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How should I travel from Sheki, in Azerbaijan, to Tbilisi, in Georgia?

Are there direct connections? If not, where should I expect stopovers?

Can I only travel by Bus? Or also by train?

How long will it take?

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2 Answers 2

Wikitravel's article on Sheki (aka Shaki) seems to make it at least somewhat clear:

(Balakan is the border town, about 12km from the crossing with Georgia.)

  • By taxi: A taxi is also a fine, if more expensive, way to get to Georgia, and you should have no trouble finding a taxi, bus, or marshrutka onward from the border at Lagodekhi to Tbilisi.
  • By Minibus (Marshrutka): Bus/minibus departure times from the Sheki terminal: Balakan: 10:10AM, 2PM..
  • By train: The train station has a somewhat inconvenient location of about 17 km (11 mi) from the city center... Daily departure times from the Sheki terminal: Balakan: ~6:30AM

This strongly implies there is no direct bus - but is not a definitive answer either.

Another bit of information lacking is whether the train to Balakan continues on to Tbilisi or whether you would at least have to change trains. But since we know there is definitely a train between Baku and Tbilisi I would expect you can take the one train the whole way, or at least there would be a standard connection for the rest of the way since there seems to be only one train per day.

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I'm quite sure there is no direct train from Sheki. Also, the train from Baku only leaves once a day, in the evening. And I don't know what time it reaches Balakan. Plus, you might not get a seat on it. –  MastaBaba May 25 '12 at 21:13
    
The minibus seems to be the only real option, though I find the listed frequencies very limiting. Was hoping from some info from someone who recently did the trip. –  MastaBaba May 25 '12 at 21:28
    
Yes hopefully somebody can fill the gaps in the WikiTravel answer ... –  hippietrail May 25 '12 at 21:32
    
Furtermore, I think that the Tbilisi train from Baku doesn't go through Balakan, but through Yevlax and then onwards to Agstafa. It seems that Balakan is a terminus, end point. –  MastaBaba May 26 '12 at 6:02
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Well, I did the trip today. Here goes:

  • There are indeed minibusses scheduled from Sheki to Balakan at 1010 and 1400. I took the 1010 minibus.
  • This minibus that was supposed to go to Balakan (as told by the clerk at the bus station and agreed to by the driver) actually only went as far sa Zaqatala. Here, I was bundled into another minibus, that did go to Balakan, where I took up the last seat. Even though there were still four other (local) travelers with me, expecting to go further than Zaqatala.
  • In Balakan, I was pointed towards where I would be able to get transport to the border. I waited here for a few minutes and was offered a taxi ride to the border instead, trundling at high speed towards Georgia in an ancient Lada.
  • I walked across the border.
  • On the Georgian side, taxis were waiting, but I hitched a ride with a large (empty) bus that went as far as Lagodekhi, the first town after the border.
  • In Lagodekhi, the small bus station does have occasional minibusses to Tbilisi. I arrived here at 1230 (local time), with a minibus leaving at 1300. I got to Tbilisi at 1530.

Total time traveled, about 6.5 hours (with the one hour time difference).

Alternatives are worse. Using the more regular Azerbaijan to Georgia crossing requires you to get down to Yevlakh, on the Baku - Tbilisi road and rail. With only one train a day doing that trip, and many more kilometers to be made, this is not very convenient.

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