Ferris wheels, a mini Opera House, and peacocks. This wasn’t the Georgia I had imagined as I arrived on the Black Sea Coast but then again this coastal resort wasn’t typically Georgian. Having travelled through Georgia for ten days I had arrived at my final destination in this emerging country.
As much as I love cultural places (which Georgia is), arriving in Batumi felt like a breath of fresh air. It was vibrant, fun and tacky and I instantly fell in love with the place. If you are travelling to the Georgia Black Sea and wondering what to do, here are my top things to do in Batumi as a solo:
1. Ali & Nino Statue
Love seems to be a theme that runs throughout this exciting city which is a mecca for party dwellers and Russian tourists during the summer months.
‘My first love' is a small monument that is tucked away along the promenade, but the largest declaration of love is Ali and Nino, a statue of eternal love and understanding amongst different nationalities. It depicts the love story of Ali, a Muslim boy from Azerbaijan and Nino and a Christian girl from Georgia. The 8-metre moving statue is based on the book by Kurban Said and is even more beautiful at night against Batumi’s skyline.
2. Alphabet Tower
The Alphabet Tower is a clever design that resembles the structure of a DNA molecule. What’s even more impressive about it are the letters of the alphabet which snake their way up to the top of this impressive structure. The Georgian alphabet is one of the 14 ancient alphabets in the world.
Once you’ve counted all the letters (there are 33!) you can pay to take the lift and go to the top where there is a swanky restaurant and bar offering unrivalled views of the city. The food here is incredible and so cheap. It’s 135 metres high and my favourite thing to do in Batumi!
3. Walk Along The Batumi Promenade
Palm trees line the 7 km long boulevard along the waterfront with restaurants offering sea views as you dine. New buildings fuse with old derelict architecture to create a unique city that will have you whipping out your camera every few minutes.
From the Oriental-style Summer Theatre to the Colonnades – tall Italian-style pillars that act as the gateway to the waterfront (apparently they were bought from Italy in the 20th century).
The buildings are so cool here that even the McDonalds won Building of The Year Nomination in 2013.
Another very cool design is the Wedding House at the main entrance of the boulevard. It looks similar to a white dolphin with tall glass windows. Apparently it’s open 24 hours a day for those who want to pop in and get married for the mere price of £42. Bargain!
For more Italian architecture Fountain Neptune stands in front of the Batumi State Theatre. It is said to be a copy of Giambologna’s fountain in Bologna. Who needs to go to Italy,
If you want to know the time and sample the local grape vodka (the chacha), head to the 25 metre Chacha Tower for a free shot. (high season only). The Astronomical Clock also tells the time as well as the position of the sun, moon phases and the meridian.
Take a stroll around 6 May Park where you can try your hand at boating across the lake, screaming to your heart’s content on the amusement rides (okay they aren’t really that scary), or just watch the fountain instead.
There’s also free Wifi along the promenade so you can Skype your family back at home and take them along the promenade with you.
4. Listen to Music at Piazza Square
Although you may be in Georgia, Piazza Square doesn’t feel very Georgian (hence the Italian name “Piazza”) It’s easy to see why it’s one of the most visited places in Batumi with its stained glass and mosaic art. The Piazza complex that surrounds the square is a good spot to dine with a choice of cafes and restaurants. If you’re in need of some company this area has live music and gives you the chance to mingle with the locals who come here for a drink and a bite to eat.
Just a short walk from Piazza Square is Europe Square, another European-style square which regularly holds concerts and other nightly events to keep you entertained. In this square stands the statue of Medea to show the close ties between Georgia and Europe. The Statue of Medea is a main character in Greek mythology who helped the Argonauts steal the Golden Fleece. The princess holds the fleece in her hand.
For another spectacle at night head to where the Ferris wheel is for the dancing fountains, one of the main attractions on the boulevard. They do exactly what they say they do from 20:00 every evening they dance as the fountain turns into a laser show.
5. Get Some Nature at Batumi Botanical Garden
If you have time visit the Batumi Botanical Garden, just a few miles outside of the city. It is one of the biggest gardens in the countries in the former Soviet Union and has fantastic views of the coastline from the clifftop. Established over a century ago the garden is seven hectares of many varieties of flora divided on the legendary gardens of Babylon. Amongst the magnolia and cypress you can see date palms and bamboo. Take minibus number 31 to get here.
6. Watch The Locals
If you rise after the sun has come up you’ll spot the fisherman hooking their daily catch. In the afternoons you’ll see old men playing chess and if you wander around in the evenings you’ll catch the party dwellers or gambling tourists wanting to try their luck at one of the resort’s casinos.
7. Shake Your Bootie at One of Batumi’s Night Clubs
Batumi doesn’t have an abundance of clubs but what it does have definitely attracts the party goers. Head to the beach-front and the Boulevard for clubbing that goes on until dawn.
Boom Boom Beach is one of Batumi’s top nightclubs on the beach which has its own pool. Then there’s Discorium Night Club which is huge and plays techno music (amongst other genres).
There’s Rai Karaoke and Lounge Club if you prefer to flex your vocal chords instead of your body or you may prefer to start your evening off at The Batumi Sea Station which was once one of the architectural symbols of Old Batumi with it’s white and blue exterior. Built in 1962, it is now one of the places to warm up for the evening.
Vinyl is an ideal place to mingle with the locals. This small vinyl-disc decorated bar (hence the name) is popular with locals and expats.
If you prefer somewhere a bit more laid-back the Black Buddha plays chill-out tunes so you can enjoy the gold and black decor with a drink in hand (and the black Buddha of course).
Even an old ship docked at the marina turns into a live music venue at night, it’s sounds can be heard above the commercial music of nearby clubs.
8. Relax on Batumi Beach
Being on the Black Sea means that Batumi has a coastline and plenty of beach to sit and relax on. The main beach is free and with 7 kilometres of it to choose from, you’ll definitely find a space for one. Most of the beach contains pebbles so if you’re looking for sand Ureci Beach is a black magnetic sand beach where locals come to heal from from its magnetic properties.
It is 50 kms from the city though so if you don’t want to venture too far out, Iveria Beach is one of the nicest areas to relax on and swim.
Once you’ve had enough sunbathing you can see the city from a Batumi Riviera cruise instead.
9. Take The Argo Cable Car
For a different view of the city from the Alphabet Tower head to Anuria Mountain for the Argo Cable Car. At an altitude of 250 metres, the mountain offers panoramic views of the city and the Caucasus Mountains which you can enjoy over a hot brew in the cafe. The ride only takes 10 minutes whilst you stare out at the views over the Black Sea.
10. Check Out The Churches
“Churches?” I hear you question. Yes, but being Batumi, they aren’t ordinary churches. In fact Batumi has churches, mosques, cathedrals and synagogues.
The Batumi Catholic Church of Holy Spirit isn’t like anything that you’ve probably seen before. It was built in the late 90’s and is located at the entrance of the city, not far from the port.
St. Nicholas Church is one of the most beautiful historical monuments in the city. It is a Greek Orthodox church and was built in 1865 during the Ottoman Empire.
The Virgin Nativity Cathedral is the city’s main cathedral, built in a Gothic revival style in the late 19th century. Then there’s the synagogue which was built in 1904. It wasn’t used as a synagogue during the Soviet period and only reopened again in 1998. The Ortajame Mosque was also unused during this era. It was originally built in the late 19th century as was the Armenian Apostolic Church which was originally a wooden church!
There are plenty of religious buildings to keep you busy and you don’t have to go inside them to appreciate their design or diversity but if you do enter you need to cover your head with a shawl. Don’t worry if you don’t have one as there are shawls at the entrances.
Other Things To Do in Batumi
For a place not that big there is a surprising amount of diversity here. You can rent a blue rickshaw, climb the white lighthouse, see a peacock, or just take a gentle stroll around the lake watching the reflections of the buildings ripple in the water.
And there are enough places to eat too. Drink a coffee in the Cafe Gardens, dine on an old wooden boat, or just wander in the new part of the city to find some Adjarian cuisine. You’ll find some cafes selling “tsom gamotslili,” a baked dish in a boat-shape made from cheese and dough. Georgian cuisine is delicious and I definitely recommend eating at the Alphabet Tower.
You can learn more about the oil pipeline and the development of the city at the Batumi Technological Museum and The Gonio Fortress is a only a 20 minute drive away too. Batumi really has everything.
Batumi Discount Card
If you’re here for a while, you can pick up a Batumi Discount card at the Tourist Information Centre that gives discounts to museums, activities, shops, restaurants and also hotels. With your card you also receive transport tickets and a local SIM card.
From Batumi Airport
From Batumi airport there are taxis to take you the short distance to Batumi (only 5 minutes away). Taxis cost £2 and are the easier and quickest option. The Line 10 bus also runs from there to Ardagani Lake and takes 17 minutes. If you feel like walking the walk is only an hour.
Tbilisi to Batumi
I travelled from Tbilisi to Batumi by train which departed Tbilisi at 08:00 and arrived at Batumi Railway Station at 13:00 costing £7.00. There are also night trains but reserve your ticket to save a seat. If you don’t want to travel by the fast train (which is really modern), there are minibuses which run regularly between the two cities. Buses take approximately 6 hours and cost approximately £8.00. Check Rome2Rio for travel options and links to book tickets.
Choosing a Batumi Hostel
There are a few hostels to choose from in Batumi. I stayed at Boutique Hotel Medusa and although nowhere in Batumi is far but this hotel which feels more like a boutique hostel is walkable to nearly everywhere in Batumi. The well-equipped stylish kitchens are ideal if you prefer to cook your own meals, and there are huge sofas to relax on. You can even wash your own clothes and hang them on the clothes horse outside.
The rooms are clean and they have a female-only dorm room (which is pink). There is a 24 hour front desk and they provide a free breakfast to set you up for the day. Choose from a double room with a sea view or a bed in a 6-bed dorm room.
- Prices from £6 per night for a bed in a 6-bed dorm room
- To book, check prices or availability for Boutique Hotel Medusa
Other recommended places to stay in Batumi are Freedom Hostel Batumi, or if you prefer the comfort of a hotel Black Sea Hotel is a good choice depending on which part of the city you want to stay.
Is Batumi good for solos? I give it 4 stars because I absolutely loved it. I felt safe and ran along the promenade in the morning for my morning jog past the fishermen. Although the majority of locals speak Russian, some also speak English too. Read the Solo Travel in Georgia guide to plan your trip.