Winter in Georgia has two major things going for it: Quiet cities and majestic snowy landscapes. If your timing is right, you can catch the ski season. Orthodox holiday traditions in January add to the atmosphere.

Tbilisi remains mild throughout the winter months while the regions vary from fairly frosty to firmly freezing, showcasing all manner of splendid winterscapes: Snow-capped mountains, frozen lakes, sugar-dusted villages, and more.

So while certainly not the best time to visit Georgia for, say, hiking or wild flowers or wine, winter (December-February) is a fine time to plan a city trip or mountain escape. If you’re thinking about travelling to Georgia in winter there are a couple of practical considerations to make when planning an itinerary, some of which I cover here.

In this guide, I’ll show you 10 wonderful places to visit in Georgia in winter and offer a few winter travel tips.

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Four winter destinations in the country of Georgia.

Why visit Georgia in winter?

Starting with the obvious: Temperatures are a lot cooler in winter across the country, and winter is fairly dry in many parts of the country. Compared to hot and cloying summer, winter is altogether a more pleasant time to be outdoors in Tbilisi and Kutaisi particularly.

Winter is the off-season for most of the country, thus you’ll find accommodation prices are lower and there is less pressure on transportation. Some of the country’s best hotels offer nice deals over winter. The exception is the ski resorts (especially Gudauri and Bakuriani) where prices go up.

Some high mountain passes are closed in winter, making it challenging or impossible to visit very remote villages such as Omalo in Tusheti. But the majority of roads remain open, including the roads to Kazbegi and Mestia.

In fact it’s the Caucasus mountains that make Georgia in winter truly special. Landscapes of snow-capped peaks, little villages with smoke billowing from chimneys and Svaneti’s tower houses wrapped in a blanket of powder are unforgettable.

If you’re interested in skiing and snowboarding, winter is obviously the best time to visit the mountains. If not, there are plenty of other cold-weather activities on offer around the country, from sulfur baths to scenic train rides (read on for lots more ideas). Hearty Georgian cuisine is made for winter, and there’s nothing better than cuddling up at a cute wine bar on a chilly evening.

Finally, double holidays mean twice the fun! December 25 goes by without much fanfare in lieu of Orthodox Christmas, which falls 13 days later. December 31 is the biggest celebration of the holiday period, with a riot of fireworks in Tbilisi. Then you can witness beautiful Orthodox traditions over Christmas, Bedoba and Epiphany.

An Orthodox church in the snow in Gudauri, Georgia in winter.
An Orthodox church in Gudauri, Georgia in winter.

How cold does it get in Georgia?

Georgia has an extremely diverse climate. Generally speaking, the eastern part of the country is drier and crisper, while the west is more tropical and humid.

Tbilisi remains relatively mild throughout the winter months, averaging 2-8 degrees Celsius during the day from December to February, and dropping down to 0-2 degrees overnight. The mercury rarely dips below freezing. Since there is no ice or sleet – and there are often blue skies over Tbilisi – the city is very pleasant and crisp in winter.

In the mountain regions and plains of southern Georgia, by contrast, winters are very frosty indeed. Popular mountain areas such as Svaneti, Racha and Kazbegi all see heavy snow from December onwards and below freezing temperatures. It can get as cold as -13 degrees Celsius in Mestia and January.

When does it snow in Georgia?

Every year there are typically two or three snowy days in Tbilisi, usually at the very end of winter or the start of spring. Don’t count on seeing snow in the capital: It’s a roll of the dice and even when it does snow, it’s washed away by evening. Sometimes it even snows in Batumi – but you have to be really lucky to see snow on the Black Sea coast!

See my photos of Tbilisi in snow on a rare heavy snow day in 2021.

If you want guaranteed snow, you’ll have to head to a higher altitude. Mestia, Racha, Kazbegi and Upper Adjara near Batumi are all snowy from December onwards. This year (2021) the snow came early in Ushguli, in the final week of September

Ski season usually runs from early to mid December until April, with the official opening dates for each ski resort subject to weather conditions.

In summary: If seeing snow in Georgia is your main priority, your safest bet is to visit the mountain areas between January and February, when snowfall is heaviest.

Georgia in winter: Unforgettable experiences

10 best places to visit in winter in Georgia

While each of these 10 destinations are all terrific places to visit in Georgia at any time of year, I think they’re especially beautiful in winter.

Tbilisi is not on this list, but it’s my top choice of winter destination in Georgia – see here for my dedicated guide to visiting Tbilisi in winter.

1. Kazbegi – scenic drives & mountain magic

Mountains of Kazbegi in winter.
Kazbegi (Stepantsminda) in winter.

Under four hours by road from Tbilisi, Kazbegi (Stepantsminda) is the best place to get a peek at the Greater Caucasus without venturing too far from the city.

The scenic Georgian Military Highway remains open throughout winter, making it easy to reach Kazbegi and visit a slew of winter-wonderful sights along the way, including Gudauri, Pasanauri and Sno Village. The views along this road in winter are nothing short of dazzling – I challenge you to resist the urge to roll the window down at every turn.

Nearby Gudauri takes the lion’s share of winter tourism thanks to its ski slopes. Kazbegi is quieter and much more tranquil by contrast. Some restaurants and cafes close for the winter, but you can always find something open. Venture up to Gergeti Trinity Church (it’s recommended to go by Delica in winter unless you have proper hiking gear) and spend an afternoon on the deck at Rooms sipping glint wine.

Where to stay in Kazbegi in winter

Rooms Kazbegi is my top choice for winter accommodation. The suites and lodge-like common spaces are super cosy, and the property features an outdoor hot tub and an indoor pool. See my full list of recommended Kazbegi accommodations here.

2. Gudauri – skiing & chalets

A ski lift in Gudauri in Georgia.
Gudauri ski resort.

An obvious addition to any list of places to visit in Georgia in winter, Gudauri is the country’s most popular winter resort and a tourist mecca. Skiing, snowboarding and heli-skiing on 64km of runs (serviced by 15 lifts and gondolas) are all available from mid-December onwards.

Gudauri is far from my favourite place, though: It’s very crowded and overpriced during the season. But the scenery is admittedly awe-inspiring, I’ll give it that.

If you’re skiing, go all out and stay at a fancy ski-in chalet. Otherwise, it’s much better to spend an hour in Gudauri on the way up to Kazbegi, where the winter vibe is more pleasant and accommodation far more reasonable.

Where to stay in Gudauri in winter

Penthouse New Gudauri has ski-in access 50m from the main gondola. For something more laid-back, see the best cabins in Gudauri and Georgia here.

3. Borjomi & Bakuriani – hot springs, skiing & a scenic train ride

A railway cuts through the snow in Borjomi, Georgia in winter.
Borjomi’s Kukushka railway in winter.

Located in southern Georgia’s Samtskhe-Javakheti region, Borjomi is one of many places in Georgia with natural hot sulfur pools. A trip to the open-air thermal baths is the perfect way to warm up in winter.

Bakuriani is the second most popular ski resort in Georgia after Gudauri. With 29km of slopes spanning all difficulty levels and 20 ski lifts, this is a snow bunny’s paradise. Elevations range from 1,600-2,700 metres above sea level. Ski season normally starts in mid-December.

Bakuriani sits on the northern slopes of the Trialeti Range in the foothills of the Lesser Caucasus mountains. As you might imagine, the entire area is a winter paradise of ivory coloured trees and hoary hills.

Another must-do (and a big part of the reason so many people visit this area) is to ride the historic Kukushka Train, Georgia’s only scenic rail that runs from Borjomi up to the ski resort. The track delves into deep forest and is absolutely gorgeous in winter.

Where to stay in Bakuriani in winter

Run by the same crowd as Rooms Kazbegi, younger sister Rooms Kokhta has similar high-class winter lodge vibes and a gorgeous fit-out.

4. Svaneti – tower houses & majestic peaks

Tower houses in Svaneti in winter.
Svaneti in winter.

If you want a taste of a raw, rugged mountain winter in Georgia, it doesn’t get much better than Svaneti. Winter arrives early on Georgia’s highest peak and promises a good three months of snow-white landscapes that are almost too perfect to be real.

As a winter destination, Svaneti is quite diverse: Skiing and snowboarding are available at Hatsvali, Mestia town offers a range of cultural and historical attractions, and you can take a side trip to see the tower houses in UNESCO-Listed Ushguli (accessible throughout winter – go with a local driver who knows the roads). To top it off, Kubdari (Svanetian meat pie) might be the pinnacle of winter fare.

All this against a backdrop of the country’s most monumental mountains, with Shkhara and Mount Elbrus as snow-clad sentinels.

Where to stay in Svaneti in winter

Family Hotel Kala in Mestia has cosy rooms, an open fire in the common lounge, home-cooked meals, and oodles of Svan hospitality.

5. Bakhmaro – cat skiing & alpine air

Small wooden cottages in winter in Bakhmaro, Georgia.
Bakhmaro in winter.

Located in western Georgia’s Guria region, Bakhmaro is a beloved alpine resort praised for its curative air. Some say this is the purest air in Georgia – that’s why a trip to Bakhmaro is often prescribed to people with respiratory issues.

Summer is the favourite time to visit for dramatic sunsets. In winter, the air is a touch frostier to say the least. The storybook A-frame cottages that dot the mountain labour under heavy snow – up to 5 metres deep in a good year – enclosed by pockets of fir and pine tree forest.

Since the road up to the peak is closed in winter, Bakhmaro is only accessible by cat ski. Swiss-run company Cat Skiing Bakhmaro runs a limited season every year.

6. Lagodekhi – tranquil LANDSCAPES

Sheep cross a cold stream amidst snowy hills in Georgia's Lagodekhi National Park.
Lagodekhi in winter.

A hiker’s refuge in summer, in winter, Lagodekhi National Park takes on a completely different character. This little patch of warm, wet forest in arid Kakheti – located very close to the border with Azerbaijan – is all silvery rivers and vast swathes of snowy pasture in the cold months.

Seeking sanctuary from the harsh winter conditions in the mountains of Tusheti, herders bring their flocks down to pasture in Lagodekhi and Vashlovani in winter – hence why you’ll often see streams of sheep roaming the landscape at this time of year.

7. Javakheti – frozen lakes & snow-capped volcanoes

Frozen Paravani Lake in Georgia's Javakheti region.
Paravani Lake in winter.

Nicknamed the ‘Georgian Arctic’ for its long and harsh winters, this is one winter destination that’s only for the bold. Bitterly cold and unforgiving, Javakheti demands proper gear, snow tires, and a lot of grit. But if you’re brave enough, it’s one of the most distinct landscapes in Georgia and truly a sight to behold in winter.

The Javakheti Plateau stretches across the southern part of the country along the borders with Armenia and Turkey, and encompasses a handful of small jewel-like lakes interspersed by vast prairies and deep canyons.

Houses huddle together in small villages as if to share warmth, some buried under turf roofs to squeeze every drop of heat out of the earth. Other colourful villages on the lake’s shore are almost Nordic.

Roosting birds make off for warmer pastures as lakes Paravani, Saghamo and Bughdasheni freeze over. Ice crystals take up in every tree, while the surrounding meadows transform into fields of deep snow and the sleeping volcanoes in the distance gather powder on their crowns.

Also in this region, Vardzia Cave City takes on a completely unique appearance in winter as snow collects in its craggy rock cloisters.

8. Forest Sabaduri – fairytale landscape of frosty trees

Sabaduri forest, a snow-covered forest near Tbilisi.
Sabaduri Forest in winter.

Just an hour by road from Tbilisi, Sabaduri Forest is the ultimate winter playground and the place to go for photos frolicking over snow-glazed paths amongst powder-puff trees. Find a quiet spot on the side of the highway that winds its way alongside Tbilisi National Park and wander off into a snowy paradise.

Half an hour further up the road, Sioni Lake looks pretty as a picture when mirroring frozen foliage. Nearby Martkopi Monastery, nestled deep in the forest, rounds out the ideal winter day trip from Tbilisi.

Sabaduri is also a wonderful spot to see fiery foliage during the autumn months.

9. Upper Adjara – skiing & sweet villages

The highlands above Batumi wear their winter cloak so well. Sweet alpine villages such as Beshumi sport similar A-frame cottages to Bakhmaro and are gorgeous in winter.

Georgia’s third ski resort, Goderdzi, is located in this region and despite being smaller (there is just one gondola and 8.4km of slopes) is probably the most scenic. With fewer tourists, the atmosphere here is more intimate. The season typically runs from December to March.

Goderdzi is four hours’ by road from Batumi. Conditions can be treacherous in winter so it’s best to travel with a local driver.

10. Kakheti – clear skies & frozen VINES

A lone tree stands in a frost-covered vineyard in Kakheti wine region in winter.
Kakheti in winter.

Most people suggest a trip to Kakheti in autumn during the Rtveli grape harvest. Having driven around Kakheti in February, I can tell you Georgia’s wine country is equally beautiful in winter – just in a different way.

The biggest advantage of visiting Kakheti in winter is clear skies. While haze obscures the view at other times of year (particularly in summer), in winter you can see all the way across the Alazani Valley to the Greater Caucasus.

While the vines look a little peculiar when totally bare and covered in frost, wine tastings are still available at many vineyards (just call ahead to check first). There are great deals at luxury hotels such as the Radisson Tsinandali (my personal favourite).

Dry, crisp weather is ideal for roaming the old walls in Sighnaghi or exploring the fortress in Telavi. If you’re lucky, you might even encounter snow in Sighnaghi – I don’t think there’s a more beautiful winter scene anywhere in Georgia.

Where to stay in Kakheti in winter

The stone house at Lost Ridge Inn outside Sighnaghi is super snug in winter, while there’s no beating the home-cooked meals and house wine or craft beer brewed on site. See my full list of Kakheti accommodations here.

What to pack for a winter trip to Georgia

In cities including Tbilisi, you can get by in jeans and a warm coat. If you’re venturing to the mountains, you’ll need waterproof shoes, thermals and all the woolly accessories you can get your hands on.

If you find you haven’t packed enough warm gear, it’s fairly easy to buy jumpers, gloves etc. either new or second-hand in any city or big town.

One important thing to note is that tumble driers are an endangered species in Georgia – everything is dried outside in the sun (as it should be) or inside by the heater during winter. I recommend bringing base layers that will dry quickly after washing.

See my all-season Georgia packing list for more tips.

Travel tips for winter in Georgia

  • If you plan on skiing or snowboarding and you don’t want to lug gear around with you, you can hire clothing and equipment at Gudauri or Bakuriani.
  • Central gas heating is fairly common in Georgia, but some accommodations use radiators. If you feel the cold, check ahead – and remember to pack plenty of warm layers for the evenings.
  • Plan your days (and transport connections carefully). The days are very short in winter and you don’t want to be on the road in a marshrutka van after dark.
  • If you plan on hiring a car, make sure you have all the appropriate equipment, including winter tires and tire chains if necessary.
  • See more Georgia travel tips here

More seasonal guides for Georgia

Have you been to Georgia in December, January or February? Where is your favourite winter destination in the country?

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