Hitchhike from Batumi to Kars (across Georgia-Turkey border)
Hitchhiking between Batumi and Kars is a popular route and the border crossing in Sarp on the way can be considered a gateway to the whole Caucasus since all the border crossings between Turkey and Armenia are closed for political reasons and the second border crossing between Turkey and Georgia (in Türkgözü on the E691) is definitely less popular.
Therefore if you want to travel between Turkey and the Caucasus, this is the border crossing you will be using and it is very much possible to hitchike across, to save yourself some money, hassle (as there is no direct bus connection between Batumi and Kars) and have a bit of an adventure.
It’s a scenic route from the beautiful seaside town of Batumi, along the Black Sea coast and inland along winding mountainous roads of Eastern Anatolia region.
Number of lifts: 4
Estimated journey time: 11h
Estimated waiting time: 20 mins
Alternative transport costs: Buses: Batumi-Hopa + Hopa-Kars: €21
Batumi is, in our opinion, one of the most magnetic cities in the whole of Georgia and definitely well worth a visit! It’s the Georgia’s summer capital, partly due to its semitropical coast and partly because of its unique look and character, where the charming fin-de-siècle architecture intermingles with modern glass-and-steel constructions.
In the summer it’s packed with Georgian, Russian and Ukrainian tourists and its buzzing nightlife is unique in the whole Caucasus. It’s also the most “western” city, so here you’re most likely to feel at home. It’s hard to couchsurf in Batumi, due to the fact that here everything revolves around tourism and the majority of locals earn their bread thanks to it, but don’t worry, there are plenty of hostels to choose from.
★ Sighnaghi – 491 km from Batumi
★ David Gareja monastery complex – 458 km from Batumi
Kars is the capital and largest city of the Kars province in Eastern Anatolia. There are not many tourists here, so it’s a perfect place to immerse yourself in Turkish and Kurdish cultures.
Kars makes an ideal base for visiting the nearby ruins of Ani, the capital of medieval Armenia.
Within the city you can visit the 12th century Castle of Kars and The Church of Apostles (also called Kümbet Camii) – a 10th century church converted into a mosque. We also recommend having a peek inside the Aşıklar Evinda culture centre for one of the best cultural experiences of your lives!
★ Kars – travel guide
★ Ani – photo essay
What to visit on the way?
As mentioned before, the best tourist attraction in the close vicinity are the medieval ruins of Ani. It was an important trade hub and always bustling with merchants, artisans, wanderers and nobles. It was also an important city for early Christians (called by some the ‘City of 1001 churches’) and apart from places of worship, its buildings and fortifications were among the most advanced structures of its time.
① The first leg of your hitchike will be getting from Batumi to the border crossing in Sarp. The easiest option is to take a marshrutka from Tbilisi Square (2 GEL, 20 minutes).
Alternatively, you can hitchike there, positioning yourself along the E70 road, whose sign looks in Georgian like the picture to the right. You can either hitch from the Wissol Perrol station or any other spot you find along this road.
② Crossing borders is always time consuming but the border crossing in Sarp is a particularly tricky one and you may even get stuck there for 2h so make sure you start early in the morning and read our story about crossing in Sarp to have an idea of what you will be facing. After you cross the border, position yourself right after the customs gates before the bend.
③ Hitchhiking on the Turkish side of the border will be very slow as well. The first reason for that is that you will be travelling along winding, often single-lane, mountainous roads which are often blocked for several hours (we have experienced one of those road blocks and it wasn’t fun).
④ It’s possible that if you get stuck at the border or in one of those road blocks you won’t be able to get to Kars within one day, as happened to us. We stayed in the small town of Ardahan. There isn’t much to see there and the town is frequented by truck drivers who want to break up their journey, which may explain the huge amount of bordellos, so be careful as not every “otel” in town will be the kind of hotel you are looking for.
written by: Ania