How To Go From Tbilisi To Yerevan By Road, Train or Air
After visiting Tbilisi, Georgia one can always plan a quick getaway to another central asian of Yerevan, Armenia. There are several ways to travel from Tbilisi to Yerevan. It can be as cheap as $6 per person to $300 by air. The distance between Tbilisi and Yerevan is only 300 kilometers so flying to Yerevan may actually cost more both in terms of money and time. Most locals regularly use marshrutka (minivan) which has no published timetable or ticket price. They come to pre-arranged pickup point everyday and start their journey only after they have picked enough customers for their ride. The system may seem strange or even ridiculous but it works well.
Here are several ways to travel from Tbilisi, Georgia to Yerevan, Armenia
Flight Between Yerevan & Tbilisi
Georgian airways has early morning non stop flight from Tbilisi International Airport (TBS) to Zvartnots International Airport, Yerevan. This short flight takes 30 minutes and cost around US$100 if booked in advance. The approximate time including drive to airport, check in procedures and transfer to Yerevan city center would take well over 5 hours.
There is a overnight sleep train that runs every night during high tourist season (June to September) and during low tourist season/winters (October to May). The train service is reliable and much safer than traveling by minivan that ply on road at high speed with no regards to passenger safety or traffic rules.
For train tickets and latest schedule you can visit official website.
One needs to create an online profile by adding personal details including passport (English/Russian Language), add payment methods (MasterCard or Bank debit cards). There is a maximum limit of 4 tickets that can be purchased in one session upto 40 days before the trip.
The winter international train № 372/371 starts from Tbilisi to Yerevan – On odd days of the month while return Yerevan to Tbilisi starts from Yerevan on even days of the month.The schedule is valid from 02 October, 2018 till 13 June, 2019 and update can be checked here
The prices are reasonable when compared to flight tickets.
Tbilisi To Yerevan By Bus
Minivan or Marshrutka as local call is the cheapest and fastest, if not the safest, way to travel between Yerevan and Tbilisi. There are no formal, published timetables however minivans departs regularly everyday between two cities.
Marshrutka or buses regularly depart from Ortachala Bus Station (ორთაჭალა), or Avlabari (ავლაბარი). I took bus from Ortachala which is more popular with locals due to frequency of buses available. The first bus departs at 8 am, next one at 10 am followed by few more buses from 3 pm onwards but I would not recommend bus ride during late evening or night due to bad roads coupled with dangerous driving with total disregard to safety.
ერევანი – Georgian
Ереван – Russian
Երեւան – Armenia
My personal experience was not so good. I came to Ortachala Bus Station at 9:30 am. I spoke with driver beforehand (in Russian) who promised that van will leave at 10. However, the driver told that a small mercedes 7 seater will go as they do not have enough passengers. I was made to wait for 3 hours before he could find 4 more passengers.
It was very cold and driver shared some tea as peace offering. There was a public toilet (not the cleanest) that I can use by paying 0.5 Lari (less than 20 cents). I waited in cashier’s office which is heated so there was some protection from elements.
I paid Lari 35 (US$5.50) for a 5 hour trip that ended in Kilikia Bus Station, Yerevan. Incidentally, Kilikia is a famous beer in Armenia which is worth a try only after you have sampled their famous brandy and wines.
I taxi for a 2 kilometer (1 mile) ride 600 (US$1.50) Drams because my airbnb host booked for me through Yandex taxi. The tourist are regularly overcharged (even if you speak Russian) to the tune of 1500+ Drams (US$5)
Border Crossing to Yerevan – Passport Control
Border crossing is quick (30 minutes). Exit form Georgian side was a breeze. In Armenia, you leave your bags in the minivan, go to special hall made for passport control and immigration and join your group on other side. The immigration officer may ask you few routine question (in rudimentary English) about the purpose and duration of your visit specially if you are a foreigner.