Tbilisi Gay Travel
Discover the emerging LGBT culture in the capital of Georgia, as the community gains increased visibility. Plus, Tbilisi gay travel essential tips.
The Gay Travel Experience: Tbilisi, Georgia
Did you have any idea that Tbilisi has a buzzing gay scene?! In Georgia, LGBT events are not exactly found in plain sight. The LGBT community in Tbilisi however, gathers frequently at social events to enjoy each other’s warm company
In post-Soviet society, local gay Georgians live with caution…and rightfully so. While attending any LGBT event in Tbilisi, it warms one’s heart to see how the people are genuinely happy expressing themselves in a semi-public space. There is a cautious sense of relief as friends hug and kiss, and couples hold hands.
Is Georgia Safe for Gay Travelers?
There are a few things you should know before embarking on a journey to Tbilisi as a gay traveler. Although Georgia is not the most accepting place in the world for gays, it is not the most dangerous place.
You cannot be arrested for being LGBT in Georgia as is the case in many other countries. Gay travel to Georgia, and specifically Tbilisi is quite easy, but keep reading below to understand how to stay safe.
Formerly a Soviet territory, many citizens of Georgia possess anti-LGBT sentiment since being gay was illegal under the old regime. Furthermore, the population is heavily Orthodox Christian, which does not mix well with homosexuality. Unfortunately, an overwhelming majority of Georgians are fiercely against homosexuality.
With this in mind, it is important to keep any public displays of affection to private spaces or places that you know are LGBT-friendly. Public affection can draw negative attention and lewd comments from individuals in the streets. Head to the end of this Tbilisi gay travel guide for more on the subject of LGBT rights in Georgia and public opinion of being gay.
The government of Georgia has made the country only slightly safer for LGBT citizens. Nevertheless, the gay Georgian community stands strong. Tbilisi is actually preparing for its first-ever Tbilisi Gay Pride (Tbilisi Pride 2019).
Check out this video. A local gay Georgian from Tbilisi who I met while visiting Batumi helped produce it in preparation for the event.
Gay Tbilisi: Where to Stay
The most vibrant parts of Tbilisi are near the Rustaveli and Marjanishvili metro stations. Both these neighborhoods have walkable, quite European-feeling streetscapes. The town centers have a warm and welcoming feel, so I recommend you stay in these areas.
If you choose to stay east of the river that divides the city, it is best to stay somewhere between Station Square and the Marjanishvili metro stop. If you choose the western side, I recommend staying between the Rustaveli metro stop and Liberty Square. There are tons of shops, stores and hotels in these areas of Tbilisi.
While visiting Tbilisi (also called Tiflis), I stayed in Tiflis Inn Glamour Boutique Hotel. It is a quaint and intriguingly decorated small hotel. With a budget-friendly price, beautiful adornments, lively colors and a great location, I was more than happy with Tiflis Inn.
Stamba is a 5-star hotel in Tbilisi with a delicious restaurant and café that a few traveler friends of mine recommended. I had breakfast as well as drinks here and everything was delectable. I would stay here if I returned!
Tbilisi Experiences for the Gay Traveler
Take a walk through Loane Shavteli Street in the Tiflis Old City. Musicians sing in the streets and small café’s line the sidewalks in this adorable neighborhood. Make sure to stop by the Clock Tower on your way though. It is a precious little marionette theatre. The Meidan Bazari is also located in this area, a beautiful underground Bazaar. They sell wine, treats and many hand-made textile products.
Spend an afternoon climbing up to the Mother of Georgia Statue. You can get some great views of Tbilisi here. I recommend taking the stairs up the mountainside instead of the cable car to avoid the tourist crowds. If you are close to the cable car areas, it gets quite congested.
You cannot leave Tbilisi without stopping at Fabrika Tbilisi. Fabrika is a courtyard area with places to take photos, play an outdoor piano, have a drink or grab a burger. Pipes Burger Joint is amazing for some comfort food. There is also a store in the back of the yard that sells jewelry and knick-knacks.
If you are visiting Tbilisi in the summer and you would like access to a pool, the Radisson Blu has fantastic amenities which you can use for a daily fee. The sauna in the hotel has a striking view, looking over the entire city. If you have a few hours between your arrival and a hotel check-in, then this will be a great place to refresh yourself and relax a bit.
Restaurants in Tbilisi
Café Gallery is the noteworthy LGBT-friendly café in Tbilisi. It is an excellent place to grab a bite to eat. Dimly lit and not too crowded, Café Gallery makes for a great rest stop while exploring Rustaveli.
144 Stairs Café was one of my favorite cafés in Tbilisi. Plan to rest here after visiting the Mother of Georgia Statue. Perched high above the city with scenic views, 144 Stairs café has outdoor seating, friendly staff and a cute old cat!
I ate a few times at Khinkali House in Rustaveli. This Georgian-Russian restaurant has several floors and tons of space for groups. It is quite unique with its large booths. Try some Khinkali here, the dough-wrapped cheese or meat. Don’t call them “dumplings” or you’ll offend a Georgian! I recommend going to the upper levels to eat.
Georgian Food You Must Try!
Every single meal I had while traveling Georgia included the amazing “walnut and eggplant dish.” It is a walnut paste wrapped in eggplant with pomegranate seeds on top. It was my friend Hassan and my favorite starter dish.
Khachapuri is the mother of all traditional foods. This stuff will warm your soul. It is a cheese-bread topped with a slab of butter that is not fully melted and usually a raw egg. Some restaurants make it quite salty, while others make it less so. Without a doubt, it can be found anywhere you go!
Fried Sulguni cheese is also a must. It is simple, yet delicious. You can get this heap of cheese either plain or with some type of meat or mushrooms. Most restaurants will serve the delicious Sulguni dish.
Tbilisi Gay Bars & Clubs
Success bar is Tbilisi’s unofficial gay bar. Tucked away on a side street in Rustaveli, it is clustered with a bunch of other lounge-like bars. The space is dimly lit and relaxing; it’s perfect for a few cocktails either alone or with a friend.
The gay Georgians are friendly so don’t be shy to go alone! Note that Success bar opens quite late at 11:00 PM. It’s more of a late-night place.
The place was full of friendly people from many different countries. I had a fun time with my friend Hassan, and many friendly gay men came and talked to us!
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Tbilisi Gay Travel Tips
It could be helpful to work on some basic Russian skills before setting off to Georgia! Many people do not speak English. Given Georgia is a post-Soviet country, Russian is the default language when someone does not speak the local Georgian language. Learn some basic commands and a few numbers if nothing else. It helps most in taxi rides and ordering at restaurants.
For some additional help, download the Translate Live app to read menus and signs written in Russian. I love this app; just hold the phone over the text and it will show you the words in your native language.
Getting around Tbilisi
Station Square is the main train station in Tbilisi. You will arrive here if you come by train. It is not the most beautiful area, so don’t let the streets around the station give you a poor first impression of Tbilisi!
The Tbilisi metro is extremely convenient, fast and costs next to nothing! I found myself consistently traveling back and forth from Rustaveli to Station Square via metro. Trains are frequent and the reliable system runs from 6am to midnight. Go to an attendant inside the metro station to buy tickets. The touchscreen machines are not so helpful.
Gay Rights in Georgia
LGBT Resources in Georgia
I gladly stumbled upon an advertisement in the Khidi Nightclub in Tbilisi for an organization working on HIV/AIDS prevention in post-Soviet countries. Armenian Caritas works with people in Georgia, Armenia and Ukraine. Their mission is to support the practice of safe behaviors, increase awareness and provide access to needed resources. Here’s some more information Armenian Caritas.