A city on the Black Sea in Georgia
, near the border with Turkey
. It is mostly a rather mainstream seaside tourist destination these days, especially for internal/regional tourism. But it also offers the dark tourist the odd diversion.
In particular there's Batumi's own little Stalin
Museum (Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Maybe not as good as the Stalin Museum
, but a substitute if you can't make it there.
Otherwise, there are bits that may be of interest in the Nobel Technological museum (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), which chronicles Batumi's past as a pioneering town of the oil business (e.g. at the other end of a pipeline from Baku
Unfortunately, when I was there in August 2010 for a couple of days I got food poisoning (I shouldn't have eaten that fish at this harbour restaurant …) and therefore was unable to go and check out these museums in person as planned ... I just got well enough to travel in time for the train to Tbilisi
– at least.
I did, however, get an impression of the place on the first day, which confirmed Batumi's reputation as a pretty, spruced-up seaside resort town. In the centre, buildings have been refurbished immaculately and lots of lighting fixtures have been installed. Even on the beach.
Plenty of construction (and demolition) is still going on. It is clear that money is being funnelled into the further development of the place.
Batumi is also known as the party capital of the eastern Black Sea – and there's certainly no shortage of beach bars. The action is said to get going late at night – but I can't report on its nature from any own experience … As for restaurants, the range may not be as good as in Tbilisi, but it's decent (just don't eat the fish).
When I was in Batumi, however, the atmosphere was dampened a bit from what it must normally be like in summer by the unusually cold, windy and rainy weather, instead of the tropical temperatures expected here in August. Still, some beach-goers were unperturbed. Overall, though, the place felt less busy and bustling than I had anticipated – maybe the high season had already begun to come to its end …
The range of accommodation options is very wide indeed, if a bit short on budget options but very good in the mid-range bracket, and going up to a couple of top-end places that charge rates accordingly. Even these can become much more affordable out of the high season (up to 60% lower). Booking well ahead is advised in the busy season.
Getting to Batumi is easy from Tbilisi
– there are both daytime and overnight sleeper trains. Again, in high season booking ahead is advisable. Buses are an alternative – especially when coming overland from Turkey
. There's even an international airport, so it is possible to fly into Batumi from abroad – although the range of places where flights to Batumi depart from is a bit limited, most connections are to Ukraine
, but there are also ones from/to Istanbul and from/to Tel Aviv, Israel
In theory you can also get to Batumi by sea - the ferry service to Sochi in Russia
using a hydrofoil speedboat was clearly back in action when I visited (though the guidebook said it had been suspended since 2007), but it may be tricky to get the right paperwork done … Other ferry connections at least used to exist to Ukraine
and possibly also Bulgaria
. But information is scant and unreliable. So you may be better going overland or flying.
: in the west of Georgia
, on the eastern Black Sea Coast, ca. 180 miles (300 km) west of Tbilisi
, but only a good ten miles (16 km) north of the border with Turkey
- Batumi 01 - miraculous entry
- Batumi 02 - on the Black Sea
- Batumi 03 - palm trees and grand architecture
- Batumi 04 - evening in the centre
- Batumi 05 - beachfront at night
- Batumi 06 - lit-up palm tree
- Batumi 07 - sunset over the Black Sea
- Batumi 08 - city centre by night
- Batumi 09 - ferry port
- Batumi 10 - hydrofoil express ferry
- Batumi 11 - lighthouse
- Batumi 12 - not very summery weather
- Batumi 13 - beach folk stubbornly carry on despite the weather
- Batumi 14 - Medea monument
- Batumi 15 - apartment blocks in bright colours and new building
- Batumi 16 - demolition site