About Recreation – Skiing in Georgia
High accommodation and piste costs mean that more and more skiers are looking for resorts that are a little further afield than the norm. Look no further! Georgia’s mountains offer some of the best skiing in the world. In fact, skiing in Georgia was listed in a New York Times article, ‘The 41 Places to Go in 2011.
Heavy snowfall and affordable prices make Georgia an attractive and exciting alternative ski holiday destination.
Three of the most popular desinations are the ski resorts in Gudauri, Bakuriani and Mestia.
At an altitude of 2 200 meter above sea level. Gudauri is located in the very heart of the Caucasus Mountains. Surrounded by some of Europe’s highest peaks it has some of the finest high-altitude powder in Europe and offers downhill skiing up to the 4 200 meter level. The deep snow and the absence of stones and any avalanche risk make Gudauri an ideal place for freeriding.
With dozens of slopes, Gudauri has trails for skiers from beginners to professionals. Ski runs, most between 2000 and 3 300 meters above sea level, cover a total of 57 kilometers. For experienced skiers Gudauri provides four types of runs: slalom, giant slalom, super slalom, and speed skiing.
Helicopter flights can transport skiers and guides to remote peaks for some of the most challenging skiing anywhere in the world.
When is it open? The ski season in Gudauri runs from December to mid-April.
What facilities are there? Gudauri is one of the larger resorts and has many hotels on offer. Ski schools provide instruction for beginners of all ages.
How to get there? Gudauri is accessible all year round. Regular daily mini-buses depart to Gudauri from Tbilisi’s Didube bus station at 4 Karaleti str. Distance from Tbilisi is 120 km. The journey usually takes 2-2½ hours.
Bakuriani is one of the most beautiful winter ski resorts of Georgia. Originally developed as an Olympic training facility Bakuriani attracts tourists all year round.
Over a dozen alpine runs and pristine off-trail slopes make Bakuriani a skier’s paradise. For professional and experienced skiers there is the Tatrapoma line, with the FIS certificate and World Olympic Committee certificate conferred on it. The Kokhta mountain and Didveli ski-runs are superb, while the region as a whole has the best cross-country skiing in Georgia. The hills and valleys around Bakuriani are ideal for snowmobiling.
When is it open? The ski season is early December to late April.
What facilities are there? Newly built hotels, guest houses, and chalets offer a range of vacation accommodation at very affordable prices. Many of the hotels offer free accommodation for children under the age of three and some can provide you with a nanny so you can go off and enjoy a break from teaching the kids to ski.
How to get there? Buses run daily from Tbilisi’s Didube bus station (4 Karaleti str.). Trains run daily from Tbilisi central railway station (2, Vagzali sq. Tbilisi).
Mestia is a new winter resort situated in the beautiful Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region of north-western Georgia. Three ski routes have been built: a 2 600 meter long red ski run for professional skiers; a 2 670 meter long blue run for less experienced skiers; and a 300 meter long run for amateur skiers.
A newly constructed ski lift, providing four-seat open cabins starts at an altitude of 1 800 meters and reaches 2 350 meters at the highest point.
When is it open? The ski season is early December to early April.
What facilities are there? Mestia has a range of hotel and guesthouse accommodation.
How to get there? By road: Mestia is 400 kilometers from Tbilisi and can be reached via the city of Zugdidi, a journey that takes 7-8 hours by road. Several mini-buses depart for Zugdidi every day from Tbilisi’s Didube bus station. The trip to Zugdidi takes about 5 hours. Once in Zugdidi it is possible to hire a 4X4 to take you the rest of the way to Mestia or take mini-bus, which leaves at least once a day.
By train: A night train from Tbilisi to Zugdidi arrives in the city early in the morning, just in time for the mini-bus to Mestia. The train leaves from Tbilisi central railway station (2, Vagzali sq. Tbilisi).
By air: The local airport in Mestia has been refurbished and weather permitting a service is being operated by Georgian airline Service Air using Czech L410 planes three times a week from Natakhtari village, near Tbilisi, to Mestia – on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The flight lasts for 45 minutes and costs 65 GEL ($37 USD) one-way.
If you love skiing you will love Georgia!