Tbilisi Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Tbilisi gay guide to hotels, things to do, restaurants, gay bars, clubs, and safety.
The Gay Travel Experience: Tbilisi, Georgia
Did you know that Tbilisi has a buzzing gay scene? In Georgia, LGBT events are not exactly found in plain sight, but Tbilisi’s gay community comes together in low-key bars, cafes, and underground gay nightclubs. Inside these venues, everyone is free to be themselves.
It’s heartwarming to see LGBT locals genuinely happy to be able to express themselves in these semi-public spaces. I witnessed the cautious sense of relief first-hand as people hugged, kissed, and held hands.
In a post-Soviet nation, gay Georgians continue to live with caution. And rightfully so—hostility toward LGBT people is still pervasive in Georgian society.
Georgia wants to join the European Union, which has led to pressure on the country to alter its laws in order to conform to the standards of the European Council. Progress has been slow, however.
You will frequently see European Union Flags flying alongside the Georgian flag while walking through the streets of Tbilisi, symbolizing Georgia’s strong desire to be accepted into the EU.
I visited Tbilisi with my good friend Hassan while we traveled around Georgia, exploring the wonderful culture of the region. I never felt unsafe as a gay traveler in Tbilisi, even being aware of the negative sentiment toward LGBT people.
Is Tbilisi Safe for Gay Travelers?
There are a few things you should know before embarking on a journey as a gay tourist. Although Tbilisi is not the most accepting city in the world for gays, it is not the most dangerous place either.
You cannot be arrested for being LGBT in Georgia, in contrast to many other countries with anti-LGBT sentiment around the world. Gay travel to Georgia and specifically Tbilisi is quite easy, but I’ll share a few specific safety tips below.
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 between those of the same sex in Georgia can draw negative attention and lewd comments from individuals on the street.
The government of Georgia has made the country only slightly safer for LGBT citizens. Nevertheless, the gay Georgian community stands strong. In 2019, the community began preparing for its first-ever Tbilisi Gay Pride.
Unfortunately, the event was postponed for reasons political in nature. I’m hoping for a Tbilisi gay pride one year in the near future!
Check out this video from 2019 in preparation for the planned celebration. A gay local from Tbilisi who I met while visiting Batumi helped produce it in preparation for the event.
Gay Tbilisi: Hotels & Where to Stay
The most vibrant neighborhoods in Tbilisi are the areas around the Rustaveli metro stop and Marjanishvili metro stop. Both parts of the city have beautiful, walkable streets with a friendly feel.
When browsing hotels in Marjanishvili, try to stay closer to the river, away from the immediate Station Square area. The city is a bit dirty over here as it’s close to Tbilisi’s central rail station.
I recommend Tiflis Inn Boutique Hotel in Marjanishvili. I absolutely loved it, mainly for the impeccable interior design. The hotel is quaint and traditionally decorated. As soon as I walked in, I fell in love with how regal, yet homey it felt.
With a budget-friendly price, lively colors, and a great location, I was more than happy with Tiflis Inn. Definitely consider a stay here!
Check out Iren River Side Apartments or the colorful Hotel Art Nebula if you like the idea of staying in Marjanishvili. Both are some of the best-rated modern accommodations in the area. Plus, they’re very affordable.
Hotels in Rustaveli are also fantastic, ideally between the Rustaveli metro stop and Liberty Square. There are tons of shops and local life in this part of Tbilisi.
Stamba Hotel offers one of the most classic and authentic ambiances in Tbilisi. It’s one of the most popular in Rustaveli, an iconic 5-star hotel with a well-known restaurant and café that I and many of my traveler friends recommend.
The design is grand and stately, which is another reason why everyone loves Stamba. I had breakfast as well as drinks here a few times and everything was divine. I would definitely stay here if I returned!
Barnovi Boutique Hotel is among the best hotels in the Rustaveli area and it’s captivatingly modern. Every detail of the hotel is so pretty that you feel completely relaxed here, including the floor-to-ceiling windows.
The hotel also has some stunning rooftop views of the city. Considering how nice Barnovi Boutique is, you really get your money’s worth!
A couple more popular hotels in the area that are worth a look include Tbilisi View Hotel, 3 Rooms Hotel, and the affordable Hotello.
Tbilisi Gay Travel Experiences
Walk down Loane Shavteli Street in the Tiflis Old City. Musicians sing in the streets and small café’s line the sidewalks in this adorable neighborhood.
Stop by the Clock Tower too. It is a precious little marionette theater. The Meidan Bazari is also nearby, a beautiful underground Bazaar. They sell wine, treats, and many hand-made textile products.
Climbing up to the Mother of Georgia Statue is a great afternoon adventure. 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. Close to the cable car areas, it gets quite congested.
Fabrika Tbilisi is an absolute must. Fabrika is a courtyard area with places to take photos, play an outdoor piano, have a drink, or grab a burger.
Summer visitors should check out the pool at the Radisson Blu Iveria Tbilisi, which has fantastic amenities you can use for a daily fee.
Their sauna in the hotel has a striking view, looking over the entire city. If you have a few hours between your arrival and hotel check-in, then this will be a great place to refresh yourself and relax a bit.
Restaurants in Tbilisi
Café Gallery is a noteworthy gay-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. You can plan to rest here after visiting the Mother of Georgia Statue. I grabbed a couple of beers after a long morning of exploring the city.
Perched high above the city with scenic views, 144 Stairs café has outdoor seating, friendly staff, and a cute old cat!
I had a few meals 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 grabbing a table on the better-looking upper floors.
Pipes Burger Joint is a gay-friendly restaurant in Tbilisi that serves amazing comfort food. They also have a store in the back of the yard that sells jewelry and knick-knacks.
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 & Nightlife
Tbilisi has a thriving gay nightlife scene. While there are only a couple of large gay clubs, there are many smaller gay bars with quieter vibes.
Here are some Tbilisi nightlife options where you can count on meeting some new gay friends!
Success Bar Tbilisi
Success Bar is the unofficial Tbilisi 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 PM. It’s more of a late-night place.
Success Bar has proudly reopened following a closure during the pandemic thanks to a GoFundMe that was created to save the bar. Even though they’re now open, you can still donate if you’d like to support this LGBT space that’s crucial to Tbilisi’s gay life!
Khidi Gay Nightclub
Khidi Nightclub is the go-to gay club for late-night dancing and meeting locals in Tbilisi. Their scheduled events are always posted on their Facebook page. When I visited, there was a fun party called KIKI.
As you enter Khidi, the friendly staff will hand you a sticker to place over your phone’s camera lens. Privacy amongst the LGBT community is very important in Georgia. LGBT individuals can face repercussions if someone shares personal information about their sexuality publicly.
The place was full of friendly people from many different countries. I had a fun time talking to people here!
Relaxed Tbilisi Gay Bars
If you prefer a more subdued vibe, you’ll still have plenty of gay bars to choose from.
Ambavi Bar has a mixture of a lounge-like feel, but you’ll still find dancing! It’s a smaller, informal venue popular with locals.
Mosaic Bar and DRAMA Bar are some other gay bar options. Since I didn’t have time to explore all of these, please share your opinion if you visit!
Remember that while these smaller gay bars are definitely different from the more traditional gay bars you’ll find around the world. Some spaces are quite small, which could be intimidating for solo travelers.
4GB Music Festival Tbilisi
The 4GB Music Festival outside the city of Tbilisi was definitely one of the best electronic festivals I’ve ever been to. It is held during the month of May in the wide-open countryside in an old warehouse compound outside bustling Tbilisi.
Even though a bit of rain that afternoon, Hassan and I had a blast enjoying the different stages, people watching and getting a few too many Jägermeister shots (they were only $2 USD each)!
I definitely recommend you attend a 4GB event if you can make it. Even if you are not the biggest fan of electronic music, there’s food, awesome art and of course the bar!
Tbilisi Gay Travel Tips
Learn Some Basic Russian
Learning a few basic Russian phrases before setting off to Georgia will be super helpful. Many people do not speak English—especially taxi drivers and similar service industry workers.
As Georgia is a post-Soviet country, Russian is the default language when someone does not speak the local Georgian language.
Babbel subscriptions are super cheap and their app makes learning some language basics easy. The most you’ll pay is $14 per month! Plus, it gets even cheaper if you choose a multi-month package.
Where to Grab Cheap Groceries
Need some inexpensive snacks, beer or wine? Head to Spar, a Dutch-operated international mini-grocery store. They will have everything you’ll need. There are many stores around the city, so you probably won’t ever be too far from one.
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 the city!
Tbilisi’s underground 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 6 AM to midnight. Go to an attendant inside the metro station to buy tickets. The touchscreen machines are not so helpful.
Taxi rides are inexpensive as well. However, due to heavy traffic in the city during rush hour, taking the metro may serve you much better. Be prepared, however…Tbilisi taxi drivers can drive a little crazily!
If you plan to visit other destinations by train, you can walk up to the counter on the uppermost floor of the train station to buy tickets.
It’s common to buy tickets for international destinations like Baku, Azerbaijan in person when you first arrive in Tbilisi. Overall, it’s best to buy them at least a day or two in advance of your departure.
Tbilisi Airport Lounge Access
Tbilisi’s main airport lounge is super cozy. It’s definitely worth relaxing here before your flight, especially if you have lots of time between your airport transfer and departure like I did.
Priority Pass offers 10% off annual memberships, which you can use in so many airports worldwide. I have a membership and it’s more than worth it if you take a few international trips yearly.
Georgia Gay Rights
Georgia is one of the few post-Soviet countries that have protections for LGBT citizens. These LGBT protections were enacted as Georgia prepares to submit their EU member state application, for which basic gay rights are a prerequisite.
Although anti-LGBT sentiment is high in Georgia, the LGBT community technically has support. The government enacted discrimination protections back in 2006. Those protections now include both orientation and gender expression.
Georgia has faced very recent battles regarding marriage equality. In 2016, there was a movement to redefine the current gender-neutral constitutional language to instead expressly state that marriage should exist between a man and a woman.
This crisis received extreme backlash from the international community. However, the parliament went on to pass the proposal, a large defeat to the LGBT population.
Gay travelers must remain guarded in Georgia since these attitudes are so negative. For example, Polls in recent years showed that more than 90% of Georgians think homosexuality is completely unacceptable.
Many individuals in the public eye have suffered negative repercussions, including physical violence, after making pro-LGBT statements.
In my opinion, it is a bit unfortunate that the government only advances protections for the LGBT community because it is a prerequisite to aligning politically with the advanced states of Europe.
Nevertheless, progress is progress. Let’s hope that the overall sentiment regarding LGBT lives will change with time.
Georgia LGBT Resources
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 about Armenian Caritas.
See wolfyy’s complete collection of gay travel guides for more gay destination ideas around the world.