While Georgia is more known for mountains and wine, there is also a a semi-tropical coast with beaches and palm trees. The largest and most well known of city in the area is Batumi, where I ended up spending three days during my 2017 trip in September. It was odd, interesting, and pretty unlike anything else I'd come across so far in the country. And while most of the tourists go there for casinos and night clubs, I (being financially broke) had an entirely different experience. Here is how that went.
Unbeknownst to me prior to arrival, there happens to be a network of Polish-run hostels throughout Georgia. One of these was my hostel in Tbilisi (Why Not) and another is in Batumi, called Freedom hostel. Naturally, that is where I stayed during my visit. It was a comfortable spot with a relaxed atmosphere and a nice balcony outside the main room, but that aside, the staff (just like Why Not) was awesome! Tomik, the guy who runs the place, couldn't have been more welcoming, and he even invited me and the other guests to a nearby pub in the evening of my first day.
It turned out to be a small, cozy local spot, just a couple minutes walk from the hostel. The people there recognized Tomik the second we arrived. He went over to talk to the people working, and within minutes, we were served drinks and treated like we were family for the rest of the night. It was a great feeling that continued well into the next day. This time, Tomik and the staff bought large jugs of beer for everyone and we all hung out outside the hostel and told travel stories together until the early hours of the morning.
From the second I arrived until the moment I left, I felt right at home and I couldn't recommend it enough. Fair warning on two things though. It is a difficult place for taxi drivers to find so make sure you negotiate a price before you go there or else they may just keep running the meter up on you. Also, these guys party hard. Not like the yelling and in-you-face hard, but the breakfast beer type of hard. It's all great fun, but if you're not prepared, your body is gonna really feel it after a few days. That said, the hostel is still amazing!
Prior to coming to Batumi, I hadn't gone swimming at the beach in over a year, so naturally I made sure to do so every day I was here. Being late September, it wasn't too crowded any more, but still I went only in the morning and at dusk in order to have some peace and quiet (since screaming beach families aren't particularly my favorite thing). The shore was comprised of smooth rocks instead of sand and lifeguards were completely non existent. The water stayed calm, without any large waves and was actually quite warm despite being rather late in the year.
If you go there (and you should), I highly recommend swimming at sunset. You'll get to see the orange glow over the waters as the fading light shines on the not so distant buildings of the city. It's an incredibly beautiful and peaceful setting of which my picture above by no means does justice to. It is an experience in and of itself.
Do you like riding a bicycle through urban and natural settings? Do you like being refreshed by the sea breeze? If so, you'll be overjoyed upon encountering Batumi's promenade. The whole thing is closed off to vehicles, extends along the whole coastline of the city and has a specific lane painted for cyclists. Nearly the whole path is lined while on one side stands the city and on the other rests the sea. As you go along the areas shift from calm secluded beach front, to bars, to parks, to built up sections designed for families. It's an odd collection of differences, but somehow it all flows together. Plus the variety makes it interesting. It can be kind of crowded during the middle of the day, but if you go during the morning or evening, it can feel as if you have it all to yourself.
HOW TO GET THERE
There is actually the potential of flying there from a few nearby countries, as Batumi has one of Georgia's three international airports (the other two being Tbilisi and Kutaisi). However, the most common way people arrive is through ground transport, either by train, bus, or marshrutka.
- Marshrutka from Didube station every hour (20 lari)
- Train from Tbilisi Central Station at 8:00am (14 lari) or 5:35pm (20 lari)
- ABSOLUTELY take the train over the marshrutka. They take roughly the same time (5-6 hours) and the train is infinitely more comfortable and cheaper.
- If you're adventurous, you can also try hitchhiking for free.
- Marshrutka (2.5 hours) several times per day (15 lari)
- Bus from Trabzon (2 hours) traveling 4-5 times per day (25 lari)
Photos of Batumi
Click the image below