Batumi is a Georgian city by the coast of the Black Sea and it was the last stop on our holiday in Georgia in 2018. My boyfriend and I took the night train from the capital, Tbilisi, to Batumi, which only runs every two days, so this time we had to plan a bit in advance.
The train journey lasted about 8 hours and the trains were quite decent, so the whole thing should’ve been relatively nice with us getting enough sleep, but it was not meant to be. There was a crying child who didn’t pause for a single breath in 8 hours, which made it a complete nightmare instead and my ankles swelled to twice the size, because it was too hot on the train. So, we arrived to Batumi in the early morning, tired and fed up with everything, but at least we were greeted with a very nice, unexpectedly modern view.
Batumi is a coastal resort town in the autonomous region of Adjara, which gets plenty of rich Russian visitors and it shows. Compared to the rest of Georgia, it is very modern and well-maintained, with fancy architecture and sculptures. Apparently several European architects worked in Batumi during the 19th and 20th century, which gave the city its signature futuristic look, as well as the Batumi Boulevard, a 7 km boardwalk stretching along the seaside. Batumi’s earlier history also contributed to its unique appearance, as it is one of the oldest cities in Georgia, dating back to the 8th century and even further back to the 4th century B.C. if you count its predecessor, the Batus settlement.
Although Batumi is mostly famous for its beaches, entertainment events and nightlife, it also has a botanical garden and a Dolphinarium, as well as several attractions nearby, like the Gonio-Apsaros fortress and the Makhuntseti waterfall. Of course it wouldn’t be Georgia, if there were no cable cars and no monasteries, so Batumi also has a cable car and the Skhalta monastery is located a bit further up in the mountains. However, since we didn’t have a car and had already visited the botanical garden in Tbilisi, we didn’t visit any of them. Since we had two days in Batumi, we chose to take it easy after the train ride from hell and enjoy the seaside. We went to the beach for some sun and ice cream, where I got a stray dog friend, who followed us around for quite a while.
The Batumi beach
After that we went off to explore the city centre. It turns out that Batumi is a slightly forced futuristic blend of the old and the new and you can spot most of its modern architectural sights from the beach. There were two fancy skyscrapers, which I believe were a hotel and an event venue, as well as a panoramic Ferris wheel a short distance away. All of them lit up at night like a Christmas tree, further proving that Batumi really has a completely different vibe to the rest of Georgia. It was almost like stepping into a different country, so the city is definitely worth a visit for the wow factor alone, and also for all the interesting sculptures by the beach, like the lovers Ali and Nino in the gif below (I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t take a video, but well, here’s a very old school gif made of the photos I took).
One of the places we visited was the Khariton Akhvlediani Adjara State museum, a natural history museum, which has a giant whale skeleton in the yard. Taking photos was not allowed, but the museum is quite interesting in an outdated way and the entrance fee was so cheap it’s definitely worth a visit. Next we found a small pond with ducks and turtles next to a construction site, where they were building a massive new apartment building – based on the amount of construction going on everywhere, Batumi is set to grow a lot in the future. Its main square, Piazza Batumi, was also quite modern and everything there was surprisingly expensive for Georgia, making Batumi a true aspiring metropolis.
Impressions of Batumi
We splurged on a good Georgian meat dinner after exploring the city, because it was our last official evening in Georgia before we had to head back to Kutaisi for our flight home. Since we stuffed ourselves, we decided to go for a walk by the sea to watch the sunset and ended up running into a group of people doing some kind of traditional Georgian circle dancing. They had a radio blasting music in the middle of their circle and appeared to be locals of all ages, just hanging out during the weekend. My boyfriend refused to try and join them, so we stood and watched on the sidelines for a bit. It was quite in contrast with all the elegantly dressed couples in evening gowns we’d seen going into the city for dinner and clubbing, and it gave me hope that Batumi is not completely touristic yet.