Georgia shares borders with Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Whatever your opinion on the international status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, to get there you will need to cross border checkpoints, so we discuss the goings-on there as well on this page.
Finally, there are also the Black Sea ferry ports of Poti and Batumi, a valid entry and exit point for foreigners. For an exact location of these and all other border crossings on the Silk Road, see the border crossing map on the overview page.
EU citizens do not need a passport to enter Georgia, their national ID is enough. We do recommend taking your passport if you have one, as some people have had trouble getting in because the border guards did not know the rule. You will also need a passport if you intend to travel onwards to Armenia.
If travelling with only an ID Card, a printout of the official info in Georgian (at the bottom of the list) stating that EU ID Cards are accepted might come in handy.
Georgia – Turkey border crossings
Posof – Vale: The backdoor option, best done with your own transport. It’s a beautiful drive. By public transport, from Turkey you take a minibus from the minibus station in Kars to Posof (2,5 hrs) or Andahan (1,5h), then a taxi (buses are unlikely) to the border (30 minutes, 25 TL) or directly to Akhaltsikhe. The road on the Georgian side is reasonable but not great. If stuck on the border, traffic is sparse, but with patience you can get a taxi or hitch a ride to Akhaltsikhe. From Akhaltsikhe it’s easy to get to Tbilisi by minibus.
Hopa – Sarp: A busy but otherwise easy border crossing for most, the road edging beautifully along the Black Sea coast through the land of the Laz. Plenty of public transport going between Trabzon/Rize and Batumi, going across the border. From the border you can also take a bus to the center of Batumi for a few pennies.
Corruption can be an issue here: self-drivers and people with weaker passports have reported trouble here. Crossing reports collected here.
Self-drivers can find insurance at the border (not green card), however there is NO bank or ATM, so make sure you have enough money with you for the car insurance.
Cildir/Aktas-Kartsakhi: Reopened in October 2015 after having been closed since 1995. There are minibuses from Çıldır to the border. On the Georgian side there is a bank. Even though there are bus stops on the Georgian side no (mini)buses were sighted and only 1 taxi. This might get better when the re-opening becomes more known. Plenty of locals though so it shouldn’t be to difficult to hitch a ride to Akhalkalaki.
Georgia – Russia border crossings
Zemo Larsi / Verkhnij Lars / Chertov Most: Between Kazbegi and Vladikavkaz. Was closed for some time after the Russia – Georgia armed conflicts over Abkhazia and S. Ossetia, but is now open for international travelers. Some report an easy time on the Russian side, whereas others have reported serious delays due to long questioning.
The Georgian side is friendly and offers free wifi. You cannot cross it on foot; you must hitch a ride. You can cycle across, though. Snow is possible from October, a definite by November.
RU -> GEO: From Vladikavkaz, buses and marshrutkas leave from Bus Station No 1 on Arkhonskoye Highway in Vladikavkaz: 700-900 rubles. Buses fill up quickly though so book in advance or get there early. Taxis traveling to Tbilisi gather here as well. Expect to pay 1500 rubles for a seat to Tbilisi, or 1200 to Kazbegi.
Georgia – Azerbaijan border crossings
At the Azeri border, it is NOT a problem to have an Armenian border stamp in your passport. It IS a problem to have a Nagorno-Karabakh stamp in your passport; you will be denied access to Azerbaijan. For this reason, NKR stamps are issued on a separate paper.
Matsimi / Lagodekhi / Balakan: Connecting Telavi and Zaqatala. Quiet and easy-going. A beautiful drive. It pays to start early if on public transport, as marshrutka services fade out in the afternoon. The Georgian side has a duty-free shop and money exchange, but exchange rates are much better in Lagodekhi town. On the Azeri side there is nothing.
GEO -> AZ: Infrequent minibuses run directly from Telavi to Lagodekhi (1,5h, 10 lari). Otherwise, take the minibus to Tsnori and a second one to Lagodekhi. From Lagodekhi, the border is 4km away (4 lari by taxi).
Minibuses (0.50 manat) and taxis (5 manat) go between the border and Balakan.
Tsiteli/Red Bridge – Shikhli/Sixli: This border crossing is open, connecting Rustavi (GEO) with Qazax (AZ). Public transport is available on both sides of the border, there are some shops and exchange places as well. The road from Tbilisi to Tsiteli is good.
On the Azeri side: watch out for the speed traps. To avoid these, take a minor road to the south or north. Barda is worth a visit if doing this.
Georgia – Armenia border crossings
Bagratashen – Sadakhlo: Main road between Tbilisi and Yerevan. There is lots of transport between these 2 cities. Easy-breezy-beautiful.
Gogavan – Guguti: Border is open for international travelers. Very easy. Nice road through beech forest for the final few kilometres in Georgia.
Bavra – Ninotsminda: Border is open for international travelers. Should be hassle-free.
Georgia – Abkhazia border crossings
Inguri: From Zugdidi, a taxi costs 10 lari, a marshrutka is 3 lari. At the Georgian border, don’t say Abkhazia is a country. It’s a part of Georgia, obviously. You will be questioned about your profession and why you want to go to Abkhazia. You are a tourist and want to see all of Georgia. You then walk across the river (it’s not far, no need to take a car across). Marshrutkas from the border straight to Sukhumi are available and leave when full. Otherwise, marshrutkas to Gal are also possible, from where you can take another transport to Sukhumi. Go back as you came.
Your visa is not stuck into your passport – when leaving Abkhazia, take it out of your passport as the border guards don’t tend to do this, and the Georgians will not be happy to see it. Some more questions by the Georgians, then you’re off. Buses at the border go to Zugdidi or straight to Tbilisi (15 GEL).
Zugdidi to Sukhumi or reverse takes minimum 5 hours, so make an early start. Border opens at 8am, closes at 7 pm. Don’t forget to exchange lari into rubles before you enter Abkhazia from the Georgian side, or to have dollars on hand, there are few if any options to exchange lari once in Abkhazia.
A good travel tip: dress inconspicuously. There are tons of Megrelians crossing to and fro, since the border shot right through the heart of the Samegrelo region, with split families on both sides. Guards do not stop locals at all. So if you’re Caucasian, dress in black only (that’s what the Georgians and Megrelians do), and do not carry a western-style big backpack, no-one’s gonna stop you, let alone question you. Which makes you also safe from any possible criminals targeting obvious tourists. Black trousers, black shirt (and maybe some black cap and shades, if you’re fair-haired and blue-eyed) and it’s much faster and easier. Leather jacket is a bonus.
Some more good info collected from blogs no longer online: It is well known that the area immediately surrounding the ‘line of occupation’ is a dangerous one with Abkhaz troops and various bandits extracting bribes from visitors to the territory with relative impunity. The LonelyPlanet forums are full of examples of cases where tourists have faced threats and violence at the border.
You have two options when you have through customs – taxi or bus. If you opt for the bus (as I did) then the most usual way to travel to Sukhumi is to go from Inguri up to the town of Gali where buses then connect on to Sukhumi.
Gali is now the only truly multi-ethnic part of Abkhazia and is home to the majority of the 40,000 (out of 250,000) Georgians who have returned to their homes since the end of fighting. The town is also dirt poor and entirely overlooked by the ethnic Abkhaz administration; full of shattered and bombed-out buildings and riven with organised crime. As a non-Russian speaker, I was as keen as anything to avoid having to loiter in Gali to pick up a connecting bus so was delighted when a bus running directly Sukhumi turned up.
Speaking subsequently to some Georgian friends in Zugdidi, they told me that my decision to make an early start was a wise one as muggings and hold-ups in Inguri are at their lowest in the morning, increasing steadily until the Abkhaz close the ‘line of occupation’ at 19:00. You are apparently most likely to find a direct service to Sukhumi if you are there when the border opens at 08:00.
Given that even a direct service from Inguri to Sukhumi takes at least two hours, I have also been advised that those returning to the Georgian side make an early start so as to avoid potential hold-ups such as bogus document checks in Gali that could see you stranded in the dangerous border area after 19:00.
The drive to Sukhumi is beautiful and depressing in equal measure. Updates collected in the Inguri forum topic.
Georgia – South Ossetia border crossings
Artsevi: Officially, South Ossetia is only to be visited from Russia. You can bribe your way in from the Artsevi border, though, as at least one traveler has done in 2013. All other border crossings will be similar: only for truly hardy travelers. See South Ossetia border crossings for more on the way in from Russia.