From pointers for planning the perfect itinerary to restaurant etiquette and staying safe on the roads, here are 23 essential Georgia travel tips to know before you go.

The first time I visited Georgia in 2017, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I’m usually one to over-research and over-plan (can you tell?) – but on this particular trip, I was totally underprepared. 

This mostly worked in my favour. Almost everything I experienced in Georgia was a kind of ‘pleasant surprise’: Transport, money, safety, food, accommodation, hospitality – everything just flowed.

Things have changed in the interim and travelling in Georgia is a bit different to how it was even 5 short years ago. Having lived here for over a year now and travelled to almost every corner of the country, I still learn something new every day.

My job is to absorb information, and over time I’ve picked up some really helpful tips that I wish I had known on my first trip. With so many people looking to visit Georgia for the first time this year, it’s finally time to put everything down on one page.

A man holds two passports and a small bottle of Georgian wine.
The question on everyone’s mind: Yes, you really do get a mini bottle of wine at Georgian immigration!

The last thing I want to do is give too much away or detract from your joy of discovering Georgia for yourself. If you’d rather come in blind like I did, stop reading this right now and go check out this list of amazing places to visit in Georgia instead!

If, however, you like to be prepared and you want to save yourself money, time and stress, then read on. Here are 23 things I think you should know before you visit the country of Georgia for the first time.


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23 practical Georgia travel tips for first-time visitors

1. Late spring or fall is a nice time to visit Georgia

Georgia has a relatively mild climate outside of the high-altitude mountain regions. While there’s not exactly a definitive ‘best time to visit Georgia’, there is surely a period to avoid: Peak summer.

Summer is high season for international visitors. On top of that, when things start to heat up (and smog up) in Tbilisi, locals intuitively flock to the mountains or the villages. There’s increased pressure on transport and accommodation throughout the summer months as a result. On the Black Sea Coast, hotel prices go up considerably.

The nicest time to visit Georgia in my opinion is during shoulder season, either in late spring or in fall. Once the spring rains clear (usually after Orthodox Easter), temperatures are mild, wildflowers are blooming, and it’s not too crowded yet. (Check the dates for the Eid al-Fitr holiday – this period does get busy with visitors from neighbouring countries.)

Pink blossoms seen when visiting Georgia in spring.
Spring in Batumi.

Fall or autumn (September to late October) is another great time to visit as the whole country is in a festive mood. The wine harvest, Rtveli, takes place around this time and if you’re organised, you can watch or participate in grape-picking in Kakheti. In the capital, the Tbilisoba Festival is held in October. Temperatures remain mild through to late October, and most mountain areas that are cut off in winter remain accessible until then.

Georgia has an extremely varied geography so temperatures and weather conditions vary a lot depending on where you go. Always do your research before you set out.

Key takeaway: Visit in late spring for hiking or fall for wine season. Avoid the summer months unless you’re going straight to the mountains. Consider winter for a Tbilisi city break but note that some mountain areas are inaccessible.

2. Top georgia travel tip: Buy a local sim card

A sim card is pretty much a necessity in Georgia if you’re going to be using taxis (see my next tip for more) or you need to navigate with Google Maps. It’s so easy and affordable to get set up with a local sim, there’s really no reason not to.

Magti is my preferred provider in Georgia for price, coverage and customer service. A sim card costs 2 GEL and the best deal is an unlimited 4G data package for just 5 GEL (1.50 USD) per week.

A Georgian Magti sim card.
Magti sim card.

Don’t buy a sim card at the airport – prices are much higher. Instead, wait until you get into the city and can visit a Magti branch. Registration is done for you at the shop (all you need is your passport) and takes all of 10 minutes.

A word of warning: Don’t always trust Google Maps in Georgia, especially for bus routes around Tbilisi. Moovit is generally more reliable.

Key takeaway: Magti is the best mobile provider in Georgia. Don’t buy a tourist sim at the airport – wait to visit an office in the city. See my full step-by-step guide to buying a sim card and my recommended apps for Georgia.

3. Always use an app for taxis (and never take a taxi from the airport!)

Most regular taxis in Tbilisi and other cities do not have metres, meaning you need to negotiate the fare with the driver before you set off. To avoid confusion and overpaying, it’s much easier to use an app to book taxis.

Bolt is the most reliable local app and covers the major cities (there is no Uber in Georgia). It’s easy to use and in my experience, you never have to wait more than a few minutes for a driver. Prices are more than fair and you can tip the driver through the app if you want to.

Taxis drive down a steep cobbled street in Tbilisi, Georgia.
White taxis in Tbilisi are easy to spot. Bolt taxis are private vehicles.

If travelling from Tbilisi Airport to the city, use the airport bus N37, organise a private transfer with GoTrip, or use Bolt.

If travelling from Kutaisi Airport to Tbilisi, you can either use Georgian Bus, which is timed to depart as flights arrive, or book a private transfer. Find more info about travelling from Kutaisi Airport to Tbilisi in this transport guide.

Key takeaway: Always an app to book taxis – avoid hailing cabs on the street and never ever take a taxi from the airport in Tbilisi. See more tips for using taxis in Tbilisi and a comparison of the best apps.

4. Be conscious of road safety

The driving style in Georgia is pure madness. Speeding, filtering to create a new lane of traffic where there isn’t supposed to be one, and overtaking around blind corners on single-lane mountain roads are some of the biggest issues.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious: Georgia has a terrible track record with road accidents, especially on poorly maintained mountain roads. Things are improving gradually, but it’s something every traveller should be conscious of.

I personally don’t have the stomach for long marshrutka rides anymore (even short taxi trips in Tbilisi make me anxious). When booking day trips or organising transfers, road safety is something that should always be front of mind.

Key takeaway: Be hyper vigilant when it comes to road safety in Georgia. Don’t opt for the cheapest day tour as these companies often skimp on safety precautions. Avoid travelling on the roads after dark and never get into a car with a driver who you suspect has been drinking.

5. Use GoTrip for longer road journeys

One of the biggest mistakes people tend to make on their first visit to Georgia is thinking that because the country is so small, it will be fast and easy to get around. In truth, ‘public transport’ is still quite basic here and it can take a long time to get from A to B. Trains in particular are extremely slow (with the exception of the Tbilisi Batumi high-speed train and the train to Zugdidi).

You will come to embrace the clunky marshrutka van as all travellers do, but know there are other (more comfortable and safer) transport options available that won’t break the bank.

A paved highway in Racha, Georgia.
On the road in Racha, north-west Georgia.

GoTrip.ge is one of my absolute favourite services in Georgia. I can’t tell you how many times this platform has saved me. Essentially it’s a long-distance Uber for private one-way or round-trip transfer – input your destination/s (either one-way or return) then choose a driver and vehicle based on their credentials and star rating.

The price is fixed when you book so there’s no need to negotiate the fare, and you can stop wherever you want, whenever you want along the way. Fares are very reasonable and up to 60% cheaper than if you were to find a driver on the street. I especially love GoTrip for journeys such as the Georgian Military Highway where there are lots of places to sight-see along the way.

Visit the GoTrip.ge website and use their Trip Planner to explore routes around Georgia.

Key takeaway: Consider a car and driver for longer journeys and dangerous mountain roads, even if it means paying a bit more. Avoid using marshrutka vans for very long trips, and try to break up long road journeys with an overnight stop.

6. If you hire a car, use a local agent

Georgia is extremely affordable but some things are disproportionately expensive, car hire being one of them. If you want to get off the beaten track by driving around Georgia, the best option is to go through a local agent rather than a brand-name company.

MyRentACar is my favourite platform for booking cars in Georgia. They work exclusively with local agents and offer great prices, as little as $17/day for a 4WD. Insurance is typically included and most agents don’t ask for a deposit or credit card. Just note that the car might be a bit shabbier than you’re used to. Because these agents don’t have offices, they’ll even throw in free delivery to your address.

Check availability and prices for your travel dates here on MyRentACar.

An old car in Sighnaghi, Georgia.
How would you like to drive around in one of these!?

Remember what I said about road safety and exercise a higher level of caution than normal when you’re driving in Georgia. Most highways are in good nick and there aren’t too many curly road rules to wrap your head around – the main thing is to watch out for other drivers. Here are my insights into the local driving style and top tips for self-driving.

Key takeaway: Avoid renting a car through the usual channels and use a local agent instead. MyRentACar is the best platform to find an affordable rental car in Georgia. BUT only hire a car if you’re a confident and experienced driver who doesn’t get spooked by erratic or aggressive drivers.

7. Always carry cash

While 99% of restaurants and hotels in the city take credit card, smaller cafes, markets, taxi drivers (if you’re using them in rural areas) and smaller guesthouses only accept cash payment. Lari is the official currency in Georgia and you should always carry some on you – especially if you’re headed to the regions or the mountains.

Avoid the currency exchange at the airport – instead, use one of the ATMs in the arrivals hall (there are several) to withdraw GEL. All ATMs in Georgia accept Visa and Mastercard, while Bank of Georgia takes AMEX. Withdrawal fees are usually around 2 GEL (some charge nothing) but you’ll need to check with your issuing bank for other charges.

Don’t mistake a paybox for an ATM – payboxes are the jukebox-like plastic boxes on every street corner used for paying bills and other services. They don’t dispense cash. ATMs are everywhere on the street and in malls (but not in convenience stores). For peace of mind, it’s advisable to use the ATMs inside bank branches when you can.

Key takeaway: Card is accepted almost everywhere in the cities but it’s handy to have some cash for smaller purchases. ATMs are ubiquitous throughout Georgia but you should always carry cash with you when travelling in rural areas.

8. Tourist scams and corruption are rare

As long as you exercise common sense, Georgia is an extremely safe place and Tbilisi is a very safe city. Crime is very rarely targeted at tourists.

Scams do happen on occasion, though. Avoid eating or shopping in overly ‘touristy’ areas (such as the pedestrianised part of Agmashenebeli Avenue in Tbilisi), and always ask for the price first before committing to purchase something from a market or food vendor. The biggest culprit is taxis and the best way to safeguard against this is to use an app in the cities and book drivers through your guesthouse when you’re in towns or rural areas.

There is one other perennial tourist scam in Tbilisi and Batumi to watch out for. A group or individual, either someone you meet on the street or through a dating app, will invite you for a drink at a local bar then ask you to foot the insanely overpriced bill. (This happened to friends of ours and they ended up getting fleeced for thousands of dollars.)

Be cautious when accepting invitations from strangers and if you do, meet at a place of your choosing. Avoid restaurants or especially bars that are not on Google Maps. Unless they’re brand new, if they don’t have a listing or past reviews you can safely assume this is a red flag.

A few decades ago Georgia embarked on a national project to stamp out corruption (notice how every police station is made of glass?). It mostly worked and today, corruption in all forms is extremely rare, especially where tourists are concerned. It’s not something you have to be wary of.

Key takeaway: Exercise a normal level of vigilance, especially in the big cities, but know that petty crime, scams and corruption targeted at tourists is extremely very rare in Georgia.

9. It’s (mostly) safe to drink the tap water

Can you drink the tap water in Georgia? This is always the subject of debate among expats. Georgians love their spring and mineral waters (e.g. Borjomi) and for the most part, tap water is of a similarly high quality. Nine times out of 10 when you’re travelling in rural areas and small towns it will be more than safe to drink the tap water.

Travertine mineral springs stained with red minerals in Georgia.
A travertine water spring on the road to Kazbegi.

Many people choose not to drink the tap water in Tbilisi. In this case it’s more of an issue with the pipes than the water itself. If you’re staying in an old building, the water might be tainted with residue from old pipes. In all likelihood it’s still safe to drink but it might not sit well with you.

Key takeaway: Georgia is blessed with mountain springs and mineral waters – always carry a reusable water bottle when you’re travelling so that you can fill up at these natural springs. For the most part, tap water is safe to drink in towns and cities but some people choose to avoid it in Tbilisi. Bottled water is extremely affordable.

10. Understand that the days start late

Tbilisi in particular wakes up late and stays up late. Even in summer when the sun is out before 5am, if you’re on the street before 9, you can hear a pin drop. Banks open at 10am but many people start work mid-morning and continue late into the evening.

Don’t wake up early and expect everything to be open. Georgia doesn’t have a strong breakfast or brunch culture, so cafes in Tbilisi rarely open before 10am (see a list of early risers here). Shops, museums, galleries and other attractions tend to open between 10am and 11am. Plan your days accordingly.

Key takeaway: Whenever possible, take breakfast at your accommodation (especially when you’re staying in a smaller town or village). Restaurant opening hours are sometimes flexible so it’s best to arrive 15-20 minutes after advertised opening time to be safe. Stick to outdoor activities in the mornings, especially in Tbilisi, and save your museums for the afternoon.

11. Take opening hours with a pinch of salt

As I mentioned earlier, Google Maps is far from 100% reliable in Georgia. Sometimes you’ll roll up to an address expecting to find a cafe there and zip, nada, nothing! (This still happens to me fairly often – sometimes I just can’t see the place, other times it’s moved.)

Business owners often neglect to update their opening hours or addresses on Google Maps, so it’s better to check on Facebook or Instagram instead. If I’m visiting a venue for the first time, I will always send a message on social media the day before to check they’re actually going to be open.

When a cafe or restaurant goes out of business, sometimes this doesn’t get updated either – so you’ll find places that are marked as ‘open’ on maps but are actually long abandoned, and other places marked as ‘permanently closed’ that are actually open.

In addition, lots of venues will open up later than their listed hours indicate or close the kitchen for the day at short notice (especially if the water or power is out). This is just something you have to get used to. Always have a Plan B up your sleeve just in case!

Key takeaway: Don’t rely on Google Maps – businesses are much more likely to update their Facebook or Instagram pages if they close down, move, or if their hours change. If in doubt, message ahead to double check.

12. Don’t rush through Tbilisi

If you’re starting or ending your trip in the capital, you might think a night in Tbilisi will suffice. While it’s true that you can see a good deal of Tbilisi’s ‘must-sees’ in a day, if you want to savour the city, you’ll need more time than that.

Tbilisi is the capital of course, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like it. Where other big cities are anonymous and cookie-cutter, Tbilisi has a very unique look and atmosphere that I can’t really compare to anywhere else. This has long been the most multicultural city in the region and all that wonderful diversity still shines through today.

Best view of Tbilisi city and Narikala Fortress.
How could you not fall in love with this city?

Aside from the historical landmarks, museums and important churches, there are lots of offbeat things to do in Tbilisi, from visiting Stalin’s old printing press to taking an urban hike for a city view. On top of that, there are squillions of cafes, galleries, cute boutiques and wine bars that you can happily spend a day floating between.

Some of Tbilisi’s most interesting neighbourhoods, especially Sololaki, Abanotubani and Avlabari, should be explored at a slow pace by foot. Consider joining a free or paid walking tour for a more in-depth look at the city’s heritage architecture or Soviet history.

Plus, you’ll want at least six meals in Tbilisi so that you can sample a good range of the city’s best restaurants.

Key takeaway: Two to three days is the minimum amount of time you need in Tbilisi if you want to do it justice. If you love cities or you prefer slow travel, you can quite easily fill in 5-plus days in Tbilisi.

13. Pack your bathers for the sulfur baths

I know this is very specific, but a trip to the sulfur baths is a Tbilisi experience most visitors want to have – just make sure it’s memorable in the right way!

Everyone goes nude at the public baths, but if you’re booking a private room with a Kisi massage/scrub treatment, it’s advisable to wear a bikini (women) or trunks (men).

Key takeaway: Pack your swimmers for Georgia, even if you’re visiting in winter. Read more about bathhouse etiquette in Abanotubani here.

14. Stay at family guesthouses when you can

Guesthouses are by far the most popular type of accommodation in rural Georgia. When you stay at a guesthouse, you’re spending the night in a family home – a bit like a homestay.

Home-cooked meals and home-made alcoholic beverages are part and parcel of the guesthouse experience. More than that, guesthouse host families are like travel agents who can organise taxis, tours and tickets, phone ahead to save you a seat on the next marshrutka, call the local restaurant to book you a table… And just about anything else you might need.

A table laid with traditional Georgian foods at a guesthouse in Guria.
Typical guesthouse hospitality in Guria, Georgia.

I swear by guesthouses, especially in small villages where you might need some help with travel logistics. It’s also a really nice way to meet a family and make a local connection, and to link up with other travellers too.

Needless to say this is one of the easiest ways to show your support for small business and community tourism in Georgia.

Key takeaway: When in doubt, book a family run guesthouse. Not only do they offer affordable accommodation and home-cooked meals, they can help you with all kinds of travel logistics too. Most can be booked online through Booking.com but many only accept cash payment. See here for a full list of my favourite guesthouses around Georgia.

15. Georgia is a good place to treat yourself

As soul-nourishing as guesthouse hospitality is, it’s nice to treat yourself to something slightly more luxurious once in a while. The good news is that Georgia – a budget-friendly destination by any measure – has a stellar range of high-quality accommodations that are extremely well priced.

In Georgia, you can spend the night in a historic wine chateaux in Kakheti, settle into a ski-in luxury mountain cabin in Kazbegi, go glamping in the heart of the forest in Racha, or curl up in a high-rise boutique hotel overlooking the Black Sea for a fraction of the cost of something similar in Western Europe (or even Eastern Europe for that matter).

It’s within almost every traveller’s budget to splash out on a nice hotel room or a private tour. If you’re supporting a local business at the same time, then why not.

Interior of the Tsinandali Radisson hotel near Telavi, Georgia.
The beautiful Radisson Tsinandali is one of my favourite places to splash out in Georgia.

The only area where you don’t really need to fork out extra cash is food. In my experience, a higher price tag rarely equates with better tasting food or more attentive service – so you’re safe to stick to the cheap (or mid-range) and cheerful when it comes to restaurants.

On a serious note: Don’t come to Georgia expecting everything to be dirt cheap or worse, for things to get handed to you for free. No doubt you’ll be the recipient of Georgia’s legendary hospitality at some point in your travels, but remember to be gracious and try not to take advantage of people’s generosity.

Key takeaway: Don’t be afraid to book that beautiful accommodation or private tour if it will enhance your experience. There are other areas where you can save money, such as on food and alcohol.

16. Make sure you do at least one hike

Even as a bonafide non-hiker, I can say this with absolute confidence: You must get out on foot in the mountains, even if it’s just for a half-day trek.

Many people come to Georgia for the sole purpose of hiking. The Mestia to Ushguli trail in Svaneti is arguably the most popular multi-day hike, but there are trails in every national park. Black Rock Lake in Lagodekhi, the Truso Valley near Kazbegi and St Andrews Trail near Borjomi are all great alternative options. If you’re serious about hiking, have a look at the Transcaucasian Trail, a route-in-progress that will soon connect the whole South Caucasus region.

Aerial view of Gergeti Trinity Church against a backdrop of mountains - a must-see when you visit Kazbegi, Georgia.
Don’t miss the easy hike from Kazbegi to Gergeti Trinity.

Why hike? There’s no better way to connect with the mountain landscapes that make Georgia so special. It’s not just the scenery, but the cultural diversity and way of life in the mountains that makes hiking a must-do.

Key takeaway: Bring your comfy shoes because a hike in Georgia is mandatory. The Gergeti Trinity Church hike is easily the best half-day trek in the country.

17. Look beyond the mountains

We all know Georgia has majestic mountains, but did you know there’s also mud volcanoes, rainbow hills, volcanic plateaus and primordial Colchic forests in Georgia – sometimes all within the same region?

For a country of its size, Georgia is incredibly diverse in terms of the climate and landscape. Wake up in the mountains, off-road through a semi-desert then eat dinner on a black-sand beach – it’s possible in Georgia.

A volcanic lake in Javakheti, Georgia.
Javakheti, southern Georgia’s volcanic plateau, is an unexpectedly beautiful landscape.

The Greater Caucasus are obviously a must, but I urge you to explore some of the other landscapes and outdoor adventures Georgia has to offer as well. Some of the most rewarding experiences this country has to offer can be found in the more remote, rugged corners: Start by looking at Vashlovani, Lagodekhi, Machakhela and the newly UNESCO-listed Colchic Forests and Wetlands for inspiration.

By the same token, don’t limit your horizons to the big three cities. Georgia has some incredible smaller cities and regional towns that are every bit as rewarding. My favourites are Gori, Telavi, Oni and Zugdidi.

Key takeaway: The best Georgia itineraries sample as many different landscapes as possible. This will help you appreciate the contrasts – and make those mountains seem all the more stunning. Here are 35+ places to visit in Georgia to get you started.

18. Understand the dress code for visiting religious sites

There is a strict dress code for visiting Orthodox churches, monasteries and convents in Georgia. The same applies for mosques.

For men, this means covered knees (no shorts) and covered shoulders (no singlet tops). Women must cover their shoulders and knees as well, and cover their hair. Some churches in rural areas require women to be wearing a long skirt rather than fitted pants. In my experience, a long jacket that’s zipped up will do.

Aerial view of Bagrati Cathedral.
Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi.

Ninety-nine percent of religious sites have wrap-around apron skirts and headscarves that you can borrow at the door free of charge. However, I always recommend dressing appropriately if you know you’re going to be visiting a church or monastery. For hygiene reasons, I suggest women carry their own light scarf for their hair.

Remember that many tourist sites such as Vardzia and Uplistsikhe have chapels or churches so you’ll need to dress appropriately if you want to visit this part of the complex.

Although there are no hard and fast rules about how to dress outside of religious settings, Georgia tends to err on the conservative side in this department. It’s unusual for men to wear shorts or for women to wear microskirts (except in Batumi), for example. When visiting rural areas and small villages, it’s better to cover up to avoid making other people feel uncomfortable.

Key takeaway: If you’re going to be visiting lots of religious sites, make sure you pack appropriate attire. Ladies, pack a lightweight cotton scarf and always carry it with you. Try to dress more conservatively in rural areas. See here for my full Georgia packing list and what to wear in Georgia.

19. Watch out for monastery fatigue

Speaking of visiting religious sites – monastery fatigue is real, and it’s something many travellers experience. I have no idea just how many monasteries and churches there are in Georgia, but it’s probably in the tens of thousands. Kakheti in particular has dozens and dozens of splendid monuments to see.

I’ve been here long enough that I can start to appreciate the little design details and historical quirks that set each one apart. But on my first few visits to Georgia, I didn’t know enough to appreciate the differences so everything just started to blend into one.

Something important to mention here is that monasteries are much more than just religious sites: They’re equally historical sites. Georgian culture, literature, music, food, wine – the list goes on – is all so interwoven with the church, it’s impossible to find one without the other. When you visit a monastery, you’re not just learning about religion, you’re immersing yourself in history and culture as well. Where else in the world but Georgia would you visit a monastery to do a wine tasting!?

Alaverdi Monastery in Kakheti, Georgia.
Alaverdi Monastery, a must-see in Georgia.

My advice is to pace yourself – don’t pack too many monasteries/churches into one day, and try to split them up with other activities (in Kakheti, wine tastings do the job perfectly). Look for something memorable, maybe a distinctive icon, to help you differentiate each place. And be selective about the ones you do visit – don’t feel pressured to visit a monastery you’re not interested in just because someone says you should. (Unless it’s me telling you, because I am very selective about the monasteries I recommend!)

Key takeaway: Most monasteries have little or no signage beyond a basic information plaque so if you want to gain an appreciation (and you don’t speak enough Georgian to converse with the priest), either go with a guide or read-up as much as you can before your visit. This will help you better appreciate each monastery and church that you visit and keep you feeling motivated to see more.

20. Don’t skip the wine region

Cultivating grapes, fermenting wine and raising a glass of Saperavi at a Supra feast are all fundamental aspects of Georgian identity. Just as you can’t visit the country without seeing a few monasteries, no trip to ‘the cradle of wine’ is complete without a jaunt through the wine region.

A table laid with glasses and bottles for a wine tasting in Georgia.
Ready for a Georgian wine degustation in Kakheti!

I say ‘the’ wine region, but what I really mean is a wine region. Kakheti might be the biggest, most productive and most popular wine route, but there are vineyards all over Georgia. Maranis (cellars) in Imereti (outside Kutaisi), Upper Adjara (a day trip from Batumi) and Racha all showcase traditional winemaking methods.

You don’t go to a winery just to drink wine – you also go to learn about Qvevri technology, Georgia’s 8000-year tradition of fermenting grapes underground in clay vessels. Even if you don’t drink alcohol or you have no interest in wine, it’s an opportunity for a hands-on lesson in Georgian culture.

Key takeaway: Kakheti is a great choice for a wine tour, but remember there are vineyards and cellars all over Georgia. Wherever you go, be sure to visit a mix of commercial and small family wineries that use Qvevri techniques so you can observe the traditional methods.

21. Come hungry!

Is it rumours of ‘soup dumplings’ as big as your hand and ‘cheesy bread’ topped with melted butter and egg yolk that are drawing you like a magnet to Georgia? Don’t worry, you wouldn’t be the first traveller to be lured here by their stomach.

It doesn’t take long to realise there’s way more to Georgian cooking than just Khinkali and Khachapuri – though both those dishes really are very good.

A chef holds up a Khinkali dumpling at a restaurant in Georgia.
Glorious Khinkali!

Marigold, blue fenugreek, sour plum, kiwi, pomegranate, homemade cheese, tandoor bread and the best tomatoes on earth – it’s all waiting for you in Georgia, and in combinations and concoctions you’ve likely never encountered before.

The food here continues to blow me away every time I eat out, especially when I’m travelling in the villages. Unexpectedly fresh, always packed with flavour and fiercely regional, Georgian must be one of the most underrated cuisines on the planet.

Just be strategic with your meals! It’s not a bad idea to skip breakfast so that you can concentrate on lunch and dinner, the two biggest meals of the day traditionally.

Key takeaway: Get your fill of Khachapuri and Khinkali then look beyond the typical dishes to discover the wonderful world of Georgian cuisine. Tbilisi has many restaurants that specialise in regional dishes but it’s even better if you can taste them in-situ. Samegrelo, Upper Adjara and Racha are my personal favourite foodie destinations in Georgia.

22. Never eat Khinkali with a knife and fork

This one is fairly self-explanatory. There’s only one way to eat Khinkali and that’s with your fingers – it’s the only way to ensure you don’t miss a single drop of that delicious meat juice!

There are of course some exceptions: Non-meat Khinkali is sometimes eaten with cutlery, and you can use the tip of your fork to harpoon the meat dumplings if you don’t want to get your hands dirty.

Key takeaway: Put that knife and fork away. Read more restaurant etiquette tips here, and don’t forget to download a free copy of my Tbilisi Khinkali Guide so you know where to find the best dumplings!

23. Learn some Georgian before you arrive

Someone once told me that state, religion and language are the holy trinity in Georgia.

The Georgian language has monumental significance as a symbol of cultural identity and sovereignty. Unlike some other post-Soviet countries, Georgia held onto its tongue through thick and thin. People are incredibly proud of their language and everything it represents.

A blue sign with Georgian language script.
The Georgian alphabet is very beautiful and very easy to learn.

Learning a few words of Georgian will not only help you interact with people and break the ice, it’s also a nice way to demonstrate your respect for the country and the people. Believe me when I say that locals will hugely appreciate you making even the smallest effort.

As someone who’s spent the past year or so trying to learn Georgian, I can tell you it’s very challenging. Learning the characters of the Georgian alphabet is a great place to start. Helpfully, every letter is ‘pure’ and pronounced the same way no matter how it’s written or where it falls in a word. Once you know your k from your k’, you’ll be surprised how much you can read and understand.

Key takeaway: English is widely spoken in Georgia but it pays to learn a bit of the language. Use an app such as Write Georgian to master the beautiful characters and watch free YouTube tutorials such as this one to practice basic conversational Georgian.


What did I miss? Do you have any extra Georgia travel tips to share? Let me know in the comments below.


Georgia essentials

Here are some of the websites and services I use when I’m planning a trip to Georgia and the Caucasus. Remember to check out my full list of travel resources for more tips.

– Find affordable flights to Tbilisi, Batumi or Kutaisi on Kiwi.com, a booking site that mixes and matches airlines to find the best route (there’s a money back guarantee if you miss a connection).

– Use iVisa to check if you need a tourist visa for Georgia and apply for an expedited visa online.

– Pre-book a private transfer from Tbilisi Airport to your hotel or from Kutaisi Airport to Tbilisi with my preferred partners at Friendly.ge.

– Get a great deal on a rental car in Georgia by using MyRentACar to find a local agent.

– Buy your tickets for the Tbilisi to Baku or Yerevan sleeper train online in advance through my partners at Geotrend (get a discount when you use the code in this post).

– Find the best Georgia hotel deals on Booking.com, book a Georgia hostel, or find a unique Airbnb.

– Find the best city tours and day excursions in Georgia.

– Compare mobile providers and pick up a local Georgian sim card.

– Order a copy of the new Lonely Planet Caucasus guidebook (published July 2020).

You might also be interested in…

The ultimate Georgia itinerary: Four detailed & custom designed itineraries

Georgia Travel Guide: All of my 50+ posts plus my top travel tips

Georgia travel tips: 23 things to know before you go

Places to visit in Georgia: 35+ unique destinations around the country

The best things to do in Tbilisi: Favourites, hidden gems & local picks

35+ best restaurants in Tbilisi: Where to eat Georgian food

15 best day trips from Tbilisi: Includes detailed transport instructions

The best time to visit Georgia: Month by month guide to weather, festivals & events

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2 Comments

  1. I am planning to travel to Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan next Spring. I cannot eat gluten. Is this going to be a problem do you think?

    1. Hi Fiona,

      There will be limitations but I think you’ll be fine as long as you plan ahead. A lot of guesthouses can cater to dietary requirements. Lots of dishes in this region are veg and meat based.

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