Altitude: 3 meters above sea level
Official language: Georgian
Popular languages: Russian, Turkish
Population: 179,185 people
Time zone: UTC+4
Phone code: +995 422
Postal code: 60XX
Vehicle code: GE
Batumi stands as Georgia's premier resort city, renowned for its transformation in the last 15 years into a vibrant tourist destination. This city gleams with modern skyscrapers, beautifully maintained beaches, and state-of-the-art facilities. A global magnet for travelers, Batumi offers an array of activities for a diverse and fulfilling holiday. From miles of the Black Sea's expansive coastline to the extraordinary southern subtropical nature, and a plethora of spots for indulging in the rich Georgian cuisine and culture of the Adjara region, there's something for everyone.
The city perfectly blends the tranquility of beach holidays with the vibrant local culture. Imagine leisurely days by the sea, interspersed with evenings of soulful gatherings, sipping wine to the mesmerizing sounds of local music. Your days can be filled with adventures to majestic waterfalls and serene lakes, capped off by watching stunning sunsets. Batumi is also home to a lively mix of nightclubs, shopping malls, casinos, theaters, and museums. Just a short drive from Adjara's capital, you'll find the sprawling landscapes of national parks. Whether you're after thrilling activities or peaceful seaside relaxation, Batumi, a gem on the Georgian Black Sea coast, offers it all.
Curious about what Batumi has to offer? Wondering which local Ajara dishes to try, where to find aromatic Georgian spices, or which attractions are a must-see? Our comprehensive guide to Batumi answers all these questions and more. We've carefully selected the most fascinating places and experiences to ensure your trip is as enriching and memorable as possible.
How to Get to Batumi?
Reaching Batumi is convenient and offers multiple options. You can fly, take a bus, train, drive, or even travel by ferry (available from May to September). For those coming from Turkey, there's the unique option of crossing the Georgian border on foot.
Batumi's international airport welcomes flights from cities like Moscow, Minsk, Istanbul, Riyadh, Yerevan, Almaty, Riga, and Tbilisi, among others. For land travel, there's a modern electric train from Tbilisi that operates twice daily, with a journey time of around six hours. If trains are fully booked, buses or minibuses (marshrutka) are viable alternatives. Buses are frequently available, and minibuses leave from Tbilisi's Didube bus station hourly.
Sea travel to Batumi is also an option during the warmer months, with ferries operating from Chernomorsk in Ukraine and Sochi in Russia.
In Batumi, Georgian is the official language. Locals often speak with a distinctive dialect that sets the Adjarians apart. Russian is widely understood and spoken. In hospitality settings like hotels and restaurants, staff typically converse in English, and in some instances, Turkish as well.
The lari (GEL) is the official currency of Georgia. In Batumi, ATMs and currency exchange services are readily available for your convenience. The lari comes in banknotes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 GEL, and coins are in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 tetri. One GEL equals 100 tetri.
Internet and SIM Cards in Batumi
In Batumi, you'll find services from three major mobile and internet providers: Magti, Geocell, and Cellfie. Monthly plans start at about 3-4 GEL. Options include 30, 60, or 90-day packages, with the ability to purchase additional data as needed. To obtain a Georgian SIM card, just present a valid passport.
Is Batumi Safe?
Batumi is generally a safe city, and it's quite common for people to walk around in the evenings without concern. However, it's advisable to keep an eye on your personal belongings, documents, and money to avoid any unnecessary losses.
Brief History of Batumi
Batumi boasts a rich and ancient history, along with a unique culture. Ancient historians mentioned a settlement called Batusi, located where modern Batumi stands, as part of the Colchis Kingdom. It's believed that the coastal inhabitants were engaged in agriculture, fishing, and trade. Archaeological findings in other ancient Colchis cities like Vani suggest that Batusi was also a center for ceramics, jewelry making, and coinage.
In the 5th century, King Vakhtang Gorgasali integrated the area of present-day Batumi into his kingdom. The city then became part of the western Georgian kingdom of Lazika, before joining the unified Georgian state. From the 13th to the 16th centuries, the Gurieli dynasty ruled Batumi, until it was eventually conquered by the Ottoman Empire.
By the late 19th century, Batumi was annexed by the Russian Empire and became a porto franco, or free port, allowing duty-free import and export of goods. This spurred its transformation into a European-style town, especially in the central area near the port, characterized by two-story buildings.
During the Soviet era, Batumi emerged as a popular resort, attracting workers from all USSR republics.
Today, Batumi is the thriving capital of Adjara and a central hub for Black Sea tourism in Georgia. The city is undergoing rapid development, and its appeal as a beautiful resort city continues to draw increasing numbers of visitors each year.
What is Batumi Famous For?
Batumi is renowned for its expansive beach and promenade, stretching almost 7 kilometers throughout the city. Along the Batumi seafront, visitors can discover unique installations, a variety of restaurants and cafes, souvenir stalls, and neatly arranged benches. The infrastructure is designed for optimal relaxation and enjoyment, with sunbeds and umbrellas available for rent at many beach points during summer. The Batumi embankment, beloved by both city guests and locals, is a popular spot for leisurely strolls.
Equally famous are Batumi's numerous futuristic buildings along the coastal city center. Notable structures include the Alphabet Tower, with a revolving restaurant on its top floor, a mysterious building adorned with a golden horn and a mini Ferris wheel, and the elegantly designed Sheraton Hotel, complete with a clock tower. A walk along the entire embankment reveals a succession of impressive examples of modern architecture.
Batumi is a culinary haven, showcasing the best of Adjarian cuisine, which is a source of pride and adoration among locals. The city is dotted with quaint eateries and vibrant restaurants offering a wide range of Adjarian and Georgian dishes. During peak season, these places are bustling, and waiting times for a meal can reach up to 60 minutes. Yet, regular patrons and cuisine enthusiasts attest that the wait is always worthwhile. The rich variety of dining options is yet another compelling reason to visit Batumi.
The city is also a gateway to the stunning natural beauty of the Adjara region. Just a 20-minute drive from the city center lies the expansive Batumi Botanical Garden, covering 113 hectares. It hosts an array of plants from across the globe, allowing visitors to journey through tropical forests or meander among Canadian pines, all within its enchanting trails.
Batumi may be compact, but it's packed with charm, especially in the old town center. Here, tourists inevitably encounter the celebrated Europe Square, a central hub for gatherings, photo sessions, and to admire the statue of Medea with the Golden Fleece. Nearby stands the National Bank Tower, notable for its astronomical clock. This functional art piece not only adds to the city's aesthetics but also tracks the movements of celestial bodies like the sun and moon.
Venture deeper into the old city center to discover Piazza, an inviting square surrounded by Italian-style architecture, reminiscent of Venice's Piazza San Marco with its colonnades, arched windows, and a striking clock tower. The square is adorned with stained glass, unique sculptures, and intricate stucco work. Its centerpiece is a vast mosaic depicting sea deities. In the evenings, Piazza comes alive with music and offers a variety of bars and restaurants.
Next, head to the Batumi Yacht Club, where a fleet of snow-white yachts awaits. Here, you can embark on a private sea excursion or opt for a budget-friendly group motor ship tour. Nearby attractions include a Ferris wheel, the moving sculpture "Ali and Nino”, and the Batumi Lighthouse.
Strolling along Batumi Boulevard, you won't miss the city's famed light and music fountain. In the evenings, this fountain becomes the stage for vibrant shows, with water jets soaring and 'dancing' to popular tunes.
Green spaces abound in Batumi, offering peaceful retreats. The New Boulevard, away from the city center, impresses with unique art installations and ground-level fountains. This park is often quiet, ideal for activities like yoga, picnics, and photoshoots. Notable features include metal structures with the words "WHERE" and "Liberte," popular in souvenirs and guidebooks.
A visit to Batumi isn't complete without exploring the Botanical Garden. Spanning 113 hectares, this lush oasis houses plants from around the globe. Wander among boxwood thickets, towering eucalyptus, and fragrant flowering shrubs. The garden's observation decks offer stunning sea views, and visitors can also explore a greenhouse and herbarium. A haven for nature enthusiasts, the Botanical Garden is a must-see in the capital of Adjara.
Museums of Batumi
Batumi's museums are treasure troves of Adjara's historical and cultural artifacts. For those looking to deepen their appreciation of sunny Batumi, these museums are a must-visit. They showcase exceptional fine art by Georgian and Adjarian artists, offer glimpses into the local way of life across centuries, and unravel the mysteries of the ancient Kingdom of Colchis. Whether you're a history buff or an art enthusiast, Batumi's museums promise an enriching and engaging experience.
The State Museum of Arts of Adjara is a great starting point. Housing over 400 exhibits, it celebrates the talent of artists from the Adjara region and across Georgia. Highlights include rare works by renowned artists like Niko Pirosmani, Lado Gudiashvili, and David Kakabadze. The museum also hosts world-class exhibitions, including a notable showcase of Pablo Picasso's works in recent years.
The Batumi Archaeological Museum is a delight for lovers of antiquity. Its collection spans artifacts from ancient times to the late Middle Ages, featuring precious metal jewelry, glass and bronze items, statues, sculptures, and coins, all accompanied by detailed explanations in Russian. English and Russian-speaking guides are available for a more in-depth exploration.
For a glimpse into the life of Adjarians decades ago, the Ethnographic Museum "Borjgalo" is the place to go. It's a miniature replica of a village with 30 huts, each filled with mannequins depicting villagers performing daily tasks. This museum intricately recreates rural house interiors and household buildings, offering a vivid portrayal of traditional village life.
The Nobel Brothers Technological Museum offers a fascinating look at Batumi's more recent past when it evolved into a major trading port. Housed in a historic building that once belonged to the "Nobel Brothers Oil Production Partnership," this museum tells the story of the Nobel brothers' significant impact on Batumi and the Caucasus region, including their involvement in the Batumi-Baku railway line and the construction of an oil depot near Batumi port. The exhibits range from purified oil samples to technological artifacts of the era, along with color photographs by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, who visited Batumi in 1912. The museum's second floor is dedicated to the development of tea culture in Adjara.
Theaters of Batumi
The genesis of modern theatrical art in Georgia dates back to the mid-19th century, but its origins trace much further, with ancient performances based on legends and myths in Kartvelian lands. Today, Batumi, as the largest city on the Black Sea, is home to several theaters, each offering unique and engaging experiences. These theaters present a vibrant slice of the city's cultural life, inviting audiences to immerse themselves in the captivating worlds created on stage.
The city's premier theater is the Batumi Drama Theater, named after Ilya Chavchavadze. It began staging performances in the early 20th century. During the Soviet era, theater was a tool for public agitation, receiving significant government investment. Nowadays, the theater hosts a mix of plays by Georgian and international writers, along with contemporary directorial works.
Interestingly, the Batumi Drama Theater hasn't always been located on Rustaveli Avenue. Its original site is now occupied by the Batumi Circus. The current building, constructed in 1952, showcases the grandeur of Stalinist Empire style, with its massive columns and a pediment adorned with gilded stucco depicting theatrical masks, lyres, and trumpets. Inside, there's a museum displaying old posters, archival photos, rehearsal diaries, costumes, and artifacts chronicling the theater's history.
Another cultural hotspot is the Summer Theater, nestled on Batumi Boulevard, just steps from the sea. Its all-wooden structure captivates passersby with its unique design. The theater's programming blends the history and culture of the Ajara region and Batumi, featuring performances by musical and theater groups, award ceremonies, and showcases of Georgian folklore and local contemporary art. The Summer Theater is particularly active during the warmer months and frequently hosts the Batumi Author's Film Festival BIAFF.
For families traveling with children, the Batumi Puppet and Young Spectator Theater is a must-visit. It offers a delightful mix of marionette shows and actor-led productions. Every aspect, from the puppets to the costumes and musical scores, is crafted to transport audiences into enchanting fairy tale worlds. The theater's repertoire includes beloved classics like "The Wizard of Emerald City," "The Three Little Pigs," and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," ensuring enjoyment for both kids and adults.
Markets of Batumi
Batumi is home to three distinct markets, each offering a unique shopping experience in different parts of the city.
The Boni food market, located near the old Batumi bus station, is a bustling two-story marketplace, the largest one in Batumi. Here, you can find an array of fresh produce, including herbs, vegetables, fruits, meats, cheeses, honey, nuts, churchkhela, homemade wine, coffee, and aromatic Georgian spices. The vibrant colors and enticing aromas are a feast for the senses. It's the perfect spot to pick up local goods to remember your trip by.
At the other end of the city, near the exit towards the Turkish border, is Hopa Bazaar. This is a one-stop shop for more than just groceries. Here, you can update your wardrobe, buy shoes, household items, dishes, children's toys, sanitary ware, tools, and decorative pieces. Despite its smaller size, Hopa Bazaar has a comprehensive selection for everyday needs.
The Fish Market is a highlight of Batumi, offering not just fresh fish and seafood, but also the opportunity to have your selections cooked on the spot at nearby cafes. These restaurants will fry your chosen seafood to perfection with a crispy, golden crust. If you're planning to cook at home, you can also have your purchase cleaned and gutted for a fee. The market's variety includes trout, mullet, mackerel, salmon, and more. It's a must-visit for the full experience and fresh seafood delights.
Remember, bargaining is part of the shopping experience in Georgia's markets, and larger purchases often come with a discount.
Cafes and Restaurants of Batumi
When it comes to trying Adjara and Georgian cuisine, it's best to stick to trusted establishments. The cafes and restaurants in Batumi on our list are sure to impress with their delicious and hearty offerings.
Laguna, one of Batumi's oldest restaurants, is renowned for its various types of khachapuri. The signature dish here is Adjarski-style khachapuri, available in sizes ranging from mini to large with multiple egg yolks. For a unique twist, they can scoop out the inner dough, leaving you with a delectable combination of hot cheese and melting butter.
Porto Franco stands out for its flavorful Adjarian khachapuri, among other menu items. The restaurant also offers shashliks, pkhali, eggplant rolls with walnut cream sauce, and more, all set in an interior decorated with coats of arms, ship rudders, and model sailing ships.
Khinklis Gemo is a go-to for traditional Georgian cuisine, popular among both tourists and locals. Highlights include their khinkali, Adjarian-style khachapuri, and shkmeruli.
At Tavaduri, you can try the unique "Mama Khinkali," a gigantic khinkali stuffed with standard-sized ones. The presentation of this dish is a theatrical experience in itself.
Each restaurant in Batumi offers more than just great food; they each have their own special flair and a welcoming atmosphere.