About two years ago, we began to hear info about people visiting Gudauri for the snow pistes… naturally my curiosity was piqued. Snow – yes I love a winter holiday! Skiing – for sure sign me up! It wasn’t long before we managed to squeeze in a holiday to Georgia – a week in Guduari and 3 days in Tbilisi. December rolled around and it was ready, set, here we come!
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Best Time to Visit Georgia for Skiing
If you plan on visiting Guduari for skiing then I recommend you leave it till slightly later in the winter season. If you aim for January through to March then you will be pretty much guaranteed snow.
December can be hit and miss. In 2018, they had more snow than they knew what to do with. But in 2019 there was almost no snow until very late in December. This is when we planned our visit. Naturally, in the days leading up to our holiday we were watching the snow reports very closely.
As we boarded the plane on the 26th of December, we were very pleased to see that Gudauri was heading for a cold snap. And on the morning of the 27th, when we pulled the curtains back in our Gudauri apartment we were ecstatic to see fresh snow fall.
Guduari Info – Where to Stay
There are a few areas in Guduari that you might have looked at to stay. And it gets a little confusing unless you’ve been there and understand the lay of the land.
New Guduari is a good place to start looking if you want to be near the main gondola that takes you up to the ski pistes. As the name suggests, New Guduari is a newer area (slightly higher up the mountain) and has apartment blocks galore to chose from. It is well set up with ski rental outlets, restaurants and a small grocery store.
Look out for New Gudauri Suites if you are wanting something central, and directly opposite the gondola. We stayed here. But this apartment is often booked well in advance for the ski season. So, if this is your style, be sure to book it ahead. If it is already taken, then check out the map below for other options in the area.
This area is great if you are wanting to be independent. The apartments are generally set up for self catering. This was perfect for us as we could prepare breakfast in the privacy of our room. And at the end of a big day skiing, we could kick back in comfort.
The apartment blocks in New Gudauri have fantastic facilities to store ski equipment in. A quick walk from the gondola brings you to the lockers below the apartment complex in which you are staying. This means, you can load your gear into your own locker, and it is safely stored for the night ready to collect for the next day.
They only thing I would say about staying in New Gudauri is the lively night atmosphere. In which case, if you have light sleepers in the family, you might want to think about taking ear plugs. For us however, at the end of the day we were so exhausted and so the pre New Year’s Eve party goers didn’t bother us too much.
Gudauri – Marco Polo Hotel
If you prefer a hotel then check the Marco Polo which always comes well recommended by friends who have visited over the years.
This hotel comes complete with a bowling alley, pool and kids club to name just a few of the perks. And if you choose this hotel, you’ll be able to jump in a gondola which will transport you straight to New Gudauri.
Taking any stress out of your skiing holiday, they will help with rental equipment and lessons. And can also arrange activities such as paragliding and heli-skiing.
Need to Know Info for Skiing in Guduari
Ski School and Lessons
If you are looking for a recommended ski school, then it has to be Vagabond Gudauri. I contacted them with a hundred enquiries about getting lessons for our littles! They had relevant info to help us plan our stay in Gudauri, and communication with them was quick and easy.
They took our kids for afternoon lessons each day from 2pm to 4.30pm. Now bearing in mind our littlest (4 years old at the time) is very strong willed. And so I was anxious that the instructor might not have the tools to handle her. As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about as they fast became best friends.
It was such a relief each day to turn up at the meeting point, and to deliver our kids into safe hands. We were ultimately able to get adult time to ski all over the show, while the kids picked up the basics from professionals.
At the bottom of the Red-co Suites is Aviator Ski. They come recommended by Vagabond above and have everything you need. There is no need to make an appointment, just turn up with your ID and they will get you kitted out.
It’s relevant to note that there are several places to rent your gear and each offer a similar service. They can get very very busy so allow time for the process, and then you won’t end up stressed.
Piste Info for Gudauri
This interactive map provides a fantastic overview and info of the mountain, areas, trails and accomodation of Gudauri. Zoom in and out you’ll get a better idea of where things are situated.
In Kazbegi towards the bottom of the map you can see the Marco Polo Hotel and Pirveli gondola route up to New Gudauri. In New Gudauri you can see where the main gondola departs for the upper mountain. This is the Gudaura gondola and brings you to the snow park, the green trails, and more gondolas to the upper mountain.
The Ski Experience
As mentioned above, during our visit in December there was less snow. Many of the blue trails on this interactive map at the base of the mountain were closed. But the runs of the upper mountain were fine and catered for all skiing levels.
We are intermediate level skiers. We started out, brushing up on our skills on the red runs of Kudebi and Kudebi 2. But it wasn’t long before we were doing the black runs on Sadzele.
The gondolas and chairs were well manned, and queues weren’t too excessive. And with a slightly limited selection of open trails, we still had plenty to keep us entertained for the week. What we loved the most was the quality of the snow, it was a beautiful powder and made for great skiing. What would have made our experience better would simply have been… more snow to cover the trails 🙂
Ski Pass Info in Gudauri
Grab your ski pass at the base of the Gudaura gondola. On our first day we tried to book a week long pass, but they weren’t selling them due to the unpredictability of the weather and snow conditions. So don’t we surprised it you have to purchase a new ticket each day.
One day winter passes for an adult were USD $16.50 and $8.30 for a child (6 to 18 years). Younger children under 6 years were free. A winter pass is considered the months of December through to mid March. Spring ski passes are slightly cheaper for the last two weeks in March. For more info related to the Gudauri ski passes check here.
When you get back from a full day skiing hit the bars and restaurants for some great Georgian dishes and hot wine to warm you up. The Drunk Cherry quickly became our favourite. They had lovely warm drinks after skiing, they had great food for dinner, and good live music in the evening. What more could a happy skier ask for!
Hopefully you have found all the info you need to know here about Gudauri. If you haven’t send us a message or drop a comment below and we’ll get back to you with an answer. Read on to find out about the wine in Georgia and a guide to Tbilisi.
Georgia is serious wine country and they are very passionate about the fact. So much so, that when we passed through customs my husband and I were given a small free bottle of wine each along with our stamped passports. BOOM! Georgia officially had me hook, line and sinker.
Next with our driver, just outside the airport and settling in for the journey to Gudauri. And BOOM! A one and a half litre of his finest homemade wine for the road (don’t worry… the driver wasn’t partaking on the journey).
An enthusiastic description of the wine ensued. The driver made it very clear through every hand gesture possible, that he had lovingly made this drop himself. It was no surprise when a week later he returned to drive us back to Tbilisi with another bottle. However this time is was 9am, and I draw the line at starting before 10am (my husband however took one for the team so as not to disappoint the driver.)
What Makes Wine Special in Georgia?
It’s perhaps important to give you some background on the wine scene. This will allow you to get a better understanding of why wine is so important to Georgian culture.
Firstly, the grape is not fermented in barrels but rather in a large clay pot called a qvevri. These are lined with bees wax, covered and buried.
Secondly, Georgia is well known for their amber wines… find a good one and you are in for a treat.
Thirdly, history has it that Georgia is the first country in the world to make wine. As, archaeologists have found proof of wine making practices and wine residues on the qvevri that are said to date back to 6000 BC. Wrap your head around that for a minute!
If you’d like to know more about wine and what makes it to so special in this region, then check out this post by Betty On the Go.
If you want to know how to spend 3 brilliant days in Tbilisi, getting your fill of the best wine and food that Georgia can offer… then read on.
Where to Eat and Drink in Tbilisi
This link I’m about to share with you is invaluable! If you take anything from this post, it has to be this list of bars and restaurants in Tbilisi.
Look after it, respect it, guard it with your life. This list has been created by a friend of a friend and is a google maps guide to all the best places to eat and drink. He is an Australian wine lover and importer, that moved to Georgia to buy his own vineyard. Therefore, this link has been developed by someone who knows their stuff.
This is great for a date night. It’s a lively busy place that you’ll likely need to book in advance. In an open warehouse style, you can literally see what’s cooking in the kitchen. Check out their instagram page here for an idea of what to expect should you eat there.
G. Vino Wine Bar / Restaurant
Now here is a little superstar, right in the middle of the old town. We popped in for a lunch with our kids and left about four hours later. Showing an interest in the traditional wine methods of Georgia, the waiter decided to school us on the art of the qvevri wines. He paired a glass of artisan wine with every meal, and took his time to explain the history of Georgia and it’s wine.
We thoroughly recommend you visit this restaurant, as the service, food and wine were definitely the best we experienced in Georgia. Check their instagram page here for more.
3 Days in Tbilisi – Where to Stay
We found 3 days in Tbilisi a great length of time to check out the sights and sounds. It’s important to get the perfect place to stay so that you can make the most of it.
Much of the city is walking distance, so it’s a great idea to get something central. We recommend the No. 12 Zichi Hotel. They have two accomodation options, one for families and one for couples. But the location is great, as it is set a couple of quieter streets back from the busy street of Rustavelis Gamziri. From here, it is only 5-20 mins walk to all the must see places in Tbilisi.
The rooms in the No. 12 Zichi Hotel were spacious and clean. And the complimentary breakfast was lovingly made fresh every morning – a top notch way to start the day!
A Guide to 3 Days in Tbilisi
We enjoy meandering streets, getting lost and finding surprises by ourselves. If this sounds like you then, then the guide below will suit what you are looking for. If you have less than 3 days in Tbilisi, or prefer a more structured approach then book your guide here.
Day 1 – Getting Acquainted with the Old Town
Most places of interest are situated in and around the Old Town. So start at the top end of Kote Abkhazis Qucha and follow the road. There are some cute shops to check out along the way, and some street food to tempt you. Try khachapuri if you can, or for a Georgian sweet then give churchkhela a go.
You’ll emerge at the Mtkavari River by the Metekhi Bridge. Gradually follow the river north until you reach the Peace Bridge. Make you way over the bridge or should I say, shuffle yourself over… it tends to get very busy at times! This will bring you across the river to Rike Park, which is a lovely place to kick about if you have kids. If you don’t then you might want to skip it.
Coming back across the river, from the bridge carry on the path straight and then right along the Erekle II qucha. This small road, runs parallel to the river, one street back. As you journey along you will pass the residence of the Catholicos-Patriarch, then the Anchiskhati Basilica.
Old City Walls and Architecture
Towards the end of this road you will arrive at the Clock Tower which is a sight to behold. This recently constructed tower is the design of puppet master Rezo Gabriadze. It is a mix-match of angles and corners, which when come together create a piece of art. Stick around for a bit and you’ll see how the clock strikes in the new hour.
Carry on until you reach the road Baratashvilis qucha and turn left. As you walk look to the left and you’ll see the old city walls. The architecture in Georgia is very unique, which comes as a result of their history embedded in soviet times. Look around and it’s not hard to find derelict, crumbling buildings, that appear to be held up by support beams. Ultimately it all feeds into Tbilisi’s charm.
Follow this road and you’ll find yourself back where you started. A nice little walk around Tbilisi to get yourself acquainted. It should take you anywhere between 2 to 4 hours depending on how frequently you stop to eat or enjoy another glass of wine.
Day 2 – Cable Cars, Views and a Fortress
Take the Peace Bridge and head over the river towards the Cable Car Station. Get there early in the day to avoid any long lines. If you happen to be approached by touts bearing parrots, monkeys or a peacock (yes a peacock perched on his shoulder), then just ignore. I have to say it did make me sad to see this happening.
The cable car ride lifts you across the river and up to the Narikala Fortress and a beautiful view across the city. Follow the path straight away from the fortress and along the ridge of the city for some great photo opportunities. Then turn back towards the cable car to either catch it back down, or we recommend walking towards and around the fortress.
If you follow your nose, the path will wind about, leading you through the muslim quarters of the city. You will eventually exit at a spiral staircase and small river, behind the beautiful building of the Orbeliani Baths.
The baths are definitely worth an hour of your time. Book in advance as they are almost always booked up.
After a soak, try one of the restaurants recommended on our list above, in Where to Eat and Drink in Tbilisi. Find a place that serves great wine and try a traditional Georgian dish. The lobio is great if you love beans, or khinkali if you like dumplings.
Day 3 – Culture and Shopping
Take yourself to the Museum of Georgia for a couple of hours to get a better understanding of their history. Find out about history in terms of the impact of soviet-era on Georgia as well as a fascinating glimpse into Georgian archeology.
Also worth a visit is the National Gallery, which is likely to fill in another couple of hours. Or if you’ve had enough history for a day then you might like to check out some of the local shopping opportunities.
For unique shopping finds, check out the open-air Dry Bridge Market. Near the Chughureti Bridge you’ll find the street lined with nic-nacs, paintings and all things Georgian. A great place to wander through, to grab yourself something to remind you of travels in Georgia!
If you visit Gudauri or spend 3 days in Tbilisi and have found this info helpful. Be sure to tag us in some of your photos #myfreerangefamily.
If you have already skied in Gudauri and have any further helpful info then be sure to drop them in the comments section below. We’d love to get your feedback x
If you like this guide to 3 days in Tbilisi then you might also like this post on Bucharest. Click here to read about what to see in 3 days in Bucharest and Romania.