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 an issue in Georgia, and taxi drivers are notorious for their high-octane driving. Taxis in Tbilisi are unmetered and scams do occur (although not that often), which can make hailing taxis quite risky.

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.


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A cab on the street in Tbilisi with a standard 'Taxi Tbilisi' sign on top of its white roof.
A standard Tbilisi taxi.

Why I don’t hail taxis 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 the train station to Liberty Square, for example, should cost you no more than 10 GEL (3 USD).

Official Tbilisi taxis are regulated – you can identify them by their white paint job and light on top that turns green when the car is free and red when occupied (though many drivers don’t use their lights).

It sounds like 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 a 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.

A cab rank in Tbilisi, marked with a blue taxi sign.
A Tbilisi taxi rank. In Georgian, taxi is ‘Taksi’. Easy!

Taxi scams aren’t as common in Tbilisi as 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, and avoid taking taxis from major bus stations or the railway station. Instead, use the airport bus that runs 24 hours a day, use a taxi app (prices average 15-25 GEL depending on which app you use), or pre-book a transfer with a reputable company (I recommend GoTrip – prices start from 12 USD/car).

You can find more information about getting to the city from the airport here.

I’ve had my fair share of nail-biting rides and I’ve been talked into overpaying 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 and drivers smoking in the car are the most common issues you’ll run into when using taxis in Tbilisi.

A white Yandex taxi drives down a steep street in Tbilisi.
A Yandex Taxi in Tbilisi.

Recommended Tbilisi taxi apps

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 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.

Bolt Tbilisi (Taxify App)

  • Excellent map and interface for easy bookings
  • Big fleet = shorter wait times
  • BUT no ability to schedule a ride or book for someone else
  • Limited to 3 cities

Formerly called Taxify, Bolt is an Estonian app that works in Tbilisi, Batumi and Kutaisi. It’s 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 30 seconds for a ride to be approved, and then it usually takes 2-5 minutes for a driver to arrive. I’ve never waited longer than 5 minutes for a Bolt car. The app instantly tracks your driver so you can see which direction they’re 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 often marked with a green logo sticker as well. Never jump into a car without cross-checking the number plate first.

Bolt offers regular, premium, minivan and pet-friendly vehicles. They charge a very reasonable 60 tetri per kilometre, with a minimum fare of 2 GEL. Looking back through my ride log, I pay 3-5 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.

Bolt demands a higher standard of vehicle than Yandex for example, so you’ll find most Bolt cars are new with working seat belts and AC (not always the case with other apps).

Another thing I like about Bolt is that drivers are prohibited from smoking, eating or drinking during a ride. (Of course not everyone always plays by the rules, but you have the right to complain and ask for a refund.) 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.

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.


Taxi Maxim

  • Works in 9 cities across Georgia
  • Ability to schedule rides ahead of time
  • Top up via TBC without linking your credit card to the app
  • BUT map is hard to read and 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 including Zugdidi, Gori, Poti and Rustavi.

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 are all displayed in Georgian characters – 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 2.60 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, 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.


Yandex Taxi

  • Great maps and search functionality
  • Lower prices
  • 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

Yandex Go (which is merged with Uber in Georgia) is another solid 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, comfort, minivan and deliveries. If you’re in a rush, you can book ‘The fastest’ car – the closest vehicle from any category. You just have to be prepared to pay the 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, your guesthouse owner for example can order a cab on your behalf.

Yandex’s minimum fare is 2 GEL and the base rate is 40 tetri per kilometre, making it slightly cheaper than Bolt.

However… Most locals avoid Yandex because it’s Russian-owned. Among expats, Yandex drivers have a bit of a 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.


TaxiOnn

  • Locally owned
  • Specialised in airport transfers
  • Desktop version available
  • BUT interface is difficult to use
  • Fares are estimates only

TaxiOnn is a Georgian ride booking app. It has a much more basic interface (which explains the mixed reviews on the app store). But if you want to support a local start up, this is it.

The TaxiOnn map is easy to read and displays street names in your language, but instead of addresses the app uses GPS coordinates. Because of this, you have to choose your pick up address manually on the map (I can never get the search box to work). Adding a drop off address is optional.

Instead of an exact fare, it gives you a fare estimate within a 2-3 GEL range. The cost per kilometre is 50 tetri, and the minimum fare is 4 GEL.

Like Maxim, the app also has a web version. This is particularly useful for booking an airport transfer before you arrive in-country (you still need to verify your phone number, though).

TaxiOnn offers a flat price transfer from the airport to the city for 25 lari. Unlike Yandex, this includes wait time and parking costs. The driver will meet you inside the arrivals hall with a name placard. When booking, you need to add your name, flight number and arrival time to the ‘comments’ field.


PickApp

  • Locally owned
  • Maps are based on Google Maps
  • BUT the app is new so there are fewer drivers available

PickApp is a new taxi app that just launched in 2021. It’s currently only available on the Apple Store, but once it launches on Android I’ll test it out and see how it compares.


Tbilisi taxi tips & FAQ

Do I need a local 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).

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 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 backseat.

Currently it’s mandatory for taxi passengers to sit in the backseat.

Can I pay with a credit/debit card?

Under normal circumstances, you have a choice between paying with cash or by card. I use my Australian credit card on Bolt with no issues. Some US credit cards aren’t compatible with Yandex, so that’s something to keep in mind. 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 manually by swiping up on the ride screen.

Should I tip my 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.

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

I also use Bolt in Batumi and Kutaisi. 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.

Final thoughts

Between walking and the metro, you’ll probably only have to use taxis sparingly in Tbilisi. When you do, 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 posts you’ll love

For even more inspiration and resources, check out my new Georgia Travel Guide and my Georgia itinerary.

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13 Comments

  1. 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!

    1. 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?

  2. 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!

  3. Hi Emily,

    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.

  4. 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!!!

    1. 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!

      1. 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!

  5. 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)

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