How to use buses in Georgia: bus stations and buses in Tbilisi
How to use buses in Georgia

How to use buses in Georgia: bus stations and buses in Tbilisi

To come to Georgia and see only Tbilisi is to deprive yourself of half of the impressions. Outside the capital, in Georgian towns and villages, you can find what you cannot find in the big city — untouched nature, real home cooking, khachapuri prepared by grandmother’s hands, and that legendary Caucasian hospitality when you are treated to homemade wine from a colorful clay jug and asked nothing in return. Not even money.

It is better to explore Georgia by car — renting a car in the country is relatively inexpensive. For those who prefer public transportation, there are buses and trains. It is convenient for locals to use them, but tourists are sometimes shocked by the Georgian approach: the country is small, but there is no unified ticket service, and it is not always possible to find out the schedule in advance. This sometimes makes it difficult to plan a trip in advance by hours from home.

On the example of bus stations in Tbilisi I will tell you how bus transportation in Georgia is organized, how we, locals, use buses, how to buy a ticket, why you should not wait for a check from the driver and why it is not scary.

Bus stations in Tbilisi

Intercity buses and minibuses from Tbilisi start from the stations in Ortachala district, at Station Square at Tbilisi Central and Okriba in Didube district at the metro station of the same name. Where to go from Tbilisi for a day trip.

What to remember:

  • From the bus station in Ortachala, flights to eastern Georgia depart most frequently,
  • From Ocriba’s to the west side,
  • The bus station at Central Station serves both directions.
Tbilisi bus stations

Ortachala Central Bus Station

Ortachala bus station is located in the district of the same name in Tbilisi. The station is old, built back in Soviet times. The inscription «Bus Station» in Russian has been preserved on the roof. Officially it is called «Central», but among locals it is better known as «Ortachala Station». It is decorated with a mosaic panel by the famous Georgian artist and sculptor Zurab Tsereteli — «History of Transport Development».

Station website. Information service: +995 32 275 34 33

From here there are flights to Telavi, Gremi, Alaverdi, as well as to Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. There are both large comfortable buses and minibuses. Tickets for buses are sold at the ticket offices at the station, while the driver usually takes the fare for minibuses.

The station has a hotel, cafes and stores, a waiting room and a children’s room.

Schedule and tickets online.
Panel "History of Transportation"
Panel «History of Transportation»
Bus station - inscription in Russian
Bus station — inscription in Russian
Bus parking lot
Bus parking lot
Bus parking lot
Bus parking lot
Station information board
Station information board
Descending to the bus parking lot
Descending to the bus parking lot

The bus station in Diduba «Okriba»

Didube railway station is located at Didube metro station and is called Okriba. From here you can go anywhere in western Georgia and to Russia through the Upper Lars checkpoint. There are comfortable minibuses of Sprinter type. Flights to popular tourist routes, as a rule, depart every half an hour to 20:00.

The schedule and ticket prices can be viewed here

The ticket office is located inside the station and tickets are sold just before departure. The ticket may be just a payment slip equivalent to the fare, but it may be nothing — the driver will take cash and put you on the bus. No one will check.

The office of the Russian-Georgian bus company STM Georgia operates on the territory of the station.

You can familiarize yourself with the direction of flights in such an uncomplicated way (bus station ticket office)
You can familiarize yourself with the direction of flights in such an uncomplicated way (bus station ticket office)

Dedakalaki bus station

«Dedakalaki» (capital) is the official name of this bus station, but it is not known even by the local population. Everyone calls it «Sadguri» (station) because of the fact that it is located right at the central entrance of the railway station building — Tbilisi Central.

The station is a few dozen minibuses in a small area in front of the building at its front entrance on the square and at the back, on the side of Dadiani Street. Flights in all directions start every half an hour to an hour, the drivers observe their own order. You just need to buy a ticket, take a free seat in the minibus and wait for the start.

Read the signs carefully — the direction of the route is written on a sign on the windshield, often in Russian or Latin letters. If you can’t find the right direction, ask the driver of any minibus. They will tell you where to go. The driver will tell you the price for the fare and you have to pay it to him. The farthest routes, such as Batumi or Vardzia, cost no more than 20—25 GEL. Payment is cash only.

They most often don’t have a consistently approved schedule, nor do they have a website, but you can always find a flight to anywhere in Georgia here if you don’t have tickets for trains and buses. Departures are usually on a first-come, first-served basis. Don’t worry if the minibus is half-empty and you can’t see any passengers. It will go anyway, picking them up along the way.

Bus station near Tbilisi Central
Bus station near Tbilisi Central
The minibuses are waiting for their turn to leave
The minibuses are waiting for their turn to leave

Bus companies

Most minibus carriers are small private companies, sometimes made up of one driver, aka the owner. Because of this, bus transportation in the country seems chaotic. In fact, they have their own order and rhythm. There is no need to get into it, just know that it is possible to get away even in high season.

I’ll tell you about two bus companies that stand apart in this market.

Metro Georgia buses.

Popular intercity buses Metro Georgia depart from the Central Bus Station. They run on the only route Tbilisi — Batumi, but on the way they stop in the seaside towns of Kobuleti and Ureki. In summer, when all tickets for the Tbilisi — Batumi train are sold out, this is a great alternative to get to the sea.

They run daily: at 9:00 am; 10:30 am; 3:00 pm; 12:00 pm; 3:00 pm; 11:59 pm; 2:00 am. Here is the website with the schedule.

The buses are owned by the Turkish company Metro. They have comfortable seats and free WI-FI, the ticket price includes coffee, tea and water, and the services of a conductor. Each seat has a monitor and headphones, which allows you to spend time on the road unnoticed, watching your favorite movies.

Tickets can be purchased online at the website or at the ticket offices inside the central station, which are easily recognized by the brightly colored «METRO» sign.

  • The price of a one-way ticket is 30 GEL (almost $10).
  • Travel time is six hours.
Metro Georgia Buses
Metro Georgia Buses
Metro-Georgia box office.
Metro-Georgia box office.
Metro-Georgia box office.
Metro-Georgia box office.

STM Georgia

Buses of the Russian-Georgian bus company STM Georgia can be used to travel between the two countries. The website has flight schedules, baggage fees and prices for each destination. It also sells tickets online. The company operates from the central bus station and Okriba a/v in Diduba.

Parallel to bus flights, with this company you can send a parcel to any city in Russia and Georgia. It is reliable and cheaper than other postal services, so the service is very popular. You can drop off your parcel at all drop-off and pick-up points of the company in Georgia and Russia.

What you need to know about buses in Georgia

  • For starters, don’t worry that you can’t buy tickets in advance online. In Georgia, all bus tickets are sold either by a live cashier at the station ticket office or by the driver himself. That’s the way it’s done here, it’s not a problem, and you’ll still go.
  • Save the station points on the map (map at the beginning of this article). If you can’t buy a ticket at Ortachal or Okriba train stations, look for buses at the train station. There you will probably find a minibus that is about to depart in the right direction.
  • In other cities of Georgia, bus transportation is organized in the same way.
  • When buying a ticket, you will need GEL cash. Neither cards nor currency will be needed.
  • Afraid of taking risks? Rent a car from Rentalcars from 28 € per day.
  • Don’t be afraid! This is Georgia, no need to worry here.