Georgia to Armenia by Train
After being in Georgia for more than a month, we decided to visit Armenia for two weeks.
We arrived in Yerevan by the famous Tbilisi Yerevan train . Here is the process cross borders between Georgia and Armenia.
We bought the tickets 2 days in advance. The day we were in the Central Train Station, we had the opportunity to take the train the next day, but we had to pay first class. First class offers 2 sharing a cabin and second class 4 sharing a cabin. Since we were 4, we decided to wait two more days. The girl at the ticket office spoke English sufficiently to inform us with the necessary information we needed. You can pay with cash or by credit card . You will need to present your passports to verify the train tickets are yours with correct names and ages stated on each of the tickets. You can also book your tickets online, up to 15 days in advance. However, the website is not very friendly or easy to navigate. We were traveling in high season (July) and were told it would not be easy to get tickets within the same week we wanted to travel. Though the train was very full, if you are flexible by one day or two, you should have no problem getting a cabin on the train.
Day of Departure
The train departed from Tbilisi Central Station. When waiting for your train, it is best to wait in the main lobby where the monitors are. Here you are able to easily see the arrivals and departures of all trains. If you choose to wait on the designated platform, you are unable to see any change of information if need be, as the monitors are faulty on the platforms. Some of the trains going to Armenia originate in Tbilisi. Where others begin their journey elsewhere in Georgia. Our train was coming from Batumi. When the train arrived, it was full of people.
The train we took was an Armenian train with Armenian railway employees. They are much more smiley than the Georgians (for good or bad). Regardless, you will notice the difference.
When we arrived to our private cabin (we paid for 4 people, 3 adults + Baby), we only had one sheet and one pillow. Everything else was taken by the other passengers who had started the journey in Batumi. We had to ask for a new sets of pillows and sheets. Each wagon has one employee in charge from the train company. Anything you need, ask him. The staff was very nice and attentive.
As far as we remember, the train left from Tbilisi around 10:00pm. Check schedules for detailed updated information. At the Train Station there is information about daily departures or ask at desk.
Note: The cabin does have a little air (conditioned), but is still hot inside. Sometimes it is better to keep the door opened if you are not sleeping. The cabin do not have a window which opens. If traveling in the summer, bring light clothes.
Crossing Borders Georgia- Armenia
Crossing the border is easy. We arrived around 12:00, midnight and had been traveling for about 2 or 3 hours. Do not plan to sleep until you have passed the border with Armenia, as you will constantly be asked for documentation and passports until this point. Expect no less than 4 visits from the railway employee, Georgian police and Armenian police. Since 2013, if you are from the European Union you do not need a visa to enter Armenian. However, if you are from USA, case of Nikol, she needed to pay and print the online visa and present the papers at the border.
The process was something like this:
1.- Knock from the railway employee. We were asked our nationalities in the case of a necessary visa. This happened 1 or 2 times prior to actual boarder crossing.
2.-Knock and arrive Georgian Police (dark blue uniform and light blue patch): they visited us twice. First visit was to prepare papers for the second visit.
3.- Armenia Border: those that need a visa to enter Armenia, have to get off the train and going to the lobby of the train station to fill out some forms. If you have the online visa already purchased, then it takes 5-10 min (best option). Whereas, if you don’t ,it will take an additional 5-10 minutes. You will need pictures and photocopies of passport. The remaining travelers stay at the train.
4.- Knock and arrive Armenian Border Police: some of the police that were at the train station, check your papers one more time and prepare the papers for the Armenian Border Police. They have a machine which reads passports and save all the information in a digital way. Pretty cool actually.
In one of these points, they took our passports and returned 10 min after. Do not freak out. They will bring them back.
After that, you can sleep until arriving at Yerevan.
Arriving at Yerevan
Yerevan Main Train station is Sasuntsi David in Sevan Street. We arrive at 7:00am. There is an ATM inside the train station and a public bathroom. You have to pay to use the bathroom.
Getting to Yerevan center
There are a bunch of private drivers or “taxis” trying to get you into theirt car to take you to their hotel. They will also take you to any place you want to go. Expect to have 3 or 4 times more expensive prices inside the train station. We exited the train station, crossed to the other side of the street and stop a taxi there for much cheaper. From there, you can just ask for your hotel or go to the main avenue: Mashtots Avenue (Armenian: Մաշտոցի Պողոտա Mashtots’i Poghota). This main avenue is a great base to start walking from for several parks, restaurants and shop. There are also buses on the street in front of the train station. Remember that you want to go north to the reach the center, that means leaving the train station and turning to the left.