*Sadly, it appears that the Sleeper Train is no longer in service due to the upgrading of trains in Georgia. See below for more options*
The Tbilisi to Batumi night train is a great choice for budget travellers in Georgia. It’s comfortable, friendly and saves you the cost of a nights accommodation. After a terrifying 7 hour ordeal in a Marshrutka (minibus) from Batumi to Tbilisi, we opted to take the return journey by first class sleeper train – yeah baby, pure style!
More expensive than the cramped marshrutka, but it meant we were getting a private cabin on the train, a journey free from lunatic drivers, and to top it off….fresh white bed linen! Georgian rail travel is of high standard, and it is possible to book trains up to 40 days in advance online.
19GEL (2nd Class) / 41GEL (1st Class)
Tbilisi – Batumi
00:12 – 07.10 (Daily – cannot book online)
00.35- 06.15 (Every 2 days)
08.45 – 14.10 (Daily)
18.15 – 23.40 (Daily)
Batumi – Tbilisi
01.35 – 07.05 (Every 2 days)
08.00 – 13.25 (Daily)
15.35 – 21.43 (Daily – cannot book online)
18.20 – 23.45 (Daily)
It is possible to book tickets up to 40 days in advance on the Georgian Railways website. All types tickets are available, except International tickets. So you cannot book the 00:12 from Tbilisi or the 15.35 from Batumi as these trains serve Armenia and are therefore classified as International services.
The website is quite complicated, and you must register a username before proceeding to book tickets. I have done a simple How-To Guide here and further down the page. Booking online is the easiest way, as it saves the hassle of queuing and speaking to confused train station staff who have no English!
Hanging around Tbilisi Central Station
Tbilisi Central Station is on the Metro Line so you should not have any major issues getting there. The entrance is just next to where you emerge from the Metro. The station name is Station Square 1 / Sadguris Moedani.
To access the platform for the train to Batumi, enter the Central Station and walk up the escalator above the shops. If in doubt there will most likely be other travellers going the same direction. There is one ticekt desk that is meant to have an English speaking officer, but there no one there when we arrived at 22.00. When boarding the , you will be asked to present your ticket and ID.
Before our departure, we browsed the chaotic but awesome markets area around the Central Station. We decided to treat ourselves to one more Khachapuri….well, maybe treat is the wrong word. This is a famous Georgia dish (Also found in North-East Turkey) and comprises of a cheese, egg and butter filled pizza pie style bread shaped like a boat. This is then topped topped with one or two raw eggs which slowly cook in the hot cheese mix. Um, yum?!
Pick up some beer, wine and snacks for the train journey and you’re good to go. There are plenty of shops and fast food joints around if you are looking for a meal. And if you totally forgot, there are hawkers on the station platform selling some last minute food – go go go!
The Journey into the Night
Riding first class was a brilliant experience – the “velvet” red beds were very comfortable and fresh linen with pillows was supplied. Heck, there was an even a TV! Once settled, we got down to a game of Scrabble and some drinks and enjoyed the gentle rolling of the train through the dark Georgian countryside. Facilities wise, the aircon worked perfectly, we could easily open the window, the door was lockable and even the toilet in 1st class was surprisingly hygienic and clean.
We had no interruptions apart from the ticket inspector at the beginning of the journey, from then on we left in peace. Apart from a couple of shuffling sneaky smokers in the corridor, there was little noise and the big bosomed conductor regularly passed through – which was good from a security perspective. The train stopped occasionally at ghostly lit rural stations from another era, step out at one of these stations and you may as well wave goodbye to the 21st century!
The train arrives at the crack of dawn in Batumi so we decided to put the head down for the night. It does take a while to fall asleep on a night train but eventually I dosed off, only to be alarmingly awoken by Charlie with the sun streaming through the window and everyone piling off the train. We were already in Batumi – what a great sleep!
Good Morning Batumi!! It may be 07.00 on arrival in Batumi but be WARNED! You must fend off the dozens of old women clawing at you as you depart the train, trying to get you to stay in their guesthouse / shed at the back of their yard. Just keep walking, avoid eye contract and whatever you do, do not get bitten by the zombies.
Since we were there, a new station has opened in the downtown area of Batumi. We had to get off at Makhindjauri, which was a 20 minute marshurka (2 Lari) to the booming city centre. The road from the train station progressive from pot holed dirt tracts to gleaming granite cobbled streets in no time, it’s such a city of contrast! t’s quite a compact town, with grid street layout so you should have no trouble making your way to your accommodation.
Feeling tired on arrival in the early hours of the morning and can’t check into your hostel anytime soon? The best thing to do is head down to the gorgeous modern boulevard, have a refreshing swim and then catch a morning sleep on the beach. Little beach shacks and modern glass bars line the beach, sooooo perhaps a morning beer or cocktail too?! Yeahhhh go on!.
Moving on?! See our guide to getting across to Turkey from Georgia here.
Once registered and logged into the Georgian Railway website, you can go ahead an click “Purchase Tickets” on the top menu, which will bring up the form below:
- Departure: Tbilisi-Pass
- End Station: Makhindjauri (This is the only station in Batumi)
- Wagon Class: Soft-Seated Carriage
- Wagon Category: “Non Modernised”
- Click Search and the tickets available should appear just below, the price will be displayed on the far right. Click the little green tick on the left to confirm that they are the tickets you want.
- Next – “Input Passenger Data“
- Document type (Choose Passport, Driving License, National ID)
- ID Number – you MUST provide this (We provided passport number, and put our nationality in the second box).
- Payment and confirmation is next. You will receive an email with the e-ticket and purchase confirmation number. There is no need to print your e-tickets, you can just take the purchase number with you. However we would highly recommend that you do print your tickets so as to avoid confusion when boarding.
Safe travels and as always get in touch if you have any questions!!