Svaneti starts to be the major Georgian magnet for mountain lovers not only in summer, but also in winter. Previously tourists, especially those who are fond of hiking and exploring ancient cultures, headed to this remote mountainous region from July to late September. Now, proud Svanetian people welcome their guests from late December till the end of April too.
Surrounded by the highest mountain peaks, covered with legends and myths about hallowed local traditions, Mestia is the heart of the region. From here, routes to further destinations in Svaneti begin. Mestia is also convenient point to stop for overnights and move towards ski lifts, equipment rentals, marked pistes, and virgin slopes. Staying overnight is possible there or in the other villages nearby. In Mestia, you can find simple guest-houses and mid-range cozy hotels.
First Svanetian resort, Hatsvali was opened in 2011 it is 8 km away from Mestia and since 2017 can be reached by a cable car from edge of Mestia. Hatsvali offers runs for beginners and intermediates. Lower lift station is located at an altitude of 1865 meters; the equipment rentals are nearby. Leitner ski lift will take you up to the mountain Zuruldi (2347 meters above sea level) within 10 minutes. At the resort there are also two smaller ski lifts 600 and 800 meters long. There are three pistes in use: red (1900 m), blue (2600 m) and one for the beginners (300 m). If you are for extreme feelings, go ahead with freeriding, backcountry, and skitour.
The second Svanetian resort, is in use since December 2015. Its name derives from name of legendary mountain. Located 15 kilometers away from Mestia, Tetnuldi is almost as big as Gudauri. There are three new POMA lifts, which bring up the guests to the altitude from 1600 to 3165 meters, and several developed pistes with the longest one 9.5 km long. Tetnuldi provides excellent opportunities for freeriding and truly stunning views to the surrounding.
Apres-ski and accommodation are located in Mestia, so you would need to drive up to the resort. However, the low cost of equipment rental and ski passes smoothes this temporary inconvenience.
The main road leading into the region comes from Kutaisi through Zugdidi.
Although there is another road leading from Kutaisi, through lower Svaneti Region (town Lentekhi) to village Ushguli – it is in a bad condition (which makes it very long drive) and can be unpassable in winter due to snow. This road is travelled mostly only by adventurous tourists or locals.
In our opininion, the most comfortable way to get to Svaneti is to rent your own private car in Tbilisi or Kutaisi and drive all the way to Svaneti, being able to explore all the Valleys and villages of the region at your own pace. We also offer cars accompanied by drivers and private transfers.
Contact us to rent a car, or book private transafer:
- From the city Public Minibuses (Marshrutka) go to Mestia every day from Staion behind McDonalds building. They leave at 9:00 and 10:00. Price is 25GEL. Get there at least half hour early to secure your place.
- From Kutaisi Airport company Georgian Bus has buses departing to Mestia, in summer season. Please check at their stand or website: https://georgianbus.com/
Flight Kutaisi to Mestia: Mon, Fri - 1:30 PM
Mestia to Kutaisi: Mon, Fri - 11:00 AM
Zugdidi > Mestia
Public Minibuses (Marshrutka) go to Mestia every day from Zugdidi train station.
Starting from 6:30, after train from Tbilisi arrives, till noon. The last one usually departs at 14:00.
Drive is 3-4 hours long and the price is 20 GEL.
Getting Around in Svaneti:
The only public transport in Upper Svaneti Region, is Minibus driving along Engury Valley (Mestia-Ushguli). This road is also the most travelled by tourists, so it should not be a problem to hitch a ride or find a shared car.
To get to other villages it’s probably easiest to hire a taxi (or your own private car from Kutaisi or Tbilisi)
Anyway, if you don’t have your own vehicle all transportation can be arranged through your guesthouse or at the center of Mestia where Minibuses and drivers gather. Also check out Mestia Tourist Info center.
Approximate prices for a taxi (5-7 passengers) In Upper Svaneti:
Apart from Skiing there are plenty of other leisure options in Svaneti area, below we have listed several most popular suggestions:
- Hiking: village Mazeri and Ushba waterfalls, Chalaadi Glacier, Qoruldi Lakes
- Horse Riding in the surrounding villages and mountains
- Culture: Don’t miss visiting History Museums of Mestia, Local towers in Mestia - Svanetian House, trip to Ushguli (3 hours drive from Mestia)
Food & Nightlife
Mestia is a very popular tourist destination in Georgia, therefore there are plenty of local restaurants you can visit for Georgian & local cuisine. The most recommended one is cafe Laila which sometimes offers live music in the evening. There is a nice restaurant in Hatsvali resort at the top of the ski lift - Zuruldi, it offers tasty Georgian cuisine and magnificent views of surrounding mountains.
The rental of new, modern ski equipment is available in Mestia and at the bottom of Hatsvali resort, although you can also rent your equipment in Tbilisi, which will cost you less.
91 Vazha-Pshavela Ave.,
(+995 32) 231 91 01
(+995) 599 50 41 13 (GE)
(+995) 568 65 99 85 (EN)
Here you can rent full sets of equipment of following brands: Head, Elan, Rossignol, Volkl, Atomic, Nordica, Salomon. Accessories can also be rented or bought. Usual price range is 20-30 GEL per day for standard package (skis, boots, sticks or snowboard and boots); 50 GEL per day for VIP package (speed skis, freeride skis and etc.) 5 GEL per day for goggles, gloves or helmet. Here you can receive ski maintenance services, snowboard and ski touring equipment rental services.
Shop and Rental X-Treme
Located in Tbilisi near the exit of town (direction to north - Gudauri) at 3 Akaki Beliashvili St.
Likewise you can rent full sets of equipment of brands: Head, Tyrolia, Atomic, Salomon and etc.
All ski areas of Svaneti are patrolled by experienced ski rescue and first-aid teams. Emergency helicopter evacuation to Tbilisi is also available. A hospital in Mestia can provide only emergency immediate help.
Daily ski pass does not include insurance, therefore it's highly recommended you arrange your own insurance.
In case of emergency at the resort you should dial Georgian emergency service number - 112.
Svaneti is high mountainous region and offers unlimited opportunities for skitouring and freeriding, although keep in mind that avalanches and dangerous situations are very common.
If you decide to ski off piste and on mountains surrounding the resorts we recommend hiring a local guide. For more information and contacts please check out our Ski Touring and Skiing & Freeriding pages.
Otherwise please make sure that you are fully capable of assessing the dangers of powder slopes and avalanches. Highly Recommended Equipment: - Freeride ski/snowboard (available for hire) - Backpack with fastening for ski or snowboard - Transceiver, avalanche probe, shovel (available for hire) - Helmet