Tbilisi Gay Travel Guide
Tbilisi gay travel will help you uncover Georgia’s emerging LGBT culture. Find hotels, gay bars & clubs, restaurants and local gay travel tips with wolfyy.
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 Tbilisi gay community 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.
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.
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, however I was very aware about local attitudes toward LGBT people. Below, I’ll discuss more about how safe it is to be gay in Georgia.
Is Georgia Safe for Gay Travelers?
There are a few things you should know before embarking on a journey to Tbilisi as a gay tourist. Although Georgia is not the most accepting place 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 tips below about 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 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, Tbilisi began preparing for its first-ever Tbilisi Gay Pride (Tbilisi Pride 2019).
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 local gay Georgian 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 and Marjanishvili metro stations. Both spots have walkable, quiet, European-feeling streetscapes I found to be so wonderful. The town centers have a warm and welcoming feel, so I would first check hotels in Marjanishvili and hotels in Rustaveli.
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.
During my visit, I stayed at the magnificent Tiflis Inn Boutique Hotel. It is a quaint and intriguingly decorated small hotel. The interior design is the most stunning part. As soon as I walked into this place, I fell in love with how regal, yet homey it felt.
With a budget-friendly price, beautiful adornments, lively colors and a great location, I was more than happy with Tiflis Inn. Definitely consider it before looking through other hotel choices.
If you want one of the most classic and luxurious hotel stays in Tbilisi, you have to see Stamba Hotel. This iconic establishment is a 5-star Tbilisi hotel with a well-known restaurant and café that several of my traveler friends recommended.
The design is grand and stately, which is another reason why everyone knows about it and always mentions Stamba. I had breakfast as well as drinks here on a couple occasions and everything was delectable. I would definitely 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.
If you are visiting Tbilisi in the summer and you would like access to a pool, the Radisson Blu Iveria Tbilisi 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. You can plan to rest here after visiting the Mother of Georgia Statue. I grabbed a couple 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 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 grabbing a table on the better-looking upper floors.
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 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 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.
Unfortunately, Success Bar has closed for an undetermined length of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The establishment has its share of struggles. Earlier this year, a GoFundMe was created to save Success Bar. Feel free to donate and support this local Georgian LGBT space!
The Best Gay Club in 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.
As you enter the club, the friendly staff will hand you a sticker to place over the lens of your cell phone camera lens. Privacy amongst the LGBT community is very important in Georgia. Since individuals can face repercussions if someone shares personal information about their sexuality publicly.
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Relaxed Tbilisi Gay Bars
Some other gay bar options are Mosaic Bar, DRAMA Bar and Prince Bar (all of which have Facebook pages you can find). While I didn’t have time to explore all of these, please share your opinion if you paid a visit!
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. The party starts midday and goes far past sunset.
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
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. Learning some basic commands and a few numbers helps with taxi rides and at restaurants.
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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.
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!
Georgia Gay Rights
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.
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 Armenian Caritas.
Don’t forget to check out wolfyy’s gay travel guide to the quaint Georgian town of Kutaisi. Share this Tbilisi travel guide with a friend if you’ve found it helpful.