Gay Georgia travel: the ultimate gay guide for LGBTQ travellers

Stefan Arestis

A country right after our own hearts…

Georgians love all things wine, cheese and more wine. We decided to nourish our inner queens and spend a few weeks exploring this underrated ex-Soviet country, admiring the stunning landscapes, dining on delicious gourmet food, trying plenty of the famous Georgian wine, visiting castles and towers, and even squeezing in a few nights out in the gay bars of Tbilisi. 

With an epic backdrop that consists of looming mountains, ancient buildings, cobbled streets and bespoke restaurants, the cities of Georgia are never out of touch with nature. Even architecture snobs will be won over by the charming design of the Renaissance-style buildings in Tbilisi, the Stone Age style houses in Ushguli and the ‘city of caves’ in Vardzia. 

We’ve compiled a list of the best things to do for gay travellers to Georgia, which include trekking through the mountains of Kazbegi (our personal highlight!), visiting the former Georgian capital of Mtskheta, and of course, embarking on a wine tasting tour! 

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LGBTQ rights in Georgia

When it comes to treatment towards LGBTQ people, let’s just say Georgia doesn’t have the sparkliest track record. Many Georgians consider queerness as a deviation from traditional ways of living. In a Pew Research Centre survey about the acceptance of homosexuality in East Europe carried out in 2015/2016, Georgia ranked as one of the least tolerant countries: a whopping 93% of the Georgians polled agreed that homosexuality should not be accepted by society. In addition, public events like Pride are often met with backlash and gay people don’t have the legal right to marry, enter a civil union or serve openly in the army. 

That isn’t to say that there aren’t pockets of acceptance dotted throughout the country: cities like Tbilisi have fabulous LGBTQ hangout spots where queer people can socialise and hook-up without fear of persecution or backlash.

Plus, Georgia is one of the only countries in the former Soviet bloc to have laws that prohibit discrimination towards LGBTQ people. Not only this, but trans people have the legal right to change their name and legal documents to reflect their preferred identity.

So things are moving in the right direction, slowly, but surely. To give you an idea of what gay life is really like in Georgia, check out our interview with Giorgi from Tbilisi.

Georgia isn't the most gay friendly country, but things are gradually improving
The gay rainbow is shining over Georgia with hope for a more tolerant future…

Is Georgia safe for gay travellers?

Georgia is not famous for being particularly gay friendly. This is largely down to the extremely conservative Orthodox Church which remains highly influential across the entire country. This is one religion that does not have the most positive view about our LGBTQ community, not too dissimilar to gay life in Russia. To give a recent example, in 2018, the government made a point of this by passing a Constitutional ban on same-sex marriages, a measure which was heavily supported by the country's religious leaders.

On the plus side, Georgia is one of the few ex-Soviet countries that has introduced a full range of comprehensive anti-discrimination laws, including anti-hate speech laws, hate crime laws relating to sexual orientation and laws relating to discrimination on the grounds of gender identity. In addition, the right to change legal gender was introduced in 2008 and gay men have been allowed to donate blood as of 2017.

What we found from our experience in Georgia is a clear generational divide in opinion across Georgian society. On the one side, the older members of the LGBTQ community were more conservative and repressed about their sexuality, largely because they grew up in a time when homosexuality was not only a huge taboo, but it was a criminal offence in Georgia (ie before 2000). On the other side is a more progressive, forward-thinking and very liberal-minded generation of millennials who are more internet savvy and aware of LGBTQ issues, who couldn't give two hoots if Seb and I kissed in front of them or not.

The more Georgia embraces and moves towards the EU and European values, the more progressive the country has become in relation to LGBTQ rights… after all, Tbilisi has the largest gay club in the Caucasus which is on the front lines of the debate.

Despite everything, please remember Georgia is still an ex-Soviet, highly conservative and super religious country. Homophobia is very much prevalent here, so do please take care!

To learn more about the struggles faced by the LGBTQ community of modern-day Georgia, check out the award-winning LGBTQ Swedish/Georgian movie, “And Then We Danced”:

Top experiences in Georgia for gay travellers

Whilst most people may not have even heard of Georgia (often confusing it with the USA Georgia state), the country is bursting with so much life, history and culture that we ended up having trouble packing all the stuff we wanted to do into our trip. We’ve listed below some highlights of our visit that involve both exploring the gorgeous countryside, learning about Georgia’s ancient past, and discovering its lively cities. 

Discovering the gay scene of Tbilisi

Tbilisi has a surprisingly fabulous gay scene that you must experience while in Georgia

Whilst society in Georgia is very conservative, Tbilisi still has a vibrant gay scene to discover. The highlight is the famous and exclusive Horoom Nights on Saturday evenings at Bassiani. This is also one of the largest gay club nights in the Caucasus. Other gay/gay friendly bars in Tbilisi to discover include “Success”, “Prince”, “Drama”, “Ambavi”, “Khidi Club” and “Cafe Gallery”. The one thing we'd say is that “Face Control” is a big thing here, so to avoid being turned away, avoid coming in big groups and never smile at the bouncer staff outside or they won't let you in! For more, check out our gay guide to Tbilisi to find out more.


Wandering Tbilisi's Old Town

We loved exploring the Old Town area of Tbilisi on a free walking tour

Wandering around the Old Town of Tbilisi took our breath away. When we weren’t admiring the bright colourful roofs of each building, we were off discovering a hidden gem that came in the form of cafes, restaurants and antique shops. We couldn’t get enough of the otherworldly charm of the place, where it managed to feel totally cut off from the rest of the world. Strolling down the cobblestoned pathways, we got to see many of the must-see sights that are dotted across the city. You can even join a lovely tour of the Old Town which includes wine-tasting.


Trekking in Kazbegi

It wouldn’t be a Nomadic Boys holiday if we didn’t go and explore some nature. And you know we love a good hike. Especially when the route is as stunning as the Kazbegi region in Northeast Georgia. We did a full-day tour of the Kazbegi region, which included trekking 2,200 metres up to the Tsminda Sameba Church…the view from here is wow! It's a very satisfying trek which will see you trudging through hills, clambering over fences, and scuttering up rocky foothills to make it to the glorious summit. Though once you get there, boy is it worth it!


Wine Tasting in the Kakheti Region

Georgia's Kakheti region is known for lots of cute villages and excellent wineries, visit it as a day trip from Tbilisi if you like wine!

It's always wine o’clock in Georgia – and we jumped at the chance when we saw this opportunity up for grabs. This wine-tasting experience took us to various wineries around the stunning Kakheti region, where we got to indulge in the tastiest of wines. We also got some fabulous insight into the history of winemaking. The gay frienldy tour guides were super bubbly and knowledgeable, managing to make the experience as fun as it was informative. We learned about the history of winemaking throughout the region and how it dates back over 8,000 years! To top the experience off, we had a delicious authentic Georgian meal.


Visiting the David Gareja Monastery Complex

The David Gareja Monastery Complex in Georgia is a fascinating and ancient series of monasteries carved into the rocks

The David Gareja monastery complex is about a 2-hour drive from Tbilisi and can be reached as a fun day trip. Be prepared for a bumpy ride towards the complex. Once you arrive at the monastery, the only way to get around is to walk so pack some good hiking shoes. It is totally worth spending the best part of a day here as there is so much to explore. Churches, chapels and living quarters have been carved from the rock face, giving the feeling that the town has grown from the Earth itself. The monastery has been around since the 6th century, having been set up by an Assyrian monk, known as Saint David – hence the name!


Exploring the Vardzia Cave Monastery

You can learn about Georgia's first ever female sovereign while visiting the Vardzia Cave monastery complex

We devoted a whole day to exploring Vardzia, a city of caves. At first, it looks like a large mountain range, but explore inside and you’ll find banquet halls and stunning chapels. Make sure you pick up an audio guide at the start, as there is no site information throughout the monastery. Also bear in mind that you are going to be doing a lot of walking, and scrambling up a rock, so wear sturdy trainers. A highlight of the monastery is the Church of Assumption. From its arched entrance to the bells which hang on the outside, every detail feels like it has been decorated by angels.


Experiencing Georgia's former capital of Mtskheta

Mtskheta is the oldest city in Georgia and easily accessible from the capital of Tbilisi

Having once worn the title of Georgia’s capital city, Mtskheta draws in thousands of tourists each year charmed by its medieval castles, churches, quaint cafes, and looming mountains overlooking the city. Arriving early during our day trip to Mtskheta, we immediately decided to hit up the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral – one of the biggest in the country. For centuries, this building was the central point for Christianity in Georgia, and it is widely believed that a robe which once belonged to Jesus lies buried within the temple! Elsewhere in the town is a beautiful restaurant, Gujari, which often holds live performances of Georgian music.


Discovering medieval villages in the Svaneti region

Exploring the Medieval villages of Georgia's Svaneti region feels like stepping back in time

Hidden between ice-capped mountains and rolling hillsides of the Svaneti region, lies a cluster of villages known as Ushguli. With buildings made from stone, wandering around the area felt like taking a stroll through a bygone era. Beautifully ominous, we were struck by the image of the tiny village homes that appeared to be swallowed up by the oppressive cliffs which surrounded them. It wasn’t until quite recently that the region was cut off from civilisation altogether. Though it is still known as the most remote village in Georgia, it is becoming more popular with travellers and easier to visit as part of a tour.


Marvelling at the Uplistsikhe ancient rock town

Uplistsikhe is a fascinating part of Georgia to visit as a day trip and explore a landscape that looks a bit like Mars!

Similar to Vardzia, Uplistsikhe is a rock-hewn town, which contains cut-out structures, tunnels and staircases. Inside lie dwellings, banquet halls and churches. We spent about 2-3 hours weaving through all the openings we could find, amazed by the majesty of the carvings, as well as the panoramic views of the stunning sparse landscape. In pre-Christian days, Uplistsikhe was the religious centre of the nation, with temples built to worship goddesses of the Sun. Though it soon became the home of Christian kings and a place for trade between Europe and Asia. It's a fascinating spot you can enjoy as a day trip from Tbilisi.


Visiting the Ananuri Castle complex

For a romantic feel, gay travellers will love pretending to be princesses at the pretty  Ananuri castle complex in Georgia

In every couple, there is a queen of the castle and there is the naughty rascal. We’ll let you decide which one is which between Seb and I (hint, I look good in a crown). So, a visit to the Ananuri castle complex as a romantic venture is a must! Having been the scene of countless feuds and battles throughout centuries, the dramatics of the complex’s history still oozes from its walls. You can still see parts of the castle is in ruins from fighting that has gone on in the past. Views from inside the castle’s towers offer a stunning view of the Arkala river, which sparkles under the sun.


Swimming in the Black Sea at Batumi

The Georgian town of Batumi is a fun place to visit, especially if you want to experience swimming in the Black Sea

The first sight of the Black Sea is truly overwhelming. We spent hours dipping in and out of the water and have never felt so refreshed from a swim. The beach itself is very rocky, so not ideal for sunbathing, but the feel of the water alone makes it worth hopping over the rocks and stones embedded in the sand. When you’ve finished taking a swim, explore the city of Batumi. There are many ways to get around, though we recommend hiring a bike. Downtown is known for its various ice-cream parlours, perfect for when you go during the summer. There are also various public buildings you can admire, painted in lovely coral colours!


Gay tours in Georgia

If you don't feel comfortable visiting Georgia by yourself, you might prefer going on a gay tour to the area. By joining a gay tour group you'll be able to relax and enjoy everything without worrying about logistics or planning. You'll also be able to make friends with other gay travellers, so it's perfect if you're travelling solo.

1. Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia Gay Group Tour with Coda Tours

If you want to visit Georgia on a gay group tour you can join the Coda gay tour to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia

Coda Tours are organising a deluxe gay tour of the Caucasus for 2020, which will include a visit to Georgia along with Azerbaijan and Armenia. Starting in Baku, Azerbaijan, this will be a fabulous way to explore three gorgeous countries in the Caucasus region. The Georgia leg of this gay tour includes visiting Tbilisi, the Kakheti wine region, the ancient city of Mtskheta, multiple monasteries and beautiful churches. This 12-day tour taking place from 28 June 2020 – 10 July 2020 includes luxurious accommodation at four or five-star hotels throughout, led by a very experienced gay tour guide.

Coda tours is offering our readers an exclusive $125 discount valid for this tour. Click the button below to find out more.

Fill out this form to check availability for the Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia Gay Group Tour with Coda Tours and get a $125 discount(*).

(*)You can also contact Coda Tours directly, just make sure to use the promo code NOMADICBOYSCODA in your enquiry to benefit from the $125 discount.


Gay Pride and other events in Georgia

Given how conservative Georgia is, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that a Pride event almost takes place…! There are also other non-gay specific events that caught our eye that we think you'd also be interested in – what other cities do you know that would devote a whole celebration for cheese?!

Tbilisi Pride – July

While it has been the subject of persecution, Tbilisi Pride always tries to put its best foot forward. The 2019 Tbilisi Pride was sadly cancelled last minute due to fear of the safety for those taking part. Though a smaller rally, which featured gay activists brandishing flags and posters, managed to take place with no disruption. It certainly isn’t the fabulous parties you will find in Europe or in the US, but what it is, is a protest for LGBTQ rights, just like all Prides in other countries in the world began. Attending will see you playing a small part in driving the movement forward in Georgia, and, you’ll also have a laugh with the fabulous queer community of Tbilisi who refuses to hide in the shadows. Tbilisi Pride generally takes place in the month of July. Keep an eye on their social media for the latest information about the next event.

New Wine Festival – May

Did we mention that Georgians like wine? So much so that they throw a whole festival dedicated to the drink! We can’t blame them really. This FREE event is a space for travellers and locals alike to meet up, taste wines and celebrate such an integral part of Georgian tradition. Taking place in Tbilisi’s Mtatsminda Park, over a weekend in May, the New Wine Festival sees Georgian winemakers from some of the best wineries opening up the first batch of wine for the year, aka the ‘young' or new wines of the season. There are also performances of Georgian dance and song, along with traditional Georgian barbecues.

Cheese Festival – November

Another one for the gourmands, the Georgian Cheese Festival takes place in Tbilisi, at the Rose Revolution Square, in November. Here you can try dozens of unique varieties of sweet, salty, smoky and creamy traditional Georgian cheeses along with more Georgian wine (hurrah!) and honey. Regions and neighbouring countries descend on the scene as well and engage in a friendly competition to challenge visitors with the decision on picking their favourite cheese. This yummy festival is also free to attend, but only lasts one day so don't miss out!

Rtveli – September/October

An important tradition on the Georgian calendar, the Rtveli festival sees the nation’s citizens come together in a celebration of music, feasts and wine (of course!) to celebrate the wine harvest. Different regions celebrate the festival at different periods, with eastern Georgia holding it in September, and western Georgia in October. One of the best places to experience Rtveli is in the Kakheti wine region, where you might get to take part in collecting grapes, squishing them with your feet and then enjoying a feast with local Georgian farmers.

Tbilisoba – October

Tbilisoba is an annual festival that celebrates all things Tbilisi. It’s basically the citizens of the city throwing a Pride parade for themselves. Having started back in 1979, at the initiative of Eduard Shevardnadze, who was at the time the First Secretary of the Communist Party, the festival was a way for Georgians to celebrate their move from nationalism towards more socialist traditions. Expect to see the city come alive as the locals take to the streets in various open-air events. From dancing to the playing of traditional Georgian music, this event is the perfect way to become acquainted with the best of Tbilisi traditions via one giant street party. 

Tbilisi International Film Festival – December

Having launched in 2000, the Tbilisi Film Festival showcases the finest short films and movies from around Georgia and its neighbouring states. Artists and film buffs from all over unite for this festival! It usually has a fabulous range of cinema, from the kitschy romcoms to the outright bizarre. It’s worth going along and floating around to see what workshops and Q&A panels are being held, with directors, actors and screenwriters chatting about their artistic process. We’re total cinema buffs, so any chance we get to learn more about films and see the best that other countries have to offer, we jump at it. 

Food and drinks in Georgia

Since the country of Georgia was on the Silk Road, their traditional cuisine has been very much influenced by travellers passing through. There are some similarities between Georgian cuisine and Persian cuisine, but Georgia also has very different ways of preparing dishes, depending on the region you are in. Here are some must-try native Georgian dishes that even the fussiest of eaters will find appetising.

Khinkali

Khinkali are a yummy type of dumpling you'll come across a lot in the country of Georgia

Served piping hot, the khinkali is essentially a dumpling with a meat filling. It can be eaten either plain, sprinkled with spices or black pepper and is a delicious side dish for your main. The khinkali traditionally comes as minced meat (usually beef, pork, lamb or even goose in some areas!), wrapped in dough. The traditional way to eat it is to hold it from its stem, then bite into it, suck out the juice to prevent it spilling all over you (ooh er!), then gobble up the rest of it. You can eat it with utensils if you don't like eating with your hands, but you'll attract a few side-eyes from fellow Georgian diners!


Khachapuri

One of the Georgian dishes we loved was the Khachapuri, a cheesy eggy bread!

No one takes cheese and bread more seriously than the Georgians. So seriously that they claim you shouldn't even make Khachapuri if you are sad as it will affect the taste of the bread! As big lovers of all things cheesy, we couldn’t get enough of this famous Georgian national dish. It's made by using leavened bread which is filled with cheese (usually Georgian sulguni cheese, more on that later), eggs and sometimes other ingredients like potatoes depending on which region's type of Khachapuri you are trying. Khachapuri is usually round, but in the Adjarian region, it's shaped to look a bit like a boat.


Badrijani Nigvzit

We learned to make Badrijani Nigvzits in Georgia and they were delicious!

It’s not just the perfect emoji for a naughty message to a loved one, the eggplant is a delicious addition that can give any dish a nice kick. The Georgian Badrijani Nigvzit dish takes the humble eggplant, fries it, and stuffs it with walnuts, cayenne pepper, and garlic. What you get is a simple dish that has a perfect balance of sweet and savoury. Other types of Badrijani are also available, where the eggplant is stuffed with different ingredients. If you see the word Badrijani on a menu, then you know it will be something with eggplant – good knowledge for any vegetarians travelling to Georgia!


Chkmeruli

If you like fried chicken and creamy garlic sauce then you will love the Georgian dish of Chkmeruli

As you might have noticed in these last two photos, we learned to cook some local food while we were in Georgia, and Chkmeruli was one of our favourites. Fried chicken doused in a scrumptious creamy garlic sauce, the Chkmeruli is a quick and tasty dish that embodies Georgian culture. You can eat it as a delicious starter, or your main meal – Chkmeruli works great with potatoes or pieces of bread. Each restaurant may have its own unique recipe, so inquire when you arrive as to what you can expect from the dish. Some places like to make it super spicy so you'll want to be careful if that's not your thing.


Wine

Georgia has been producing wine for over 8,000 years, so they know what they are doing!

Georgians are lovers of wine and the country has been producing excellent wines for over 8,000 years. With wineries dotted across the land and even locals often having their own small vine, it is unusual to not have a glass of either the red or white stuff by your side. Most Georgians feel particularly strongly about their favourite kind of wine and will reverently tell you their opinions on which wine compliments each dish. If you aren’t a connoisseur, the best thing to do is just smile, nod and follow whatever guidance they give you. After all, any wine is good wine in our eyes. 


Ajapsandali

Ajapsandali is a stew that's perfect for vegetarians as it's made from eggplant!
Ajapsandali – Georgian eggplant stew” by Georgia About [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)] cropped from original

Georgians love dishes that brim with colours and a wide mixture of textures. From the sharp crunch of vegetables to the subtlest tinge of spice, Ajapsandali embodies all of this. Made from eggplants, tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic, and cilantro, this dish can fill you up for a whole evening. It's mostly a dish to be eaten in summer since that's when the main ingredients are in season. In some parts of the country, you might find variations made with potatoes and chilli peppers as well, but it's pretty much guaranteed to be excellent no matter where you are!


Churchkhela

Churchkhela is a Georgian candy that looks a bit like a candle but tastes delicious!
A Churchkhela store, Tbilisi” by Alexey Komarov is licensed under CC BY 2.0 | cropped from original

At first glance, you might think you’re being handed a wax candle, but Churchkhela is actually a delicious candy. They definitely reminded us of the candles they light upon the altar at Church though! Churchkhela is made by threading almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, chocolate and sometimes raisins onto a string, then dipping the string in thick grape juice. They're then hung up to dry, as you can see in the photo, with bunches of them hanging up waiting to be sold.


Lobio

Lobio is a delicious Georgian stew that can be served hot or cold
Lobio with Tomatoes” by Georgia About [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)] cropped from original

Usually served up in a cute earthenware pot, Lobio can be enjoyed either hot or cold. Made from a mixture of mashed kidney beans with garlic and onions, it's generally a tad spicy, though never overpowering. Sometimes Lobio might be made with meat as well, so if you're vegetarian you'll need to make sure you're eating one made just from vegetables. Like most of Georgia's dishes, Lobio recipes vary depending on the region. It's a yummy dish to have as an appetiser or as a healthy snack. It is generally accompanied by a crunchy cornbread called mchadi.


Kubdari

Kubdari is a yummy meat-filled pastry that's nice as a snack or part of a full meal
Kubdari” by Georgia About [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)] cropped from original

Kubdari is made with pieces of Khachapuri bread that are bursting with succulent meats, usually lamb or pork, spices and onions. Originating in the north-west Svaneti province, Kubdari is served as a starter or side dish but can be enough to fill you up by itself. What's particularly unique about kubdaris is that traditionally, they are made with cannabis leaves or cannabis seed paste, so when trying one, be sure to check this!


Sulguni

If you like rather sour and salty cheese then you'll want to try some of Georgia's yummy Sulguni cheese!
Sulguni” by Leslie Seaton is licensed under CC BY 2.0 | cropped from original

Spoiler alert! Georgians love cheese. And this cheese, called Sulguni, is a true delight. With a sour, almost salty taste, the cheese is linked to the Samgelero region and is made from either cow or buffalo milk. We love spreading it on bread or having it alongside, you guessed it, a large glass of wine – red of course! Sulguni is a proud creation from the Georgians and one of the most famous cheeses in the country. It is known as the ‘quick cheese’ as it only takes 3 days to mature after being produced. Make sure you try some, perhaps at the cheese festival we mentioned earlier?


Plan your trip to Georgia

We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Georgia. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.

How to get there: If you're flying to Georgia then you will either be landing at the Tbilisi International Airport or Kutaisi Airport which mainly serves the budget airlines. There's an excellent bus service to get from Kutaisi Airport to Tbilisi or other parts of Georgia, but be warned it takes about 4 hours to get to Tbilisi from Kutaisi. If you fly into Tbilisi Airport then you can get a private transfer to your accommodation. It's also possible to travel to Georgia by land from Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan or Russia.


Visa requirements: If you are travelling from most European countries, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand then you won't need a visa to stay in Georgia for up to 90 days as a tourist. If you're travelling from another country or just want to make sure, you can check your personal visa requirements for Georgia here.


Getting around: If you don't want to join a tour then getting around within the country of Georgia (outside of the main cities) can be a challenge. Road conditions are poor and it's difficult to buy fuel without specialised knowledge so we don't recommend hiring a car. Trains are probably your best bet if travelling independently but stow any valuables under your seats and exercise caution.


Power Plugs: Georgia uses power plug types C and F. Travellers from most European countries won't have any issues but if you're travelling from the UK, US, Australia and many other countries, then you will need to bring a travel adaptor with you.


Travel insurance: You never know when something might go wrong while travelling so we recommend ensuring you have adequate travel insurance before heading to Georgia. We always use (and love) WorldNomads Travel Insurance because their cover is so comprehensive and affordable. Plus, it's easy to make a claim online if the need arises.


Safety and Security: You can encounter danger anywhere in the world, and Georgia is no exception. One of the ways we stay safe while travelling is to use CloseCircle's “virtual bodyguard app”. At just the swipe of a button on your phone you'll be able to access support or security alerts from anywhere in the world. The service covers everything from advice to evacuation in the case of weather emergencies or even terror attacks.


Vaccinations: Before travelling to Georgia you should be up to date with routine vaccinations like measles, mumps and chickenpox, as well as getting vaccinated for Hepatitis A. Some travellers may also need vaccinations for Hepatitis B and rabies, depending on what you'll be doing. Have a look at the CDC website for the most up to date information before you travel to Georgia.


Currency: The currency in Georgia is called the Georgian Lari. The currency code is GEL and the symbol for lari is ₾. $1 US converts to about ₾2.96, €1 is worth about ₾3.29 and £1 converts to around ₾3.81.


Tipping culture: Tipping in Georgia is usually up to the discretion of the customer, so you can tip a few lari if you feel you received good service but it is not expected of you. Most restaurants, cafes and bars will include a service charge on the bill so you don't need to tip any more than that unless you think the service was really exceptional.


Internet access: There are places you can connect to free WiFi in most of Georgia's major cities, especially Tbilisi. If you are going to spending much time outside of the cities or know you will need a lot of bandwidth then it might be worth bringing a portable WiFi device with you.


Online privacy: There isn't any internet censorship or bans in place in Georgia, so you'll be able to use gay dating apps like Grindr and Scruff while you're visiting. If you prefer to browse the internet anonymously then we recommend using ExpressVPN, as it's a very affordable and reliable way to keep your online activities private.


Accommodation: When looking for accommodation in Georgia we recommend using Booking.com. They have so many great options to choose from, many places with free cancellation if needed. Their online customer service is excellent and available 24/7, plus it's super easy to book online.


Sightseeing and adventure: We also love using GetYourGuide to find all sorts of fun activities and tours to do within Georgia. This is another company that has a very easy to use online booking process and also has really good 24/7 online customer support.


When to visit: The weather in Georgia is generally nice all year-round. Winters are mild although summer can be quite hot and humid. The shoulder seasons of spring or autumn are probably the best time to visit as the weather is nice but not extreme, there won't be as many other tourists and you'll also be surrounded by either spring flowers or the changing autumn leaves.


Safety tips for gay travellers to Georgia

Is Georgia safe for gay travellers? The short answer is yes, but make sure you avoid PDAs unless you're in a gay establishment. The younger Georgians are much more open-minded and accepting, but the older, more traditional and religious generation are often rather homophobic.

  • Check official government advice before you go. We recommend you do this any time you're travelling so that you are aware of any recent developments that might create difficulties. This is the most recent travel advice for UK citizens to Georgia, but check your own government website if you're travelling from somewhere else.
  • Although homosexuality is legal in Georgia, you should avoid public displays of affection unless you're in an actual gay bar or club. Older members of Georgian society are very socially conservative and frown on LGBTQ lifestyles. We didn't encounter any problems during our time in Georgia, but we also didn't flaunt our sexuality either.
  • Just like anywhere in the world, be aware of your surroundings, especially in big cities. Petty crime is prevalent in the capital of Tbilisi, but if you're alert to your surroundings then you should be fine.
  • Avoid excess alcohol and drug use. Be careful not to drink too much when in a new country, as you're a much easier target when obviously intoxicated.
  • Don't wear valuables in public. This is basic common sense. Whilst we felt very safe in Georgia, pickpockets operate everywhere, so the more bling you show off, the more alluring you become as a target. We recommend leaving your valuables and important items locked away in your hotel safe!
  • Invest in a good money belt. It's always better not to carry too much cash or credit cards anyway, but having a good money belt hidden under your clothes is one of the best ways we've found of ensuring your valuables stay safe and secure out of harm's reach.

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Read our full gay travel guide before you travel to the country of Georgia
Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor and author the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about travelling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gay Times, Gaycities, Pink News, Gay Star News, Attitude and Towleroad. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practised as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

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