Tbilisi is an overwhelmingly safe city and generally speaking a very ‘easy’ place to travel and live in. However, one of the most common pressure points among visitors and expats alike is using taxis.
Road safety is unfortunately an issue in Georgia – even in the cities – and taxi drivers are notorious for their high-octane driving.
All taxis in Tbilisi are unmetered and tourists do sometimes get taken advantage of, which makes hailing street taxis quite risky.
Personally, I always use an app for booking Tbilisi taxis and I strongly recommend you do the same.
This Tbilisi Taxi Guide covers everything you need to know about using cabs to travel around Georgia’s capital and beyond, including common issues, safety tips and recommended taxi apps.
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.
Are you planning a trip to Tbilisi?
Here are a few quick links to my favourite accommodations, tours & services.
Where to Stay in Tbilisi:
- The House Hotel Old Tbilisi – wake up in your own typical Tbilisi courtyard.
- Communal Hotel Plekhanovi – my favourite boutique hotel has a wine bar & gift shop.
- Vagabond B&B – budget-friendly option for solo & social travellers.
- Unfound Door Design Hotel – luxe rooms set inside a historic mansion in Chugureti.
- Fabrika Hostel & Suites – popular creative space & co-working hangout.
Best Tbilisi Tours & Day Trips:
- Tbilisi Food & Drink Tour – a food-themed walking tour of the city.
- Day Trip to Kazbegi – with plenty of stops along the Georgian Military Highway.
- Off-road Adventure to David Gareja & Udabno – use WANDERLUSH for 10% off.
- Kakheti Wine Experience with Eat This! Tours – mention WANDERLUSH for 5% off.
- Day trip to Northern Armenia – another stamp in the passport!
Last-minute Private Transfers in Georgia:
Plan the perfect mini road trip & find a professional driver on GoTrip.ge. The price is locked in when you book, and you can stop wherever you want along the way.
Go Your Own Way:
Car hire in Georgia doesn’t have to be expensive – I regularly use Local Rent to find great deals. Pick-up & drop-off from any address in the country for complete flexibility.
Why I would never hail a taxi in Tbilisi…
For most people, taxis are a budget-friendly option for travelling longer distances around Tbilisi.
As a general rule of thumb, drivers charge a base fare of 2-3 GEL plus roughly 1 GEL for every kilometre. To travel 6km from Central Railway Station to Freedom Square, for example, should cost you no more than 10 GEL (3.70 USD).
Official Tbilisi taxis are regulated – you can identify them by their white paint job and the light on top that turns green when the car is free and red when occupied (pictured above). Note that many drivers don’t use these lights.
It’s a good system on paper, but one of the biggest issues is that taxis in Tbilisi don’t use meters – meaning every fare is up for negotiation.
If you hail a cab from the street or from a taxi stand, you have to agree on the fare in advance. This can be quite tricky if you’re unfamiliar with the city or you and your prospective driver don’t speak the same language.
Taxi scams aren’t as common in Tbilisi as they are in other European cities, but they definitely do occur – especially at the airport where the so-called ‘Tbilisi Taxi Mafia’ lives. Nowadays, airport taxis are better regulated, but you still hear the occasional horror story.
I strongly recommend you do not take a taxi from Tbilisi Airport. Instead, use the airport bus, book with a taxi app (prices average 20-30 GEL depending on which app you use), or pre-book a transfer with a reputable company (I recommend GoTrip – prices start from around 17 USD/car).
You can find more information about getting to the city from the airport here.
I also suggest you avoid taking taxis from major bus stations or the railway station.
I’ve had my fair share of nail-biting rides and I’ve been talked into overpaying for a Tbilisi taxi ride more than once – but at the same time, I’ve also had some really lovely drivers who are keen for a chat and refused to accept as much as a lari extra for a tip.
Dangerous driving practices, lack of working seatbelts and drivers smoking in the car are the most common issues you’ll run into when using taxis in Tbilisi.
Recommended Tbilisi taxi apps: Bolt vs Yandex vs Maxim
For everyday taxi use, an app is essential. As well as the guarantee of a set price, using an app removes the communication barrier and saves you having to provide directions (which is a big relief for your driver as well, trust me).
Most companies impose a no-smoking policy, and there’s an added safety net if you leave something in the car or run into any other issues.
There are currently half a dozen taxi apps available in Tbilisi. Here is a quick look at the most popular apps and how they compare.
1. Bolt Taxi Tbilisi (previously Taxify App)
- Excellent map & interface for easy bookings
- Big fleet = shorter wait times
- High standards for vehicles & driver safety
- Great support
- Works in 10+ cities & towns across Georgia
- Preferred app amongst expats in Georgia
Formerly called Taxify, Bolt is an Estonian app that works in Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Zugdidi, Telavi, Gori, Poti and other locations in Georgia. It is the most popular taxi app by far and the one I personally use 99% of the time.
Bolt stands out for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s got the best interface. Maps are powered by Google, so it looks like your regular Google Map with major landmarks plotted out.
All street names are marked and searchable in English (provided you set English as your language). Bolt has terrific address recognition and will also let you input landmarks.
Bolt has a very large fleet of drivers, so wait times are typically very short outside of peak hour. I rarely wait more than 90 seconds for a ride to be approved, and then it usually takes 3-5 minutes for the driver to arrive.
I have never waited longer than 10 minutes for a Bolt car. The app instantly tracks your driver so you can see which direction they are approaching from.
Once your trip has been accepted, Bolt displays the full number plate, make and colour of the car, as well as the driver’s name. Bolt cars are sometimes marked with a green logo sticker as well.
Never jump into a car without cross-checking the number plate first. Once I mistook a street taxi for my Bolt because I didn’t check the number plate – it was an awkward trip.
Bolt offers regular, premium, 6-seater XL, electric, and pet-friendly vehicles. The minimum fare is 3 GEL. Looking back through my ride log, I pay 5-10 GEL on average for most of my trips around Tbilisi.
As with all apps, prices go up in peak hour, late at night, and if there’s inclement weather. It can be very difficult to find a driver around Christmas time.
Bolt demands a high standard of vehicle, so you’ll find most Bolt cars are new with working seat belts and AC (this is not always the case with other apps, including Yandex).
Another thing I like about Bolt is that drivers are prohibited from smoking, eating or drinking during a ride. (Of course not everyone plays by the rules, but you have the right to complain and ask for a refund if you need to.)
Bolt is known for kicking drivers who break the rules off the platform. And if you make a complaint, the algorithm will prevent you having to ride with that driver ever again.
Bolt has great chat support through the app. There have been a few instances where I’ve been accidentally overcharged and Bolt has credited my account within a couple of hours.
You can edit your final destination at any point during the ride. When the trip is complete and the driver signs off, you have the opportunity to give them a star rating and leave an optional tip (more on tipping later).
Payment is by cash or card. I have my Australian Visa debit card connected to Bolt and it works perfectly every time. Once you’ve paid, a detailed receipt is sent to the email address connected with your account.
Get 25% off your first 3 rides when you use my Bolt promo code: HPBK8
2. Yandex Taxi (Yandex Go)
- Great maps & search functionality
- Lower prices compared to Bolt
- Ability to order a car for another person
- ‘Don’t call me’ option for non-Georgian speakers
- BUT some people have issues trying to register with a foreign credit card
- AND many expats have issues with Yandex drivers
Yandex Go (which is merged with Uber in Georgia) is another popular choice of taxi app in Tbilisi.
Like Bolt, Yandex has an easy-to-read map with landmarks, metro stations and street names clearly marked in English. The GPS works perfectly, and the address recognition is great (the sophisticated Yandex mapping and navigation system is one of their points of difference).
Under settings, there’s an option to activate called ‘Don’t call me’ – great if you don’t speak Georgian and the thought of drivers calling you makes you uncomfortable.
Yandex offers economy cars, comfort cars and minivans. You can request a pet-friendly vehicle or a child seat.
If you’re in a rush, you can book ‘The fastest’ car – the closest vehicle from any category. Just be prepared to pay an additional fee.
Another useful feature is that you can order a ride for someone else – all you have to do is provide their contact number. So if you don’t have a local SIM card, your guesthouse owner for example can order a cab on your behalf.
Yandex’s minimum fare is 2 GEL and the base rate is 43 tetri per kilometre, making it slightly cheaper than Bolt.
However… Most locals avoid Yandex because the company is Russian-owned. Among English-speaking expats, Yandex drivers have a bad reputation for their unruly driving style, for making unnecessary pit stops, and for driving old cars with no AC and/or unclean interiors.
If it’s a choice between Bolt and Yandex, Bolt wins every time.
3. Taxi Maxim
- Works in 10+ cities across Georgia
- Larger fleets in smaller cities such as Kutaisi
- Ability to schedule rides ahead of time
- Top up via TBC without linking your credit card to the app
- BUT maps are in Georgian & address search is not user-friendly
Maxim is a Russian app with a local offshoot in Georgia. As well as Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi, it also works in smaller cities not covered by Bolt including Rustavi, Kobuleti and Zestafoni.
Maxim has saved me a few times in Kutaisi where the fleet of Bolt drivers is much smaller. If you’re travelling around Georgia, I highly recommend downloading Maxim as well in case you need a back-up option.
Maxim is a local favourite, but in my experience, it’s less user-friendly for non-Georgian speakers compared to Bolt.
This is mainly because street and place names on the Open Street Map is displayed in Georgian – which makes it almost impossible to scroll around and pinpoint an address. The map is cluttered and confusing.
You can search for addresses in English, but some landmarks (apart from the airport) often don’t appear.
Additionally, the app displays Latin characters in the search bar but uses Georgian words – e.g. if you’re on Barnovi Street, it will display your address as Barnovis Kucha. This gets confusing if you’re not familiar with the language.
On the plus side, Maxim allows you to schedule a ride ahead of time. This means you can pre-book a car for a specific slot between 15 minutes up to a full 7 days ahead of time.
The minimum fare is 2 GEL. Payment can be made in cash, via bank card connected to the app, or you can refill your Maxim account using a secure third-party TBC Bank portal (great if you don’t want your card details stored on the app itself).
Tips must be made in advance by adding a ‘request for your order’. You can also request change for a large bill if you’re paying in cash.
The average wait time for a Maxim taxi is 2 minutes, and you can ‘order add-ons’ to increase your fare by up to 10 GEL to increase your chances of finding a driver quickly.
Economy, Comfort, 6 and 7-seater minivans and SUVs are all available for an extra charge. Maxim also has furniture moving and a package/document courier service built into the app. There’s even a shopping and delivery service for groceries and medicine, a designated driver service, and towing or a jump start if you’re faced with an emergency on the road.
Is it safe to use taxis in Tbilisi?
Yes, it is perfectly safe to get around the city using taxis.
The biggest risk is unsafe driving, and unfortunately this is hard to get around. Bolt app holds its drivers to a higher standard and takes complaints seriously, so in my mind, it’s a slightly safer option.
If your driver is speeding or dodging and weaving in traffic, don’t be afraid to speak up or ask them to stop. Always use your seatbelt.
If you are a solo female traveller, I recommend you sit in the back seat behind the driver. If you’re staying at an Airbnb or an apartment, I highly recommend you get dropped off at a nearby address rather than your actual address.
3 taxi scams to avoid
As I mentioned, taxi scams are not all that common in Georgia – but tourists and foreigners do get targeted from time to time in Tbilisi and Batumi. You can avoid most issues by using Bolt, but there are a few things to watch out for when using apps, too.
Here are 3 common issues I’ve experienced:
1. The driver tries to tell you the price on Bolt is a starting fare
This sometimes happens at the airport when you’re trying to negotiate a ride. It is not correct. The price displayed on Bolt after you search for your destination is the final fare.
The final fare will only increase after your ride starts if: A) You keep the driver waiting for longer than is acceptable (Bolt gives you a free 5-minute window); B) The driver has to take an alternative route because of traffic or road closures; or C) You leave a tip.
2. The driver takes the scenic route or fails to end the ride
This has happened to me several times in the past. Once, a Bolt driver started taking me to Gelati Monastery outside Kutaisi when I had clearly pinned Bagrati Cathedral as my destination (he was, literally, taking me for a ride and trying to jack up the fare).
Another time, the driver dropped me off but didn’t finish the trip, so I got charged while he kept driving. This has happened to other people I know, too.
Both times I contacted Bolt support and immediately got an apology, a credit to my account, and a reassurance that the algorithm would never match me with that particular driver again.
3. The driver asks you to cancel the ride on the app and pay cash instead
This is not a ‘scam’ as such, but it’s a way for drivers to get around paying the app fee. It usually only happens when you request a longer ride.
One of the biggest reasons for using an app is safety – so personally, I never agree to cancel the ride. There is a risk you’ll get penalised by Bolt if you cancel the ride, too.
Tbilisi taxi tips & FAQ
Do I need a Georgian SIM card to use a taxi app?
All taxi apps require a phone number to register a new account via SMS code. It’s possible to get around this if you download the app before you leave home and use your regular phone number for the validation (even if your SIM won’t work in Georgia).
If you do this, you can use the app on WIFI. It’s not ideal, but it’s possible – I’ve had to do it several times when I ran out of data. Basically, you get on WIFI to book the car and stay connected until your driver arrives. As soon as your connection drops out, the app will alert you, but the ride can continue as normal.
It’s far more convenient to just buy a local sim card once you arrive in Georgia and register using your local phone number.
Buy a data package to use the app properly (this is also important in case of emergency).
Should I take a taxi from Tbilisi Airport?
In a word: No. Taxi scams are rife at Tbilisi International Airport and it’s best to avoid them altogether.
Bolt work at the airport, but it’s blocked on the free airport WIFI. If you don’t have a local SIM card, you will need to use a VPN to access the app (for Georgia, I recommend Express VPN).
For ease, I recommend you pre-book a private transfer with GoTrip.
Do Tbilisi taxi drivers speak English?
Even when booking through taxi apps, in my experience, the driver will call you roughly 50% of the time to double-check your pick up location. Most drivers, especially those from the ‘older generations’, don’t speak English – and if you don’t speak Georgian or Russian, it can be awkward.
If you ensure your pick up location is correctly pinpointed, you can just reject the call and know that they will find you. Yandex is the only app I know of that gives you the option to opt out of calls.
Shotgun or backseat?
Though not common, I have heard of incidents where drivers have shown inappropriate behaviour towards female passengers, especially foreigners. For this reason, I recommend sitting in the back seat.
Should I pay with cash or card?
All apps give you the choice between paying with cash or by card. I have used my Australian credit card on Bolt with no issues. Some US credit cards aren’t compatible with Yandex, so keep that mind.
If you have any issue connecting your card on Bolt, staff offer great support and can walk you through the process via the app help page. I always carry some cash just in case – small change is best as drivers often can’t change larger bills.
The final fare is settled at the end of the journey once the driver has ended the trip. You will get a notification though the app, and this is when you can write a review and leave an optional tip.
If paying by card, make sure the driver ends the trip to avoid being overcharged. I have heard of cases where the driver forgot to finalise the trip and the customer ended up paying extra. On Bolt, you can end the trip yourself by swiping up on the ride screen and clicking ‘end trip’.
Should I tip my taxi driver?
Tipping taxi drivers is not mandatory in Georgia (some drivers actually find it offensive). It is normal though to round your fare up to the nearest lari or let your driver ‘keep the change’.
When using the Bolt app, you have the option to add a tip at the end.
Tipping is a personal choice – I always tip unless the driver was particularly bad. I usually add 1 GEL for regular trips and 3 GEL if the driver helped me with bags, had to take a long detour, etc.
Note that with Bolt, you only have a 15-minute window to review your driver and add a tip.
Does Uber work in Tbilisi?
No, Uber does not operate in Georgia.
In 2018, Uber and Yandex merged to offer one joint service in Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and a few other markets.
Is there a women-only taxi app in Tbilisi?
In 2021, a new company called TaxiWoman started offering a female-only driver service in Tbilisi. Sadly it was short-lived and it closed down before they had a chance to develop an app (they were only taking bookings through Facebook).
It’s a service Tbilisi needs, and I’m hoping they relaunch in 2023. I will return to update this post if and when they do.
For now, there is no women-only taxi booking app in Georgia. It’s very rare to see a female Bolt or Yandex driver – I think I’ve only had one or two in the past three years.
Can I use a taxi app for long-distance trips?
When travelling out of Tbilisi to other cities or into the mountains, I recommend using GoTrip, which is basically the long-distance equivalent of Bolt. It works in much the same way by matching you with a private driver.
Prices are pre-set so you don’t have to worry about negotiating fares, and best of all, you can make as many stops as you like for no extra charge.
Visit the GoTrip website and have a look at their Trip Planner, or read my full review of GoTrip for more tips.
Using taxis outside of Tbilisi
Besides Tbilisi, Bolt works in 10 other cities in Georgia. I use it regularly in Batumi and Kutaisi.
Kutaisi has a smaller fleet of drivers, so I do recommend having a second app installed just in case (I use Maxim).
In smaller cities, towns and villages where taxi apps don’t operate, it’s a good idea to organise taxis through your guesthouse or accommodation. Hosts always have a few favourite drivers on speed dial.
If that’s not possible, don’t be afraid of hailing a cab on the street – just remember to negotiate the fare before you get in the car. You can always use Bolt app to get a rough idea of the fare as a starting point.
Final thoughts: What is the best taxi app for Georgia?
Between walking and the metro, you’ll probably only have to use taxis sparingly in Tbilisi. When you do, always order through an app.
When you first arrive at the airport, bus depot or train station, avoid taking a taxi as this is where scams are most likely to occur.
Bolt is my recommended taxi app for Tbilisi. It stacks up well in terms of price, availability of drivers and road safety practices.
The fleet of vehicles is newer, drivers are held to higher standards, and most people I know have far fewer issues using Bolt than Yandex, for example.
More Tbilisi travel tips
- How to get from Tbilisi airport to the city – 5 best transport options
- How to use public transport in Tbilisi – complete guide to the metro & buses
- Using GoTrip Georgia for private transfers – easy multi-city trips & day tours
- Didube Bus Station guide – timetables & tips for Georgia’s main bus depot
- Georgia Travel Guide – all my 100+ posts for Georgia
- 25 Tbilisi travel tips – essential reading for first-timers
- The ultimate Georgia itinerary – the best of Tbilisi & beyond in 1-4 weeks
- How to plan your Caucasus travel itinerary – discover Georgia, Armenia & Azerbaijan
- What to pack for a trip to Georgia – and what to wear in Tbilisi
- The best things to do in Tbilisi – the ultimate insider’s city guide
- Where to stay in Tbilisi – best neighbourhoods & accommodations
- The best restaurants in Tbilisi – where to find the best Georgian food
- The best cafes in Tbilisi – for coworking, coffee & more
- The best breakfasts in Tbilisi – cafes that open early
- The best gift shops in Tbilisi – where to buy authentic souvenirs
- The best walking tours in Tbilisi – discover the city by foot
- Tbilisi’s best walking streets – architecture, people-watching & street photography
- The best boutique hotels in Tbilisi – art hotels, wine hotels & more
- The best hostels in Tbilisi – accommodation on a budget
- Visiting Gulo’s Spa – the best sulfur bath in Tbilisi
- Visiting the Dezerter Bazaar – Tbilisi’s incredible green market
If you can read and write the georgian letters choose Maxim, it is the cheapest and operates in more cities than Bolt. But all three is very good and cheap.
Yes indeed! I often use Maxim in Kutaisi.
I’ve had trouble using my American credit cards (have tried 5 different visas) on bolt. It adds successfully bit when I call for a ride it, it starts to work but within a few seconds it cancels the trip because it says the payment method is not valid. Never had any issues with any ride hailing app before and used bolt in the Baltics with credit card. Ironically, yandex works with my card but I so prefer the bolt interface!
Hi Johnny – how strange, I have never heard of that issue with Bolt before. Sorry that’s happened. Perhaps you can continue using Bolt but just use the cash option?
Your blog is detail-oriented and really helps tourists prepare their travel in Georgia. I have been researching for information such as this! Very well-written indeed! I’m currently reading your blog about “Staying Connected in Georgia: How to Buy & Activate a Georgian Sim Card”. I feel like I have a friend guiding me through this! Thanks!
Very glad to hear the site is helpful! Thanks so much for your feedback. Safe and happy travels!
Hello! I will be visiting Tbilisi in a few days, was so happy to find this blog! Thank you so much!
Thanks for your comment, Ray! Have a wonderful time in Tbilisi!
I downloaded Bolt but unfortunately the app tells me it’s not available in Tbilisi. Is is a location issue or Bolt is really not available anymore?
Thank you in advance.
Hi Diana – Bolt is definitely working, I used it this morning. Maybe check you downloaded the correct version for Georgia?
Thank you so much for such a wonderful priceless help! Your blog is Gold! I was hoping you could help me with an insight on seatbelts.
Do taxis in Tbilisi have seatbelts on the backseats? Do you know if there is a way to make sure the taxi we order has seatbelts? We ran into this problem in Kazakhstan, they just remove seatbelts completely from the backseats. I’m a little scared Georgians do the same :/
Thank you so much!!!
Hi Vera, very happy to hear that!
Seatbelts aren’t mandatory for backseat passengers, so some cars do and some don’t in my experience. But when you’re using Bolt you’re mainly getting newer cars (especially Priuses), and those are much more likely to have the seatbelts still installed. So another reason to use an app!
You could also trial it and try requesting a VIP car to see if that makes a difference. I hope this answers your question!
Thank you so much for a quick response! We’ll definitely try that. And again thank you, thank you, thank you for this amazing blog!
Wish I had read this slightly earlier. I (actually the lovely driver) just missed the 15 minute mark to tip on Bolt. I feel bad. He was so nice and helpful and his English was great (first time using Bolt Delivery which worked perfectly)
I miss it all the time – I have to remember to keep my phone out otherwise I forget!!