Getting there & away
In Tbilisi, marshrutkas (15 GEL, six to seven hours, every 1½ hours, 8am to 5pm) and buses (12 GEL, seven hours, at 10am, noon, 1pm and 10pm) to Zugdidi leave from the rear of the main train station The night train leaving Tbilisi at 9.30pm (3rd-/2nd-class 5.50/11 GEL) gets you into Zugdidi at 5.30am, in time to catch a marshrutka to Svaneti the same morning. The return train departs Zugdidi at 11.20pm. There’s also a day train to Tbilisi (3rd-/2nd-class 6/11.50 GEL, eight hours) at 9.50am, and an elektrichka just to Kutaisi at 7.30am. From outside Zugdidi’s train station, marshrutkas and some buses leave several times daily for Kutaisi (6 GEL, two hours), Poti (5 GEL, 1½ hours), Batumi (10 GEL, three hours) and Tbilisi (12 GEL to 15 GEL, six hours).
Marshrutkas and jeeps to Mestia in Svaneti (15 GEL, five to seven hours) leave from near the Svan tower on Gia Gulua any time from 6am on, once they fill up (which can be with goods as well as people).
It’s a good idea to be there by 8am – though if you’re unlucky you might still have to wait several hours before you get moving. They’ll take your name and passport number at the ticket hut with the ‘Mestia’ sign. Some vehicles may meet the overnight train from Tbilisi but may still not leave Zugdidi until the driver has garnered a full load.
A jeep taxi from Zugdidi to Mestia typically costs around 20 GEL.