Travel Practicalities - Travelling in Georgia

Climate and weather in Georgia
When to go to Georgia
How to get there
Visas and travel documents
Transportation
Georgian food
Health & safety
Language
Electricity
 

Climate & weather in Georgia
Georgia has a temperate continental climate but there are great regional variations between the highland and lowland areas of the country. Mountains act as a meteorological barrier; as a consequence the eastern part of the country is shielded from the influence of the Black Sea making it colder than western areas. There are significant seasonal variations in temperature. Typical summer temperatures are in the mid-Twenties but can be as high as 40°C. In the winter, the mercury drops rapidly, particularly at altitude where sub-zero temperatures are the norm. Rainfall differences are also pronounced: in the more humid west, rainfall is more common and is at its heaviest in autumn and winter whereas in the east, rainfall peaks in spring with winters typically being drier.

When to go to Georgia
In the lowlands of Georgia, the summer months of July and August can be uncomfortably hot and humid, though it’s high season in the Black Sea’s beach resorts and the best time to hike in the mountains. The shoulder seasons (May to June and September to October) are also usually very pleasant months to travel with warm sunny weather the norm unless at higher altitudes. The early autumn months of September and October see the annual wine harvest in areas such as Kakheti. Unless you are planning to ski, it is best to avoid the winter months when mountain roads and passes can be cut off. Weather in the eastern part of the country especially is characterised by sub-zero temperatures between December and February which make sightseeing less agreeable.

How to get there
Air
The majority of international visitors to Georgia arrive by air into Tbilisi’s airport.  There are direct flights from the UK (London Gatwick) with Georgian Airways, it is also possible to fly with a number of airlines via their hubs, including scheduled airlines like Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines KLM, Turkish Airlines, Alitalia, LOT, Aeroflot and Ukraine International Airlines. Low-cost carriers also serve the country including Pegasus (also serving Batumi), S7 and Air Baltic to Tbilisi as well as Wizz Air to Kutaisi. Tbilisi International Airport is located about 18km east of the city centre. 

Direct flights from London to Tbilisi and back with Georgian Airways:
  • Monday
  • Wednesday
  • Saturday
Direct flights schedule from the United Kingdom to Georgia and back (subject to change):
  • going to Georgia from the UK: departure London Gatwick at 22:55; arrival in Tbilisi at 06:35 next day
  • going to the UK from Georgia: departure Tbilisi at 19:25; arrival in London Gatwick at 21:50 the same day.
Road
A relatively small number of travellers arrive by road via Turkey at Kemalpasra, convenient for Batumi, or at Posof, 300 km from Tbilisi.  It’s also possible to cross land borders with Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey though the border with Russia should be avoided at present (see Health and Safety below).

Georgia - Armenia Border Crossings:
  • Sadakhlo - Bagratashen: main road between Tbilisi and Yerevan.
  • Guguti - Gogavan.
  • Ninotsminda - Bavra: useful when travelling from Vardzia, Akhaltsikhe to Armenia.


Georgia - Azerbaijan Border Crossings:
  • Lagodekhi - Balakan. The road connects Telavi GE) and Zaqatala (AZ).
  • Tsiteli - Shikhli/Sixli. The road connects Rustavi (GE) and Qazax (AZ).


Rail

By rail, passengers can enter Georgia from Armenia and Azerbaijan such as on the Silk Road overnight sleeper to/from Baku.

Ferry
Batumi and Poti can be reached by ferry from Ilyichevsk, Ukraine.  

Visas and travel documents
Currently no visas are required for tourists. Please read more in the visa section of the website. 

Transportation
Getting around Georgia is straightforward. In the country’s towns and cities it’s easy to find a taxi willing to pick up a fare but it’s advisable to agree on a price before setting off. Local minibuses known as marshrutkas are prevalent and operate on fixed routes.  Destinations are displayed in Georgian on the front window so ask a driver to direct you to the correct minibus in the bus station if you require assistance.  It’s also possible to travel around by train; a route map can be found at www.railway.ge. In the mountains, you may require private 4x4 transportation to more remote areas.

Georgian food
Georgian cuisine differs between provinces, with variations such as Megrelian, Imeretian and Kakhetian food on offer.  It’s hearty fare; most Georgians love their meat, although vegetarians are catered for. Feasts known as supra are always accompanied by the excellent local wine. Adventurous travellers will delight in sampling delicious comfort food such as khachapuri (cheese-filled bread), khinkali, (steamed dumplings filled with meat), lobio (a thick and flavoursome bean soup) and chakapuli (a lamb stew rich with herbs).

Health & safety
While many people have a trouble-free holiday to Georgia, it is wise to take certain precautions to ensure your health and safety while travelling there. 

In terms of health, it’s advisable to drink bottled water while in Georgia.  The NHS considers it sensible to have a Hepatitis A vaccination and to ensure your polio and tetanus inoculations are up to date. Some travellers who plan to spend prolonged periods in rural areas are advised to have a shot against rabies. The country is mostly malaria free with the  exception of a small area near to the border with Azerbaijan from June to October only. Seek up to date medical advice before travelling from your doctor or local travel clinic.

Considering personal safety, it’s advisable to use common sense when travelling in Georgia. Stay away from poorly lit areas after dark and be especially vigilant against petty crime such as pickpocketing in heavily touristed areas, particularly in the capital Tbilisi.  Leave valuables in the hotel safe and avoid carrying large quantities of cash about your person.

Georgia is located in an area of seismic activity and earthquakes can occur. Familiarise yourself with exit routes from large buildings such as hotels.  As there has been political unrest along some of Georgia’s border regions, travellers are advised to keep clear, especially near South Ossetia or Abkhazia. The FCO outlines the current situation on its website:  https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/georgia

Language
The official language of Georgia is Georgian, spoken by around 83% of the population.  Altogether fourteen languages are spoken in the country; including regional dialects, these are Abkhaz, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Northern Azerbaijani, Bats, Bothan Neo-Aramaic, Georgian, Judeo-Georgian, Northern Kurdish, Laz, Mingrelian, Osetin, Russian, Svan and Urum. A significant number of Georgians have Russian as their second language so carrying a Russian phrase book can be very useful.  Georgians won’t expect you to speak the local lingo, but if you do manage the odd word, it will go down very well.  You shouldn’t expect English to be widely spoken outside tourist areas, though it is becoming more common among the younger generation.

Electricity
Standard voltage in Georgia is 220 V which is compatible with Europe, Australia and most Asian and African countries where the standard voltage is between 220V - 240V. A 2 pin European adaptor will be required (German standard). If you don't buy an adaptor before your trip, please do not worry. You will be able to purchase one very cheaply in Georgia.

About Georgia    Reasons to Visit Georgia    Destinations in Georgia    Tours to Georgia