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Getting Around Tbilisi

By in General Information

As is the case with most major cities in the world, Tbilisi offers a wide variety of ways of getting from A to B:

Metro

The cheapest and one of the fastest ways of getting around the city is with the Metro, which was built back in the 1960’s.  The Metro network is relatively simple to navigate compared to most cities due to the fact that there are only two lines.  These are the blue line, which runs approximately north to south, plus the green, Saburtalo, line which runs west from where they intersect at Station Square.  Signage is written both in Georgian and English, so it is easy enough to figure out which direction the trains are running in.

Tickets are a bargain at a mere GEL 0.50 per trip.  In order to use them, however, you first need to get yourself a Metromoney card.  These cost GEL 2.00 for the cards, which you can then charge with as much credit as you’re likely to need.  These cards are available from cashiers who sit inside cash booths inside the entrance halls to all of the Metro stations.  If you are only staying in Tbilisi for a short time, it is possible to return your Metromoney card to the cashier at the end of your trip and to get a refund for the price of your card.

The trains run regularly.  I have yet to wait for more than five minutes for the next one to arrive.

The downside to travelling via Metro in Tbilisi is that, with only two lines to cover a large city of well over a million people, there are large areas of the city without a station within easy walking distance.  In addition, the stations are located further apart than in most cities, which means that, even if a line passes virtually underneath your destination, you may still need to walk a fair distance.

Buses and Minibuses

The city is better served by a network of yellow buses and minibuses (also known as mashrutky).  I must admit that I am no expert on getting around Tbilisi by bus or minibus.  I tried once and, after waiting for 45 minutes (during which time I saw four buses heading in the opposite direction), my patience had worn thin and so I gave up and took a taxi instead!  With hindsight, my mistake may have been to attempt to take a bus on one of the more minor streets in Tbilisi which is only served by one route.  Had I tried getting a bus on one of Tbilisi’s more major roads which are served by several buses, then I may have had more luck.

For those with more patience than myself, full information on the bus network, timetables, routes, etc., can be found in English on the official Tbilisi Transport Company website.

Taxis

One of the reasons why I was so quick to give up on buses was that I had already discovered how cheap and convenient the taxis are in Tbilisi.

There is no Uber service in Tbilisi (yet), but there are a couple of services which operate in a similar fashion.  One is Bolt, while the other is Yandex Taxi.  From the first time that I used Bolt, I haven’t looked back.  Both Bolt and Yandex Taxi apps allows you to link a credit or debit card to your account and, once it is set up, you never have to worry about rummaging around to find the right change. While Bolt cars tend to be more comfortable, their prices do seem to be quite a bit higher than those of Yandex.

The usual wait time for either service that I have experienced is around 4-6 minutes only (a lot better than the fruitless 45 minutes I spent waiting for a bus!).    The longest journey I took, from the city centre to the airport came to GEL 25.00.

So, in summary, if your journey starts and ends within ten minutes of a metro station, then this is the most economical way of getting around.  Otherwise, unless you are on a very tight budget, then I strongly recommend setting up an account with Yandex Taxi or Bolt.

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About The Author
Nick Pendrell

Born in Stratford-upon-Avon, UK, Nick Pendrell is an expert in the sale of international residential real estate. Over the past decade, he has sold property in Egypt, Thailand and Georgia and is the author of two books on purchasing property abroad.