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Georgia travel guide - Travel S helper

Georgia

travel guide

Georgia is a nation in Eurasia’s Caucasus region. It is bordered to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. Tbilisi is the capital and biggest city. Georgia has a land area of 69,700 square kilometers (26,911 square miles) and a population of about 3.75 million people in 2015. Georgia is a unitary, semi-presidential republic with a representative democracy as its government.

Several separate kingdoms emerged in what is now Georgia throughout the classical period. In the early fourth century, the kingdoms of Colchis and Iberiaa converted to Christianity. During the reigns of King David IV and Queen Tamarin in the 11th–12th century, Georgia achieved the pinnacle of its political and economic power. Following that, the region was controlled for centuries by several major empires, notably the Mongols, the Ottoman Empire, and subsequent Iranian dynasties. The kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti formed an alliance with the Russian Empire in the late 18th century, and the region was conquered by Russia in 1801. The Treaty of Gulistan with Qajar Iran reaffirmed the latter’s authority over Georgia in 1813. Following the Russian Revolution in 1917, Georgia achieved, though temporarily, independence and formed its first-ever republic under German and British protection, only to be invaded by Soviet Russia in 1921 and incorporated into the Soviet Union as the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic.

For the majority of the 1990s, post-communist Georgia suffered from civil and economic crises since the formation of the modern Georgian republic in April 1991. This continued until the peaceful Rose Revolution, when Georgia adopted a firmly pro-Western foreign policy, instituting a slew of democratic and economic reforms targeted towards NATO and European integration. The country’s Western orientation quickly deteriorated ties with Russia, resulting in the short Russo-Georgian War.

Georgia belongs to the Council of Europe as well as the GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development. It is home to two de facto autonomous territories, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which received limited international recognition after the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.

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Georgia - Info Card

Population

4,012,104

Currency

Georgian lari (₾) (GEL)

Time zone

UTC+4 (Georgia Time GET)

Area

69,700 km2 (26,900 sq mi)

Calling code

+995

Official language

Georgian

Georgia | Introduction

Georgia is a country rich in history and unrivaled in natural beauty. Archaeologists uncovered the earliest evidence of wine making (7000–5000 BC) in Georgia, as well as the remains of the oldest (1.8 million years) hominids discovered outside of Africa. Unfortunately, we in the West receive very little exposure to this area of land between the Black and Caspian oceans. However, this is rapidly changing.

Georgians are neither Russians, Turks, or Persians, and they have no ethnic ties to anybody else. However, there are hypotheses that Georgians are related to Basques, Corsicans, and North Caucasians. Georgia is a multi-ethnic state; the Kartveli are the largest ethnic group, but other important Georgian ethnic groups include the Mingreli, Laz, and Svan (all of whom speak Georgian languages distinct from the national language, Kartuli). Georgian is a separate language group, unconnected to Indo-European or Semitic languages. For ages, Georgians have been engaged in conflicts with the world’s most powerful empires (Mongol, Persian, Ottoman, Russian, and so on). This little nation was attacked and destroyed many times. Georgians, on the other hand, have managed to maintain their cultural and traditional identity for over 9,000 years. The landscape is densely fortified with historic towered walls, several of which contain ancient churches (including one of Christendom’s oldest) and monasteries.

With the preaching of St Nino of Cappadocia, Christianity was brought into Georgia in the first century and became the official national state religion in the mid fourth century (Georgia was the third country to embrace Christianity, following Armenia and Ethiopia). The Georgian cross is easily identified since it was fashioned by St Nino from grape vines and her own hair. As a result, the grape and the vine play significant roles in Georgian iconography.

Georgians would have a historical cultural leaning toward the West rather than the Muslims in the area as a result of their conversion to Christianity (Turkey and Persia to the South). Regardless, Georgian culture is at a crossroads of civilizations. Its culture and customs are the result of its neighbors’ impact as well as its own distinct civilisation.

Georgia was known as the “Riviera of the Soviet Union” during the Soviet period, and it was famous for its food and wine. Russians may like vodka, but the Soviet aristocracy preferred Georgian wines. Georgia inundated Russian markets with high-quality tea, wine, and fruits during the Soviet period. The Georgian Black Sea coast, in particular (Abkhazia and Adjaria), has subtropical weather and lovely beaches (imagine pine trees and mountains covering the coast line).

Georgia, on the Soviet Union’s periphery, also contributed significantly to the collapse of the Soviet Union via nationalist demands for independence (and the Georgians have catalyzed the dissolution of empires before). Georgia, situated at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and western portions of Asia, served as one of the Silk Road’s major routes and today plays a vital geopolitical role. It has grown in significance as a strategic transit nation in recent years, housing vital oil and gas pipelines connecting Azerbaijan to Europe through Turkey.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, this great country is still in transition. Tense ties with Russia (and growing goodwill with the United States and the European Union) have caused Russia to shut its markets to Georgian goods, negatively impacting the Georgian economy. Russia has blocked its border with Georgia since 2006, and Russia’s allies, the separatist territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, have also closed their borders with Georgia and have maintained a tight economic embargo on it since then. In 2008, the country went to war with Russia over South Ossetia, which resulted in Georgia losing 17 percent of its territory, Russia diplomatically recognizing both separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and the severance of diplomatic relations with Russia, which had a serious economic impact. Despite the fact that the nations’ struggle has caused considerable animosity and even hatred, the majority of Georgians despise the Russian government but have a positive view of ordinary Russians.

People In Georgia

Georgians have very strong traditions of hospitality, chivalry, and personal honor standards. They think that visitors are sent by God. Among all the qualities, friendship is the most valued. It is commemorated in Shota Rustaveli’s 12th century national epic, The Knight in the Tiger’s Skin (“” or “Vepkhistqaosani”), where a person’s value is determined by the depth of his friendships. Georgians are strong, passionate, and fiercely independent, but they are intimately linked by a common feeling of belonging to a larger Georgian family. Women are held in high regard in society and are treated with chivalric reverence. The Mother of Georgia (kartlis deda) monument, which rises in the hills above Tbilisi, probably best represents the national character: in her left hand, she holds a bowl of wine with which she welcomes her friends, while in her right, she has a sword drawn against her enemies.

Geography Of Georgia

Georgia, with an area of 67,900 km2, is located in the South Caucasus between latitudes 41° and 44° N and longitudes 40° and 47° E. (26,216 sq mi). It’s a hilly country. The Likhi Range separates the nation into two parts, one in the east and one in the west. Historically, Georgia’s western plateau was known as Colchis, while the eastern plateau was known as Iberia. Mountains also separate the northern area of Svaneti from the rest of Georgia due to its complicated geographical location.

Georgia’s northern boundary is formed by the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range. The major routes entering Russian territory pass via the Roki Tunnel between Shida Kartli and North Ossetia, as well as the Darial Gorge (in the Georgian region of Khevi). Because it is the only straight path over the Caucasus Mountains, the Roki Tunnel was critical for the Russian military during the 2008 South Ossetia conflict. The country’s southern border is formed by the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. The Greater Caucasus Mountain Range is much greater in height than the Lesser Caucasus Mountain Range, with the tallest peaks reaching more than 5,000 meters (16,404 ft) above sea level.

Mount Shkhara is Georgia’s highest peak at 5,068 meters (16,627 feet), while Mount Janga (Dzhangi-Tau) is the second highest at 5,059 meters (16,598 feet). Mount Kazbek, at 5,047 m (16,558 ft), Shota Rustaveli, at 4,860 m (15,945 ft), Tetnuldi, at 4,858 m (15,938 ft), Mt. Ushba, at 4,700 m (15,420 ft), and Ailama, at 4,547 m (14,918 ft). Only Kazbek is of volcanic origin among the peaks listed above. Numerous glaciers dominate the area between Kazbek and Shkhara (approximately 200 km (124 mi) along the Main Caucasus Range). Georgia is home to about one-third of the Caucasus’s 2,100 glaciers.

The Lesser Caucasus Mountains are the hilly (highland) regions of southern Georgia linked to the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range via the Likhi Range. The Lesser Caucasus Mountains, which run parallel to the Greater Caucasus Range, and the Southern Georgia Volcanic Highland, which is directly to the south of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, are two distinct sub-regions of the area.

The area as a whole is made up of different, linked mountain ranges (mostly of volcanic origin) and plateaus with elevations that do not surpass 3,400 meters (11,155 ft). The Javakheti Volcanic Plateau, lakes such as Tabatskuri and Paravani, mineral water, and hot springs are all prominent characteristics of the region. The Rioni and Mtkvari rivers are significant rivers in Georgia. The Southern Georgia Volcanic Highland is a young and unstable geologic area with strong seismic activity that has seen some of Georgia’s most major earthquakes.

The Krubera Cave is the world’s deepest known cave. It is situated in Abkhazia, in the Arabika Massif of the Gagra Range. In 2001, a Russian–Ukrainian team established the global cave depth record of 1,710 meters (5,610 ft). When a Ukrainian team reached the 2,000-meter (6,562 ft) barrier for the first time in speleology history in 2004, the penetrated depth was increased on each of three trips. The CAVEX team discovered an undiscovered section of the cave in October 2005, increasing the cave’s known depth. This trip verified the cave’s reported depth of 2,140 meters (7,021 ft).

Climate In Georgia

Georgia’s climate is very varied, especially given the country’s tiny size. There are two major climate zones, approximately matching to the country’s eastern and western regions. The Greater Caucasus Mountain Range moderates Georgia’s temperature and shields the country from the intrusion of colder air masses from the north. The Lesser Caucasus Mountains shield the area from the effects of dry, hot air masses from the south.

Much of western Georgia is located on the northern rim of the humid subtropical zone, with annual precipitation ranging from 1,000 to 4,000 mm (39.4 to 157.5 in). Precipitation is generally evenly distributed throughout the year, but it may be especially heavy during the autumn months. The temperature of the region varies considerably with elevation, and although most of western Georgia’s lowland parts are generally warm all year, the foothills and higher areas (including both the Greater and Lesser Caucasus Mountains) have cold, rainy summers and snowy winters (snow cover often exceeds 2 meters in many regions). Ajaria is the Caucasus’ wettest area, with the Mt. Mtirala rainforest east of Kobuleti receiving approximately 4,500 mm (177.2 in) of precipitation each year.

Eastern Georgia has a climate that ranges from humid subtropical to continental. Weather patterns in the area are affected by both dry Caspian air masses from the east and humid Black Sea air masses from the west. The passage of humid air masses from the Black Sea is often obstructed by mountain ranges (Likhi and Meskheti) that divide the country’s eastern and western halves. Annual precipitation is much lower than in western Georgia, ranging from 400–1,600 mm (15.7–63.0 in).

Spring and fall are often the wettest months, whereas winter and summer are typically the driest. Summers in most of eastern Georgia are hot (particularly in low-lying regions) while winters are quite chilly. Elevation, like in the western regions of the country, is essential in eastern Georgia, where climatic conditions over 1,500 metres (4,921 ft) are much cooler than in low-lying places. Even in the summer, areas over 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) often encounter frost.

Demographics Of Georgia

Georgians, like other original Caucasian peoples, do not fit into any of Europe’s or Asia’s major ethnic groups. Georgian, the most widely spoken Kartvelian language, is neither Indo-European, Turkic, nor Semitic. The modern Georgian or Kartvelian nation is believed to have arisen from the union of aboriginal, autochthonous people with immigrants who migrated into South Caucasus from Anatolia in distant antiquity.

Ethnic Georgians account for about 86.8 percent of Georgia’s current population of 3,713,804 people (2014 census). Abkhazians, Armenians, Assyrians, Azerbaijanis, Greeks, Jews, Kists, Ossetians, Russians, Ukrainians, Yezidis, and others are among the various ethnic groups. Georgian Jews are one of the world’s oldest Jewish groups. Georgia formerly had large ethnic German populations, but most Germans were deported after WWII.

Georgia had 341,000 ethnic Russians, or 6.3 percent of the population, 52,000 Ukrainians, and 100,000 Greeks according to the 1989 census. Since 1990, 1.5 million Georgians have fled the country. At least one million Georgians live in Russia, either legally or illegally. Georgia’s net migration rate, excluding Georgian citizens living abroad, is 4.54 percent. Despite this, Georgia has been populated by immigrants from all over the globe since its independence. According to 2014 data, Georgia receives the majority of its immigrants from Russia, accounting for 51.6 percent of all immigrants.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, violent separatist wars erupted in the autonomous regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali. Many Ossetians in Georgia fled, mostly to Russia’s North Ossetia. On the other side, since the outbreak of hostilities in Abkhazia in 1993, more than 150,000 Georgians have fled the region. As of 2008, just a small percentage of the Meskhetian Turks who were forcefully evacuated in 1944 have returned to Georgia.

The Kartvelian language family, which includes Georgian, Svan, Mingrelian, and Laz, is the most prevalent. Georgia’s official languages are Georgian and Abkhaz, which has official status inside the autonomous territory of Abkhazia. Georgian is the predominant language of 87.7% of the population, with the remaining 6.2 percent speaking Azerbaijani, 3.9 percent Armenian, 1.2 percent Russian, and 1% speaking other languages.

Religion In Georgia

Today, 83.4 percent of the population follows Eastern Orthodox Christianity, with the bulk of these followers belonging to the Georgian Orthodox Church. The Georgian Orthodox Church is one of the world’s oldest Christian churches, with Saint Andrew as its apostolic founder. Following the missionary efforts of Saint Nino of Cappadocia, Christianity was accepted as the official religion of Iberia (present-day Kartli, or eastern Georgia) in the first part of the fourth century. The Church acquired autocephaly in the early Middle Ages, was abolished under Russian rule, restored in 1917, and fully recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1990.

Although religious organizations are independent from the state and every person has the right to religion, the Georgian Orthodox Church has a unique position that is formally recognized in the Georgian Constitution and the Concordat of 2002.

Muslims (10.7 percent), Armenian Christians (2.9 percent), and Roman Catholics are among Georgia’s religious minorities (0.5 percent). Other faiths were claimed by 0.7 percent of individuals registered in the 2014 census, 1.2 percent declined or did not identify their religion, and 0.5 percent reported no religion at all.

Islam is represented by Azerbaijani Shia Muslims (in the south-east), ethnic Georgian Sunni Muslims in Adjara, Laz-speaking Sunni Muslims, and Sunni Meskhetian Turks near the Turkish border. There are also smaller communities of Greek Muslims (of Pontic Greek origin) and Armenian Muslims, both of whom are descended from Ottoman-era converts to Turkish Islam from Eastern Anatolia who settled in Georgia following Lala Mustafa Pasha’s Caucasian campaign, which resulted in the Ottoman conquest of the country in 1578. Georgian Jews date back to the 6th century BC, although their numbers have decreased in recent decades owing to high levels of immigration to Israel.

Despite Georgia’s long history of religious peace, followers of defrocked Orthodox priest Basil Mkalavishvili have engaged in religious discrimination and violence against “nontraditional religions,” such as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In addition to conventional religious groups, Georgia has a sizable secular and irreligious population (0.5 percent), as well as a sizable number of religiously connected people who do not actively practice their religion.

Language in Georgia

Georgian and its kindred languages are a great delight for language enthusiasts. They may be a nightmare for everyone else. Georgian is a Caucasian language that is unrelated to any other languages spoken outside of Georgia, and it is known for its consonants. Not only are there a lot, but many, if not most, words begin with at least two letters, and it’s conceivable to tie together as many as eight, as in gvprtskvni, metaphorical meaning “you’re ripping us off.” Georgian is a difficult language to learn due to its strong consonant clusters and unique alphabet.

Everyone who comes should try to learn a few Georgian or Russian words. Older generations, non-Georgian citizens such as Azeris, Armenians, Abkhazians, Ossetians, and others who are not fluent in Georgian (because Russian was compulsory during the Soviet period, whereas the local languages of each Soviet state were not) and thus use Russian as a lingua franca, and members of the elite (who are likely to speak more English than Russian). Speaking Russian is helpful and encouraged in places with ethnic minorities, particularly in Kvemo Kartli, where ethnic Azeris constitute 50% of the population, and Samtskhe-Javakheti, where ethnic Armenians constitute 50% of the population.

Because of Russia’s antagonism, the younger generation increasingly chooses to learn English. Access to high-quality English teaching was limited in the province, but many schools recently recruited native English-speaking instructors, and English is quickly becoming a second language throughout the country. When you need assistance, seek for younger individuals who are more likely to speak English.

Finally, with the exception of the Tbilisi metro and a few shops, signage in Georgia are seldom bilingual; nevertheless, most road signs are written in both the Georgian and Latin alphabets. Understanding road signs, store/restaurant names, and bus stops requires a basic understanding of the Georgian alphabet. Those who do not speak Georgian should bring a phrasebook or go with a guide.

Internet & Communications in Georgia

Mail

Georgian postal services are practically non-existent. There aren’t any letterboxes or home delivery services. Mail does not arrive at recipients’ homes, but they are informed and must pick up their mail at a post office. Postal charges are expensive (3 GEL to transmit to another nation, compared to 1 GEL in neighboring Armenia). Postcards cost 1 GEL throughout the nation, which is also costly for a postcard. Georgian Post’s few remaining post offices are poorly marked and often housed in dilapidated structures.

By phone

Georgia utilizes GSM (900 MHz and 1800 MHz) for mobile phones, and there are three service providers: Geocell (pre-paid LaiLai card), Magti , and Telecom Georgia (two prepaid brands “Bali” and “Mono”). BeeLine and coverage . The first two offer excellent service, and you should be able to use your phone in most non-mountainous locations if it supports the aforementioned technologies. Check with your mobile carrier to see whether they have roaming arrangements with any of the Georgian providers. Geocell and Magti both provide UMTS/3G service, which includes video calls and high-speed data. Roaming is available if you have a UMTS-capable phone. Geocell’s network provides the most affordable mobile internet option.

Internet

In Georgia, DSL and fiber optic connections are available. There are two service providers: “Caucasus Online” and “Silknet.”

There is a free Wi-Fi network available throughout Tbilisi. “Tbilisi Loves You” is the name of the network.

By net

WLAN service is offered at large hotels.

Internet cafés, also known as “internet clubs” in Tbilisi and Batumi, are popular and inexpensive, but are rare in Kutaisi. Some establishments provide free WiFi to their clients. In Tbilisi, at least, all hostels provide free, fast WiFi.

Economy Of Georgia

Archaeological research shows that Georgia has been engaged in trade with numerous countries and empires from ancient times, owing to its position on the Black Sea and, subsequently, the historical Silk Road. The Caucasus Mountains have been mined for gold, silver, copper, and iron. Georgian winemaking is a centuries-old tradition and an important part of the country’s economy. The nation has significant hydroelectric resources. Because of the country’s climate and geography, agriculture and tourism have been major economic sectors in Georgia throughout its modern history.

For most of the twentieth century, Georgia’s economy was based on the Soviet command economy model. Georgia has been undergoing significant structural reforms in order to transition to a free market economy since the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Georgia, like all other post-Soviet nations, experienced a catastrophic economic collapse. The situation was exacerbated by the civil war and military engagements in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Agriculture and industrial production both fell. By 1994, the gross domestic output had fallen to one-quarter of what it had been in 1989. The first Western financial assistance came in 1995, when the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund gave Georgia a credit of USD 206 million and Germany provided DM 50 million.

Since the early twenty-first century, noticeable positive improvements in Georgia’s economy have been noticed. Georgia’s real GDP growth rate in 2007 surpassed 12%, making it one of the fastest growing economies in Eastern Europe. Georgia was named “the world’s number one economic reformer” by the World Bank because it went from 112th to 18th in terms of ease of doing business in one year. In comparison to other European nations, the country has a high unemployment rate of 12.6 percent and a very low median income.

The IMF Mission characterized the 2006 restriction on Georgian wine shipments to Russia, one of Georgia’s most important trade partners, as a “external shock.” Furthermore, Russia raised the price of gas for Georgia. Around the same time, the National Bank of Georgia claimed that the country’s continuing inflation was mostly caused by external factors, such as Russia’s economic blockade. [ Georgian officials anticipated that the current account deficit caused by the embargo in 2007 would be offset by “increased foreign currency profits produced by the substantial influx of foreign direct investment” and an increase in tourism income. In addition, the government has maintained a strong credit rating in foreign market securities. Georgia is becoming increasingly linked into the global trade network, with imports and exports accounting for 10% and 18% of GDP in 2006, respectively. Natural gas, oil products, machinery and components, and transportation equipment are Georgia’s major imports.

Tourism is becoming an increasingly important component of the Georgian economy. In 2006, about a million visitors spent $313 million in the nation. Georgia, according to the government, has 103 resorts in various climatic zones. There are approximately 2,000 natural springs and over 12,000 historical and cultural sites, four of which are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi and Gelati Monastery, historical monuments of Mtskheta, and Upper Svaneti).

Georgia is transforming itself into an international transport corridor through the ports of Batumi and Poti, an oil pipeline from Baku to Ceyhan via Tbilisi, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BTC), and a parallel gas pipeline, the South Caucasus Pipeline.

Since taking office, the Saakashvili government has implemented a number of measures aimed at increasing tax collection. In 2004, a flat income tax was implemented, among other things. As a consequence, budget receipts have quadrupled, and a previously significant budget deficit has transformed into a surplus.

In 2001, 54 percent of the population was poor, but by 2006, that figure had dropped to 34 percent. In 2005, the average monthly family income was GEL 347 (about USD $200). According to 2013 estimates, Georgia’s nominal GDP is $15.98 billion USD. Georgia’s economy is shifting away from agriculture and toward services (which currently account for 65 percent of GDP) (10.9 percent).

In terms of telecommunication infrastructure, Georgia ranks second to last among its neighbors in the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (NRI) – an indicator used to determine a country’s degree of progress in information and communication technology. Georgia was rated 60th overall in the 2014 NRI rating, up from 65th in 2013.

Entry Requirements For Georgia

Visa & Passport for Georgia

All visa-free nationalities may remain for a maximum of one year. African and Asian nationalities (with the exception of East Timor) are granted multiple-entry visas valid for 30 days during a 120-day period. For others, the visa is valid for 90 days out of a total of 180 days.

Nationals of the following countries and territories are not required to get a visa to visit Georgia for a period of one year (unless otherwise noted): Every European Union citizen (may also enter using ID card) Albania Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Bermuda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile (90 days), Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Honduras, Iceland, Iran(45 days), Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, Qatar, Russia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey(may also enter using ID card), Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay (90 days), Uzbekistan, Vatican City.

Online visa

If you are not a citizen of one of the following countries, you may acquire a visa online via the e-Visa site without visiting a Georgian diplomatic post or consulate. The usual cost for a 90-day, single-entry “regular” tourist visa is 60 GEL or its equivalent. Double-entry 90-day visas (available exclusively at consulates) cost 90 GEL.

Visas are also granted at Georgia’s official road and air (but not rail or sea) entry ports. Issuing processes are very simple and can usually be finished in a matter of minutes at Georgian entrance ports, but consulates take a few days for processing.

Nationals of Nauru, Nicaragua, Syria, and Venezuela are ineligible for an internet visa and should instead visit a Georgian embassy or consulate. However, if they have a visa or a resident permit from one of the countries listed above, they do not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days in a 180-day period, as long as they present their visa/residence permit at the border.

Holders of EU/EFTA/Gulf Cooperation Council visas or residency permits, territories of EU nations, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, or Israel do not need a visa for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. On arriving in Georgia, the visa/residence permit must be valid.

NOTE
The border police do not always enforce the stated regulations governing visas and entry. For example, certain border crossings that advertise visa-on-arrival may not really provide any (for example, the Sadakhlo/Bagratashen road border point). Furthermore, if you need a visa to enter Georgia and plan to buy one on arrival (as is officially possible), be aware that there are no ATMs at some border checkpoints (e.g., Sarpi) and that if you cannot change money into Lari (e.g., no bank, or bank closed) and do not have any Lari with you, you will be denied entry; thus, it is highly preferable to ask for a visa ahead of time. Finally, although EU nationals may enter with their national identification card, border guards (particularly at land crossings) are often unfamiliar with them and will do a far more comprehensive examination.

Border crossings

The following are Georgia’s international entrance and exit points. Visas are only offered at road and air entry ports for individuals who need them.

  • Batumi International airport (visas available) and Black Sea port (visas not available).
  • Böyük Kəsik Rail border with Azerbaijan – visas not available here.
  • Guguti/Tashir Road border with Armenia.
  • Krasny Most (Red Bridge, Tsiteli Khidi, Qırmızı Körpü) Road border with Azerbaijan.
  • Ninotsminda/Bavra Road border with Armenia.
  • Poti Black Sea port – visas not available here.
  • Sadakhlo/Bagratashen Road and rail border with Armenia – visas available for road travellers only.
  • Sarpi/Sarp Road border with Turkey.
  • Tbilisi International airport.
  • Tsodna (Postbina) Road border with Azerbaijan, between Lagodekhi and Balakən.
  • Vale/Posof Road border with Turkey, reached via Akhaltsikhe.

For many years, the border with Russia at Zemo Larsi/Chertov Most, north of Kazbegi, was only accessible to Georgians and Russians, until 2006, when Russia blocked it to everyone (“temporarily”). Verkhniy Lars (ерни арc) is the only open border crossing point with Russia. It does not provide visas.

Georgia considers the crossings from Russia into South Ossetia (the Roki Tunnel) and Abkhazia (the Psou River between Gantiadi and Adler) to be unlawful. Some visitors who proceeded into Georgia after crossing into South Ossetia or Abkhazia from Russia have been fined or imprisoned. Others have gotten away with no trouble.

It is feasible to visit Abkhazia from Georgia, however it is not possible to visit South Ossetia from Georgia.

How To Travel To Georgia

Get In - By plane

London (bmi), Paris (Georgian Airways), Vienna (Austrian Airlines), Warsaw (LOT Airlines), Kiev (Georgian Airways), Munich (Lufthansa), Athens (Georgian Airways), Riga (airBaltic), Istanbul (Turkish Airlines), and Prague all have flights to Tbilisi (Czech Airlines). KLM has canceled services to Tbilisi, although Georgian Airways operates flights from and to Amsterdam. Belavia (Belarusian National Airlines) currently offers daily direct flights from Minsk to Tbilisi at reasonable prices, and there are many connecting flights from European locations to Minsk, such as Amsterdam (transit visa is not required if you fly to Georgia). Please keep in mind that Georgian Airways (AirZena) offers many flights from a variety of places. See also airBaltic for low-cost flights to a variety of European locations.

Batumi Airport reopened in May 2007. Turkish Airlines operates daily flights between Batumi and Istanbul. Other airports that serve Batumi include Kharkov, Kiev, and (as of September 15, 2010) Minsk (twice per week with Belavia). Batumi’s airport is approximately 10 kilometers south of the city center and is accessible by minibus and taxi.

There is also a great combination flight to Kutaisi with Wizzair. On Monday and Friday nights, travelers fly from London-Luton, Doncaster, or any other location serviced by Katowice to Katowice, and then fly straight to Kutaisi after a 2-hour layover. The return trip is the same, yet it is often considerably less expensive than any of the major carriers. Wizzair is the website you go to if you want to buy tickets.

Given the present state of things between the two nations, flights to Moscow and other Russian cities are still infrequent.

Rapidly expanding tourist infrastructure (Black Sea resorts along Georgia’s coastline, ski resorts in the Ajara region and in Svaneti) has resulted in the opening of more international airports (most recently in the ski resort of Mestia), and the number of tourists is growing in tandem with the country’s recent ranking as one of the safest in Europe and rapidly improving infrastructure.

Get In - By bus

There are direct bus routes from Istanbul, Turkey, that stop at different points along the way and end in Tbilisi. There are also nonstop bus routes between Tbilisi and Baku, Azerbaijan. There are also direct buses from Tbilisi to Thessaloniki and Athens, both of which significant Georgian expat populations.

Get In - By minibus

There are many minibuses (sing. samarshruto taxi; pl. samarshruto taxebi) that run international routes to and from Georgia’s cities and major towns. Minibuses operate between Georgia and Russia (and, despite the present state of things between the two countries, are more dependable and accessible than the often sporadic flights to Russia), as well as Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iran, and Iraq. These routes typically begin and end at bus terminals and the Didube metro station in Tbilisi. Minibus routes outside of Tbilisi may stop at bus terminals or key places (town squares).

Get In - By car

It is not difficult to enter with a vehicle. If you are not the car’s owner, it is suggested that you bring a power of attorney with you. In conjunction with the entrance stamp, a sticker with the vehicle plate number will be attached to your passport. Previously, the International Insurance Card was not valid in Georgia, thus insurance had to be purchased at the point of entry (even though the amount covered to be ridiculously low). It should be noted that only the driver may enter the control area with the vehicle; everyone else in the vehicle must use the pedestrians’ lane.

Traffic rules are now rigorously enforced—disbanding the uncorruptibly corrupt traffic police was one of Mikheil Saakashvili’s first acts as president. Norms are rigorously enforced in towns and on roads throughout the nation. The most essential rule to remember is that passing takes place in the center of the road, and vehicles in both lanes are required to move to the outside of their respective lanes to make this as safe as possible. Roads in Tbilisi and other large cities are usually extremely smooth and safe, while rural roads are often in disrepair. Despite the fact that traffic rules are enforced, driving is nevertheless totally chaotic. Drunk driving is a significant issue, drivers often pass with little space between cars, speed limits and right-of-way are seldom followed, people will stroll into traffic without even a look in either direction, and a random herd of cattle may sometimes bring traffic to a halt. An daring tourist may find a car a handy method to explore the nation, but with so many cabs, buses, and marshrutkas available, the typical traveler would be better off sitting in the passenger seat.

Get In - By train

There are railway services that run from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Tbilisi, stopping at several points along the way. It should be noted that the “BP train” has been canceled. Construction of a railroad connecting the Turkish town of Kars to Baku, Azerbaijan—including both new lines and renovation of existing lines—is now ongoing and is expected to be completed between 2010 and 2012. This will provide a direct connection from Tbilisi to Istanbul and beyond, as well as a quicker, more pleasant journey into Azerbaijan. There is also service from Yerevan, Armenia.

Get In - By boat

From Istanbul and Odessa, there are ferry services to Batumi and Poti. Trabzon, Turkey’s Black Sea port, was closed to passenger traffic at the time of writing. Be advised that the Georgian port of Sukhumi is restricted to all cargo and passenger ships save those with humanitarian reasons. All boats bound for Sukhumi must pass through a border check with the Georgian coast guard in the neighboring port of Poti.

How To Travel Around Georgia

Get Around - Taxi

Taxis are the most convenient and inexpensive mode of transportation in Georgia. Trips inside Tbilisi cost 3 to 5 lari, depending on distance, and you may bargain with the taxi drivers. Previously, the overwhelming majority of taxis in Georgia were unauthorized “gypsy cabs” operated by anybody seeking to earn a quick buck. In Georgia, such unmarked cab services were safe and frequently utilized by foreigners living and visiting the nation. Drivers, on the other hand, would inflate the price for foreigners—it was essential to know your location and price before getting in the taxi. The situation changed a few years ago when all official cabs were required to have meters with set prices installed.

Get Around - Minibus

Minibuses are known as marshrutkas, and they run on predetermined routes. After determining your route number, flag down a marshrutka on the street by putting out your hand, palm facing down.

There are also minibus routes that connect cities. Their routes often terminate at bus terminals and city marketplaces. On a sign in the front window, their destination is inscribed in Georgian. If you can’t locate the minibus you’re searching for, ask a marshrutka driver.

Get Around - By train

Georgia has a reasonably large railway network. The train company’s website is http://www.railway.ge. Trains are sluggish, but they are also inexpensive. So, if you are planning a trip from Tblisi to, say, the Black Sea coast, it is well worth your time to consider taking a sleeper train rather than spending x hours in a Marshurtka.

Get Around - By bike

Because the terrain is quite hilly, you might think about renting a mountain bike. Many roads are still unpaved. However, riding a bike enables you to access more distant areas. Mountain bikes may be rented in larger cities, such as Tbilisi’s Jomardi club.

Get Around - City Bus

Tbilisi now has new Dutch buses on the road. They are the cheapest method to travel, whether they are pleasant or not (they do not have air conditioning) (for 40 tetri). However, buses in Georgia’s countryside and outside of Tbilisi are outdated and sluggish.

Get Around - Mountain Travel

Buses and taxis will only carry you so far in Georgia’s most rural areas (e.g., Dusheti, Khevsureti, etc.) if you don’t have a tour company. Hiking, catching a ride on a goods-transporting truck, or hiring a jeep will all be required at some time. To catch a truck, you must be flexible in your travel arrangements. Hiring a jeep may be very costly due to the high cost of gas caused by shortages in distant areas. Inquire at the bus station or central market of the final town on the bus or marshrutka route about either choice.

Destinations in Georgia

Regions in Georgia

Kartli
The Georgian heartland, the core of East Georgian culture, and the nation’s economic, cultural, and political center; home to the most popular tourist attractions of Tbilisi, Mtskheta, Gori, and Stepantsminda.

Rioni Region
The capital of West Georgia and the ancient kingdom of Colchis, the land of the Golden Fleece; nowadays, it is home to beautiful UNESCO monuments and stunning mountainous landscapes.

Kakheti
Georgia’s lush wine region, rich in churches, monasteries, and vineyards

Southwestern Georgia
The country’s subtropical region, has a significant Muslim population and a few excellent pebble beaches.

Northwestern Georgia
Magnificently gorgeous, hazardous, and politically unpredictable, but worth the risk of a visit to experience Upper Svaneti’s once-in-a-lifetime dream.

Samtskhe-Javakheti
Home to much of Georgia’s Armenian population, Vardzia, and the enchanting Sapara Monastery

Disputed Territories (Abkhazia, South Ossetia)
Georgia’s separatist territories, which are at odds with the national government; Abkhazia is a lovely subtropical beach and volcanic resort, whereas South Ossetia lies high in the Greater Caucasus Mountains, with nothing to offer a visitor other than continuous danger and mountain views.

The absence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from the regional hierarchy is simply a practical difference, since travel circumstances in these two areas vary significantly from those in the rest of Georgia.

Cities in Georgia

  • Tbilisi is Georgia’s biggest and most cosmopolitan city, as well as its most attractive and fascinating capital.
  • Samtskhe’s tiny capital, Akhaltsikhe Javakheti is close to two stunning tourist destinations: Vardzia and the Sapara Monastery.
  • Batumi is the palm-lined capital city of Ajara on the Black Sea, close to several excellent swimming spots.
  • Borjomi is a beautiful little city with renowned spring water, a national park, and the Russian Romanov dynasty’s vacation home.
  • Gori – Stalin’s birthplace, near to an another cave city.
  • Kutaisi is Georgia’s second largest city and the historic capital of ancient Colchis, including two UNESCO World Heritage sites.
  • Mtskheta is an easy day excursion from Tbilisi and is the ancient former capital of Eastern Georgia, the heart of the Georgian Orthodox Church, and another UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Telavi, the capital of Kakheti, is an excellent starting place for visiting surrounding vineyards, castles, and monasteries.
  • Ozurgeti, the capital of Guria, is an excellent starting place for visiting surrounding beaches, mountain resorts, and historic monasteries.

Other destinations in Georgia

  • The Georgian Military Highway connects Tbilisi to Vladikavkaz, Russia, passing through breathtaking high mountain landscapes and perilously sharp bends.
  • Wineries in Kakheti, particularly the Tsinandali Estate, which has an ancient Romanov castle, lovely gardens, and some excellent wines.
  • Tsminda Sameba, one of the world’s most beautifully placed monasteries, is located on Mount Kazbeg, one of Europe’s highest mountains.
  • The David Gareja Monastery Complex is a 6th-century cave monastery on a mountain overlooking the Azerbaijani desert, complete with magnificent paintings.
  • Upper Svaneti — Europe’s highest inhabited area, located on Mestia, is home to the enigmatic Svans and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Vardzia is a cave monastery and city from the 12th century that overlooks a huge river valley.
  • Uplistsikhe was a 3,600-year-old Silk Road cave city and a significant regional hub of Caucasian pagan worship.
  • Bakuriani ski slopes — a former Winter Olympics bid and a prominent ski resort in the country’s south.
  • Pasanauri ski slopes — the major ski resort in Georgia’s Greater Caucasus Mountains, located along the Georgian Military Highway leading to Stepantsminda.

Accommodation & Hotels in Georgia

Every year, the number of large Western hotels in Georgia increases, not only in Tbilisi, but also in Batumi and other Georgian towns. Private houses, on the other hand, are the cheapest and most pleasant choice across most of the countryside, but this is very much a homestay; anticipate little privacy. In general, lodging in Georgia, especially outside of Tbilisi and Batumi, is expensive, and since tourism is still a young sector, service at hotels often falls short (such as a lack of toilet paper).

Things To See in Georgia

Georgia has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

  • Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery in the Rioni region.
  • The historical monuments of Mtskheta.
  • The Upper Svaneti region which is the highest inhabited region in Europe.

Furthermore, Tbilisi’s capital provides a variety of attractions, including the Old Town with the Narikala Fortress. Gori, Stalin’s birthplace, also has a castle, the Gori Jvari church, and the remains of Uplistsikhe, a thriving town over 3,000 years ago. Other locations to visit include Borjomi, a mineral water town popular with Russian Czars, and Batumi, a Black Sea beach resort city. Furthermore, Georgia is situated in the heart of the Caucasus Mountains, with some peaks rising beyond 5,000 meters.

Food & Drinks in Georgia

Food in Georgia

Types of places to eat

  • regular dining establishment (more expensive)
  • restaurant (sasadilo) – cafeteria-style diner that may be more delicious and less expensive than restaurants
  • cafe, street-food
  • beer bar, pub (ludis-bari)
  • sakhinkle (სახინკლე) – locations specifically for khinkali, where other foods may also be found
  • sapurmari – meeting spots in nature, where a stranger or foreigner may be readily welcomed

It’s not like you’re accustomed to eating dumplings when you eat khinkali. First and foremost, you just use your hands. (There is a legitimate reason for this; cutting the big dumpling would spill the liquid and spoil the flavor.) The dumplings will be seasoned with pepper first, according to the locals. Then, grasp the dumpling whichever you like, from the top “handle” if you want, and suck up the liquid with a tiny bite off of the side. If you spill any juice on your plate, you’ll receive a smear on your chin. Then, while still holding the khinkali, eat around the top, completing the dumpling and then putting the twisted top on your plate—eating the doughy top is considered an extreme sign of poverty in finances and taste. It’s also great to look back with pride on all your shirts after you’ve gotten into the double digits with these dumplings. Drink them with wine, Kazbegi beer, or a “limonati” of your choice (the most popular flavors are lemon, pear, and estragon/tarragon, which is very refreshing).

Georgian food is well-known across the former Soviet Union (visitors to Moscow will have noticed the amount of Georgian restaurants). Khachapuri (a cheese-filled bread that resembles a cheese pie) and khinkali are two popular national foods (minced, spiced meat in a dumpling, served in enormous quantities). While khachapuri is given with every meal (and it is easy to grow weary of it), khinkali is typically served as a separate meal, with Georgian men devouring 15 enormous dumplings as if it were nothing.

Mtsvadi, grilled marinated pig or veal on a stick with onions, is another popular dish. But this is far from the end of the number of delectable meals flavored with garlic, coriander, walnuts, and dill. A typical Georgian feast (above) is a sight to see, with a spread that no party could possibly complete and at least 20 toasts made to wine or brandy. Another trend of lamb-based meals (chanakhi, chakapuli) is absolutely delectable.

For a fast snack, try any of the ghvezeli pastries filled with meat, potatoes, cheese, or other ingredients, which are often offered in markets and on the side of the road. However, be wary of western-style meals (pizzas, hamburgers, etc.), which are generally a weak imitation of their real selves. It is much preferable to sample native cuisine.

The fruit and veggies here are bursting at the seams with taste and are very affordable. Even if you just speak English and stick out like a slug in a spotlight as a foreigner, you can buy fruit and veggies at the market for a fraction of the price you would spend in, say, Western Europe. A fast lunch of tomatoes, fresh cheese, puri (bread), and fruit is perhaps the most satisfying meal in the nation.

Vegetarian dishes

There are a number of vegetarian meals (mainly in western Georgia) that are surprisingly delicious and go well with most local gatherings that include a lot of wine drinking. Try to get your hands on ajapsandali, a delicious vegetable ratatouille prepared uniquely according to each family’s recipe.

Home food

If possible, attempt to be invited to someone’s house for supper (this is not too difficult in Georgia, owing to their hospitality and general desire to stuff foreign visitors full of all the food they can afford). Restaurant cuisine is an unusual set piece with the same foods again and over. Georgian cuisine, on the other hand, is much richer and offers an infinite variety of dishes to taste, all made from scratch using fresh, locally produced ingredients (although supermarkets are now spreading throughout Georgia).

Drinks in Georgia

Chacha

Chacha (ჭაჭა) is a fruit-based distilled clear spirit (liquor) produced at home, similar to Italian grappa. Chacha is a wine produced from grape pomace (grape residue left after making wine). It may also be made from unripe or uncultured grapes, as well as fig, tangerine, orange, or mulberry in certain instances. It is typically “manually” bottled. It may be found at Mom and Pop corner stores, Farmers Markets, back alleyways, and basements all throughout Georgia. There is also commercially produced chacha available in certain stores and supermarkets. In Georgia, the word “Chacha” refers to any kind of “moonshine” produced from fruits.

Wine

Georgia has one of the world’s oldest wine-making traditions and has been dubbed the “Cradle of Wine” owing to archaeological discoveries that date wine production back to 5000 BC. As a result, Georgians produce some of the world’s finest wines. Georgian wine competes with French and Italian wines due to its historic winemaking history and exceptional environment. Georgian wine is a must-try. Unfortunately, you are not permitted to export home-bottled wine, which is often the finest. Georgian wines are very well-known. It’s true that Georgian wines are poorly recognized in the West, but that doesn’t include the 280 million people who live in the former Soviet Union, where they’re a welcome drink at every table.

Red

  • Saperavi (საფერავი sah-peh-rah-vee)
  • Mukuzani (მუკუზანი moo-k’oo-zah-nee)
  • Khvanchkara (ხვანჭკარა khvahnch-k’ah-rah) – semi-sweet
  • Kindzmarauli (კინძმარაული keendz-mah-rah-oo-lee) – semi-sweet

White

  • Tsinandali (წინანდალი ts’ee-nahn-dah-lee)
  • Kakheti (კახეთი k’ah-kheh-tee)
  • Tbilisuri (თბილისური tbee-lee-soo-ree)

The Russian government has prohibited the import of Georgian wine and mineral water due to political tensions between the two countries.

Beer

Georgia is producing an increasing variety of local beers. Since ancient times, the hilly areas of Khevsureti and Tusheti have had a beer culture. Following its independence from the Soviet Union, Georgia resurrected its beer industry and brought high-quality beers to the market. Kazbegi was Georgia’s first and most popular beer. Georgian beer manufacturing is still expanding today, with high-quality beers on the market (thanks to the high quality mountain spring waters in Georgia and to German designed beer factories). There are also numerous international beers available, like Heineken, Bitburger, Lowenbrau, Guinness, and others.

  • Aluda
  • Argo
  • Batumuri
  • Bavariis Herzogi
  • Kasri
  • Kazbegi (ყაზბეგი q’ahz-beh-gee)
  • Khevsuruli
  • Lomisi
  • Natakhtari
  • Tushuri

Mineral Waters

Georgian mineral waters offer distinct and intriguing flavors that are distinct from those found in France and Italy. Borjomi (bohr-joh-mee), Likani (lick-ah-nee), and Nabeglavi (nah-beh-ghlah-vee) are the most well-known Georgian mineral waters. However, there are a multitude of lesser-known springs situated in tiny towns and beside highways throughout the nation that are worth seeing. Borjomi is not ordinary sparkling water; it has a high level of fluoride, and it may take some time to get accustomed to the taste. It is, nevertheless, very popular outside of Georgia (in the former Soviet republics).

Lagidze Waters (Soft Drink)

Mitrofan Lagidze (lah-ghee-dzeh) is the surname of a well-known Georgian merchant from the nineteenth century who manufactured popular soft beverages in Georgia. These waters are now known as “the Lagidze Waters.” Lagidze soft drinks are produced entirely of natural fruit components, with no artificial sugars, chemicals, or other additions. Estragon/tarragon and cream&chocolate are the most popular flavors. They are available in bottled form at shops.

Money & Shopping in Georgia

  • Gold & Other Jewellery – Gold, silver, handcrafted & other miscellaneous jewelry, and precious stones are all extremely affordable in Georgia, and the quality of the precious stones, gold, and silver is excellent. Because of the low cost and high quality of Georgian jewelry, many tourists visit the country to purchase it.
  • Art & Paintings – Artists from Georgia include Pirosmani, Gigo Gabashvili, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili, Korneli Sanadze, Elene Akhvlediani, Sergo Kobuladze, Simon Virsaladze, Ekaterine Baghdavadze, and others. There are numerous art stores, paintings, and artists that sell their work on the streets in Georgia. Their work is of excellent quality and is often quite reasonably priced.
  • Antiques & Other Miscellaneous Gifts – There are numerous antiques in Georgia that are not only from Georgia, but also from the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Russia, and Europe.
  • As much Georgian wine as you possibly can. Georgia is the birthplace of winemaking, and with 521 unique grape types, you may be sure to discover great wines.
  • Cognac. Georgian cognac is distinctive since it is produced from Georgian wine. Try the ‘Tbilisi’ cognac by Saradjishvili.
  • When you go outside of the cities, you may come across an unique hand-made carpet for sale.
  • Georgians like drinking, thus the nation boasts an apparently limitless supply of beers, wines, liquors, and distilled beverages. Purchase a bottle of chacha, a strong grape vodka comparable to Lebanese Arak, to take home.

Georgian export goods, particularly wine and mineral water, were formerly extensively counterfeited in local and CIS markets. The Borjomi bottling factory, for example, used to manufacture about one million bottles of Borjomi each year, but three million bottles were sold in Russia alone!

The government, in collaboration with industry circles, has launched a large-scale campaign to combat counterfeit wine and mineral water, and the sale of counterfeit goods has almost been eradicated. When stocking up on bottled wine, however, it is preferable to purchase it from big supermarkets, who have more control over its procurement than smaller shops. Goodwill, Big Ben, and Populi are examples of such supermarkets. The same is true with mineral water.

Following the re-orientation of wine exports to EU markets, the quality of winemaking has greatly increased in recent years.

Costs

When exchanging money at a bank, you may be required to provide your identification. This is not required at the tiny money changers’ booths that may be found nearly everywhere in the country. These exchange booths may also provide slightly better exchange rates. Exchange money before leaving Tbilisi since exchange rates are better than in rural regions. The Georgian lari is a closed currency; exchange any remaining funds before leaving the country. Most significantly, be in mind that certain Georgian ATMs outside of Tbilisi may not take international cards. If you are caught without cash during non-business hours or on weekends, this may be a major issue, so keep some cash on hand. In addition, although rates in Georgia are usually quite cheap, many small businesses and taxis will not have change for big lari notes (particularly 50 or above), thus visitors are recommended to bring lots of smaller notes and coins.

If you visit Georgia for a week and bring $700–$800 USD, you will have a fantastic experience. With this money, you can stay at a nice hotel, go on exciting sightseeing excursions, and eat well. Other goods, such as presents and jewelry, may need more. For additional information, try looking for and contacting travel and tourism agencies.

Even in the capital, a budget tourist would have no trouble getting by (and keeping very well fed) for less than $150–$200 a week. Allow for an additional $30–$50 for transport and tourism.

Tipping

Tipping is practically uncommon in Georgia, and in many instances may insult the recipient’s feeling of hospitality.

Traditions & Customs in Georgia

Georgians are very hospitable (and beyond). If you are invited someplace by a Georgian, it will be almost difficult to pay for anything, and even bringing up the topic of who will pay the bill may be humiliating for your host. If you are invited to a private house for supper, bring plenty of wine or desserts.

It is traditional to welcome nearly everyone who passes you with a pleasant “Gamarjoba” while traveling in rural villages (and in the calmer areas of Tbilisi) (Hello). And the appropriate answer is “Gagimarjos.”

It is a deeply established and unique feature of Georgian hospitality because Georgians want nothing more than to hear that visitors are having a good time in Georgia. You may expect to be asked whether you like Georgia and its food. And it is anticipated that you respond in the positive. Otherwise, your “hosts” would seem sad, as if they are collectively failing to offer guests adequate hospitality.

When attending churches, dress conservatively. Avoid wearing shorts or sleeveless tops. Women are generally expected to wear a head covering and a dress or skirt; in certain locations, these are supplied.

Sensitive Issues

Avoid discussing Russia, particularly the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Talking about this topic may lead to animosity, heated arguments, and even fights. Tense ties between the two nations have resulted in a number of crises, most notably the 2008 South Ossetia war and the termination of diplomatic relations. Georgia has lost 17 percent of its land and must assist a significant number of refugees displaced by the conflict; in 1992, Russians, Cossacks, Abkhazian rebels, and north Caucasian mercenary soldiers ethnically cleansed Georgians in Abkhazia. In Georgia, antipathy and hatred against Russia are at an all-time high.

Culture Of Georgia

Georgian culture developed through thousands of years, beginning with the Iberian and Colchian civilizations and continuing with the emergence of the united Georgian Kingdom under the Bagrationi dynasty. In the 11th century, Georgian culture had a golden period and renaissance in classical literature, arts, philosophy, architecture, and science.

After a long period of turmoil, the Georgian language and the Classical Georgian literature of the poet Shota Rustaveli were revived in the nineteenth century, laying the groundwork for modern-era romantics and novelists such as Grigol Orbeliani, Nikoloz Baratashvili, Ilia Chavchavadze, Akaki Tsereteli, Vazha Pshavela, and many others. Georgian culture was inspired by Classical Greece, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the numerous Iranian empires (particularly the Achaemenid, Parthian, Sassanian, Safavid, and Qajar empires), and, later, the Russian Empire, beginning in the 19th century.

Georgians have their own three alphabets, which were created in the third century BC by King Pharnavaz I of Iberia, according to legend.

Georgia is well-known for its rich folklore, as well as its distinctive traditional music, dances, theater, film, and art. Georgians are well-known for their passion for music, dancing, theater, and film. In the twentieth century, notable Georgian painters included Niko Pirosmani, Lado Gudiashvili, and Elene Akhvlediani; ballet choreographers included George Balanchine, Vakhtang Chabukiani, and Nino Ananiashvili; poets included Galaktion Tabidze, Lado Asatiani, and Mukhran Machavariani; and theatre and film directors included Robert Sturua, Tengiz Abuladze,

Architecture and arts

Many cultures have impacted Georgian architecture. Castles, towers, fortresses, and cathedrals all have distinct architectural styles. The defenses of Upper Svaneti, as well as the castle town of Shatili in Khevsureti, are some of the best specimens of medieval Georgian castle construction. Other architectural features of Georgia are the Hausmann-style Rustaveliavenue in Tbilisi and the Old Town District.

One of the most prominent features of Georgian Christian architecture is the Georgian cross-dome style, which blends the classical dome style with the original basilica design. Cross-dome style emerged in Georgia around the ninth century; before, the majority of Georgian churches were basilicas. Outside of Georgia, other examples of Georgian ecclesiastic architecture include the Bachkovo Monastery in Bulgaria (built in 1083 by the Georgian military commander Grigorii Bakuriani), the Iviron monastery in Greece (built by Georgians in the 10th century), and the Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem (built by Georgians in the 9th century). Primitivist painter Niko Pirosmani was a well-known Georgian artist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Media

Georgia’s television, magazines, and newspapers are all run by both state-owned and for-profit companies that rely on advertising, subscriptions, and other sales-related income. Georgia’s constitution protects freedom of expression. The Georgian media system is changing as a result of the country’s transition.

Despite long-term politicization and polarization in the sector, Georgia’s media environment remains the most open and diversified in the South Caucasus. The political battle for control of the national broadcaster continued in 2014, leaving it without a clear direction.

A significant proportion of Georgian homes own a television, while the majority own at least one radio. The majority of Georgia’s media businesses are based in Tbilisi, the country’s capital and biggest city.

Music

Georgia has a rich and dynamic musical history, well recognized for its contributions to the early development of polyphony. Georgian polyphony is composed of three vocal parts, a distinct tuning system based on perfect fifths, and a harmonic structure rich in parallel fifths and dissonances. Each area of Georgia has its unique traditional music, which includes polyphonic conversation over a bass backdrop and ostinato-like soloists in the east, intricate improvisational harmonies in the west, and strong moving chords in Svaneti.

The Georgian folk song “Chakrulo” (Georgian: ) was selected as one of 27 musical pieces to be placed on a Voyager Golden Record, which was sent into space on Voyager 2 on August 20, 1977.

Georgian Polyphonic Singing is on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

Cuisine

Georgian food and wine have developed throughout the ages, adjusting to each era’s customs. Supra, or Georgian table, is one of the most unique eating customs, as well as a method of socializing with friends and family. Tamada is the name given to the head of supra. He also oversees the very philosophical toasts and ensures that everyone has a good time. Various historical areas of Georgia are renowned for their distinct cuisine, such as khinkali (meat dumplings) from eastern highland Georgia and khachapuri, which is mostly found in Imereti, Samegrelo, and Adjara. In addition to traditional Georgian meals, immigration from Russia, Greece, and, most recently, China have introduced other nations’ cuisines to Georgia.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Georgia

Stay Safe in Georgia

The majority of Georgia is extremely safe for visitors. Crime rates in the country are among the lowest in Europe.

Corruption, which was previously a major annoyance for visitors, has been much less apparent after the Rose Revolution. Because the notorious and corrupt traffic police have been dissolved, it is now safe and reasonable to trust the Georgian police. Police vehicles patrol the streets of Georgian cities and towns on a regular basis and can assist in the event of a car breakdown or any other issue on the road.

Seat belts are now required and rigorously enforced. Radars are placed at all major intersections, as well as on major streets and highways throughout the nation. Georgia, on the other hand, tops the South Caucasus in recorded road traffic accidents. According to a report published by the Georgian NGO Safe Driving Association, one person is wounded every hour in a traffic-related collision, and one person dies every 18 hours. According to the World Health Organization, there are 16.8 deaths per 100,000 people per year (compared to Azerbaijan at 13 and Armenia at 13.9).

For international tourists, the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs has some helpful information.

Women should be aware that many Georgian men do not consider “no” to be a definitive answer. They think that no equals maybe and that yes equals no. It is very unusual for guys to be extremely aggressive, particularly with foreign women. It is advisable to stick to groups and avoid smiling or paying attention to guys. When you go out, if you make a Georgian acquaintance or get to know a Georgian guy well, they will look after you. There are many good Georgian guys, but be cautious.

Tbilisi

Things have eased down considerably in Tbilisi and the surrounding area in recent years. Although Tbilisi has been singled out for its (not always justified) reputation for street violence, mugging is a very uncommon occurrence.

Other crime-related risks in Tbilisi used to include apartment break-ins and carjacking, but the situation has improved significantly, and Georgia now has one of Europe’s lowest crime rates.

Kutaisi

According to the evidence, Kutaisi, Georgia’s second biggest city, has crime rates that are considerably higher than the national average. After nightfall, it is essential to take extreme care in Kutaisi.

Adjara

The separatist struggle between Adjara and the central government has concluded peacefully, and travel across the area is now completely secure. For tourists, once-rife corruption should now be a thing of the past. Customs clearance at the Sarpi-Hopa border crossing is now regular and uneventful for most visitors, but it may take two hours or more at times owing to large queues.

The Mountains

Georgia’s mountainous regions are isolated and underpoliced. Kazbegi, Svaneti, and Racha are the safest and easiest areas to visit in Georgia’s Upper Caucasus. Altitude sickness is the most dangerous threat in these areas.

Previous concerns about instability in Georgia’s northeast, along the border with Chechnya, have lessened, and the Pankisi Gorge is not as hazardous to visit as Abkhazia or South Ossetia.

Svaneti is one of Georgia’s most picturesque and mystical areas, yet its people, the Svans, are known for their strong independence and mistrust of strangers (as well as legendary hospitality for accepted guests). Travelers should take extreme care while visiting Svaneti, which is best seen with the assistance of a local guide.

Tusheti is Georgia’s most remote Caucasus mountain range. Due to the huge amount of snow, access is only allowed from June to October. Only a few families reside there year round.

Separatist Regions

Abkhazia and South Ossetia provide certain difficulties for visitors, South Ossetia more so than Abkhazia. Abkhazia is not difficult to visit if proper paperwork and border procedures are followed. South Ossetia is even more wild.

Stay Healthy in Georgia

Tick-borne encephalitis may occur, but only extremely infrequently and only if one spends time outside (not in towns). A careful tourist may want to get tetanus, polio, and diphtheria vaccines, although they are not strictly required. Giardia is a frequent infection among international tourists. The most probable method of contraction is:

  • tap water
  • swallowed water from lakes, rivers, pools, or jacuzzis
  • raw fruits & vegetables
  • unpasteurized milk or other dairy products

Tap water is usually safe to drink.

Because tobacco is relatively inexpensive in Western nations and many men smoke, passive smoking may be a major issue.

Accidents happen seldom.

There are numerous gyms and fitness facilities in Tbilisi with swimming pools and brand new training equipment where you may work out. They are considerably less common in other cities.

Asia

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South America

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North America

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