Your one-stop guide to driving in Georgia in 2022 – including up-to-date information about road conditions, essential safety tips, and the ins and out of renting a car in Tbilisi.
Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.
This post was created in partnership with Local Rent (formerly MyRentACar), who supplied my rental car for 10 days free of charge in exchange for a fair and honest review. And that’s just what this is – all opinions, recommendations and criticisms are 100% my own.
When I first travelled to the Caucasus, I would never have dreamed of putting the words ‘Georgia’ and ‘road trip’ in the same sentence.
I’m an experienced driver – and I’m a huge fan of road trips, having driven around Spain, Oman and Montenegro in recent years. But the thought of getting behind the wheel in Georgia always terrified me.
The main reason I’ve always been so hesitant about renting a car in Tbilisi is the style of driving I’ve observed over the past three years of living and travelling in Georgia. If you’ve spent any time in the country, you’ll know the roads are not exactly safe by any standard, and reckless driving is a big part of the problem.
After chatting to a few friends who swear by self-driving, I finally decided to take the plunge and rented a car for 8 days. After an epic trip, the way I feel about driving in Georgia has completely changed.
I loved it – and I would absolutely do it again. (Update: I did do it again a few months later – and again a few months after that – and it was every bit as excellent!).
Now I don’t hesitate to recommend driving in Georgia to others – it’s a lot safer and more straightforward than I expected, provided you know what you’re getting into.
In this guide, I’ll paint you a picture of the road conditions and driving style in Georgia. I’ll offer loads of practical tips for a successful road trip, including important information about staying safe.
I’ll also give you some itinerary inspiration, plus information about renting a car in Tbilisi or elsewhere through an international company or a local agent.
This is an epic guide packed with helpful tips. Feel free to jump ahead using the links below, or else buckle up for a detailed and brutally honest look at driving in Georgia.
Should you rent a car in Georgia?
First things first: Do you even need to hire a car in Georgia? Georgia is a small country, and the transport system is quite easy to navigate if not a little slow and clunky.
It’s definitely not mandatory to rent a car in Georgia – you can see and do a lot just by getting around using marshrutka vans, trains, shared taxis and GoTrip cars.
If it’s your first time visiting Georgia, I recommend an itinerary like this one that uses ‘public’ transport. If you’re a repeat visitor or you’re feeling adventurous, there are some major advantages to having your own vehicle.
- You can keep to your own schedule. The thing about marshrutka vans is that drivers don’t always keep to a set schedule. Driving your own car isn’t necessarily any faster than taking a van – it may actually take longer if you make lots of stops – but you’ll end up fitting a lot more into each day if you can make early starts and set your own pace.
- You’ll feel a lot safer. Road safety is a huge problem in Georgia. I’ve had one too many nail-biting marshrutka rides with drivers who have no regard for speed limits. You definitely need to keep your wits about you when driving in Georgia, but in my experience, self-driving gives you a much-needed sense of control over your own fate.
- You’ll see a lot more. Needless to say, so much of what makes Georgia Georgia lies off the main highways, away from the big cities. Driving gives you unprecedented access to all the small villages, rural homestays, backstreets, roadside stops and remote areas that will make your trip all the more memorable.
No worrying when (or whether!) the marshrutka driver is going to make a bathroom break; no lamenting that you couldn’t pull over for a photo.
Hiring a car in Georgia is totally worth it for me for these two reasons alone.
Where can you go on a Georgia road trip?
The possibilities are endless. Here are just a few examples:
- Tbilisi to Batumi via Javakheti and Upper Adjara
- Tbilisi to Kutaisi via Chiatura, Imereti and Racha
- Tbilisi to Zugdidi via Guria and Samegrelo (the route I took on my first road trip)
- Tbilisi to Kutaisi via Kvemo Kartli, Javakheti and Vani (the route I took on my most recent trip)
- Tbilisi to Vashlovani National Park via Kakheti wine region
There are some places I wouldn’t recommend self-driving in Georgia because the roads are more demanding. Tbilisi to Kazbegi via the Georgian Military Highway, for example, is much better done with an experienced driver booked through GoTrip.
The roads to Tusheti, Khevsureti and to a lesser extent, Mestia, are all challenging mountain roads that are much better done with a Georgian driver who is familiar with the conditions. Note that many many roads and passes are seasonal and only open for a very short window during the warmest months of the year.
When renting a car in Tbilisi, note that the company may prohibit driving on certain roads. Always check first.
I do not recommend driving in Tbilisi city – the traffic is terrible and many roads are very narrow. Use the city’s public transport system instead.
Quick facts about driving in Georgia
Here are the key things you need to know about driving in Georgia. I’ll go into more depth about some of these topics in the next section.
- In Georgia, people drive on the right-hand side of the road. Although both left and right-hand drive cars are present on the roads.
- Seat belts are compulsory in Georgia, but only for the driver and the front seat passenger/s. Back seat passengers are not required to wear a seatbelt by law – but obviously it’s still wise to buckle up.
- Kids under 7 years old must use a children’s car seat. Most rental companies have these available to hire, but you must request one at the time of booking.
- The speed limit in Georgia is 100-110km/hour on highways, and 80km/hour in non-residential areas unless otherwise indicated. In villages, the speed limit is 60km/hour, but it can be very tricky to know whether you’re in a village or not. Look out for the big white signs (pictured below) – sometimes they are hidden by trees. Whenever you leave a village, you will see the same sign but with a big cross through the name.
- Traffic lights in Georgia flash amber before they turn red. There is no right turn on red, and wherever you see a green arrow, no left turn on a green light.
- Hazard lights are used very frequently to alert other cars to an obstruction on the road (such as cattle). Make sure you always have your finger ready to hit the hazard lights. When I drive, my husband is in charge of hitting the hazard lights.
- Georgia is party to the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals, meaning traffic lights and signage is much the same as the rest of Europe.
- Georgia has strict rules around drink driving. The legal blood alcohol level is set at 0.03%.
- It is illegal to use a mobile phone when driving in Georgia (not that many people follow this rule). If you need to use your phone for navigation, make sure you pack a hands-free mount like this one.
- There is a heavy police presence on the road in Georgia. Speed cameras and red-light cameras are ubiquitous throughout the entire country. If you’re driving a rental, fines go to the agent and are paid when you drop-off the car.
- Georgia is known for an aggressive driving style and lackadaisical approach to road rules in general. This is definitely something to keep in mind when deciding whether or not you want to drive in Georgia. I’ll explore this topic in detail later.
- There are no toll roads in Georgia.
- All major highways and most smaller roads in Georgia are sealed with a few notable exceptions (more details below). ‘Village roads’ vary from new, sealed roads to very rough backroads. Use the map below to identify any potentially problematic roads before you set off.
- Many high-altitude mountain roads are completely closed off in winter (usually late October to May depending on the location). Extreme weather events such as flooding and landslides occur semi-regularly in some areas, including Khevsureti and Racha.
What are the roads like in Georgia?
It’s a well-known fact that infrastructure is still developing in Georgia. Huge strides have been made since I first visited in 2017, especially with regards to the roads.
Overall, the roads in Georgia are of a high standard. Much higher than you might expect. Through a combination of self-driving, travelling in vans and being driven around on tours, I’ve travelled almost every highway and many backstreets, and I’ve only encountered a handful of bad stretches.
99% of the roads you’ll use as a tourist driving around Georgia are paved. Not only are they paved, but they’re mostly smooth and pothole-free. Two things to keep in mind are that mountain roads are often narrow, and line markings on major highways are sometimes faded or missing altogether.
Village and rural roads are more likely to be unpaved – either compacted rubble or loose rock. Some cities (notably Poti) have worse roads than others.
A new east-west highway is now under construction in Georgia, which will eventually allow drivers to bypass Kutaisi and reach the Black Sea Coast in under 3 hours, cutting cross-country travel time in half. For now, it’s very slow going around Khashuri (because of road works), but the part of the highway outside Zestafoni that is already complete is magnificent!
There are a few stretches of road that are unpaved and should be approached with caution. These include:
- Part of the road between Akhaltsikhe and Khulo in Upper Adjara (unpaved and quite difficult to drive)
- Part of the road between Akhmeta and Tianeti in Kakheti (partially a gravel road, currently under reconstruction)
- The road from Mestia to Ushguli (unpaved)
- The road to Gomis Mta in Guria (unpaved as of 2022)
- The Zekari Pass (after Abastumani, towards Sairme and Baghdati)
The roads to popular attractions such as David Gareja Cave Monastery, Vardzia and Katskhi Column are paved.
Roadworks and upgrades are underway all the time, so take everything you read online about road conditions with a grain of salt.
Two roads that probably won’t change anytime soon are the roads to Tusheti and Khevsureti. These are both extremely dangerous mountain roads that I do not recommend you tackle yourself. Most rental companies actually prohibit driving on these roads in their T&Cs.
Some national parks and protected areas, including Vashlovani, require a 4WD to navigate.
Some roads are closed in winter and only passable from late May until October (depending on weather conditions and snowfall). Floods and landslides are not uncommon; shortly before my first road trip, the road in Upper Racha completely washed away, leaving villages cut off for a week until a temporary road was constructed (I actually drove the new road).
An up-to-date list of road closures and restrictions can be found here on the GeoRoad website (in English).
It’s always a good idea to check road conditions and closures before you set out. Call the Roads Department Hotline on +995 322 313 076 and follow them on Facebook for regular updates.
Map of roads in Georgia
Here is a quick map I created of notable roads in Georgia, including popular unpaved, gravel and sealed roads that you might encounter. Click to open the latest version in Google Maps.
Driving style & road safety in Georgia
The roads in Georgia are better than you might expect, but the driving style is worse than you could ever imagine! I’ve lived in Cambodia and Vietnam and trust me, the roads there are nothing compared to Georgia.
It’s not that traffic is particularly heavy – outside of the major centres, it can actually be very sparse, especially in the early morning. It’s more that drivers tend to be impatient, aggressive and heavy handed. This is of course a generalisation, but it’s based on my personal experience – and I think you will find that most people agree.
I could advise you to brush up on Georgian road rules before you get behind the wheel, but there’s really no point. No one seems to follow the rules, despite there being a heavy traffic police presence.
My best advice is to take your time, be hyper aware of other cars, stay out of other people’s way as much as you can, and try to avoid making any sudden moves.
Here are a few things I learned the hard way:
- Lane markings are just a suggestion. Lanes stop and start without notice, even on highways.
- Right of way (including on roundabouts) seems to go to the most expensive or biggest vehicle. There’s not much rhyme or reason to roundabouts – just take it slow and hope for the best.
- People love overtaking at high speeds on single-lane roads and highways. This includes crossing solid lines (technically illegal). In some cases, a car will come up the middle or appear on your right side, creating a third traffic lane. In addition, cars constantly drift from lane to lane without indicating. This is just something you just have to get used to. Check your mirrors constantly and be aware of people overtaking you from every angle.
- Drivers will do anything to not have to stop. Slowing down is seen as a sign of weakness. This means that drivers always dodge parked cars and other obstructions at high speed. If you do stop suddenly, there’s a high chance the car/s behind you – which will invariably be hugging your rear bumper – will collide. Yes, this happened to me once!
- Watch out for merging traffic and slip lanes as people rarely look when merging.
- Be alert to pedestrians and especially animals. In rural areas, there will almost always be livestock on the road. If you need to slow down for an obstruction, put your hazard lights on. Watch out for mopeds and motorbikes as well.
- Traffic and aggressive driving in general is much, much worse in the big cities. I suggest you avoid driving in the cities at all costs. A good way around this is to rent a car through a local agent, who can deliver your rental to a spot on the outskirts of the city.
- Some roads are poorly lit, so I highly recommend you refrain from driving at night – just as I advise against any kind of road travel after dark in Georgia.
Renting a car in Tbilisi
Now that you have a basic idea of what to expect when driving in Georgia, here are the different options for hiring a car in Tbilisi or elsewhere.
Local rental companies vs international rentals
There are two major types of car rental agents operating in Georgia: International and local.
By international, I mean standard brand-name car hire companies such as Hertz, Avis, etc. that you can organise at the airport or online. Local companies by contrast are independent agencies that run a smaller fleet of cars and deal directly with their customers or through different aggregators.
Not surprisingly, local agents tend to offer much lower prices compared with international car hire companies. There are a number of other factors beyond price to weigh-up when deciding which road to take.
|International company||Local agent|
|Newer cars||Older models|
|Higher deposit (min. $300 USD)||Low (or no) deposit required|
|Payment by credit card||Cash only|
|Insurance as an add-on||Insurance (usually) included, unlimited mileage &|
no fees for an additional driver
|Fixed pick-up location (usually the airport)||Free delivery to any address|
|Drop-off only in major cities||Drop-off anywhere|
|High one-way fee||Lower one-way fee|
As you can see, there are pluses and minuses on both sides. If you go with a local agent, your car might be a bit banged up and not exactly clean. But on the plus side, the car will be privately owned and thus fully insured, meaning no extra insurance charge or add-on fee for a second driver.
If you can get your car delivered to a convenient location, you can start your road trip without having to drive through Tbilisi – a huge bonus given that traffic in the capital is atrocious.
Another bonus is that you’ll be supporting a small local business owner over a big brand.
On the flipside, there is a certain peace of mind that comes with choosing a company you know and trust. Local agents take a much more relaxed approach – but they are legit.
For an extra layer of security and assurance, I recommend booking your rental car using an aggregator website. I’ll explain more in the next section.
Process for hiring a car through a local agent
If you opt for a local rental, I recommend using a website such as Local Rent to make a booking. This website aggregates local agents and smaller rental companies to display a wide range of options similar to any other car hire portal. They currently represent more than 1000 cars, and the average cost of a car in Georgia is $41 USD per day. You can find deals for as little as $25 USD per day.
Local Rent has an easy-to-use interface. Start by plugging in your location, dates, and any search filters (gearbox type, optional extras). You can then browse the available listings and make your selection. I love that you get to see real photos of the cars as opposed to just factory images.
Extras such as a child seats, wheel chains and ski racks can be added here. Depending on the agent, you may or may not be required to pay a deposit. If you do, it will be low – around $40-60 USD.
To finalise the reservation, you pay a small fee by credit card to cover the booking charge. The remaining balance is paid in cash (in local currency, GEL) to the agent when you collect the car.
Search for a rental car in Georgia by following this link.
Process for hiring a car through an international company
Most major car rental companies have a presence at Tbilisi Airport. To secure your preferred vehicle and get a better price, I suggest booking your car in advance using a website such as Discover Cars.
Georgia car hire FAQ
Can anyone rent a car in Georgia?
Most car rental companies (including Local Rent) require drivers to be over 23 years of age and to have at least 3 years of driving experience.
The lowest age limit I’ve seen for a rental company here is 21 years (with 1 year of driving experience).
Driving in Georgia with a foreign license – Do I need an international Driving Permit?
Majority of car rental companies do not require you to present an International Driving Permit (IDP) when renting a car in Georgia, provided your local driving license is in Latin alphabet. However, if you get into an accident, the police might ask you for an IDP or a notarised copy of your license in Georgian.
In addition to your home country license, you also need to carry a valid passport/ID card with you at all times.
Note that in Georgia, the license from your home country is technically only valid for one year after you arrive. After that, you need a Georgian license to legally drive here. If you cross the border and renew your passport stamp, this re-activates your ‘permission’ to drive on a foreign license.
What cities can I rent a car in?
The bigger rental companies typically have offices in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi. Renting a car outside of Tbilisi is usually more expensive since there are fewer vehicles available outside of the capital.
Local Rent gives you much more flexibility in this regard. As well as the three cities mentioned, you can pick up/drop off in Borjomi, Zugdidi, Telavi, or half a dozen other cities and towns.
What kind of car do I need for Georgia?
In most cases, a Sedan is all you need for Georgia. If possible, I do recommend looking for a car that has a higher undercarriage clearance. I also recommend going for a mid-sized vehicle for safety.
If you plan on travelling any of the unpaved roads mentioned above or doing any offroading, then a 4WD is essential. The first time I rented a car I got a Pajero and used the 4WD function a handful of times. The second time I drove to Kakheti was in a Prius, and that was totally fine for regular roads and highways.
Local Rent offers gas, diesel and hybrid cars. There are also a handful of campervan rental companies in Georgia, including Mta Campervans based out of Kutaisi.
Is it easy to find an auto transmission?
Yes, there are plenty of automatic transmission cars in Georgia. In fact, it seems to be the norm. Local Rent currently lists more than 550 automatic cars and only a few dozen with manual gearboxes.
I only drive auto and I found plenty of options.
One thing you definitely need to check is that the wheel is on the lefthand-side. Georgia has a mix of both lefthand and righthand vehicles.
Is insurance compulsory?
Third-party car insurance is compulsory in Georgia. Most rentals include third-party liability insurance and collision damage waiver insurance at a minimum.
When booking through Local Rent, super collision damage waiver, which includes tyres, windows and undercarriages, is either free of charge, or can be added for an additional fee.
As always, I recommend taking out a travel insurance policy before driving in Georgia so that you’re covered in case of accident or injury.
What is a Georgian car passport, and do I need one?
Every car in Georgia must carry a ‘car passport’, a small ID card that proves the vehicle is registered. Before you take off, it’s important to double-check your car has one, and you know where to find it in case you get pulled over by police (it’s usually kept in the glovebox).
Can I cross the border in a rental car?
Some companies allow you to cross the border with a rental car, but it’s essential to prepare your documentation and insurance in advance.
It’s not possible to drive a rental car from Georgia into Turkey, Russia, or either of Georgia’s occupied/breakaway territories. If you decide to drive into Armenia or Azerbaijan, you’ll need a valid car passport and a border crossing permit, which costs around $80 USD. This must be organised well in advance with your rental agent. Note that not all companies will allow you to cross the border in one of their cars.
There are only three agents I know of that will allow you to drop off a car in Armenia: Hertz, Cars4Rent and Naniko.
Is fuel cheap in Georgia?
At the time of my first road trip, the cost of fuel in Georgia was very reasonable. When I drove around Georgia, I paid about 50 GEL for half a tank. Prices have since gone up due to inflation and global events. Check current petrol prices here.
There are several varieties of fuel available in Georgia. Your rental car contract will usually specify which type the car requires – usually premium 95 octane or higher.
Not so long ago, smaller petrol stations had a reputation for dishing out dodgy fuel, but this apparently isn’t the case anymore. Still, it’s best to go with a bigger station (Wissol, Gulf, Socar) if you can.
When you pull in, stay in the car and an attendant will fill up the tank for you. (Tip: If there’s a language barrier, point to your bowser of choice or just say ‘Premium’, then say ‘full’.) Payment is made direct to the attendant and both cash and card are accepted. At one rural station I visited they even threw in a free window wash – old school!
Petrol stations are ubiquitous across Georgia, even in mountain areas, so you don’t have to worry about filling up or carrying an extra tank unless you’re going really remote
Are there many garages in Georgia?
If you have car trouble on the road, you shouldn’t have any problem finding a garage (unless you’re in a remote area). The best thing to do in these situations is call the rental agent.
When driving in Kakheti, our Prius got a flat tire. We called the agent to ask for his advice and he informed us that it wasn’t covered under insurance (as we suspected). With the help of a friendly neighbour in Telavi, we took the Prius to a local garage and had the tire mended and re-fitted. This cost us a grand total of 20 GEL. I’m told this is double the normal price – but I didn’t mind since it was a Sunday and the garage opened just for us.
Is it easy to find a car park in Tbilisi?
Parking in Tbilisi can be difficult – another reason I advise against driving in the city.
Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi all have their own parking payment systems. Passes can be purchased online:
- Tbilisi – details here
- Batumi – details here
- Kutaisi – details here
Outside of these three cities, free parking is plentiful.
Often parking spaces are guarded by an attendant wearing a brightly coloured vest. They are there to help you in and out of the spot, and to watch over the cars. If you end up using their service, it’s polite to give a small tip. A few coins will do.
My experience hiring a car in Tbilisi through a local agent
I have rented a car in Georgia three times now – the first time to drive from Tbilisi to western Georgia, the second time I did a shorter road trip around Kakheti wine region, and most recently I drove through the south from Tbilisi to Kutaisi. Things went very smoothly every time.
This section refers to my first car rental experience in Georgia.
Reservation: I booked my car a few weeks in advance using the Local Rent website. The only additional fee I paid was for a one-way rental – the car I chose came with all insurance included. I went through the entire process as a normal customer would and had no issues at all. Once my reservation was confirmed, I received confirmation by email.
A few days before I was set to pick up my car, I decided to change my itinerary slightly and wanted to nominate a different pickup address closer to the highway. I emailed Local Rent and they did this for me straight away and sent me a new confirmation.
Pick up: The day prior, I received an email from the agent supplying my car asking for a photo of my passport and driver’s license so that he could prepare my contract. The night before, I received a text message to confirm the pickup address. They also asked if I had the correct amount of cash on hand or if I’d need change.
On the day of the handover, a representative from the agency met me on a street corner at the parked car. I did a quick inspection of the vehicle, then he presented me with a contract in English that I signed. This included a diagram of the car with all scratches and dings marked out. I paid him in cash and we parted ways.
My car, a 2003 Pajero, was definitely worn in, but it ended up serving me well. The interior of the car wasn’t very clean, but I didn’t mind. The tank was full.
Drop off: Towards the end of my road trip, I had to change my itinerary again and re-route because of lockdowns. I emailed Local Rent and they advised me to contact the agent directly. I was able to organise a new drop off address (in a different city, mind you) without any hassle. All I had to do was confirm the final address the night before.
On the morning I was set to drop off the car, I sent an email with my ETA of 12 midday. The agent asked me to hold onto the car for a few more hours to give his driver time to reach me from Tbilisi. Brilliant!
When we eventually had our rendezvous, the driver did a cursory inspection of the outside of the car and checked that the tank was full. He gave me a big thumbs up, and that was it. Too easy.
The process of going through a local agent was a lot more relaxed than what I’m used to. But everything went smoothly, and I really appreciated the flexibility of being able to adjust my pickup and drop off location at the last minute.
When I rented a car for Kakheti a few months later, I again used Local Rent but took a Prius from a different agent. This experience was a bit different.
Unlike the first time, I was not asked to provide my ID or driver’s license. In fact, the agent never inquired about whether or not I even had a license. I didn’t receive a contract to sign either.
This made me a bit nervous at first, but now I realise that every agent does things a bit differently. This guy was far more relaxed about the whole thing!
Conclusion: My top tips for driving in Georgia
My first time driving in Georgia was an overwhelmingly positive experience. These are the most important tips I can offer:
- Use a local agent, but go through an aggregator such as Local Rent. This gives you the best of both worlds in terms of value, security and flexibility.
- Organise to pickup and drop off your car up on the outskirts of the city to avoid heavy traffic.
- Buy a local sim card to use for navigation. Google Maps works perfectly in Georgia. There’s no need to hire a GPS unit.
- At pickup, be sure to inspect the car thoroughly for damage and take lots of photos. Check the lights are working and note down the fuel level. Often these cars come with a low tank, so you might need to visit a petrol station first up.
- Request a contract. In my experience not every agent will make you sign one, but you should always have something on paper before you set off.
- Re-confirm your drop off time. When you use Local Rent, the process for returning a car is very different! Many agents don’t hold you to the return time like international outfits do. Be sure to contact the agent a few hours beforehand to make sure they are there to meet you – otherwise you might get stuck waiting for them.
- Hit the road bright and early. Georgia as a whole is late to rise so you can have the roads almost to yourself if you get an early start.
- Avoid driving at night.
- If you get into any difficulty or damage your car in any way, call the agent immediately. Insurance normally requires you to report any incident to the police immediately – so don’t wait until you return the car.
- If you are involved in an accident, stop the car immediately. Moving the car even one centimetre might void the insurance. Call the police, the agent and the insurance provider.
- Go slow. If in doubt, stick to the far right and most other drivers will leave you be. I didn’t cop a single honk in 10 days.
- Be confident! Driving in Georgia really isn’t that bad.
So, would you drive in Georgia? Anything else you’d like to know about renting a car in Tbilisi or driving in Georgia? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to help.
More Georgia travel resources
- Planning a trip to Georgia? Check out my comprehensive Georgia Travel Guide
- Where to stay in Georgia – my top recommended accommodations around the country
- Where to eat in Tbilisi – the best Georgian restaurants
Hello, fantastic blog !!
We are planning a quick trip to Georgia, on February to spend two days skiing in Gudauri, do you think that is worthy to rent a car to reach Gudauri ?
Hi Sole – no, I don’t think it’s necessary. You won’t need it when you’re there if you’re skiing. I would just take a taxi or bus (GoTrip is preferred in winter for safety reasons). Just be sure to check with the resort – the season has been very late to start this year and there still isn’t much snow.
My two friends and I are planning to buy a car in Georgia and drive to London UK.
Any tips regarding where to look and what the process is please.
Love your blogs – great source of valuable information
Hi Ron – the biggest issue is driving into Turkey, you can’t cross that border with a Georgian registered car unless you are a resident of Georgia. The only way around it is to use the car ferry across the Black Sea.
Do you think worth renting a car for our 3 and half days trip in Kutaisi?
We are deciding, but wanted to just to make sure we visits more places.
Ps: Your blog is amazing! Thank you.
Hi Paloma – sorry I missed your comment. I’m probably too late, but if not – Kutaisi is a great place to rent a car because there is a lot to see in the regions outside the city. Racha, Samegrelo and Upper Imereti are some of my favourite places!
my wife and I just spent 10 days in Georgia for our honeymoon. Using this article, I rented a car from LocalRent and we drove EVERYWHERE!
From Tbilisi to Batumi, the roads were great! The major hwy project is coming along nicely and even with many construction zones, it was a safe and easy passage. We also drive North out of Tbilisi to play in the snow. My wife, being from the Philippines, had never seen or touched snow. The hwy going north was also safe and easily navigated. I’m not sure why, but by afternoon semi trucks were being stopped on the shoulder of the road to wait. I presumed it was due to the 6-8% grades on those mountain rods but I never stopped to ask.
Driving in Tbilisi is not for the faint of heart. As a person who drives for a living, I enjoyed it greatly! Very agressive and very fast paced. it’s how I always wished I could drive in Detroit!
Beware, if pulling out of a place known to serve alcohol, you may be pulled over “just to check” if you were drinking.
As a non-drinker, I thought it was funny. The police got close enough to know I had what I had eaten.. haha Kabob does have a powerful aroma though.
I could write so much more but I want to thank you for your article! It was the one honest and accurate piece I found on driving.
Perhaps in another post, you could focus on street signs (perhaps you have already and I missed it).
Most are intuitive, but some took a while to understand.
****something I did not see in your post***
The use of headlights is mandatory in tunnels and I recommend having your lights on 24/7 just in case
I love Georgia now, and we will be back in the spring to drive and explore more! Thank you so much for your help
Thanks so much for your trip report, John! I’m glad you embraced the driving style in Georgia!
Trucks are always queuing on the side of the Military Highway because of bottlenecks at the border. There is a new tunnel/road being built now to offer some relief.
Thank you very much for the tips and insights! Hope you’ll be back to Georgia again soon.
Hi! I’ve been to Tbilisi and Gudauri but never behind the wheel. We’re going back but plan to visit Lopota Lake for a day. It’s a 2 hour drive says google map.
Is it considerably easy to drive there? I just thought we’ll have more freedom to see the area with our own car.
Hi Nina – Kakheti is definitely one of the easier places to drive as the roads are good and it’s mostly flat. I found it the easiest region to drive in personally. The highways do get busy on weekends so keep that in mind.
First of all: This blog is one of the most helpful resources when traveling to Georgia! We followed the recommendations here as we wanted to discover Georgia not only by train and Marshrutkas but also on our own terms using a rental car. LocalRent was very easy to use. In hindsight, I would recommend a 4×4 car (we got a Toyota Prius…) as most roads outside of Tbilisi are in (very) poor conditions. We drove to Kazbegi and Sighnaghni and it worked quite well. Always watch out for animals and people wandering on the roads and for (very) reckless drivers. As suggested here, we also avoided driving during night time as you want to see those (sometimes very big) pot holes…
So glad you enjoyed your trip, Patrick!
I understand what you mean but I have to disagree – most major roads outside Tbilisi are relatively good (aside from potholes), but there are a few that are quite rough or under construction. I created a map (found in this post) with the major ones. There is a lot of road work going on now.
Totally agree with you about not driving at night!
Kakheti actually has some of the best roads in the country – you’ll have to come out west next time and see our potholes, he he! Hope you’ll come back to Georgia again soon! Take care!
Do you know where I can get a drivers rule book downloaded as I would like to get my Georgian drivers license.
Thanks for your help.
Hi Margaret – I’m not sure where it’s available in English. I would recommend getting in touch with a local English-speaking instructor. You can also use a site such as this one to prepare for the theoretical test: https://emsi.ge/c/exam/tickets
Hi Emily, I will go to Georgia this September. Should I need a international license if I would like to rent a car? Isit possible that I drive to Mtskheta, kazbegi and return to Tbilisi in one day?
Hi Vlip, it depends on the licence you hold and what language it’s written in. Best to check with the rental company.
It’s possible to do that in one day but you won’t enjoy it – Kazbegi is 3 hours from Tbilisi without stops, and there are lots of places to see on the way. I highly recommend you spend a night in Kazbegi.
Your blog has been an invaluable resource in planning my trip to Georgia. One thing that I really want to do (and haven’t had much luck finding info on) is go east from Batumi towards Khulo to visit Adjara’s beautiful 19th century wooden mosques. Since many of these mosques are in remote mountain villages I figured the only way to see them would be by private vehicle but I wanted to get your opinion as to the best way to see them. Thanks!
Hi Ben, thanks so much!
Khulo and Upper Adjara is just wonderful – I have been twice but really want to spend more time there. The mosques are on my radar too after seeing that beautiful photography project.
You’re right that you would definitely need your own car or preferably a car and experienced driver – most are in small villages off the main road. Additionally from my research, I’ve found that some are only accessible by going off-road, so you would need a 4WD. This would be fairly easy to do from Batumi or Khulo.
I hope this answers your question. It would be terrific to see these mosques in person – I hope you can fulfil your plan! Please keep me posted.
Hey Emily, I have no words to explain how useful your blog has been.. I have a trip in june to Montenegro and another in August to Georgia and your posts on these regions are just amazing.. incredible content.
My question: I am planning to go from Telavi straight to Kazbegi.. Google Maps give me 2 routes.. a longer one via Tbilisi and a shorter one going north only.. but this one goes thru the Jhinvali and Tianeti road that you mentioned is partially unpaved.
How hard is it to go thru this unpaved road? Is it doable with a sedan like a Corolla? I am about to book my car with local rent and I am willing to book a Sedan (more comfort for long trips) but this small part of the road is giving me doubts… Thanks for your help
Hi Fabricio, very glad to hear that, many thanks for the kind words!
Yes, the Akhmeta-Tianeti road is still unpaved – actually work just started on it this month but it won’t be finished until next year. I think a 4WD would be preferable, but a Corolla should be fine as long as you stick to the main path and don’t go off-road to any of the churches. I did it in a minivan which was quite low to the ground and we didn’t have any issues. Just take it nice and slow.
But – if it’s raining or has been raining then a 4WD might be mandatory as it could be quite muddy.
I hope this helps!
What’s the police like?
Hi Willy, thanks for your question. There is certainly a police presence on the road plus speed cameras etc. I haven’t had to deal with the authorities personally, but from what I hear, it’s usually a hassle-free process.
Willy, I had several interactions with police. I am a talkative fella and several times I talked to them on the street. I was also pulled over by a road patrol.
in all of my experiences, they were helpful and generous with their time and knowledge.
I felt that they were like most police in any US city, Their happiness is helping others. By showing them respect and appreciation, you will make fast friends and maybe even a photo op with a cop haha
Hi Emily, such a nice and details blog and so far not found this much explanatory details specifically for Georgia trip and that too many blogs on almost on all’ topics.
Need quick guidance, I have booked tickets hotel everything for my mid February trip to Georgia and planning to drive on my own. However just asking if Tbilisi to Gudauri (ski resort) do I need 4wd or a sedan will be ok (considering its peak of winter season). Thank you in advance and stay safe.
Hi Jaggs, thank you! Sedan is perfectly fine for Gudauri, the road is fully paved and well maintained throughout winter. There’s always a chance the road will be closed due to snow/avalanche risk but usually it’s the part beyond the resort. It’s a good idea to double-check conditions before you set off, either ask your guesthouse in Gudauri or call the roads department.
Thanks Emily for your swift response.
i am planning to drive from Tbilisi airport to Gadauri then kazbegi. can u suggest a best and safe route. i domt want to hire a guide, want to drive myself
Hi Ramzi – there is only one way up, via the Georgian Military Highway. Just take it slowly, check weather conditions on the ground and watch out for trucks!
Hi Emily thanks for the detailed guide. I am planning to travel to travel to Georgia in November and my iteneary is tiblisi to gudauri to kazbegi to borjomi to kutaisi to batumi and back to tiblisi. Driver with guide is a lot of money so do you suggest renting a car and driving to these places would be okay? We don’t have much experience of snowy roads though. It would be the first time but generally are confident drivers
Hi Arjun, the only place you might see snow is in Gudauri/Kazbegi. It’s a lot of driving but if you space it out, it’s definitely manageable!
Hello! Thanks a lot for all your posts they are incredibly helpful! I decided to rent a car from Tbilisi to be more flexible. Being a good and experienced driver I’ll be driving up the Military Highway. Do you have a recommendation for a pick-up location? Thank you!
Fantastic! I once picked up a car from outside ‘Restaurant Tbilisi’ on the highway – it’s a bit busy, but it puts you straight on the highway. You can bypass Mtskheta if you’re not stopping there.
Have a safe and fun drive!
Wow! Amazing guide.
I have booked a car from Myrentacar just now (Ford Escape 2008) as 2011 model doesn’t have Bluetooth and CD players. I will travel from Tbilisi to Batumi on 16th July 2021 and then back to Tbilisi or Racha on 19th July 2021 but I don’t think they can pick the car in Racha so have to drop in Tbilisi. They are also providing free sim car but not sure if it will contain internet package or not.
I have to stay for 3 days in Batumi, we are 2 friends and need 2 separate rooms and 2 washrooms. Can you advise some best options with great surroundings? If reasonable price would be amazing as I don’t want to waste a lot on hotels.
Hi Shoaib, fantastic! Sounds like an adventure!
My favourite hotel in Batumi is Kartuli, rooms start from a very reasonable rate and the views are outstanding.
thank you for all the great info. I plan on renting a car in Tbilisi in mid July and then returning it in Yerevan. Myrentacar.com does not give me this option and no way to contact the rental company to ask them if they will allow this. Do you know how I can rent a car in Georgia and return in Armenia?
any help will be great.
Hi Michael, I’m not aware of any companies that allow this (due to insurance issues). But I will ask around and see if I can find some info for you!
Thanks so much for such a comprehensive site – I’m trying to read as much as I can before planning our trip to Georgia this year and you have so much helpful information!
I would like to ask though, you recommend not self-driving to Kazbegi, are there specific reasons to avoid it? Our group tends to like the rental car option, so I want to make sure I know what we’d be getting into, or if we should hire a driver instead.
Thanks again for all the great material!
Hi Karen, very glad to hear that!
The main reasons to avoid that road are weather conditions (snow in winter and rock fall/landslides that block the highway in spring/summer), but more importantly the large numbers of lorry trucks coming to and from the border. It’s really up to you – personally I feel more comfortable going up with an experienced driver in a car, but if you research conditions once you get here and are prepared and confident on the roads, then you could well have a very enjoyable drive! It’s a very scenic road.
I hope this answers your question!
Thank you very much for this detailed and useful information. I will take a go trip car during my visit in late June since am a nature lover and it will be my first time trip.
Terrific! GoTrip is a great service. I hope you have a wonderful trip!
Thank you very much for all the detailed information on Georgia, I am planning a trip on the 4th of June and I’ve used your website for all of my planning, it’s a treasure trove!
I have one question: I plan to rent a car for transportation between Tbilisi-Sighnaghi and Telavi – Tbilisi via Gombori pass ( plus a few small trips in-between).
I am not a complete beginner but I am not 100% confident either considering it’s a foreign country – but would you say it’s safe to drive on these 2 routes (in particular Gombori pass)?
Hi Magda, very happy to hear that! I hope you have a wonderful trip!
I drove that route in February. The Kakheti Highway to Sighnaghi is very easy. I recommend you get your car delivered to a spot on the highway so that you don’t have to drive through Tbilisi. The Gombori Pass is a little bit windy in parts but very manageable. When I did it, it was a little busy because it was a weekend, so it depends on the day and time of day that you travel. If possible, try to leave early to avoid traffic.
If you don’t feel confident you could look at GoTrip.ge – they offer cars and drivers for a reasonable rate.
I hope this helps!