Updated on 10 November 2021
Mestia (old name - Seti) is the administrative center of Upper Svaneti and Mestia municipality. Mestia is a cultural and religious center, located at the confluence of the Mulakhurana and Mestiachala rivers on the southern slope of the Greater Caucasus, 128 km north-east of Zugdidi. The height above sea level is about 1500 m. The population is 2600 people, the majority are Svans - the people of the Svan group of the Kartvelian language family.
One of the centers of alpine skiing, alpine tourism and mountaineering in Georgia. Tours and ascents to the peaks of Ushba, Dzhangi-tau, Shkhara begin here, i.e. from here the routes for the surroundings diverge. The tourist flow to this picturesque corner is growing from year to year. Now it is full of Russians, Belarusians, Ukranians, Poles, Germans, Israelis, Slovaks.
Over the past 10 years, Mestia has changed a lot and now the city has:
- The airport, named after Queen Tamara, has been operating since 2010.
- About 30 hotels
- Many guest houses
- Dozen restaurants and cafes
- Tourist information center - on the central square
As well you can find shops, banks and ATMs, hospital and ambulance, police department and all this is located within walking distance.
How to get to Mestia?
Mestia is located in the northwest of the country and you have only 2 ways to get there:
- By minibus/car
- By plane
Depending on the location, the options vary:
To Mestia from Tbilisi
Airplane - tickets should be booked in advance, but departure is not guaranteed and may be canceled due to weather, which is seldom. You can order tickets here
By train: First you have to get to Zugdidi and then by minibus, taxis, which you can find right at the platform or you can book a trip here.
The minibus is the most inexpensive, but longest option. The trip will take about 9 hours and cost + - $ 10
To Mestia from Kutaisi - Minibus or Taxi
To Mestia from Zugdidi - Minibus or Taxi
Svaneti is called the country of a thousand towers, but not many of them have survived to this day. Many people have towers, but the Svan ones are really special. Now no one can say for sure why they were built in such quantities and what their main purpose is. You can visit some of them and see how they work or take photos with great views.
Founded in 1936. Recently it was seriously reconstructed and now this building has two floors. Here are collected archeological items, finds of the Bronze Age, icons dating from the 10th century, ceramics, something from ethnography and much more, a total of about 4,000 exhibits.
According to ancient tradition, all the most valuable artifacts, captured trophies and especially valuable family relics were brought to the ancestral temple, where they were kept. During the formation of Soviet power, a threat hung over all of this. But the Svans do not give anything away so easily, especially if it concerns their shrines. They locked themselves in the Latali temple and offered fierce resistance. Realizing that they could not resist, they decided to burn everything they could. In order not to lose all these ancient values, the authorities decided to recognize churches as museums, and place especially valuable exhibits under one roof. It was then that the Svaneti Museum was created. If you decide to visit the museum, we recommend using the services of a guide - then the silent exhibits will literally come to life.
Address: st. Stalin, 30 Tel. +995 32 99 80 22
Working hours: 11:00 - 16:00, except Monday Cost: 5 GEL, students 1 GEL, with a guide 25 GEL.
Temple of the Transfiguration of the 9th century in Lagami
Ancestral church with well-preserved frescoes. Consists of two levels, built at different times. It is open only during the service. In the temple there is a gold and silver chased icon of the Savior, dating back to the 13th century.
Residential complex of the Margiani family
Here you will get a visual representation of the life and way of life of the Svans. Some medieval churches and fortifications of the Mestia region are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Mestia in winter - ski resort
In winter, the city turns into a skiing and snowboarding destination. New ski resorts such as Hatsvali and Tetnuldi are located at a distance of 7 and 15 kilometers, respectively, and there is nowhere to stay there. Therefore, they get there by organized transfers. You can get from Mestia to Hatsvali by cable cars, but you will need a transfer to Tetnuldi. But this is absolutely not an obstacle, since the distance is small and the transfers are well organized and price is affordable. The plus is that while in Mestia, you can ride in two locations, and in the evening be in a fairly developed town, where you can spend time interesting and varied.
Located 7 km from Mestia. You can get there by minibus or taxi or a brand new ski lift directly from the city
In winter - skiing, in summer - ascent by cable car to the Zuruldi ridge (about 2300 m above sea level). The cost of lifting in the summer is 5 GEL per person, in time - about 20 minutes one way, the landscapes are mesmerizing. At the top there is a cafe-restaurant "Zuruldi'' with a large terrace and good food, from where you can see an almost complete ring of mountains: the glaciers of the Caucasus and Svan ranges, Ushba Tetnuldi, Shkhara and Laila. At the base is the only hotel "Khatsvali ''.
The youngest ski resort in Georgia named after the Mountain from the snow-white Tetnuldi Mountain. It is located 15 kilometers from Mestia. Tetnuldi ski resort opened on December 24, 2016 and four stages of lifts have already been launched: 3 chairlifts sequentially lifting from 2,265 m to a height of 3,165 m and an additional side cable car going to the top level of the second stage (2,340 m - 2,700 m) The vertical drop is 900 meters. It is suitable for both beginners and experienced alpine skiing enthusiasts. There are opportunities for freeriding in the resort area and is accessible directly from the cable cars. The relief will delight you with a variety.
There are really grandiose plans for the development of the Resort, since the area allows it. Considering that the World Freestyle and Snowboard Championships 2023 will be hosted by Georgia (in Bakuriani and Gudauri), we can assume that the government is making significant efforts to develop ski resorts.
Approximate prices for ski pass 2020 in Tetnuldi and Hatsvali
* Prices are in GEL
Children under 6 - Free (Ski pass with photo required)
Children: 6-16 years old
Students are required to present a student ID
Lifts opening hours: (NOT CONFIRMED YET) December 2021 to April 2022. Daily from 10:00 to 16:00
Hotels and accommodation in Mestia
The city has several hotels and dozens of guest houses. The choice of hotels is not that great, but the city will provide you with options. The hotels here are small, 3-4 floors, a standard set of services, it is possible to have meals in the hotel restaurant, some have an entertainment program.
Prices for hotels in Mestia start at $ 30 for a regular double room. The choice of guesthouses (guest houses) and hostels is wider. Prices start at $ 10 per bed. Most houses offer food for an additional fee, about $ 15 for breakfast and lunch or breakfast and dinner. Most of the guesthouses are residential houses, equipped for receiving guests and have a common bathroom and kitchen with everything you need.
Camping in Mestia
Many guest houses throughout Svaneti provide their own yards for campers. The cost is about 10 GEL per tent, or 5 GEL per person. The price may include a shower and access to the kitchen. But it is better to clarify all this at once. Special fans of extreme sports can pitch a tent in the field, but the region is quite wild and there is always a chance to meet some kind of animal. Therefore, it is better to stay at a camp in Svaneti on someone's territory.
What else to do in Mestia
Trekking in Svaneti
Along one of the many routes: Mestia - Koruldi, Mestia - Mazeri, Mazeri - Etseri, Ushguli - Mami, Ushba, Tviberi, Shkhara, Chalaadi, Zhabeshi - Ushguli.
Horseback riding in the surroundings
In Mestia, you can rent a horse to explore the surrounding landscapes, either on your own or with a local guide who will surely show you much more than you expected. Renting one horse per day costs about $ 20-30, guide services are paid separately.
Trip to Ushguli
Alpine village 2200 m. In two hours drive through the mountainous terrain with many well-preserved ancestral Svan towers. One of the "must visit" places in Svaneti. More about Ushguli is here.
Svan cuisine master class
If you are fond of mastering new recipes, you can learn how to make dishes such as Kupdari or Svan salt, a very popular seasoning.
A few tips:
- Prices here are higher than in the country, for almost everything, and the choice is limited. If you are traveling to Svaneti from Zugdidi or Kutaisi, stock up on wine, food and other necessities.
- Eating is generally better where you left off. There are several restaurants, but mostly you will have to wait longer than expected at almost any restaurant, the Svans are leisurely people.
- Take warm clothes, it can be cool in the evening and at night even in summer.