Moving around Georgia
Traveling by car
In my opinion it is the best solution to travel to Georgia. Rent a car without driver (for those who like to move freely) and a car with driver for those who prefer to travel with peace of mind, because roads in Georgia are special. The roads are mostly in good condition, paved and well signposted, except for a few mountain roads. The roads deteriorate after winter and restoration works are occasionally maintained on the roads where it is needed.
Car rental: the choice of cars is quite limited and companies mostly offer sedan cars and 4x4s. Newer cars (2-3 years old) are more expensive, and rarer. Used cars (3-10 years old) are more common for rental. Minivans and minibuses are rented very rarely, it is practically impossible to rent a minibus without a driver.
GPS or WIFI transmitter-receivers are rented separately. We have two types of parking in Tbilisi – one is included in the price of the rental car and there is also zonal parking in specious places (traffic sign with capital A). If you go to park in these places to avoid fines you must have an application (For iPhone you will download it here: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/parking-tbilisi/id1472868535), you must attach your card bank, replenish your account balance and simply enter the lot number indicated on the sign.
Parking fees in Batumi can be purchased online. In other cities, you can park for free. Apart from the official parking fees (which we pay to the state), in the big cities and in the parking lots of the tourist sites there are people in the parking who help you to park or get out and they are paid (not mandatory, but desirable) approximately 1 lari, or 30-euro cents for the entire rental period. Note that some roads and more beautiful ones are quite dangerous, for example, the road to Toushetie, you have to be a well-experienced driver to dare to go on this road.
Also, note that drivers in Georgia have their own way of driving, they often like to get adventurous, and disobey all the rules they find not really necessary and often they understand each other by looking at each other. The police are very present on the roads, they are polite and friendly to tourists, you can ask them for the road, or other information that falls within their competence.
Controls (with binoculars) are rare but they are sometimes present. There are also fixed-speed cameras. On the motorway, the speed is limited to 110 km, on the national road: 80 km, In town: 40-50 km
Car rental with driver: you can rent any type of car, from sedans to minibuses or 50-person buses. Rental cars with drivers are from 5 to 10 years old, in good condition, and air-conditioned. Newer cars are relatively more expensive. The drivers rarely speak English and almost never French, except for 1 or two drivers, most speak Russian. To have a well-experienced driver, and a good connoisseur of the roads and sites to visit, it is better to call on specialized travel agencies;
Traveling by bus
The bus connects Tbilisi with the big cities; or with Yerevan and Baku. There are several bus stations in Tbilisi, the most important are the Central Station, the East Station (in Ortachala), and the West Station (Okriba Station in Didube). Some schedules are available online (mainly for buses to Batumi). These buses are practically all used and without much comfort, but for the safety of driving on the roads, I recommend the most rather than the minibuses, which are more frequent, easier to take, but which circulate at high speed and which often put their passengers in danger. These little extra minibuses stop anywhere to drop off passengers or to pick up others. If you travel by public transport in Georgia, you may miss important sites which are often located halfway between major cities and are more convenient to visit by car on the way from one city to another.
Traveling by train
The railway network is not very developed in Georgia, it connects Tbilisi with the western part of the country, or with Armenia and Azerbaijan. So, you can travel by train from Tbilisi-Kutaisi, Tbilisi-Batumi, Tbilisi-Poti, and Tbilisi-Zugdidi, or Tbilisi-Yerevan and Tbilisi-Baku. Air conditioning and heating work well. The trains are quite slow, they take for example 5-6 hours for 370 km between Tbilisi and Batumi.
Train schedules within Georgia are available on the Georgia Railway website, train tickets can be purchased directly online. Train tickets to Yerevan and Baku are sold only at Tbilisi Central Station.
There is a very special little one that I highly recommend: the little train named kukushka which connects Borjomi and Bakouriani. This train goes through pine and fir forests and crosses an old bridge built according to Gustave Eiffel’s plan. In winter or summer, you discover spectacular landscapes, small villages lost in the forests, and sometimes small animals like squirrels and rabbits … Take note that after the pandemic Kukushka train is temporarily out of service.
Trains to Yerevan and Baku are night trains and very slow. They sometimes stop for several hours at the border crossing for customs and passport control. There is no restaurant car on these trains, you are only offered evening and morning tea. I think it is more interesting to make these trips by car, visiting important tourist sites on the roads, such as Hagpat and Sanahin and Lake Sevan on the Tbilisi-Yerevan route and Sheki city on the Tbilisi-Baku route.
Traveling by taxi
The taxi service is not expensive in Georgia. If you take a taxi from the airport into town, it will cost you around 15 euros for 30 km. There are private taxis in the streets, you will recognize them by the white color and the taxi sign. Taxis of taxi companies, which can be ordered at your address, may be of different colors and may not have the taxi sign. Almost all taxi companies have an app and it is very easy to order. Taxis from Bolt and Yandex companies are the most common. Taxi drivers rarely speak English and hardly ever French. They speak rather Russian. Taxis can be called anytime during the day or night.
Traveling by metro
The metro exists only in Tbilisi. There are two lines, with a total length of 27 km, there are 23 stations and some stations are very deep, two of them are on the surface. The metro is a very convenient way to take in Tbilisi and not expensive (about 35-euro cents for one way). The stations are very clean, and the carriages, escalators, and trains run well, you have to wait for trains at about 3–5-minute during the day and 10-minute in the evening. Metro hours are 6 a.m. to midnight. During holidays (such as New Year’s Eve and Easter) the stations are open all night.
Apart from the metro, there are also buses and minibuses that circulate in Tbilisi. The bus, minibus and metro are linked by a single method of payment, a special card called Metroman or a regular bank card. You pay for the first transport and the other means of transport that you will take for the following 1h30 are free. At the bus stops, there are electronic timetable boards for buses and minibuses.
Traveling by bike and scooter
This very ecological transport is very popular. There are more and more avenues that are ready for traveling by bike and scooter. In Tbilisi, there are two important streets with special bike paths, but to go from one street to another is quite dangerous because there are no tracks yet.
To go from one city to another you are often forced to take a highway because bicycle routes are not available everywhere, but once you find yourself on small roads, paved or not, spectacular landscapes open up for you. There are more and more cyclists in the mountains, on the other hand, you have to be in good physical condition to overcome the unevenness sometimes at 1000 m.
The electric scooter system is available in the city center of Tbilisi. This system is very easy, cheap, and practical: the price of using a scooter is calculated by the minute. The location costs 30 euro-cents and every minute – about 10 euro-cents. Before starting the trip, you need to activate the 1.25 euro, 2.5 euro and 5 euro packages in the app and scan the scooter code to start the trip.
There are 5 domestic airports in Georgia: Tbilisi airport, Natakhtari: 30 km from Tbilisi, Batumi airport, Mestia airport and Ambrolauri airport .
Flights are operated from Tbilisi to Batumi, Mestia and Ambrolauri. The planes are small (apart from Batumi): with 16 seats, the flights are at low altitudes and offer an unforgettable panorama and landscapes of the country and the great Caucasus chain. The flight time is 30 to 50 min, depending on the distance.
Cable cars and Funicular
There are several cable cars in Tbilisi: from Narikala, from Turtle Lake and the Mtsatminda Funicular. These cable cars connect the tourist sites to the city center.
Cable cars are also in Batumi, Chiatura, Mestia, Gudauri and Borjomi.
The cable cars of Mestia and Gudauri are the cable cars of the ski resorts, in Mestia you discover the best panorama of Svaneti by taking the cable car and in Gudauri it is a 7 km long cable car that connects Gudauri to the Kobi village. It is a spectacular route that flies over the wild mountains, paralleling part of the historic military road that leads to Stepantsminda.
The city of Chiatura is the only city in Georgia where the cable car is the way to connect the city center with the different residential areas of this industrial city where the mines are still functioning.
In Borjomi the cable car is also historic but in better condition. It connects downtown Borjomi to the leisure park located on the heights above Borjomi.