Nobody knew the name of this Black Sea city resort 10 years ago. Now Batumi is the hottest destination for visitors from neighboring countries and European holidaymakers. So what’s the deal with Batumi – the Georgian pearl on the Black Sea? What to see in Batumi? Is it worth a visit?
Yes! Batumi is a quirky city that will surprise you with extravagant architecture, modern boulevards, glamorous hotels, and a long, long beach.
General info about Batumi
Batumi is located in the Southwestern Georgian province of Adjara, which used to be an autonomous Soviet Republic and since 1991 an autonomous region, although de-facto under the central government’s control since 2004.
Most people either fly into Batumi International Airport, well connected with Europe and other destinations in the region, cross over the border from Turkey, just 20 km away, or take some form of transportation (minibus, train, or plane) from Tbilisi, the capital.
Batumi has two faces.
The center is considered the Old City, which is a bit of a misnomer, as the buildings are renovated in the old 19th-century style, but still look modern and well-kept. You can take a stroll down Zurab Gorgiladze street and you might feel as if you’re in a rich European city.
While there, visit the Museum of Adjara. With the ticket costing only 4 GEL / 1.4 EUR, you will get a good overview of the region’s natural and social history.
The other face is the modern, glamorous, glossy Batumi. High rises, luxury hotels, expensive cafes, welcoming casinos. Take a walk down The Boulevard – the promenade running 5 km next to the beach – and you can imagine being in Las Vegas or Dubai. No wonder some of Batumi’s nicknames are indeed The Soviet Dubai and The Russian Las Vegas.
Some of the new buildings are quite bizarre.
Don’t miss seeing these buildings in Batumi
The Alphabet Tower
A 130-meter transparent tower with a double helix band holding the 33 letters of the Georgian Alphabet
The (fake) Italian Piazza
The Italian rule “No cappuccino after 12” doesn’t apply here. Talking of Italy…
The Venetian Tower
A smaller copy of the Acropol
The White House upside down
A highrise with a Ferris wheel in the middle.
The futuristic-looking McDonalds
This is only a part of all the new, modern, and even a bit alien buildings you can see in Batumi. But that’s not all. You must also check out a few squares:
- Theater Square – the main square in the old town with an impressive Poseidon statue in the middle
- Europe Square – with the Medea statue and the Astronomical Clock. On a side note – is Georgia in Europe or Asia? The eternal dispute…
- Batumi Square – it’s the official name of that Italian Piazza I mentioned above.
Ali & Nino Statue
Yeah, that’s about it for Batumi… Except it isn’t! Definitely check out the Ali&Nino sculpture. It’s a slowly moving, metal sculpture of two bodies – Ali and Nino – that pass through each other every 3 minutes or so. A picture doesn’t do it much justice – you have to watch it. Ali and Nino are characters from a novel that is pretty much the Caucasus version of Romeo and Juliet. Ali is Muslim, Nino is Christian, and their love is pure, but forbidden, and I argue that the sculpture captures all that.
If you even go to Ganja in Azerbaijan, you’ll see a similar sculpture next to the river there.
The main street and the zoo
Batumi also provides many green spaces to hide from the sun, although the awful humidity will haunt you anyway. Definitely take a stroll down Batumi Boulevard. It runs from one end of the city to the other and will take you about an hour each way. In the northern portion, there are more trees and plenty of benches, cafes, and beautiful water fountains. Another option for a break is the 6th of May park where you can visit the little zoo (Disclaimer: if you love animals, you will hate it.) the Nuri Gel Lake, and the Delfinarium.
What about the beaches? Isn’t Batumi a seaside resort after all?
Yeah, true. But don’t expect sand. There’s no sand, just rocks. If you want something cool, jump over to Kobuleti, 30 km north, and check out its magnetic beach. Yep, the sand there is magnetic and like nothing you’ve seen before. You can still rent an umbrella and a lounger on the beach in Batumi and swim when the weather is not too bad (in times of storm waves are 3+ meters high, I’ve seen them). It’s just not my cup of tea.
You’ve seen all of Batumi? What about a day trip?
Hop on a marshrutka to Khulo and stop at Makhuntseti where you can see a stone bridge at least a millennium old and an impressive 100 m. high waterfall bearing the same name. While there, make sure to try churkchella – nuts encased in jellified fruit juice, a Georgian delight. Both transport and your churkchella snack should cost about 3 GEL.
On the same road (Batumi- Khulo) you can stop at any destination and enjoy the views. The road follows a ravine and the journey, albeit unpleasantly bumpy, is scenic. On the way back stop any marshrutka – they all go back to Batumi.
So there you have it, a quick guide to this weird place on the far side of the Black Sea – Batumi, the pearl of the Georgian seaside is truly a bizarre place that you must visit while in Georgia.