Is Georgia Safe to Visit? Read This Before Going

Georgia is one of my favorite places on the planet, and I keep coming back again and again.

But there seems to be some weird prevailing idea that the nation is somehow unsafe, and filled with bloodthirsty mafiosos who are always eagerly hunting for a new tourist to torture and rob.

But that isn’t true—and any claims to Georgia’s apparent unsafety are founded on theories as reliable as a taxi driver in an airport parking lot.

So is Georgia safe to visit? Is there anything you should be wary of? And are you going to come back from your vacation alive? Come find out!

Is Georgia Safe

Is Georgia Safe to Visit?

Yes, Georgia is a very safe country to visit. According to Numbeo’s study, Georgia is one of the least criminal countries on the planet… and it has a very low crime index (source). The nation has a safety index of 63 (which puts it at a similar safety level to France, if that makes you feel any better) (source).

I’ve visited the place on two separate occasions as a tourist. And, most recently, I also lived there for almost an entire year.

I love the nation much more than I could ever describe—and in the future, I want to live there again.

Tbilisi Old Town, with My Family
That’s me, in the middle, with my family in Tbilisi Old Town
Travelness / Paul McDougal

Let’s be honest—I wouldn’t be saying these things if I kept getting assaulted at gunpoint, or if all my friends had been kidnapped and killed by a maniacal psychopath operating in Tbilisi.

Obviously, no place is ever 100% safe. I have friends here who’ve had phones stolen, and I know people who’ve encountered some trouble. And most famously, the nation was recently the site of two high-profile tourist murders (detailed here and here).

But without wanting to sound callous, these horrible things happen everywhere—and the reason those two crimes received so much infamy and outrage in Georgia is because such incidents are incredibly rare.

Admittedly, I’m not really the sort of person that worries excessively about safety, cos I have the scatterbrained mentality of a 3-year-old child on a sugar rush. But of all the places I’ve been to, Georgia feels one of the safest. And all my friends from Georgia (both native and foreign) are always expressing similar sentiments.

That said, there are some things you need to look out for in your quest to stay safe in Georgia. I’ll cover these in detail a little later, but potential pesky problems include:

  • sheepdogs
  • snakes
  • terrible drivers
  • small-scale earthquakes
  • horrible attitudes towards women and towards homosexuality
  • and the crippling self-consciousness of war-hungry Vladimir Putin.

All of that said, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Live your life, stop needlessly fretting, and don’t go around worrying about what might or might not happen on your vacation (the entire world is not trying to maim and murder you).

Overall, Georgia is outrageously hospitable and warm. You’ll be asked into people’s homes for food and drinks; you’ll be given free rides; strangers will invite you to special occasions; people will smile at you on the street. Does that sound like an unsafe place?

Welcoming Georgian Tour Guide in Tbilisi

Is Tbilisi Safe to Visit?

Again, I lived in Tbilisi for almost a year. And I want to keep living in Tbilisi for many years in the future.

If it was unsafe, I wouldn’t want to keep living there.

Tbilisi is a safe city to visit. It is a super-friendly city with a cosmopolitan atmosphere and inhabitants from all over the planet. Crime rates are low, serious crime rates are very low, and I’ve heard very few bad reports from any of my friends.

Petting a Dog in Rike Park, Tbilisi

Of course, lots of the dangers that exist throughout Georgia also exist in Tbilisi. And we’ll come to all those soon. But, anecdotally speaking, I always feel very safe in the city, and I’ve never had any major troubles or problems.

You’ll see police everywhere, you’ll see families everywhere, and you’ll see smiling faces everywhere—and you’ll be very unlucky if you ever see or experience anything that makes you feel unsafe.

According to this safety index, Tbilisi (as of 2022) is the 26th-safest city in the world, beating big names like Valencia, Vienna, Krakow, and Singapore—and you wouldn’t worry about visiting those places would you, you little panicky poo-poo?

Tbilisi Crime Index and Safety Index

Is Georgia Safe to Visit for Solo Female Travelers?

It’s a little more difficult for me to answer this question because I’m not a woman, I never have been a woman, and I have no immediate plans to become a woman.

That said, I have female friends who’ve visited Georgia alone, and I have female friends who’ve lived in Georgia alone. None of those people have ever had any major complaints about safety.

Solo Female Traveler Having Fun in the City of Mtskheta, 15 Miles North of Tbilisi, Georgia
Having fun in the city of Mtskheta, 15 miles (24 km) north of Tbilisi, Georgia

In the past, I visited Georgia with a girlfriend, and with my sister. They both felt safe at all times, and neither of them had any safety-related complaints (although admittedly, they weren’t solo—they were in the presence of big brave me).

So although my opinion can’t be 100% reliable on this one, I think Georgia is safe for solo female travelers.

But before you get excited, it’s not all good news. Sadly, women still need to take extra precautions compared to men. Just like anywhere, women should try to avoid walking alone at night… especially in quiet, unlit areas.

Tbilisi by Night

Women should also be vigilant around some Georgian men. A minority has horrendously old-school mentalities and demonstrates pretty non-existent levels of respect when talking to females. When it comes to women, some Georgian men have the mentality of medieval priests—but medieval priests who like overtly and unrelentingly staring at your chest.

Here’s a top tip for you: if any male idiot is harassing you, tell them you have a Georgian boyfriend, and they’ll leave you alone. You shouldn’t need to say that, because you shouldn’t need to imply a male presence to command respect… but at least it works.

Dressing modestly can also help, as most local women also dress modestly (especially outside of big cities). Again, you shouldn’t need to adjust your dress according to some arbitrary outside perspective. But it might help you to feel safer.

On a semi-related note, Georgia is a pretty unwelcoming place for anyone in the LGBT+ community, with many archaic homophobic attitudes. If you aren’t heterosexual, you should avoid flaunting your sexuality, to avoid being abused or attacked.

That said, I have non-heterosexual friends in Georgia, and none of them have ever encountered any trouble. So although the problem prevails, things are getting safer (some places in Georgia now hold pride festivals, and some city venues host LGBT+ evenings). Bigger cities are usually more open-minded than smaller settlements (but only vaguely).

Crime in Georgia

Pickpockets are pretty rife in Georgia, and lots of my friends have had phones and money stolen. Be vigilant when on public transport (especially when it’s busy, and everyone’s shoulder-to-shoulder). You should also be careful at busy music festivals, particularly after you’ve had a few drinks—that’s a Georgian pickpocket’s favorite time to pounce.

Some areas of the city have large groups of wandering Romani people (especially in the Old Town, and in Marjanishvili, where I used to live). Some of these people (especially the kids) like to steal from pockets, from tables, and from bags. Don’t interact with them, don’t give them money, and don’t let them touch you. I know that sounds prejudiced, but the truth is the truth.

Aside from petty robbery, I’m not aware of any other prevailing crimes.

It’s worth noting that some (though only some) Georgians will try to rip you off whenever they can, and charge you more money than they should. So if you’re buying from a market, taking a taxi, or hopping on a minivan (or attempting any other cash-based transaction where the prices aren’t displayed), you should always ask for prices, or agree a fee in advance.

11 Georgia Safety Tips

1. Be Careful Who You Get into a Car with

Quick disclaimer: I regularly hitchhike in Georgia, and I like using marshrutkas (public transport minivans) for both long journeys and short ones. So this isn’t something I ever think about or worry about.

But I’m an idiot who has no sense of personal responsibility—so most people would tell you to ignore my cavalier attitude and have a bit more common sense instead.

Those same people will tell you that lots of Georgian drivers are unsafe, unreliable, and often drunk (that last one is partially true, but it’s much less of a problem these days). So if you’re a cautious person who’s understandably scared of having their head rammed through a windshield, here are the precautions you can take:

If a driver seems aggressive or in a hurry, don’t get into their vehicle. If a driver seems drunk, don’t get into their vehicle. If you have a friend who’s a famously-reckless driver, don’t get into their vehicle. If a vehicle looks broken or unsafe, find another one. And if you ever do feel unsafe in a vehicle, just get out.

2. Try Not to Travel After Dark

Again, this isn’t advice I follow myself—but it’s advice I’ve heard and read over and over again.

And I get it—roads are poorly lit, night-time rides mean higher chances of drunk drivers, after-dark drivers don’t slow down to accommodate the poor visibility, and motorists are pretty reckless even at the best of times.

Because of all these factors and more, Georgia’s roads can be pretty unsafe places. Around 450 people died in traffic-related incidents in the nation in 2020 (source), but things are improving.

So if you want to stay safe on the road, you might want to avoid being in a car at night (especially if you’re driving between cities and towns on long journeys).

3. Be Careful when You Talk About Politics

The Georgian political situation is a complicated beast—and the nation has a difficult relationship with some of its neighbors. Local people are (justifiably) super passionate about politics, so it’s best not to get into any debate or conversation. It’ll probably turn nasty.

The nation’s most disruptive and troublesome neighbor is Russia, which occupies 2 separate regions of Georgia, making up a total 20% of the country (source). These two regions are South Ossetia and Abkhazia—and as a regular tourist, you absolutely shouldn’t visit them.

Despite what Putin and his pals will tell you, these ‘parts of Russia’ are actually parts of Georgia. And if you disagree, Georgian people will understandably be unhappy.

If you think these parts of Georgia are Russian, keep that opinion to yourself. And if you think these parts of Georgia are Russian, you should find a different nation to visit.

4. Don’t Be Too Critical

This isn’t a problem for me, cos I absolutely love Georgia (though it does have its flaws, like anywhere else).

But Georgian people are super proud of their people, their country, and their history and heritage. Sometimes, when discussing the flaws of the place (especially with non-natives), Georgians can get pretty stubborn, defensive, and aggressive.

So even if you think you’re saying it in a nice way, try to avoid any overt criticism of Georgia. It makes sense—no one likes hearing their home criticized by an outsider.

5. De-escalate Fights Whenever You Can

When they’re drunk, Georgian men can often get pretty angry and aggressive.

I’ve found myself in quite a lot of would-be fights (if I was the sort of person who liked to escalate a fight). Luckily, Georgian people are pretty easy to talk down when they realize their aggression will go unmatched.

So if you find yourself in a seemingly-aggressive situation, just be nice about it. Everything will probably be alright.

Either that, or you can carry some knuckle dusters in your luggage.

6. Know the Number You Need

If you do get into some trouble, it’s good to know the necessary phone number (luckily for you, there’s only one of them).

That’s 112, and it covers all general emergencies (bringing you into contact with police, medical services, and fire services). Even if you have no SIM card in your phone, calling this number will still work.

7. Don’t Fall Victim to the Tinder-based Bar Scam

Alright, if you’re using your common sense, you should be able to avoid this one. And (controversial opinion incoming) I think anyone who falls for this probably is a bit of an idiot.

But as we all know, we stupid men often get blinded by lust.

This scam takes various different forms. But it often starts on Tinder, and here’s how it works:

Some (usually sexy) woman will send you a message, saying she wants to meet. But she wants to meet at a very specific place, and she won’t deviate. When you arrive at the bar, there’s no menu, so you order your drinks off-menu, without knowing the price. But who cares: this is Georgia, so surely the prices can’t be very high… right?

Wrong! You’re then hit with a massive bill of hundreds of dollars, and you need to pay before you’re allowed to leave.

This one happens pretty often, especially in the touristy areas around the river in the Old Town. So if an impending date seems too good to be true (or just a bit weird), don’t bother.

8. Be a Careful Pedestrian

Broadly speaking, most people in Georgia now follow road-crossing rules—they stop for red lights, they give pedestrians the right of way, and they don’t try to mindlessly mow everyone down. This isn’t Vietnam.

Walking Through Tbilisi
Walking through Tbilisi
Travelness / Paul McDougal

That said, that’s not always the case… and some drivers will still run red lights, take last-minute risks, or not stop when they should.

So when you’re crossing the road, be mindful and vigilant, and don’t rely on anyone else to keep you safe.

9. Street Dogs Are (usually) Your Friends

I love Georgia’s street dogs. You’ll see these cute little guys everywhere, and their omnipresence is one of my favorite things about the nation. Apparently, there are around half a million stray animals in the nation, that’s in a place with a population of less than four million people! (source 1, source 2)

They’re usually super friendly because they live harmoniously with the people of Georgia. People feed them, pet them, and give them water… so the dogs rarely have any need to be hostile or frightened.

Fat Street Dogs in Tbilisi
I feel genuinely happy when I see and pet the dogs in Georgia
Travelness / Paul McDougal

That said, that’s not always 100% true, especially if you’re in a rural area, or if a dog is protecting its puppies or its territory, or if you have a dog of your own. If that’s the case, don’t make eye contact, and give the dog(s) a wide berth—and if they get too close, you can always use that trick where you pretend you’re gonna throw a stone.

To avoid (the very tiny risk) of catching rabies in Georgia, get to know the nation’s tag system. If a dog has a tag on its ear, it’s been neutered and vaccinated by the government, so it can’t have rabies. If a dog doesn’t have a tag, there’s a (very small) chance it might have rabies, so it’s best to resist the temptation to pet its cute little head. Not that it stops me.

Street Dog in Georgia
I really love these good boys
Travelness / Paul McDougal

As I’ll cover soon, sheepdogs don’t fit into this category. Those maniacs are terrifying.

10. If You’re Hiking High, Wear Warm

Depending on who you ask, around 85% of Georgia is considered mountainous—and the loftiest mountainous areas can be very cold at night (even in the height of summer).

So take some warm clothes with you, especially if you’re camping—you don’t want to freeze to death at the top of a Georgian mountain. I’ve spent a load of time in Georgia, and I’m still surprised by how cold some of the most mountainous places can be.

Hiking Near Zhinvali Reservoir in Georgia
Hiking near Zhinvali reservoir in Georgia

11. Natural Disasters Are a Vague Risk

This isn’t a big problem, and Georgia isn’t the Philippines… but you have three potential problems to look out for:

First up, the nation experiences frequent small-scale earthquakes (I’ve felt a couple of them), but they’re very rarely disruptive. If they are disruptive, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Drop to your knees, and seek shelter under a sturdy table or desk if you can
  2. Cover your head with your arms, or grab the legs of the table or desk
  3. Hold on tight
  4. If you’re outdoors, stay as far away as you can from any buildings or landslide dangers

Landslides are also a relatively common problem, particularly in mountainous areas—but the Georgian government is beginning to get a grip on them by building some anti-slide measures along various cliffs, mountains, and sheer drops.

Wildfires also happen pretty regularly. So if you’ll be camping during very hot weather, keep your tent away from any trees or forests, and make sure you put out your campfires properly.

Is Georgia Safe to Visit? Frequently Asked Questions

Is Tap Water Safe to Drink in Georgia?

Yes, it’s absolutely safe, across all parts of Georgia.

Some people seem to think you should only drink bottled water here, but I don’t know what those people are talking about.

Are Taxis Safe in Georgia?

They’re usually safe, but you should exercise some caution before you use them.

My #1 taxi-related tip is this: use an app. Bolt and Yandex (which are both just like Uber) are both very popular in Georgia, and they’re easy to download and use. If you use one of them, you won’t get ripped off by the on-street taxi drivers—those pesky little guys love overcharging for rides.

As I’ve already said, drivers in Georgia are often pretty reckless and unsafe, but that’s true whether they’re driving a taxi or some other type of vehicle.

Is It Dangerous to Drive in Georgia?

It can be. I personally wouldn’t rent a car and drive it myself, but that’s because I’m an absolutely terrible driver no matter which part of the world I’m careering around in.

If you rent or buy a car in Georgia, make sure you test it out, and make sure you’re covered by some form of insurance.

When you’re driving, have an idea of the route in advance (most signs are also written in English, but not all of them are), remember to drive on the right-hand side of the road, be wary of any careless drivers (you’ll see plenty of them), and know that, in rural areas, some roads might not be fully or properly paved.

Oh, and I wouldn’t recommend tackling the Tusheti road without any experience.

Broadly speaking, though inner-city driving can be crazy, driving between cities and towns can be a bit more simple and stress-free.

Is It Dangerous to Hike in Georgia?

It isn’t inherently dangerous, but it does involve some dangers that it’s best to be aware of (and plan for).

Hiking near Lisi Lake with a friend
Hiking near Lisi Lake with a friend
Travelness / Paul McDougal

To keep your strolling safe, here are my top tips for hiking without hazards in Georgia, based on my personal experience:

  • Watch out for sheepdogs: it’s not their fault, but these savage lunatics are trained to protect their flock no matter what. I’m not even remotely scared of dogs, and I’m terrified of these guys. If they’re snarling or barking, back off, wait for the shepherd to come, and devise some escape route with his help.
  • Look out for snakes: Georgia has lots of snakes in lots of places, and they’re especially prevalent in late spring and early summer. So don’t trod where you can’t see, and make sure you wear both long trousers and ankle-high boots.
  • Plan your route, and carry at least an online map: unlike lots of other hike-haven nations, many of Georgia’s routes aren’t waymarked or signposted. So expect to get lost, and make sure you’re at least vaguely familiar with where you’ll be wandering.
  • Don’t make friends with street dogs: this one makes me sad, because there’s nothing more fun than making mid-hike friends with a street dog, and taking it along on your wander (surprisingly, this happens in Georgia all the time). But during the walk, they’ll get all protective over you, and start attacking cows and other dogs on your behalf.
  • Overestimate how much time you need: because of the above factors, and because you’ll likely get frequently lost, your hikes will probably take longer than you think.

Even though I’ve probably made hiking in Georgia sound like some ultra-insane danger-fest, that isn’t the case. Outside of winter, I hike most weekends, and I’ve never had any major problems. So follow my tips and you’ll be alright.

Are There Any Places You Should Avoid in Georgia?

As a tourist, you shouldn’t be venturing to South Ossetia or Abkhazia, two separate parts of Georgia that—as we’ve covered—are occupied by Russia. Theoretically, it’s possible to visit them both, but I don’t recommend it. You’re entering areas that are politically complicated, you’re risking the wrath of both Georgia and Russia, and both places are pretty unsafe.

Both regions occasionally experience both car bombs and terrorist attacks, and there are (allegedly) unexploded landmines in both areas.

It’s also important to know that some parts of Georgia are inaccessible during some periods of the year—so if you’re planning to head somewhere mountainous (or somewhere down a rural road) check whether or not you can actually get there during colder months. You don’t want to waste your time, or wind up getting yourself in trouble.

Are There Any Places You Should Avoid in Tbilisi?

There are no must-avoid places in Tbilisi that I know of.

Obviously, you should trust your instincts, and you should avoid walking alone in any dimly-lit areas at night (especially if you’re female).

You should also be careful in and around some of the bars in the most touristy part of the Old Town (especially the riverside area). As we’ve already mentioned, a small few of them like trying to scam tourists… so always ask for a menu before you order a drink (or at least confirm the price you’ll be paying).

The Final Verdict: is Georgia Safe?

And just like that, we’ve worried, panicked, and fretted our way to the end of this guide.

As you can probably tell by now, here’s my final verdict: Yes, Georgia is safe to visit.

So stop worrying, stop calling the police, and get yourself to Georgia.

For more information on safety, you can explore official sources here and here.

Also, check out my comprehensive guide about whether Georgia is in Europe or in Asia. And for extra detail on adventuring around one of my favorite nations on the planet, check out our guides on what Tbilisi is famous for, and the top reasons I love the place.

Thanks for reading, thanks for visiting Travelness, and thanks in advance for coming back for more!

Being a Digital Nomad: Tips, Tricks and Places

Do you want to be a digital nomad?

If you do, maybe you don’t know where you might want to live. Or how to live there. Or whether you need a visa. Or how to make friends in the scary sprawl of a brand-new city. Or how to stay productive while you travel. Or how to find an apartment. Or whether this lifestyle really is for you. Or… I’m sure you get the idea.

But with some insight and experience, it’s not as difficult as you think. So in this book, I’ve gathered my 6 years of digital-nomadding experience… and I’ve used it to answer all your questions, soothe all your fears, and get you on your way. After reading this, you’ll realise being a digital nomad is much easier (and much more possible!) than you think.