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Skiing in Gudauri – The Ultimate Guide to Georgia’s Best Ski Resort

An aerial landscape shot of a snow-covered Gudauri bathed in soft, morning sunlight

Skiing in Gudauri – The Ultimate Guide to Georgia’s Best Ski Resort

The snowy north of Georgia is home to the picturesque and exciting ski destination of Gudauri. In this ultimate guide we aim to showcase the charm and appeal of the area as well as provide all the essential information for an unforgettable experience skiing in Gudauri.

A man coming to a stop on skis on a freshly groomed ski slope

Photo by Michal Tomas.

Why Choose Gudauri?

Before we get started, you might be wondering why you should choose Gudauri for your next ski destination. With hundreds of resorts to choose from worldwide, it’s a tough call, but here are some of the benefits of choosing Georgia’s most popular resort.

Firstly, and a large factor for many people, is the cost. Georgia is possibly the cheapest ski destination in the world when you account for lift passes, ski hire, transfers, accommodation, food, and the all-important après-ski!

Secondly, and somewhat linked to the cost, is the availability of ski-in/ski-out hotels – a luxury reserved only for the wealthy in some of the Alps’ resorts. Skiing right up to the warm, welcoming door of the hotel is a bonus that everyone can enjoy in Gudauri.

An aerial shot of the Marco Polo hotel in Gudauri ski resort covered in snow

Next, the food and drink in Georgia is excellent! The country is known for its unique, ancient wine-making process – qvevri wine – along with its distinctive dishes like khachapuri and khinkali. Both the wine and cuisine, woven tightly into the fabric of what it means to be Georgian.

Another advantage Gudauri has over the more prominent resorts is how much quieter the slopes are. This will likely change over time, as word gets out about the area, but right now, it remains somewhat of a hidden gem.

Finally, Georgia is an uncommon and incredible place to experience and explore. Aside from skiing, the history of the country, its culture, and its people are like nowhere else on earth. If you’re looking for somewhere out of the ordinary for your next trip, Georgia certainly ticks that box.

Where is Gudauri?

Gudauri’s geographical location is nothing short of spectacular – located near Europe’s tallest mountains in the breathtaking Greater Caucasus. The accessibility and proximity to major cities in Georgia make it an ideal destination for both local and international skiers seeking adventure in a winter wonderland.

Getting to Gudauri

An aerial shot of Gudauri and its ski slopes covered in snow

Unless you’re already in Georgia, the first task is getting to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Although flying is the best way to reach Tbilisi, there is a lack of direct flight connections with Western Europe. There are direct flights from Paris and Amsterdam, although they aren’t daily, and presently, there are no direct flights from London, though that is rumored to be changing soon.

One cheap option is to fly via Istanbul with Pegasus or Turkish Airlines. Istanbul, and other Turkish cities, have excellent flight connections with the rest of Europe and daily flights to Tbilisi.

The best way to get from Tbilisi to Gudauri is by private transfer. It’s around a 2–2.5-hour drive which starts on highways and ends with winding mountain roads.

Skiing in Gudauri – Resort Amenities

Gudauri may be a small resort, but it has all the excellent amenities you need to enjoy whatever your level. From beginner green trails to expert level blacks, plenty of lifts, a wide range of hotels, rental shops, instructors, guides, restaurants, and a lively après scene.

Map of Gudauri – Trail Map

Here is the Georgian MTA trail map of Gudauri.

A trail map of Gudauri's ski slopes and lifts

One thing to note is that it doesn’t include a great blue trail on the Kobi side of the mountain. To access this, you get the gondola to the Kobi Pass and instead of skiing back towards Gudauri, head in the opposite direction.

Slopes at Gudauri

Gudauri has over 75km of skiable trails as well as a huge number of off-piste ski areas. The noticeable thing here is that there are no trees, meaning the slopes are wide and the off-piste sections are very easily accessible.

The majority of the slopes are blue, with a few reds and blacks at higher altitude. While this might put off more experienced skiers, many of the blues are actually quite steep and fast. Overall, Gudauri suits intermediate skiers best, and even advanced skiers that love tearing down a freshly groomed slope.

There’s also a great beginner ski area – the Pirveli green trail – with very flat and slightly steep sections for beginners to learn. Oh, and the absolute highlight of this area, has to be the hordes of cute dogs that live on the slopes!

Lift Passes

You can buy lift passes at one of the many ticket offices around the resort. The easiest, if you’re staying in the older part of town, is the office at the bottom of the Pirveli lift. However, from New Gudauri – a little to the east – there’s a booth near the Goodaura gondola.

Ski Rental Gudauri

There are countless places to rent equipment in Gudauri and it’s far cheaper than other ski resorts. Many hotels have their own rental services, or independent rental companies within the hotel.

We rented ours from the rental place at the back of Marco Polo Hotel, which was where we stayed.

Ski Lessons Gudauri

There’s no shortage of instructors and guides for all levels in Gudauri. They offer both private and group sessions. While the group sessions are cheaper per person, it’s worth paying extra for the one-to-one approach.

You can book lessons or a guide through your hotel or rental shop.

Après and Nightlife in Gudauri

Gudauri has a vibrant après-ski and nightlife scene, particularly in the New Gudauri area at the bottom of the Goodaura trails and lifts.

A few of our favorite spots are the Drunk Cherry and the Black Dog, both in New Gudauri. Escape was also a fun place to go for an early drink – they have an outdoor area with a sound system that anyone can use, which is perfect if you’re in a big group.

Where to Stay in Gudauri

Gudauri has many ski-in/ski-out resorts to choose from. We were staying as a large group, spread across three hotels near the Pirveli lifts. They all have their own pros and cons but are all excellent value for money.

Firstly, our top pick, the Marco Polo Hotel Gudauri, which has a spa – with pool, Finnish sauna, steam room, and treatment rooms – a bowling alley, a great restaurant, and stunning rooms.

Next, the luxury Gudauri Lodge which also has a great spa area – the highlight being the outdoor hot tub!

Finally, the quirky and modern Gudauri Loft Hotel with its trendy restaurant, pool, spa, and modern rooms.

Gudauri Costs

When compared to the cost of a similar trip to the Alps, the cost of skiing in Gudauri is nothing short of a miracle. Here’s a rough breakdown of costs based on a one-week stay with 6-days skiing:

  • Lift passes – $22 per day
  • Ski/Boots/Poles Rental – $20 per day
  • Luxury Accommodation – Under $150 per night
  • Tbilisi to Gudauri Transfer – Around $70
  • Lunch on the slopes – Under $20
  • Dinner – Under $25

It’s incredible when you compare these costs against higher end places like Zermatt in Switzerland. There, you could expect to pay at least 3 to 4 times more for each of the items listed above. Of course, it comes with a higher standard of experience, but is it really worth the vast difference?

Where to Eat in Gudauri

The best spot to stop for lunch on the slopes is the lively Café Vitamin, in the very heart of the skiing area. It’s easily accessible from many of the lifts and gondolas as well as the trails coming from the higher areas, so it’s an ideal meeting point. They offer traditional Georgian fare like khinkali as well as international food like pizzas and Mexican potatoes.

If you’re staying in Marco Polo, we’d also highly recommend their restaurant which serves a wide range of local and international dishes.

As well as drinks, Drunk Cherry is another solid option for pizzas and burgers – and even a vegan burger.

If you’re after a sugar boost after skiing, there’s surprisingly a Dunkin’ Donuts located at New Gudauri and another near Marco Polo hotel!

Best Time to Visit Gudauri

Thanks to its high-altitude the long ski season in Gudauri runs from December to April. The best time to go is from mid-February onwards when there’s more likely to have been significant snowfall.

As is the case with every ski trip, the longer, the better, in terms of weather. It’s hard to predict snow conditions, temperature, and clear days, but going for a week or longer gives you a good chance for some perfect conditions.

Gudauri Experiences Beyond Skiing

While Gudauri is a haven for skiing and snowboarding, the region is rich in cultural and historical attractions beyond the slopes.

Skiers looking for some time out can explore nearby points of interest like the Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument. The meaning of this impressive structure may be lost today – what with Russia invading in 2008 and continuing to occupy parts of Georgia – but it’s a must-see relic of peaceful times in the region.

An orthodox church dwarfed by a snow-capped mountain

Another unmissable stop is the neighboring, mountainous area of Kazbegi – home to the beautiful Gergeti Trinity Church. Perched on a hillside, dwarfed by snow-capped giants, this 14th century Orthodox church is one of the highlights of the region.

Conclusion

Skiing in Gudauri is not just about the exhilarating slopes and fantastic amenities, it’s a gateway to an extraordinary adventure in the heart of the Greater Caucasus. From the cost-effective skiing experience and the convenience of ski-in/ski-out hotels to the delectable Georgian cuisine and the charm of a less crowded resort, Gudauri stands out as a hidden gem for winter enthusiasts.

A man in a yellow and black jacket skiing down a slope with other skiers in the background

Photo by Michal Tomas.

Beyond the slopes, the region’s rich history and cultural attractions add an extra layer of depth to the overall experience. Gudauri truly offers a unique blend of adventure, culture, and affordability, making it an exceptional choice for those seeking an unforgettable winter wonderland escape. Whether you are a seasoned skier or a first-timer, Gudauri promises not only thrilling slopes but also a journey into the heart of Georgia’s captivating landscape and heritage.

Gudauri FAQs

Is Gudauri good for beginners?

Gudauri is perfect for beginners with dedicated areas and gentle slopes, ensuring an ideal learning environment.

How many ski lifts are there in Gudauri?

Gudauri currently has 14 lifts, including gondolas, chairlifts, and button seats.

How big is the Gudauri Ski resort?

In terms of ski resorts, Gudauri is on the smaller side, with around 75km of slopes for skiers and snowboarders.

Is Gudauri worth visiting?

Absolutely, with affordable skiing, unique Georgian culture, and historical attractions for a memorable winter escape.

How safe is Gudauri?

Gudauri is generally safe for tourists. Follow resort guidelines, wear proper safety gear, and heed instructors for a secure experience.

What time are the ski lifts in Gudauri?

Ski lifts in Gudauri typically operate from 10:00–16:30.

How high is Gudauri?

Gudauri sits at one of the higher altitudes for a ski resort, ranging from 1,990m (6,529 feet) to over 3,300m (10,827 feet).

How long is the ski slope at Gudauri?

Gudauri features over 75km of slopes in total, the longest continuous run is around 7km from Kobi.

Can I drink tap water in Gudauri?

While generally safe, it’s advisable to drink bottled or filtered water in Gudauri to avoid potential discomfort.

Should I tip in Gudauri?

Tipping in Gudauri is appreciated but not mandatory. It’s customary to tip around 5-10% in restaurants.

Comments

  • March 5, 2024

    Really helpful post, Caz and Simon! Such a great week skiing in Gudauri 🙂

    reply

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