Georgia Cruises

Cruising in Georgia

The Georgian cruise port of Batumi on the Black Sea coast is a microcosm of this small former soviet republic that is now undergoing rapid development as a tourist destination. Set below the lush foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, which rise up to a dramatic range of snow-capped peaks, the town enjoys a setting and a climate that would be the envy of any seaside resort. It can often seem like an incongruous mixture of its faded 19th century charm—formerly the country’s popular summer capital—and a brashly modern Las Vegas-on-sea. However, this all adds to its interest: a place where you can seek out the historic and traditional, explore the quaint cobbled streets of the old town, with its pretty little houses covered in grapevines and shaded by walnut trees, or admire the confidently futuristic new face of the city with its up-market hotels, restaurants, casinos and nightclubs, and its giant public sculpture installations.

Only nine kilometers north of the town amongst the green hills of Mtvane Kontskhi, the Green Cape, is one of the world’s largest botanical gardens, a landscape of valleys and lakes that features displays of flora and fauna from a variety of eco-systems. This is also a gateway to the Mtirala National Park, a wilderness of forested ravines reaching up into the Smaller Caucasus Mountains. The road into the park takes you through a breathtakingly varied landscape of apple and peach orchards, citrus groves, maple, eucalyptus and pine forests, fast flowing rivers and waterfalls.

The capital of Tbilisi is a four and half hour drive east of Batumi, and the place where Georgians flock to for excitement, action and culture. The dramatic setting of the old town, along the edge of high cliffs that drop vertically to the swiftly flowing Mtkvari River, alone makes it worth the visit. As an ancient crossroads between east and west, it is a city that is suffused with history. Like the rest of Georgia, it is rapidly moving out of its 20th century stagnation with a new spirit of progress that is visible in its modern tourist and leisure facilities.

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