Akhaltsikhe to Gyumri: Ninotsminda – Bavra border crossing

A report on crossing overland between Georgia and Armenia, from Akhaltsikhe to Gyumri. Includes times, marshrutka information, and things to know for the crossing. This info has been updated in May 2017, reflecting new information from one of our readers. Thanks for that!

 

Though it’s not the most popular route, traveling between Akhaltsikhe, Georgia and Gyumri, Armenia by marshrutka (mini bus) is a piece of cake. The trip from Akhaltsikhe to Gyumri only takes 4 hours, and that’s including the border-crossing process. If you wish to travel to Yerevan, you can change in Gyumri, or at the border.

Marshrutky from Akhaltsikhe to Gyumri

Departure

Alas, the only marshrutka goes bright and (too) early at 7:00. Be sure to stock up on water and breakfast the day before, as there’s hardly anything open this early.

Tickets

You can buy tickets at the bus station for 16 GEL the day before, if you want to buy tickets at all. You can also just pay when you get off. The bus station is found across from the Smart supermarket and and a big gas station. There are plenty of marshrutky and taxi drivers and car repair men sitting outside of it.

Travel time

4 hours approximately.

Where to stay in Akhaltsikhe

We stayed at Mirage hotel, which was by far the cheapest option we could find in Akhaltsikhe. The rooms are basic, but spacious and good value.

Exchanging money

There is an exchange booth at the Armenian entry point, where you can change lari for dram. You can also change money in Akhaltsikhe, but the border booth should give you a better rate.

Armenian flag in winter at the Barza border crossing between Georgia and Armenia

Who needs barbed wire and fences when you have COMPLETE AND UTTER DESOLATION? (Answer: not these guys.)

Bavra – Ninotsminda border crossing

This was by far one of the easiest borders we’ve ever crossed… and also the coldest! But seriously, holy balls was it cold. The land surrounding the border is vast, desolate highlands, and everything was coated in snow and ice when we drove through in March. Even the locals were all huffing and puffing about the cold. Dress warmly for the ride!

Exiting Georgia

No exit fees or forms. Get out of the marshrutka for a frosty few minutes. Hand over your passport to the man at the window. The guys working there didn’t speak English, and were confused/amused to see foreigners there, and were confused by our Tblisi airport stamp. Get stamped, and then make a dash back to the marginally-warm interior of the marshrutka along with the rest of the passengers.

Heading to Armenia? Check these 8 reasons to take a city trip to Yerevan!

 

Entering Armenia

After driving through what is potentially the most potholey international territory stretch known to man, you’ll reach the Armenian entry point.

This time, we didn’t even have to get out of the car. 90 countries have visa-free access to Armenia for 180 days, England and the Netherlands included, so it’s a relaxed process. Be sure to inform the marshrutka driver if you’re a special case. If you’re a citizen of one of the 90 countries, you don’t have to pay any kind of entrance fee.

Everyone handed in their passports in to the driver, who handed them over to the customs officers at the drive-through customs booth (I’ll take an entry stamp with a side of large fries and a Coke, please). We poked our heads out a window so the customs people could see our faces, and they asked me how long I’d be staying in Armenia. They didn’t ask Sebastiaan because…??? Then, we were stamped and sent along our merry way!

After passing through customs, there was about one more hour of driving to get to Gyumri, and then our Armenian adventure began!

Where to stay in Gyumri

We stayed at Artush & Raisa B&B, which was an absolutely superb place to start our Armenian adventure. The property is charming, the beds are comfortable, and Artush, the owner, is very knowledgeable about all things Armenia. He’ll only be too happy to share his wisdom and recommendations with you.

 

Yay transparency: there are affiliate links in this post. Basically, how it works is that if you book a room at the places linked, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We promise we only link to places where we actually stayed (and that we actually liked!), and it helps us to cover the costs of running the blog. Plus, we’ll love you forever and ever.

 

 

 

Alex

American by birth, British by passport, Filipina by appearance. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

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5 thoughts on “Akhaltsikhe to Gyumri: Ninotsminda – Bavra border crossing

    InSearchOfLostPlaces says:

    Hey guys. Thanks for this useful post. We made this border crossing a few days ago. A few updates for your readers: The mashrutky costs 16 GEL and leaves at 7am, but now terminates in Gyumri – so if you want to travel on to Yerevan you will need to change there, or pick up another mashrutky at the border, as we did. There is a money exchange at the bus terminal at Akhaltsikhe, but more useful is an official money exchange at the Armenian entry point. It is an official exchange with excellent rates, and accepts GEL. You will need Armenian Dram when entering if you are from one of the countries that needs to buy a visa – but they point you in the direction of the money exchange to sort you out. If you have been to Azerbaijan prior (as we had) they might ask a few questions on entering Armenia.

    Hi guys. This is awesome, thank you so much for the update. We’ll incorporate it in the post. Thanks again!

    Thanks for your update. It was really informative and I can now understand that we can travel from Yerevan to Batumi
    Via Gyumri and Akhalsikhe, crossing border at Bavra.

    Is border Crossing location/town very cold with snow in first week of December, 2017 ?

    I am planning to visit IRAN in very early Nov. And will enter
    Azerbaijan from Iran by 25_Nov. 2017. Then will travel along
    BAKU – Azerbaijan, Tbilisi – Georgia, then Yerevan – Armenia.

    From here-Yerevan, I don’t want to travel back to TBILISI
    But prefer to travel directly by Mini Van/Marsh-rutka to Batumi-Georgia’ crossing (Armenia/Georgia) border at BAVRA.
    Please advise/comment if there is problem in my this plan of travelling direct Yerevan to Batumi and then go / travel to Trabzon/Turkey and fly domestic from TRABZON-ISTANBUL
    to get my connecting flight to UK. I am UK citizen so I do NOT
    Need Visa to enter Georgia and Armenia.
    I do require Visa for Iran and Azerbaijan.
    Your any useful advice / comment will be greatly appreciated.

    Regards, ………. Tayeb. Poonawala – Birmingham-UK.
    26 – July, 2017 , 11.25 pm.

    a

    Sebastiaan says:

    Hi Tayeb, thanks for reaching out. I’ll try to answers your questions, and will direct you to other resources that can be of help.

    The Ninotsminda – Brava border crossing was really cold when we crossed it in March. I imagine December is pretty cold too. Make sure to bring warm clothes, as winter in the region is generally cold and snowy.

    I think you’re plan sounds reasonable. You might get some questions at the Armenian border after visiting Azerbaijan, as the relationship between those countries is frosty. But as far as I know it shouldn’t be a problem. I’m not sure about the border crossing between Iran and Azerbaijan, but I’m sure there is info online somewhere.

    I am not sure about the road network linking the border with Batumi, but it seems reasonable to expect you can travel from Akhaltsike to Batumi.

    I suggest you check out wwww.caravanistan.com and http://www.journalofnomads.com. The’re both valuable resources when traveling in the region.

    Good luck and have fun!

    Pet Z says:

    Hello,
    Is it possible to catch a marshrutka or taxi at Akhalkalaki or Ninotsminda instead? We are trying to go to Yerevan after Vardzia but have heard that the road conditions are not so good. We are trying to reach Yerevan in the evening, which I think is the problem. I contacted my hotel in Yerevan but the receptionist said the route is not popular so it’s better going from Tbilisi… Any thoughts will be fine.

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