Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, is slowly becoming quite a popular destination, and the city can be reached by different means of transportation. Most travellers, however, arrive in the city by plane. Since I’ve made the journey from the airport in many different ways, I thought it would be helpful to share with you guys how to go from Tbilisi Airport to the city centre.
ABOUT TBILISI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Tbilisi International Airport is located only 17km from the city centre. Despite being Georgia‘s largest airport, it is quite compact. As soon as you enter the terminal, you’ll go through immigration, which is usually quite straightforward. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get a small bottle of Georgian wine with your stamp – yes, that’s the Georgian way to say you’re welcome to their country!
The Duty Free area at Tbilisi Airport is only available at the departures gates, so you won’t be able to do much shopping when you land. There is free wifi at the airport, with the cute name of I Love Tbilisi – yes, I do!
Outside the arrivals gate, in the main hall, there are pretty much all the facilities you need. You will find many ATMs and currency exchange offices – euro, US dollar, British pounds, Russian rubbles and Turkish liras are the most popular currencies. On the left, there are a few shops selling SIM cards and on the right there’s a restaurant and cafe. But what you will really notice is that there will be a lot – I mean really A LOT – of people offering to take you home. As most flights into Tbilisi arrive at night or in the early hours, sometimes these people – some official taxi drivers, others just people trying to make some extra money – are the only choice.
HOW TO GO FROM TBILISI AIRPORT TO THE CITY CENTRE
In the last couple of years, there’s been an increase in transport choices between the city from the airport, making it more convenient for everyone. But given the inconvenient arrival time of most flights into the Georgian capital, the options for those seeking to use public transport are more limited. So here is how to get from Tbilisi airport to the city centre.
With the crowds gathering outside the arrivals gate, it’s hard to find out who is a licensed taxi driver and who just wants to take you for a ride. Having said that, the worst that can happen to you is to pay a bit more for the journey. Taxis in Tbilisi are not metered, so you must negotiate before you get in the car. If you’re going to the city centre (around Rustaveli Avenue, Abanotubani or the Old Town), expect to pay roughly 20USD.
If you want to avoid headaches or just the hassle of haggling the price, you can book your transfer in advance. Your hotel will be happy to arrange a pick-up for you – at a price – or you can also book online. I liked that company so much that I partnered with them – so, if you use this link, I’ll get a small commission and you won’t pay anything more for that.
You won’t need to look for taxi drivers and you will know your fare in advance. You can either pre-pay in full or pay a small amount when you book and pay the rest to the driver. Sample fares are:
Tbilisi Airport-City Centre: from 15 euros for up to four people and three bags; 36 euros up to 6 people in a minivan.
The cheapest way to travel to Tbilisi from the airport is by bus. They are actually minibuses and not suitable if you’re travelling with a lot of luggage. The yellow minibuses (route 37) stop outside the airport, to the right. They run hourly from 7am to 11pm and stop everywhere along the way. It can take up to 45 minutes to reach Rustaveli station or Freedom Square. It costs only 0.50GEL (0.22USD, 0.20EUR, 0.15GBP).
There is a new and very bling train station serving Tbilisi Airport and conveniently dropping you at the main train station. The frequency, however, is disappointing, since it basically serves airport staff going to and returning from work.
Train Schedule Airport-Tbilisi: 8:45am & 6:05pm.
Please remember that any schedule on this post – and any other post here – is subject to change and I won’t necessarily be able to keep up with their updates. 🙂
So, which way suits you best?