10 Dec, 2018 - 10:00
Winter is a great time to spend a holiday in Georgia and the Caucasus. While spring, summer and autumn are best for hiking excursions, wine tasting, and relaxing on the beach, winter is the best for skiing and snowboarding. The mountain sides are covered with heavy snow, and the first-class resorts in Georgia are ready to welcome visitors to the variety of slopes and runs.
The mountains in Georgia are unique because of the Caucasus Mountains and the ridges that keep the harsh arctic cyclones away from the country. Even though Georgia is home to the highest peak in Europe (Mount Elbrus), November to May are relatively mild, with a pleasant wind coming from the Black Sea. Snow falls regularly, though severe frosts are rare.
These features all came together to create a great environment for ski resorts. The first ski resort in Georgia was already open in the early 1900s, and since then, many new places have opened too. The most well-known ski resorts in Georgia are Bakuriani and Gudauri. Gudauri is famous for its soft snow, long runs, and the beauty of the surrounding mountains. Bakuriani has always been known as the winter sports training center for athletes; here, you can find the steepest slopes, highly valued by professional skiers and snowboarders. There are two more ski chalets not far from Mestia, Khatsvali and Tetnuldi, that are becoming more and more popular.
Gudauri is the closest mountain resort to Tbilisi, just 120 km (2 hrs) away. Gudauri starts at a height of 2,200 m (7,218 ft) and the upper station of the cable car is at 3,007 m (9,865 ft) above sea level. There are several runs, from simple up to the most complex (called the “red run”), and the longest slope is 7 km long. In addition, there are heliski services and a large space for free skiing.
Experienced skiers and snowboarders love Gudauri for its special soft snow. But there are plenty of activities available year-round, such as bowling and spa services, as well as an indoor swimming pool and restaurants featuring the best of Georgian food and wine.
Bakuriani is located 180 km from Tbilisi and just 30 km from Borjomi. Bakuriani has been famous since Soviet times, when it was one of the main USSR camps for winter sports, such as slalom, bobsleigh, biathlon, and springboard diving. Bakuriani was also a candidate to host the Winter Olympic Games in 2014.
Bakuriani is perfect for a family holiday, since there are many slopes for beginners and children, as well as plenty of scenic places for walks and hikes. The resort itself is surrounded by woods and fresh mountain air, perfect for a relaxing vacation.
Mestia is a new mountain resort in the heart of Svaneti, famous for its mountain dwellers, ancient towers, and severe snow-capped peaks. There are no ski slopes in the town itself, though there are two resorts nearby - Khatsvali is just 8 km from Mestia, and Tetnuldi is 15 km. Mestia is rather far from Tbilisi (over 450 km away), but the beauty of this enchanting place will more than make up for the long trip.
Khatsvali is still developing as a ski resort, though it already has three runs, at an altitude of 1,865 m (6,118 ft): for professionals, experienced skiers, and beginners. Tetnuldi is located among picturesque scenery and is renowned among Georgian ski resorts for its notably complicated runs. The nearby mountain of the same name is 4,869 m (15,975 ft), with a 3,165 (10,384 ft) long cable road. This means that there’s a lot of room for skiing - the longest run stretches for 9.5 km.