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Many travelers coming to the Caucasus region would like to visit as many locations as possible. The proximity of Tbilisi and Yerevan makes it possible to add one more country to your travel itinerary. Whether you are starting your trip from Tbilisi or Yerevan, it would be a pity not to see the other, as the cities lie only about 290km (180 mi.) apart. To make your travels more comfortable, here’s our guide to how to travel between Tbilisi and Yerevan.
Armenia’s capital is still an undiscovered place for many tourists, so if you are looking for a lesser-known travel destination, Yerevan is a great place. The city boasts interesting architecture, contemporary statues scattered across its Cascade Complex, hearty meals, and friendly locals. History buffs can enjoy visit various museums such as Erubeni or the Armenian Genocide Museum, while art lovers can visit and admire works of Armenian contemporary artists at its galleries.
In addition, you will be able to compare and see how different Tbilisi and Yerevan became following the independence they each gained after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Armenia has moderate visa requirements with most countries. Citizens of most EU countries, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Singapore, New Zealand, and Qatar can enter the country without a visa for 180 days during one year. Others can get a visa upon arrival at the border of the country.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have a difficult political relationship due to the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Therefore, if you have traveled to Azerbaijan prior to Armenia, you will be asked at the border control. And if your answer is ‘yes’, the officer will follow up and ask you the reason and may even request the address of the hotel you booked in Yerevan. Once he or she confirms that everything is in line, you’ll get the stamp. Don’t worry, there are very few cases when travelers are not allowed in the country just because they have been to Azerbaijan.
Despite the short distance, you can fly from Tbilisi to Yerevan, and vice versa, with Georgian Airways. From Tbilisi, the flights are scheduled six days a week, while there are only three days of scheduled flights from Yerevan. You can easily get round-trip ticket for US$164, and the flight takes only 30 minutes!.
Minibusses in both countries are called marshrutkas and are one of the most convenient and cheap options for budget travelers, where you can enjoy views of both countries along the way. There are two locations in Tbilisi where those minibusses depart for Yerevan – Station Square and Ortachala Bus Station. Depending on where you are staying and which one is closer, you can choose your departure spot accordingly. Once you get to Station Square, you’ll need to ask around from where the buses depart from. The price for a one-way ticket is 35 lari (US$14.30). Some of those buses to pick up other travelers at Avlabari metro station, and on the way back from Yerevan some have Avlabari as their final stop and not the Station Square, so just be aware of this. The reason for this is that Avlabari is a famous Armenian district of Tbilisi.
If you prefer Ortachala Bus station, there’s a sign ‘Tbilisi to Yerevan’. Follow the sign down the stairs and once someone spots you with bags, they’ll come to direct you to the right vehicle that is scheduled to go that time of the day. The price for a one-way ticket is about the same as in Station Square. One thing to note is that the spelling of Yerevan could be in Georgian (ერევანი), Russian (Эривань), and Armenian (Երևան).
There are several shops that sell snacks and drinks if you didn’t manage to buy something for the road. You can also change your money to Armenian drams here if you wish to have some small change just in case.
If traveling by minibus is not your cup of tea or you would like to try an old-fashioned sleeper train, then this option might be good for you. There are overnight sleeper trains between these two capitals. During the winter months, October to May, you can take a bi-nightly overnight train, while daily afternoon and evening trains run from June to September. It’s a safe and convenient option if you are not in a hurry and would like to have a different experience.
Compared to minibus tickets, the price of a train ticket is double, 70 Lari (US$29), but by some standards, it still seems quite cheap. The journey is comfortable, and waking up to gorgeous views of Mount Ararat at dawn as you enter the country makes the trip even more memorable.
The train departs from Tbilisi Central Station (Station Square). Unfortunately, you can’t buy those tickets online, so you’ll need to buy them at the ticket office in advance. Make sure to bring your passport.