From personal experience, sometimes even a few months are not enough to travel around all the beauties of Georgia. How many directions, picturesque roads and interesting places can be found here!
We have a few favorite routes that we will share with you at the end of this article. But first, we’ll tell you how to properly organize a road trip in Georgia, how car rental in Georgia differs, what rights are needed and many other nuances (for example, where to rent a car if bank cards do not work?).
Rules for entering Georgia in 2022
To get into the country of khinkali, Russian tourists do not need a visa for a year, and a passport can be with any validity period (but it is better to have at least three months in reserve). From Russia, you can drive to Georgia by car through the land border in Upper Lars, it has finally been opened.
- There are no direct flights, but you can pick up connecting flights via Aviasales via Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus or Turkey — and pay them with a Russian card. Covid restrictions have been completely removed, no tests or certificates are needed.
Russian bank cards, including Mir, do not work in Georgia, so stock up on cash in rubles or dollars. For the same reason, my review of car rental in Georgia below is just a lifesaver, since the LocalRent service, where I usually take a car, was the only one of all that found a compromise with Russian maps.
What car did we drive in Georgia?
For everyday needs in the city, a car is practically not needed . Car rental in Georgia is useful for trips with friends to the mountains in Kazbegi, Svaneti or for wine in Kakheti. I usually rent vehicles for day trips out of town or for long trips, where it would be difficult to get there without my wheels.
For most routes an ordinary passenger car is suitable, a jeep is needed only for hard-to-reach places.
For example, to climb to the Gergeti Church in Kazbegi, to the Green Lake in Adjara or to Ushguli in Svaneti. I advise you to travel around the country in a rental car, and for difficult mountainous locations, negotiate with local drivers, for whom renting an SUV by tourists is an important income.
For example, last summer we rented a car for a trip to Svaneti from Batumi. In season, good cars sell like hot cakes, so we got a Ford Fusion for $40 a day. On it, we slowly drove to Mestia – the regional center in Upper Svaneti. And the next day, we agreed with a local off-road driver, for 160 lari ($55) he took us to Ushguli, a mountainous village with stunning views and those very Svan towers. On the way, out of the kindness of our hearts, we were taken to the upper station of the Khatsvali cable car, and to the swings in Heshkili. I wrote out all the interesting locations at the end of the article, there you will also find a map with route visualization.
The trip to Ushguli took all daylight hours, and we never regretted that we took a driver for a trip to the mountains, because. the path is really hard. So the most practical option to keep in mind is self-renting a car in Georgia for the main route + Georgian car rental companies on site for difficult and hard-to-reach locations.
What rights/documents are needed to rent a car?
Ordinary Russian driving license is suitable for renting. It is not necessary to issue an international driving license before the trip.
You will also need a passport and a credit card to block the deposit. Stop, put aside a sad sigh (“cards do not work!”). Some car rental companies go forward and rent cars without a deposit or ask to leave a deposit in cash – in dollars or Georgian lari. If you choose a car on the service, which I will now tell you in more detail, then you can even set the appropriate filter “No deposit” at all. You will see all the information before booking a car.
How to rent a car in Georgia?
There are two main ways to rent a car in Georgia:
- online using services such as LocalRent. I don't mention RentalCars or EconomyBookings because they don't support Russian cards,
- from local distributors, offices are easy to find on Google Maps in large cities of Georgia.
Why do I recommend and use LocalRent all the time? Well, firstly, they have been present on the Georgian (and not only) market for a very long time – and productively. Secondly, this is a service made by guys from Russia, and I really like his idea: not to cooperate with large rental offices, such as Avis or Hertz, but to establish contacts with local agencies in countries. This means lower prices and more flexible terms (hence a large selection of cars without a deposit).
And Russian bank cards WORK! You pay an advance with any card – this is 15% of the amount – you reserve a car for yourself, and you give the rest in cash to the manager when signing the contract. As you can see, car rental in Georgia on their website is significantly cheaper, everything is clear and transparent. A bonus is detailed information about the car – from the year of manufacture to interior photos.
Of the advantages of Georgian offices: sometimes they don’t pay attention to age and driving experience, so if you got your license quite recently, you can try this option. But there is an online rental, then almost all sites have requirements for the age of the driver and experience. On LocalRent, this is 23 years and a driving experience of 3 years.
Rental car prices
From my own experience, I know that it is better to find a car online, as aggregator sites have more offers than any particular rental company, and prices are often much lower.
Let's compare how much it costs to rent a car in Tbilisi for a week on the aggregator and on the website of the local distributor:
- the price for renting a car in Georgia for a week on LocalRent starts from $130
- at rental car rental prices in Georgia for the same dates starting at $200
Cheaper to take a car in Tbilisi, because. most rental agencies are located in the capital. For example, the price of a Toyota Prius for 7 days with delivery in Tbilisi will be around $155, and in Batumi it will be more than $200, because if you rent a car in other cities, you will have to pay for transportation from the capital.
At the peak of the season in summer, it is advisable to book a car online in advance – a large influx of tourists can spoil your plans to take a car “here and now”. If you rent a car in Georgia from day to day, then you may not find the car you need, and the prices will be at the luxury level for, most likely, an old car.
Rental tips cars in Georgia
Now I will give you specific advice on what to pay attention to when booking, receiving and returning a car, so that your vacation will be remembered for the beauties visited, and not for showdowns with the formidable Georgian uncle from the rental.
What to look for when booking?
1. Chaotic pricing at local rental offices.
Before you go to pick up a car at local offices, always check the cost of the car online at LocalRent – locals can raise the price according to their mood 🙂
2. Right hand drive cars.
Used cars are actively imported to Georgia through the port not only from the USA and Europe, but also from Japan. Although the government is taking steps to restrict imports of right-hand drive vehicles, there are still plenty of them on the roads. Officially, they are not prohibited, but it will not be very comfortable to change to such a control the first time.
3. Many cars after an accident.
If in Europe a small scratch is considered serious damage, then in Georgia even a crumpled bumper can be left without attention. Although car rental companies often do not inspect the car upon return, be sure to fix even the smallest dents and chips upon receipt in order to avoid possible conflicts and disputes in the future.
4. Toyota Prius is the “national car” in Georgia.
There are many of these cars on the roads and in rental, they are cheap and are great for Georgian roads. Most of them are automatic hybrids.
Step-by-step car rental instructions
Below will be detailed instructions with all the features of car rental in Georgia:
- First things first, build a route. Decide in advance on the places you want to go. Below in the article, I described several options for autotravel from Tbilisi and placed them on the map.
- Vehicle selection. For example, for trips to Kakheti, Kazbegi, Borjomi or Batumi, a passenger car will be enough for you. But for climbing mountains, you need a jeep with good ground clearance.
- Learn the full information about the car: what kind of gearbox it has, gasoline or diesel, drive and all other important parameters – in this regard, I really respect Localrent for their transparency .
- Mileage limit. It is rare, but it is necessary to pay attention to it. You can immediately check the boxes in the filters section – “no mileage limits” and “no deposit”.
- Car run. If you are going to rent a car in Batumi, Kutaisi or another city, then in most cases you will have to pay for the delivery of a car from Tbilisi to the desired location. In the capital, I advise you to take a car right at the airport, so as not to spend money on a taxi and then look for a rental office in the city for half a day.
- Details of the contract. Check for insurance, deposit and mileage limits. Let's look at this issue in more detail.
Insurance and deposit
In Georgia, you can easily find a car with the “cash deposit” option. Some car rental companies prefer not to freeze a deposit on your credit card, but require cash as a deposit. Or even rent without these monetary conventions. On the LocalRent website, the deposit – or lack of it – is immediately visible when booking.
Additional insurance. In Georgia, I strongly advise, in addition to standard CASCO and OSAGO, to issue an additionally extended Super CASCO or take a car with full insurance that will cover all damage, including wheels and windows. Even if you are confident in your driving skills, you never know how other road users will behave.
Passenger insurance. In the event of an accident without insurance, hospital treatment can cost a pretty penny. Be sure to take care of your safety and take out travel insurance in advance – you can from your bank, you can at Turtle.
A deductible is the amount that you yourself pay for repairs in the event of an accident or damage to the car, for example, if someone scratched you in the parking lot. Expenses above this amount will be covered by the insurance company. I must say that in Georgia, a franchise, like a deposit, is not very common. But still, before signing the contract, be sure to read the terms and specify the availability and size of the franchise. If we take the same Localrent as an example, then on the site you can find out about the franchise in the car card in the section “Comparison of insurances” – “Insurance covers 100% of damage” – and if this is not the case, then the size of the fin will be indicated. responsibility on your part.
And a great option in case of unforeseen circumstances – free cancellation. In our unstable times, I advise you to take cars only with the possibility of a full refund.
Receiving and returning the car
Upon receipt of the car, take a picture of all scratches and chips or take a video. Even if your car is not the first freshness. In my experience, minor damage is not cared for in Georgia, but you never know how the car will be handed over and how the distributor will behave.
There are no additional rules like washing and cleaning the interior, but in any case, handing over the car , full of empty bottles from Kindzmarauli and the remains of churchkhela, is not entirely ethical.
Driving rules in Georgia – what are the differences?
As one of my Georgian acquaintances said: “Speed it’s in our blood”, and this is immediately noticeable in the driving style of the locals. In Georgia, they like to scorch, but everything is not as scary and chaotic as in India or Egypt.
Before the trip, download the 112 Georgia app, in case of an accident, you can contact the police and send your location in a couple of clicks.
The average price of gasoline in Georgia in 2022 is 4 lari ($1.3 or 70 rubles), diesel – 4.5 lari ($1.5 or 82 rubles).
Basic rules and restrictions
✅ Watch out for speed limits. There are cameras and radars on the roads, and fines for speeding over 15 km/h range from 50 to 250 lari ($17–$85).
✅ Safety measures are pretty standard – fastened seat belts, low beam at night and in bad weather, and, of course, driving sobriety. For exceeding the allowable 0.3 ppm in the blood, they can take away the rights immediately on the spot, and to get them back, you have to perform a series of dances with tambourines.
✅ The fine for incorrect parking is 10 GEL or $ 3.4 (but the Georgian parliament is thinking of increasing the amount by 5 times), the chance of getting it decreases sharply outside Tbilisi.
✅ You will not be able to pay the fine on the spot. Within 30 days, you will need to make a payment online, at the terminal, contact the bank or the distributor. The police say that you can pay at any bank branch, but in Batumi I only managed to do it at Liberty Bank. And yes, after a month, the amount will begin to grow due to the penalty.
✅ You can check the availability of fines at the link. If there are “hanging people” left, then next time you may simply not be allowed into Georgia.
✅ Minor traffic violations are not monitored very vigilantly, not letting a pedestrian through at the crossing is a common practice.
Route by car in Georgia – where to go?
Below, I have outlined some interesting routes from Tbilisi, but first I want to warn you about the two main mistakes in planning a trip to Georgia by car.
Chief deceiver! On Google maps, the road looks very civilized, and along it it begs to build a route from Borjomi to Batumi. In reality, this segment of the path is very difficult to call a route. In some places the road is very narrow and dangerous, landslides and landslides occur regularly. The unfortunate 200 km from Borjomi to Batumi will take you 7-8 hours, and on the way you will definitely remember your mom, dad, all the saints and wonder why you went to this Georgia at all.
Incredibly beautiful mountainous region, where you should definitely not meddle with your car. Firstly, half of the distributors, if they hear the word “Tushetia”, will grab your heart and take your keys away. Secondly, it is generally forbidden to go there in a passenger car, and not even every all-wheel drive jeep will master the local roads in Georgia. So I advise you to master the north-eastern part of Georgia only with an experienced local driver who knows the road well.
And now about the beautiful!
Georgian military road
Route: Tbilisi – Mtskheta – Gudauri – Kazbegi (Stepantsminda) – Tbilisi
This is a day trip from Tbilisi to Stepantsminda. You can go to Kazbegi (the old name of the village) on your own in any car, the road is narrow in places, but with a quality surface. The path itself is quite scenic, with many viewpoints along the way. I advise you to leave early in the morning in order to have time to see all the interesting places and return to Tbilisi before sunset. I recommend going here from May to September: in the cold months, the road is often covered with snow.
Write down the main stops:
(below is a Google map with locations where everything abstract like “beautiful lookout” will find its coordinates )
- 📍 Mtskheta – this is the first stop on the standard route, it is located literally right outside the city, but I suggest skipping it on this route in order to spend more time in the mountains, and it is easy to get here on your own by public transport.
- 📍 Lookout platform on the Zhinvali reservoir – a beautiful panorama of the bay with turquoise water.
- 📍 Ananuri Castle is located a little further on the shore of the reservoir. I advise you not to stay here for a long time, a couple of minutes in the photo will be enough. By the way, a good angle opens up from the bridge.
- 📍 The confluence of two white and black rivers!
- 📍 Pasanauri – it is believed that khinkali was invented here. They cook really tasty, but I advise you to stop by here already on the way back. Most of the restaurants are still closed early in the morning. The last time we had dinner at the Korbuda restaurant was very sincere, but the prices are rather high, for four it turned out to be 160 GEL.
- 📍 A stop where you can drink coffee, buy churchkhela and go to the toilet. And there is a nice view across the road. See for yourself:
Then the ascent through the mountain serpentines to Gudauri begins.
- 📍 An abandoned lookout behind the Panorama cafe – it is almost invisible from the road, you need to go behind the building and walk literally 20 meters to the cliff.
- 📍 The Friendship of Peoples Arch is the most popular lookout behind Gudauri, excursion groups are brought here, so sometimes you have to fight for a good shot without onlookers in the background.
- 📍 An alternative spot for photos, there are fewer people here. From this hill you can paragliding over the gorge, the price in 2022 is from 300 GEL for 1 descent.
- 📍 Sulfur waterfall, you can climb up.
- 📍 Stepantsminda (Kazbegi) – the village itself is unremarkable, the main location is the Gergeti Church, which is located a little higher on the hill. It offers views of the five-thousander Kazbek – the seventh highest peak of the Caucasus and the surrounding mountains. Climbing up is worth it even on a cloudy day: the weather in the mountains is very changeable, and the clouds can disperse at any moment. A few years ago, a new asphalt road was built to the Gergeti Church, it is easy to drive even in a passenger car. If you want to work off the eaten khachapuri, then you can go upstairs on foot, the path will take about 40 minutes (2.7 km, 452 m climb), the path is quite picturesque.
- 📍 Gveleti Waterfalls – to climb to the very top, you will also need a jeep. Or a simple hike about 2 km.
< li>📍 Gudauri is the top ski resort in Georgia. In winter, people are crowded here, but in summer it is completely empty, the lifts do not work, but you can look after yourself a hotel for a winter vacation.
Route: Tbilisi /Batumi – Mestia – Ushguli – Tetnuldi
As I wrote at the beginning of the article, you can easily get to this mountainous region by car from Batumi or Tbilisi. But for a trip to the highland villages, it is better to use the services of local drivers. It is better to lay 2 or even 4 days for a trip. So, a guide to Svaneti:
- 📍 Mestia is the largest settlement in Svaneti. There are many hotels, restaurants and there is even a bar in the authentic Svan tower Granny Bar and several interesting museums. I advise you to set aside a day and climb the surrounding mountains, for example, climb to the 📍 lookout “Cross”.
- 📍 The upper station of the Khatsvali cable car – a cool view of the mountains opens from there. The lift does not operate during the summer, but you can drive up to the top by car.
- 📍 The swing in Heshkili is an approximate location, but it is one of the most amazing places in the outskirts of Mestia. According to Google Maps, there is no road there, but if you look at satellite images, you can see a primer that leads to the desired point. There is a small hotel with a beautiful area, but the main feature is the swing. What can I say, look at these pictures.
- 📍 Ushguli is a community in the highlands, consisting of several small villages. I advise you to get on a jeep with good ground clearance. Plan a whole day for the trip: at least 3 hours for a walk around the neighborhood, plus 2 hours of travel one way.
- 📍 The tower of love on the road to Ushguli is no different from other towers, except for a clearly invented legend. But here you can climb inside and climb to the very top. The price is 1 GEL.
- 📍 Tetnuldi — if the mountains seem not enough, then set aside one more day for a trip to the Tetnuldi ski resort. The views are gorgeous both in summer and in winter.
- 📍 Trekking to the Chalaadi glacier, Koruldi lakes or waterfalls of Mount Ushba – I advise you to go on such trips only with guides, the weather in the mountains is unpredictable even on very simple routes. You can easily find travel agencies that offer trekking to different locations in Mestia on the main street of Queen Tamara.
Route: Tbilisi – Sighnaghi – Telavi – Alazani Valley – Tbilisi
The most famous of the wine regions of Georgia. You have definitely heard about the Alazani Valley (at least read it on wine labels). So here she is. All the most interesting locations can be seen on a one-day autotrip from Tbilisi.
- 📍 Sighnaghi – according to legends – the city of love and dozens of various myths, mainly on a romantic theme. The trick is that they all appeared during the presidency of Saakashvili. In a beautiful village on top of a cliff, they noticed tourism potential, restored it, combed it, added road signs and signs in English and voila – an unknown town has turned into one of the most visited places in Georgia. Sighnaghi is worth paying tribute to, it is really very beautiful here: old houses with red roofs, cobbled narrow streets and a gorgeous view of the Alazani Valley.
- 📍 Shumi Winery — here you will be given a tour of the plant and a free tasting.
- 📍 Telavi is the largest city on the way, you can refuel, drop into a supermarket, etc. There is a Nadikvari park overlooking the city and a local attraction – a 900-year-old plane tree.
- 📍 Ikalto Monastery is one of the oldest architectural monuments in Georgia, was built in the 6th century.
- 📍 Alaverdi Monastery — yes, there are enough monasteries on the route 🙂 There is a large area, you can walk and see what the ancient wineries looked like.
- 📍 Gremi Monastery – located on a hill, so you will have a great view of the mountains from here.
- 📍 Graneli Winery – here is officially the most delicious kindzmarauli that I have tried in my life.
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- 📍 Restaurant Saperavi is a beautiful area for walking, and in good weather you can have lunch in a tower overlooking the Alazani Valley.
My review and tips about driving in Georgia
In conclusion, I will say that about car rental in Georgia, my review is definitely positive! True, I would recommend renting a car from a car rental company in Georgia only to those who have good driving skills and experience, preferably in Asian countries. The driving culture here is far from European, so it can be difficult and sometimes dangerous for inexperienced drivers. Everything else is sharman, mon cher.
Pros and cons
In my experience, the pros of self-renting are the following:
- you don't need to buy organized tours and listen to boring excursions, but build your own itinerary according to your interests
- you can find new interesting locations by accidentally taking a wrong turn
- there is no time limit, you can hang around in the place you like all day if you want
- the police do not specifically chase tourists, as in some countries. You drive normally – no one touches you and does not demand a bribe
- well, the best search engine for renting cars operates in Georgia – LocalRent: profitable, understandable and friendly
Cons too eat:
- don't drink wine. Sometimes, under the gorgeous panoramas of the mountains and hot khinkali, a glass of kindzmarauli is begging. But you can't! I don’t drink, even as a passenger, it somehow becomes uncomfortable in front of the driver
- it’s hard to find a good car in the season. And even harder – for a nice price
- you don’t always know the intricacies of all locations, somewhere smooth asphalt turns into a primer, and somewhere the road collapsed after heavy rains. In such cases, you have to turn around and drive back, but already without mood, because time is wasted
What to do without a car in Georgia?
Without a car in Georgia, you can easily allocate a few days and leisurely explore the sights of the city in which they stopped – by themselves, turning to Google for usefulness, or with a tour (and they have their own excellent service – Tripster). A week is not enough to see Tbilisi alone.
In Georgia, there is also an excellent car rental in Tbilisi with a driver – GoTrip. There you can specify your route and immediately get the price. It is very convenient if none of your friends has a license or you have a large company and you no longer fit in a passenger car. Filters on the site allow you to select a driver by reviews, cars by type and capacity.
If you are in Georgia for the first time, you can consider this type of travel, and here's why:
- complete freedom in choosing a route, the driver will take you wherever you want and will patiently wait while you shoot hundreds of shots in each location
- colorful communication, drivers in Georgia are often very sociable, and you can “rub for life” about politics, traditions, and indeed on any topic about the country
- secret locations – experienced drivers can often tell you from what angle a cool shot will be, where to buy the most delicious churchkhela, they will treat you with homemade wine , and sometimes they will invite guests to a real Georgian feast. But no tour guide is provided.