Ferries from Turkey : The ferry from Turkish
Maritime Lines that leaves from Istanbul (Turkey) travels via Sinop and Samsun,
the black sea coast to Trabzon and Rize is not running at the moment. They are hoping to put this relaxing Turkish cruise ship back to work again soon but nobody knows when. The tickets used to be quite cheap and that way could also budget travelers avoid the 18 hour bus ride from Istanbul to Trabzon. The ferry route took almost 3 days (two nights).
Bus Istanbul - Trabzon : By bus is the fastest way to get to Trabzon overland from Europe, it is 18 hours traveling from Istanbul to Trabzon (the border between Turkey and Georgia).
the main bus station in Istanbul (Otogar) is easy to get to by metro from the airport.
Bus Istanbul - Tbilisi : There are also busses going straight from Istanbul to Tbilisi (35$, more than 30 hours traveling, sometimes there are delays on the border in Sarpi that could last for hours.
Flights Istanbul - Trabzon : There are also domestic flights in Turkey from Istanbul
to Trabzon with Onur Air, a one way ticket Istanbul -
Trabzon costs about 89 YTL (55 euro), with Turkish
Airlines a ticket costs almost the double.
Train Istanbul - Kars : There is a train connection from Istanbul to Kars in
These trains depart from the Haydarpaşa train station
in the Asian part of Istanbul at 8:35 in the morning. It passes via Ankara
at 17:25 and arrive the following day 22:00 in Kars. This train ride of about 38 hours costs 35 new Turkish Lira (about 22 euro)
in Pullman class (prices 2005).
Via last minute flight to Izmir : You should also be able to find a cheap last-minute ticket to Izmir, and then catch the train from Izmir to Ankara (departure at 18:00, arrival 8:00am, 12 euro for the Pullmann
seat, 27 euro for a bed in a compartment). And in Ankara search a connection by train to Kars. Do notice that a ticket in a sleeping wagon from Istanbul to Trabzon costs about the same as a flight ticket with Onur Air.
Busses in Georgia : the normal busses are often slow and very worn out,
but are slowly being changed for (between Tbilisi and Telavi there are now great new busses running), mashrutkas (mini busses) leave when they are full and travel straight to the destination, they are often the quickest alternative but you better turn up in the bus station around 8-9:00 in the morning since later in the day not so many people choose to travel and it can take a long time to get the mini bus full. In those moments you are better off searching for a group taxi that will need only 4-5 passengers, this will work out a bit more expensive than the mini bus but hopefully it will be filled faster.
Trains from and in Georgia - timetable:
There is a daily train Tbilisi - Baku (Azerbaijan),
departure 5pm, arrival in Baku 8am.
The train Tbilisi - Yerevan (Armenia) leaves only on odd days, departure
7pm, arrival in Yerevan 9am.
The train Tbilisi - Batumi leaves at 8am and arrives at 3pm.
The night train Tbilisi - Kutaisi leaves at 9pm and arrives at 6am
travel from Turkey to Georgia
Example of timetable and route :
Bus Goreme - Trabzon (Rize) : 30 million TL, 17:15 - 9:30, change in Kayseri
Bus Trabzon - Hopa : 5.5 million TL, 10:00 - 13.30
Group taxi Hopa - Sarp (border) : 1-2 million TL, 14:00 - 14.30
Mini bus Sarp - Batumi : 1 dollar (or 2 Lari), 30 minute drive
Border crossing Sarp Turkey - Georgia
Customs declaration form : state cash (is luckily not counted) + camera, ask that they put a stamp on the paper (it was not asked for when I went from Georgia to Armenia and Azerbaijan/Zaqatala,
but you never know).
Georgian visa : no Georgian visa is needed anymore for
EU, US, Japanese citizens since 2 june 2005.
The Customs did not control my baggage
Computer fee : 3 dollar (6 Lari), the only official extra fee that will have to be paid on the border, a few travelers that I met had been pushed to pay a few dollar extra.
Exchange office on the Georgian border : you get a very bad rate for Turkish Lira (about half of the actual value), 1 dollar = 1.92
Train : there is no train connection Tbilisi-Rostov
anymore, you have to go via Baku and Dagestan.
Busses : in locket 18 in the train station of
Tbilisi (metro Vakzal) tickets are sold to the bus going straight between Tbilisi-Moscow, a ticket costs 50 lari, 48 hours traveling. The bus leaves on saturdays and sundays at 11:00 phone 993522. This bus is the cheapest way of getting to russia from Georgia.
Ferry Boat : from Batumi and Poti
ferries cross the Black sea to Sochi,
see the travel guides of Batumi and Poti for more information about the ferries.