Georgia’s popularity as a tourist destination has grown exponentially in recent years. Still, many people who are unfamiliar with the region tend to think that travelling in Georgia and the Caucasus is somehow unsafe.

Some of the misconceptions surrounding Georgia are probably due to the country’s geographic location. Some people assume Georgia is dangerous because of past and present political struggles. A lot of it is probably down to the fact that Georgia is still quite unknown on the world stage – and we tend to fear what we don’t understand.

In reality, Georgia is one of the safest countries I’ve travelled to or lived in. I feel safer in Tbilisi than I do in almost any capital city in Western Europe. This is my personal opinion of course, but the evidence backs it up.

In this post, I’ll run through a few of the biggest concerns tourists normally have when visiting Georgia for the first time. I’ll also share my top safety tips based on my experience travelling and living here for two years. I hope this information will help you make informed decisions during your visit.


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Update: Is Georgia still a safe country in 2022?

In 2021 there were a number of high-profile crimes involving foreign citizens in Georgia. You might have read about one or more of them in the news. These tragic incidents were very unusual and out of character for Georgia, hence why people were so outraged and why they received so much media coverage.

Many people now say that Georgia is changing. Record high inflation and pressures from the pandemic certainly aren’t helping. But the data supports the fact that Georgia is still very safe relative to other countries.

In the 2021 mid-year International Crime Index, Georgia ranked 11th in the world in terms of safety behind countries including Qatar, Taiwan, Oman, Slovenia, Armenia and the UAE. This is just one data set of course (and it is worth noting that Georgia was in 4th position in 2020), but it still says something.

In the 2021 Gallup Law and Order Index, Georgia scored 88 out of 100, placing it among the top 20 safest countries in the world (of the 115 surveyed). This poll is interesting because it’s based on people’s perceptions and asked questions such as “Do you feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where you live?” The number of reported crimes in Georgia remains very low – if you’re interested, you can see the latest crime stats in these monthly Geo Stat reports.

Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, is consistently cited as one of the safest cities in the world (currently 37th according to the mid-year stats for 2021). Having also lived in Batumi, Kutaisi and Gori, I think Georgia’s other major cities are comparably safe for tourists.

So, is Georgia still a safe country for tourists? I think the answer is a resounding yes. Anecdotally, it feels like petty crime might be becoming more common in Tbilisi, but it’s hard to say whether that’s because of increased incidence or because people are more likely to report it now.

I have always said that just because the stats say Georgia is safe, you should never drop your guard and not worry about personal safety when travelling in Georgia. Every country has its issues, and there are certainly some things you should be aware of here. This is especially true for solo female travellers.

Crime in Georgia

As mentioned, Georgia and Tbilisi both rank very low in terms of crime. Of course petty crime and burglary exist in Georgia, but tourists are very rarely targeted.

In Tbilisi, it’s not unusual to hand your wallet over to a stranger so they can swipe your bus pass or to give someone your handbag to hold while you stand on the metro. I regularly see people lay their mobile phones down on the seat next to them when they’re on the train. There is a sense of trust and familiarity here that I think is quite rare.

Even in the bigger cities, there’s a prevailing sense of community togetherness and a feeling that everyone looks out for each other. Georgian culture, the impacts of communism, the events of the 1990s that forced everyone to come together to overcome adversity – and of course the influence of the Orthodox Church – are probably contributing factors.

As I’m sure you’ve already heard, hospitality is a big deal here. Georgians pride themselves on extending that same neighbourly kindness to complete strangers.

A group of men pose for a photo at a local market in Tbilisi.
Friendly locals at the Dezerter Bazaar in Tbilisi.

In 2003, Georgia went through the Rose Revolution. As a result, the police force underwent major reform and corruption and bribery were virtually stamped out (on paper at least). Trust in law enforcement went up, and crime rates went down. As well as improving the quality of life for Georgians, this went a long way to improving Georgia’s reputation internationally. There’s a strong police presence in most cities today, and CCTV and security cameras are widespread.

Having said all that, of course I still recommend exercising common sense. Keep your valuables secure and avoid leaving your things unattended, especially when you’re on the metro in Tbilisi or in a crowded tourist area. Take extra care at hostels and look for places that provide secure storage. The same applies when using left luggage services.

If you ever encounter a group of Romani child beggars asking for money, give them a wide berth. I have heard of instances where they try to distract you by hugging your legs then attempt to pick your pockets. Usually they congregate around Tbilisi Old Town, Marjanishvili metro station, and on the boulevard in Batumi.

Lock your doors and windows when you leave your accommodation – even if your neighbours don’t – and avoid being out alone in quiet areas after dark. Do not go hiking or walking in secluded parts of Tbilisi alone.

Touts in Tbilisi

A couple of years ago there were hardly any touts in Tbilisi. This summer, I was shocked at the number of people selling tours and boat trips, advertising casinos and bars – often using mildly aggressive tactics and getting right up in your face.

If you’re walking around Old Tbilisi (especially near Shardeni Street), the Bridge of Peace or the pedestrianised part of Agmashenebeli Avenue, you’re bound to encounter them. It’s far worse in the busy summer months compared to shoulder or low season.

I personally detest this kind of thing and hate having to be on-guard when walking around the city. My advice is to avoid those areas during the middle of the day. If you’re ever approached, make eye contact and give them a firm ‘no’.

Tourist scams in Georgia

Tourist scams are far less prevalent in Georgia than in most Western European countries. Dual pricing and the ‘tourist tax’ are a reality (especially at markets), but getting scammed isn’t something the average tourist needs to be overly concerned about.

Dodgy currency exchange desks sometimes take advantage of tourists with fake banknotes or by skewing their rates. I recommend avoiding them all together – just use your bank card to withdraw cash at an ATM.

I have heard of people getting scammed in Tbilisi in broad daylight. In a recent case, a foreign visitor was charged 30 GEL (about $10) for a glass of orange juice. (It was freshly squeezed, but still.) When buying food, drinks or souvenirs from a market, always ask the price before you commit to buy. Never buy something in a restaurant or bar without checking the price on the menu.

I also suggest you avoid shopping from street vendors or visiting restaurants in the touristy parts of the Old Town or on the pedestrianised part of Agmashenebeli Avenue. These are known hotspots.

Colourful street art in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Tourist scams are rare in Tbilisi but they do happen. Be careful with your $$$.

The bar scam in Tbilisi

If you’re planning to dabble in Tbilisi’s nightlife, one thing you do need to be cautious of is the dreaded bar/nightclub scam. Usually scammers prey on single men via Tinder. But this recently happened to friends of ours (a couple) at a certain bar in the Old Town. It’s since closed down, thankfully.

The swindle goes something like this: After a few drinks, a friendly bartender will talk you into buying a bottle of wine or champagne. When it comes time to settle the bill, there are a few more (actually a lot more) zeros on the check than you were expecting. But you agreed to buy the bottle, and you drank it, so you have to pay up.

When this happened to our friends, they were taken to the nearest ATM and forced to cough up the several thousand laris they apparently owed the bar. They went to the police and managed to get some of their money back, but not all of it.

One giveaway for these dodgy bars is that they aren’t listed on Google Maps. Before you go anywhere for a drink, check to see if the venue is marked on Google. If you meet someone online, set the meeting point yourself. In general, I recommend sticking to bars and clubs that have lots of reviews, like these ones.

For reference, someone recently created a map of bars and venues in Tbilisi that are known for scamming tourists. I can’t vouch for its accuracy but if you’re interested, you can view it here.

Using taxis in Georgia

Taxis are another major pressure point for tourists. Taxis in Georgia are unmetered so if you don’t speak the same language as your driver, things can get very confusing. Drivers sometimes take advantage of tourists in these situations. This is especially common when travelling from the airport to the city, which is why I recommend avoiding airport taxis at all costs (see my guide on how to get to and from Tbilisi Airport for alternatives).

Instead of using metered taxis, I highly highly recommend using a ride hailing app. Bolt is my top choice. This will completely remove the language barrier and any confusion over directions or price. If you want to use the app without WIFI, just pick up a local sim card and a cheap data package when you arrive.

Occasionally people report issues with taxi apps where the driver ‘forgets’ to end their trip and the wind up getting over-charged. A good tip here to always make sure the driver completes your trip before you get out of the car (Bolt now gives the passenger the option to manually end the trip as well). Bolt has great support so if you have any issues, use the app to get in touch with them. I’ve received a full refund on several occasions.

Bolt is currently only available in bigger cities. Maxim is an alternative app that also works in smaller cities. In towns and villages, you’ll probably end up using taxis out of necessity. Your guesthouse will be able to advise you on approximate fares and can usually organise taxis for you (most guesthouse owners have at least a few favourite drivers on speed dial).

Road safety in Georgia

Road safety is by far my biggest concern in Georgia and it’s something you really do have to be mindful of. Treacherous mountain roads like the one up to Tusheti are notoriously dangerous. But you have to take extra care even in the cities.

The driving style in Georgia could best be described as ‘fast and aggressive’. Overtaking on two-lane highways at high speed is common. Bad driving isn’t just limited to men, but there is definitely an element of machismo involved. Honestly, it’s one of the things I dislike most about Georgia.

An orange van in a carpark in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Behold the humble marshrutka.

There’s a level of risk that comes with road travel anywhere in the world. In Georgia, that risk is amplified by poor road conditions, the prevalence of old and poorly maintained vehicles (and the mix of left and right-hand drives), lack of regulation around day tour providers, the drinking culture, and the lax approach to road rules in general.

There are well over 5,000 reported traffic accidents here every year, and there’s usually at least one major accident involving tourists every season. I was astonished to learn that the cost of injuries and damage caused by road accidents amounts to 5% of Georgia’s GDP.

The risk is lower for shorter trips or rides around the city. Marshrutka vans are great for travelling between cities, but increased competition in recent years has put immense pressure on ‘freelance’ drivers. They often cut corners (speed to squeeze in an extra trip) as a result. Thankfully road fatalities are decreasing and many roads are being upgraded, but there’s still a long way to go.

If it’s within your budget, I recommend using a reputable private driver for longer trips, especially in the mountains. GoTrip is a reliable and well-priced service for this.

Tips for staying safe on the road in Georgia:

  • Never travel after dark
  • Avoid trying to cover long distances in one day (3-4 hours of driving is about my limit)
  • Choose tour operators carefully – don’t be afraid to question them about their road safety measures
  • Always wear a seatbelt (mandatory for front-seat passengers)
  • Never, ever get into a car or a marshrutka if you suspect the driver has been drinking

If you plan on hiring a car and driving around Georgia yourself, read up on my safety tips first. Familiarise yourself with weather conditions and avoid high-risk roads such as the Military Highway or the road to Mestia. Hitchhiking and ride-sharing is pretty common in Georgia and generally safe as long as you approach interactions with caution.

Pedestrians also need to take extra care on Georgian roads. Zebra crossings and lights are common throughout Tbilisi and Batumi, but do not assume cars will stop for you. Turning cars are especially bad at cutting off pedestrians – I’ve had a few close calls myself.

Don’t try to cross a major street in Tbilisi if there’s no zebra crossing. Look for an underground passage instead.

Street dogs & mountain dogs

There are a lot of stray dogs in Georgia – some sources say there are 50,000 street dogs in Tbilisi alone. In the cities, many dogs have a yellow or green plastic tag on their ear – this means they’ve been de-sexed and vaccinated as part of a government program. They might be strays, but they’re fed and cared for by the community as a collective.

Georgia’s street dogs are generally very sweet and affectionate. Often they congregate around tourist sites because they know they’ll get attention and food. I’ve never seen an urban dog be aggressive towards humans, even when there’s snacks involved.

A cute dog sits in the grass in front of Bagrati Cathedral.
A friendly pooch outside Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi.

The shepherd dogs you see in the Caucasus mountains and rural areas are a whole different kettle of fish. These dogs are born and bred to guard their flock/herd from wolves and thieves, and they do so fiercely. It’s their job after all.

If you encounter sheep or cows when hiking or walking in rural areas, be aware that there is probably a dog nearby. The best course is to try and find an alternative route. If that’s not possible, walk at a normal pace and with purpose; show the dog that you’re moving through and you’re not a threat.

If the dog becomes aggressive and starts gnashing its teeth, yell out – oftentimes the shepherd (or a more confident bystander) will be close enough to call the dog off.

Meeting locals

Interacting with locals is one of the most rewarding aspects of travelling in Georgia. The hospitality here is legendary – but don’t expect to be treated like a king or queen just because you’re a tourist. In rural areas especially people may feel obliged to share what little they have with you. There’s nothing wrong with this – it’s a beautiful thing – but just be careful not to overstep your mark and take advantage of people’s good will.

Getting invited into someone’s home for food or drink is fairly common, especially in small towns and villages. Exercise common sense in these situations, especially if you’re alone.

Be polite and learn a bit of the language – even just a few basic phrases can make interactions with locals a lot smoother.

A smiling woman sits on a daybed in Guria, Georgia.
This is Mary. Like so many Georgians, she completely melted my heart.

Georgia’s ethnic and cultural diversity is one of its greatest strengths. Places like Pankisi Valley offer some of the most genuine and rewarding travel experiences you can find anywhere in the country. It’s important to remember that different communities have their own traditions and customs. Life in the mountains is very different to life in urban Tbilisi.

I always recommend dressing conservatively in rural Georgia out of respect.

Hiking in Georgia

It can be difficult to find accurate information about weather and conditions in Georgia’s remote mountain areas, so it’s important to consult locals and have a backup plan in place when trekking.

The quantity and quality of marked trails is slowly improving thanks to initiatives such as the Transcaucasian Trail, but some of these routes are still very rugged and might not be suitable for inexperienced hikers.

If you’re a solo female traveller, I highly recommend linking up with hiking buddies rather than hiking on your own. This goes for both rural trails and hikes around Tbilisi.

Jozef at Caucasus Trekking is an expert on this topic – I highly recommend consulting his website before you go hiking in Georgia.

Adventure sports

Paragliding, skiing and snowboarding are all available in Georgia nowadays. Safety standards might not be what you’re used to if you’re coming from Western Europe, for example.

Again, this is not at all my area of expertise – all I can say is do your research, go with a reputable company, and make sure you have travel insurance that covers any high-risk activities you plan on doing. It’s always worth seeking advice from an experienced guide or tour provider if you’re unsure.

Political unrest & demonstrations

It’s important to remember that Georgia is a young democracy and there are ongoing political and territorial issues. In August 2008, for example, tensions with Russia bubbled over into conflict along Georgia’s northern border. It’s highly unlikely that a territorial dispute would impact tourists, but it’s best to avoid the South Ossetia border zone area for this reason.

Georgians are passionate about their independence (who wouldn’t be after everything the country has been through), and people aren’t afraid to raise their voice against injustice, be it related to the borders, local politics, corruption, or something else entirely.

Protests and demonstrations occur in Tbilisi (usually in summer) as they do in almost any other democratic country. They’re almost always peaceful, but things can escalate quickly, so I recommend keeping a safe distance. If you want to show your support, do it from the sidelines.

Travelling to Abkhazia

Abkhazia is an autonomous republic on western Georgia’s Black Sea coast. How Abkhazia became separated from the rest of Georgia is a tragic and complicated story. I’m not going to rehash it here, but you can read this if you’re interested.

If you’re thinking of travelling to Abkhazia, you need to be aware that there are separate safety concerns that don’t apply to the rest of Georgia. I know people who have travelled to Abkhazia and had a great time. And I’ve heard some horror stories, too.

The situation in Abkhazia is tenuous. The border often closes at short notice, and it can be very difficult for tourists to accurately read the situation. As of January 2022, the border remains closed to tourists.

There is no consular assistance in Abkhazia (as far as I’m aware), so if something goes wrong, you’re on your own. Also note that most standard travel insurance policies won’t cover you for travel to Abkhazia.

It’s currently not possible to enter South Ossetia from Georgia, so I won’t be discussing it here.

Eating & drinking in Georgia

On a lighter note, I often get questions about food hygiene and whether or not you can drink the tap water in Georgia. I eat out at least 3-4 times a week (more when I’m travelling) and have never once gotten food poisoning in Georgia.

As always, I suggest eating where locals eat (this list of Tbilisi’s best restaurants is a good place to start) to reduce the chance of a dodgy meal.

A man pours sparkling water from a bottle into a glass.
Borjomi is just one of Georgia’s natural mineral water brands. It’s good for your digestion, too!

Generally speaking, it’s safe to drink the tap water in Georgia. In many parts of the country, tap water isn’t just potable, it’s highly coveted spring mineral water. You should always carry an empty with you when you visit mountain areas so you can bottle some for later.

The only exception is Tbilisi, where the tap water has a high mineral content (this is more due to the old pipes in many buildings rather than the water itself). The tap water doesn’t agree with everyone, so I suggest starting with small doses and switching to bottled water if you need to.

Is Georgia safe for solo female travellers?

As a female traveller, I always feel safe in Georgia. But I have noticed that when I travel without my partner (or even go around Tbilisi on my own), it’s often a different experience.

Georgia is a patriarchal society and women here face particular issues. Awkward and unwanted stares from men is the most common complaint, while I have heard of women (expats and tourists) being followed by men in public areas. Harassment and public indecency (being flashed) are more rare but do happen.

I know plenty of women who travel and hike in Georgia solo. But as fellow travel blogger Amy says, “there are jerks everywhere.” Even in Georgia.

If you’re a solo female traveller, I recommend being proactive and taking extra steps around personal safety. Don’t walk around alone late at night. Avoid staying by yourself in apartments or Airbnbs with shared ‘Italian yards’ as they offer little privacy from the neighbours.

And yes, this also means dressing conservatively – not because I think what you wear should determine how you’re treated, but because Georgia is quite a conservative society and dressing accordingly is a sign of respect (and a way to blend into the crowd) more than anything.

You may want to avoid travelling solo in very remote mountain areas. Pairing up with other travellers is never a bad idea. It’s also good practice to have your accommodation organised in advance in these situations, and to be in touch with your guesthouse owner.

I also suggest you download the 112 Georgia app. It allows you to contact emergency services directly and send a GPS marker of your location in case something goes wrong.

For further reading, here is an interview about travelling and hiking in Georgia solo.

LGBTQ travellers will find some useful insights in this article.

Is Georgia safe for kids?

While Georgia remains popular with younger travellers and backpackers, more and more families are considering it as a holiday destination. I’ve encountered families of all sizes and kids of all ages travelling here. In Georgian culture, children (especially babies) are adored, so you’ll get big brownie points if you show up to a restaurant or guesthouse with a little one. 

The biggest thing to be aware of is the lack of safety barricades and rails at heritage sites such as Vardzia, Uplistsikhe and Martvili Canyon. The crumbling walls at Tbilisi’s Narikala Fortress are an accident waiting to happen. Some hotels and guesthouses similarly might not be set up for kids – it always pays to check first.

Overall though, Georgia is perfectly safe for kids and there are plenty of child-friendly things to do here.


Do you need travel insurance for Georgia?

I always recommend taking out travel insurance no matter where in the world you’re going. Even though Georgia is a safe place for travellers, I personally wouldn’t consider travelling here without insurance.

Learn more about the different insurance options for Georgia.


Final words: Is Georgia safe?

My many and varied experiences travelling in Georgia and living in several different cities have shown me that Georgia is an overwhelmingly safe destination for travellers. I think most other expats and travellers would agree.

Road safety should be your main concern, and I recommend taking proactive measures to ensure any road travel you do is as safe as it can possibly be. Risk mitigation is key.

English is widely spoken in Georgia, and people here are renowned for their hospitality and kindness towards strangers. This, combined with the very low crime rate, makes Tbilisi a safe city and Georgia a safe country in general.

Overall, you should exercise common sense when it comes to personal safety in Georgia, especially when you’re on the road or in the mountains. Solo female travellers need to be on guard more than other travellers, especially on hiking trails or when visiting remote areas.


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).

Is Georgia safe? Your questions about safety in Georgia (Europe) and Tbilisi answered, plus my top tips for staying safe in Georgia as a tourist.

Is Georgia safe? Save it & share it on Pinterest

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

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for this fantastic post, planning to visit Georgia for the first time next year, so I find your post very useful and informative, the best to you from Mexico!

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