At Georgia they seem to like rechargeable payment cards. Whether its for the Mtatsminda fun fair or public transport at თბილისი, you just need to lend a plastic card for a small deposit, top-up some money, pay as often as you wish and later return the card. Already when you reach the international airport you can go to a vending machine, buy a card and put money on it to use the bus bringing you to the city center.

In other countries these systems have already been fully replaced by contactless credit card payments – but it is a system working really well. And as public transport at თბილისი is really cheap you don’t need to top-up money often (but you could, at many many vending machines throughout the city). You can use the Metromoney card on the subway, in buses and minibuses as well as on the cable car starting at Rike park. There it even gives you the opportunity to skip the often long queues.

Public transport can be confusing but is pretty simple once you’ve started to use a smartphone software like Google Maps. It calculates for you which means of transport you should take and where to enter and exit. During the ride you can always check your position and find out when it is time to leave; that is especially important as digital signs in buses are typically only in Georgian. I love the alphabet but I simply can’t read it.

Mosten often buses will be your first choice. They take the most important routes throughout the city: just get in, tap your card on the reader and you’re ready to go. The airport bus has many stops and needs an hour to the city center – if you arrive or leave at night you might rather want to take a private transfer. Very often I also had to take minibuses (Marschrutki) that often pass from east to west and vice versa through the city. They work exactly like normal buses, but you need to get to the front door to signal that you want to leave (unless you know how to speak Georgian).

The metro is another good option you should try; it is very interesting because of the very long escalators bringing you deep under the earth and the architecture of the stations. Probably it will be most beneficial if you want to get outside the city center to more rural areas. The metro consists of just two lines: the red line going from north to south and the green line connecting the different universities with the railway station. Most important stops are Avlabari (for places like Sameba), Liberty square for the city center and Rustaveli for the most important museums. The Metromoney card must be used at gates when entering.

თბილისი / Tbilisi

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