Gudauri is a ski resort town in the Caucasus Mountains in the country of Georgia. It is considered one of the best ski resorts in the country – with 50 km of slopes and even heli-skiing tours. The best part? A ski pass here will cost you a fraction of what it would cost at a ski resort in Western Europe or North America.
The views are spectacular. Long slopes of pristine snow glittering in the sunshine, with the jagged peaks of the Caucasus dominating the horizon in every direction. In the summer, the slopes are lush and green and woven with hiking trails. The air is crisp and fresh – a nice break from the busy streets of Tbilisi.
Even if you don’t ski, there are plenty of things to enjoy in Gudauri. There are cosy restaurants serving delicious traditional Georgian cuisine, boutique shops and luxurious spas. You can even try the inflatable tubes! They are free to use and sliding down the hill is an absolute blast.
How to Get to Gudauri, Georgia
Gudauri is located around 120 km from Tbilisi. It takes just over two hours to get there. There are a few different ways to get there, ranging from the public marshrutka to hiring a private car. It all depends on your budget and your preferred style of travel.
Keep in mind that during the winter months, the roads through the mountains can be treacherous and will sometimes be closed due to heavy snowfall. So, try to be flexible with your travel plans if you can, as you might need to adjust your dates.
The town will appear very small when you arrive, because all you see at first is the tiny supermarket that is not much bigger than a convenience store. However, Gudauri is mostly vertical and there are more hotels and restaurants clinging to the steep mountainside above. Take the chair-lift straight up from where you arrive and you’ll find yourself in New Gudauri, a brand new development with coffee shops, restaurants, hotels and more.
A Marshrutka is a shared minibus. They are common in Georgia and they are a very affordable way to get between cities. These minibuses are a holdover from Soviet times and these bright yellow buses can be seen everywhere you go.
They carry about 15 people and they depart when the shuttle fills up. Depending on the time of day, you might have to wait anywhere between 5-30 minutes for your shuttle to fill up and leave.
From Tbilisi to Gudauri
- Take the Tbilisi Metro to Didube bus station. When you arrive, you’ll see a large marketplace with many shuttle buses and taxis.
- Ask for “marshrutka do Gudauri” and you will be directed to the right shuttle.
- The shuttles will leave between 8am and 5pm and the journey should cost around 7-10 lari. ($2.60 – $3.70 USD)
- There is no fixed schedule, the shuttle will leave when it is full.
- Some marshrutkas will continue on to Kazbegi, so make sure you remind the driver to stop for you in Gudauri.
- When you see hotels and chairlifts – you’re in the right place!
From Gudauri to Tbilisi
- On your way out, ask the driver when the last bus leaves Gudauri back to Tbilisi. It will probably be around 6pm.
- You can simply catch the marshrutka on the main road in Gudauri near the small supermarket.
- The marshrutkas will come through every 30 minutes to an hour.
The most convenient, although more expensive, option is to hire a private taxi to take you to Gudauri. Most drivers will ask for around 100-200 Lari ($37-$73 USD) for a one way trip. You can haggle with them to get a better price.
Make sure you agree on the price before you get in the car and carry exact change to pay for your ride. (Your driver might not have change.)
You can also use a taxi app such as Bolt (formerly Taxify) – which is the Uber of this region. Also, when you use the app you’ll have a better chance of getting a driver whose car is in decent condition.
Rent a Car
Finally, you also have the option to rent a car and drive yourself to Gudauri from Tbilisi. This can be a very convenient option, as it will allow you to explore at your own pace.
However, make sure you are confident driving on the winding roads through the mountains. These twisting switchback roads can be challenging, especially in the winter, and you’ll need to pay close attention.
Here’s a little preview of what you can expect:
You’ll want to rent an SUV with four wheel drive for the snowy, icy roads. Take it slow and keep your eyes on the road!
If you have your own vehicle, you might want to add on a stop in Mtskheta on your way to Gudauri. It’s only 30 minutes outside of Tbilisi and there are plenty of great things to do there. Check out our blog post on Mtskheta.
Can I Visit Gudauri on a Day Trip From Tbilisi?
Yes, it is possible to visit Gudauri just for a day trip. This destination is only about 2 hours from Tbilisi. Therefore, you would have time to spend the day skiing, hiking or exploring and you could return to the capital in the evening.
Keep in mind that the last marshrutka is usually at around 6pm. So, if you want to return later than that, you’ll need to arrange your own transport.
If you’d rather stay overnight and return the next day, there are many very affordable hotels to choose from in Gudauri.
More Tips for Visiting Gudauri
- If you sit on the left side of the marshrutka or taxi, you’ll have the best views as the vehicle winds through the mountain passes.
- Want to avoid the crowds? Visit on a weekday in late January or early February. The busiest time of the year is the first 10 days of January.
- If you will be self-catering during your stay in Gudauri, you might want to do your shopping in Tbilisi before you leave. In the one small supermarket in Gudauri, the selection is quite poor.
Have you been to Gudauri? If you have any tips, let us know in the comments below.
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