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Traveling via train is one of my favorite things, not just because I hate flying, but also because:
- it’s way more environmentally friendly (trains release up to 90% fewer carbon emissions than a plane!);
- I get so much more done on the train;
- it cuts all the hassle and stress of airport security, etc.
The Baku to Tbilisi train was my first ever overnight train experience, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I thoroughly enjoyed my 8-hour train ride from Kandy to Ella in Sri Lanka, so I was feeling a little more confident about this 13-hour journey. Furthermore, the overnight train was a sleeper train which means you can lie flat throughout the trip.
Here is the information I have gathered while planning my own Baku to Tbilisi train journey.
Note: Unfortunately tourists are currently not allowed to enter Azerbaijan by land as the country’s land borders remain closed. The train service between Tbilisi and Baku is suspended in both directions. The only available mode of travel from Georgia to Azerbaijan is by plane. Although entry restrictions were lifted on March 28, land borders will remain closed until (at least) October 2, 2023. I will keep updating this information as more details become available.
- 1 Baku – Tbilisi Train Overview
- 2 Baku to Tbilisi Cabin Classes & Fares
- 3 How to buy tickets for the Baku to Tbilisi train
- 4 Baku to Tbilisi train: My Experience
- 5 Azerbaijan – Georgia Border Crossing
- 6 Baku to Tbilisi Train Packing List
- 7 Where to Stay in Baku
- 8 Things to Do in Baku
- 9 Tbilisi to Baku Train FAQs
- 10 MY TOP TRAVEL TIPS & RESOURCES
Baku – Tbilisi Train Overview
The train between Baku and Tbilisi travels in both directions. The overnight train 37 runs daily from Tbilisi to Baku, while overnight train 38 runs daily in the opposite direction.
Train 37: Tbilisi to Baku
Train 37 departs Station Square, Tbilisi at 8.35pm, crosses the Azerbaijan border roughly around 11pm, and arrives into Baku station at 8.50am the next morning. The journey takes roughly 12 hours 15 mins and spans across a total distance of 551km. Tickets cost 38-97 GEL ($12-30 USD) depending on the cabin you choose.
|Train Frequency||Departure from Tbilisi||Border Crossing||Arrival in Baku||Total Travel Time||Ticket Price (GEL)|
|Once daily||8.35pm||~11pm||8.50am||12hrs 15min||38-97|
Train 38: Baku to Tbilisi
Train 38 departs Baku Station at 8.40pm, crosses the border around 5.25am, and arrives into Tbilisi’s Station Square at 8.55am the next morning. The journey takes roughly the same amount of time as Train 37, and tickets cost 23-57 AZN ($12-32 USD), again depending on which cabin class you choose.
|Train Frequency||Departure from Baku||Border Crossing||Arrival in Tbilisi||Total Travel Time||Ticket Price (AZN)|
|Once daily||8.40pm||~5.25am||8.55am||12hrs 15mins||23-57|
Baku to Tbilisi Cabin Classes & Fares
There are three different cabin classes on the Baku to Tbilisi train, all of them air-conditioned sleeper cabins.
|Class||Layout||Cost (Tbilisi to Baku)||Cost (Baku to Tbilisi)|
|1st class (spalny vagon)||2-bed sleepers||97 GEL||57.10 AZN|
|2nd class (kupé)||4-berth sleepers||57 GEL||33.61 AZN|
|3rd class (platskartny)||Open-plan sleeper||38 GEL||22.93 AZN|
How to buy tickets for the Baku to Tbilisi train
It’s easy to purchase train tickets online for the Baku to Tbilisi journey. You can do this via the Azerbaijan Railways website. Just select From “Baku-Pass” and To “Tbilisi-Pass”. You can select your seats and pay by credit card. But you will still have to exchange your order confirmation for physical tickets at the train station.
Unfortunately, for the journey in the opposite direction, tickets have to be bought physically at the train station itself.
Baku to Tbilisi train: My Experience
After watching YouTube videos on the train journey, and reading countless blogs, we chose the 1st class cabins for our journey. Since we were not seasoned train travelers, we weren’t sure what to expect, so we opted for the most comfortable option, which turned out to be a very wise decision.
The train departs Baku Station at 8.40pm, so we arrived at the station about an hour earlier to pick up our physical tickets and have dinner. We got to the platform around 8.35pm, where a ticket lady was standing at the train doors checking tickets and passports. Do take note of the relevant visa requirements as you will be crossing borders on this journey.
Once we got onto the train, we were pleasantly surprised by how spacious our cabin was. We had enough space for two large spinner suitcases that fit nicely under our seats. We were provided with two pillows, a quilt, and a mattress topper each. Shortly after our train left the station, the train attendant brought us fresh sheets and a towel. All this is already included in the price of your ticket. The only downsides were that the toilet can get a little stinky throughout the journey (as is to be expected), and there is no WiFi onboard, so you’ll need to get your own local SIM or stay connected with AirAlo.
I found the train ride to be extremely comfortable, comfortable enough to sleep, even for someone like me who usually has a hard time sleeping unless in absolutely optimal conditions. The train does stop a few times in the night, sometimes to an abrupt stop but did not bother me much. The best part was watching the sunrise and the sky change colors. You will probably be awake at this time anyway as this is the time the border crossing happens, and the immigration officers come on board.
Azerbaijan – Georgia Border Crossing
We heard many accounts of the border crossing to be somewhat “scary” and “intimidating”, especially due to the tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, so we were a little anxious about this.
At around 5am, the train attendants knocked on our doors to wake us up to get ready for the border control. Thankfully, there is no disembarkation – everything is done on board, which makes it extremely convenient, especially when it’s 5 in the morning and you’ve probably still got crust on your eyes. First, you will stop at the Azeri border where they will collect your passports for inspection and then return it to you when you’re done.
Once that was done, our passports were returned and we were on our way to the Georgian border. The Georgian officers came on board, collected our passports and declaration forms and left. Shortly after, we were called into a separate room where they asked for our names, took a picture, and sent us on our way. No questioning, no dramas, whatsoever.
A little while later, an officer came into our cabins and asked us if we were carrying anything illegal. He enquired about us and how we knew each other, and then asked if we were carrying any guns, to which we found hilarious since we were clearly just two female Asian tourists who would probably have no idea how to operate a gun even if we came across one. What a sense of humor these Georgian people have.
All in all, we found the whole process very easy and stress-free. Perhaps it was because we were leaving Azerbaijan and entering Georgia, which had no conflict with Armenia. The situation might be different traveling in the reverse direction when you are entering Azerbaijan from Georgia.
Baku to Tbilisi Train Packing List
We felt we did not need anything in particular during the journey, as the facilities provided are already rather comprehensive. There is no dining on board, though you probably won’t be requiring it as you will be traveling through the night, and arriving just in time for breakfast. They do however serve tea and coffee. I would recommend bringing some a reusable water bottle and some snacks if you like having something to munch on during your journey.
Besides that, if you get a little restless like me, I always have my trusty MacBook with me and a good set of AirPods Pro to help me pass the time. I also carry my Kindle with me all the time, though I have to admit I hardly have the time for it!
For more packing tips and hacks, check out my guide on The Only Travel Packing List You’ll Ever Need.
Where to Stay in Baku
- Budget option! Sahil Hostel & Hotel – From $6 per night for a bed
If you’re on a budget, this is the best and highest rated hostel in Baku! Only 600m from Fountain Square and 700m from Maiden Tower, the location is unbeatable.
- Icheri Sheher Hotel – From $33 per night
Located right next to Shirvanshah Palace, this hotel even has its own park you can enjoy your morning walks in!
- Premier Old Gates Hotel – From $53 per night
Featuring stylish rooms and a terrace with a stunning view of the Flame Towers. Just 300m from Maiden Tower!
- Shah Palace Hotel – From $95 per night
Enjoy some luxury for less at Shah Palace Hotel, with elegant classic-style rooms, and only 200m from Maiden Tower!
- ART Gallery Boutique Hotel – From $142 per night
If aesthetics are important to you, then you can trust an art gallery not to disappoint in that department. Very stylishly decorated rooms to gain you those IG likes! Strategically located just 25m from Maiden Tower! Another great thing is that this hotel has elevators, which is hard to come by in Baku’s Old City!
- Unique! Hotel Fairmont, Flame Towers – From $178 per night
How about staying in the Flame Towers itself? Staring at the Flame Towers from the outside is pretty cool, but how about taking a look at it from the inside and be treated to stunning views of the Capsian Sea!
- Splurge! Four Seasons Hotel Baku – From $292 per night
If your wallet can stomach it, why not? It’s the Four Seasons.
Things to Do in Baku
- Take photos of the stunning architectural marvel, Heydar Aliyev Center
- Take a walk through Baku’s Old City
- Take a day trip to the Gobustan mud volcanoes
- Photograph the iconic Flame Towers
- Take a day trip to Guba and Khinalug
Tbilisi to Baku Train FAQs
Can you enter Azerbaijan after you’ve visited Armenia?
Traveling between Azerbaijan and Armenia might be a bit tricky due to the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, with Azerbaijan being the stricter of the two countries. So my advice is to visit Azerbaijan first before entering Armenia.
If you’ve visited Armenia before, you could face some challenges or restrictions when trying to enter Azerbaijan. Especially if you’ve entered Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed region between Azerbaijan and Armenia, you will be permanently denied entry into Azerbaijan.
But remember, things can change, and it’s always best to stay informed with the latest travel advisories and government updates. Before planning your trip, I recommend reaching out to the embassy or consulate of Azerbaijan for the most up-to-date and accurate information on entry requirements and restrictions between the two countries. Stay informed and safe travels!
Is the Baku to Tbilisi train safe?
From my personal experience, I felt completely safe during my journey on the Tbilisi to Baku train, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to fellow travelers, including solo female travelers.
The level of security and privacy you have on the train depends on the type of berth you select. In our two-person berth, the door was lockable from the inside and had adequate lighting. Additionally, the hallways were well-lit throughout the night, enhancing the overall sense of safety and comfort during the trip.
Can I bring luggage on the train, and is there any luggage allowance?
Yes, you can bring luggage on the train, and how much really depends on how much you can fit into your berth, usually the space under your seat.
Are there dining facilities or food services on board the train?
No, there is no dining car on the train so you won’t be able to purchase food but they do serve tea and coffee. I highly recommend bringing your own food and snacks for the journey (if you won’t be sleeping throughout!).
Are there any visa requirements or border crossing procedures during the journey?
Yes, border crossing is involved in the Baku to Tbilisi train journey since you are crossing international borders between Azerbaijan and Georgia. Make sure to have all necessary travel documents, including visas, and be prepared for passport checks during the trip.
Is the train schedule reliable, and are there any delays to be expected?
Generally, the train schedule is reliable, but delays can happen due to various factors such as weather conditions or border crossings. It’s advisable to check the latest schedule and plan some buffer time for your journey.
Do you like train rides? Or are you planning to take the train ride between Baku and Tbilisi? Drop me a comment below!
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MY TOP TRAVEL TIPS & RESOURCES
Here are my top travel tips and resources to help you save money and plan your trips effectively! If you're looking for more tips, head over to my travel tips resource page or my comprehensive guide on trip planning.
- Booking Flights: When it comes to finding great flight deals, I always start my search on Google Flights or Skyscanner. To save some cash, consider flying mid-week or on the weekends, opt for carry-on only with budget airlines, and be open to red-eye or early morning flights. Check out my in-depth guide on how I find the cheapest flights.
- Accommodations: I'm a stickler for finding the absolute best deals on my stays, so I will obsessively oscillate between a few booking sites: Booking.com (in general) and Agoda (for Asian destinations). When it comes to vacation rentals, there's Airbnb or VRBO.
- Travel Insurance: It's always a wise decision to purchase travel insurance for international trips. I can't stress this enough - it's highly recommended! For international travel insurance, I suggest considering World Nomads or SafetyWing. SafetyWing, in particular, stands out as one of the few policies that cover Covid-19. They also offer excellent monthly policies that are perfect for digital nomads and long-term travelers!
- Travel Credit Card: My go-to travel credit card for booking trips is the Wise travel card. I love that there are no foreign transaction fees, so I can pay like a local and never get any surprises at the end of my trip. You can also withdraw cash from the ATMs wherever you are. With Wise, you are always guaranteed the best exchange rate, and I have saved sooo much money just by using this card. Most of the time, I get charged the exchange rate I see on Google, plus or minus a few cents.
- Tours: Most times, I prefer traveling independently but sometimes, getting a guide and a local's perspective makes the experience all the more enriching. When it comes to tour bookings, I trust Viator and GetYourGuide to provide me with excellent options. In Asia, I choose Klook as they are the biggest provider in the region. Plus, you can often get entrance tickets and discounted prices!
- Transportation: To navigate through public transit options and plan my journeys from one place to another, I rely on Rome2Rio. When it comes to rental cars, I compare rental companies and find the best deals through DiscoverCars.
- Connection: It's essential to me to have seamless connectivity wherever I go. I need it to navigate to new places, Google what's around me, and keep in touch with my loved ones. But fumbling around with multiple SIMs has always been a nightmare, which is why I choose Airalo when I travel. No more switching SIMs, just purchase a plan on your phone, on the go, anywhere, and stay connected.
- Luggage Storage: Whenever I need to check out early or take advantage of a long layover, I securely store my luggage with LuggageHero. It's a reliable service that allows me to roam around freely. As a bonus, you can use this link to enjoy your first hour of FREE luggage storage on me!
- What to Pack: I always have packing anxiety once I've left home—you know the phantom feeling that you've forgotten something even though you've checked 372836 times. So I made my own packing list and use it religiously before every trip, and by religious I mean I tick off that list at least 7 times before I zip up my bag. Check out my in-depth packing list here.