You’ve landed in Tbilisi. You cleared the immigration and collected the complimentary bottle of wine. Even your luggage is all in one piece. The next challenge is finding a way to get from the airport to your arranged accommodation.
Luckily, there are multiple options for this, suiting all tastes and budgets. Let’s take a look at all 6 of them, shall we?
Airport to Central Tbilisi by Ride Sharing
I’m listing ride-sharing as the first option because it’s arguably the most popular one and offers a good value for money.
While there’s no Uber in Tbilisi, the two major ride-sharing apps that work here are Bolt (formerly Taxify) and Yandex. There’s also a less popular taxi app called Maxim, but I don’t have any first-hand experience with it, and the opinions I’ve heard from others are mixed.
As far as Bolt and Yandex go, both are decent options. Bolt is slightly more expensive (25-30 GEL for the ‘standard’ option VS Yandex’s 20-25 GEL), but in my experience, the average car you’ll get is also a lot nicer.
Bolt also has its Lite and Premium options, which are a bit cheaper and a bit more expensive than the standard one, respectively.
If you order Bolt Standard, you’ll 99% of the time get a Toyota Prius. With Premium, most of the time, it’ll be a Toyota Camry. Most of their cars are decent and not too old, but don’t expect them to be at par with Uber Black in London 🙂
In general, ride-sharing apps represent great value-for-money, as the $10 fee for what’s a 30-minute ride likely won’t break the bank for anyone.
Oh, I almost forgot. I’m not sure about Yandex, but Bolt even allows you to pay in cash and stops right outside of the airport. That’s handy if you’re in a hurry and don’t have mobile data / don’t want to mess around with adding your card details. And yes, the airport does have free wifi.
Tbilisi Airport to Centre by Taxi: Don’t Get Scammed
If for whatever reason, ride-sharing isn’t your cup of tea, but you don’t feel adventurous enough to give a local bus or a Marshrutka a go, you can always go with a standard taxi.
You won’t have any issues finding a white taxi outside of the terminal building, and, in most cases, you won’t have to even venture out of the terminal to get solicited by hordes of taxi drivers ready for your business.
It’s beyond me, though, why anyone would choose a white taxi over a Bolt ride. I can’t think of any benefits, but can think of many clear drawbacks:
- Taxi prices are usually higher than Bolt or Yandex and need to be negotiated before the start of the trip. Taxis are not metered.
- Drivers often try to pull a fast one and over-quote.
- Downright scams are also not uncommon (e.g., you’re quoted one price at the start of the ride and then charged double the amount at the end).
- Taxi drivers rarely speak English (not much of an issue with Bolt as the address is right there in the app, reducing the need to communicate).
- The cars are often older or in worse shape than Bolt’s.
But if you do end up taking a taxi, make sure it’s white (all official taxis are, since 2019) and has a visible Taxi sign attached to it. There are plenty of unlicensed taxis around that aren’t worth the risk.
Tbilisi Airport Bus – Prices, Travel Times & Comfort
If you’re looking for a cheap but reliable way to get from the airport to the city, then the bus might be a good option.
Route #37 takes you from the airport to the city centre (Freedom Square), and the ticket costs a mere 0.50 GEL (around $0.16).
But while cheap, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- It’s not an express service, meaning you can expect plenty of stops on the way to the centre.
- That also adds to the travel time, which is around 45-55 minutes.
- The service doesn’t finish in the city centre but instead takes you to the Railway Station. So if the centre is what you’re after, you need to keep your eyes open and hop off at the right stop yourself.
The bus runs every 15-30 minutes during the daytime and roughly every 30-40 minutes at night (the route # changes from 37 to 137 between 11 pm & 7 am). The bus stop at the airport is easily identifiable.
You can even get an up-to-date time table at Tbilisi Transport Company’s official site.
Airport to Tbilisi with a Rental Car
If you want to explore Tbilisi and Georgia on your own, and especially if venturing out of the capital is on your agenda, then a rental car might make a lot of sense.
Dependent on the season, car hire prices can be anywhere from modest to quite expensive, so shop around a little and look for the best option.
You have the big international firms like Hertz, Sixt, and others all present at the airport, but take note that while their prices are at par with their European franchises, the average car quality and age are both far behind.
With that in mind, it often makes sense to look for a deal with a local car hire company, instead. Check out Cars4Rent.ge, CarsAndRooms.ge, and GSS Car Rental for starters. The odds are that they’ll have similar cars, but with better terms and lower prices.
Most car hire companies, even those without an airport office, tend to offer free or cheap ($5-$20) airport pick-up and drop-off.
Tbilisi Airport by Train: Not an Option for Most
An interesting and relatively new option for getting to and from the airport is the train.
There’s a brand new railway station at the airport, and the trains themselves are also beautiful and comfortable. Oh, and they’re cheap-as-chips, with a single ticket costing the same 0.50 GEL ($0.18) that what you’d pay for a stuffy and bumpy bus ride.
So why doesn’t everyone use the train instead?
Well, there are two significant drawbacks.
Firstly, the train only runs three times a day (4 am, 8:35 am & 5.40 pm), so unless you get lucky, you’ll probably have to wait around for a fair bit of time.
Secondly, the train takes you to the Tbilisi Railway Station, which is not in Central Tbilisi. It’s not super far, but Freedom Square is still a hearty 50-minute walk. You could, of course, grab the metro and be there in 10 minutes, but it might not be worth the hassle.
Pre-Arranged Tbilisi Airport <> City Centre Transfer
Finally, you have arguably the most expensive, but also the most comfortable option of pre-arranging a dedicated Airport Transfer.
If you’re staying at a hotel, then it’s likely that your hotel offers this service. They may have a deal with a chauffeur company or, in many cases, have their own car and driver.
Alternatively, you can go with one of the tens (or even hundreds) of chauffeur companies that offer the service. I won’t link out to any of them as there are just too many, but a quick Google search for “Tbilisi Airport Transfer” will get you started nicely.
The significant benefit of a pre-arranged transfer is the elimination of any hassle. You’ll have your driver meet you in the arrivals hall, escort you and your bags to the car, and you’ll be on your way.
But you’ll also pay for the privilege, with the prices of a private transfer usually varying from around 60GEL ($20) for a small-ish car to 150GEL ($50) or more for a large/luxury vehicle, similar to what Bolt Premium will send you for a fifth of the price.
The Bottom Line
So there you have it – something for every taste and budget.
I’m a little bit disappointed that there isn’t (I think…) a regular Marshrutka service between the airport and the city centre, as it would make for an excellent cultural experience for those new to the region, but hopefully, the local bus will be enough 🙂
Can you think of any other ways to get to and from the airport? If so, hit me up in the comments below!