7 Things to See and Do in Mestia
Mestia | © Baia Dzagnidze
Mestia is the central town of Upper (Zemo) Svaneti, located 456 km away from Tbilisi. At 1,500 meters above sea level, the city is the starting point for many trips throughout the region. From the center of Mestia, you can hike up to glaciers at the bottom of Ushba, ride a horse to alpine meadows, learn the Svan culture, and ski if you visit it during the winter months.
Learn the history and culture of Svaneti
Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography is one of the most significant museums in Georgia you need to visit. Founded in 1936, it is home to some of the essential historical artifacts both from the region and the rest of the country.
Here, you can find medieval weaponry, unique icons and engravings, silver, iron and copper ornaments, jewelry, textile and ethnographic artifacts that tell the story of Svan lifestyle.
A. Ioseliani 7, Mestia, Georgia,
Get to know the famous Georgian Alpinist
Mikheil Khergiani (1932-1969) was a Merited Master of Sport and a Mestia-born alpinist who won seven gold medals at the USSR Championships in rock climbing and mountaineering.
His house museum displays his memorabilia, including climbing equipment, photos, clothes, and awards, along with several music records by a famous Russian singer and songwriter, Vladimir Vysotsy, who dedicated a song to the alpinist.
Mikheil Khergiani House Museum, Mestia, Georgia
Hike up to the glaciers
Chaladi Glacier, located on the southern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains, is 1,850-meters high and the only one that extends into a forest zone. The track takes only five to six hours to walk to the glacier and back to Mestia and is relatively moderate, with a little elevation gain.
Chaladi Glacier, Svaneti, Georgia
Enjoy the picturesque panoramic views of Tetnulti
Mount Zuruldi is home to the highest restaurant and hotel in Svaneti, and offers breathtaking views of Mount Tetnuldi and the Caucasus Mountains range. To get here, drive towards the Hatsvali, about eight km from Mestia, and then take a 1.5-kilometer long ropeway.
Mount Zuruldi, Svaneti, Georgia,
Hike to some of the most beautiful lakes
Georgia is home to some gorgeous lakes, and one of them is located in the vicinity of Mestia. Those lakes lie at the base of Mount Ushba, at 2,200-meters above the sea level and offer breathtaking views of the surrounding area. The track is very well marked and takes about four hours of hiking.
Koruldi Lakes, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Georgia
Koruldi Lake | © Tai Dundua
Embark on a day trip to the highest settlement in Europe
Ushguli, located only two to three hours drive from Mestia, is considered the highest settlement in Europe at the elevation of 2,200-meters above the sea level. This UNESCO World Heritage site is laid out at the foot of Mount Shkhara and offers gorgeous views of snow peak mountains, medieval defense towers, and green slopes.
Ushguli, Svaneti, Georgia
Village Ushguli in Svaneti | © Baia Dzagnidze
Svaneti is known for some of the tasty food in Georgian cuisine, with kubdari being widespread in the country. This beef or pork-and-beef filled meat pie is seasoned with onions and Svaneti salt – a mixture of dry coriander, cumin, red pepper, fennel, salt, and garlic.
Tash-M-Jab or Tashmijabi as it’s often pronounced, is a dish made from boiled potatoes and cheese, resulting in stretchy mashed potatoes. The more it stretches, the better it is.
Other staples of Svan cuisine include fetvraal, Svanetian khachapuri with millet flour added to the cheese filling and kartoplaar, another khachapuri like pie but with potato and cheese filling.
Kubdari – the meat pie | © Georgian Recipes / WikiCommons