Ureki is a unique vacation spot where even seemingly simple sand has healing properties. For decades, many have been drawn to the magnetic black sands to improve their health. Others come for the simple summer pleasures of breathing fresh air, swimming in warm seas and sunbathing in abundant sunshine. With its fantastic holiday vibe, Ureki is the perfect place to refresh your mind, body, and soul.
THE HISTORY OF UREKI
Nestled on the Black Sea coast, Ureki is a coastal town located in Ozurgeti district within the Guria region of western Georgia country. Situated at an elevation of 4m above sea level, Ureki is surrounded by mountains to the east, and the Sepa and Supsa rivers to the north and south respectively.
Archaeological excavations have revealed that the area of Ureki has been inhabited since ancient Georgian times. Bronze Age artifacts dating from the 18th and 17th centuries BC have been uncovered in this territory. In the past, the entire area was covered in forest, hence the name “Ureki” which in the Georgian language translates to “deep forest.”
Black magnetic sands on Georgia’s beaches are a rare and unique phenomenon, and Ureki is the only real sandy beach on the Georgian coast. Unlike most areas along the Black Sea that are covered in pebbles, the beaches of Ureki boast fine-grained sands.
The sand in Ureki is black because it is rich in magnetite or magnetic iron. The magnetite occurs in the form of fine black fractions that emit a magnetic field. Highly magnetized sands are believed to have beneficial effects in the regeneration of the human body. The field of medicine that uses magnetic fields to cure diseases is called magnetic therapy.
For a long time, Ureki was the largest center in Georgia for the extraction of magnetite – an important raw material for the metallurgical industry. This situation continued until the initial post-war decades.
The fact that Ureki’s sands have health benefits was learned by sheer chance. In Soviet times, Ureki had a prisoner of war camp. Among its famous prisoners was German scientist Werner von Braun, inventor of the rocket, who discovered that the dark sands of the beach had unique healing properties.
Soon after, the government granted Ureki resort status and proceeded to build three sanatoriums there. The sanatoriums offered vacationers unique treatment programs such as therapeutic baths in the healing sands designed to cure a range of diseases.
Since then, thousands come to Ureki each year to improve their health with the help of the therapeutic sands. Magnetic therapy programs in Ureki attract people with diseases of the heart, blood vessels, nervous system, and musculoskeletal system, among others.
Another aspect to Ureki’s wellness benefits is the strip of pine and eucalyptus groves that grow along its coast. Due to the natural process of ionization and the saturation of sea air with tree scents, natural aromatherapy occurs in Ureki, which has a beneficial effect on the respiratory system. Moreover, bathing in the pure waters of Ureki’s Black Sea is also great for rejuvenating the body.
Today, the seaside climatic health resort of Ureki attracts travelers looking for a relaxing and curative holiday. Here, two vacation options are perfectly combined – beach with diverse marine activities and health recreation. With this unique combination, it’s no wonder that Ureki is one of the best resorts for healthy vacations in Georgia.
THINGS TO DO IN UREKI
For most people thinking of spending a couple of days in Georgia during the summer, the first destination that comes to mind is the city of Batumi. The only downside to Batumi is that not everyone enjoys rocky beaches! For those who prefer sandy beaches that are comfortable to walk on barefoot, look no further than Ureki. As a summer destination, Ureki offers plenty of tourist activities in Georgia.
Recently, Ureki Boulevard has been renovated. Bicycle paths have been installed and small squares built to house seasonal cafes, bars, and night clubs. Stretching 5 kilometers, Ureki’s stunning beach is a great place to relax. Sunbathers can rent umbrellas and chairs to sunbathe on the black sands while being caressed by the light sea breeze.
Visitors can swim in the pleasantly warm waters of Ureki’s Black Sea. Because the beach has a gentle slope, the waters are rather shallow. You will, therefore, have to wade out about 300 meters until you can no longer stand. Active travelers can also engage in water sports such as jet skiing, kite surfing, parasailing, and water slides.
You can also go for sunset walks on the beach. But just be careful walking barefoot in the sand in August as surface temperatures reach 28 degrees Celsius, which can burn you. That said, this temperature is perfect for therapeutic sand baths. This is because the minerals produce the greatest effects when warmed up.
To get the full medicinal benefits of Ureki’s magnetic black sands, you should bury yourself in it! Simply dig a hole in the sand and wait for the sun to thoroughly warm it up. Get inside the warmed hole and cover yourself in the sand up to just below your heart. Sit for half an hour and then get out of the sand bath and wash off in the sea. In no time, you should be feeling energized and refreshed!
Each year, tourists flock the coastal town of Ureki to enjoy its amazing sea, climate, beaches, and sunshine, among other fantastic attractions. Beyond Ureki, the Gurian capital of Ozurgeti offers a host of places to visit in Georgia.
Ozurgeti Dramatic Theater
Founded in 1868, Ozurgeti Dramatic Theater is one of Georgia’s largest theaters. It overlooks the city’s central square and has been renovated several times since its establishment. In 1962, the theater was moved to a five-story Soviet Neoclassical-style building in which it still resides today.
Historical Museum of Ozurgeti
Founded in 1936, Ozurgeti History Museum houses more than 6,000 Georgian artifacts dating from 9,000 BC to today, including archaeological, ethnographic and historical exhibits. The most prominent display is a sword that is said to have belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte.
Visitors can also browse Neolithic stone weapons, relics of Kolkhian culture from the Bronze and Iron Ages, gold and silver artifacts from Antiquity, and diverse coin collections. The museum also has a collection of old printed books of Georgian literature, historical documents, and photos.
Ekvtime Takaishvili Archaeological Museum-Reserve
The Ekvtime Takaishvili Archaeological Museum-Reserve showcases a collection of archaeological artifacts, in addition to an exhibition on the life of Ekvtime Takaishvili. The museum is situated inside an old 19th century typical Gurian-style wooden house, with a tiled roof, fireplace, and balcony.
The oldest structure in town, the Gurieli Baths feature the remains of an ancient Byzantine-era bathhouse. Located on the central square of Ozurgeti, the baths were built and used by the Gurieli family, rulers of the Guria Principality.
The baths comprise of a two-story structure. The lower, subterranean floor served as the fire chamber used to heat the upper floor which contained the public baths.
Palace of Dimitri Gurieli
Built in 1873, the Palace of Dimitri Gurieli is the oldest surviving building in Ozurgeti. A former residence of the noble Gurieli family, the palace is today a residence of the local Bishop of the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church.
Ozurgeti is famous for its gardens, some of which date back to the 19th century. The town garden was developed by Scottish gardener Jacob Mar in the early 1810s, for Mamia III Gurieli, the ruler of Guria Principality, and is divided into three sections.
To the right of the Ozurgeti Dramatic Theater building is Samkuthkha Garden, which has a mini-football pitch. The triangular-shaped garden also has a statue of Alexander Tsutsunava, the famous Ozurgeti-born Georgian director, after whom the Ozurgeti Dramatic Theater is named.
Situated at the front of the theater building, Platanus Garden has Platanus trees growing in the shape of “მ” – the letter M in the Georgian Alphabet. Beria Park is located in front of the Palace of Dimitri Gurieli. To the south of the park is a car-free area with a Soviet-era mermaid sculpture and musical fountain.
Ozurgeti’s city center stretches north along Chavchavadze Street towards the remarkable train station. Standing all around are magnificent Classical-style Soviet-era buildings dating from between the 1930s and the 1960s. These include the old movie theater, the old hotel, and residential, industrial and administrative buildings.
Park of Culture and Resort
Created in 1930, the Park of Culture and Resort is a children’s amusement park that covers 3 hectares in front of the town hall building.
Located in Ekadia district to the south of town, Ekadia Forest-Park was established in the 1960s. From the park, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Ozurgeti.
Notable for its sports, Ozurgeti is also home to several football and rugby clubs. The city has 2 stadia – the Friendship Stadium which is used by the football club, and the Zvani Stadium that is used by the rugby club. The city also operates an array of municipal sports clubs.
THE BEST TIME TO VISIT UREKI
August is the warmest month of the year with daytime highs of 28 degrees Celsius and nighttime lows of 21 degrees Celsius. The sea is also very warm at this time of the year – about 26 degrees Celsius. The high season for Georgia tourism stretches from May through October, although the pleasant Ureki weather lasts until early November.
Prices are at their highest during the peak season from mid-July to late August, when the number of tourists is also at its highest. September is the best time to visit Ureki as the weather is not too hot, there are fewer crowds and accommodation prices are lower.
WHERE TO STAY IN UREKI
Ureki offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget. There are several mid-range Ureki hotels situated right on the beach or very near to it, as well as an array of small family-style guesthouses. It is common for holidaymakers in Ureki to rent an entire cottage as a vacation rental.
WHERE TO EAT IN UREKI
Along the main street of Ureki Sea Resort are several cafes and restaurants of different price ranges, serving diverse cuisines including delicious Georgian food. However, most of these are open only during the resort season. There are also many Ureki restaurants located near the beach that serve fresh seafood.
Dishes served at Ureki restaurants typically feature organic ingredients sourced from nearby rural farmsteads. This healthy menu is further bolstered by the combination of pure mineral waters and fine Georgian wine that not only bring gastronomic pleasure but also contribute to the general wellness of the body.
HOW TO GET TO UREKI
For flights to Georgia landing at Batumi airport, you may hire a car and drive 30 minutes north to Ureki (60km). That said, driving in the country of Georgia can be challenging if you don’t speak the Georgian language or understand the Georgian alphabet. The best option would be to travel to Ureki via private transfer.
FINAL WORDS AND TRAVEL SUGGESTIONS
A lesser-known but locally popular alternative to bustling Batumi and Kobuleti Sea Resort, Ureki is a place that will heal you. Here, the rich treasures of Georgian nature – the sun, the sea and fine velvety sands with medicinal properties, all combine to make Ureki a unique destination and excellent choice for a healthy retreat in Georgia.
It’s best to book Ureki hotels in advance with our travel company so that you can find one that suits both your taste and budget. If you prefer to drive to Ureki, we have a modern fleet of rental cars available for hire. We also arrange Georgia holidays to and from Ureki with private transfers to and from Batumi airport.
Even better, create your own custom vacation package that includes the specific places you want to see and things you want to do in Ureki. In need of a healthy retreat? Order your custom tour package to Ureki today for a holiday that will rejuvenate your mind, body and soul!