Public Transport in Tbilisi
Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, boasts a wide array of public transportation, including minibusses, a subway system, and regular buses. Here’s how to navigate them.
The metro line here is pretty straightforward with only two lines covering almost the whole city. It’s one of the easiest public transport systems to use. The station names are written in both Georgian and English, and each stop will notify you when you should change a line to get to another part of the city.
Local tip: In order to use the metro here, you’ll need to buy a MetroMoney card, which costs 2 GEL (less than a dollar or British pound), and top it off with whatever amount you want. A 90-minute ride costs only 0.50 GEL.
The bus system in Tbilisi is more widespread than the metro, thus you can go pretty much everywhere with the bus, even to the outskirts. Buses stop at bus stops, where you can find electronic timetables showing the first and last stop of the bus and how many more minutes you’ll have to wait before the next bus arrives. Unfortunately, the rest of the stops are not written in English, so you’ll need to ask around which bus number goes to your stop.
There are two ways to purchase a bus ticket: A MetroMoney card is useful for those buses; however, if you don’t have one or you forgot to top it off, you can still buy a ticket on the bus through a machine. A 90-minute ticket costs 50 tetri. However, you’ll need to have coins, either 50 tetri, or a combination of 20s and 10s. To make it even more complicated, the machine won’t take 5 tetri. It also doesn’t give you change if you put in 1 or 2 GEL.
Local tip: There is a website and a mobile app that you can use to help you plan your journey and take a look at the schedule and route of the bus.
Minibusses in Georgia are called marshrutkas. They are a more convenient means of transportation that will allow you can stop everywhere, except central avenues like Rustaveli, Chavchavadze, Kostava Steet and Melikishvili Street. On these roads, they act like buses and only stop at the bus stops. Otherwise, they can stop wherever you ask them to.
To get in a marshrutka, you need to wave your hand as if you are stopping a taxi. The price for a ride is 80 tetri; however, you can pay via MetroMoney as well. In that case, every second ride in a marshrutka will cost 65 tetri.
Local tip: Marshrutkas don’t have specific timelines and schedules. Some of them run every 10-15 minutes. You’ll need to know which number you need to take, as the destination board they have on their rear window is written only in Georgian. You can plan your journey at tm.ge.
Taxis here are very cheap. Every second car in the street has a taxi sign on it. You can hire them via waving your hand in the street or by using a mobile application like Yantex Taxi or Taxify.
Local tip: Whenever you stop a taxi in the street, don’t forget to negotiate the price in advance.
Trains in Georgia
If you love traveling across a foreign country via trains, you can ride one here. The railway connects the main cities of the country and stops at small towns as well along the way. You can travel by train between Tbilisi and Batumi, to Kutaisi, to Zugdidi, Ozurgeti, Borjomi, Tskaltubo, and Samtredia to name just a few and vice versa. They run twice a day, every day. You can even travel to Yerevan, Armenia or Baku, Azerbaijan from here.
Local tip: You can buy domestic tickets online, but you’ll need to go to Tbilisi Central, the main train station, to buy tickets for Armenia or Azerbaijan.
Buses in Georgia
There are buses that operate within the country and cover the main cities of Georgia. However, locals rarely use them, as they prefer to drive, take trains or ride marshrutkas. There are several bus stations depending on the region you’d like to go. Every bus on the western part of the country departs from Didube Bus Station, while others on the eastern side leave from Navtlughi Bus Station.
Local tip: The company Metro Georgia has more comfortable buses, as well as great service.
Marshrutkas in Georgia
Marshrutkas are the most favorable means of transportation for many locals when it comes to traveling across the country. They are faster than buses and are more frequent. Moreover, they go to most remote areas where buses might not be able to navigate easily. Similar to domestic buses, marshrutkas go from Didube Bus Station and Navtlughi Bus Station.
Local tip: Be aware, some marshrutkas are not comfortable, with packed seats and less leg space.
As Georgia is a small country, there are not many airline companies that fly to other parts of the country. There’s Vanilla Sky, which operates Tbilisi-Batumi-Tbilisi, Kutaisi-Mestia-Kutaisi, Mestia-Natakhtari-Mestia, or Natakhtari-Ambrolauri-Natakhtari. Additionally, Georgian Airways operates Tbilisi-Batumi-Tbilisi.
Local tip: Their websites don’t properly provide information on flights, so it’s better to call them or message them on their Facebook Pages.