Ushguli is a city in Svaneti.
There are five villages next to a mountain.
There are mini-buses and also private rides that operate between Mestia and Ushguli. For a mini-bus, the price is 30-40 GEL per person, return. Expect to pay the same amount for a one way trip. For a private taxi, the price is 150-200 GEL per car. There are lots of vehicles leaving Mestia in the morning and returning from Ushguli in the afternoon, making it easy to find people to split the cost of a private taxi, or to find a vehicle that's waiting for one or two more people before leaving. It is not necessary to book ahead with a ticket agent.
There is no public transport between Ushguli and Lentekhi/Kutaisi. You may be able to find a private ride if the road is passable, but you will likely need to pay for the whole car both ways.
If driving yourself, the trip from Mestia is 45km and takes about 1.5 to 2.0 hours. The first 30 km are now paved. In August 2019, the last 15 km were a disaster: rutted, full of large holes, very bumpy, and muddy in places, with several landslide areas and streams to cross. You don't need a 4WD but you do need a vehicle with clearance.
If you are considering driving the 4WD track from Kutaisi, keep in mind that this is a seriously bad road through a remote area. You need a large 4WD vehicle and good driving skills. Check conditions locally first.
Once in the villages, you can walk between them all very easily.
Shkhara Glacier. It will take about 6 hours to hike from Ushguli to the bottom of the Shkhara Glacier and return. Cross the river in Ushguli, and then follow it along well worn trails on the north shore up to the glacier. Part of the walk is on a dirt vehicle track. There's a small cafe after about 2 hours of walking, after which the trail leaves the track and becomes much steeper. You can also hire a 4WD vehicle to take you to/from the cafe if you prefer. Beside hiking, you can also ride a horse to the glacier for 40 gel per horse plus 50 gel for a guide.
Gamarjoba Art Gallery - the owner of this art gallery owns the Gamarjoba Guesthouse too. His name is Mr. Temraz. On the first floor of the guesthouse, there is an art gallery that showed paintings made by the brother of Mr. Temraz. You can find these painting in his Facebook, Fridon Nizharadze Art Gallery (Galeria obrazów Fridona Niżaradze).
Ushguli Tower - there will one tower that you'll see on your right when you pass the Ushguli bridge. This is the only tower that is accessible for people to climb up to the top of the tower. You'll need to climb up to go inside the tower using the wooden stairs provided. Once you're in there, you'll need to start your rock climbing skills because there are no proper way to go up to the roof beside climbing up between the rocks in the tower. There's no safety rail provided for the climbers.
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 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. See above.
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!
You can find Ushguli handmade souvenirs in the cafés. Most cafés will have souvenirs market next to it. Among the souvenirs are:
There are a few cafes, and stores. You could also get food from your guest house.
For latte lovers, you can get the same taste from the cold coffee with ice cream. If you tried to describe latte, they won't get the idea.
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.
There are many vehicles returning to Mestia in the afternoon, and it is usually possible to find a vehicle in the morning. Most vehicles do not operate on a fixed schedule. If you have a return daytrip ticket from Mestia, your driver will give you an approximate departure time. If not, it is advisable to go to the bridge at Ushguli 2 hours prior to your desired departure time and ask the drivers around when is the next time someone will leave Ushguli.
Mini-buses wait at the bridge until they're filled (~30GEL-40GEL p/p) to go to Mestia.
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. Make arrangements with your guesthouse in advance as this service is not regular. I was told it was spectacular.