Flights & getting there
- Marshrutky (minibuses) are the main transport around Georgia. Along with some buses and minivans (smaller and more comfortable than marshrutky), they depart from various terminals around the city.
- Trains are mostly slower and less frequent than road transport, though they can also be very good value and a lot more enjoyable.
- Flying or travelling by train are overall the best options for getting direct to Baku; AZAL and Buta Airways fly direct daily, while there is also an overnight train departing every evening.
- For northwest Azerbaijan you'll need marshrutky, although at research time a new tourist shuttle bus service to Şəki was planned to begin by summer 2020 by the Azerbaijan Tourist Board.
- For Armenia minivans from Avlabari metro station to Yerevan are a comfortable, convenient option, as are the minibuses run by Envoy Hostel every Saturday. Alternatively, Georgian Airways flies direct daily.
Tbilisi International Airport is 15km east of the city centre. Direct flights head to/from more than 40 international destinations. Many flights arrive and depart at unholy early-morning hours.
The airport terminal has ATMs, multiple 24-hour bank branches offering currency exchange, mobile-phone providers and car-rental offices.
Bus & Marshrutka
Marshrutky (minibuses) may leave after or before scheduled times, depending on how quickly they fill up, and all schedules are subject to change – it's all part of the fun. Buses tend to leave as timetabled, but make up a far smaller proportion of public transport services.
Marshrutky and buses depart from the following bus stations:
Didube The sprawling main hub for national services. Areas close to the metro exit have marshrutky to Akhaltsikhe, Bakuriani, Batumi, Borjomi, Stepantsminda, Kutaisi, Mtskheta and Vardzia. Along a road to the right you’ll find the Okriba bus station on your left, with more Batumi and Kutaisi marshrutky plus Zugdidi services, and a yard opposite with Gori marshrutky.
Ortachala Ortachala, 2.5km southeast of the Old Town, has services for Kakheti, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Greece and Russia. Marshrutky to destinations in Kakheti, and Zaqatala and Qax in Azerbaijan, leave from out the front; other services, including comfortable Metro Georgia buses to Batumi, depart from inside.
You can reach Ortachala on bus 50, 55 or 71 from Baratashvili in central Tbilisi. Heading into town from Ortachala, catch these going to the left on the street outside. Marshrutky 108 and 150 run between Ortachala and Didube.
Sadguris Moedani The main train station has two bus stations attached to it: the first one at the front on the square and a second one on the 2nd floor out the back. You'll find buses to Mestia out the front, and buses to much of the rest of the country on the 2nd floor out the back.
Avlabari Outside Avlabari metro station. Buses to Yerevan leave from here.
Navtlughis Avtosadguri About 300m west of Samgori metro station. Buses go to various destinations in Kakheti as well as to Mestia.
Isani In the street behind the State Audit Office building behind Isani metro station. Buses to Lagodekhi leave from here.
Georgian Bus & Gareji Line Minibus Stop On one side of Freedom Sq, this is where daily buses in summer leave for Davit Gareja, as well as year-round buses to Kutaisi's airport.
Domestic Marshrutky & Buses from Tbilisi
|Destination||Departure||Cost (GEL)||Time (hr)||Frequency|
|Batumi||Ortachala||35||6||6 Metro Georgia buses daily|
|Dedoplis Tskaro||Ortachala||8||3||every two hours 8.30am-5pm|
|Gori||Didube||4||1¼||every 40min 8.15am-6pm|
|Kutaisi||Didube||10||4||every 30min 8am-2pm, hourly 2-8pm|
|Lagodekhi||Isani||8||2½||every 40min 8.40am-6.30pm|
|Mestia||Sadguris Moedani||30||9||7am reservation 557-130529|
|Mestia||Navtlughis Avtosadguri||30||9||7am reservation 591-663663|
|Mtskheta||Didube||1||30min||every 20min 8am-8pm|
|Sighnaghi||Navtlughis Avtosadguri||7||2||every 2hr 9am-6pm|
|Telavi||Ortachala||8||2||every 45min 8am-4pm|
|Telavi||Navtlughis Avtosadguri||8||2||hourly 9.20am-4.10pm|
|Zugdidi||Sadguris Moedani||15||5½||hourly 8am-9.30pm|
|Zugdidi||Didube||15||5½||every 1½hr 8am-7pm|
International Marshrutky & Buses from Tbilisi
|Destination||Departure||Cost (GEL)||Time (hr)||Frequency|
|Athens||Ortachala||230||42||1 bus daily, times vary|
|Baku (via Tsiteli Khidi & Gəncə)||Ortachala||30||10||5pm & 6.30pm daily|
|İstanbul (via Trabzon)||Ortachala||85||26||5 or more buses daily|
|Moscow||Ortachala||150-200||32||2 or more buses daily|
|Qax||Ortachala||10||4-5||marshrutky 8.40am, 11am, 1pm|
|Vanadzor (via Alaverdi)||Ortachala||20||3½||1 bus daily at 9am|
|Vladikavkaz||Ortachala||60||4||1 bus daily at noon|
|Vladikavkaz||Didube||70||4||minivans leave when full|
|Yerevan (via Ijevan, Dilijan, Sevan)||Avlabari||40||6||minivans every 2hr 9am-5pm (reservations 593-229554)|
|Yerevan (via Alaverdi, Vanadzor)||Ortachala||40||6||marshrutky 8.20am, 9.10am, 10am, then afterwards when bus gets full (reservations 577-411044)|
|Yerevan (via Alaverdi, Vanadzor)||Sadguris Moedani||40||6||marshrutky every 2hr 9am-5pm|
|Zaqatala||Ortachala||12||3-4||marshrutky 8.30am & 5pm|
- Self-drive car rental is viable and straightforward.
- Rental rates with local firms can be significantly cheaper than what the international companies charge, though vehicles and backup may be correspondingly less dependable.
- Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended anywhere off main highways, which makes them more or less essential if you plan to go anywhere outside large towns.
As well as all the international franchises, most of which have airport and downtown offices, there are also the following local companies:
- Tbilisi’s main train station is the railway hub of Georgia. Ticket counters, open 7am to 11pm, are on level 3 (the top floor) – there's usually someone who speaks English. You can buy tickets here for train trips starting anywhere in Georgia. Always bring your passport when buying tickets. Platforms are on level 2.
- Schedules change often: some information is given in English on the Georgian Railway website (www.railway.ge).
- Tickets go on sale 60 days in advance of the journey.
- Buying tickets online can be a real struggle. If you want to book in advance, contact a travel agency such as Advantour to book your ticket for you.
- Train information is available in English on 1331.
- For trains to Baku, Yerevan, Batumi and Zugdidi, it’s advisable to book tickets several days ahead, and as far ahead as possible for July and August, when trains are always sold out.
- The only international trains are the sleepers to Baku and Yerevan, though this should change when a line to Kars in Turkey opens; at research time this was planned for 2020. There are no trains north into Russia, as the only train line going there passes through Abkhazia.
- The Baku train (3rd/2nd/1st class 45/60/100 GEL, 12 hours) leaves Tbilisi at 8.35pm daily, and arrives in Baku at 8.50am the following morning.
- The Yerevan train (3rd/2nd/1st class 45/60/100 GEL, 11 hours), via Vanadzor and Gyumri, departs from 15 June to 30 September daily at 10.15pm, arriving in Yerevan at 7.25am the following morning. During the rest of the year trains only run on odd dates, leaving Tbilisi at 8.20pm and arriving in Yerevan at 6.55am the next morning.
- Fares can fluctuate with exchange rates and how far ahead you book, and timetables change often, so always double-check the information above before planning your trip.
- Overnight services depart Tbilisi daily at 9.45pm to Zugdidi (seat/2nd/1st class 7/21/30 GEL, nine hours), and at 12.35am to Batumi (2nd/1st class 30/70 GEL, six hours), arriving the following morning at dawn.
- Morning departures (between about 8am and 10am) head to Batumi (2nd/1st class 23/40 GEL, 5½ hours), Kutaisi (seat 7.50 GEL, 5½ hours) and Zugdidi (2nd class 15 GEL, 6½ hours). Extra trains to Batumi run during the summer holiday season.
- Elektrichky (slow trains with seating only) run to Borjomi (2 GEL, 4½ hours) in the morning and afternoon, and to Kutaisi (4 GEL, six hours) in the afternoon. For these, pay on the train.