Svaneti - For Those Who love Nature

Mestia Travel Guide

Written by Daniel Cohen​

Mestia, a natural paradise for hikers. Different from anything else you have ever seen, this wonderful area offers endless opportunities for trekking and outdoor activities. Mestia is the most central city of the Svaneti region.

Svaneti Province is especially recommended for people who love to hike on some of the best treks out there and enjoy spectacular natural landscapes that combine green fields, dense forests, snow-capped mountains, clear lakes, and amazing valleys. Throughout history, the Svan people have developed a mentality of warriors due to the strategic location of the province and often defended their territory from different attempts to take over by others including the Mongols. The province is famous for the number of stone towers still standing around the area which used to protect local families that could afford it.

Mestia located about 400 km from the capital Tbilisi at an altitude of about 1500 meters above sea level. Mestia is the heart of Svaneti and serves as a base for most travelers who visit the area for hiking/trekking purposes. The central location of Mestia will serve you perfectly in case you are all about day trips or star trips as the best hiking trails are all around the town (or a close drive from it). Mestia offers different activities and landscapes such as glaciers, lakes, horseback riding, 4*4 jeep trails, remote towns, breathtaking views. Another great option is skiing in one of the sites in the area. You can get great advice or explanation at the traveler information center. Make sure you withdraw cash before you plan to start a long trek since most places along the road do not accept credit cards. ATM's are available in Mestia.

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How to get to Mestia?

 

The distance between Mestia and Tbilisi is about 400 km if you plan to reach it by car while the aireal distance is about 200 km. There are several ways to reach Mestia, the simplest way is by a private car (recommended!) but you can also use a Taxi, minibus or plane. All the options are available in the link.

  • Private car or taxi - about 8 hours drive.

  • Minibus - about 9 hours drive. Departure from Tbilisi Station Square.

  • Plane - about an hour flight via Vanilla Sky airline. Arrive an hour before your departure to Natakhtari airfield (about 25 km north of Tbilisi) and after the flight catch a taxi and drive about 3 km to Mestia. This option available 4 times a week during the season but is not available all year round, so make sure you check  and order tickets on their website.

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Credit card or cash?

As the region capital, you can find different money exchange and ATMs in Mastia. For anyone planning to trek outside Mestia in some smaller vilages, make sure you are ready with cash as most places won't get your credit card and there are much less options for money exchange outside Mestia.

You can exchange money or use an ATM at the following locations:

Banks

  • Crystal Bank (currency exchange) - open from 09:30 to 17:30 and closed on weekends. Address: N18 Seti Square.

  • Liberty Bank (currency exchange and ATM) - open from 10:00 to 17:30 on Wednesdays, 10:00 to 14:30 on Saturdays and closed on Sundays. Address: N52 Tamar Mephe Street.

  • Cardo Bank (currency exchange) - open from 10:00 to 18:00 on Wednesdays, 10:00 to 13:00 on Saturdays and closed on Sundays.

ATM

 

  • Address: N2 Betlemi Street (outside Seti Pharma)

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Tourist Information Center

Mestia tourist information center is located at N7 Seti Square (Mestia center). The information center is open daily from 09:00 to 18:00 but the hours are not always strict, so it is not recommended to arrive at the opening or before closing. The staff speaks English and will be able to recommend tours or attractions in the area and even offer free maps to help you get around. If you feel lost or don't know where to start, visit the information center as you arrive and you will get great ideas on how to take the most out of your time according to your preferences.

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Accommodation in Mestia

Despite its size (about 2600 residents), the number of hotels/hostels and apartments in Mestia may surprise you. As the small town based almost completely on tourists, there is a decent amount of hotels, hostels, guesthouses or apartments for you to rent. There is a wide variety of options that can fit every budget and every life-style but do not expect to find any branded hotels that you are familiar with. Prices here are usually more expensive than other big cities but it makes sense as it is quite far from any major city. Here are ourmost recommended accommodation in Mestia:

Chalet Mestia

The hotel, which opened in December 2018 is one of the best hotels in Mastia, with lovely design, a nice bar, restaurant, great lobby, private rooms with balconies and stunning mountain views around Mestia. The hotel offers its guests a continental breakfast as well as room service. The staff will be happy to help and recommend you on attractions in the area or interesting hiking trails that you should do during your stay in Mestia.

Location

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Nino Ratiani's Guesthouse

A medium-sized guesthouse for a low-medium budget with excellent value for your money. The guest-house provides a nice community feel and offers a restaurant, free shuttle to the airport, bike rental (don't miss it to explore Mestia and its surrounding area), English-speaking staff, nice sitting areas with hammocks, balconies and more.

Location

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Recommended restaurants in Mestia

The culinary scene in Mestia has not yet developed as in other cities and therefore, the number of restaurants or cafes that are really worth visiting is small. Most travelers who get to Mestia tend to eat at the restaurant in their guesthouse/hotel. For those who are ready and interested in leaving their hotel to try something new, these are the places we think are definitely worth a visit on your trip to Mestia.

Mta Bar

A stone house full of natural materials and designed in a beautiful & modern way. You can come here for lunch, dinner or just to enjoy a night out with a good drink and a nice atmosphere. Located in the most central location in Mestia with easy access, tasty food, and fair prices. Open daily from 13:00 to 01:00.

Location

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More places for a meal or snack worth considering

  • Cafe Lanchvali - Located on the mountainside and provides a beautiful view of the village. The restaurant is located at 8 Lanchvali Street and is open from 10:00 to 23:00.

  • Ertikave - More expensive Than the rest of the places around here but this is one of the only places which offers a real cup of great coffee. There is a nice selection of coffee types and breakfasts and this is a wonderful place for a quick stop if you are in the area. The place is located at 25 Seti Square and is open from 09:00 to 21:00.

  • Pub & Cinema Dede - A cool place created by women who love this region. The idea is to show a movie about the people and the culture of Ushguli so it is recommended for those who plan to visit Ushguli as a part of their trip. The bar offers beer and snacks. Located in Avtandil Loseliani 6.

Weather and best season to travel to ​​Mestia (Svaneti)

In general, the weather in the area is colder than the capital Tbilisi due to its altitude. If you are all about stunning views, green nature, hikes and treks, and outdoor activities, we recommend you visiting Svaneti region in the summer and the magical village of Mestia. The best season to visit Mestia is June-September  The amazing green season is starting from late June to September. During these months al road and trails are open and nature is at its prime. 

For those of you who are interested in classic winter vacation, enjoy the snowy landscape, experience some winter activities such as skiing, visit here December-February but keep in mind that some attractions will be closed and it is harder to get here. Make sure you and your family ready in terms of thermal equipment and warm clothes though you can buy camping equipment Mestia (and relatively cheaply).

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