Gudauri, is the most popular skiing town in Georgia, located in the north-eastern part of the country at an elevation of 2,200 meters above sea level. It is situated in the Stepantsminda district along the south-facing plateau of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range accessed to via the Georgian Military Highway.
How to reach Gudauri?
The mountainous town of Gudauri is approximately 120 kilometers and about 2 hours by land travel from the capital, Tbilisi. Below are the multiple options you can take to reach this town in the Caucasus mountains in Georgia.
- Chauffeured by a private car or taxi
If your travel budget allows it, it may be best to pre-book an airport to hotel transfer directly from your chosen hotel. You can also negotiate for a private transfer with anyone offering the service even directly from the Tbilisi International Airport, or you can pre-book a private ride via the gotrip.ge website which at the time of writing starts at 104 GEL (31.66 USD) good for a 3 person transfer depending on the car type you want.
The site is easy to navigate. You only have to simply input the pick-up point, be it the airport or your hotel, and the drop-off point. The site will then give you various choices of car types with their corresponding drivers to choose from. It also provides the driver’s rating from previous clients, and the language the driver speaks, so you can choose someone who speaks even a little conversational English to make the transaction a whole lot easier.
They will then send you a confirmation email with your booking details. Payment will be made once the service is rendered. You can either pay in GEL or USD. Prior to the trip, the driver will then personally message you on your WhatsApp and personal email confirming your pick-up address and the time you want to be picked up.
We are not sure if all drivers will offer to stop on some tourist sites along the way since the website only specifies one pick-up and drop-off points. However, our driver did offer us this service at no additional charge, so it may be best to ask beforehand.
- Marshrutka (Routed mini-van)
The cheapest option to reach Gudauri is to catch a ride on one of the marshrutka at the Didube Bus Station. The entire trip costs 10 GEL (3.04 USD) per way and lasts for approximately 2 hours, leaving between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.
- Self drive via the numerous car rental companies in the city.
If your confident with your driving skills you can choose to drive yourself through the treacherous winding roads going to this town up in the mountains. Car rental starts at 105 GEL (32 USD) per day for a car that sits 4 via cars.booking.com. The minimum driving age in the country is 21, non-EU drivers must present an International Driver’s Permit and must hold the license for at least 1 year.
Where to stay in Gudauri?
During our visit we stayed at the Marco Polo Hotel, a 4 star hotel located in Gudauri, 4702 surrounded by the Caucasus mountains. Check-in time at 2:00 pm and check-out at 12:00 pm.
- VALUE FOR MONEY:10/10, hotel room and bathroom size and the free breakfast buffet was worth the price.
- LOCATION: 10/10, within 5 minutes walking distance to drop off point of public transportation (SMART supermarket & Wissol gas station) and the Ski Lift 1st Lower Station.
- CLEANLINESS: 10/10, sheets, bath supplies and complimentary bottled water were replaced daily.
- WIFI: 10/10; internet connection was fast and reliable.
Practical things to do in Gudauri, Georgia
Below is a short list of some of the practical things you can do in Gudauri, Georgia.
Enjoy the scenery along the way.
The ride itself up to Gudauri was very interesting and enjoyable. Originating from a tropical country, seeing the powdery white snow even from the base of the mountains was pretty much a memorable experience for us.
Frolic in the snow.
A visit to Gudauri is better appreciated during the winter season as the entire town is literally a ski resort. If you decide to come make sure to check the advisory if the ski facilities are already operating or you’ll be stuck at the hotel with nothing much to do but play in the snow.
Enjoy a lazy day under the sun surrounded with snow.
We visited Gudauri just a week before the opening of the ski season so there wasn’t much left to do in the area besides paragliding which at the time we didn’t have the guts to participate in. So most of our time was spent lazily lounging in and around the hotel which was also our main goal in visiting the area.
Visit the Georgia-Russia Friendship Monument.
Also known as the Treaty of Georgievsk Monument, it was built into the mountains in 1983 to commemorate the ongoing friendship of Soviet Georgia and Soviet Russia. It is basically a large mosaic depicting scenes from the Georgian and Russian history, overlooking the Devil’s Valley.
The 15 minute drive from the Marco Polo Hotel was a little bit nerve wracking for us as you will pass a rather narrow tunnel though the mountains and the cliffs seemed unsafe specially with all the snow build up on the roads. But all this was worth the breathtaking views that will welcome you at this famous tourist site.
Stop by the Zhinvali Reservoir.
On the way to Gudauri from Tbilisi you can stop for a short while at this rest stop along the highway overlooking the Zhinvali Reservoir, located on the river of Aragvi for some peace and quiet. You can also buy some souvenir and refreshments at this rest stop.
Other points of interest…
In Gudauri you can enjoy various winter activities such as skiing and snow boarding all for a reasonable fee, well as per our internet research because unfortunately we have zero experience with it. That is sadly, the cons of off season travel.
You can also take part on a short paragliding activity which is fortunately an all season activity in this area. However being new travelers and to some extent paranoid we also did not take part on this activity.
On the way to Gudauri or back to the capital- Tbilisi, you can stop for an hour or two at the Ananuri Fortress Complex which dates back to the 17th century along Aragvi river, it can be found just by the road also overlooking the Zhinvali Reservoir.
Another site you can visit while in Gudauri is the Gergeti Trinity Church, under the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church which was built in the 14th century. It can be reached for over an hour of drive further north from the Marco Polo Hotel.
That’s it for now. Thank you for reading all the way through. We hope this will be helpful to your future travel plans in Georgia. You can also check our practical guide to Georgia for more information about the country, and our practical guide to the coastal city of Batumi, Georgia for another destination option in this country. Once again thank you for reading. Safe travels!