Whether you’re thinking of travelling the country from east to west or it’s a quick city break in Tbilisi you have in mind, formulating a realistic Georgia travel budget is an important part of the trip planning process.
From the generous visa-free policy to the low cost of food, there’s no two ways about it: Georgia is a very budget-friendly tourist destination.
I rarely use the word ‘cheap’ to describe Georgia; instead, I always say it’s good value for money. Prices are low by European standards (even in the capital), but in most cases, what you get in return is of a pretty high quality. This is certainly the case for accommodations and food.
Your personal budget for Georgia will of course depend on where you go, your travel style and preferences. Backpackers can get by on as little as 25 USD/day while even luxury travellers will find Georgia incredibly affordable. Even if you stayed at boutique hotels, ate and drank until you burst, and only used private transfers to get around, you’d still be looking at a very inexpensive holiday.
Living in Georgia is even more affordable. In a future guide, I’ll compare the cost of living in Tbilisi versus Batumi versus Kutaisi. But for now, I want to focus on the average budget for someone who’s travelling around Georgia.
In this guide, I’ll break down the costs of a dozen or so common expenses and give you my top tips for making your Georgia travel budget stretch further.
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Prices in Georgia
Georgia’s official currency is the lari, abbreviated as GEL. Georgia uses both bank notes and coins, called tetri.
It’s important to know that exchange rates tend to fluctuate quite dramatically. Costs often go up or down to compensate. Every month, ISET uses the ‘Khachapuri Index’ to measure inflation based on the average cost of cooking one standard Imeretian Khachapuri. Pretty neat!
Prices and below are accurate as of March 2021 and based on my personal experience living in and travelling around Georgia. At the time of writing, 1 USD = 3.30 GEL. For up-to-date exchange rates, I recommend XE.com.
Note that both cash and card are widely accepted in Georgia, but it’s always advisable to carry some cash on you for small purchases (e.g. at the market). All cities and towns have ATMs that accept Visa and Mastercard (for AMEX, use Bank of Georgia). Guesthouses and restaurants in small towns and villages may only take cash so come prepared if you’re travelling in remote areas.
Cost of mobile data in Georgia
SIM card + 1 GB of data
- From 7 GEL / 2.10 USD
First things first – it’s incredibly easy and affordable for a tourist to get set up with a local sim card in Georgia. If you can get online when you’re on the move, it will save you a lot of headaches. The ability to use an app to book taxis is worth the cost of a sim alone.
Magti is my preferred provider in terms of price and coverage. A Magti sim card costs 2 GEL, and a data package costs anywhere from 5 GEL for 1GB up to 30 GEL for 20GB. If you’re a heavy data user, Magti offers unlimited 4G for 7 days for just 5 GEL. Once you have a sim, you can download the Magti app for hassle-free top ups when you’re on the move.
Here’s a detailed guide to buying and registering a sim card in Georgia.
Cost of accommodation in Georgia
Bed in a hostel dorm
- 5-10 USD
Most cities and towns in Georgia have at least one hostel (or a hostel-like guest house). The hostel scene is well-developed in Tbilisi, and you’ll find plenty of lovely boutique hostels with a high standard of design and cleanliness. Fabrika is by far the most popular hostel in Tbilisi.
On average, you can expect to pay between 7-10 USD for a dormitory bed in Tbilisi. Hostels in Kutaisi and Batumi are priced roughly the same, while outside the big cities, dorm beds may cost as little as 5 USD/night.
Private room in a mid-range guesthouse
- 15-25 USD
Outside of Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi, I recommend budget travellers stay in guesthouses instead of hostels. The price often works out the same, and guesthouses come with lots of added benefits, including the chance to meet a local family and eat home-cooked meals.
Prices vary considerably, with guesthouses in smaller cities or villages close to major tourist attractions being the most expensive (up to 25 USD/night). In smaller towns and rural areas, you can usually find a private room for 2 people with either a shared or private bathroom for around 15 USD.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are usually provided at an extra cost (usually 15-25 GEL per person depending on the meal).
Here’s a list of my favourite guesthouses around Georgia.
Private Airbnb for 2 people
- 20-40 USD
Airbnb is available across Georgia, even in smaller towns and villages. The average nightly price for an Airbnb in Tbilisi is 40 USD. In Batumi, it’s 43 USD. An Airbnb in a smaller city or village usually costs the same as a guesthouse (15-25 USD depending on the location).
We book all our long stays through Airbnb and aim to spend around 300-350 USD/month. We only consider ‘entire place’ listings and we’ve never had a problem finding an apartment within our price range. Many owners offer generous weekly and monthly discounts, which brings the price down considerably.
As with hotels, Airbnb prices tend to go up in the summer months, especially in Tbilisi and Batumi.
Suite in a boutique hotel
- 50-90 USD
If you’re in the mood for a splurge, Georgia is a great place to do it. You can find some great deals on boutique and even 5-star accommodations in Tbilisi and around the country.
Cost of food & drink in Georgia
Glass of Georgian wine
- 3 GEL / 90 cents
Travelling in the home of wine certainly has its perks – booze in Georgia is incredibly affordable, especially wine.
Draught wine is available at most local restaurants for as little as 2-3 GEL a glass. Expect to pay between 5-12 GEL for a glass of Saperavi or similar. In a wine bar, you’ll pay slightly more. Note that free-pouring is standard practice and a glass of wine is often a lot more than one standard drink!
Depending on the restaurant, wine may also be sold by the carafe, by the litre, or of course by the bottle.
- 1-2 GEL / 30-60 cents
Whether you’re a budget backpacker or a high-end traveller, khinkali unites us all. Khinkali are priced per piece. A single dumpling costs between 0.80 tetri for a vegetarian filling up to 1.80 for a specialty cheese or lamb khinkali. In Tbilisi, khinkali kalakuri are usually around the 1 GEL mark.
Remember that most restaurants require a minimum order of 5 pieces of any one variety of khinkali.
Meal for 2 people at a mid-range Georgian restaurant
- 35-50 GEL / 11-15 USD
City to city, town to town, there is less variation in the price of a restaurant meal than you might expect. Tavern-style restaurants serving standard Georgian fare are pretty consistently priced between larger cities and smaller towns. Portion sizes are also similar.
On average, we tend to spend 35-50 GEL per meal for the two of us. That includes three dishes (a salad, a meat dish and 10 khinkali, for example), plus bread and soft drinks. At a budget eatery you could get away with spending 15 GEL, while a fancier restaurant in Tbilisi might cost upwards of 10 times that amount.
Generally speaking, international cuisine (burgers, pizza, etc.) costs around 20-30% more.
VAT / service charge
- 18% / 10%
There is a standard 18% VAT charge on all goods and services in Georgia. Restaurants are required to print any extra charges on the bottom of the menu. In grocery and convenience stores, the display price is inclusive of VAT.
Some restaurants also add a service charge on top of VAT. It’s usually 10%, but I’ve seen it as high as 20% in more up-market and touristy restaurants. Don’t assume the service charge will go directly to your server – in most cases it won’t.
Cost of transportation in Georgia
Metro / city bus fare
- 50 tetri / 15 cents
Tbilisi and Batumi both have excellent public transport systems. It’s a bit trickier to figure out the buses in Kutaisi and Gori, but once you do, they’re similarly reliable.
A bus or metro fares cost a flat 0.50 tetri (15 cents) in Tbilisi. A bus fare in Batumi is the same price. A reloadable transport card costs 2 GEL and the same one can be used in both cities. Buses in Tbilisi also accept coins, but in Batumi you’ll need a card.
The cheapest and easiest way to get from Tbilisi airport to the city is by bus – it costs just 50 tetri and runs 24 hours a day.
Taxi fare within the city
- 5-12 GEL / 1.50-3.60 USD
Taxis in Georgia are unmetered, so it’s highly highly recommended to use an app such as Bolt (a local alternative to Uber).
I’ve never had to pay more than 12 GEL for a Bolt to take me anywhere in Tbilisi. On average, prices range from 3-8 GEL, slightly more during peak hour or inclement weather. Prices are comparable in other cities where Bolt is available. In smaller cities and towns, you can try Maxim app, which works in more locations across the country.
If hailing a taxi on the street, always negotiate the fare first before you get in. As a general rule of thumb, you should expect to pay a base fare of 2-3 GEL plus roughly 1 GEL for every kilometre.
Do not take a taxi from the airport, train or bus station – this is when tourist scams are most likely to occur. See here for my recommendations on getting to the city from Tbilisi Airport.
Intercity marshrutka van ticket
- 4-20 GEL / 1.20-6 USD
Marshrutka vans are the easiest way to travel around Georgia. (If you’re unfamiliar with them, here’s my guide to using marshrutky.)
Marshrutka fares vary from 4 GEL for shorter trips such as Tbilisi to Gori, up to 10 GEL to get from Tbilisi to Kazbegi. Majority of intercity routes cost between 5 and 20 GEL. The most I’ve ever paid for a marshrutka was 25 GEL to go from Mestia to Kutaisi.
Depending on your destination, you can often find a seat in a shared taxi for around the same price as a marshrutka ticket. This is generally a more comfortable way to travel and worth considering, especially for longer trips or if you have big luggage items.
GoTrip car & driver for the day
- 25-65 USD
If you’re concerned about road safety or you just prefer to travel at your own pace, it can be very affordable to hire a car and driver to get around Georgia. My favourite service for this is GoTrip, an ‘intercity Uber’ you can use to book city transfers and round-trip day tours.
Expect to pay around 25 USD for a short trip (e.g. Tbilisi to Gori and back) up to 65 USD to travel across the country from Tbilisi to Batumi. A road trip on the Military Highway, one of the most scenic roads in Georgia, costs 40 USD.
The best thing about GoTrip is that you can make as many stops as you like without the price increasing. Read my full review of GoTrip.
- From 20 USD/day
Hiring a car in Georgia can be an affordable option if you go with a local agent rather than a big-name company. Vehicles will usually be older (and maybe not as spick and span as you’re used to), but on the plus side comprehensive insurance is often included and there are rarely any extra fees. Most don’t even require a deposit.
I recommend using MyRentACar to find local car rentals in Georgia. Prices start from as little as 20 USD/day including delivery and drop-off at a location of your choice.
If you plan on driving in Georgia, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the road rules and driving style first. Here are my tips for renting a car in Tbilisi and navigating the roads, and here is my recommended road trip itinerary for getting off-the-beaten-path in Western Georgia.
Cost of activities & entertainment in Georgia
- 2-10 GEL / 60 cents-3 USD
Most museums and galleries in Georgia are priced between 2 and 5 GEL. Smaller local institutions such as the Archaeology Museum in Batumi for example cost 3 GEL, while more popular museums such as the Stalin Museum in Gori and the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi (home to the Soviet Occupation Hall) both cost 10 GEL.
If you’re planning to visit multiple museums and galleries in Tbilisi, you can save money by buying a day pass for 20 GEL. It covers the National Museum, National Gallery, MOMA, Tbilisi History Museum, and the Open Air Museum of Ethnography.
Children under 6 usually visit free, and there may be a discount for students under 18 years.
Entrance to a National Heritage Site / Protected Area
- 7-17 GEL / 2-5 USD
Entrance to Georgia’s National Heritage Sites including the cave cities at Vardzia and Uplistsikhe costs 7 GEL per adult. (Note that at the time of writing, the ticket price for Vardzia has increased to 15 GEL.)
Protected Areas such as Kinchkha Waterfall, Prometheus Cave, Martvili and Okatse Canyons are priced higher at 17.25 GEL for an adult or 5.50 GEL for a teen. Georgian citizens get a discount, and children under 6 years visit free.
A full list of prices for Georgia’s Protected Areas can be found here (be warned that the list is not updated all that regularly).
Entrance to national parks in Georgia, like all churches and monasteries, is always free.
Tickets to the opera or ballet
- From 30 GEL / 9 USD
A night at the opera or ballet is a must in Tbilisi. The State Ballet of Georgia performs throughout the year at the Opera and Ballet Theatre on Rustaveli Avenue, while the National Ballet Sukhishvili (which famously combines classical Georgian and contemporary dance) often performs in Tbilisi and/or Batumi in the summer.
Both are absolutely worth seeing – and for that price, why not.
A traditional Kartuli dance performance over dinner – something offered on a nightly basis during the high season by restaurants such as Ethno Tsiskvili and Tabla – is also worth seeing but can end up costing you significantly more.
Private room at the Tbilisi sulfur baths
- 50-130 GEL / 15-39 USD
One of the best things to do in Tbilisi is go for a scrub and a soak at the Abanotubani sulfur baths. Both public and private baths are available – entrance to a communal (sex-segregated) bath normally costs less than 10 GEL.
A private room at the baths will set you back 50-130 GEL per hour depending on the size of the room and the facilities. Gulo’s Spa and Chreli-Abano, my two recommended bathhouses in Tbilisi, both offer beautiful rooms within this price range. Booking are essential.
An exfoliating kisi scrub costs an extra 10-20 GEL depending on the bathhouse.
Should you tip in Georgia?
Anyone who works in the service industry in Georgia is probably earning a very low wage. It’s not mandatory, but it is good etiquette to tip in restaurants and cafes as long as the service warrants it. 10% is standard.
For taxis, I usually round up to the nearest GEL. You have the option to tip 1, 3 or 5 GEL when using an app such as Bolt. The same goes for Wolt and other food delivery apps.
Tipping tour guides and drivers is also good practice. Again, 10% is standard.
Summary of costs in Georgia
- Bed in a hostel dorm: 5-10 USD
- Room in a mid-range guesthouse: 15-25 USD
- Private Airbnb apartment: 20-40 USD
- Suite in a boutique hotel: 70-90 USD
Food & drink
- Glass of Georgian wine: 3 GEL / 90 cents
- Bottle of Borjomi mineral water: 1.50 GEL / 45 cents
- Latte at a fancy cafe: 5-7 GEL / 1.50-2 USD
- One Khinkali: 1-2 GEL / 30-60 cents
- Typical guesthouse breakfast: 17 GEL / 5 USD
- Fresh bread / Khachapuri / Lobiani: 1.20 GEL / 35 cents
- Meal for 2 at a typical Georgian restaurant: 35-50 GEL / 11-15 USD
- Meal for 2 at an international or upscale Georgian restaurant: 50-70 GEL / 15-20 USD
- VAT / service charge: 10% / 15%
- Metro/city bus fare: 50 tetri / 15 cents
- Taxi fare: 5-12 GEL / 1.60-3.80 USD
- Intercity marshrutka minivan: 4-20 GEL / 1.20-6 USD
- GoTrip car & driver: 25-65 USD
- Car rental: From 20 USD/day
Activities & entertainment
- Museum ticket: 2-10 GEL / 0.60-3 USD
- Entrance to a National Heritage Site / Protected Area: 7-17 GEL / 2-5 USD
- Tickets to the opera or ballet: From 30 GEL / 7.50 USD
- Private room at the Tbilisi sulfur baths: 50-130 GEL / 15-39 USD
Average Georgia travel budget
Prices in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi are fairly consistent, while you can definitely save money in smaller towns and rural villages. Popular tourist destinations such as Mestia and Kazbegi can be a tad more expensive. In the end, things tend to even out.
Here is a very rough estimate of how much to budget for Georgia:
- Budget traveller: 25-30 USD/day
- Mid-range traveller: 35-50 USD/day
- High-end traveller: 55-100 USD/day
How to make your Georgia travel budget stretch further
- Avoid summer high season (especially on the Black Sea Coast) and travel in shoulder/low season instead – spring and fall are both excellent for travel
- Avoid travelling to notoriously expensive resort areas such as Gudauri and Lopota Lake
- If you have a student card, make sure you pack it – many museums and cultural sites offer a student discount
- If arriving in Tbilisi, take the bus to the city or pre-organise a transfer rather than trying to negotiate a taxi
- Buy a local sim card when you arrive so you can use a taxi app such as Bolt
- Avoid eating and drinking in Tbilisi Old Town – prices are often inflated
- Take advantage of the free walking tours in Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi and Gori
- Focus on free attractions such as churches and national parks
- Use GoTrip to organise intercity transfers – prices are up to 60% cheaper than regular taxis
- Don’t over-order at restaurants – 3 dishes for 2 people is usually plenty of food
- Embrace bread snacks – a Khachapuri, Lobiani or piece of fresh bread is an easy breakfast and never costs more than 1-2 GEL
- Take advantage of camping and hitchhiking – more tips here
One final piece of advice: Don’t skimp on the important stuff. Road safety is especially important in Georgia; don’t be tempted to go with the cheapest day tour or the pushiest driver. Always choose reputable tour companies and platforms that vet their drivers, even if it means paying a little bit extra.
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
– Places to visit in Georgia: Unique destinations around the country