Recently, we went to Bakuriani, Georgia’s oldest ski resort. Its history dates back to the end of the 19th century. During the Soviet period, many winter sports competitions were held here, and there are still some races at the present time. Our goal of going to Bakuriani was actually snowboarding, but unfortunately, there wasn’t much snow and most of the ski trackes were closed. Still it was very nice, we got some mountain air and had fun family time. And on the way back we also experienced the historic Borjomi Kukushka train ride. Now is the time to share the Bakuriani trip and train ride details with you.
Bakuriani Ski Resort
When to go to Bakuriani?
Bakuriani is a place where you can go in any season, but it really stands out with ski tourism, so when you go in winter, you see the most active time. Normally, the ski season starts in mid-November and continues until the end of March, but in recent years the snow comes late due to global warming. Thanks to the interest of those who love to hike, you will not come across a ghost town when you go in a different time than winter, as tourism is lively in the spring and summer months.
How to get to Bakuriani? Bakuriani Transportation
We drove from Tbilisi to Bakuriani in about three hours, but there are options where you can go without a car. The first option is to take the minibuses (marshrutka) that go to Bakuriani from Didube bus station in Tbilisi and depart many times during the day. The second option is to take the train from Tbilisi to Borjomi and take the kukushka train from Borjomi to Bakuriani. The train that goes from Tbilisi to Borjomi at 07:05 catches up with the kukushka train. There is a train from Tbilisi to Borjomi at 16:40 in the afternoon, then you can use a minibus or taxi from Borjomi to Bakuriani. My husband went ahead by car on the way back. The next morning, we took the kukushka train with my son from Bakuriani to Borjomi and from Borjomi to Tbilisi by minibus, the minibus cost is 10 Lari per person. For those who wonder what this kukushka train is, I will explain the details below.
Ski tracks, ski pass and equipment prices in Bakuriani
Bakuriani ski resort has a total length of 18 km of ski tracks and the tracks are usually located among the trees. There are tracks of all difficulty levels, but it may not satisfy professional skiers. We’re planning to go again when it’s snowy and all the tracks are open, I’ll update my thought then. 🙂 Even though most of the tracks were closed when we went, we got all the information. There are a total of 12 lifts in Bakuriani Ski Center; 1 cable car, 3 chairlifts and 8 ski lifts. The highest point is on the Didveli track, at 2702 meters. The city center itself is located at 1700 meters. There are three stages to get to the top of the Didveli track and there are cafes at every level. Apart from Didveli, there are also Koktha 1, Koktha 2 and Mtarbi tracks, which are recommended for more advanced skiers. Especially Koktha 1 is the most difficult track, its slope is around 52 degrees. Daily unlimited ski pass price valid on all lifts is 40 Lari, 25 Lari for a child. If you are going to stay longer, the price is more affordable if you buy according to the number of days you will stay instead of per day. The lifts serve between 10:00 and 17:00, and you can ski at night when the weather conditions are suitable. On weekends, between 17:00 and 21:30, they open the Didveli track.
The ski track located in the city center is called 25(Twenty Five), it is only 300 meters long and has a slope of around 10 degrees. There are many equipment rental places at the beginning of this place, but the materials are not new. Especially if you are snowboarding, I suggest you bring your own equipment if you have it, ski rental options are much more. If you want to rent equipment, snowboard sets can be rented for 25 Lari and ski sets for 20 Lari per day. You can also rent products such as glasses, helmets and gloves for 5 Lari. We couldn’t find snowboard shoes for my son, so we rented a sled. Its rent price is 10 Lari per hour. What I liked the most in Bakuriani was the baby carriages with sleds that I saw for the first time, you can rent them too. There were also systems for pulling up the sleds on the lowest Twenty Five track. After all, I can say that this place is like a playground where families with children sled. It is not possible to ski in this part, frankly, it is very crowded and there are small children everywhere, but if you are going ski for the first time in your life, you can start here. In this lower part, there is also a small amusement park and a few mechanisms to entertain the children.
Where to eat in Bakuriani?
We had the opportunity to try three places in Bakuriani. I will suggest you two main places to eat, both chalet style, full ski town restaurants. The first place we went to was Mimino, we liked it very much with the sweet details in the decoration, the music playing and the food. Moreover, the prices are cheaper than Tbilisi. We had a hard time finding a table because we went during lunch time and those who came after us waited in line, but it started to get empty after lunch. The second venue is Taverna Mari, which is located right next to Mimino. Since we went here between lunch and dinner, the place was almost empty, so our orders came very quickly. This place also had sweet decor details and prices were reasonable. I recommend both places, don’t worry if one is full when you go, try the other one. 😉 There was also Cafe 25 at the beginning of the tracks, where we just sat for a drink. If you go to the Twenty Five circuit you will probably pass by, it was a nice place.
Where to stay in Bakuriani? Bakuriani accommodation
As a family, we liked the hotel we stayed in Bakuriani very much. Here is the link for our hotel. We were very satisfied with the facilities it offered, the interest of the staff and the taste of the food. If you are not looking for a hotel directly on the slopes, I would definitely recommend this place. Btw it is not a problem that it is not on the tracks, because even if you do not have a car, transportation is easy thanks to their shuttle services. The hotel is located very close to the town center. We arrived the hotel by car, they provide free parking in their spacious car park and no reservation is required. They also have transfer service from and to the airport. The check-in was very smooth and the staff was super friendly. There is an open buffet breakfast with a large selection of both hot and cold dishes, plenty of fresh fruit and bread options every morning. They also serve lunch and dinner in their restaurant, you can either prefer open buffet or choose what you want from their a la carte menu. We tried both the breakfast and the other meals, all of them were delicious.
You can check all available hotels in Bakuriani here.
Kukushka Train from Bakuriani to Borjomi
The construction of the 37.2 kilometer long railway started in 1897, when Georgia was a part of the Russian Empire, and was completed in 1902 due to the difficulty of the terrain. The Kukushka train made its first journey between Borjomi and Bakuriani in January 1902. Since the railway line passes through high mountain areas, a Porter type steam engine was brought from America. This is where the name Kukushka comes from, a nickname for a steam engine in Russian, which also means little cuckoo. In 1967, the steam engine was replaced by the current electric motor. You can see the old steam engine locomotive by the Borjomi train station. The kukushka train from Borjomi to Bakuriani costs 2 Lari one way, they did not charge for the child. The train leaves twice a day from both Bakuriani and Borjomi. The train journey takes 2.5 hours. Departure times are as follows.
It departs from Borjomi to Bakuriani at 7:15 and 10:55.
It departs from Bakuriani to Borjomi at 10:00 and 14:15.
The route and stops of the train are as follows: Bakuriani, Sakochavi, Patara Tsemi, Libani, Gantiadi, Tba, Tsemi, Tsagveri, Daba and Borjomi. On the way from Bakuriani to Borjomi, you pass through pine forests all the way to the Tsemi stop, and fairy-tale landscapes await you, especially when there is snow. For the most beautiful views, you need to sit on the right in the direction of the train going Bakurini-Borjomi, and on the left in the direction of Borjomi-Bakuriani. While crossing the Tsemistskhali river between the Tsemi stop and the Tsagveri stop, you pass over the famous Eiffel Bridge. This bridge was built by the engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, who built the Eiffel Tower, at the request of the Romanov family. The bridge was brought to Georgia in parts and was built over the Tsemistskhali river in 1902. The train has three carriages. The seats in the first two wagons behind the locomotive have been changed, and there are new and modern seats. In the back of the wagon, there are old leather seats. I chose to go in the rear carriage because I wanted the whole train to be visible when the train curves in the photos. You can also go to the back balcony of the train, and I made some shots from there. You can switch between wagons while the train is moving.
I would like to share my opinion about Bakuriani in general. If you are really good at skiing or snowboarding, I recommend you to go to Gudauri. Bakuriani is ideal for families with children and for beginners to intermediate skiers. If you are not interested in skiing, but if you like to experience train journeys, you can just take the Kukushka train and stop by for a short time. If you are not interested in skiing, there are also activities such as snowmobile and horse riding in the snow. By the way, the best thing about Bakuriani is that the prices are quite affordable.
Don’t forget to follow me to see plenty of photos and videos with infrmations about Georgia and Tbilisi!
Hi it is very helpful to go through your detailed blog as I am planning to visit Georgia may I know about kukushta train is operated now (2023)?because I’ve heard it was stop operated after pandemic that’s why I am asking …if possible provide reply. Thanks in advance.
Unfortunately, as you heard it doesn’t work now. 🙁