Georgia is still an undiscovered gem of the Caucasus with a developing tourism infrastructure. Some customs and traditions are quite peculiar, and if Georgia is on your bucket list, then you’ll want to know these things before you visit.
The English language is quite widespread in the central cities of the country, including Tbilisi, Batumi, and Kutaisi. However, if you are planning to travel across the country or in the remote areas, it’s a good idea to master some of the basic phrases in Georgian. However, if Georgian seems a bit hard for you, you can go with Russian – most of the old generation speaks and understands it perfectly.
The major cities of Georgia have relatively well structured public transportation. However, if you’d like to travel across the country on your own, it might be a challenge. There’s a railway which goes to the main cities and towns of Georgia’s nine regions, but you’ll need to get into a local bus or a minibus to travel to the remote area. The bus station is quite chaotic and somewhat unorganized; also, you might find that fewer people speak English.
Georgia is a religious country following Orthodox Christianity. The religion was introduced here in the 4th century, thus, the country has hundreds if not thousands of churches and monasteries of a different era and architectural style. In remote areas, those churches are mostly located on the hills, so you’ll get to hike a bit if you visit them.
If you are a big admirer of food, and love trying different cuisines, then Georgia won’t disappoint you. Even though its heavy on meat and pastry, there’s a big variety of vegetarian dishes as well. For a more detailed list of what meals you should try, read our guide to the 15 dishes worth traveling to Georgia for.
Most of the restaurants and cafes already include a 10 percent service fee on the bill. Some restaurants even add 15 or 18 percent. Therefore, tipping the waiter is up to you.
A guest in Georiga is considered a “gift from God,” therefore a host family will make certain you feel comfortable at their house. Be sure to bring some kind of gift to any house at which you stay, be it a flower bouquet for the hostess or a bottle of wine or any other alcoholic beverage. A good box of chocolate is also a nice gift.
As said above, Georgians will do their best to treat you like royalty in their home. This includes a constant reminder to eat and try every dish on the table. Males will be expected to drink a whole glass of wine at once for every toast the host is making at the dinner table. However, if you are not a big drinker, you can take a sip instead. If you’d like to know more about Georgian hospitality, take a look at our article about 5 ways Georgians will harass you with hospitality.
Every traveler is surprised how inexpensive the food here is – in restaurants, at fast food places, or at local grocery stores. Check the local markets and buy some fresh vegetables and fruits from local farmers. However, if you are not a big fan of cooking, you can enjoy a wide array of cafes and restaurants each day without breaking the bank.
Georgia is very budget-friendly compared to other European countries, but one thing that is a bit expensive is renting a car. The price obviously depends on the number of days, car type, and pick-up location. Some of the companies also offer a driver option if you don’t want to drive on your own.
Generally, going to a museum in big European cities costs a lot, however, both in Tbilisi and other parts of the country, the ticket prices are extremely cheap. The average ticket price is GEL$3 (US$1.22) for the most museums in Tbilisi.
While you can pay with your credit card in the major cities, you’ll want to carry a bit of cash with you always. This is especially useful while traveling across the country; most of the guesthouses and restaurants in smaller towns won’t accept any cards.
Wi-Fi coverage is pretty much everywhere, unless you travel to a very remote area, where even cell phone networks barely work. All of the cafes, bars, and restaurants, as well as accommodation venues, have free Wi-Fi. All you’ll need to do is to ask for a password.