Georgia is not the first place that comes to mind when we couple words like Europe and summer.
Other than the fact that a majority of Americans would associate ‘Georgia’ with the U.S. state, the very few who will acknowledge the existence of a namesake country in the Caucasus will probably not know an awful lot about it anyway – let alone be aware of its potential as a sunny hub.
As it turns out, Georgia is home to one of Europe’s and the wider Eurasia’s most promising destinations. Straddling the Black Sea Coast, the rapidly-developing Batumi is set to become the region’s next summer hotspot, and here we bring you 4 reasons why:
We all know the Mediterranean is the most obvious pick when it comes to European summers.
With all your holiday faves located in the warm basin, like Greece, Croatia, Italy, and Albania, it’s no surprise you’d want to book a flight there as soon as the hot winds start blowing, but the Med is not Europe’s only warm ocean.
The Black Sea enjoys equally great weather, and as one of the largest and best-equipped cities straddling this ocean, Batumi is the place to be come July.
Home to a lively marina filled with fishing boats and private yachts, a surprisingly clean municipal beach, and enjoying temperatures of 35 degrees and over during summer, Georgia’s most popular seaside resort is the beach getaway you didn’t know you needed on your bucket list.
It may be in Europe’s far East, where the continental borders with Asia become blurred, but once your flight touches down in Batumi and you step out into the balmy air, trust us, you’ll want to get those short shorts out.
Batumi has been dubbed the ‘Georgian Vegas’ due to its high concentration of casinos, entertainment venues, resorts, and luxury penthouses.
It is surely more expensive than other parts of Georgia, but despite its upscale scene, which is definitely a step up from the more rural, quaint hinterland, this sprawling coastal city is hugely affordable by Western standards.
While you will find your usual ultra-luxurious stays, with room rates starting at USD$300 per night – check out the amazing Castello Mare All Inclusive Resort 14 km from central Batumi – there are exactly 856 budget-friendly listings on Booking.com ranging between USD$50 and USD$100.
Overall, there are 81 five-star properties falling within that same price range, in stark contrast with the much busier, far more popular Barcelona, Spain, or Nice, France where luxury stays start from USD$200 only.
In Batumi, a studio apartment with a sea view at the landmark Orbi City, an icon of the Batumian skyline, will set you back by only USD$60 for a one-night stay in June, with a Value For Money score of 9.2 on the booking platform.
Essentially, you’re paying two or three-star rates for first-class service.
You won’t get better deals than this anywhere in coastal Eurasia.
As Batumi is yet to be overrun by tourists, consumer prices are not inflated – again, in comparison to France, Italy, and the like. You should set aside USD$25 to USD$30 for a three-course meal at an inexpensive restaurant in the central district, usually including a soup for starters, a hearty main dish, and some Georgian wine.
By the way, Georgians are believed to have invented wine 8,000 years ago, and judging by the quality of their Kakheti dry red, we won’t be the ones to dispute that claim.
Still Off The Beaten Path
Although the Black Sea has begun to gain popularity in recent years, mainly due to the resurgence of Bulgaria and the Turkish Black Sea provinces as tourist destinations, Batumi remains very much a gem off the beaten path – unless, of course, you’re Russian.
In that case, it’s probably been your go-to summer escape for years now.
Unlike the super trendy Sunny Beach in Bulgaria, however, Westerners are yet to flock to Batumi and the wider Ajara region, even though it is just as scenic, boasting numerous swimming spots, as well as warm waters.
If you’re wary of crowds, you should know that, on average, only 2 million tourists, both domestic and international arrivals, land in Batumi every year against the tens of millions that the overcrowded Western Europe hosts.
Bar the Russians, you are extremely unlikely to hear American accents on the streets of Batumi. They are yours, and yours alone to explore.
Named Europe’s leading emerging destination by Euronews, Batumi offers visitors both a lively atmosphere, with its cobbled Bohemian streets and modern, developed promenade, and that much-needed peace and quiet, in the form of secluded beaches and smaller, traditional Georgian settlements a stone’s throw away from the city center.
There is a host of world-class attractions in Batumi to keep you busy for days on end, from the charming historical streets of the Old Town, flanked by heritage houses and shaded by canopies, to the 21st-century experimental zone that is Batumi Boulevard, where all the international brands, expensive hotels, and shopping centers are based.
The Art Nouveau and Neo-Gothic architecture in many of the towering buildings surrounding Europe Square in the city center will keep you looking up in complete awe, and the views of the Batumian cityscape from up the Argo Cable Car, linking the marina to Anuria Mountain, are also not to be missed.
When visiting on a week-long vacation, these are the top 10 attractions you should add to your list:
The Top 10 Attractions In Batumi
- Ali and Nino Monument, two moving metal figures that merge into one another as they approach to kiss
- Europe Square, where some of the most famous, and stately architectural feats are
- Statue of Medea, built in honor of the city’s ancient heritage*
- Batumi Botanical Garden, a marine park commanding views of the Black Sea
- The Batumi Dolphinarium, where you can learn about marine life and watch dolphin shows
- Batumi Boulevard, an oceanfront development zone lined with hotels and high-end restaurants
- The Dancing Fountains, a water display that will cool you down from the summer heat
- The Alphabetic Tower, a building symbolizing the unique Georgian alphabet, unlike any other
- Batumi Piazza, an Italian-style enclosed square bordered by cafes and alfresco diners
- The Central Mosque, commissioned by a Muslim Georgian nobleman in the 19th-century
*Batumi was part of the ancient state of Colchis, which was attributed to the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts in Antiquity. According to legend, it is where Jason retrieved the Golden Fleece, aided by Medea.
To the beach lovers out there, some of the best beaches in Georgia are, in fact, not within the municipality of Batumi, where the coastal strip is laid with rocks and patches of grey sand, but in the surrounding autonomous region of Ajara.
For an ideal beach day, head to Kobuleti, a short half-hour drive from Batumi, where the beach is a mix of sand and gravel, and the waters are bright green.
Other Black Sea beaches close to Batumi include The Green Cape, 15 minutes from downtown Batumi, and Sarpi, where the waters begin turning a clearer shade of blue, resembling those of the Mediterranean.
How To Get To Batumi
Batumi has an international airport hosting a number of seasonal flights from Europe and the Middle East, but it is not Georgia’s main entry point.
If you’re flying into Georgia from the Western World, you are likely to land in either Tbilisi, the capital, or Kutaisi, the country’s secondary international hub.
Arriving in Tbilisi, rail service to Batumi is frequent, with fast-speed, modern, two-story trains making the five-hour journey multiple times every day.
There are no direct flights between the United States and Canada and Georgia, so if you’re traveling from across the pond, you will likely have to transit via a major European or Middle Eastern hub on your way to Batumi, such as Frankfurt, Istanbul, or Dubai.
Americans can stay as tourists in Georgia for an entire year visa-free.
Learn more about Georgia here.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com