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Breathtakingly wild and mysterious, Svaneti is an ancient land locked in the Caucasus, so remote that it was never tamed by any ruler. Uniquely picturesque villages and snow-covered, 4000m-plus peaks rising above flower-strewn alpine meadows provide a superb backdrop to the many walking trails. Svaneti’s emblem is the koshki (defensive stone tower), designed to house villagers at times of invasion and local strife (until recently Svaneti was renowned for its murderous blood feuds). Around 175 koshkebi, most originally built between the 9th and 13th centuries, survive here today.

Not so long ago Svaneti was still pretty well off the beaten track, but recent tourism development has brought ski resorts, flights from Tbilisi, a paved road from Zugdidi and a huge increase in accommodation options, to the point where Mestia, Svaneti's only town, can get pretty busy in summer. Svaneti's mystique and beauty, however, are in no danger of wearing thin.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Svaneti.