Usually, we take our trips spontaneously. If we find cheap tickets to any country or place we would like to visit, we just buy them. But every new year starts with skiing. In Lithuania people usually chooses Austria, France or Italy as their favorite destination of winter sports. We like to try something new and unexpected. This year we have chosen Gudarui, Georgia as our skiing destination.
How to prepare for a skiing trip?
It all depends on your level of skiing, number of travelers and distance between your place and ski resort. If there are 4 or more people in your group, you already have your skiing equipment and you can easily reach the final destination by road, the cheapest option would be car, van, bus or any kind of transportation that would help you to reach mountain with any size of luggage.
If there are less than 4 people, usually cheapest option is to fly. If you love your equipment, still it will be cheaper to buy sports package for skiing and choose cheaper flight than to drive to any location which is far away from your home.
This year there were 8 people in our company and our final destination – Georgia. As there are no comfortable roads and the distance is enormous, we took a plane. There is direct Wizzair flight from Vilnius to Kutaisi city in, which usually cost 35-100 Eur one way. But additionally, you have to buy checked-in baggage (it would be hard to take clothes for skiing in a backpack) which costs 25 Eur one way. So the cheapest option is 120 Eur both ways (if you find cheap flight). And still, you gonna need to take additional transport (train, bus, shuttle) to Tbilisi, which is 4-5 hours away from Kutaisi, and bus to Gudauri (which is 2-3 hours away depending on traffic). We took alternative way and bought Turkish airlines flights through Istanbul to Tbilisi for 200 Eur per person both ways. We also had a chance to visit Istanbul once again!
There are two ways to reach Gudauri. One is by local bus from Tbilisi city center. We haven’t tried it but other travelers say that it’s difficult and uncomfortable. Of course, the ticket price is super cheap (3-4 Eur one way). Another way is to book a shuttle. The smartest way is to book it through your hotel or apartment, so you’ll be sure that he’s gonna come to pick you up.
Our driver Gosha was already waiting for us at the airport when we landed. He advised stopping in Tbilisi supermarket to buy groceries because in Gudauri assortment is poor. And You know, he was right. The distance between airport and Gudauri is just 150 km, but we took nearly 2.5 hours and the traffic was light. Sometimes it takes even longer. We paid 100 USD for 8 persons and gave him tips as he was really helpful.
Accommodation is the only thing that could raise your expenses in Gudauri. As we wanted to rent an apartment for all of us together, we booked it through Airbnb. Even though our host wasn’t here, it was easy to communicate with him. Unfortunately, there were some issues such as cold water, no wifi or poor kitchen amenities. Still, price and value ratio was good.
For 6 nights we paid 1100 Eur and it was one of the cheapest options around.
Tip: As there are no ski buses, be sure to choose accommodation near ski slopes.
Let’s forget everything that was before. We came here to ski.
Gudauri is biggest and fastest growing resort in Georgia, but ski pass is cheaper than anywhere else we found so far. We paid 182 GEL (60 Eur) for 5 days.
You should be present when buying the ski pass, as they take your picture and put it on the pass. It seems they can check your pass any time – there are some police guys skiing as well. And if you look suspicious – they can ask you go down the mountain and stop skiing 😉
Ski rental shops are almost in every corner of the slopes and the gear is quite new, so surely you’ll find something that fits you. We paid 50 Eur for 5 days per set. The set included skis, skiing boots, and poles. We had our own helmets.
Most of them are open, and some of them are slow. If it’s a sunny day – you can enjoy the overview of the resort while going up. It gets tricky when it’s snowing and gets windier. It can get pretty cold to go up for 15 minutes.
For the beginners, Gudauri is an ideal choice as the main green slope is long enough to learn what You need to go up the mountain. Advanced skiers can enjoy many red tracks in the middle of the valley or even go up to the top and try out few black slopes.
You can find the whole slope map here.
Even though Gudauri offers lots of different level slopes, it seems that the whole resort can be a freeride zone. No trees, no big rocks. Heaven for the ones who enjoy “off-piste”. If the weather is good, the powder snow is just incredible and very enjoyable, especially for snowboarders.
I will just leave it here. When it’s sunny, it’s breathtaking.
Our favorite part of any trip surely is food and Georgia was a wonderful place to feel it. Georgian cuisine is really simple and the main products are flour, meat, and cheese. From these products, Georgians make some delicious dishes.
Most popular is khachapuri, which is like Georgian pizza. Usually with loads of cheese and egg inside. Khachapuri is different in every region and even different restaurants have their own version. It’s not the main dish and the best choice is to order one big khachapuri for a group of people as a snack. Prices for khachapuri are various depending on size and type, but it’s nearly impossible to pay more than 5 Eur for the biggest khachapuri ever.
Khinkali’s are also one of the must-try dishes in Georgia. It’s a big handmade steamed dumpling with meat or mushrooms. You can order them one by one and the price is 0.3 – 0.4 Eur for one piece.
For a soup try Kharcho. It’s a rich tomato and meat broth with some pieces of meat.
Favorite places in Gudauri:
Restaurant Truso – it was a highlight of our trip. We went there twice and it wasn’t even one thing that was made bad. You can try local marinated veggies, local cheese plates, khinkali, khachapuri Truso, meat combo plate. For 20 Eur all 4-5 people will be satisfied.
Magi style restaurant – it’s crazy that we lived in the same building where this restaurant, is but never went there. Despite it, it’s so famous that if you want to try something new just go here.
Chaihana N1 – It’s not the best place when you want good service or amazing food, but it’s a lounge and you can relax here in the middle of skiing. Kharcho is something to try here.
Georgia is one of the countries where you don’t have to save money for drinks, just be sure to drink local drinks.
Chacha – a local spirit made from grapes. It’s strong, warming and the price is lower than 1 Eur per shot.
Beer – local beer is simple, but good enough and costs 4-5 GEL (1-1.3 Eur) per glass.
Local wine – Yes wine. It’s cheap and usually sold in packages of 5 LITERS!
In general, Gudauri met all our expectations for skiing and we recommend it to anyone who loves skiing and tries something new. Few more pics from the mountains:
So this was our trip to Georgia. Unexpected skiing next year? I guess it will be Andorra.