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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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