A Girl's Guide to Batumi, Georgia

september 2, 2018

Exploring Batumi feels like getting dumped on a board game from the 90s… a stroll through Candyland.The city is bright and colorful but a little rough around the edges, like a well-worn game board threatening to split in two on it’s cardboard spine. Scotch tape is keeping it all together and shiny new trinkets are improvised for game pieces. In Batumi those trinkets take the shape of futuristic buildings, which tower over aging apartments. Beautifully manicured gardens are framed with peeling paint and rusty sheds, while endless rainbow buildings and fun amenities keep the games rolling.

 

Set on the Black Sea Coast, Batumi has a sort of strangeness that can only occur when so many foreign people and concepts come together in such a small place. It’s Western. But not. Middle Eastern-ish. Sunny infrequently, but when it is, so cheery and colorful. It’s the kind of place for everyone to have a little fun in this game board town.

SEE // DO

  • The Black Sea is a glittering gem in Batumi. The beaches are rocky, but the water is very comfortable. I recommend renting a chair and space at one of the beach clubs along the shore.  Iveria Beach Club (run by the Radisson) is very chic and my top pick. The day pass is 30gel and includes a lounger and towel.

  • Seafront Promenade offers endless activities for family fun, including a ferris wheel, art exhibitions, and bike rentals. The north end offers lovely views of the pier and surrounding mountains. South of the pier lies a lovely park.

 

  • The statue of Man and Woman, located near the ferris wheel, is iconic in the city for representing the tragic love story of Ali and Nino. The steel sculptures of man and woman rotate slightly everyday at 7pm, bringing the couple closer to one another until they embrace and then back again.

  • Europe Square hosts the famous Statue of Medea surrounded by charming  European-style buildings. A few blocks over, Theater Square is known for its intricate, fairy-tale groomed gardens.

 

  • May Park features an expansive green space and large pond where one can rent a paddle board. The park hosts many festivals and markets in the summer months.

 

 

  • The Botanical Garden, 20 minutes drive outside of the city, is a lovely escape offering fantastic hiking and coastal views.

Eat // Drink

  • Fan Fan for traditional food in an eclectic setting. Great cocktails and breakfast. An all day and night spot.

 

  • Clouds Bar at the Radisson for stunning sea views, sushi, and live music on the weekends.

 

  • Cafe Adjara for a tasting platter of local cuisine and Georgian wine, all very affordable.

 

  • Cafe Gardens for a laid back vibe in the park. Large menu, indoor and outdoor seating.

 

  • Bern for the rooftop terrace on sunny days.

  • Chacha Time for a taste of the local liquor and nightlife fun.

 

 

  • Wine Room for boutique Georgian wines and tasting.

 

Shop // Splurge

 

  • I was very impressed with the boutique clothing shops in Batumi, many of which feature Georgian designers. Anouki (6 Memed Abashidze str.) and Flabour (21 Memed Abashidze str.) were among my favorites.

 

  • Books in Batumi has a lovely cafe, gifty items, and, of course, books. They have a small selection in English.

 

  • Cafe & Flowers Batumi near Europe Square sells flowers and cocktails. Stop by for an Aperol Spritz and a photo op amongst the flora.

 

Getting There // Getting Around

The train from Tbilisi to Batumi takes 5 hours and is about $20 (50 gel) roundtrip. You can buy tickets online. Getting from the train station to Batumi’s center takes about 15 minutes by taxi. I highly recommend using the app, TAXIFY (Georgia's answer to Uber), otherwise you will end up in a stinky cab with other tourists, paying 4x as much.

 

Once in the city, most things can be done on foot, although there is always TAXIFY and other cabs.