Batumi is a mesmerizing city. It has existed since antiquity, with Greek historians mentioning it as far back as 4th century BC. Since the 18th century, the city was under Ottoman rule, and only in 1878, it was reclaimed by Georgia.
As a result of the Ottoman influence, many Muslims still live in Batumi, which is reflected in the art, culture and even the cuisine of the region. That being said, the vineyards and relaxed, friendly folk are also very reminiscent of Mediterranean countries.
Also, the majority of the population are Orthodox Christian. This one-of-a-kind mixture of cultures and influences guarantee a very eclectic experience while in Batumi, in the best possible meaning of this word.
Batumi today is a major port on the Black Sea coast and the second largest city in Georgia with a population of over 155.000. The city and its surroundings are famous for the astonishing mountains, friendly locals, a multitude of beaches and a rapidly-evolving infrastructure.
Our list of things to do and places to visit in Batumi aims to encompass the diversity of options and individual charm of the city, which we hope you will really enjoy.
Batumi Botanical Garden
Nature is incredibly important to Georgians, and the country has a long-standing tradition of botanical gardens.
Known worldwide, the Batumi Botanical Garden is enormous and astonishingly beautiful, featuring plants, and especially flowers from all corners of the earth, starting from East Asia and New Zealand and ending with the Americas.
It is a quiet getaway, where you can unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature. The garden is located on a high cliff right next to the sea.
We recommend to spend at least half a day at the botanical gardens, or an entire day altogether, as the nearby beaches are less crowded even in the summer and definitely worth paying a visit.
Batumi Old Town
Take a walk through the Batumi Boulevard, to the Theater Square and then to the Piazza Square to get a feel of the city atmosphere. And don’t be afraid to wander around the cute narrow streets and sit at a cafe together with the locals to get the most authentic experience.
The architecture is a mishmash of everything: you will find buildings of different styles and ages, which all meld together in a very charming and welcoming landscape. You will find several attractions in this quite small are, with a variety of museums, religious buildings, cafes, hotels, and shops all located conveniently side by side.
Among the various museums, we especially recommend the Ethnographic Museum "Borjgalo", dedicated to various traditional Georgian crafts. All the displays were handmade by the owner of the museum, Kemal Turmanidze.
A separate mention goes to one architectural gem, the Astronomical Clock, located a short walk from the Theater Square and impossible to miss (pictured above). Much like its Czech and Venetian counterpart, the Batumi astronomical clock gets a lot of love from visitors, especially in the summer.
The clock is located on a unique building, the architecture of which is purely Georgian (we assure you, it’s like nothing else you will ever see in Europe).
Besides the time, the clock also tells the Earth’s relative position to the Sun, the Moon, some planets and zodiac constellations. It also indicates the time of sunrise and sunset that day, as well as the meridian and the horizon.
On the opposite side of the architectural spectrum is the novel Alphabetic Tower (see picture below). It is only 9 minutes away walking from the Astronomical Clock, nested in a new part of the city.
Located not far from the seaside and even closer to the Ferris Wheel, this tower is one of its kind. A spiral with the neatly stacked letters of the Georgian alphabet guides the viewer’s eye 130 meters (425 feet) up the tower, where a ball-shaped viewing point sits. A beautiful vista of the city and its surroundings opens up from the top of the tower.
For those of you who are curious why the Georgian people decided to dedicate this building to their alphabet, we have an answer. Georgians are actually very proud of their alphabet, as it is ancient and one of its kind, not belonging to Greek, Cyrillic or any other writing systems. One could say that their entire culture and history is represented by these 33 letters.
Now lets venture outside of the city to see why many people visit Georgia to begin with: the mountains and village life. One of the most easily-accessible trails is that to Makhuntseti Waterfall, as 52-meter (170 feet) giant that’s only an hour away from Batumi.
The waterfall is located right next to the synonymous village, where you can also purchase homemade local goods and souvenirs. Also, a convenient feature is that the waterfall is accessible year round, although visitors suggest that March and April are the best time to visit because at that time the water flow is the richest.
A good amount of the tourists come to Georgia just to experience the local spa tradition of the natural sulphuric hot springs.
The special treat is available in many small spas scattered throughout the city, but if your goal is relaxation and relaxation only, you can stay at one of the larger spa resorts located right outside of Batumi, with the Georgia Palace Hotel & Spa being the most famous one.
Experience the Local Cuisine
Georgian cuisine is a special treat. The variety of foods and their preparations is mind-boggling, everyone will find something they love. A specialty of the region is the khachapuri pastry, which you can see below. It is a cheesy pastry with an egg nested inside, baked in the oven and topped with a good helping of butter.
There is also a variety of seafood varieties available, and we even recommend going to the Seafood Market for adamant foodies eager to buy and try the freshest foods in an authentic atmosphere. A very special and noteworthy mention goes to Georgian vines. If you love vine, you cannot miss out on the ancient, exclusively-local vine, such as Khvanchkara, Kinzmarauli, and several others.
For thousands of years, Georgians have been perfecting their vine artistry and vine has a special place on the dinner table and in the hearts of the Georgian people. We could go on for hours, but we want to leave you some space for exploration.
Last, but definitely not least we would like to suggest the Batumi Dolphinarium. Built in 1975, this dolphinarium was the first in the Soviet Union. The premises of the dolphinarium were completely renovated in 2011, and it welcomes the public with shows by 8 Bottlenose Dolphins and several California Sea Lions.
Apart from the shows, the dolphinarium also offers visitors to swim with dolphins and get to know the flora and fauna of the Black Sea.
We tried our best to show you a good variety of locations and ways to spend your time in Batumi, we hope you fell in love with this city just as we did. Before you go, do watch this video of the city as well to see all the sights we mentioned, and more.
Image source: T L