Skiing in Mestia, Georgia: everything you need to know

Two skiers making their way down a snowy slope surrounded by dense pine forests on a cloudy day in Mestia, Georgia.

Fancy going skiing in Mestia in Georgia’s Svaneti region? 

One of the most isolated regions of Georgia (and all of Europe), Svaneti is a truly unique place to ski. 

Fir trees line the brilliant white slopes, and guaranteed snow means that conditions are ripe from around mid-December to late March. 

I recently visited Mestia as part of a press trip with the Georgian Tourist Board and Traverse Events and skied for two days; once as part of a group and once solo.

Here’s my full guide!

I visited Mestia on a press trip with Georgia Travel and Traverse Events. All opinions are my own. This blog post may contain affiliate links.

What’s skiing in Mestia like? 

A skier in a black jacket and helmet smiles at the camera, with other skiers and a snowy slope with ski poles in the background.

If you’re sick of the costs and crowds of the Alps and other Europe mountain destinations, skiing in Georgia is an excellent alternative. 

Mestia, in particular, is one of the quietest slopes I’ve ever skied down – largely because it is a challenging place to reach. 

The network of trails is ideal for intermediates who want to practice the sport, although there is an easier run for beginners and some off-piste slopes for more advanced skiiers (do be aware of the risks and know that insurance may not cover you if you ski off-piste). 

I’d probably recommend Mestia for someone who wants a half-ski, half-culture trip, as the slope network isn’t huge, and there are a few other things to do in Mestia too (due to its historic isolation, it has a fascinating local culture!). 

How to go skiing in Svaneti 

The snow-laden roof of a ski lodge with skis and poles stacked in the snow in the foreground in Mestia, Georgia

While it’s not known as a ski resort town, once you’re there the logistics of skiing in Mestia are very easy!

Renting ski equipment

First up, you’ll need to rent some ski equipment. I highly recommend Edelweiss Ski Rental, which is on the main street of town.

The owner is friendly and professional and speaks good English.

He fitted me with some boots and skis after asking me a few questions about my ski ability (as longer skis are more suitable for experienced skiiers). The boots were brand new and all equipment was of good quality. 

The price for equipment hire (skis, poles, boots and helmet) was just 40 GEL; around £13 or 15 euro for a day. 

Edelweiss is open in the mornings and evenings but is closed from midday to 5 pm (as most people are on the slopes then!).

I actually arrived at 12:30 to find the shop closed but I called him (the phone number is on the door) and he re-opened the shop for us as he was close by, but obviously, this isn’t always guaranteed.

It’s technically possible to rent skis at the top of the chair lift/ bottom of the gondola, and I did this on one of my skiing days which was organised by our guide.

However, when I went skiing independently, I took the chair lift to the resort and found it closed and apparently “not opening today”!

So, I had to take the lift back to Mestia and find a ski rental there (which is how I stumbled upon Edelweiss). 

As there’s no real way of knowing if ski rental is open at the resort, I would recommend hiring your equipment in Mestia before heading up there. 

Reaching the chair lift

Point-of-view shot from a ski lift with skier's feet dangling over a snowy slope leading to Mestia, Georgia.

A chair lift departs from the edge of town to the ski resort.

This is around a 15-minute walk from the centre (20-25 with kit), or taxis will take you to the bottom of the chair lift.

The owner of Edelweiss sorted a car out for me and I paid 20 GEL for one-way transport.

Taking the chair lift

A view from a ski lift showing a snowy path through a dense evergreen forest leading down to Mestia, Georgia."

At the chair lift, you can buy a lift pass for the day – it costs 50 GEL plus 5 GEL for a card fee if you don’t already have one.

If you have a lift pass pocket in your ski jacket, pop your pass in here and the gates should automatically read it when you ski or walk up to the lifts. 

The chair lift takes eight minutes to reach the resort. 

Taking the gondola/ button lift

A winter landscape featuring a gondola lift cabin over snow-covered evergreen trees with mountain peaks obscured by mist in the background, in Mestia, Georgia.

From the bottom of the resort, there’s a button lift which goes up the easier slope – this is where beginners have their lessons and is an excellent place to practice. 

Or, take the gondola up to the top of the resort. This takes another eight minutes and affords fantastic views of the mountain scenery. 

Skiing down!

Two skiers making their way down a snowy slope surrounded by dense pine forests on a cloudy day in Mestia, Georgia.

From the top of the gondola, a network of trails reaches the bottom.

Generally, you’ll be following red runs, with quite a few uphill sections (so you’ll need to ensure you get a bit of speed at the bottom of the downhill section before!). 

The skiing from the gondola would be challenging for beginners, but is generally feasible for anyone with a bit of skiing experience – when I skied as a group, we’d all done it before but had different levels of experience. 

When I skied solo, it was slightly more challenging due to a lot of snowfall in the morning and poor visibility. 

There is some off-piste skiing too, although I’d only recommend doing this if you’re an experienced off-pister – also do be aware that even if skiing is included in your insurance policy (it’s not in many!), off-piste skiing may not be. 

On that note, I use and recommend Safety Wing for insurance – their basic policy does include skiing with some restrictions!

Warm up in Papa’s Qel Sauna

A woman in a knit hat enjoys a drink while relaxing in an outdoor wooden hot tub amid a snowy pine forest.

Once you’ve skied to your heart’s content, head to Papa’s Qel Sauna, which is around a 10 minute drive from the resort.

Here, you’ll find a cosy hot tub against a backdrop of evergreen trees, a huge sauna and a chilly dunk tank.

Papa’s Qel Sauna needs to be pre-booked; contact them via their website or Instagram.

Facilities at the Hatsvali Ski Resort

A hand holding a cup of hot chocolate with a scenic view of a snowy ski slope and mountain range in Mestia, Georgia.

There is a small cafe which serves hot drinks, alcohol and food at the bottom of the gondola.

However, I’d recommend heading to the top of the lift to the chalet bar here, where you’ll find an extensive selection of drinks and Georgian cuisine. 

Prices here are ski slope prices – we’re talking 15 GEL for a hot chocolate and around 12 GEL for a small vegetable soup – but the views are unmatchable. 

As mentioned, there is ski rental available at the resort, but I wouldn’t rely on them to be open – they weren’t for me on my solo ski day! 

Ski lessons in Mestia 

If you’ve never skied before, don’t worry! Ski lessons are available in Mestia. Two members of our group were new to the sport and had an hour-long lesson with an instructor. Ask at your hotel for help with this!

Costs of skiing or snowboarding in Mestia 

A snowboarder descending a snowy slope with ski lifts and sparse trees in the background in Mestia, Georgia.

Mestia is a relatively affordable place to ski. 

Here are some sample costs:

  • Ski rental: 40 GEL (£12/ €14/ $15) for all equipment at Eidelweiss Ski Rental.
  • Ski pass: 55 GEL (£15/ €17.50/ $19) for a daily lift pass including 5 GEL fee for the card (the same card can be topped up each day). Discounted rates apply for multiple days/ weeks.
  • Accommodation: 212.50 GEL (£64/ €75/ $80) for a night at the Paliani Hotel in Mestia – this an example rate for the weekend with around 10 days in advance (weekdays and further in advance will be cheaper). This is where we stayed, but you can find some guesthouses like Guest House Nikala for just 73 GEL (£22/ €26/ $28) for the same dates.
  • Food: Mains at Cafe Laila in town were between 10-15 GEL (£3-4.50/ €3.50-5.00/ $3.80-5.50) – usually we ordered a few to share between a group. Mains in restaurants were slightly more but still affordable.
  • Transport: Getting to Mestia by public transport is very affordable – 50 GEL (£15/ €17.5) for a direct journey from Tbilisi to Mestia, 30 GEL (£9/ €11) for the Zugdidi to Mestia trip alone and 25 GEL (£7.50/ €8.75) for the Tbilisi to Zugdidi trip.

Getting to Mestia 

Queue of cars on road to Mestia, Georgia, in heavy snow.

Before booking your Mestia ski trip, I strongly recommend you read my Mestia in winter post which details my journey to Mestia. 

We were caught in the worst storm in 20 years, were stuck on the road due to multiple avalanches, and had a very scary half an hour; first, one of our drivers disappeared in an avalanche (he was pulled out and was luckily fine) and after the drivers went to warm up and recover from the shock, we were in our car with no driver and an advancing avalanche in front of us. 

On that night, the snow plough was knocked off the road due to another avalanche and the driver was hospitalised. 

We were unlucky (we even made it into Georgian national news) but I would implore anyone to not take the Jvari to Mestia road in stormy weather. 

There’s a risk of avalanches any time in the winter months (the road doesn’t have avalanche tunnels), but when the weather is still and calm the risk is much smaller.

Other tourists I spoke to in Svaneti had a much less eventful journey up to the mountains, and half of our group got through the road before the avalanches fell and found the journey to be fine. 

Plus, cars do travel up and down this road every day and most people don’t have the experience we did. 

But please do your research and make your own decision about whether to take this road in the winter months or not! 

Flights are also available, but they can be cancelled at short notice due to changing weather conditions. 

If you’re planning a ski trip in Svaneti, I highly recommend allowing a few buffer days on either side of your trip to account for poor weather, road closures and/ or flight cancellations. 

Skiing in Svaneti – an off-the-beaten-track paradise!

Skiers gathered around a ski lodge with snow-covered mountains in the distance in Mestia, Georgia.

While getting to Svaneti in the winter months can be quite the experience, its isolation does mean that ski trips here are one of a kind.

I loved my couple of days skiing in Mestia once I reached the resort, but I’d recommend doing your own personal risk assessment to see if it’s worth the journey for you.

If you do decide to ski in Mestia, you will be graced with snowsure slopes, friendly locals and plenty of non-skiing things to do as well!

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