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Updated: Oct 30, 2022

 Who said winter is not the season for hiking? Our winter wanderlust found Mestia. It turned out that Mestia has a lot to offer hiking lovers like us.

If you were looking for the next hiking trip in winter, Mestia in Georgia might be a perfect spot for you.

Come on, it is called Mestia, it almost sounds like some village in the Middle-earth, doesn't it? Well, not only sound but also it got LOTR level of charms in winter.

Hope this blog adds some value to you and pumps you up for the next winter adventure.

Contents of this blog



 There are tons of blogs about general info of Mestia out there so I would just lay out the minimum basics here.

  • Located in western Georgia, at an elevation of 1,500m (4,921 feet).

  • Plenty of day hikes are available even in Winter but you will def need snowshoes.

  • It has everything you need. (Supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, bars, bakeries, dogs... you name it! )


 If you are flying to Georgia. There are two international airports, one is in Tbilisi and the other is in Kutaisi.

We flew to Kutaisi from Gdansk, Poland. Kutaisi airport looked very new. Once we went out to the arrival terminal, loads of taxi drivers started approaching us.

There is a city bus organized by the airport (you will have no problems finding the ticket desk ) but as we arrived almost midnight our only choice was a taxi. In Georgia, some ridesharing apps are available such as Bolt, Yandex Taxi (looks like Uber and Lyft is not available.)

As a matter of fact, ladies at the customer service desk recommended we use these services.

We negotiated with one of the taxi drivers by showing the cheaper price on Bolt. He reluctantly agreed with the same price which was offered on Bolt. Do not expect local taxi drives to speak in English.

It was a bit of a hassle to communicate with him but we managed to reach our Airbnb thanks to his local knowledge.

It was also funny that he was trying to sell homemade ( I assume ) red wine in a plastic bottle.

Forgot to mention sim card options. Yes, you can buy sim cards at Kutaisi airport and there are several carriers available. We bought magti and had no problems in Kutaisi and Mestia.

 We arrived at our Airbnb accommodation after midnight. The host was still up and welcomed us... how nice. We went straight to bed as we had to catch a marshrutka (minibuses) to Mestia early in the morning. Marshrutka is the most convenient and frequently used transportation in Georgia.

Mainly used by locals but you can even use a marshrutka to go to a remote area like Mestia ! and it is the cheapest option so here we are!


 Our real challenge started when we had to find a bus which doesn't have a bus stop or time schedule!

We read many blogs about Mestia and were surprised to find out that it really doesn't have a time schedule! Coming from Japan where people go crazy about a train leaving the station 25 seconds before its scheduled departure, I felt a bit nervous. ( jk, I am hopelessly easygoing. ;P)

We luckily found out that the marshrutka to Mestia officially leaves at 10 am from the central station.

We also read marshrutka leaves once it gets full so we made sure to arrive earlier.

We found marshrutka-looking type of vans and asked drivers. They didn't speak English but they told us to hop in. The driver dropped us at the central bus station.

For you guys, I managed to find the central bus station so please follow the google map link. It is behind McDonald's.

As we planned to arrive earlier than its departure time, we ended up with others to fill up the car. ( for almost 1 hour... )

But don't forget the fact that it was January, I can imagine it can get filled up so fast in Summer.

Behind McDonalds

Ticket desk

Finally found our marshrutky to Mestia !

 As I got motion sickness on the minibus in Montenegro on the last trip, I took some pills and it worked fine.

The entire trip was 5-6 hours, we made 2 stops to have breaks. There were 2 tourists beside us and the rest were locals. We ended up talking with these girls from the Czech Republic.

I thought it is another perk of travelling on marshrutka to get to meet and talk with other travellers.


 I'm sure we passed some settlements on the way to Mestia but these settlements were more like groups of few houses. So the first impression of Mestia for me was "Wooo where did this village pop up from ?".

Suddenly you see this highland townlet with many stoney towers, and a lot of people walking around in ski wear, after a long drive from Kutaisi.

We got off the marshrutka and started looking for our airbnb. We booked the place located in the higher area of Mestia which offers a great view of the village. The host and her family were super welcoming and kind. Highly recommended.

Mestia has a lot of restaurants so you will not have any problems with the food. We avoided busy restaurants/bars which seem to have good reviews on google map. Instead, we went to a small restaurant run by a local family.

We were the only customers even tho we dined there about 4 times. I really did not understand why no one would dine here.

The place was so chill and they were very lovely. I really liked the waiter (I assume he is the dad of the family. He didn't talk much but had a friendly smile which made us welcome even under his face mask.

He served our table slowly yet politely. Their homemade food was....yum! (with the Italian hand expression.)

Here are some pictures. ( I forgot to take pictures of most of the food we ate as I was so hungry. )

Also, we noticed that Georgian food organically consists of many vegetarian options so vegetarian friendly too.



 Before we left for Georgia, we had a classic penny-pincher thought. "Do we really need snowshoes? Maybe we can go by without them." In the hindsight, we were so glad that we had bought them.

Without snowshoes, you won't be able to enjoy hikes in Mestia during the winter season. I mean you could walk on the road where cars go, is that what you want?

On the first day, we didn't wanna wake up too early so woke up slowly to make sure to get enough sleep and used the day to get used to snowshoeing.

We bought the cheapest ones from Decathlon and I was so glad that I bought ankle gaiters and hiking poles. I would highly recommend preparing these with you.

Me well equipped and obviously very excited.

My first reaction was "harder than I thought." I believe it took almost twice the time to ascend with snowshoes.

However, the bright side is that descending is much more fun and faster!

Also, I felt safer when snow covers rocks and trees.

One piece of advice I could give for those who are keen to try snowshoeing is to wear the perfect fit shoes for your feet.

I mean this sounds so obvious but I know some lazy people like myself don't bother to try on shoes to check the size.

I am also "meh.. it is a little bigger but whatever" type of person and I have had no problems with these slightly oversized shoes on many hikes.

BUT, snowshoeing was different. After a few days passed, I started having blisters on my ankles. It was not fun to hike with these blisters.


 Before day 2 begins, we had the decision to make: whether to do the Mestia to Ushguli thru-hike or stay in Mestia for the entire trip.

Initially, we wanted to do the Mestia to Ushguli thru-hike but we weren't sure if it is even doable or not in winter.

This thru-hike is quite popular in Summer but couldn't find any information regarding its winter season. So we left the decision until we actually got here.

 We started asking locals whether it was possible or not. Usually, the answers from them were "No way. Too much snow." But we had experiences of completing hikes said not doable with given conditions by locals.

On top of this, I found some records on Alltrails app that someone completed this thru-hike in winter.

I believe hiking is always filled with difficult decisions. Should I keep going or return? Should I stay or go?

Sometimes you need to realize your ego makes you underestimate risks.

Hiking trained me to think logically in a detached manner, not blinded by excitement.

Hindsight is 20/20. I have to admit that we could have done it but I am also happy that we didn't.

Without staying here, we wouldn't have hiked the trails in Mestia area.

For sure, we will be back in the warmer season to do the Mestia - Ushguli thru-hike.


1. Chalaadi Glacier:1,944m

  • 24.19km

  • 661m elevation gain

  • 7hours

Supposedly it is not so difficult and offers the view of glaciers in the warmer season.

Unfortunately, glaciers were covered by heavy snow when we tried. However, we enjoyed the mystical vibe of the trail as there was nobody around and the last part of the trail is between mountains.

You can drive up to the actual trailhead to save up time if you have a car.

2.Hatsvali : 2,345m

  • 20.95km

  • 1,118m elevation gain.

  • 7.5hours

The trail to Hatsvali ski resort from Mestia. You can enjoy the view of the white Mestia.

You need to walk on the ski course at some point so could be annoying to always watch out for skiers.

You could try to reach other peaks such as Mentashi and Zuruldi if the time allows.

3. Koruldi Lakes: 2,827m

  • 17km

  • 1,300m elevation gain

  • 6hours 48min

Probably the most popular trail during summer and ranked "difficult" in many blogs. We were told it is impossible to hike in winter but it was really doable.

As you can imagine the lakes were covered by snow. Almost half of the entire trail is a ridge walk so you can enjoy the magnificent view of mountains surrounding you for a long time.

It was really tough with snow so some experiences of hiking and fitness level are advised.

There are some huts to rest too.


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