Tbilisi Public Transport Guide: Metro, Buses, Minibuses
Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, has a relatively well-organized and straightforward public transport system with metro, buses, and minibusses (marshrutka). And this ultimate guide to Tbilisi public transport shows you how to navigate transportation in Tbilisi with detailed information and tips to know.
Tbilisi Public Transport
Even though Tbilisi public transport has a simple system, navigating it might be a bit challenging. There are English titles on various means of transportation, making it easier to know where they go, but some only have Georgian text. Thus, I created a whole new post to understand Tbilisi public transport better.
Subway is only available in Tbilisi and has two lines, so it’s pretty easy to navigate. Opened in 1966, Tbilisi Metro was the fourth metro system in the ex-Soviet Union. Like any other metros of that time, they are dug deep underground, with most stations decorated with stucco and bas reliefs and mosaics.
In total, the metro is 27km long and has 23 stations in its 2 lines, out of which Rustvali has the longest escalator. The changing station is Station Square.
First line: Akhmeteli-Varketili is 19.6 km long with 16 stations.
Saburtalo line: Sation Square-State University is only 7.7 km long and has 7 stations.
For a visual understanding, refer to the Tbilisi metro map.
Opening hours: Every day; 6 am – 12 pm.
More Tbilisi posts:
Tbilisi buses are well organized and run on set schedules. Unlike in European cities, the bus schedule or the names of the stops are not written on the bus stops; electronic displays show the bus number, bus line, and the arrival time at that particular stop.
Buses in Tbilisi go to almost every district and neighborhood of the city, especially places where the metro is unavailable. Google Maps display the bus schedule; however, sometimes, it might be slightly inaccurate.
Local tip: every bus stop screen has an ID number and a phone number indicated as SMS: [number] to send an SMS for a real-time bus schedule. To send SMS, you would need to have a Georgian sim card. Send the stop ID number (for example, 1885) to the 93344 number and wait for the reply. Note, though, that you’ll be charged 0.06 GEL for each SMS even if you purchased an SMS package from your network carrier.
Bus stops in Tbilisi do have names, but they are not displayed on the bus stops, and very few buses have a monitor inside to notify what stop the bus is approaching. Therefore, I suggest monitoring it with Google Maps to avoid missing your stop.
There are alternative mobile apps for public transport schedules, but most of the time, they crash, or the English version doesn’t always work. So I recommend sticking with Google Maps, even if it’s inaccurate sometimes.
Note: From March 21, 2022, more than 70 bus numbers have changed. You can see the number of changes on this website.
Opening hours: It depends on the bus line, but usually they start at 7 am and operate until 11 pm.
Bus lines and timetables: Click here
Blue minibusses a.k.a marshrutkas
Similar to buses, marshrutkas have their own schedule. They are fast means of transport for many locals but very chaotic for foreigners. Marshrutkas can stop anywhere, just like taxis, except for main avenues and highways. Unless you know which number of marshrutka you need and where you need to stop, I would suggest sticking to straightforward metro and buses.
Marshrutka numbers are also shown on the electronic bus monitors and Google Maps. However, there is no icon to differentiate between a marshrutka or a bus.
Opening hours: Marshrutkas have their schedule and vary by line. Those running on busy lines start and end their working hours early in the morning until late evening. While less crowded ones have more late start and early finish.
ADVICE: always travel with comprehensive travel insurance that also covers COVID. I personally use Safetywing.
Tbilisi Public Transport Prices
With a new system introduced in February 2022, all means of public transport in Tbilisi have the same price: 1 GEL for 90 minutes. You won’t be charged extra if you change these transportations within 90 minutes. Note: for the free ride, you need to tap the machine after 15 minutes have passed.
You can’t pay with cash anymore in blue marshrutkas, only via MetroMoney card, Visa/Mastercard, or the new Travel Card introduced to the city from February 2022.
You will get a fine of 20 GEL if you don’t have a valid ticket on the bus or marshrutka.
Travel Card packages and prices:
- 1 day – 3 GEL
- 1 week – 20 GEL
- 1 month – 40 GEL
- 3 month – 100 GEL
- 6 month – 150 GEL
- 1 year – 250 GEL
Note: paying for your journey with a Travel Card has a daily limit of 20 tabs. Moreover, you can tap for the second time after 15 minutes when using the same means of transport.
How to Use Tbilisi Public Transport
The easiest way to use public transport in Tbilisi is to purchase a Tbilisi metro card called MetroMoney for a one-time price of 2 GEL and top it up as you go. It doesn’t have an expiration date and can be used on all three means of transportation and cable cars (Rike Park-Narikala Fortress and Vake Park-Turtle Lake).
Like MetroMoney, Travel Card also costs 2 GEL and is valid for all means of Tbilisi transport, including a cable car from the University Maglivi Building to the Bagebi district. The card doesn’t have an expiry date, your name, or any other personal information stored inside.
Every metro station sells a Tbilisi metro card, MetroMonday, and Travel Card. You can also buy them at Bank of Georgia’s Express branches.
You can pay by cash only on buses. The machines accept 10, 20, and 50 Tetri coins and 1 or 2 Lari coins. It doesn’t give a change back, so you need to have the exact change.
If you have a Georgian bank’s Visa and Mastercard credit or debit cards, you can also pay for your journey on the metro and buses with these cards by tapping them on the screen.
International cards also work on all public transport in Tbilisi, including Wise debit cards; however, it charges you 1.50 GEL instead of 1 GEL.
How to Top Up Tbilisi Metro Card
You can top up both MetroMoney and Travel Card at a cashier at the metro stations or self-paying orange machines from Bank of Georgia found at the bus stops and pretty much at every corner of the city.
The self-service machine, locally known as pay boxes, has an English language menu and accepts only 50 Tetri coins (no other smaller coins, unfortunately), 1 and 2 Lari coins, and any Lari banknote. Do note: machines don’t give change back, so top up with the exact amount you think you might need.
The cashiers at metro stations can top up the card with any GEL coins or banknotes you have.
Taxi as Part of Tbilisi Public Transportation
Taxi is very affordable in Georgia. While you can hail a cab in the streets, having taxi apps downloaded to your smartphone is better. Doing so lets you know the exact amount to pay, and you’ll avoid all the hustle of negotiating the price or explaining the destination to a non-English-speaking driver.
The taxi apps I recommend downloading are:
- Bolt (use code: YRP76 and get 5 GEL off)
Both of these apps have similar tariffs, with minimal differences. I usually compare prices between apps and order the one which offers the best price.
You can pay by cash to the driver for your journey or add your credit/debit card for smoother transactions. Note that some drivers will round up the amount when paying in cash. Also, they might not have the exact change to give you.
How to Get from Tbilisi International Airport to City Center
You can get to Tbilisi city center from Tbilisi International Airport by bus or taxi.
Bus 337 runs from Tbilisi International Airport to Station Square, passing through Freedom Square and Rustaveli Avenue. This is the only bus on the route.
Opening hours: Every day; 6:59 am – 22:59
Frequency: 15 minutes
Price: 1 GEL as a usual bus ticket
Detailed schedule: Click here
[NOT OPERATING AFTER COVID] Bus 137 runs the same route every 40 minutes at night. You can check schedules in Google Maps.
Taxis standing right at the airport exit will charge you A LOT. So I suggest downloading one of the taxi apps beforehand. There is a somewhat reliable free Wi-Fi called Tbilisi Loves You to connect to and order a taxi. Depending on the area you’ll be staying at, the amount should be between 15-25 GEL for central districts.
Prepare for the trip
To ease your travel planning, check out all the posts about Georgia travel. Additionally, here are some of the websites and services I use when preparing for my next adventure anywhere in the world.
✈ Book affordable flights on WayAway, a platform that shows best flight deals, tours, and hotels. With WayAway Plus membership you can earn cashbacks. Get 10% off with code: RFD10
🚫 Get compensation for up to 700$ with Airhelp if your flight was canceled or delayed within the last 3 years.
💸 Use Wise to withdraw money in local currency without hidden fees and avoid high exchange rates. On top, you might get their Visa or Mastercard debit card.
🏨 Find budget-friendly deals on all sorts of accommodation types on Booking.com.
❣ Pre-book a private car transfer from Tbilisi Airport to your hotel.
🩺 Buy the most flexible and budget-friendly travel insurance, SafetyWing, that also covers COVID.
☀ Book in advance some of the best city walks, cultural experiences, and day tours to maximize your stay and experience here.