Each night an overnight train runs from Baku to Tbilisi, leaving Baku at 08:45p and arriving into Tbilisi the following morning at 11:40a.
Baku’s central railway station is in the heart of the city and accessible by cab or Metro.
I purchased my ticket the evening before, but my train was lightly filled (granted, it was February and a bit chilly). If you are traveling during the spring and summer you are advised to purchase your ticket at least a few days in advance or online here. The main concourse is no Grand Central Terminal—it is a crumbling, musty structure with buckets strategically placed to collect water from the leaking roof and several business establishments that are now boarded up. As you walk in from the street, on the far side of the room a dozen or so agents are sitting behind glass happy to sell you tickets, though a special agent who spoke English had to be summoned from the back in order to assist me. The fare was $72(US) for first class or $37 for second class.
Compared to the dim and drab main concourse, the waiting room was tastefully decorated with grand crystal chandeliers, columns, intricate crown molding, parquet floors, and large custom windows…and a couple buckets to catch water. It was freezing in there! No heat and everyone was bundled up in heavy coats, gloves and scarves.
Boarding announcements are in Azeri only, but in my case there was only one train that was departing so any confusion was minimized.
A first class compartment features two beds and a business class compartment four. Noting that it was low-season, I figured I might get a room to myself or just one roommate and thus there was no need to go first class.
My gamble paid off—I was assigned a compartment with just one other older Azeri man who was busy eating crackers and playing a game on his mobile phone when I arrived and proceeded to eat crackers and play on his mobile phone for the next two hours.
I was tried and immediately went to sleep after the conductor came by to check tickets and distribute bedding (clean sheets and a scratchy wool blanket in a sealed bag).
There was no ensuite facilities, but bathrooms were found on either end of the car that were reasonably clean, though had no hot water.
We reached the Azerbaijan/Georgia border roughly halfway through the journey and did not have to embark. A border agent came aboard and collected our passports, returning them about 20 minutes later with Azerbaijan exit stamps. My roommate was hogging the only power outlet in the compartment and using hand gestures I asked if I might charge my laptop, to which he smiled and agreed.
We travelled a little ways and soon stopped again for Georgian authorities to come onboard and stamp us into Georgia. That did not take long and we were soon on our way again, with several hours ahead of us. I fell asleep again, but was only able to sleep a couple more hours when I awoke to sun streaming through the window and my roommate…eating crackers and playing on his cell phone.
I was hungry but had taken along the strawberries and madelines from the Park Hyatt Baku, which made for a very suitable breakfast.
Even with a bed to stretch out on and a hall to wander down, you get quite restless as a 14hr train ride draws to a close and as we reached the outskirts of Tbilisi, I was anxious to get out and breathe in some fresh air, not to mention check e-mail—forget about wi-fi onboard.
We pulled into Tbilisi just a tad late. Was the train luxurious? No. Convenient? Perhaps not when flights take only a couple hours and Qatar serves the route, putting downward pressure on ticket prices. Cheap? Definitely. An adventure? Yes. It was worth it—I will usually opt for trains over planes when overnight travel is involved.
Read the rest of my trip report to the Caucasus!
Thrown Off a United Airlines Flight for Taking Pictures!
Washington Dulles to Kuwait City in United Airlines BusinessFirst
Six Hours in Kuwait City
Pearl Lounge – Kuwait International Airport
Kuwait City to Istanbul in Turkish Airlines Economy Class
Istanbul to Baku in Azerbaijan Airlines Economy Class
Baku – A City of Illusions?
Review: Park Hyatt Baku
Baku Metro (Pictures)
Overnight Train from Baku to Tbilisi, Georgia
Pictures: One Day in Tbilisi, Georgia
Overnight Train from Tbilisi to Yerevan, Armenia
Feeling at Home in Yerevan
Yerevan to Istanbul in Armavia Economy Class
The Flight Home from Istanbul…