Transportation into Ushguli is very limited. There is a road from Kutaisi that is serviced by private vehicles. Otherwise a trip from Mestia is the easiest way to see Ushguli. A private vehicle can take you up for a day trip, or for a few days. The cost will be 200 Lari (~100 USD) for a day trip in a vehicle that will seat from 4-16 people. The cheapest way to visit Ushguli is to find a large group going there from Mestia to share costs.
The trip from Mestia is 45km and takes about 2.5-3 hours. The first 15km are now paved, and the rest of the road is not as bad as they tell you in Mestia. Potholed and bumpy, yes, but not rutted or washboarded. A 4x4 is not usually needed.
It is also possible to hike from Mestia in 3-4 days which is a great way to see Svaneti for the able-bodied. There are guesthouses spaced appropriately along the road.
The main attraction in Ushguli is the Shkhara glacier. This can be easily done in a day-trip from Mestia. The hike is 8 kilometers each way over mostly flat, easy trail. You may have to wade several shallow streams, so be prepared. Allow at least 6-7 hours return. The views along the trail are breathtaking, especially if the wildflowers are in bloom (as they were in June). It is possible to get very close to the glacier by car and save energies for ascending higher and closer to the glacier.
Guides are available (~80 GEL), but are really not necessary. Horses can be arranged for ~40 GEL p/p from most of the guesthouses.
A visit to the Ethnography museum is well worth the GEL 5-6 that the local children will ask for admission. Housed in a preserved Svan house, the museum contains artifacts ranging in age from the long history of the Svaneti regions. The local children will provide rehearsed description of the artifacts in passable English.
The Georgian wartime treasury. Placed in the "most inaccessible part of Georgia" the countless national treasures were held in the Ushguli monastery during periods of conflict.
Walk through the town streets and marvel at the "edge of time" feel to the town. Cows outnumber people in Ushguli and roam the streets at will, so look down as you walk!
Ask anyone in the village for a place to sleep. There are around two dozen guesthouses in the Ushguli area, and the price will be 40-50 Lari per person ($20-$30 as of 2015) and include breakfast and dinner. Guesthouses near the river are usually quieter.
Hotel Riho, ☎ +99598319134. Hotel Riho is one of the quieter guesthouses we visited in Ushguli. We stayed three places in Ushguli and the food here was the best. Alcohol is not included into the price of accommodation, you can try good home made wine and chacha, Georgian bottled beer is available. Guesthouse consists of 6 rooms for 2-4 people each, can accommodate 20 people, two shared bathrooms (mid July 2015). To get here, go to the top of the town, turn left towards the monastery/cemetery just before the large tower/church on the way to the glacier. Hotel is right next to the Ethnography museum.50 GEL with two meals. edit
Nina Nijaradze, (When you come to usghuli the left side of the bridge then treat yourself. Family owns a tower that can be visited.), ☎ +995595854749. Nice family run guesthouse with rooms, shared bathroom with hot water. The owner is an excellent cook. She prepared excellent home-made cheese and pickled mushrooms and breakfast khachapuri. This accommodation is a little different. Accommodation is in really in a family environment. It is very inspiring to see real mountain family living in the mountains. The oldest kids are talking decent English.35GEL with breakfast and dinner. edit
Aizer Nikharadze, ☎ +995599165614, . Aizer's guesthouse http://ushguliguesthouse.edicy.co/ is another family owned guesthouse in Ushguli. Aizer's Guesthouse offers accommodation and Georgian national food. There is room for up to 12 people. Price 30 GEL with breakfast, lunch and dinner. edit
Pido Nizaratze guest house, ☎ 551 70 07 03. Really nice guest house, hot water, owner is local policeman, localted in really old house in Chazhashi (one of Ushguli small towns), you can ask anyone for Pido guesthouse, they will show you the way or call him (not sure if he speaks English). Price 20GEL + breakfast 10GEL + lunch 10GEL + dinner 10GEL (each meal is generous).edit
Emzar Khatchvani's Guesthouse Kachari, Village Ushguli (right in front of Lamaria church), ☎ +995591926237. checkin: 07:00 AM; checkout: 12:00 AM. Guesthouse Kachari was opened in July, 2014 and is consisted of 4 rooms and 2 bathrooms. Stuff is fluent in English and Russian.The visitors will be offered the possibilities of hiking, horse riding, fishing with a minimal prices. We also can pick the visitors from the airport, train station or any other destinations and offer the transportation with experienced driver and comfortable car with lower price than it is on the local market. The price is 20GEL for one person per one night.The lunch and dinner is not included in room price but can be offered in case of additional payment (15 GEL for each). Guesthouse Kachari is located right in front of one of the most significant tourist sight in village Ushguli - Lamaria, church dated by 12th century. To get more assured instead of title Kachari you should ask someone where is located Emzar Khatchvani's guesthouse so it will be very easy to get the directions. In the guesthouse traveler can find out 3 triple and 1 double rooms. Comparing to other local properties in our guesthouse 2 modern bathrooms are located inside the building, next to rooms. Guesthouse Kachari can offer smoking and non-smoking rooms. There is free camping area on the yard. Also 1 extra bed can be added in each room (with some payment).20 GEL. edit
You need to hire a private taxi or find a tour group. Taxis wait at the bridge until they're filled (~30GEL p/p) to go to Mestia. Tour vans usually wait at the hotel/cafe at the top of the town while tourists hike to the glacier. If you're not in a hurry, you can ride back with them to Mestia in the afternoon much cheaper if they have room (they usually do).
It is also sometimes possible to get rides on to lower Svaneti and Kutaisi over the mountain pass to the south (6 hours from Ushguli to Kutaisi). They leave from near the cafe usually in the early morning. Summertime only. I was told it was spectacular.
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.