A new Queen Tamar Airport in Mestia was built in 2010, and the flights to Mestia are operated by airline company Service Air by airplane LET 410-UVP.
Flights from/to Tbilisi (Natakhtari airfield) are available 6 times a week. Ticket price is 90 GEL one way. Price includes free transfer from Tbilisi to Natakhtari airfield and back. Pick up point for transfer is at the Rose Revolution Sq. (corner of Kiacheli str. & Rose Revolution sq., the opposite side of the Bike monument).
There are flights from/to Kutaisi (Kutaisi International Airport) available 2 times a week. Ticket price is 50 GEL one way. There is no transfer included.
Complete schedule (source):
You can book the flight online and pay by card. Tickets can be purchased online not earlier than 90 days prior to the flight date. Other ways to reserve your seat (please send a request to only one of the agent to avoid confusions!):
The plane is for 19 passengers and 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 being canceled with short notice due to poor sight abilities in Mestia. There is often fog in the valleys of the Caucasus in May and June.
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 the "samgori-navtlugi" bus station . Departure time: 7:00. Also marshrutki go from "Vagzali" bus station (just in front of the huge Tbilisi Centrali building (თბილისი ცენტრალი). Look for a platform with a sign "Mestia". Number of seats 16, ticket price 30 Gel per person. Departure time : 7:00 am (the bus is ready for boarding at around 6:30 - first come, first serve). Duration 9 hours (depends on the weather conditions) with multiple stops for refreshment. It's okay to bring big backpacks - they'll be put on the roof.
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.
From Kutaisi there's a daily morning mini-bus (25 GEL) 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). 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.
In the off-season, the bus departs Kutaisi at 10am and arrives around 4pm. Expect quite a few stops.
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 dayhike from Mestia. The route goes north along the river from Mestia and is quite long (~20km there and back). As of 1st September 2017, there have been many roadworks on the walking path (in between Queen Tamar airport to Chalaadi cafe) so it gets really dusty, monotonous and not very suitable for walking. However, the path becomes really enjoyable and beautiful after reaching cafe Chalaadi. To save energy and time - it is possible to rent a car or hitchhike far up the valley and spend more time at the glacier itself. It costs about 10-20 lari per person depending on your haggling skills.
Hike to the Cross and Koruldi Lakes The cross is a wooden cross located on top of a hill, overlooking Mestia, with a wooden shelter beside it. From here, you can see nice panoramic view of Mestia. The hiking trail goes from Khergiani street, passing Khergiani tower before it goes uphill and finally branches into two paths, a steep forest path on the left and a longer but more walkable path on the right. (The steep path can be quite dangerous for descent if you don't have any walking stick with you). Right after passing the Cross on the way to Koruldi lakes, there is a wooden house where a man lives with his dog. If you make about 300m detour from the house, there is a water point to fill up your water bottles. Just follow the sign from the house where it says tsqali with a drawing of flowing water. It can take one whole day (8-12 hours return trip depending on your skill) to hike up to the lakes and back to Mestia, so prepare your own packed lunch. It will be half of it if you are only going to the cross. It is also possible to rent a car which goes up to the cross (and sometimes even to koruldi lakes).
Mestia is also the starting point for trips to Ushguli, one of the highest inhabited places 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.
The hike 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, 2 Lari.
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.
Lots of interesting mineral water. And of course, as anywhere in Georgia, marvellous Georgian wine and chacha!
If you want to stay just at the foot of Ushba mountain, visit guest house in Mazeri village in Becho community, Mestia region:
As of August 2011, massive construction works are in progress at Mestia. Therefore the place might not look so scenic.
Four years later (September 2015), the massive construction works are completed, and Mestia is extraordinarily scenic, especially from the outdoor patio of the hotel looking across the town with its protective towers to the patchwork of agricultural fields up the slopes to the foot of the forested mountains.
As of July 2017, there are massive construction projects near the bottom of the Chaladii glacier. Also along the road from the bottom of the glacier to Mestia