Planning a trip through the Caucuses comes with some challenges—namely transportation. But, after reading several travel blogs on the subject, I devised this efficient travel plan to maximize time and convenience.
- Fly to Baku. Once there, taxis are widely available. If you don’t speak Russian or Azerbaijani, don’t worry. Lots of people speak at least some English or have a friend that does. One taxi driver called a friend and had me explain to him where I needed to go and that worked out fine.
- Book day tours to nearby sites (Qobustan, Ateshgah and Yanar Dag) through Viator. You’ll get a driver and an English-speaking guide. Easy-peasy.
- Arrange a taxi from Baku to Sheki. To avoid the local bus, arrange transportation with a taxi driver in Baku. We took plenty of rides in the city and chose the driver we liked best. We paid high (around $100) but got what we paid for. The next morning, right on time, the driver’s son picked us up at our hotel in a nice car and drove us the 2½ hours to Sheki.
- In Sheki, have your hotel call a taxi and arrange a full-day fare. Sheki is small and slow-paced but this was super convenient and inexpensive. Do a self-tour of Sheki Khan’s Palace (Xan Sarayı) and Winter Palace and the Caravanserai.
- Arrange a taxi from Sheki to the Georgia border. I used the same driver as above. To address the language barrier, the driver used Google translate on his phone. Cost was around $30.
- Cross the border into Georgia on foot.
- Take a short taxi ride to Lagodekhi.
- Arrange a GoTrip driver to pick you up in Lagodekhi and take you to Tbilisi. Along the way, stop in Telavi for a winery tour. Georgian wine is different than European wine and it is fantastic.
- With GoTrip, you select a tour or transport or create your own trip and then choose from available drivers. You’ll see a photo of your driver and their vehicle plus reviews. Your driver will also make any stops you want in between.
- In Tbilisi, stay in a centrally located hotel. Walk and take taxis.
- Use GoTrip for day tours to Gori, Uplistsikhe and Kazbegi.
- If not traveling on to Armenia, do a full-day tour of northern Armenia through Kartveli Tours and return to Tbilisi.
- Fly out of Tbilisi.
Note: If traveling to both Armenia and Azerbaijan, visit Azerbaijan first. An Armenian stamp in your passport may make entering Azerbaijan difficult.