Solo Female Travel in Armenia & Georgia : Is it Safe?

By on Published: March 19, 2020 | Last Updated: March 20, 2020 in ARMENIA, Europe, GEORGIA, Solo Female Travel with 0 Comments

Solo Female Travel in Armenia & Georgia

It feels kind of ridiculous me writing this article, because I have to say, straight off the bat, that Armenia and Georgia are 2 of the countries I’ve felt safest in travelling as a solo female.

No joke.

However, I know many of you might not be aware of this if you haven’t been to these destinations before – indeed I wasn’t, so I want to use this article to dispel any fears you may have.

This is especially true given that although Georgia is steadily creeping more onto the tourist radar, Armenia certainly is not, and there’s very few other people I know who have travelled there.

This sense of “off the beaten-ness” and lack of information online therefore, understandably means many women might question whether it’s safe to travel here alone.

So I’m writing this article to spell out exactly why I felt safe as a solo female traveller in Armenia and Georgia, and likely why you will too!

Georgia, Tbilisi, Me and Watermelons


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General Safety in Armenia and Georgia

Armenia, Yerevan, Man on Bench

First up, I want to talk about some general safety issues in both Armenia and Georgia which apply to travellers whatever their gender and whether they are adventuring alone or in a group / couple / pair.

In general, Armenia and Georgia are very safe countries.

Crime is low, natural disasters uncommon and health considerations are similar to Europe i.e. there aren’t many.

These are definitely the main reasons I felt very safe travelling here and were emboldened by the friendliness of local people, their hospitality, generosity and willingness to help strangers.

I never felt harassed in either country and there’s very little of the pushy-sales, street hassle culture here.

People respect personal space.

The only slight issue you may face when in either of these countries is political unrest or demonstrations.

Indeed, there were protests happening when I visited Tbilisi in Georgia, but honestly, I walked right through the crowds (I had to, to get to my hostel) and felt neither unsafe, vulnerable or threatened.

Demonstrations can be common in Georgia, particularly among young urban populations who are unhappy about the countries relationship with Russia and the contested territories in some parts of the country including South Ossetia.

This is why you must carry at least a copy of your passport with you at all times in Georgia, particularly if you are visiting any of the contested territories in the north of country near Kazbegi and Svaneti, or down in the south near David Gareja and the Azerbaijani border.

In Armenia too, there are some political issues with neighbours, in particular, Azerbaijan and it’s worth noting the borders between these 2 countries are closed.

If you’re looking to visit both of them, you’ll have to travel to Georgia in between and, rumour on the travel circuit has it, that you’re best to visit Azerbaijan first, then Georgia and finally Armenia, as the latter don’t frown upon Azerbaijani stamps as much in passports.

Due to the historical genocide, relationships between Armenia and neighbouring Turkey are also frosty, although they seem to be thawing. While you can’t cross the land border between Armenia and Turkey still, you can fly between the 2 countries.

 

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Getting Around Safely

Georgia, Kazbegi, Me

In both Armenia and Georgia you’re likely to use a mix of public transport and taxis to get around.

Public transport comes in the form of marshrutkas (public minivans), which hurtle themselves around at alarming rates.

Arguably not that safe when it comes to driving skills, they are cheap and totally fine for females to catch alone.

In Georgia there are many of them that dart across the country, although most route back through Tbilisi, so you might find yourself coming back to the capital a number of times if you’re following a Georgia-wide itinerary.

Check out my ideal 2 week Georgia itinerary for more ideas about how to see the most of this country in a short amount of time.

In Armenia, marshrutkas only really operate in and out of Yerevan, which means again you either have to route back through the capital, which can sometimes add a day to your journey in this long, skinny country.

Even in and out of Yerevan, it can be hard to catch marshrutkas as there are many stations around the capital, which run to different destinations, but change frequently. Learn more about how to navigate the system in my article 18 things to know before you travel Armenia.

If you can’t figure that out, or need to get from A-B without going via Yerevan, then other forms of transport may be more appealing.

The most popular in Armenia is hitchhiking.

Here it is a common way of life in rural Armenia and I used it many times as a solo female – employing my instinct, only travelling short distances in daylight and using Google maps app to stay safe.

Indeed hitchhiking is so common in this country that you often don’t even need to stick out your thumb before getting a lift!

Alternatively, if you don’t feel safe hitchhiking, then taxis or tours are the way to go.

In both Georgia and Armenia, ride-sharing apps like Yandex are common and can be used by travellers who download the app.

Learn more about what ride-sharing is and why I love it here.

This is a cheap and easy way to get around over short distances, but it’s worth noting they are often limited to city areas only i.e. you won’t find them in the countryside.

Here it will be regular taxis that act as pseudo-private tours.

Getting a group of you together will keep costs down when using private taxis, and you must employ your best haggling skills!

Often a better deal can be struck if you get a driver to wait for you and then drive you back too.

Alternatively, the last option is to take a tour of the country.

Read onto the next section to learn more…

 

Sightseeing

If you want to arrange sightseeing or hiking tours beforehand, then check these great-looking Armenia options and these top picks for Georgia.

Otherwise, you can pick up day trips that explore popular areas in both the countries from their respective capitals.

In Armenia, getting a group together will help keep costs down because most tours are private. If there’s 4 of you heading out somewhere together this can be a surprisingly cheap option.

Check out options in your hostel, Envoy Hostel or in Yerevan’s Central Square to find taxi drivers acting as private guides.

In Georgia, things are a little more organised because they get more tourists, so there are several companies that operate popular day trips from the city, especially during the summer months.

These are a great way to meet other people and the top trips from Tbilisi I recommend are:

Worth noting that I actually recommend spending longer than a day in Kazbegi if you can. Learn more in my full guide to the region here.

And I also really recommend staying in Telavi a night on your way to visit the incredible area of Tusheti, provided you are visiting Georgia in the summer months. Learn more in this article.

 

Where to Stay

Armenia, Yerevan, Hostel Decor

You might not be surprised to hear this now, but I felt very safe everywhere I stayed in Georgia and Armenia!

Thanks to the growth of budget and independent travellers in these countries in recent years, the hostel / camping / budget guesthouse scene is booming.

These are almost all independent places run by families or couple, which makes them feel very friendly and personal.

Booking can be done through Hostelworld, Agoda or Booking.com, which makes places safe and easy to find thanks to their review systems and directions.

Hostels are more common in the capitals of both countries and, outside of this, it’s budget guesthouses, which I like to book through Airbnb for the best prices.

Sign up to Airbnb HERE and get up to £35 off your first stay.

My recommended places to stay as a solo female traveller in Georgia and Armenia are:

Armenia

Yerevan: MGA Hostel

Goght (for Garni and Geghard): 3G’s camping and guesthouse

Dilijan: Old Dili

Georgia

Tbilisi: Pushkin 10 hostel

Kazbegi: Camp Kuro

Telavi: Eto Guesthouse

Tusheti: Tishe Guesthouse

Kutaisi: Dingo Hostel

 

Going Out at Night

Armenia, Khor Virap, Me in Window

Both Armenia and Georgia produce some excellent wine and sampling at least a few glasses (if you’re into that sort of thing) is definitely a must-do.

Going out of an evening to do this in both Georgia and Armenia is certainly safe as a female traveller – even in the capitals of both countries I felt secure in doing so.

Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, has a great metro system that can be used to get around of an evening and is safe to ride.

Yerevan is honestly one of the most relaxed and secure-feeling cities I’ve been in and while there is a metro system here, it’s not huge so you may be better to use a ride-share taxi to get around of an evening, or even walking if it’s not too late and too far – central Yerevan is pretty small so don’t let this statement confuse you.

As always, when going out of an evening alone, just use your common sense in terms of walking solo, drinking too much, knowing how to get home and watching your possessions … and your glass.

 

Language & Communication

Georgia, Monastery, Roof

As highly unique languages with their own alphabets, it’s unlikely you’re going to get to grips with much of the Armenian or Georgian languages while you’re in these countries, but fear not!

I absolutely survived there as a solo female traveller by meeting other tourists and chatting with younger people from both countries who tend to speak English quite well.

Reading signs is hard (read. impossible!), because of the foreign scripts, but this is where Google translate and Google maps come in really handy.

As a solo female traveller, I therefore highly recommend getting local SIM cards in both countries so you can access these apps that will likely make travelling here easier.

You’ll also be able to access rideshares, accommodation booking sites and a whole heap of other useful tech tools that will make you feel safer.

It’s both cheap and easy to pick up SIM cards in Georgia and Armenia – although you will need to get separate ones in each country.

Learn more about the costs of these, how and where to do it in my posts about the costs of travelling in Armenia and how much I spent travelling in Georgia.

 

What to Wear

Armenia, Geghard, Me,

Despite both being countries with strong Orthodox Christian roots, dress codes in both Georgia and Armenia are fairly relaxed and wearing “normal” western clothes is totally acceptable.

The one place you do need to cover up in both countries however is when visiting monasteries, which you’re likely to do a lot of here!

In all monasteries, women must cover arms, chest, legs and their head.

Men must cover legs, torso and arms.

Headscarves are usually provided in boxes at the church doors, so you can grab one there, but long-sleeved tops and below the knee skirts or trousers might be harder to come by!

As such, it pays to be a little prepared with such items if visiting religious structures is on your agenda.

Outside of this, short sleeves and modest trousers / skirts / shorts are totally acceptable.

In Georgia, the hot weather during my trip meant I usually wore denim shorts with a t-shirt and a scarf, plus my trusty Birkenstocks.

In Armenia, things felt a little more conservative and in the capital at least, I preferred to wear long trousers or leggings (these bamboo ones from Boody are my new go-to) or a knee-length casual dress.

If you’re planning on hiking in either Armenia or Georgia, which you definitely should, then bring appropriate footwear and activewear.

These Salomon Pathfinder walking shoes would be a great, lightweight option that offer great grip and support, plus they are waterproof.

A thin, light, waterproof jacket is also advisable as storms can often blow in during the late afternoon when you are in the mountains.

This North Face Venture 2 jacket would be perfect for the job and, given it’s black, goes with anything!

I also love my travel wrap from Sholdit, which has a hidden pocket, perfect for storing your phone and keeping valuables safe when hiking or on buses.

And while we’re on the subject of phones – do make sure you bring a seaprate, good camera with you to capture the beauty of these 2 countries.

I love my Sony A6000 mirrorless camera which I used a lot in the cities here and my GoPro Hero 7, which was ideal for capturing the more active adventures I enjoyed.

 

Food and Drink

Georgia, Market, Fresh Berries

Staying safe when it comes to eating and drinking abroad can be a big concern for many women travellers, which I understand, but fresh local food is at the heart of the travel experience in both Georgia and Armenia and shouldn’t be missed.

Shopping in local markets, such as Tbilisi’s huge Deserter Market, or buying delicious coffee from vans on the street in Yerevan, made my travel experience here.

As a vegetarian, I also found it easy to eat, for while these are quite meat-heavy countries, the amount of produce they grow means finding delicious fruits and veggies, as well as nuts, breads and cheeses is easy everywhere.

And finally, the drinking.

We’ve covered the alcohol part in the section about going out at night above, but it’s also great to know that in both Georgia and Armenia the tap water is drinkable as it flows straight from high mountain streams.

This makes filling up your water bottle anywhere easy and free – especially in Armenia where drinking fountains on every town street flow continuously and are used by everyone.

Travelling to both these countries with your own metal bottle will therefore allow you to take advantage of this and to help reduce the number of plastic bottles used and then discarded.

Check out this metal water bottle from Kleen Kanteen, which is a great size for travellers.

 

Insurance

Georgia, Kazbegi, Me Hiking

If it does go a bit wrong however and you do get sick or something untoward happens when you are in Georgia and Armenia then having some travel insurance to fall back on is definitely a great idea.

In fact, despite how safe both these countries are for solo female travellers, I’d always advise taking out a policy.

Personally, I never travel anywhere without insurance and always recommend World Nomads who offer some of the best policies around for people who like to get off the beaten track a bit.

Covering travellers from around the world, to almost every country on earth, these guys offer flexible travel insurance with great customer service and the ability to claim or extend your policy easily online – winning!

Check out how much it might cost for your trip to Georgia and Armenia by inputting your details below…

 

 

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And there you have it, my complete guide to travelling Georgia and Armenia as a solo female and whether it’s safe.

The answer, in my opinion, is yes, but do let me know your experiences or any reservations you might have below…

 

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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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