Lonely Planet Writer

This unlikely spot was named Europe’s top emerging tourist destination

An unlikely spot in Eastern Europe is being tipped as the continent’s top emerging tourist destination.

Batumi, Georgia was named Europe’s top emerging tourist destination at the World Travel Awards. Image by Getty

Sub-tropical climate, lush green mountains and a shimmering Black Sea coastline are some of the reasons why more international tourists are choosing Batumi, Georgia as a European summer holiday destination. The coastal resort, which sits in the shadow of the Caucasus mountains, is Georgia’s second-largest city and its summer holiday capital. It’s being tipped for a surge in tourism over the next few years and was just named Europe’s top emerging tourist destination at the at the World Travel Awards (WTA) ceremony held in Madeira, Portugal on 8 June. Other winners include St Petersburg in Russia which was voted Europe’s leading city destination and Portugal, which was voted Europe’s leading destination.

Industry professionals and consumers worldwide voted for Butami ahead of Baku (Azerbaijan), Derry (Northern Ireland), Kutná Hora (Czech Republic), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Matera (Italy), Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Sofia (Bulgaria) in the leading emerging tourism destination category. According to WTA organisers, “the captivating mix of Belle Époque meets contemporary splendour helped Batumi, Georgia, lift the title.”

Cafe culture is big in Batumi. Image by Getty

In Georgia’s foremost holiday destination, Western European, Ottoman and Russian architectural styles play foil to the new wave of upscale hotels and Monte Carlo-style casinos. Batumi underwent a major facelift in 2010 to become a hip resort that would attract a new generation of travellers after it fell into decline during the 80s and 90s. The project succeeded and Batumi is now booming, particularly in summer, thanks to the construction of new high-rise landmarks and the renovation of the Old Town.

Batumi boasts a mix of Western, Ottoman and Soviet architecture. Image by Getty

What’s more, it’s a great place for nature lovers. Batumi boasts one of the world’s largest botanical gardens, Batumi Botanical Garden, a place where you could easily spend the entire day strolling through citrus groves and scented rose gardens before taking a dip in the pool. From Batumi it’s easy to visit Mtirala National Park, a lush sub-tropical forest that’s popular with hikers, bikers and even brown bears.

As the rest of the world quickly catches up to this Black Sea coastal escape, Batumi is hosting a number of international cultural and music festivals throughout the year such as the Black Sea Jazz Festival which is taking place in July.

READ MORE: Worth a trip – Batumi, Georgia