When travelers think of
Georgia, its ancient winemaking tradition, epic cheesy breads and trendy
nightclub scene usually come to mind.
the country's greatest asset is actually its snow-capped mountains.
1,200 kilometers, the Caucasus Mountains cover approximately 60% of the
country's surface area, making the Alps look like child's play.
why haven't more people cottoned on to Georgia's magnificent skiing
starters, most travelers have only recently warmed up to the small country that
borders Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey as a viable vacation spot.
there's Georgia's remoteness -- it's a five-hour flight from Western Europe.
plugged-in travelers who do make the trip over tend to visit in summer, when
hiking, off-roading, and winery-hopping are key attractions.
This suits in-the-know skiers
and snowboarders, who'd rather keep the pillowy powder, non-existent lift lines
and dazzling mountain scenery to themselves come winter.
who can blame them? For the paltry price of around $15, the cost of an average
lift ticket (compare that to $61 at Chamonix in the French Alps,) you might get
a whole mountainside to yourself.
cheap lift tickets used to be a drop in the bucket compared to the airfare it
took to actually get to the Caucasus.
in November 2019, Ryanair launched in Georgia with routes starting at $20 from
Bologna to Kutaisi, Marseille to Kutaisi, and Milan to Tbilisi (Cologne to
Tbilisi will kick off in April).
a result, the country has become a realistic add-on to any European trip --
winter ones included -- virtually overnight.
insanely economical flights and ski passes -- paired with the fact that you can
eat and sleep like a Bagratid monarch here for about $10 and $50, respectively
-- make it an unequivocal bargain for ski travel.
it seems word is traveling fast -- five times more skiers took to the slopes in
the 2018 to 2019 season than five years prior.
sweetening the pot are new designer lodges, off-piste experiences, and
après-ski perks including fireside khinkali (soup dumplings) and gut-warming
chacha (Georgian brandy).
all you have to do is decide on a mountain.
are our top resort picks, plus hotel recommendations for when the boots come
Far and away Georgia's most
popular resort, Gudauri is a 90-minute near-vertical drive north from the capital city of Tbilisi.
the parking lot here clocks in at 7,200 feet, higher than the summits of most
slopes in the Alps (squint and you can barely make out the treeline below you).
56 kilometers of skiable terrain, culminating at an ear-popping 10,750 feet,
take in everything from long, moseying cruises apt for snowplowing beginners,
to bomb-able black runs prized by speed demons.
are English-language lessons (book via Vagabond Ski & Snowboard
School) available for beginners, and adrenaline junkies shouldn't pass up the opportunity to heli-ski down virgin slopes with Heliksir, an adventure company with a decade's experience under its belt.
new ski lift connects Gudauri to Kobi, beyond the Jvari Pass, making the resort
far more accessible from Stepantsminda, the tourist-frequented town known for
its proximity to Mount Kazbek and the hilltop Gergeti Trinity Church.