Georgia is a country of majestic mountains and gruelling hills – which is why it’s also a nation of cable cars.

In the Soviet period, an estimated 62-75 passenger ropeways were constructed around the country, including the former USSR’s first cable car (in Zestafoni) and what is now Europe’s second-longest free-span cable car (connecting Khulo and Tago).

I have been lucky enough to ride many of these cable cars over the years, including Stalin’s ‘Iron Coffins’ in Chiatura and the (much tamer!) retro cable car in Kutaisi.

But it’s a much more modern cableway, the Kobi Gudauri Cable Car, that takes the cake for the most scenic ride in Georgia.

A cable car line runs through a valley beneath Mount Kazbek in the country of Georgia.
Mount Kazbek and the Greater Caucasus, with the Kobi Gudauri cable car visible in the bottom right corner.

Sailing through the spectacular Jvari Pass towards Mount Kazbek, I would go as far as to say this is the single most memorable transportation experience in the entire country, topping even the drive to Tusheti!

In terms of beauty, I would put it right up there with the Tatev cable car in Armenia.

Whether you’re up for a joy ride, you’re backcountry skiing or you’re using the gondola for its intended purpose – as a form of public transportation – for the low price of 45 GEL, you are in for the ride of your life.

I recently rode the cable car in both directions as part of my first ski trip in Georgia. In this guide, I will show you everything you need to know about riding the gondola between Gudauri and Kobi village.

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About the Kobi Gudauri cable car

The Gudauri-Kobi cable car is a modern gondola system that connects New Gudauri ski resort with the village of Kobi. It is located in Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, around 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of Tbilisi city.

The route follows an inverted V shape, travelling up then back down a mountain range between two valleys. At its highest point, the cable car travels through the Kobi Pass or Jvari Pass, which reaches 2,900 metres above sea level.

This is not one single cable car, but rather a sequence of four separate but consecutive gondolas. The two bottom stations in New Gudauri and Kobi are both accessible by road. The two middle stations are located in the high mountains.

You need to disembark and transfer three times during your ride. The stations are in separate buildings, but they are located close together – a few dozen metres apart.

A lone French gondola against a backdrop of mountains at the Gudauri Ski Resort in Georgia.
A modern gondola on the Kobi line.

Manufactured by the French company Poma, the cable car opened in several stages, with the final phase completed in December 2018.

Together, the four lines have a combined length of 9.5 kilometres (5.9 miles). It can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes to ride one-way.

(Officially the cable car consists of three lines with a total length of 7.5 kilometres. In this guide, I am including the Goodaura gondola because you need to take it to reach the official start of the Kobi line.)

A man in a beanie sits inside a moving gondola in Gudauri, Georgia.
Ross on board the cable car to Kobi.

The Kobi Gudauri cable car has two main functions: it serves as a lift for skiers and snowboarders, but primarily it acts as a backup form of transportation when the Jvari Pass is closed to cars.

This section of the Georgian Military Highway is often blocked off for short periods during winter when there is heavy snowfall or an avalanche risk. I myself have been caught out on this road once before. The cable car allows commuters to bypass the most capricious section of road, the Jvari Pass.

A winding snowy road through the Greater Caucasus mountains north of Tbilisi, Georgia.
Traffic on the Georgian Military Highway, as seen from the cable car.

The Kobi cable car is a monocable circulating ropeway with fully enclosed gondolas that each seat 10 people.

It is an incredibly beautiful and enjoyable ride – especially the second stage where you make almost a direct line towards Mount Kazbek, Georgia’s third-highest peak at 5,054 metres (16,581 ft) above sea level.

A view of Mount Kazbek against a blue sky in Gudauri, Georgia.
Mount Kazbek, as seen from the highest cable car station.

Gudauri Kobi cable car opening hours

The Gudauri Kobi cable car follows the same schedule as the rest of the lifts at Gudauri ski resort. Opening hours for the 2023/24 season are as follows:

  • Every day from 10am until 5pm (winter season, December to February)
  • Every day from 9am until 4pm (spring season, March and April)

The ticket booths located at the two bottom stations observe the same opening hours.

A ticket booth in Kobi sells tickets for the cable car to Gudauri ski resort.
The ticket office at the lower Kobi station.

The cable car is most active during the winter months, when it is needed by both skiers and passengers. Therefore, the cable car might not be running year-round. 

Like similar infrastructure in other parts of Georgia, the gondolas are closed at certain times of year for maintenance. Usually this happens in late spring, with services resuming in June – but it is impossible to know the exact schedule.

The gondolas are definitely open during the winter ski season, roughly from mid to late December until mid April. To avoid disappointment, I recommend riding the cable car during this winter period.

If there is very strong wind, the cable car might be temporarily paused.

Gudauri Kobi cable car ticket price

Ticket prices for the 2023/24 season are as follows:

  • 45 GEL for an adult ticket (return)
  • 35 GEL for a child ticket (return)

Children’s prices apply to kids aged 6-12 years. Kids under 6 years old ride for free.

A woman holds a Gudauri ski pass in her hand.
My Gudauri Multipass ski lift pass.

Tickets for this route are issued as single-use paper cards. Multicard lift passes are also valid on the cable car, meaning you can use a multi-day ski lift pass if you have one.

The ticket desks accept both cash (Georgian lari) and card.

Passes are often discounted towards the end of the season.

How to get to the cable car station from Tbilisi

There are several ways to reach the bottom cable car station in New Gudauri from Tbilisi, including marshrutka van and private transfer. For a full run-down of the different options, refer to my detailed Tbilisi-Gudauri transport guide.

If you are planning to experience the cable car as part of an extended day trip from Tbilisi, your best option is to organise a private driver via GoTrip.

Book the driver to take you to New Gudauri, then organise to rendezvous in Kobi village at the final cable car station. From there, you can continue on to Kazbegi, Dariali Gorge, and other points of interest along the Georgian Military Highway.

Here is an example itinerary that I created on GoTrip.

Note: The cable car bypasses the Russian-Georgian Friendship Monument and Gudauri Viewpoint, which is a must-see in my opinion. If you are taking the GoTrip option, be sure to include a stop at the monument first before doubling back to New Gudauri. Or you can catch the mosaic on your way back down to Tbilisi.

Cable car stations & map

As mentioned, the Kobi cable car is divided into four separate lines with five different stations. Since you are more likely to be riding the cable car in a northerly direction, from Gudauri to Kobi, I am describing the route in this order.

I did the journey both ways – from Gudauri to Kobi and from Kobi back to Gudauri. There is no particular difference, but I do think that travelling northbound is preferable. Catching your first glimpse of Mount Kazbek on the horizon as you approach the pass from the south is nothing short of awe-inspiring!

Click here to open a basic map of the stations.

The Gudauri cable car bottom station, with gondolas stretching up into the high mountains.
Taking flight.

Stage 1: New Gudauri to Gudauri Recreational Area

The bottom cable car station is located in the centre of the New Gudauri ski resort. It is accessible by road, with parking available nearby.

There is a ticket office here, plus several restaurants and bars along with ski rental shops and accommodations.

Known as Goodaura (Gudaura), the first stage of the cable car runs from New Gudauri up to the Gudauri Recreational Area. This line is 2,360 metres long and the ride takes 7-10 minutes.

Tip: If you are staying further down the mountain in Old Gudauri, you can reach the Gudauri Recreational Area by using the Pirveli and Soliko ski lifts instead. In this case you will bypass Goodaura. You will need to purchase a one-day Multicard for 70 GEL to cover both the lifts and the Kobi View section. The top station for Soliko is a short 10-minute walk from the second station where you will board the Firni gondola over the Kobi Pass.

Skiers and snowboarders on the slopes in Gudauri, Georgia.
The Gudauri Recreational Area is the busiest stop.

Stage 2: Gudauri Recreational Area over the Kobi Pass

The Goodaura top station is located in the Gudauri Recreational Area, where there is a snow park and ski runs. Several other lifts (Sadzele, Kudebi) converge at this point.

Again, there are plenty of food and drink options near the station building. Note that the higher you go in Gudauri, the more expensive things get.

The gondola you board here is known as Firni. It traverses 2,271 metres and takes around 7-10 minutes.

This is the most scenic leg of the trip as you crawl towards the highest point of the line and Mount Kazbek comes into view for the first time. Be sure to sit facing north towards the mountains.

Mount Kazbek visible behind the towers of the Kobi cable car in Georgia.
Closing in on Mount Kazbek – the most incredible part of the journey!

Stage 3: Kobi Pass to Truso

The top station at Kobi Pass is by far the most beautiful. I highly recommend taking a short walk around the area before boarding the next gondola.

On a clear day, the views are absolutely stunning. It feels like you are completely engulfed by the Greater Caucasus mountains. Close to the gondola station, you will find a viewpoint where you can look directly out to Mount Kazbek. There are one or two cafe-bars here as well.

After this station, it’s all downhill: the final two stages of the cable car run down the other side of the mountain range into the next valley.

The gondola you board here is called Kobi and is the shortest of the four at 1,992 metres. This leg takes less than 10 minutes.

A man and a woman dressed in ski clothes pose for a photo in front of Mount Kazbek in Georgia.
Ross and I at the highest station, in front of Mount Kazbek.

Stage 4: Truso to Kobi Village

With no more off-piste ski runs beyond Kobi, the last stage of the cable car is purely for transportation. This station area is basic with fewer amenities and no restaurants.

The final gondola ride is the longest at 2,837 metres, taking 10-12 minutes on average to travel down to Kobi.

The views on this section are interesting because you are now looking down over the village and a winding section of the Georgian Military Highway. As you approach the bottom station in Kobi, you will see the plant where Kobi Mineral Water is bottled.

The bottom station has bathrooms, a ticket office, and a pick-up zone where you can organise onward transportation to Stepantsminda (more info below).

View of traffic on the Georgian Military Road from the window of the Kobi ski lift.
Sailing over the Georgian Military Highway on the way down to Kobi.

What to expect from the cable car & travel tips

How long does it take to ride the cable car from Gudauri to Kobi?

Officially it takes an average of 30 minutes to travel between New Gudauri and Kobi. In practice, it can take much longer than that. When I travelled in winter, the Kobi-Truso section (Stage 4) alone took almost 25 minutes.

I recommend setting aside a full hour for the journey, one-way. This will cover you if the cable cars are moving at a slower speed due to wind or bad weather. 

Delays and short hold-ups due to technical issues are common.

The cable car does have generators, so if there is a power failure (which does happen from time to time) lines will be paused but operators will still be able to get everyone down.

How to board the cable car

Gudauri ski resort is quite hands-off in general – you won’t see many ‘lifties’ or staff around helping people. The whole set up for the cable car is very casual – what else would you expect in Georgia!

I was quite confused at how exactly to get on the gondola the first time around. Here are a few quick tips.

As you approach the boarding area, you will see a set of turnstiles. To enter, you need to swipe your pass on the card reader located on the left-hand side of the turnstile at around knee height. It will flash green.

You can then walk directly into the boarding area and jump on the next gondola that has its doors open. There is traction matting on the ground, but in winter, the area around the stations does get icy. Please take care not to slip.

Passengers and skiers board the Kobi Gudauri cable car in Georgia.
Passengers boarding the Gudauri Kobi cable car.

Is the ride scary?

I am not normally one for heights, but I found this cable car ride very enjoyable and relaxing. When we travelled it was a smooth journey with only some very minor swaying due to strong winds.

I think visiting in winter definitely helps. The snow coverage below makes it harder to gauge just how far you are above the ground.

Can you take photos on the cable car?

These are enclosed gondolas that are completely covered in plexiglass, aside from a small ventilation opening at the top. This makes photography a little bit challenging.

When I rode the cable car, I was surprised at how clean the windows were. The glass is not too scratched or damaged, and not too cloudy. I managed to get some pretty good photos whilst on board.

Where can you get the best view of Mount Kazbek?

The best views of Mount Kazbek – and the best scenery in general in my opinion – is from the midway station at the Kobi Pass (between Stages 2 and 3).

If you have time to break up the journey, do it here. There is no time limit on your ticket – the Kobi View pass is good for a single return journey (same day or split over multiple days within the season).

Using the cable car to travel to Kazbegi

The Kobi Gudauri cable car is an important lifeline for those times when the Georgian Military Highway is closed.

Road closures will hopefully become a thing of the past in the near future as new tunnels are constructed. But for the time being, the cable car is a back-up option if you find the Jvari Pass between Gudauri and Kobi is blocked. This only ever happens during the winter season.

If you are travelling from Tbilisi to Kazbegi and the pass is closed, you can use the cable car to bypass that section of road. If you are taking a marshrutka from Didube Station or using a private driver booked through GoTrip or similar, the driver should know about closures in advance.

Sometimes when the road is closed, the cable car also stops running. You will need to ask the driver to call ahead to the cable car station and check that the gondolas are moving.

When the Jvari Pass is closed, the Kobi cable car should technically be free for tourists and non-skiers transiting to/from Gudauri. You still need to visit the ticket booth, and you might have to press this point.

Two modern black and red gondolas moving along the Kobi Gudauri cable car line in the mountains of Georgia.
Travelling by air.

Onward transport from Kobi to Stepantsminda

Once you reach Kobi village, you will need to find a taxi to take you the rest of the way to Stepantsminda, around 18 kilometres or 30 minutes by road.

Unfortunately drivers have a monopoly on this route and prices are quite inflated. Expect to pay somewhere between 80-100 GEL per car.

Bolt app is available in this region, but the fleet is quite small so you might have to wait up to half an hour for a driver to arrive. Alternatively, local taxis should be around – either at Kobi station or on the highway.

Can you take luggage on the cable car?

Yes, you can take luggage on the Kobi Gudauri cable car. I have seen people on the gondolas with large suitcases, strollers, etc.

Things to do in & around Kobi/Gudauri

Riding the Kobi cable car was definitely one of the highlights of my recent trip to Gudauri. No matter your reason for visiting – whether you’re here to ski or you’re just passing through – I highly recommend taking the time to ride all four of the gondolas in one direction at least.

There are plenty of other things to do in this area during winter, including of course skiing at Gudauri. After riding the cable car to Kobi, we spent the day snowshoe hiking in the nearby Sioni Valley.

Sioni Valley, a snow-covered landscape of mountains with a sprig of spring foliage in the foreground in the Kazbegi area of Georgia.
The gorgeous Sioni Valley.

Outside of winter sports season, there is alpine hiking available around Kazbegi, plus Stepantsminda town itself and the majestic Gergeti Trinity Church.

One of my favourite spots in this area is Sno, a small village with a tower-fortress and a set of curious stone sculptures.

Where to stay in Gudauri

Ati Ambavi Boutique Hotel in Gudauri, Georgia.
Ati Ambavi. Photo courtesy of the property.

BOUTIQUE HOTEL: Ati Ambavi Boutique Hotel Gudauri (⭐ 9.5). This gorgeous hotel offers doubles, suites and studios, all beautifully furnished with cosy mountain-lodge-style decor and boasting mountain views. There is a restaurant, a bar, a shared lounge, and a sauna, plus a free shuttle bus to access the Shino Lift.

Night falls over a ski chalet in Gudauri, Georgia.
Marco Polo. Photo courtesy of the property.

SKI-IN HOTEL: Marco Polo (⭐ 8.1). Located in Old Gudauri, this family-friendly hotel has ski-in ski-out access from the Pirveli Chairlift. Rooms are simple but elegant, with modern bathrooms. The hotel has an onsite spa and a restaurant.

A simple twin room at a hotel in Gudauri ski resort.
Hotel Toni. Photo courtesy of the property.

MID-RANGE HOTEL: Hotel Toni (⭐ 9.7). With easy access to the Pirveli Chairlift, this hotel has an unbeatable location for the price. Rooms are basic but clean, and a home-cooked breakfast and dinner are available. The hosts here are known for being helpful and warm.

Modern dorms in a popular hostel in Gudauri ski resort.
Riders House. Photo courtesy of the property.

BUDGET-FRIENDLY HOSTEL: Riders House New Gudauri (⭐ 9.0). The most popular hostel in Gudauri, Riders House is one of the first buildings you come to when exiting the gondola. Choose from modern mixed dorms (4 or 6-bunk) or a private king room.

Where to stay in Kazbegi

Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, best hotel in Stepantsminda, Georgia.
Rooms Kazbegi. Photo courtesy of the property.

TOP CHOICE OVERALL: Rooms Kazbegi (⭐ 8.9). For a truly memorable Georgian mountain experience, don’t look past Rooms Kazbegi. Housed in a converted sanatorium, this is one of the coolest boutique hotels in the whole country.

Kazbegi Cabins, wooden mountain cabin in Stepantsminda.
Kazbegi Cabins. Photo courtesy of the property.

BEST CABIN: Kazbegi Cabins (⭐ 8.7). Kazbegi Cabins offers luxurious wooden cabins with hand-crafted furniture, a wood-burning stove and a nice onsite cafe-coworking space.

Intourist Kazbegi, trendy hotel in Stepantsminda, Georgia.
Intourist Kazbegi. Photo courtesy of the property.

BEST BOUTIQUE HOTEL: Intourist Kazbegi (⭐ 8.7). This new hotel has chic furnishings and a retro aesthetic, panoramic mountain views, and a great breakfast buffet.

Hotel Stancia, mid-range hotel in Kazbegi, Georgia.
Hotel Stancia. Photo courtesy of the property.

BEST MID-RANGE HOTEL: Hotel Stancia (⭐ 9.1). Located in the centre of town near the bus stop, Hotel Stancia is chic, modern, and still very affordable. The onsite restaurant is very good, and there are beautiful mountain views from the deck.

Red Stone Guest House, best guesthouse in Kazbegi Georgia.
Red Stone. Photo courtesy of the property.

BEST BUDGET GUESTHOUSE: Red Stone Guest House (⭐ 9.6). This family-run guesthouse is warm and spacious. An incredible home-cooked breakfast comes included, and it’s conveniently located close to the Gergeti Trinity trailhead.

Have you taken a ride on the Kobi Gudauri cable car recently? Do you have any tips or insights to share?

More resources for Gudauri& Kazbegi

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  1. This is great- we’re planning on doing this in just two weeks time! We’re staying in Old Guduari so will need the one day pass. Does this cover the full set of gondolas to Kobi and then back again (ie round trip)? Or do we need the Kobi pass as well as the one day pass?

    Your blog is the best travel resource I’ve ever come across – fantastic

    1. Hi Siobhan, fantastic! If you buy the one day pass that will cover you for everything – all routes and unlimited trips. No need to buy a separate ticket for Kobi, it is included. We did exactly the same thing. Have a wonderful time!

      1. Hi Emily, just a quick note to say we had our day riding the various gondolas/chair lifts today and it was fabulous! Really great fun. The price for a day pass was also discounted (presumably for end of season) to only 50 GEL, amazing value.

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