A new airport in Mestia - Queen Tamar Airport - has recently opened, and flights between Mestia and Tbilisi are now available 5 times a week for 65 lari (including transfer to Tbilisi if flying from Mestia) each way. Reserve tickets at least a week in advance.
In the summertime a plane flown by the Georgian military will give you a ride between Kutaisi and Mestia. The plane only operates on "perfect" days. This is a very fun experience! The cost is free to the locals, or ~$15 USD for foreigners. It will take off from a grassy field in Mestia, and land in Kutaisi in less than an hour! This will reduce travel time to the capital by about 6-8 hours! The plane flies on Saturdays and leaves Kutaisi at 9. The pilot's name is Leri - 877-199-689 (Info from 2010, number no longer valid in 2014).
During the summer 2014 there are flights from Tbilisi to Mestia for 65 GEL one way (100 GEL return flight)from Natakhtari Airfield. Flights from Natakhtari to Mestia and back are operated by air company Serviceair, by air plane LET 410-UVP. Flights are on Monday, Wednesday and on Friday. From Natakhtari to Mestia at 09:00 AM and from Mestia to Natakhtari at 11:00 AM. The registration time is one hour before the flight. Flight duration is one hour. Price includes free transfer from Tbilisi , M.S. Rustaveli and back - from Natakhtari to Tbilisi also. Transfer point is nearby Metro Station Rustaveli, near fountain. Reservations are available at:
Flights are still available for GEL 65 as of summer 2015. However, there is 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. To make a reservation from Mestia to Tbilisi, call the Mestia airport: 598510895. If no tickets are available, ask to be on the waiting list.
From Tbilisi to Zugdidi by night train, then take a marshrutka (minibus) from Zugdidi train station to Mestia. Ticket price 20 GEL (2013). Duration 3-4 hours.
Tbilisi - Mestia marshrutkas (mini buses) go every day from "Vagzali" bus station. Number of seats 16, ticket price 30 Gel per person. Departure time : 5:00 am. Duration 8-9 hours (depends on the weather conditions). Mestia-Tbilisi mini bus leaves at 7am and 8am. It is possible to book beforehand through hotels and agencies in the center of town. Only one (maximum 2) marshrutka goes to Zugdidi at 6 a.m. and around midday. Costs 20 lari There are also marshrytki to Batumi.
From Zugdidi, just go to the train station (all the mashrutkas are there) and try to find the Mestia sign on a small shop (or ask around). They leave every time the mini bus is full and it costs 20 GEL (you can say it's 15 GEL and they usually say OK).
From Kutaisi there's a daily morning mini-bus from the main bus station (near McDonalds). It has no definite schedule and departs when full. Try to come early, by 9am it might already be gone. In this case, however, you can catch marshrutka to Zugdidi (7 Gel, July'15). Ask the driver to drop you off at the mini-bus to Mestia. Be prepared to wait for some time until the bus if full. This second leg of the trip will cost you another 15 lari.
A new highway from Zugdidi to Mestia has been opened and the trip has become safe and comfortable by public or private transport. (Drive off-road cars with high attention if you are not an experienced driver). A taxi cost 100 GEL from Zugdidi to Mestia and can hold four people.
There is an ATM on the main road.
Svaneti Historical-Ethnographic Museum, which has one of the oldest New Testament manuscripts in Georgian on display. 5 GEL per adult.
House and Museum of the world-famous alpinist Mikhail Hergiani.
Hiking, supported by the Mountain Tourist Centre of Svaneti, Pereulok Stalina No. 7, 200 m from the main square in Mestia.
Chalaadi glacier is a good option for a day trip from Mestia. The hike goes north along the river from Mestia and is quite long (~20km return). To save energy and time - it is possible to rent a car or hitch hike very close to glacier and spend more time at the glacial site.
Mestia is also the embarkation point for a trip to Ushguli, the highest altitude inhabited point in Europe. There is another small Ethnographic Museum there, containing 12th century religious artwork.
Mountain Ushba is a main attraction, in good weather conditions you can see it above.You can also get to its base.
Walk to the Mount Ushba glacier takes around 6 hours, starting from a beautiful mountain village Mazeri.
Take the cable car (kanatnaya doroga) to the top (6km) to see the splendid view. The walk to the cable car is long though (8km), so try to hitch hike.
Get in one of the old fortresses (koshka) to see how the protection worked before.You might pay for the entry there.
Beautiful works of Folk art can be bought at the Mountain Tourist Centre.
Mestia has only very few options for eating out. On the main street there are two restaurants that both serve very nice food. The nicer looking of the two, near the center, is slightly more expensive, but still very cheap. Meat-filled dumpling - 0.50 per one. Beef stew - 5 Lari, salad - 4 Lari. Tea - 2 Lari.Draught georgian beer is also available, 2lari.
There are few bakeries where you can get fresh warm bread for 1 lari. Try the local cheese.
There is a small market for fruit and vegetables and a number of shops.
- Cafe Dael, Queen Tamar st. (Next to hotel Dael). Nice georgian restaurant. Cozy atmosphere and good food. edit
- Cafe Laila, (In the main square). The only good thing about this place is they have free wifi. Service is horrible and the food is just ok. edit
Lots of interesting mineral water. And of course, as anywhere in Georgia, marvellous Georgian wine and chacha!
- Bar restaurant Sunseti, Queen Tamar st.. This is one of the best places to eat in town. Try the ojakhuri, fried pork and potatoes. Plus service is decent, which in Mestia is hard to find. edit
- Hostel Seti , Seti squ. 7. €10 for a dorm bed. Located right in the center, next to the tourist information center and a restaurant. It's newly built. Have air conditioning in the hall and heater in the room. The room is large.
- Nest Hostel Mestia, Kakhiani st. 16, ☎ +995 595 41 44 43 +995 555 52 55 77 (email@example.com), . Centrally located with balcony overlooking river mountains and 'Svan' towers holding the sky over Mestia. Friendly, English speaking and very helpful staff. €9-11. edit
- Hotel "Mestia", Zurab Devdariani, 577721211, 590721211.
- Muradi Chartolani's Guesthouse, Ushba St. 2, ☎ +995 55 56 19 74 (Transfer-Mestia@mail.ru). Guesthouse with TV, garden. $10-20. edit
- Nino Ratiani's Guesthouse, Jondo Khaptanis Street. #1, ☎ +995 99 18 35 55 +995 90 52 78 18 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Guesthouse with private and single rooms, internet, hot water and wonderful Georgian meals. Ten bedrooms total. Putting up a tent may be possible for 5GEL per person. Warm and friendly owners that speak English. Additional services and airport pick ups, meal requests, cooking lessons, etc. can be arranged. 40-45 GEL per person (including two meals). edit
- Nino Tstulukiani's Guesthouse, Guladi Japarise Street no 8, ☎ +595 58 98 39 (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org). Nice family run guesthouse with spacious rooms, shared sitting room and bathroom with hot water. The owner is an excellent cook. Currently (summer 2011) the family is building a hotel, located next to the guesthouse. GEL 30 per person (includes dinner and breakfast). edit
- Eka's Guest Houst, Vittorio Sella St. 8, ☎ 995 (5) 99 72671, . checkin: 28/9/2013; checkout: 30/9/2013. A great guesthouse run by Eka, a charming host and fluent English speaker. If her house is full, she might lodge you with her family nearby, who are every bit as welcoming. Great food! 40 GEL with breakfast and dinner, or 35 at the family's spot. 20 GEL for a room. 35 GEL. edit
- Manoni's Guest Houst, ☎ + 995 90 60 20 40, . Impressive unselfish hospitality, especially in a guesthouse which is supposed to earn from it (yes, when I payed 10 GEL for 2 nights they sayed "please stay one more night, it's late, we are hosting you on our sofa"). All the members of the family are awesome, two of them speak good english. 5 mins walking from the main square. hot shower, wi-fi and pc internet access, free tea. 5 GEL tent, 15 GEL room, 15 GEL dinner+breakfast. edit
Several people rent rooms in their houses as well:
- House of Elguji Jorjoliani
- House of Ketevan Gabliani (Tel. +599-56-93-58)
- House of Malkhaza Argviliani (Tel. +599-25-90-80)
- House of Irma Khergiani (Tel. +598-97-72-38)
- Gia’s Homestay (http://giashomestay.blogspot.com/)
- Shalva Kvitsiani's Ushba Homestay, (Village Becho), ☎ 599 73 95 21, . Guesthouse with with private rooms, hot water and meals in picturesque village Becho. Convenient for a trek or climbing expedition to Ushba. edit
- Gia Japaridze's Family hotel, Guladi Japaridze street,15, ☎ 599 606332, . 2-floor Japaridze family owned hotel with three comfortable triple and three double rooms. There are two shared bathrooms, kitchen, open balcony with fresh air and wonderful view, big garden possible to use for tent, pick up service from every site in Georgia. Price 45 Gel(full board) per person. This friendly family is full of tourism information. edit
- Mestia Camping & Hostel, Agmashenebeli 19, ☎ +995 599912573. Hostel with only one available camping site in Mestia. Very good location, just on the way to Mestia glacier (Chaladi)and outstanding views. The owners are fluent in English,French and Russian. All facilities are provided like a hot shower, toilets , internet etc. Hostel and camping owners can organize trekking, guiding, 4x4 wheel cars and horse ridding. Email: email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org edit
If you want to stay just at the foot of Ushba mountain, visit guest house in Mazeri village in Becho community, Mestia region:
- Peak Mazeri Guest House (Hotel Svaneti Mestia region - Peak Mazeri Guest House), Mestia district, Mazeri, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Georgia (Find Mazeri village in Becho community. Turn left 18 km before Mestia, (Zugdidi-Mestia road)), (email@example.com), . Great family mini Hotel. Amazing location just at the foot of Ushba. Nice mountain view rooms and tasty food. Horseback riding tours. Start trekking here. For bookig please mail or visit the web-site. edit
- Koka Guesthouse, Zugdidi Jvari Mestia Lasdili. New, clean, rooms with private bathrooms, wifi, free tea, host is friendly, helpful and speaks good English, not far from the center. Rooms for 2 persons with private shower are 50 Lari as for August 2015. Exact location: 43.043578, 42.718912 edit
As of August 2011, massive construction works are in progress at Mestia. Therefore the place might not look so scenic.
- Mazeri - Svaneti mountain village, surrounded by stunningly beautiful landscapes and huge waterfalls. The starting point for several exciting Svaneti trekking routes, including Mount Ushba glacier trek. A taxi should cost no more than 20 GEL per person, or catch a marshrutka to Becho and walk into Mazeri.
- Tiblisi - Don't buy the ticket from the woman in the shop with the "Bus terminal" sign. She will tell you about a confortable bus but the next morning you will see that it is just a normal mashutka. Prices for mashutka to Tiblisi are 30 GEL (Kutaisi 20GEL).
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