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Yerevan-Baku-Tbilisi

Travel Forums Europe Yerevan-Baku-Tbilisi

1. Posted by ponchik (Budding Member 76 posts) 8y

Hi all!

I am trying to plan a trip to Baku, Tbilisi and Yerevan. Could someone tell me what would be the cheapest, the easiest way to do it (in which order is it better to do it)?

Thanks in advance.

2. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 8y

I've never been to the Caucasus myself but from what I understand, taking busses (or planes when travelling between the capitals) is the only way. Trains exist but are slow and uncomfortable, and services tend to be irregular. There is railroad infrastructure all across the Caucasus, but I have no idea whether service is still available on all of it. Driving a car is likely to make you prone to theft and assault.

Planning to me seems somewhat fruitless, since no online information re transportation appears to be available. I asked my colleague who is from Baku, and she didn't know of any online resources, not even in Russian.

Regarding the order of your itinerary, it would make sense to me to fly into Baku, and then try overland travel all the way to Sochi, Russia on the border of the Black Sea. From there it is fairly easy to get back to civilisation by train. Another option would be to return through Turkey, where the infrastructure is also pretty decent. But all depends on the possibilities within Georgia, about which I have no clue whatsoever.

[ Edit: Edited on Aug 5, 2008, at 2:11 AM by bentivogli ]

3. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 8y

Just a few thoughts to add.

As a foreigner you are not allowed to cross borders north of the Caucasus countries. Officially. Don't know if bribes are an option, but the entire northern area is best avoided anyway.
This also includes travel to South Ossetia and Abchazia, which are 'independent' but still Georgian as a matter of fact.
Also note that travelling from Armenia to Azerbaijan always require you to go throught Georgia because the borders are closed an Nagorno Karabakh is in between anyway.
Also, if you want to visit Nagorno (which is supposed to be safe), be sure to visit Azerbaijan first or be very sure not to have any proof of a visit of Nagorno in your pasport when you first visit and afterwards Azer. I think they give you a visa/permit, which is possible to get on a separate piece of paper.

Trains between Baku and Tblisi seem to be ok, but I only took the train between Batumi in Gori, which is just fantastic and beautiful. Gori has an awesome Stalin museum. Batumi has a smaller stalin museum as well, and is a nice city for a day or so.

Tblisi is far more beautiful than Yerewan, but the latter is nice in a way as well. Kazbegi in the north of Georgia I liked very much. There are great hikes in the Caucasus mountains over there with views to Mount Kazbeg and Chechnya mountains as well (again, no border crossing).

Travelling between Tblisi and Yerewan is best done by the marshrutka (basically, minibus) which leave when full.

From Yerewan, nice daytrips include Lake Sevan and Echmiadzin (a bit like the vatican of the armenian orthodox church).

Don't know where you are from, but Tbilisi airport tends to have a steady number of flights. But so does Yerevan airport and Baku airport. You can decide for yourself what's the best and cheapest flight.

By the way, flying first to Turkey might be much much cheaper and from Istanbul there are buses to Trabzon, from where you can take minibuses to the border with Georgia. Many nationalities don't need a visa for Georgia anymore, especially EU member states.

Have fun!

4. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 8y

Agree with the idea of flying first to Turkey.

There aren't any really cheap flights to the region as it is apart from main travel routes.

IIRC Georgia has some cheap return flights from Germany, but that is it.

BTW, you might want to consider a roundtrip that includes Iran. Yes, it would be one more visa to handle - but there are more options concerning travel to Nagorno-Karabach, Armenia and Azerbaidchan this way.

5. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 8y

As a foreigner you are not allowed to cross borders north of the Caucasus countries. Officially. Don't know if bribes are an option, but the entire northern area is best avoided anyway.

I will just add one slight amend to that. That is land boundaries, not surface ones. Though I haven't done it of late (I had some friends do it in 2006, but haven't looked into it since), it IS both legal easy to travel that way of you get the ferry - fast or slow options - from Batumi to Sochi in Russia. Again, that adds an extra visa etc, but it might help your planning

6. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 8y

it IS both legal easy to travel that way of you get the ferry - fast or slow options - from Batumi to Sochi in Russia. Again, that adds an extra visa etc, but it might help your planning

Ok, so i didn't time that well. 3hours later and they are essentially at war. I have no idea what affect it will have on 'normal' links, but the chances are that traffic/relations between Russia and Georgia will be drastically changed by this, and the ferry may or may not be cancelled. To go by surface you may now (or soon) have to bounce out of Trabzon in Turkey, and its *possible* that they may start looking suspiciously at foreigners with recently used visas from the other country