LET-410 aircraft in Vanilla Sky livery at Mestia airport with mountains in the background.

How to fly to Mestia from Natakhtari (Tbilisi) and Kutaisi

Table of contents

Curious about how to get to Mestia in Georgia? You can spend many hours on the road to get to Mestia by bus, or you can take a flight to Mestia and be in the beautiful mountains in less than one hour!

Vanilla Sky offers flights to Mestia from Natakhtari (Tbilisi) and Kutaisi throughout the year. Service Air operates the flights to Mestia on LET-410 UVP aircraft (registration 4L-LSA) for 19 passengers.

In addition to these routes, they also operate flights between Natakhtari and Ambrolauri, and between Tbilisi and Batumi.

Currently, the flight schedule is available until the end of May 2020.

Flights between Natakhtari (Tbilisi) and Mestia

Natakhtari airfield is located in Natakhtari, approximately 30 km north of Tbilisi city center. Flights between Natakhtari and Mestia are operated up to six times a week and up to twice a day.

Ticket price for Natakhtari – Mestia (one way):

  • adult: 90 GEL
  • child 3–12 y. o.: 63 GEL
  • child 0–3 y. o.: free

Flight schedule Natakhtari – Mestia in 2021 and 2022

DayNatakhtari MestiaMestia Natakhtari
Monday10:0012:00
Wednesday10:0012:00
Friday10:0012:00
Sunday10:0012:00
DayNatakhtari MestiaMestia Natakhtari
Monday10:0012:00
Wednesday10:0015:00
Friday10:0012:00
Sunday10:0012:00

How to get to Natakhtari airport

The price of the flight ticket from/to Natakhtari includes transportation between Natakhtari airfield and Tbilisi by van. The departure is from the Rose Revolution Sq. (corner of Kiacheli str. & Rose Revolution sq., the opposite side of the Bike monument), find the pick up point on the map below. The departure is 45 minutes before the indicated check-in time.

Natakhtari Airport interior.
Inside Natakhtari Airport

If you don’t want to use the provided transport for any reason, you can use a taxi. You can use Bolt (formerly Taxify), and it will cost you around 25 GEL from the city center of Tbilisi. Uber does not operate in Georgia.

You can also hitchhike or catch a marshrutka heading north. Ask the driver to stop in Natakhtari and then walk from the main road to the airport for 1 km.

Where to stay in Tbilisi

You will find plenty of hostels, guesthouses, apartments, and hotels in Tbilisi. While the cheapest hostels start at 4 EUR/night, the most expensive place is probably a private house RARE with a garden and swimming pool.

Another option is to stay next to the airport in Natakhtari at Vanilla Sky hotel.

Flights between Kutaisi and Mestia

The flights are operated from the David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport. Flights between Kutaisi and Mestia are mostly operated twice a week. This is perfect for those arriving in Kutaisi with Wizzair or Ryanair.

Ticket price for Kutaisi – Mestia (one way):

  • adult: 50 GEL
  • child 3–12 y. o.: 35 GEL
  • child 0–3 y. o.: free

Flight schedule Kutaisi – Mestia in 2021 and 2022

DayKutaisi MestiaMestia Kutaisi
Wednesday13:3012:00
DayKutaisi MestiaMestia Kutaisi
Wednesday13:3012:00

Where to stay in Kutaisi

Kutaisi is a great base for visiting the sites around, such as Sataplia Nature Reserve, Okatse Canyon, Martvili Canyon, or Kinchkha Waterfall. For easier transportation, I recommend staying close to the bus/marshrutka and train station (both next to McDonald’s).

Prices start at 2 EUR/night for a bed in a hostel dormitory, but you will also find guesthouses and 4* hotels.

Queen Tamar Airport in Mestia

Queen Tamar airport was built in 2010, and you can fly to Mestia from Natakhtari (Tbilisi) and Kutaisi.

How to get to/from the airport in Mestia

Queen Tamar Airport in Mestia is located 2 km east of the town center. You can easily walk, take a taxi or hitchhike, but there is not much traffic.

Queen Tamar airport in Mestia
Queen Tamar airport in Mestia
LET-410 aircraft in Vanilla Sky livery at Mestia airport with mountains in the background.
LET-410 aircraft in Vanilla Sky livery at Mestia airport with mountains in the background.

How to book the flight to Mestia with Vanilla Sky

You can book the flight to Mestia online, or at Vanilla Sky office in Tbilisi. If you want to cancel your booking made online, you can do it no later than 48 hours before the time of departure. It’s not possible to make any changes to your reservation. The baggage allowance is 15 kg per passenger.

For more info, read terms & conditions, or contact Vanilla Sky on Facebook, they reply quite quickly.

Also, don’t hesitate with the booking, flights to Mestia are sold out quickly!

Book the flight online

Booking your flight to Mestia online is the easiest way, and you can make a reservation for up to 4 people at once. The highlighted days in the calendar mean only days with flights, not days with available seats, so you have to try your desired dates. Also, you can’t see how many seats are available.

Payment is possible only with VISA or Mastercard cards, and there is a 3.5% fee for a transaction.

Online booking of a flight to Mestia on Vanilla Sky website
Online booking of a flight to Mestia on Vanilla Sky website

Visit Vanilla Sky office in Tbilisi

Another option is to visit the Vanilla Sky office in Tbilisi and make the reservation there. Find the Vanilla Sky contact below.

  • Address: 13 Alexandre Kazbegi Avenue, Tbilisi
  • Opening hours: Mon–Fri: 10:00–18:00, Sat: 10:00–13:00, Sun: closed
  • E-mail: mari@vanillasky.ge or info@vanilla-sky.ge
  • Phone: +995 599 65 90 99
  • I recommend paying with a card in case the flight will be canceled. It will be easier to get the refund.

What to do when your flight to/from Mestia is canceled

Flights to/from Mestia are operated under Visual Flight Rules. This means if the weather conditions are bad, the flight will be canceled.

Don't expect they will let you know the status of the flight. They sent us an email one day before with the information that the departure will be postponed but didn't contact us on the day of the departure that the flight was canceled.

So it's smart to have a backup plan.

In case you made the booking online or at the office and paid with a card, you will get the refund back to your card within 30 days. You can get it earlier if you contact them by email. The same applies for cancellation from your side.

If you did booking at the office and paid with cash, then I don't know, I can only wish you good luck. Will you get the refund at the airport? Will you get it at every airport? Or do you have to go back to their office in Tbilisi? Or will they be able to use bank transfer, so you will probably pay a fee for an incoming transaction in a foreign currency? Let me know in the comments if you know the answer.

Canceled flight to Mestia on the information board at Kutaisi airport.
Canceled flight to Mestia on the information board at Kutaisi airport

Other domestic flights in Georgia provided by Vanilla Sky

Vanilla Sky provides other domestic flights in Georgia.

Tbilisi – Batumi

The route between Tbilisi and Batumi is operated on SAAB 340 aircraft for 32 passengers. Georgian Airways also provide flights from Tbilisi to Batumi.

These flights depart from Tbilisi International Airport, not from Natakhtari.

Natakhtari (Tbilisi) – Ambrolauri

Another destination available from Natakhtari is Ambrolauri, also on LET-410 UVP aircraft.

Vanilla Sky flight route map in Georgia

On this map, you will find all of the mentioned routes, airports and other places.

My review of flight to Mestia with Vanilla Sky

I have two experiences with Vanilla Sky. The first one was in the summer of 2015 when my friend and I flew successfully from Natakhtari to Mestia. The second one was in the summer of 2017 when our flight from Kutaisi to Mestia was canceled due to bad weather in Mestia.

The best part, of course, is the flight itself. You fly over the whole country, and the mountainous scenery of Caucasus is simply amazing! If you have the opportunity to take this flight, do it!

The worst part is the communication and customer service, but that might be better by now.

LET 410 cockpit
LET 410 cockpit
LET 410 interior
LET 410 interior

Successful flight from Natakhtari to Mestia

It was not possible to book the flight online at that time, so we had to make a reservation via email. The communication was slow and insufficient since we had to urge them to get available dates. The payment was possible in cash only at their office in Tbilisi, but it was no problem for us because we were spending two months there.

On the day of our flight, we were provided with transport from Tbilisi to Natakhtari airport and everything was on time. At the airport, there was a registration of passengers before the flight and a standard security check. I had a small knife in my bag, but it wasn't a big problem for them as they took it and gave it back to me at the airport in Mestia.

Take off in Natakhtari
Take off in Natakhtari
Flight over Georgia with Vanilla Sky
Flight over Georgia with Vanilla Sky

Canceled flight from Kutaisi to Mestia

My second flight to Mestia was supposed to be from Kutaisi, but the weather made it impossible. We received an email day before that the time of departure changed, but on the day of the flight, we didn't receive any info. So we had to go to the airport to find out the flight was canceled and figure out how to get to Mestia (we hitchhiked).

Then I sent an email asking for a refund and received the money back in less than 30 days, probably within one week. They state the 3.5% fee is non-refundable, but they refunded me the whole sum.

Mestia

Mestia is a small town located in the Svaneti region in the Caucasus Mountains. It's famous for its stone defensive towers, beautiful nature and a trek to Ushguli.

Mestia has become a popular destination amongst travelers visiting Georgia, and it can be quite crowded during summer.

Accommodation in Mestia

Tourism in Mestia is drastically increasing, and so the availability of accommodation. New hotels and guesthouses emerge every year, so you will easily find the one that suits your needs. Hostels are also available.

I can recommend KORTE Guesthouse, which is located right next to Seti square. It's modern and clean, and it offers a big and well-equipped kitchen. In your free time, you can chill in the living room with other fellow travelers.

How to get to Mestia when the Vanilla Sky flight is canceled

All flights are sold out, your flight was canceled, or you just can’t or don’t want to fly?

To Mestia by rental car

To get the freedom of traveling in Georgia, rent a car with a Georgian car rental company CARS 4 RENT. I had a positive experience with them! Driving to Mestia is not difficult, and the road is normal. Just be careful with potholes and fallen rocks in some parts.

To Mestia by marshrutka or train

If you prefer public transportation, you can use marshrutkas (minibus) or a combination of train and marshrutka. In case you can’t find a direct marshrutka to Mestia, look for a connection to Zugdidi and in Zugdidi for another marshrutka. There are two direct trains from Tbilisi to Zugdidi and also from Zugdidi to Tbilisi. If you are in Kutaisi, you can get on the train in Mukhiani or Samtredia.

  • Tbilisi – Mestia
    • direct marshrutka Tbilisi – Mestia (there might be a swap of marshrutkas on the way)
    • marshrutkas with up to two transfers in Kutaisi and/or Zugdidi
    • train Tbilisi – Zugdidi, transfer to marshrutka Zugdidi – Mestia
  • Kutaisi – Mestia
    • direct marshrutka Kutaisi – Mestia (there might be a swap of marshrutkas on the way)
    • marshrutkas with one transfer in Zugdidi
    • train Mukhiani or Samtredia – Zugdidi, transfer to marshrutka

To Mestia by taxi

You might also find taxi drivers offering a shared ride, it’s more comfortable, and it doesn’t have to be too expensive when the car is fully occupied. We used a shared taxi between Mestia and Zugdidi and then took the night train from Zugdidi to Tbilisi.

To Mestia by hitchhiking

Another option is hitchhiking. It’s not difficult to get a ride in Georgia, but the road between Zugdidi and Mestia isn’t busy. Anyway, I was able to hitchhike from Mestia to Tbilisi and make a stop in Anaklia (a city on the Black Sea coast; a time-consuming detour while hitchhiking) in one day.

Helicopter flight to Mestia?

There is a chance you will find some info about a helicopter flight from Tbilisi to Mestia. The info is outdated, but if you want, I’m sure you will be able to arrange a private and expensive flight by a helicopter.

What to do in Mestia

Mestia is popular among trekkers, and the most popular is a trek from Mestia to Ushguli – one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other favorite hikes are to Koruldi Lakes (you can hike only to a viewpoint with a cross above Mestia) and to Chalaadi Glacier.
If you are a lover of skiing, you can definitely visit Mestia during winter. There are two ski resorts, Hatsvali in Mestia and Tetnuldi 20km east of Mestia.
Not into hiking and trekking? Make a one day trip to Ushguli with a private driver or visit some of the many restaurants and cafés.


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51 comments on “How to fly to Mestia from Natakhtari (Tbilisi) and Kutaisi”

  1. Hello Slavek

    I am travelling to Tbilisi tomorrow(14th August) with young children(arriving at 11 am ). Wish to explore the western region(Kutaisi and Svaneti).
    We are thinking of taking up a train the same day to some destination which would be nice and would be on the route to Svaneti or Kutaisi.
    Please advise such destination. We can take up a train 1 pm onwards. ( 2hours to get out of the airport). Also can u advise on if they allow baggage on the train?
    Thanks
    Best Regards
    Ajay

  2. Hi Slavek,

    I seem to remember reading information about Vanilla Sky providing transport from Tbilisi center to Natakhtari Airport in the morning before the flight to Mestia. However, I cannot find this information anymore.

    I will be arriving in several weeks very early in the morning (4am) via LOT Airlines, and I have about 5 hours before my flight to Mestia via Natakhtari (9am) the same day. I am wondering what the best advice is... My plan previously was to take the bus to Tbilisi city center, get a coffee and breakfast, and use the Vanilla Sky transport to get to Natakhtari. Is this no longer an option? If not, what do you recommend?

    Thank you,
    Derek

  3. Hello. Can you share the location in Google Maps on where you got your microbus to Natakhtari from Tbilisi?

  4. Ahoj, thanks a lot for this. This is exactly what I have been googling and you surpassed all expectations! Super helpful!

  5. Hi Slavek, great info, thank you! I have emailed the flights company but as you said they are bad at replying - do you know where to find the flight schedule for october? I'd be looking to fly on friday the 12th of october if possible. Thanks!

    1. Hey Alison, they have some problems with releasing flight schedule this year. I think there is no schedule for October yet. They announce it on Facebook so follow them there. But even after they announce the schedule, it might not be possible to buy the tickets immediately. It sucks, good luck!

  6. thanks for this info Slavek! You mentioned not to confuse the International Kutaisi airport with the small landing strip nearby. However, for those flying into Georgia with Wizzair... isn't this the same International Kutaisi airport? Thanks for clarification!

  7. hello! thanks for the useful information. do you know if there is any way to see booking management of the flight after it was reserved? do you know if there is need to do online check-in few days before the flight?
    thank you!

      1. thank you! one more question. should we pay extra money for luggages? what is the maximal weight per person?

      2. It's included in the ticket and I think it's 15 kg per person. You will find the info in their T&C during booking.

  8. Hi Slavek I am a solo travel photographer, cyclist looking to visit Georgia in early October (9-15). I could defer this trip to next year if you feel October is too cold for Mestia or the mountains to the north of there (Svanti, Ushguli etc.). I love scenery! Is the colors nice in early to mid October? Is it still green in some areas? I hate the heat so even cool to slightly cold is okay. What would you do? Would you fly from Tbilisi as I am not sure flights are still going in October. Looking for 3-4 days of scenery in the mountains near or north of Mestia.

    1. Hey Steve, I've been to Georgia only during summer so I can't really help you with this. I guess October is still OK for visiting Svaneti.

  9. We wanna book a flight in August although no timetables are published atm. Any ideas about when it will be published?

    Thanks!

    Mike

    1. Hey Mike, normally they start selling tickets 60 days prior the flight but now they are waiting for some approval by the government. I suggest you to follow them on Facebook so you know when it's online.

    1. Hi there! I'm also interested for August. I called Vanilla Sky this morning and the lady on the phone told me that timetables will be published on the website after June 15th. For now there are no results on any future search. I forgot to ask about the flight duration, though. Do you have any idea?
      Thanks!

      1. Hey, our flight from Natakhtari to Mestia took about 50 minutes. I guess it takes about 20–30 minutes from Kutaisi.

  10. Hey Slávek, the condition says that the luggage "should not exceed" 15 kilos. We go hiking and we expect our luggage around 20 kilos. Do you have some experience or any info about the strictness of local officials to the luggage weight limit?

    1. Hey Michal, sorry, I don't. Feel free to send them a message on Facebook Messenger, they will tell you if there is any chance for this.

  11. Hey Slavek,

    If you could only choose to travel to two of these three: Kazbegi, Svaneti, Tusheti
    Which two would you choose? We want to hike to remote beautiful views and also see stunning sites.

    1. Hey, that's a tough question. I haven't been to Tusheti, but I would like to give it a visit. I believe all of the areas are great for hiking with stunning views. I would choose Svaneti for sure.

  12. hey Slavek, need your opinion, staying in Mestia for 6 days, isnt it two much? Asking because I Have opportunity to stay for 4 or for 6 days. thans

  13. Hey Slavek, thank you for the great description of the possibility to shorten the traveltime in Georgia. Do you know if there are any special restriction for luggage? We might have some camping stuff including tent, small knife, scissors etc. Thanks, Lukas

    1. Hey Lukas, I'm glad you find it helpful 🙂 Two years ago the security took my small knife and gave it back to me at the airport in Mestia. But I'm not sure how does it work now. Send them a message on Facebook, they reply pretty fast.

  14. Hi Slavek,
    Its very helpfull informtion.
    Im planning a man's trip fir a week.
    Do you have any other tip's for extream like rafting, bangi or ot places to be?

    1. Hey Moshe, I haven't tried any extreme adventure in Georgia, but I know you can try rafting (don't know where exactly), paragliding in Gudauri (but you will probably find more places for it) or you can take a tour on a cross motorbike.

  15. Hi,
    I would like to book an airticket from Mestia to Tbilisi but Vanilla Sky said that all seats are reserved. Do you know any other flight company that also fly this route?

    Thank you in advance,

    Q.

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