Traveling to Batumi, Georgia

Are you thinking of traveling to Batumi, Georgia?  Batumi is a city on the Black Sea coast just an north of the Turkish/Georgian border and because of this it has quite a lot of Turkish investment and tourism.  Batumi is either the second or third largest city in Georgia and during the Soviet Union period, Batumi was a resort city for East block citizens.

After the fall of the USSR, Batumi which is located in Adjara province was basically taken over by a mafia clan backed by Russia and was an autonomous and separatist region.  When Mikheil Saakashvili was elected as the new leader of Georgia after the Rose revolution, he was able to peacefully re-establish control of Adjara and Batumi.  Adjara is ethnically majority Georgian with small minorities of Armenians, Greeks, Turks and smattering of North Caucasus peoples and Russians.  Unlike other separatist areas of Georgia, Adjara has no substantial ethnic or religious strife so it was quickly readopted and the security greatly improved(previously was an issue).

Ok, so enough history of Batumi.  What is it like traveling to Batumi, Georgia?  For starters unlike Tbilisi or the mountain areas, Batumi and Adjara in general has a more sub-tropical and Mediterranean feel to it.

Traveling to Batumi, seen from the highway near Tsikhisdziri, Georgia.
Traveling to Batumi, seen from the highway near Tsikhisdziri, Georgia.

If you visit Batumi in summer, many regional visitors(Armenia, Romania, Ukraine,etc) will be in Batumi during holiday periods and give the city a more multi-cultural feel, many residents speak Russian as well as Turkish as well as Georgian.  English is growing but still at a far lower level and any attempt at Georgian will be very appreciated.  Batumi restaurants are a great place to meet local people, enjoy the delicious cuisine and fine but I will go into a few tips on drinking.  When accepting an offer of drinking from local Georgians, you should know that Georgian’s can drink a great deal of alcohol, it would be best to stick to beer which does not have a real toasting culture and it will be more acceptable to leave anytime.

What is there too see? Well, Batumi has nice old,new and slightly worn architecture along with a nice beachfront and botanical gardens.

Colorful buildings in Batumi
Colorful buildings in Batumi

Batumi is just large enough to be walk able but it can be uncomfortable with the heat at times, they do have buses that go up and down the main streets that are cheap by western standards and will help ease some sore feet.

If you are unsure of which bus to take, locals are more than happy to point you in the right direction.  The center of Batumi is full of 4-5 star hotels, casinos and cafes.  If you are in need of wifi, English speakers and food, there is a cafe called the Press Cafe near the waterfront that has good food and fast wifi(for Georgia).

Central Batumi