I’ve noticed in my WordPress statistics (which are so much fun!) that many people seem to find the blog looking for advice on how to ride the Tbilisi metro. Since my previous post on why I love the Tbilisi metro doesn’t exactly have that information clearly spelled out, I thought I’d offer clearer directions here.
The Tbilisi metro has two lines, the First Line and the Saburtalo line. If you’re using the metro as a tourist, you’ll primarily be hanging out on the First Line. The Saburtalo line takes you to a more residential community (you are of course still welcome to go visit, but it’s not where the museums and old churches are). Some old maps may show another line going into Avlabari, but that was never completed, there are just the two, I promise.
How to pay:
You now have to use MetroMoney to pay for the metro, there are no tokens or paper tickets (I do sort of miss the cute little tokens of old). You can also use MetroMoney on buses and marshrutkas. The real advantage of MetroMoney is that the pricing is adaptive–there are free transfers on the metro and buses (50 tetri for an hour and a half), and although the first marshrutka ride is at the full, cash price of 80 tetri, subsequent rides are 65 tetri. You also need to use the MetroMoney to pay for the cable car to Narikala, or the funicular to Mtatsminda. To get a MetroMoney card you go to the desk in all the stations labeled მს / MS. There is a 2 lari deposit for MetroMoney, which is refundable within a short time (two months, I think?) if you keep your receipt (if you aren’t living here and don’t want to keep the card as a souvenir). I suggest that, as a visitor, you put 8 lari of credit on your MetroMoney–this way you can hand them a 10-lari note, pay the deposit and have enough credit on your MetroMoney to do whatever you need to do. You can, of course, explain in detail exactly what you want, but just handing the cashier some money and saying MetroMoney will get the job done. If you need to add more money to your MetroMoney card, you can do so at any of the მს / MS kiosks, or at the orange Bank of Georgia payboxes throughout the city (hit the British flag icon at the top right for English and follow the instructions).
How to ride:
To enter the metro, you tap your metro money on the orange dot on the turnstile. Your balance will display above, if you care to check on that. Except Station Square (სადგურის მოედანი), the stations only have one line. Your only challenge will be deciding which direction to take it. There are lists on the walls, but only some of these are in English. In the center of the platforms there are large red and white signs in English that point left of right at the names of different stations telling you which side you need to reach a certain station. The announcements of stations are in both Georgian and English, though pay attention if you’re going to 300 Aragveli. The English doesn’t say “three hundred Aragveli” but “samasi aragveli” (the Georgian). Also pay attention if it’s a name that’s translated, like Station Square or Liberty Square. Don’t worry if you make a mistake though. On the Tbilisi metro you could just get off the train at the next station and backtrack–it won’t cost you extra in anything but time.
How to transfer:
Get off the train at Station Square (if you’re starting off on the Saburtalo Line, this is where it ends, so it will be very easy to tell). Go up the small staircase–almost everyone else will be doing likewise. Follow the signs to the other line (Saburtalo Line or First Line). If you find yourself at an escalator, turn around–that’s an exit! Go down the other small stairs, and wait for your train. (To figure our where you need to go, read the red and white signs like you did before).
Really, the Tbilisi metro is easy as subways go–if you’ve ridden one before you’ll be a pro in no-time, and even if you’re a first-timer you’ll figure things out quite quickly. Happy riding! Any questions?
Originally published April 29, 2012. Most recent update: March 22, 2014