Winter is a special season in Georgia with locals and foreigners awaiting its arrival with equal enthusiasm. Yes, this cold period of the year is associated with snow, hot drinks, Christmas, presents and of course winter holidays. And now, with the development of tourism industry in Georgia, the country has a number of winter resorts to offer holidaymakers, skiers and snowboarders. Each mountainous region of Georgia has its own unique conditions, nature and landscape. So, before you plan your winter vacation, let us introduce Georgia’s ski resorts so you can choose where to best spend your leisure time.
Gudauri is one of the most popular ski resorts of Georgia. It is located at 2,196 meters above sea level, in Kazbegi Municipality, 120 km from Tbilisi. It takes around an hour and a half by car to get there. As a rule, the skiing season starts in December and lasts till April. The area is free from trees, so it’s a perfect place for free riders and snowboarders to hit the slopes. The resort has five lifts and the entire ski run is around 60 km long.
Gudauri is notable for its powder snow that is ideal for perfect skiing as well as picturesque views over the Caucasus Mountains. Gudauri is equipped with gondola as well as chair lifts. What gets the adrenalin flowing is the fact heli-skiing is also possible for extreme sport lovers. The highest skiing point is Mount Sadzele, at 3,307 meters above sea level. A cable railway operates from 10am to 4pm throughout the week for skiers on the various routes. On Friday and Saturday from 20:00 until 22:00 it’s possible to go night skiing on the first ski trail that is 1km long. A one day ski pass costs around 13 USD which is quite cheap compared with European ski resorts. There are luxury hotels as well as cozy guest houses with friendly hosts awaiting any budget traveler. The resort carters to all levels, from novice to experienced. There are several ski routes, including off-piste skiing and marked paths.
Around the ski area there are several dining spots where one can have a rest, enjoy delicious dishes, sample Georgian cuisine and drink aromatic mulled wine. You can also buy Georgian sweets, such as churchkhela (Georgian walnut candy often referred to as a giant snickers) tklapi (rolled-up candy made with fruit puree) and purchase traditional mountain wool socks, knitted by local women, as souvenirs. On the way back don’t forget to end your trip with some incredibly delicious Georgian dumplings, khinkali. The most popular spots where authentic, delicious and juicy dumplings with various fillings are served are Bulachauri or Pasanauri.
Bakuriani is yet another well-known Georgian ski resort that is equally popular during winter and summer seasons. The place is graced with pure clean air because of the rich coniferous forests of spruce trees. So apart from winter sports lovers, the place is suitable for a family vacation as well. Bakuriani is situated at 1,700 meters altitude, in the Borjomi District in the southern part of Georgia. It’s situated 180km from Tbilisi. The resort includes a variety of ski slopes making it perfect for all levels of skiers. Apart from skiing and snowboarding, one can enjoy ice skating, sledging, horse riding and other types of entertaining activities. The overall length of ski trails amounts to 29 kilometers. Kokhtagora mount is the most popular and highest mountain at 2,200 meters altitude. Night skiing is available on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 17:00 until 22:00. The ski pass prices here are similar to Gudauri, around 13 USD per day.
Svaneti, once referred to as “Paradise Found” by a prominent National Geographic photographer, is notable not only for its amazing landscape and medieval monuments, but also for its two relatively new ski resorts. It is a remote highland, the highest inhabited area in Europe, where medieval towers meet modern infrastructure.
Tetnuldi ski resort is located 15km from Mestia, Svaneti’s main town, at an elevation of 2,260 and 3,165 meters. It offers 25km long slopes for skiers and snowboarders. The ski area includes four lifts and has the capacity to serve 4,100 visitors simultaneously. The resort is named after the gorgeous Mount Tetnuldi that is the 5th highest peak in Georgia. The ski season lasts from mid December to late March.
This magnificent region of Georgia that looks like a winter fairy tale boasts another great ski resort called Hatsvali (between 1800 and 2,450 meters altitude) that lies 8km from Mestia. 4.4km long slopes are available for skiing and snowboarding. The resort is equipped with two chairlifts that can serve 3000 passengers per hour. Working hours: 10:00 – 16:00 (till 18.00 in March-April). Cost of ski-pass is lower here, 15 GEL per day (around 9 USD).
Apart from skiing, tourists can experience the other pleasures of the Svaneti region such as sleeping in a medieval castle, tasting extremely delicious local meat pie Kubdari, going sightseeing, visiting cultural monuments and centuries-old stone churches as well as taking a tour of the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography and getting an insight into centuries-old Svan culture and history.
Goderdzi mountain village is the newest ski resort in Georgia. It is situated at 2,000 meters altitude in Georgia’s western Adjara Region. It is 252km from Tbilisi and 109km from Batumi, the seaside capital of Georgia. Since the resort is close to the Black Sea and is characterized by the high level of precipitation it is considered the most snowy ski resort of Georgia. The resort is blanketed in snow from November to April. Here you will find 8km of slopes for skiing and snowboarding. The resort is equipped with two ski lifts; a gondola and chairlift. A one day ski pass is around 9 USD (25 GEL). The area is notable for its fresh, crisp air and breathtaking views. Skiing on snow-covered mountains dotted with log cabins where locals live is an incredible experience that you will never forget.
After some thrilling but often tiring skiing, you should recharge yourself with hearty dairy food from mountainous Adjarian cuisine. Sinori (cottage cheese with dough layers), borano (cheese in melted butter), iakhni (meat in walnut sauce) and kaimaghi (special sour cream) should be on your must try list. The rural environment in combination with newest ski routes and infrastructure will make your holiday unforgettable. Also, you can easily get to the seaside within two hours by car and walk around the historic city of Batumi as well as enjoy the world-famous, boat-shaped cheese bread, Adjaruli khachapuri.