The Georgian countryside from a plane with the wing visible.
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Arriving in Georgia

Maysie Dee

Contributing writer

When you visit Georgia, chances are you'll be flying into one of the country's three airports. Or, if you're already in the region, you can also drive or take a bus from a neighbouring country.

Georgia shares land borders with Turkey to the south/southwest, Armenia to the southeast, Russia to the north and Azerbaijan to the east ( although the border is temporarily closed).

Here's what to expect when you arrive in the country.

Visas and customs

Citizens of 94 countries who have at least six months left on their passport can visit Georgia visa-free for up to one year. The list of accepted countries includes the USA, Canada, EU, UK, Australia, New Zealand and many, many others.

The citizens of 62 countries can apply for an e-visa online and visit Georgia for 90 days within a 180-day period.

Travellers from certain countries can enter Georgia for 90 days, without a visa.

It’s strongly advised to make sure you have all your papers and documents in order before traveling to Georgia. Just in case, though, please check online forums for recent experiences, or with Project Visa, who keeps a current review of conditions on the ground.

Customs and restricted items 

Georgia prohibits import of:

  • Plants

  • Guns, knives, and ammunition

  • Illegal drugs

  • Pornographic materials

  • Explosives

Restricted Items:

  • Tobacco – up to 200 cigarettes

  • Up to 3 litres of wine

  • Hunting rifles (with a Georgian hunting license)

  • Cats and dogs require a veterinarian’s health certificate

If you bring personal prescription narcotic medications, bring a doctor’s prescription with you and the medication in its original packaging.

Free to import: 

  • All personal items and goods in personal luggage up to 100 kg

  • Up to 3 kg of coffee

  • Currency up to $9,000 USD

SIM Cards and ATMs

ATMs from major banks are at all airports upon arrival, and accept most foreign Visa and Mastercard debit/credit cards. If you brought cash to exchange for GEL in country, use a card to get just enough GEL via an ATM to cover you immediately. For better rates, wait until you’re in town to exchange larger sums at currency exchange kiosks. 

If you do have to use an ATM to get more money anywhere in Georgia, BasisBank and Credo Bank have the lowest ATM usage fees (usually around $1.00 USD).

There will be SIM card desks at the airports, but the rates may be higher than in the city centre. If you can wait, check out the better rates in town. Magti is the most preferred service provider with better rates on packages and better coverage.

Arriving by plane

Numerous international airlines offer service to Georgia, with most flights arriving in the wee hours of the morning. Accommodation providers in Georgia expect to receive guests at this time, if you reserve an extra night with (very) early check-in. You’ll find the airports bustling with activity during these hours, and you might even be gifted a tiny bottle of Georgian wine as you pass through customs!

It’s usually easier to prearrange transport to your destination to avoid confusion and to ensure a fair price (we suggest using your accommodation’s recommendations; you’ll reach your destination more easily). 

Registered taxis are available at all airports, but they sometimes quote higher than normal prices. 

Some tourists opt to order a pick-up ahead of time, via a ride-sharing app. In Georgia (since there’s no Uber) the go-to favorite app is Bolt. 

To save time and energy, download the app beforehand, and then use the airport WIFI to book a ride. The service is usually quick and within minutes you’ll be on your way. 

Airport buses are more economical and will drop you in the city centre, but they stop running at 11pm. From the city centre, you’ll need to get a local taxi or walk to your accommodation – after dark (even before midnight), remember to stay safe when navigating a new area.

If you opt to rent a car, you’ll find the major car rental companies at the airports. Many people choose to take a taxi to their accommodation the first night, and arrange for a rental car for local excursions from a local car rental company, as the rates will be better.

Tbilisi Shota Rustaveli International Airport

The Tbilisi airport is located about 17 km outside of Tbilisi.

To get to the city center, or to your accommodation:

Municipal Bus #337 - The airport bus stop is a blue sign at the exit of the arrival hall; look for a large, green bus. The buses have space for luggage, and run from 7am – 11pm, every 15 minutes; 50 tetri (.18 USD) per ride. Note: Bus payment is coin-less; purchase a bus pass inside the airport, or use a credit card with a chip reader to pay.

Airport Taxi – A taxi ride to the center of town (approximately 53 GEL or $20.00 USD) takes between 45-60 minutes; taxi service available at the airport 24/7. Official taxis are metered, but lots of unlicensed “taxis” will vie for your attention, and it might be hard to tell the difference (especially after a long flight!). 

Taxis (at the airport and throughout Georgia) never accept credit cards, only cash, but an airport taxi might accept USD.

Pre-Arranged Taxi – With local taxi service such as gotrip.ge or kiwitaxi.com, you can book and pay online with a card or book ahead and pay in cash on arrival. Prearranging is a good choice if you have a large group and/or lots of luggage.

Train - From the airport directly to the central railway in Tbilisi, the airport train is easiest and least expensive. The Tbilisi Airport “Railway” is a modern spherical golden glass building located about 70 meters from the passenger arrival terminal of the airport. 

Fun fact: Be sure to take note of the incredibly bizarre and fascinating modern architecture (like the airport railway station!) that you’ll find throughout Georgia right alongside ancient architectural buildings. Enjoy! It’s remarkable!

The train only runs twice per day, but if your flight arrives in time to catch the 8:45am or 6:05pm train, you can hop on and get to the center of town. 

Batumi International Airport (Alexander Kartveli) 

The small Batumi airport is located only 9 km outside of Batumi. For easy transport to the city centre, or to your accommodation:

Municipal Bus #10 and #10a: This bus will take you directly to the Batumi city center. The ride is about 20 minutes and costs .30 GEL (.11 USD) You’ll need a Batumi Card (bus card) or contactless credit/debit card to pay.

Taxis: Taxis are available outside the airport arrival area 24/7 to take you to the city centre, and should cost between 20-30 GEL ($7-12 USD). You can also pay for a taxi inside the airport at the official taxi service desk and avoid negotiating with the driver directly. 

Otherwise, download the Bolt rideshare app before your trip and use the airport WIFI to order up a ride on arrival. Or, buy a SIM card at the airport (or use an eSim) so you have cell coverage to do so.

There are bank ATMs, currency exchange kiosks and SIM card desks at the airport.

Kutaisi International Airport

Budget airline Wizz Air recently made the newly renovated Kutaisi airport in western Georgia its major hub for the country, attracting a lot of traffic from Europe to the country. Other budget airlines also offer service to this airport, so it’s becoming popular.

The airport is about 26 km outside of Kutaisi and the trip into town should take 30-45 minutes.

At the time of this writing in 2023, there is no airport-to-center municipal bus service in Kutaisi and the only private bus shuttle service, Georgian Bus, recently suspended its service until further notice.

To get to the center of town from the airport, choose either taxi or marshrutka (minivan).  

Airport taxi: Taxis are available 24/7 outside the arrival hall in Kutaisi. 

The normal fare for a ride to the city center (or thereabout) is around 30-35 GEL ($12-14 USD). Be prepared to bargain and hold a firm line if you’re asked for more… sometimes, a lot more. Or, simply ask another taxi in the line-up.

Pre-arranged rideshares: Most travellers seem to have better luck using Maxim in Kutaisi, rather than the previously mentioned Bolt app.Download the app or pre-order online.

Marshrutkas (local minivans) are available in Kutaisi, across the street from the airport. As is common with this type of ride, the schedules are irregular, and your best bet is to flag one down at the roadside. They only operate during daylight hours and there is little or no room for luggage. 

If you have luggage, you’ll have to haul it across the highway and there may not be comfortable room onboard depending on how crowded the marshrutka is.

Arriving by land

Crossing into Georgia via land is a simple process, either by car or by bus. Some borders are large and see lots of traffic; others are sleepy and small, so you can zip through in a few minutes. 

The land border between Azerbaijan and Georgia is currently closed. It is potentially scheduled to open in April 2024 but this has been postponed several times already.

Helpful Hint: Make a point of checking the stamp in your passport to count the days, and be sure that you exit Georgia before your allotted time is complete, even if you’re on a “visa-free” stay.

Arriving via train

If you take the (approx. 10-hour) overnight train from Yerevan, Armenia, it’s a slow and comfortable way to reach Tbilisi (especially because you can avoid the very curvy Armenian roadways that are not great for those who get carsick). At Armenian immigration, the officers come onto the train and visit every cabin to check you out of Armenia.

On the Georgian side, you’ll have to exit the train to go through Georgian immigration, then return to your cabin for the rest of the trip to Tbilisi.

The overnight train and buses from Baku, Azerbaijan to Tbilisi are still suspended do the land border being closed.

Accessible travel in Georgia

While there may be ramps for entering large buildings in Georgia, you may find some city walkways to be rough, with potholes and damage.

Be sure to check with accommodation before booking to make sure that you’ll be able to comfortably enter the building, or the floor where your room is located.

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Maysie Dee

Author - Maysie Dee

Maysie Dee is a freelance writer, content editor, and recipe creator. She and her husband have travelled across the world for decades as natural product consultants, collecting stories along the way.

Last Updated 21 February 2024

Colourful buildings and churches in Tbilisi, Georgia

Georgia

Located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Georgia offers a diverse and stunning natural landscape, intriguing history and good food and wine.