Svaneti is one of the most remote high-mountain regions in Georgia. It is worth visiting for its picturesque views, rocky mountains and unique authentic architecture.
Main details about Svaneti
All you need to know to plan a trip
Tbilisi - Mestia 470 km (8+ h drive) Batumi - Mestia 270 km (4+ h drive) Kutaisi - Mestia 250 km (4+ h drive)
There are 147 settlements with overall population of 14000 people. All settlements are grouped into 14 communities. Mestia is the administrative center of the region.
The region is located at a height from 600 m (the Haishi village) to 2100 m (the Ushguli village), average height is 1200-1600 m. The climate in Svaneti is more severe than on Georgian plains. Average winter temperature is -5 – 0°C, in summer it is +25 - +15°C. But when going hiking or trekking please mind the sun that shines extremely bright in the high-mountain areas during the summer season.
Hot to get there
If you are a trekking lover, you can easily get to the region and to the place where main routes start by a regular car in summer. Winter tyres are a must during the winter season, ideally on an AWD vehicle. You will need a AWD off-road vehicle to get to the Ushguli village, the Koruldi lakes and to the Tetnuldi glacier (it's better to use local drivers service).
Best time to go
From December to March Svaneti is covered with snow and especially attracts skiers and snowboarders: January and February are the best months for these activities. Best summer months for visits are from July to September, there are a lot of sunny days at this time of the year and you can easily go trekking among the villages and to the numerous glaciers and waterfalls.
Hotels and restaurants
Guest houses and family hotels prevail in the regions. Comfort lovers should choose Svaneti and Banguriani hotels. In winter we recommend that you check heating options, as there is no gas in the region and people there usually use firewood for heating. It is better to eat in the family where you stay, but in the center of Mestia there are several good restaurants.
Best tourist attractions in Svaneti
One of the largest arch dams in the world which is 271 m high and 728 m long. It is interesting not only for its construction, but also for the amazing views of the azure water reservoir surrounded by the beautiful mountain ranges. Nowadays there is a project underway to transform the Enguri HPP into a tourist attraction with a museum and information center, viewpoints, an openspace for concerts, a cable car, an elevator on the dam and various thrill rides.
History Museum in Mestia
Open since 1936, the Mestia city museum possesses an authentic and well-stocked collection. Here golden and silver objects are displayed: icons, embossed products, decorations, armor suites and hunting equipment, coins and icons. Special place is dedicated to the vast collection of ancient Georgian manuscripts of the IX-XI centuries. Entrance fee: 7 GEL per person, guided tour - 45 GEL per group.
Khergiani House Museum
Michael Khergiani, the sevenfold champion and the Merited Master of Sport of the USSR, is well-known far beyond our country. English alpinists called him the Tiger of mountains for his ability to quickly surpass the difficult routes, he participated in a number of difficult rescue operations and bet a lot of climbing records. At the age of 37 years he died attempting to climb the Su Alto in the Dolomites. Museum has 4 halls and offers to learn more about the sportsman. There is the ethnographic hall, hall of history of the Soviet alpinism, hall of Michael Khergiani's ascends, his personal room and the memory hall for him. The entrance is free, open daily from 10 to 17 except Monday.
The Margiani family was pretty well-known in Svaneti at the time. During the Soviet period, the ethnographic museum was opened in one of the traditional Svan houses owned by the Margiani family. Larissa, wife of one of the family members, makes guided tours in the museum. The house has kept its organization since the 14th century: there you can see a traditional fireplace, cattle shed and carved benches, and learn about the life of Svans in the Middle Ages. After the tour the owner will invite you to go to the roof of the 6-level tower with an amazing view of Mestia. Entrance fee: 2.5 GEL per person.
Ushguli is the highest permanently inhabited community in Europe (2200 m asl) and consists of 4 villages. The main attractions are the double tower, the Lower and the Upper Chazhashi castles and the Lamaria church with the 10th century fresco paintings. But the most important are the alpine meadows and the unforgettable views of the Shkhara mountain. It is possible to get there from Mestia by an off-road car, travel time is around 2.5 hours one way.
Best trekking routes in Svaneti:
One of the easiest routes in the region: the trek starts from the hanging bridge 4 km away from Mestia. It is possible to get there both by car and on a bicycle. First the steep track goes through the pine forest and then the road flattens towards the Mestiachala river snaking among the rocks. The route ends at an ice cave, but it is not recommended to enter it because of the falling stones. Distance: 5 km, altitude gain: 520 m. Duration: 3-4 h, an easy route.
The Shdugra (Mazeri) waterfalls are located on a popular alpinist route towards the Ushba mountain. The trek begins from the Mazeri village and in 4 km comes to a bridge over the Dolra river and passes through a beautiful pine forest near the border checkpoint. The last 300 meters are the most difficult, but you will be awarded with the breathtaking views of the waterfall, alpine meadows and glaciers. Distance: 16 km, altitude gain around 1400 m. Duration: 7 h, a difficult route.
The Koruldi lakes (2740 m asl) are not big, but located in a picturesque place offering the most amazing views of the Ushba mountain in a good weather. Due to significant altitude gain, the trek is quite exhausting, although it is not too complicated from the technical point of view. If you wish, you can take and off-road vehicle with a local driver to get there. Best time to go there is July, when the snow is already gone, but the lakes themselves have not yet shrunk and dried out. Distance: 15 km, altitude gain around 1400 m. Duration: 7-9 h, medium difficult route.