Georgia is still a relatively undiscovered travel destination with a developing tourism infrastructure. Some of the customs and traditions here are unique, so if Georgia is on your travel list, then you’ll want to know these things before you visit.
English 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 to 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 older generation speaks and understands it perfectly.
Georgia is a religious country following Orthodox Christianity. The religion was introduced here in the fourth century; 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 on the hills, so you’ll get to hike a bit if you visit them.
The major cities in 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 that goes to the main cities and towns of the nine Georgian regions, but you’ll need to get into a local bus or a minibus to travel to the remote areas. The bus station is quite chaotic and somewhat unorganised; you might also find that fewer people speak English.
If you are a big foodie and love trying different cuisines, then Georgia won’t disappoint you. Even though it’s 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 dishes worth travelling to Georgia for.
Most of the restaurants and cafes 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 Georgia 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 flowers or a bottle of wine. A good box of chocolate will also go down well.
As said above, Georgians will do their best to treat you like royalty in their home, so it’s good to sample every dish on the table. Men will also be expected to down a whole glass of wine for every toast the host makes. However, if you are not a big drinker, you can take a sip instead.
Most visitors are surprised about how inexpensive the food is here – in restaurants, at fast-food joints or in the local shops. Check the local markets and buy fresh fruit and vegetables 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 depends on the number of days, car type and pick-up location. Some companies also offer a driver option if you don’t want to get behind the wheel.
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 three Georgian lari (£0.70) for 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 travelling across the country; most of the guesthouses and restaurants in smaller towns won’t accept cards.
Wifi coverage is pretty much everywhere unless you travel to a very remote area, where even phone networks barely work. The majority of cafes, bars and restaurants, as well as accommodation venues, have free wifi. All you’ll need to do is to ask for a password.
Want to visit Georgia without having to plan your own itinerary? With Culture Trip, you can explore this extraordinary country with a small group of like-minded travellers on our specially curated nine-day Georgia trip.