Interested in hiking in Batumi? The 3-hour return walk to Gonio Cross (Gonio Jvari) offers incredible views of Upper Adjara and the Black Sea. Here are full directions for the hike, plus lots of photos for inspiration.

Batumi is known for its beaches, but the green hills and mountains around the city offer some amazing walking trails too.

If you want to go hiking in Batumi, you could opt for one of the easy routes inside Batumi Botanical Garden. Further afield, Adjara’s national parks – Machakhela, and the newly UNESCO-Listed Mtirala and Kintrishi – all offer more challenging trails.

But if you want something closer to the city that’s going to reward you with an epic panorama of the Black Sea, I highly recommend the hike up to Gonio Cross, AKA Gonio Jvari. It’s a relatively easy walk that can be completed in as little as 3 hours.

Watching the sunset from the top is absolutely spectacular.

Sunset overlooking the town of Gonio on Georgia's Black Sea coast.
Sunset at Gonio Cross.

I learned about the trail when I was doing research for our bike ride from Batumi to Sarpi. We came back to Gonio on a clear July evening to do the walk and document the trail. It was everything we hoped for and more.

This post contains full directions for the hike and a map, plus lots of photos for inspiration!

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What is Gonio Cross?

Gonio Cross is a massive concrete cross perched on a hill above the town of Gonio, 13km south of Batumi. The cross overlooks Gonio Apsaros Fortress, the Roman ruins that serve as the area’s biggest tourist attraction.

Gonio Cross, a huge concrete cross atop a green hill in Georgia.
The final part of the hike to Gonio Cross.

The cross was built in 2014 to mark the foundation of Gonio Jvari. As you probably know by now, Georgia has a reputation for building Orthodox churches in the most spectacular mountain locations (the higher the better – all the more close to God).

The UNESCO-Listed Mtskheta Jvari, a popular day trip from Tbilisi, and Gergeti Trinity Church in Kazbegi are the most obvious examples. The site of Gonio Jvari commands a similarly epic location, with views to the Black Sea and Upper Adjara mountains.

Under a recently revised Georgian law, the Church can lay claim to 20 hectares of land around every church and monastery in the country. Thus the territory around Gonio Cross belongs to the Patriarch. Gonio Jvari is yet to be built (all that exists at the time of writing is a low brick foundation), so Gonio Cross is symbolic of the Church having staked its claim to the hilltop plateau.

A placard reveals an artists’ impression of what the completed church will look like. There’s also a small donations box, presumably to collect funds for the build.

A sign near Gonio Cross depicts a church and Georgian writing.
An information board shows what Gonio Jvari will look like when finished.

I’m sure Gonio Jvari will draw lots of pilgrims once it’s finished. In the meantime, it’s the view from the top that attracts young families and groups of friends to travel up from Batumi, especially for sunset in summer.

The area offers a 360-degree panorama of Gonio and the Black Sea to the west, the Chorokhi river delta to the north, and the bright lights of Batumi on the horizon. To the east, you see mountain valleys and small villages.

This area is also known for its wildlife, specifically falcons and buzzards. There’s a placard near the cross with a bit of information in Georgian about the bird species that dwell here.

Hiking to Gonio Cross

While it’s possible to drive or take a taxi from Batumi to Gonio Cross, the best way to take in the views is by hiking up from Gonio. Since there’s not a lot of information online, I decided to document the most important parts of the journey with full instructions and a map.

We decided to walk a loop starting from Gonio town and descending via a different path to the town of Avgia. I highly recommend following this route for efficiency and safety.

Don’t let the photos deceive you – most of the way you’ll be walking on paved roads, which isn’t ideal, I know. But there are no dedicated walking paths that I know of. The middle part of the walk is the nicest section – it leaves the road and takes you on a dirt trail. I’ve also included directions for a short detour through the forest.

  • Distance: 9.3 kilometres return
  • Duration: 3 hours return (plus at least 30-45 minutes at the top)
  • Gain: 327 metres
  • Difficulty: Easy/moderate (the hike is quite steep in some parts)

When to do the hike

This hike is nicest at sunrise or sunset. I don’t recommend doing this walk in the middle of the day in summer, as the track is quite exposed and it’s very hot and sticky.

When we did the walk in July, we left Gonio at 6.30pm and made it to the top in perfect time for sunset. Coming back down in the dark was fine because we chose the Avgia route, which is all road lit by street lamps.

I DON’T recommend descending to Gonio town after dark, because large parts of the trail will be unlit and it would be quite easy to get disoriented in the forest. Even though there was quite a bit of traffic coming down to Agvia, we felt safe walking on the road shoulder.

When I’m walking at night, I always use my phone flashlight as a beacon so drivers can see us coming.

What to bring with you 

  • Drinking water & snacks (there are a few markets in Gonio where you start the walk, but nothing else)
  • Sun protection gear (sunscreen and a hat are both musts)
  • Bug spray
  • A light jumper (it got pretty cold as soon as the sun went down, even in July)
  • Flashlight (your phone will do) if you’re coming back down in the dark

Full directions & highlights of the route

From Gonio to the cross, the route is 5.5km (which took us exactly 2 hours at our pace of 22 minutes per kilometre). There is a gain of just over 300 metres.

Coming back down to Agvia, the route is 3.8km, which took us just over an hour.

Getting from Batumi to Gonio

The hike starts from the town of Gonio so the first step is to travel down the coast from Batumi. City bus #16 runs regularly (every 20-30 minutes) from marked bus stops along Abuseridze Street. The fare is 30 tetri, and you can only pay using a transport card (if you have a MetroMoney card from Tbilisi, you can use it in Batumi too).

Alternatively, you can take any marshrutka that’s headed to Sarpi or Gonio. Just ask the driver to drop you off after the fortress.

The journey to Gonio by bus takes around 20-30 minutes depending on traffic. Once you cross over the Chorokhi bridge, get ready to jump out. The bus stop you want is outside Ayder Restaurant, just after the Socar petrol station (see the exact location on the map here).

To start the walk, follow the slip road on the left that opens up behind the Rompetrol gas station. You can’t see the cross from the main road, but as soon as you get onto the side street, you should be able to spot it in the hills directly above you.

Ascent to Gonio mosque

The first landmark to aim for is Gonio Mosque. When you see the minaret, take a left then a right.

This first part of the walk through residential Gonio is quite pleasant. The road takes you past new and older houses, all with beautiful gardens and balconies overlooking the valley. Traffic is sparse. Peek over the fences on the left side of the road for views of the cross in the distance.

Off to the left, you can hear a mountain stream running in a leafy ditch below the road. At one point, we spotted a group of men playing checkers under a tin gazebo nestled deep in the undergrowth.

A small red tractor parked on the edge of a field outside Batumi, Georgia.
A tractor parked on the edge of a field in Gonio.

It doesn’t take long for the road to become quite steep and the ascent begins. Towards the top, there are fewer family villas and more apartment blocks – many of them unfinished concrete skeletons.

A quick detour

At this point, there’s a junction and it’s not exactly clear which direction you’re supposed to continue in. We tried three different paths until we found the right one.

One of the wrong paths we took turned out to be a very nice detour. If you have time, you can follow the little stream to walk through a heavily forested area. You can only walk for 5 minutes or so before the path ends, then you have to turn around and go back.

A man walks on a track through a dense forest outside Batumi, Georgia.
Walking through the forest – a short detour from the main path.

The end of the road

On the map, the correct path looks as if it’s a continuation of the road – but it’s nothing more than a forest trail. The vines are cut back and the path is maintained. It turns from compacted rock to loose sand, which is a bit hard going in the steeper parts. But this part of the walk only takes 20-30 minutes.

The final ascent

The path ends and you come to a clearing where you can see Gonio Cross in full view up ahead. A beautiful blanket of ferns runs alongside the clearing – peak over the top for an amazing view of the valley beyond.

Gonio Cross, a concrete cross on a hilltop visible through ferns.
Our first up-close look at Gonio Cross.
A leafy mountain valley in Adjara.
Views to the valley from the base of the hill.

Follow the red dirt trail to start winding your way up the hill towards the cross. Eventually you join up again with the paved road. Take care in this part as cars tend to speed up and down from the viewpoint.

As you make the final ascent, pause to peek through the undergrowth on the right side of the road for amazing views of the Batumi skyline in the distance.

View of Batumi, Georgia from afar.
Batumi’s skyline in the distance.

Sunset at Gonio Cross

When you arrive at the top, you’ll see that Gonio Cross sits at the end of a wide plateau. The foundations of the church, a shipping container and a few information signs mark the entrance.

Gonio Cross, a huge concrete cross on a hill outside Batumi, Georgia.
Gonio Cross.
Gonio Cross, a huge concrete cross on a hill outside Batumi, Georgia.
Gonio Cross, coloured amber by the sunset.
Looking down at the town of Gonio from the top of Gonio Cross.
Gonio town, viewed from above.

When we arrived, we found half a dozen cars parked out front and a few groups of friends walking around taking photos. We were surprised to see anyone at all up there given the current situation. I assume it’s a lot busier on summer nights when tourism is in full swing.

A group of friends take photos on a plateau at sunset.
A red sunset over the Black Sea.
Sunset from the top. What a view!

The area is huge, so you’ll have no trouble finding a good sunset spot even if it is busy. Take care when walking close to the edge of the cliff as there are no safety barricades. 

The best photos of Batumi are from the near end of the plateau. After visiting the Cross and taking some photos of the valley from the opposite end, I recommend settling down somewhere in the middle for sunset.

The walk back to Agvia

We weren’t too keen on the idea of walking through the forest at night so we chose to take an alternative route back to Avgia. This road, Agvia Road, is the route most cars take up and down.

A red dirt trail leads through the forest to Gonio Cross.
Leaving the cross behind and hiking back down to Agvia in the dark.

This was probably my favourite part of the walk. Agvia has more of a village feel, especially towards the top. Instead of villas with grand balconies, there are small farm houses with smoking stove pipes. At night, the only sound was chirping crickets and the clatter of dinner plates from inside a few of the houses. We could just make out the shapes of corn fields all along the hillside.

The most impressive part is that you get views of Batumi’s sparkling night skyline all the way down. The contrast between city and village is quite stunning.

The city of Batumi lit up at night, viewed from the mountains.
Batumi lit up at night.

After an hour of walking downhill, we came out at the shops at the end of Agvia Road, right in front of this bus stop. Depending on the time, you can pick up a bus or marshrutka to get back to Batumi.

It was after 10pm by the time we got down so we opted to get a Bolt instead. We paid 6 GEL to get back into town. While we were waiting for our driver, we saw a few marshrutky go by, so they must run quite late.

Gonio Cross trail map

Click to open the route map I made on Google Maps.

Getting to Gonio Cross by car or taxi

If you’re self-driving, the quickest route up to the cross is via Avgia Road. From Batumi, turn right just after you cross the bridge and continue straight until you reach the top. There is ample parking in front of the plateau.

A Bolt car to Gonio Cross from Batumi costs around 15 GEL one-way.

Where to stay in Batumi

I recommend staying close to the waterfront and Batumi Old Town. Nice accommodations can also be found at the opposite end of the seafront on the New Boulevard. For more information, see my detailed guide to the best areas to stay in Batumi.

Here are my top picks:

Kartuli Hotel in Batumi.
Kartuli Hotel.

TOP CHOICE: Kartuli Hotel (⭐ 9.4). Located on the 37-38th floors of a skyscraper on the New Boulevard, Kartuli commands spectacular views of the sea and city. Rooms are minimal and beautifully designed. Kartuli is one of the coolest hotels in Georgia!

Banana Apartments self-contained accommodation in Batumi.
Banana Apartments. Photo courtesy of the property.

SELF-CONTAINED: Banana Apartments (⭐ 9.9). Banana Apartments offers three stylish, self-contained studio flats that sleep up to three people. Each one has a full kitchen, new bathroom, and water views.

The pool at the Radisson Blu Batumi hotel.
Radisson Blu. Photo courtesy of the property.

SPLASH OUT: Radisson Blu (⭐ 8.5). Located footsteps from both the main part of the boulevard and Batumi Old Town, this hotel offers polished rooms with great views, an outdoor pool, and an outstanding buffet breakfast.

Full directions and a map for the Gonio Cross trail, a wonderful short hike near Batumi for panoramic views of the Black Sea and Adjarian mountains.

Gonio Cross Hike: Save it for later

More Batumi inspiration


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