

  • Over six months old Passport.
  • Travel Insurance includes Covid hospitalization.
  • Covid-vaccination certificate (ALHOSN).
  • Confirmed Return-Tickets.
  • Confirmed Booked Accommodations.
  • Application Form for Visitors to Georgia.

Substantially, you do not need a visa to visit Tbilisi, Georgia, especially if your stay is less than 90 days. Learn more about it here. After obtaining the travel documents listed above, my hubby and I flew to Tbilisi, Georgia, seamlessly!

A First Timers Travel Guide to Tbilisi Georgia - 52stirs.com
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What is the currency in Tbilisi, Georgia?

The Georgian Lari is the currency of Georgia, or simply Lari (GEL). There are various money exchange shops, so exchanging USD, Euro, or GBP, it’s not problematized. They also accept GCC monies like Dirhams (AED). Also, Rubles, Rupees, and Renminbi. Learn more about the exchange rate here.

Tip: I strongly suggest you bring smaller bills of Lari (GEL), especially if you are touring. Smaller bills and coins will come in handy when shopping in small stores, giving tips, and donating. Larger restaurants and hotels accept debit and credit cards, usually posted on front doors.

What should you expect in Tbilisi, Georgia?

Georgia is a haven for those who want to reconnect with nature. It could be spring, summer, autumn, or winter. Because it is a mountainous country, you will feel the presence of nature everywhere you go. They have water springs. The smell of the trees and grass was my favorite because we are based in a sand-dune region.

We visited Tbilisi, Georgia, during the summer (June 2022), but it rained several times. We appreciated it because it rarely rains in Dubai, UAE. The UAE primarily has hot, dry, and humid weather.

The architecture of the buildings is reminiscent of the Soviet era. Because Georgia was once a part of the Soviet Union, the buildings and old facilities are beautifully designed and crafted with a Soviet vintage feel.

Travel Guide to Tbilisi, Georgia - 52stirs.com
Tbilisi, Georgia

Tip: Always check the weather when planning to visit Georgia. It is said that Georgia is best seen in May, June, or September, especially in the lowlands around Tbilisi. It is to avoid the summer heat and humidity and the freezing winter. Autumn harvest time is well worth mentioning, especially in Kakheti’s vineyards. Georgia is well-known for wines, so you might want to experience the harvesting season.

Here is a list of some of the most memorable moments we noticed during our staycation in Tbilisi, Georgia.

  1. Stray dogs with tags are almost everywhere.
  2. Most people do not speak English.
  3. The younger generation can conversely talk in English.
  4. Seniors enjoy socializing in parks.
  5. They drive like mad people; we witnessed more than three accidents!
  6. Georgians love bread.
  7. Restaurants serve enormous portions of food.
  8. Georgian restaurants rarely serve rice unless they specialize in other countries’ cuisines.
  9. Even in restaurants, meals are very affordable.
  10. Transportation costs are relatively low. You may use the Bolt app to book a taxi.
  11. There are numerous sculptures made of steel and stone.
  12. There are various street performers and musicians.
  13. There are considerable travel operators offering boat rides and or tour packages.
  14. There are also beggars. 
  15. Generally, people are humble and welcoming.
  16. Georgian speak aloud, they sounded mad, but they weren’t.
  17. Seniors enjoy playing Nardi (a board game) in parks.
  18. They have a mediocre internet connection.
  19. There are various SIM card reloading machines everywhere. I recommend Magti.
  20. They serve wine-flavored ice cream! A highly recommended to try.
  21. Georgians are religious people, mostly Orthodox Christians.
  22. You will find many churches in Tbilisi and monasteries and cathedrals around the whole of Georgia.
  23. Georgia’s electrical sockets are Type C and F. Georgia operates on a 220V supply voltage and 50Hz.

Must-Try Foods when in Tbilisi, Georgia

Khachapuri – a traditional leavened bread is canoe-shaped, with sticky melted sulgani cheese baked into the center, then topped with butter chunks and an egg cracked on top.

Kharcho – it’s a stew of either chicken or beef cooked and seasoned with Georgian spices, coriander, and walnuts. A must-try comfort food, especially during the winter season or rainy days! It’s one of my favorites.

Khinkali – it’s a Georgian-style dim sum. They are relatively huge and stuffed with either chicken or beef with herbs. There are various types of Khinkali, like cheese, mushrooms, potatoes, and beans.

Shkmeruli – this is a deliciously roasted chicken soaked in a creamy garlic sauce. Most Georgians love this dish, and it’s a favorite unlocked for me!

Ojakhuri – I enjoyed this mouth-watering roasted calf with potatoes! Absolutely one of my favorites.  

Lemonade – this is actually a variety of fruit-flavored soda. The best were lemon, peach, and guava.

I highly recommend the foods mentioned above because they are Georgian staples. Start by tasting their food if you genuinely want to understand their daily lives, cultures, and traditions. You will learn a lot about their delicious cuisine.

Georgia is a Christian country, so they serve pork, though I strongly advise you to eat halal food. If you’re a vegetarian, there’s no need to worry because most restaurants serve vegetarian options. Their roasted mushroom with cheese and potatoes was also delicious!

Travel Guide Tbilisi Georgia - 52stirs.com
Tbilisi Georgia, Captured while on Aerial Tramway

Must-Visit Place when in Tbilisi, Georgia

The Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi. This cathedral is also known as Sameba. The beautiful kitsch cathedral of Tbilisi is located on Elia Hill, above the left bank of the Mtkvari in the historic district of Avlabari. We used the Bolt app to hail a taxi. It was only about 6 to 9 Lari (GEL). The architecture of the Holy Trinity Cathedral truly represents Georgian belief and faith. Because my mother’s parents and close friends are Roman Catholics, my experience visiting the church and observing its inside was so surreal.

The Rike Park, Tbilisi. This city park features sculptures, biking trails, cafes, fountains, a children’s play area, and the Bridge of Peace. It is thought to be Tbilisi’s latest new recreational area. It is located on the Kura River’s left bank (Mtkvari).

Freedom Square, Tbilisi. Also known as Liberty Square. It’s located in the center of Tbilisi, Georgia, at the eastern end of Rustaveli Avenue. It’s one of the best places to meet Georgian people and take selfies and groupies. Historically, it was known as Erivansky or Paskevich-Erivansky Square during Imperial Russia. It was Beria Square and Lenin Square when it was a part of the Soviet Union.

Mother of Georgia – Kartlis Deda is another name. It’s a massive and beautiful monument in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital. It represents the national character of Georgia. The magnificent woman statue holds a wine glass in one hand for guests and a sword in the other for enemies.

Bridge of Peace – This is a pedestrian bridge with a bow shape. Over the Kura River, a steel and glass structure illuminated with numerous LEDs connects Rike Park to the old town in central Tbilisi.

Aerial Tramway – is definitely a must-try ride. It is located in Rike Park. It’s a mountain cable car in Tbilisi, Georgia. You will witness the gorgeous aerial view of the old town of Tbilisi, Georgia.

Discover the neighborhood – I highly recommend you explore where you stay because you will discover many similarities and differences. You will surely learn more about how life is beautiful despite struggles from a different perspective.

How much money should I set aside for a trip to Tbilisi, Georgia?

It’s a great question. To be honest, Georgia is a low-cost living country, so most basic commodities are incredibly cheap. A 5-10 Lari (GEL) meal would satisfy your hungry belly. Here’s an idea of how much you might need for a week’s stay as a couple.

  • Air Arabia (Sharjah to Tbilisi): 970 GEL return tickets per pax, 1940 GEL as a couple.
  • Accommodation 3-4 stars Hotel: 200 GEL per night, 1200 GEL 6 nights with complimentary breakfast.
  • Travel Insurance: 160 GEL as a couple.
  • Lunch, Dinner, Snacks: 50 GEL per meal as a couple, 1050 GEL for a week.
  • Group Tour Packages (optional): 500 GEL.
  • Tips and Donations: 200 GEL per week.
  • Souvenirs: 150 GEL the whole travel.
  • Transportation fees: 500 GEL.
  • Extras and Emergencies: 500 GEL.

As a couple, a total of 6,200 GEL or 7,745 AED or 2,109 USD or 2,070 EUR. I believe you can spend less than that, especially if you choose much cheaper accommodations such as transient homes or Air BnBs. Not to mention the meals, I was so generous on the meals budget. Such a budget already includes eating from a fine restaurant. As previously stated, a single meal for one person may only cost 5-10 Lari. It can also be cheaper if you are a Solo or Group Traveler!

A First-Timer's Travel Guide to Tbilisi, Georgia - 52stirs.com
Georgian Lari

Depending on the sites, tour packages may cost 40 to 150 Lari per person. Such tour packages are already a whole day of site-seeing, which includes transportation. Furthermore, entrance fees are relatively cheap, starting at 3 to 15 Lari per person. I recommend Ushba Travel for tour packages. They have reasonable prices, and they offer English-speaking Tour guides and Drivers. They also do budget-friendly transfers like an airport to the hotel, Tbilisi to Kutaisi, etc.

Tip: It’s much cheaper to buy tour packages in Tbilisi, Georgia, instead of pre-ordering them online before your trip. Furthermore, schedule your tours every other day so that you can rest and recover. Every tour trip lasts approximately 12-13 hours, for example, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. You will definitely exhaust yourself if you go for a daily tour.

Basic Conversational Phrases you can use when in Tbilisi, Georgia

Georgians speak the Kartvelian languages the most. They also have their own set of letters or symbols that are fascinating to look at. Here are some useful conversational phrases and words to learn and practice while in Tbilisi, Georgia.

  • Hello – Gamarjoba
  • Thank you – Madloba
  • Thank you very much – Didi Madloba
  • Yes – Ki
  • Ara – No
  • Excuse me – Ukatsravad (u-kats-ra-vad)
  • Sorry – Bodishi
  • Please – Tu Sheidzleba (tu she-id-zle-ba)
  • How much? (Price) – Ra Ghirs?
  • Cheers – Gaumardjos
  • Wine – Ghvino

To Wrap Up

Tbilisi, and Georgia as a whole, is a stunning underrated tourist destination. It has a rich history, and its landscapes and scenery are breathtaking. Its people are humble and joyful. They would welcome you to their community warmful. We felt safe in this country, despite some of the car accidents we experience. The police officers are visible everywhere to ensure everything is under control.

I’d like to return to Tbilisi, Georgia, and experience its various seasons, such as winter and autumn. I’m sure there’s more to discover!

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