The town is very easy to navigate. It is made up of three villages following the Mulkhra River, with a single main street lying through the entire town. Most guest houses, hotels and restaurants are along this main street.
Prices are generally inflated compared to other middle-sized towns around Georgia and haggling is not as normal as elsewhere.
Tourist Information Centreaddress: Seti SquarePart of the country-wide network of tourist information centres. Provides information on activities in Mestia including high-quality hiking maps.
Mountain Tourist Centre of Svanetiaddress: Pereulok Stalina No. 7
Queen Tamar AirportMestia's airport opened in 2010. Flights from/to Tbilisi (Natakhtari airfield) are available 4 times a week. Price is 90 lari one way (63 lari for children 3-12). Price includes free transfer from Tbilisi, M.S. Rustaveli and back. Transfer point is nearby Metro Station Rustaveli, near the fountain. As of March 2016, there is a flight from/to Kutaisi available twice a week. Price is 50 lari one way (35 lari for children 3-12).
- Tbilisi to Mestia: M, W, F - 09:30, Su - 13:00
- Mestia to Tbilisi: M, F - 15:30, W - 11:30, S - 15:00
- Kutaisi to Mestia: Tu, F - 13:30
- Mestia to Kutaisi: Tu, F - 11:00
The registration time is 1 hr before the flight. Flight duration is one hour. Depending on weather conditions compliant to Visual Flight Rules VFR, flight can be postponed or cancelled (full refund). Limit of the hold luggage and for carry-on baggage in total is 15 kg/per person. It's impossible to pay for extra luggage but if there is free place on board, you can take your baggage along free of charge.
Reservations are available at:
phone: +995 32 242 7427, +995 599 65 90 99 (Mob)
There is always a high demand for tickets, so reserve tickets long in advance. For example, by the end of July 2015 the only tickets from Mestia to Tbilisi left were for the end of August. If no tickets are available, ask to be on the waiting list. Flights are dependent on weather conditions in the mountains between Mestia and Tbilisi. As the weather changes quickly, it is difficult to plan a flight to or from Mestia with absolute certainty and it might be a good idea to have a plan B in case the flights are cancelled.
By helicopterThere is also an option to fly to Mestia from Tbilisi by helicopter. The duration of the flight is 1½ hr. There are a few companies organizing these flights.
- From Tbilisi, take the 21:50 night train reaching Zugdidi at 06:05, then follow the #By bus section below.
- From Kutaisi (station "Kutaisi I") take the train at 13:45. It arrives at 17:05. The price is 2 lari and runs daily. Tickets can be purchased on the train or at the counter on second floor of the station.
Trains can be full (especially private cabins), so book several days in advance.
Bus stationphone: +995 568 999 968
- Tbilisi – Departures time: early morning, 05:00 and 07:00. From Didube bus station, and also from Station Square railway station. Price: 30 lari. Duration 8-10 hr, depending on the weather.
- Kutaisi – Departing in the morning from the main bus station (next to the train station, behind McDonald's). They have Mestia signs in the front window in Latin letters. The first one seems to leave whenever it is full (maybe around 09:00), while the next one seems to leave at 10:00 even if there are still seats open. Price: 25 lari.
- Zugdidi – Marshrutkas to Mestia wait in front of the train station, and the first one is schedule to coincide with the 06:05 arrival of the Tbilisi train. Duration: 3½-4 hr including a coffee break. These marshrutkas will only go if there are enough passengers—therefore expect some hours of waiting in the worst case, except for the train-connecting ones. Instead of waiting for hours, a good bet might be to trying hitchhiking, especially if you are on you own. This will give you the chance to stop on the way and see impressive landscapes towards Mestia and fallen apart leftovers from previous times. In the end, you can always take that last marshrutka to Mestia.
By carA new highway from Zugdidi to Mestia has been opened and the trip has become relatively safe and comfortable by public or private transport. The view on the way is amazing. The usual driving time is about 2 hr, although it can be longer in winter following snow falls, or when the road is covered with ice. Whatever the season, it is not advised to drive yourself unless you are used to such mountain roads. Drive with high attention if you are not an experienced driver.
Driving between Mestia and Tbilisi takes about 6½ hr.
On footThe city is small enough to be covered by foot.
By thumbAvoid the local taxi mafia and try to hitchhike instead if needed.
Svaneti Historical-Ethnographic Museumphone: +995 322157300address: 7, A.Ioseliani St.Astonishingly extensive museum which has one of the oldest New Testament manuscripts in Georgian on display. The museum is equipped with modern display cases and has extensive written descriptions of exhibits in English.
House and Museum of the alpinist Mikhail Khergianiaddress: Khergiani Street 15Part of the tour includes going inside the Svan tower which Khergiani used as his training gym.
Ski liftIt leads to the top of a mountain and offers splendid view. There is a restaurant on top.
- Stone defensive towers. A typical fortified dwelling consisted of a tower, an adjacent house and some other household structures encircled by a defensive wall.
- Churches of 10th–14th centuries, including Mazhari, Trongsa and some others.
- Ushguli – 4-day Mestia to Ushguli Trek
Cross and Koruldi lakesThe path is very easy to find and follow. From the main square go 500 m east and follow the road which forks uphill (just before the bank). Trip time is approx. 2 hr one-way, concentrate on the way back to avoid detours. You can also continue to the Koruldi lakes (2 hr more with some very steep hills to climb). No map needed for this route. Download coordinates: GPX, KML.
Chalati GlacierThere is a new bridge north of town that saves some kilometers from the previous route that passed the airport. Just follow the main road from town along the northern side of the river for approximately 2½ hr. You can try to hitch-hike to cut the time walking significantly. At the end of the road is a swinging bridge. The brave can cross that one, but there is also a normal bridge just next to it. There's no border post anymore, but a cafe offers refreshments. From the swinging bridge it takes approximately 1 hour to the glacier, but the path crosses a lot of glacial scree and other loose rock. Casual hikers should strongly consider taking some type of hiking sticks along as well as extremely sturdy shoes. No entrance fee, no map needed for this route. The signage at the beginning of the trail is poor but then there are numerous cairns and white-orange trail-marking paint. The critical juncture is near the very beginning where a flatter trail follows the smaller river (the one that the swinging bridge crosses), but that trail is not to the glacier and ends ½ km from the swinging bridge. As of May 2019, The glacier trail is the steep one to the left of the wooden "Welcome" sign. Download coordinates: GPX, KML.
SkiingThere are two ski resorts close to Mestia.
TetnuldiTetnuldi resort is still under construction. Four lifts are in operation and there is only one very easy slope finished. Usage of the lift is free. At the lift, there is no ski rental, so if you need ski, you need to rent in Mestia. There is a government bus from Mestia central square at 11AM, which is also free, it returns when the lift closes, around 17:00.
HatsvaliThis ski resort features a single lift and also a single slope (there is a short beginners lift as well). The slope is more difficult than Tetnuldi's. The ski pass is 5 lari for locals and between 20 and 25 lari for foreigners (or season pass for 300 lari for either), but you should still ask a local, e.g. your taxi driver, to purchase the pass for you. Ski rental is available at the lift, though the skis are quite old and better ones can be had in Mestia. To take a taxi to Hatsvali is 40 lari at most for a return journey. The driver will take you there, go home and arrive again at a prearranged time. The cheaper way is to walk in the right direction and hitchhike, especially if you are without skis.
- Beautiful works of folk art can be bought at the Mountain Tourist Centre.
- There is a small market for fruit, vegetables, drinks and necessity products, as well as a number of shops.
- Along the main road (in the direction to Zugdidi) you will find a few little shops with secondhand clothes. These are worth a look if you need something. Unfortunately, hiking clothes and shoes are seldom at offer.
address: Seti squ. 7It's newly built. Have air conditioning in the hall and heater in the room. The room is large.
Hotel "Mestia"phone: +995 577721211, +995 590721211address: Zurab Devdariani
Manoni's GuesthouseVery popular with backpacker. There you will find people to hang around and do the tracks with, or to find a bunch of people going to Ushguli. They also have a restaurant and (of course) can organise trips.
Muradi Chartolani's Guesthousephone: +995 55561974address: Ushba St. 2Guesthouse with TV, garden.
phone: +995 595414443, +995 555525577address: Kakhiani st. 16Centrally located with balcony overlooking river mountains and 'Svan' towers holding the sky over Mestia. Friendly, English-speaking and very helpful staff.
phone: +995 99183555, +995 90527818address: 1 Queen Tamari Street AkhalsheniGuesthouse with private and single rooms, free wifi internet, hot water and wonderful Georgian meals. Very comfortable beds. New building with additional guest-rooms. Calling ahead for vacancy is advisable during summer. Warm and friendly owners who speak English. Additional services and airport pick ups, meal requests, cooking lessons, etc. can be arranged.
Nino Tstulukiani's Guesthousephone: +995 595589839address: Guladi Japarise Street no 8Nice family run guesthouse with spacious rooms, shared sitting room and bathroom with hot water. The owner is an excellent cook. In summer 2011, the family was building a hotel, located next to the guesthouse.
phone: +995 599641455, +995 598309919address: 17 Vittorio Sella Str.Very nice guest house above Mestia. Free Wi-Fi, hot water, nicely warmed in winter, and delicious Georgian food. Also, the view from the living room may be one of the most beautiful views on Mestia. Booking possible on booking.com, or by email.
Several people rent rooms in their houses as well:
House of Elguji Jorjoliani
House of Ketevan Gablianiphone: +995 599569358
House of Malkhaza Argvilianiphone: +995 599259080
House of Irma Khergianiphone: +995 598977238
Gurami Khvintelani's Guesthousephone: +995 577301084address: Nugzar Japaridze street N1Rooms are quite spacious, with shower, a big garden, free coffee and tea. Beautiful view. If you would like, you can cook by yourself in the big kitchen. play table tennis in the garden and enjoy rocking in rocking-chair. Hostess knows English and French and can help you to make plans for your trips, to find guides according to your interests and to get any kind of information you'll need.
phone: +995 599 73 95 21Guesthouse with private rooms, hot water and meals in picturesque village Becho. Convenient for a trek or climbing expedition to Ushba.
Irine's Guesthousephone: +995 591 810 242Irine Japaridze operates a friendly, welcoming guest house in Becho, open year-round, which is located near a roaring river, in a beautiful yard with a garden and fruit trees. There are great views of Ushba, one of the tallest mountains in the Caucasus, and you can walk to a nearby spring which has naturally carbonated water. The food is outstanding, cooked in the flavourful Svan style, and much of it comes fresh from the garden. Becho is a peaceful and quiet village even during the peak of the tourist season. The rooms are comfortable and there is hot water. Bring warm clothes: the bathroom is in another building, and nights in Svaneti can be chilly.
Guesthouse Svaneti Peak-MazeriGreat location under Mount Ushba, with gardens and meadows around, home-made natural traditional food. Horse-riding tours, trekking to waterfalls and Ushba glacier, and mountain river fishing are available.
Geocell and Beeline both have quite decent signal in the area.
Otherwise, checkout these interesting destinations:
- Mazeri – A Svaneti mountain village, surrounded by a stunningly beautiful landscapes and huge waterfalls. The starting point for a several exciting Svaneti trekking routes, including Mount Ushba glacier trek.
- Jvari – A small town with a couple of great attractions nearby, namely Enguri Dam and Silver Lake. The latter is one of the most impressive alpine treks that you can do in Georgia. Take the marshrutka to Zugdidi, and ask the driver to drop you off in Jvari (3 hr, 15 lari).
- Ushguli – Mestia is also the embarkation point for a trip to this highest altitude inhabited point in Europe. There is another small Ethnographic Museum there, containing 12th century religious artwork.
- To get a more authentic experience, also consider visiting nearby villages such as Lenjeri (many Svan towers), Latali (old and beautiful churches), and Becho (mountain hiking).