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The skyline of Port Batumi in Georgia

Batumi, Georgia

The atmosphere of Batumi is remarkable and intoxicating. American visitors may find that the seaside boardwalk resembles a Turkish version of Coney Island: hot dog carts, outdoor cafés, tattooed Russian beachgoers in skimpy swimwear and street performers setting up by the park’s dancing fountains or its impressive Ferris wheel. Subtropical breezes sweep across these Black Sea beaches, lined with smooth dark rocks. Georgian food is hearty and delicious, whether you grab a gyro from a beachfront stand or opt for a white-tablecloth experience with rich, traditional dishes like Batumi's giant dumplings known as khinkali. The tasty local wines are simultaneously old and new—the vineyards of the South Caucasus were among the first in the world to be cultivated, and the Georgian wines being produced today are increasingly sought by a world audience. Batumi offers activities for all sorts of interests: theaters and bike tours aplenty, a charming botanical garden, an aerial tram that whisks you up a mountain and a fortress just down the road at the cute coastal village of Gonio. This glittering gem at the edge of the Black Sea will definitely hold your attention.