A detailed guide to the Tbilisi Zugdidi train – including timetables, how to buy tickets, and tips for a smooth journey.
The biggest city in Western Georgia’s Samegrelo region, Zugdidi is known as the jumping off point for travelling to Mestia and hiking in the high mountains of Svaneti.
More than that, Zugdidi is a very special city that’s more than worthy of a day or two.
Tbilisi and Zugdidi are located on opposite sides of the country – 330 kilometres or 200 miles apart. If you’re coming directly from the capital, it’s likely this will be one of the longest journeys on your Georgia itinerary.
Train is a safe, affordable and relatively comfortable way to travel from Tbilisi to Zugdidi. The journey takes 5 hours and 45 minutes, and tickets start from 16 GEL.
The Zugdidi train is somewhere in between: It is technically an express train, but it stops and starts a fair bit. The carriages are older and there are no power outlets or WIFI. But it’s not the worst train by any means.
- Also read: Tips for travelling by train in Georgia.
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Are you planning a trip to Tbilisi?
Here are a few quick links to my favourite accommodations, tours & services.
Where to Stay in Tbilisi:
- The House Hotel Old Tbilisi – wake up in your own typical Tbilisi courtyard.
- Communal Hotel Plekhanovi – my favourite boutique hotel has a wine bar & gift shop.
- Vagabond B&B – budget-friendly option for solo & social travellers.
- Unfound Door Design Hotel – luxe rooms set inside a historic mansion in Chugureti.
- Fabrika Hostel & Suites – popular creative space & co-working hangout.
Best Tbilisi Tours & Day Trips:
- Tbilisi Food & Drink Tour – a food-themed walking tour of the city.
- Day Trip to Kazbegi – with plenty of stops along the Georgian Military Highway.
- Off-road Adventure to David Gareja & Udabno – use WANDERLUSH for 10% off.
- Kakheti Wine Experience with Eat This! Tours – mention WANDERLUSH for 5% off.
- Day trip to Northern Armenia – another stamp in the passport!
Last-minute Private Transfers in Georgia:
Plan the perfect mini road trip & find a professional driver on GoTrip.ge. The price is locked in when you book, and you can stop wherever you want along the way.
Go Your Own Way:
Car hire in Georgia doesn’t have to be expensive – I regularly use Local Rent to find great deals. Pick-up & drop-off from any address in the country for complete flexibility.
Is the night train from Tbilisi to Zugdidi running?
No – there is no longer a night train from Tbilisi to Zugdidi.
This service stopped running in early 2020 and has not started up again since. There is only one daily train to Zugdidi, departing Tbilisi in the morning.
I don’t think the night train service will ever be restored. The sleeper carriages have been removed from the train and replaced with first class seated carriages.
It is possible to travel from Tbilisi to Zugdidi overnight using OmniBus – however, I recommend you approach night road travel in Georgia with extreme caution. More details about this service below.
Tbilisi Zugdidi train timetable for 2024
Tbilisi to Zugdidi (# 870)
🕜 Departs Tbilisi Central: 8.25am
🕜 Arrives Zugdidi Railway Station: 2.11pm
🕜 Journey time: 5 hours & 46 minutes
Zugdidi to Tbilisi (# 869)
🕜 Departs Zugdidi Railway Station: 5.25pm
🕜 Arrives Tbilisi Central: 11.16pm
🕜 Journey time: 5 hours & 51 minutes
Classes & fares
There are two ticket types for the Tbilisi Zugdidi train: Second class and first class.
Second class (16 GEL)
Second class has two rows of three seats. As mentioned, these carriages are quite old so many of the seats are worn out and raggedy.
I’ve often found the recliner button is broken or the seat bottom pops out spontaneously. It’s not terribly comfortable.
Tickets for second class cost 16 GEL for an adult or 8 GEL for a child aged 5-10 years.
First class (28 GEL)
First class has two rows of two seats. The seats are newer and more comfortable, there is more leg room, and you get a tray table and a footrest. There is one power outlet per row.
A first class ticket costs 28 GEL – almost double the price of second class, but is a lot more comfortable. If you can, I suggest you go first class – it is worth every tetri in my opinion.
How to buy tickets for the Tbilisi Zugdidi train
Buying tickets online
There are three ways to buy train tickets online. Note that you cannot choose your seat position for this particular train – seats are assigned at random.
This website is easy to use and accepts online payment through Visa or Mastercard.
Ticket sales open 10 days in advance. There is an additional service fee and transaction fee, usually 1-2 GEL total for this particular train.
When searching for tickets, choose Tbilisi-pass. (AKA Tbilisi passenger) as the departure station. If you don’t want to create an account, you can continue without logging in.
Enter your passport number in the Identity # field. If your passport has letters in it, you will need to use the desktop version of the website rather than the app. (For whatever reason, the app won’t accept letters in the ID field.)
When your purchase is complete, you will receive an e-ticket by email containing your travel info and a QR code. See below for a quick explanation of how to read your ticket. On the day of travel, you can simply show this digital receipt on your phone – no need to print anything.
Another way to buy Georgian Railways tickets is through the 12Go platform. There are extra fees, so prices end up being a little higher: 21 GEL for second class or 33 GEL for first class.
Using the Georgian Railways website
The official ticket portal is a bit less user-friendly but it does work. You will first need to create an account, then navigate to the tickets page.
Tickets can be purchased up to 20 days in advance and payment is made online with a credit/debit card.
After you pay, you will get an email receipt with a purchase code number and the travel details. (These emails often go to spam, so remember to check your junk folder.) On the day of travel, you can present this code on your phone – no need to print anything.
Buying tickets in person from the station
Paper tickets for this train can also be purchased in person from Tbilisi Central Railway Station. The ticket desks are located on the third floor.
Staff speak English. Only cash is accepted. You might be asked to present ID, so make sure you have your passport with you.
How to read your ticket
Tickets issued by TKT.GE are in Georgian. Here is how to read the ticket so you know your wagon and seat number:
Departing from Tbilisi
The Zugdidi train departs from Tbilisi Central Railway Station, which is adjacent to the Station Square metro. See the exact location here on Google Maps.
To get there from the centre, take the First Line (red line) metro to Station Square. Exit the station and walk to the left – the building you want is the very large one with a shopping arcade at the bottom and a car park out front.
Make your way to the third floor, where you’ll see the ticket desks and an electronic timetable board. Access to the platforms is via the outdoor stairs.
There is a food court at the Railway Station, but it doesn’t open until 10am. If you need to buy bottled water and snacks, there are several convenience shops and coffee stands inside and outside the station building.
For something more substantial, exit out the back to Dadiani Street. There are several 24/7 bakeries here that sell khachapuri and the like.
This train originates in Tbilisi and is usually there waiting 15-20 minutes ahead of the departure time. I recommend arriving early and boarding as soon as you can.
When it’s time to board the train, there is no need to show a printed ticket. All you need is the e-ticket/voucher on your mobile phone. The steward never scans the QR code or barcode, they only reference your seat number and name.
You might also be asked to show your passport/ID card, so make sure you have it handy.
What to bring with you on the train + travel tips
Food & water on the train
There is no dining carriage on this train and no food or drink available to buy. The train makes one longer stop in Khashuri, around 1.5 hours after leaving Tbilisi, where it’s possible to buy a lobiani or nazuki sweet bread from the lady vendor on the platform.
You need to bring plenty of bottled water and snacks for the journey. I also recommend packing some tissues and wet wipes/hand sanitiser for when you use the bathroom.
Power & WIFI on the train
There are very few power outlets in second class – only the six-seater rows with tables have one, plus there is one at the end of the overhead storage area (but it is often being used by staff). Make sure your devices are fully charged and you’re carrying a power bank.
In first class, there is a power outlet for every row. Note that it is a Schuko-type socket with two round prongs, not a USB port, so you will need to have your travel adaptor plug handy.
There is no WIFI on this train. Make sure you have your Georgian SIM card set up, and it’s a good idea to buy unlimited data for the day.
There is reception for most of the journey, but you’ll find that the signal drops out around Rkoti Pass (when travelling through the tunnel) and around Kharagauli, where the train passes through a forested area.
Luggage room on the train
There is no luggage limit on the Zugdidi train and people often travel with large bags. There is a rack at the head of each carriage where you can leave suitcases. It fills up fast, so if you have a big item, you should try to board the train early to get a spot.
Otherwise, there is overhead storage that fits small suitcases and bags. In first class, it’s possible to slide a suitcase behind the back row of seats.
Scenery on the journey
The train ride from Tbilisi to Zugdidi is quite pleasant. The most beautiful scenery is right at the beginning of the ride as you pass through the open plains and big skies of Shida Kartli.
The area around Kharagauli, after you cross the Rkoti Pass into Western Georgia, is also quite nice. It is very lush and overgrown by contrast.
Arriving in Zugdidi
In Zugdidi, the train terminates at Zugdidi Railway Station, located on the western side of the city. See the exact location here on Google Maps.
If you plan on travelling directly to Svaneti, you will find marshrutka vans for Mestia parked in front of the railway station.
If you plan on staying in Zugdidi, you can either walk to the centre via the market (approximately 2 km or 30 minutes by foot) or take a taxi (2-4 GEL).
There is a luggage storage office at the railway station where you can leave your bags.
Onward travel to Mestia (Svaneti)
When you arrive at the station, disembark the train and walk over the tracks to the main platform. Walk all the way along the platform to the far left-hand side, past the small pavilion, then go down the stairs to the road. Vans going Mestia wait at this spot, and you will see a driver standing there beckoning for tourists.
During the tourist season (roughly May to November), drivers tend to time their departure with the arrival of the train. In winter, you might have to ask around or inquire at your guesthouse.
The marshrutka fare to Mestia is 40 GEL.
See this detailed Mestia transport guide for more tips and options.
Things to do in Zugdidi
Zugdidi is a treasure trove of interesting architecture and Soviet-era mosaics. If you have time, I highly recommend staying a night or two in Zugdidi to break up the long journey from Tbilisi to Mestia.
See my detailed Zugdidi City Guide for the best things to do, restaurant recommendations, and travel tips.
Where to stay in Zugdidi
Top choice: Casa de Khasia – An intimate guesthouse set in a family home in the centre of Zugdidi, with a sprawling vegetable garden, shady terrace spaces, a library, and an external kitchen set up in the traditional Mingrelian style. Double rooms all have en suites. Breakfast is included. → Check prices & availability here on Booking.com.
Guesthouse: Elco – This comfortable family guesthouse near the railway station is ideal for short stays or anyone who is transiting through Zugdidi. Hosts Remidi and Elzia are lovely people and will make you feel at home. → Check prices & availability here on Booking.com.
Alternative ways to travel from Tbilisi to Zugdidi
OmniBus (night bus to Zugdidi)
Rail is definitely the safer way to travel to Zugdidi, but if you prefer to go by road, you have the option to take the bus instead.
OmniBus operates two coaches to Zugdidi: One departing Ortachala Station in Tbilisi at midday and arriving at 6pm, and another overnight coach that leaves Tbilisi at midnight and arrives at 6am the next morning.
The fare is 25 GEL and tickets can be reserved online here.
Note: The night bus service to Zugdidi is currently suspended due to roadworks on the Rikoti Pass.
Tbilisi Zugdidi marshrutka
Marshrutka vans to Zugdidi depart from Didube Bus Station in Tbilisi throughout the day, roughly between 9am and 7pm. The fare is approximately 35 GEL, and travel time is 5-6 hours.
Never travel by marshrutka van after dark.
Private transfer from Tbilisi to Zugdidi with GoTrip
If you have time and you don’t mind paying a bit more, you can make a day of it and organise a transfer to Zugdidi with sightseeing stops along the way.
GoTrip.ge is my preferred service for transfers – drivers and cars are vetted for safety, it is a 24/7, flexible door-to-door service, and best of all you can make as many stops as you want along the way.
A direct transfer booked through GoTrip starts from 270 GEL per car. Travel time is around 5 hours with no stops. When you book online, the price is locked in and won’t change.
Here are the websites and services I personally use and recommend for Georgia. Check out my full list of travel resources for more tips.
FLIGHTS: Search for affordable flights to Tbilisi, Batumi or Kutaisi on Skyscanner.
TRAVEL INSURANCE: Insure your trip with HeyMondo, my preferred provider for single-trip and annual travel insurance (get 5% off when you book with my link).
SIM CARD: Magti is my preferred provider, with prices starting from 9 GEL/week for unlimited data. See this guide for all the details about buying a Georgian SIM card.
AIRPORT TRANSFERS: Most flights into Georgia arrive in the early hours. For ease, pre-book a private transfer from Tbilisi Airport to your hotel (from $17) or from Kutaisi Airport to Tbilisi (from $90) with my partners at GoTrip.ge.
ACCOMMODATION: Booking.com is the most widely used platform in Georgia. Use it to find family guesthouses, private apartments, hostels and hotels around the country.
CAR HIRE: Find a great deal on a rental car in Georgia – use the Local Rent website to book through a local agent (prices start from $20/day).
DAY TRIPS & CITY TOURS: Use Viator or Get Your Guide to browse a range of day trips and city tours. For off-beat programs, I recommend Friendly.ge (use the promocode wanderlush for 10% off). For in-depth day trips to Georgia’s wine regions, I recommend Eat This! Tours (use the promo code wanderlush for 5% off).
PRIVATE TRANSFERS: GoTrip.ge is a terrific service for booking a private professional driver and car for the day. Use it for A-to-B transfers, a customised round-trip itinerary, or a multi-day trip. You can stop wherever you like for as long as you like without the fixed price going up.
NEED SOME HELP?: Need feedback on your itinerary or personalised travel tips? I offer a one-on-one consultation call service for Tbilisi and Georgia. More information and bookings here.