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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.

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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

attractions gay in Tbilisi

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.

tbilisi attractions
attractions gay in Tbilisi
tbilisi attractions
Georgia wants to join the European Union, so the country has been pressured to alter its laws 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.
Tbilisi Skyline
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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.

gay travel safe Tbilisi Georgia

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.

gay travel the world
Tbilisi Skyline
gay travel to Tbilisi

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.

tbilisi viewpoints

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.

gay travel to Tbilisi
tbilisi viewpoints

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.

Tbilisi where to stay Tiflis

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.

Tiflis boutique hotels Tbilisi
Tbilisi where to stay Tiflis
Tiflis boutique hotels 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 Tbilisi restaurant

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.

Tbilisi gay sauna

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.

Tbilisi clock tower
Tbilisi gay sauna

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.

Tbilisi clock tower

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.

tbilisi best cafes

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!

Stamba Tbilisi restaurant
tbilisi best restaurants
tbilisi best restaurants

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.

Georgian food to try

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!

Khachapuri Georgian Food
Khachapuri Georgian Food
Georgian food to try

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.

Need some ideas for gay vacations? Explore wolfyy’s full list of gay travel destinations and discover what it’s like to be gay in hundreds of places around the world!

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.

Tbilisi Gay Bars
Tbilisi Gay Bars
gay clubs Tbilisi
Khidi Nightclub is the go-to spot for late-night dancing and meeting gay locals in Tbilisi. Check if any gay events are currently being hosted in Tbilisi by looking up the Khidi venue on Facebook. When I visited, there was a fun party called KIKI.
gay clubs Tbilisi

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

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.
fabrika tbilisi travel

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.

gender equality tbilisi
fabrika tbilisi travel
gender equality tbilisi

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.

Do airports make you anxious? Read these super easy ways to reduce the stress that comes along with air travel.

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!

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. Likely you will buy tickets for international destinations such as Baku, Azerbaijan in person upon arrival in Tbilisi. Buy them one or two days in advance of your journey.
explore tbilisi
explore tbilisi
using Tbilisi metro subway

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.

using Tbilisi metro subway
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! Need more ideas for gay vacations? Explore wolfyy’s full list of gay travel destinations!

Gay Rights in Georgia

Georgia is one of the few places in the post-Soviet realm of the world that has protections for LGBT citizens. 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.
Local streets Kutaisi Georgia
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.
batumi skyline
Local streets Kutaisi Georgia
batumi skyline
Anti-LGBT sentiment is extremely high in Georgia. Polls from 2011 on social attitudes showed that more than 90% of Georgians think homosexuality is completely unacceptable. Gay travelers must remain guarded in Georgia since these attitudes are so negative. Many individuals in the public eye have suffered negative repercussions, including physical violence, by making pro-LGBT statements in various ways.
mother of Georgia statue
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 as time progresses.

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.

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Don’t forget to check out wolfyy’s gay travel guides to Batumi and Kutaisi. If you’re headed to Azerbaijan, be sure to check out Baku!
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