Text and photos by Richard Collett.
Georgia’s second city, Batumi, is a delight with Black Sea beaches, long seafront boulevards and delicious local cuisine. With warm, subtropical climes to enjoy throughout much of the year, Batumi has long been a popular holiday destination – at least in the regional sphere of the Caucasus – and is now waking up to more and more visitors each year, who are looking to enjoy the sun and the sea on the Black Sea coast.
With a roaring nightlife in the summer months, an intriguing culinary scene and plenty of local history and culture to explore in Batumi, and in the surrounding Adjarian region, the city is a must visit on any Georgia itinerary.
To help you to plan your trip to the Black Sea, here are our top things to do in Batumi.
The Best Time of Year to Visit Batumi
Batumi enjoys the luxury of a subtropical climate thanks to its southeasterly location on the Black Sea. Compared to the rest of Georgia, Batumi is much, much warmer, even in winter.
Batumi in winter can be cold and rainy, but you won’t see the freezing temperatures of Tbilisi or the snow-covered roads of northern Georgia. Batumi makes for a great place to escape the cold if you are travelling through the country in the winter, while in summer, it’s holiday season in the city and along the beaches, you’ll find an energetic, party-like atmosphere on the Black Sea.
The Best Things to do in Batumi
From bathing in the Black Sea and relaxing on beaches to exploring long forgotten Roman ruins and subtropical botanic gardens, there are a lot of great things to do in Batumi. Here are our top picks!
Stroll (or Bike, or Run) Along Batumi Boulevard
The seafront Batumi Boulevard is the centre of life in the city, as it stretches for 7 kilometres along the Black Sea, encompassing parks, beaches, restaurants and bars along the way.
It’s a wonderful place to simply stroll in the sunshine, catch the sea breeze, chance upon artwork and sculptures, and enjoy the views. You’ll find people exercising, cycling, or just sitting back in the cafes or bars enjoying a few drinks. Head to the Boulevard for sunset, to witness fiery sunset skies across the Black Sea.
Here, it’s worth checking out the Miracles Park that’s home to a massive ferris wheel, works of art, and the famous statues of Ali and Nino, a fascinating artwork that features a pair of metal sculptures also called the Statue of Love. It’s based on the story of lovers Ali, an Azerbaijani Muslim and Nino, a Georgian Christian who have a doomed love story in the backdrop of the First World War. It’s worth visiting in time for the evening automated performance at 7pm when the two beautifully lit figures slide towards each other, and merge, their stacks passing through each other and separating again, in a thoughtful, touching rendition of their story, by Georgian artist Tamara Kvesitadze.
Relax in Batumi’s Black Sea Beaches
Batumi’s popularity as a holiday destination comes from the fact that the coastline here is lined with beaches. Although the beaches along the Boulevard are pebbly and stony, you’ll still find them packed out in summer.
If you prefer your beaches to be soft and sandy, then head out of the city towards Shekvetili, where you can find dark, sandy beaches and a peaceful atmosphere.
Enjoy the Batumi Botanical Gardens
A highlight of any trip to the city is a visit to the Batumi Botanical Gardens which should definitely be on your list of things to do in Batumi. Making use of the unusually warm and almost tropical climate of the coast, the gardens hold a magnificent array of flora from around the world.
There are endless walking paths through the gardens and fantastic cliff top views over the Black Sea. The Batumi Botanical Gardens are located around 10 kilometres out of the city centre, and you can take a taxi or a marshrutka to get here.
Marvel at Batumi’s Weird and Wonderful Architecture
Over the last decade or so, Batumi has undergone something of a regeneration project in the city and along the Boulevard, as the city attempted to develop a more contemporary look for tourists. Much of the resulting architecture became known more for its wacky weirdness though, contrary to what was perhaps intended.
You’ll find some weird and wonderful buildings in Batumi, such as the twists and turns of the iconic 130m tall Alphabet Tower in the Miracles Park. At the Alphabet Tower, you can take the elevator to the top for views over the area. There’s also a rotating restaurant here.
Then, there’s the strange glass prism structure that is home to the local McDonalds restaurant and looks like it’s right out of a sci-fi or alien invasion movie. It’s cool, intriguing, slick and eclectic, all at once.
Visit Batumi’s Elegant Squares
The best way to see cities is on two feet and luckily, Batumi has two beautiful squares that are great if you like the idea of admiring the city’s architecture while walking around- something you totally should do in Batumi. Head to Piazza Square for a bit of photography and to join the locals in laidback cafes, bars and restaurants. The equally beautiful but somewhat quirky Europe Square that’s the central square for public events, festivals and celebrations, is home to restored 19th century structures and new buildings some of which were built in the same style, while others seem fantastical. While you’re here, don’t miss the Astronomical Clock and the monument of Medea.
Check out the Museums in Batumi
For curious visitors who would like to get a better understanding of Batumi’s history, culture and art, the city offers a fair number of museums to learn more. Visit the beautiful Adjara Art Museum to admire painting and sculptures including the works of famous artist Pirosmani.
If you’re an art lover, it might also be worth checking out Contemporary ART space Batumi to delve into the local art scene and find community events. Here you’ll find seminars, exhibitions and workshops as well as the chance to find local creatives and artists. The space hosts exhibitions and programmes, as well as screenings.
To know more about the region’s intriguing and often complex history, visit the Batumi Archaeological Museum to see exhibits including coins, vessels, pottery and more dating to the Bronze and Medieval Ages, discovered in archeological excavations.
If you’re interested to know more about Batumi’s role in the oil industry, visit the The Nobel Brothers Batumi Technological Museum.
Wander around Old Batumi
One of the things that makes Batumi interesting is the strange contrast between the new architecture and the 19th century buildings of old Batumi. Take a wander around the lanes of old Batumi that has retained mushc of its charm, to see the old or original architectural style, and casual, laidback cafes, bars and restaurants that have plenty of local flair.
Shop at the Central Market
Get involved in local happenings at the large Central Market in Batumi. A lively place throughout the week, here you can find local vendors selling their goods. Try some fresh Georgian delicacies, from local cheese and olives to wine and much more.
Dine on the Catch of the Day at the Fish Market
Located by the harbour, Batumi’s Fish Market is a culinary highlight of any trip to the city and a must do when it comes to things to do in Batumi.
Here you will find fresh fish for sale by the local fishermen and market stall holders, but the main attraction is the fact that you can purchase your fish of choice, have it cleaned and then take it to a local chef in one of the neighboring restaurants, who will cook it for you! Talk about a true market eating experience.
Ride the Argo Cable Car
The Argo Cable Car starts its 2.5-kilometre journey by the harbour, and whisks passengers over the city and high up to the summit of the Anuria Mountain. It’s a glorious ride, and once you reach the top you’ll be treated to outstanding views over Batumi from a viewing platform. There’s even a restaurant up there serving excellent Georgian food with a view to match.
The Roman Ruins of the Gonio Fortress
A short journey to the south of Batumi will bring you to Gonio, where not only can you find some popular beaches and bars, but the ruins of a Roman fortress. The impressive walls date back to at least the 1st Century AD, and you’ll find a wealth of history and archaeological finds inside.
Go Hiking in Batumi
Just a short journey from the city into the countryside will give you plenty of excellent hiking opportunities. Visit the Mtirala National Park for endless outdoor opportunities in a pristine environment, or hike along trails to reach the spectacular crashing water of Makhuntseti Falls.
Enjoy Batumi Nightlife on the Black Sea
After a hard day of exploring, it’s time to enjoy the Batumi nightlife on the Black Sea. Although in winter, things are quiet when it comes to bars and partying, when summer rolls around, partygoers from across Europe and Russia flock here. Take your pick from late night DJ sets on the beaches, chilled cocktail bars in the city and rowdy pubs across Batumi.
What to Eat and Where in Batumi
If you have travelled anywhere else in Georgia before arriving in Batumi, you’ll quickly understand that a lot of the local specialities have been adopted across the country, such is the respect held for Adjarian cuisine. You can read my post about Georgian food and what to eat here.
The most famous dish to try in Batumi is the boat-shaped, heart attack inducing Adjarian Khachapuri, also known as Adjaruli Khachapuri. Sort of like a doughy pie, Khachapuri is a Georgian delicacy, but nowhere else quite does it like Batumi. Adjaruli Khachapuri is open, covered in lashings of butter, cheese and topped with an egg. You mix it all together in the middle and try not to think about the calories. You can find Adjaruli Khachapuri across the city, but a particularly renowned establishment to visit is Laguna. Machakhela is another great restaurant that serves Khachapuri with different vegetarian and meat toppings and has branches in Tbilisi as well.
While visiting Batumi, you also need to enjoy the delights of Khinkali. These are dumpling shaped parcels filled with meat, vegetables and spices, but you must know that there is much etiquette when it comes to eating Khinkali. Only use your hands, and discard the tough top of the dumpling onto the plate. Head to the aptly named Khinkali House, to gorge on this Georgian delight.
When it comes to drinking, Georgians produce some of the world’s best wine (and they’re proud of it) and you’ll find excellent bottles of red and white in every restaurant in Batumi. If you are feeling brave, you can even try the not quite so delectable local spirit, cha cha, a traditional homebrew which is seeing a resurgence in cocktail bars across the city. Visit Cha Cha Time for some cocktails with a local twist.
Where to Stay in Batumi
Batumi has a great range of accommodation, suitable for any budget. Many of the higher quality, international hotels such as the Hilton and the Radisson Blu are located in great locations, just a few minutes walk from the Boulevard and the beaches, and offer all the amenities you could imagine.
Budget travellers will find plenty of hostels, apartments and great value hotels, generally located in the city itself, but still close enough to the Boulevard to walk around and be immersed in a more local side of Batumi.
How to Get To Batumi
Being Georgia’s second largest city, Batumi has great connections to the rest of the country. The small international Batumi airport is located just a short drive to the south of the city centre. Flights are scheduled here from such destinations as Istanbul, Kiev, Moscow and of course Tbilisi, allowing you to reach Batumi in just one stop from many major cities across Europe and the Middle East.
By rail, there are several overnight sleeper trains from Tbilisi each week, taking around 9 hours and offering comfortable cabins or cheaper seats for the journey. A more convenient service is the relatively new express line, which runs modern trains daily between Tbilisi and Batumi, taking just 5 hours travel time. The station in Batumi is located a few kilometres outside the city centre.
You can also take Marshrutkas or local minibuses between Tbilisi and Batumi, or between Batumi and many other destinations such as Kutaisi, or Zugdidi. These are cheaper but expect less comfort and unpredictable journey times. It’s also possible to cross overland from Turkey using a combination of buses and Marshrutkas.
How to Get Around Batumi
Getting around the centre of Batumi and the Boulevard is easy enough on foot, or you can rent bicycles in many locations. Further afield, there is a dense network of local minibuses that run passengers around the city and out to destinations such as the Batumi Botanical Gardens and the nearby national parks. Taxis are also very inexpensive.
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I’m Richard, the blogger behind Travel Tramp, an adventure traveller and freelance writer who can’t stop getting off the beaten track. I write travel blogs with a dash of journalism and take photographs along the way. Connect with me on Facebook and Instagram.
Have you been to Batumi? What was your favorite thing to do there?