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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.