Nothing much, apart from the border crossing between Turkey and Georgia. Coming from Turkey one re-enters Europe, as evidenced by the Orthodox church just behind the border juxtaposing the mosque on the Turkish side.
The border is open 24/7.
If you need a visa to enter Georgia and plan to buy one on arrival (as it is officially possible), be aware that there is no ATM inside the border checkpoint, and the bank, officially open 24/7, is only "sometimes" open. If you cannot change money into Georgian lari, you will be denied entrance, at least until the bank opens. And this can last for hours.
- Several buses run between Istanbul and Batumi/Tbilisi for about 100 lari or 160 TL (Dec 2019)—check out Metro Turizm and Lüks Karadeniz.
- Trabzon – Directly to/from the border on the Turkish side, 3–4 hr. Stops at all places en route and runs almost every hour for 40 TL (Dec 2019).
- Hopa – The next town (population 15,000) to the south. A ride on a dolmuş (shared taxi) costs no more than €1, and run when full, about every 10-20 min during the day. The Turkish taxi drivers won't speak Russian, if that's how you have been getting around, so brush up on either your Georgian or Turkish numbers. A bus between Kars and Hopa takes 6 hr, but runs infrequently.
- Batumi – The regular city bus (line 101) is 1–1.50 lari between Batumi and Sarpi, but does not seem to go until/from the border anymore–you would probably need a IC card anyway. However, there are more than enough marshrutkas running (1.50–2 lari), between near the "Cathedral of the Mother of God" and Sarpi border.
Everything is walkable.
See and do
It's odd for a major international border crossing to have a nice beach, but Sarpi's pebble beach and clear water are nice indeed. Despite the Turkish trucks lined up to cross over to Hopa, the setting is picturesque, with the beach and border crossing occupying a narrow strip of land before the topography of the village shoots directly upwards across jungle-covered green cliffs. Whether a swim here is your first or your last experience during your travels in Georgia, it's likely to be a memorable one. Swimming across the border would certainly not be appreciated by the border guards, though.
Coming from Turkey and you need money for the bus or taxi, change some money at the bank inside the Georgian customs terminal, before the immigration check. Otherwise, exchange bureaus in Batumi offer highly competitive rates—no use to change large sums at the border.
There's no point in buying anything in the duty-free shop within the Turkish building as Georgian street prices are lower.
Similarly, don't go for the (non-free) toilets on the Turkish side, since the toilets on the Georgian side are free of charge.
The main eatery right by the border post and the beach is heralded by a lot of yellow umbrellas over plastic tables. It's a modest eatery and probably not the best introduction to Georgian cuisine, but some quick roadside food after a dip in the crystal waters of the Black Sea is likely to be enjoyable regardless of the quality.
With the oldest evidence of wine making having been discovered just up the road, it's hardly surprising that wine takes precedence over beer, Chacha, or any other form of alcohol. Be prepared to drink at least one glass since a refusal might offend or brand you as a Muslim undesirable.
Georgians don’t usually sip - they slurp - although they are always patient enough to wait until each traditional toast has been orated.
Options are scarce if you are looking for accommodation within Sarpi itself, although if you make friends with a local you are likely to receive sincere offers of generous hospitality at their own house. There are good options just up the coast though — ask around after you've already left the customs office behind.
|Routes through Sarpi|
|Rize ← Concurrent with ← Sarpi/Sarp ←||W E||→ Batumi → Poti|