Sochi (Russian: Cо́чи, SO-chee) is one of the southernmost places of Russia and the second-largest city of Krasnodar Krai, with a population of 415,000. Located along the Black Sea coast, it is about 1,600 km south of Moscow.
Sochi became world-known in 2007, when it won the bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Sochi is often called the unofficial 'Summer Capital' of Russia, or the Black Sea Pearl. This is the country's biggest and busiest summer sea resort, attracting more than 4 million visitors annually with its amazing mountainous coastline, endless shingle beaches, warm sunny days, and bustling nightlife. From May to September Sochi's population at least doubles with tourists, including celebrities and political elite of the country.
Strangely, only 3 percent of this visitors' crowd are international travellers, and even the frontier location of the city doesn't help to change the situation. Maybe the most famous non-politician foreign visitor of Sochi was Bono, who was invited to spend some time at President Medvedev's residence in 2010. But in general the city remains a very domestic destination, somewhat lacking in appropriate international infrastructure and having the same language barrier most regional centers of Russia do.
Another paradox of Sochi is that the city, always associated in national mentality with south, palms and hot climate, won the 2014 Winter Olympic bid. This phenomenon will be probably never understood by Russians completely: every place in the country has a real winter, but Sochi? The answers are absence of harsh frost and the very promising Alpine resort of Krasnaya Polyana in the city area. A less pragmatic explanation is the lucky destiny of Sochi. The most famous Russian saying about the city is "If I could read the cards, I would live in Sochi" ("Знал бы прикуп - жил бы в Сочи"). Initially coming from the Preference card game, this saying shows the association of Sochi and its inhabitants with luck, moreover, with an accidental and unpredictable fortune.
Well, perhaps such an Olympic luck will help the city to reach beyond the national borders and to become a truly global site. Sochi has many attractions to offer for anyone who loves nature, sports, history, and sunny beach leisure. This Black Sea Pearl is still waiting to be discovered.
The territory of today's Sochi was inhabited for thousands of years, populated by Caucasian mountainous tribes and being under the influence and dominion of ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Abkhazian and Ottoman civilizations. A few landmarks of antecedent civilizations remained, including the Bronze Age table-stones and medieval Byzantine temples.
The Russian Empire approached these lands in the beginning of 19th century, and after a war with the Ottoman Empire acquired them in 1829. Soon after that, in 1838, Russian authorities established the fort of Alexandria, at the site of modern Central Sochi, and 2 more forts in the modern Lazarevskoe district of the city. Alexandria was renamed several times and finally obtained the name Sochi (by the name of a local river) in 1896.
In the beginning of the 20th century, Sochi became known as a resort place. In 1902 the first bath building in Matsesta was constructed and in 1909 the official resort named "Caucasian Riviera" was open. Right before the 1917 revolution Sochi got its city status, and in the same time the railroad connected it with the rest of Russia. But the regular train service started only 6 years later, after the Russian Civil War finished with the Bolsheviks' victory. The city was growing quite slowly (from 13,000 in 1916 to 17,000 in 1932).
The situation changed in 1934, when a general reconstruction of Sochi was initiated by Stalin's government. For just 7 years from 1932 to 1939 the city's population skyrocketed from 17,000 to 72,000. New roads, theaters, parks, hotels and spa resorts were constructed, making the look of Sochi closer to what can be seen today.
In 1961 authorities decided to incorporate neighboring settlements into Sochi, giving the start to the history of Greater Sochi (Большой Сочи).
In 2007 the city opened a new chapter in its history by winning the bid of the Olympic host city of 2014. The volume of construction work is huge, including new infrastructure (roads, sanitation, air and seaports, etc.), sport venues (both indoor and outdoor), commercial and residential buildings. The new look of Sochi has already started to transform the features of once a Soviet domestic resort.
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Average of Sochi (coastal part)
Sochi belongs to that tiny part of Russia, which is happily located in the subtropical climatic zone. In contrast to Mediterranean climates, Sochi has a very high humidity level, like that in Abkhazia or in some USA states (e.g. Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia). Despite high precipitation, Sochi enjoys 300 sunny days annually, which is unbelievable for any other part of Russia except neighboring Krasnodar Krai coastal cities. This makes nearly all the year months comfortable for visiting Sochi, except maybe November, December and January.
Most of precipitation falls during the winter, partly in snow, but there is usually no regular snow cover in the coastal part of the city. Sochians rarely use winter tyres, so every heavy snowfall comes unpredictably for drivers. The climate of the mountainous part of Greater Sochi is significantly colder, allowing for a full ski season in winter (usually, February and March). Thanks to that, Krasnaya Polyana is quickly developing as a winter resort and hosted all outdoor competitions during the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The period of spring is quite short and is characterized by gardens blossoming (usually starts in March, even if temperatures are lower than in February). This is a comfortable season with less rain, but still with the cold sea.
Sochi summer can be associated with the swimming season, which usually lasts from the mid-end of May till the end of October. This is the true high season with its touristic peak in July–August. In September and October the city attracts fewer visitors, partly because of the start of the school year. These two months, when the Black Sea is still warm, air is not very hot, and streets are not filled with tourists' crowds, seem to be the most enjoying time to visit Sochi. This period is called smoothy season ("бархатный сезон").
The off-season autumn, coming to Sochi in the end of October, is warm, but with more cloudy days and rain. By the end of November daily average temperature drops below 10 degrees C.
Ethnicities and religions
Sochi is one of the most multinational cities in Russia with people of more than 100 ethnic groups living there. Most of them are ethnic Russians (68%), the important minorities are Armenians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Greeks, Circassians, Belorussians, Tatars, and Jews.
Russian is the predominant language spoken by almost everyone in the city, including nearly all minorities, but many local placenames came from Abkhazian and Circassian languages. The most commonly used ones include "pse" / "psh" / "psta" (water), "akh" (high), and "nykh" (holy).
The major part of Sochi inhabitants are Orthodox Christians (80%). There are also Muslims (5%), Catholics and Jews. Orthodox cathedrals are represented in all the parts of the city. The only Catholic cathedral located in Central Sochi was built in 1997 (most churchgoers are Catholic Armenians). There is also a mosque, albeit a very small and remote one (in Tkhagapsh community, 15 km towards the mountains from Lazarevskoe). The city authorities are planning to build a new mosque and a synagogue by 2014.
Greater Sochi occupies 105 km along the Black Sea coastline. Its total area is 3,500 square kilometres (3 times as large as Moscow). However, most of the population is spread along the narrow coastline stripe, while the mountain area (1,900 square km) mostly belongs to Sochi National Park and partly to Caucasian Biosphere Reserve. The city alignment is from north-west to south-east, from the neighboring city of Tuapse right to the Russian border with Abkhazia.
Greater Sochi officially includes 4 administrative districts. Central Sochi District is the core of the city and its most developed and populated part. Many of the city attractions, hotels and most shopping centers are located there. During the summer season, Central Sochi is usually overcrowded and traffic-jammed. Lazarevskoye District is the largest (1744 km2) and the longest (65 km coastline) one among Sochi districts, includes 34 sub-districts, most of them are spread along the sea shore. Lazarevskoe district is less urbanized that other ones in Greater Sochi. In fact it has many various settlements, often poorly connected with each other and lacking basic infrastructure. Khosta District is located to the south-east from Central Sochi, this district contains some major attractions, such as Akhun mountain. While Adler District is the city's important transport hub, which includes Sochi International Airport, Adler train terminal (final point for most trains going to Greater Sochi) and the only open border crossing with Abkhazia. The role of Adler is rapidly increasing now because it will host all the Olympic venues for the 2014 Games (the Olympic coastal cluster at Imeretinskaya lowland and the mountain cluster at Krasnaya Polyana). By 2014 the look of Imeretinskaya lowland and Krasnaya Polyana has drastically changed, as well as the local transport infrastructure.
The best developed, urbanized and monolithic part of Greater Sochi is the coastline between Dagomys (south-east of Lazarevskoe district) and Imeretinskaya lowland of Adler district.
Like elsewhere in Russia, Russian rouble (RUB) is the only currency officially accepted in the city. Money exchange is not a problem, but use only official counters at banks and avoid people offering you exchange at major transport hubs. By Russian legislation passport is needed for exchange operations. The approximate exchange rate is 48 RUR for 1 euro or 52 RUR for 1 US dollar (as of April 2015).
Sochi has many ATMs, especially in Central Sochi and Adler. You may withdraw not only roubles, but also dollars or euro at some of them (approximately 10% of all ATMs). Take into account, that Visa and MasterCard are widespread in Russia, but American Express cards are usually not accepted even at major tourist places. Also, expect possible problems with paying by card at minor shops or restaurants and at small private hotels. Have some cash with you for such cases.
Sochi is among several Russian seaports, where international tourists have the opportunity of visa-free entry for up to 72 hours (applicable for cruise ships and ferry line passengers only). Check limitations and requirements carefully before use.
For other foreign visitors standard Russian visa requirements apply.
Sochi's primary gateway is Sochi International Airport (IATA: AER), which is located in Adler district, right on the way to Krasnaya Polyana. It was totally reconstructed during the preparation to the 2014 Olympics. The new terminal was open in 2010 giving the city a chance to become a major regional air hub.
Flight schedule differs depending on season with the peak number of flights in May–September. During the winter flight delays are possible due to weather conditions. Alternatively, Krasnodar or Gelendzhik airports can be used.
Former Soviet Union countries are also connected to Sochi: Yerevan, Armenia (Armavia), Tashkent, Uzbekistan (DONAVIA), Minsk, Belarus (Belavia), Cishinau, Moldova (Air Moldova), and Dushanbe, Tajikistan (Tajik Air).
Several flights per day connect Sochi with Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Other major cities of Russia, such as Kazan, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Perm, Rostov-on-the-Don, Samara, Yekaterinburg and others are also connected by air with Sochi.
- Aeroflot - flights to Sochi from Sheremetyevo airport, Moscow
- Nordavia - flights from Arkhangelsk
- S7 - flights to Sochi from Domodedovo airport, Moscow
- Sky Express - domestic discounter, flights to Sochi from Vnukovo airport, Moscow
- Transaero - flights to Sochi from Domodedovo airport, Moscow
- Utair - flights from Tyumen, Ufa and Surgut
- Vladivostok Avia - flights from Khabarovsk
- Yakutia - flights from Yakutsk
By bus / marshrutka:
- 51 - from the airport to Adler (central market)
- 105, 124 - from the airport to Sochi central railroad station
- 135 - from the airport to Krasnaya Polyana
Taxi service at the airport is chaotic, taxi drivers can rarely speak English, and the declared price for a ride can be inadequate. To protect yourself book taxi / hotel transfer in advance.
The price varies greatly depending on the district you are going to. A ride to Adler costs 300-500 RUR, to Cental Sochi - 800-1000 RUR, to Krasnaya Polyana - 1,200-1,600 RUR. The most remote parts of Greater Sochi, such as Lazarevskoe, will cost up to 4000 RUR.
- Sky Express Taxi (airport transfers only), ☎ +7 8622 358-100. SkyExpress discounter airline offers the airport taxi transfer as an addition to other flight services (don't expect discount prices for that).
- Taxi Galant (airport transfers only), ☎ +7 918 101 0342. Transfers from Sochi International airport to any part of Greater Sochi and back. Order in advance, at least 2 hours, or better one day prior to ride.
Russian Railroads company has completed a two-way railroad to Sochi airport and it is the easiest way to get to Sochi Adler from the airport. Tickets are fairly cheap and the train goes approximately very hour. One way ticket to Adler is 14 rubles and to Sochi is 70 RUR.
Sochi has two major rail terminals in Central Sochi and Adler. However, most trains make short stops at small transit stations of Great Sochi: Lazarevskaya, Loo, Dagomys, Matsesta and Khosta. Tickets can be purchazed via Russian Railways website (at the moment the service is available in Russian only), at RZD counters, or via travel agencies. RZD opens ticket sales 45 days prior to ride, book in advance during the high season.
- Kiev, Ukraine (30 hours)
- Minsk and Gomel, Belarus (34-39 hours)
- Kaliningrad (64 hours, via Vilnius, Lithuania)
- Sukhum, Abkhazia (from Adler station, 5 hours, 200 RUR one way, service launched on 1 July 2011)
- Moscow (25-28 hours, speed trains and 15 hours route are planned to be launched by 2014 Olympics)
- Saint Petersburg (40-49 hours)
- Chelyabinsk (64 hours)
- Kazan (49 hours)
- Krasnodar (6-7 hours)
- Krasnoyarsk (95 hours)
- Novosibirsk (81 hours)
- Perm (68 hours)
- Rostov-on-the-Don (14 hours)
- Samara (43 hours)
- Saratov (32 hours)
During the high season (May to September) the number of trains and the diversity of destinations increase dramatically.
The quality of this busy road differs from a narrow serpentine to a highway depending on its section, tending to improve during last years. Normally it takes 2 days to reach the city from Moscow and 5-9 hours from Krasnodar, depending on traffic.
Going to Sochi from Europe you can use transit roads through Ukraine or Turkey. In the last case a car can be transferred to Sochi from Trabzon by ferry. Please note that entering Sochi via Georgia and Abkhazia is impossible at the moment because of closed border between those two countries.
Sochi main bus terminal is located right near the main train terminal in Central Sochi. The second important terminal is in Adler.
International route destinations:
- Chişinău, Moldova (30 hours, except Fridays and Sundays)
- Odessa, Ukraine (27 hours, weekly by Sundays)
- Sukhum, Abkhazia (4.5 hours, 3 times a day)
Major domestic route destinations:
- Anapa (10 hours, daily, 400 RUR)
- Astrakhan (26.5 hours, daily, 1300 RUR)
- Krasnodar (8 hours, 2 times a day, 350 RUR)
- Maykop (8 hours, 2 times a day, 420 RUR)
- Makhachkala (27 hours, daily)
- Nalchik (17.5 hours, daily)
- Novorossiysk (8.5 hours, daily, 320 RUR)
- Rostov-on-the-Don (12.5 hours, odd days, 650 RUR)
- Stavropol (14 hours, 2 times a day, 750 RUR)
Going to Sochi by a cruise ship or by a regular ferry can be an attractive opportunity to visit Russia without visa. Passengers are allowed to stay up to 72 hours at Russian territory if they live at the cruise ship or at the hotel, which is arranged for this particular group tourist program .
- Fast ferry from Trabzon, Turkey - 3.5 hours, 3,500 RUR, May to October, 2 times a week
- From Batumi, Georgia — 4.5 hours, 3,000 - 3,500 RUR per person, daily, open only for citizens of Russia, Georgia, and CIS countries.
Ferry tickets from Sochi can be usually purchased only at the port, 1 day prior to departure.
Within Central Sochi most distances are walkable, with some regard to hilly landscape and appropriate physical efforts needed (take into account that the big volume of construction prior to 2014 Olympics has made some walks less suitable). Other districts of the city have signuificant spaces between their parts, so it's better to use some transport to get, for example, from Matsesta to Kudepsta or from Loo to Lazarevskoe. To walk between districts and sub-districts of Greater Sochi is also usually not convenient due to lack of sidewalks, hilly terrain, and intensive traffic.
It may seem that the city extended along the sea coast should have long promenades. In fact, most of the coastline space behind the beach is taken by the railroad. So, the only real promenade is between Riviera Park and Dendrarium of Central Sochi. The other one is under construction in the Olympic Park of Adler.
Due to the resort specifics of Sochi, the usual approach there is to measure the distance in meters from the beach. This may play a bad joke: you can find yourself at a hotel or apartment close to the sea, but far away from any infrastructure and transportation. So, be attentive while booking.
By bus / marshrutka
In contrast to other Russian cities of the same size, Sochi does not have any trams or trolleybuses. The initial bus transportation system after the collapse of Soviet Union was doped with smaller private buses and marshrutka (minibuses). The last category mostly duplicates the existing bus routes with some minor, but often useful additions. The service is quite frequent and relatively cheap, that makes it the most popular way of transportation in Sochi.
By 2014 Olympics the city authorities plan to provide English signage in buses and even English-speaking drivers. But as for now, neither the first nor the second can be found. So, as elsewhere in regional Russia prepare to bend your intuition not to miss your stop.
The most important bus/marshrutka routes in the city are:
- 3K - from the central bus terminal to Matsesta
- 12 - from Bytkha to Matsesta
- 17 - from the central bus terminal to Novaya Zarya (ring route of Central Sochi)
- 22K - from the central bus terminal to Bytkha
- 36 - from the seaport of Sochi to Mamayka
- 47K - from the central bus terminal to Transportnaya street (Olymp Mall)
- 57 - from Adler train station to Imeretinskaya Lowland and Vesyoloe (to the border with Abkhazia)
- 64 - from Mamayka to Kudepsta via Central Sochi, Matsesta and Khosta
- 99 - from Sochi train station to Vinogradnaya street (ring route of Central Sochi)
- 105 - from the central bus terminal via Matsesta, Khosta and Adler sub-districts to Sochi International Airport, then to Alpika-Service part of Krasnaya Polyana. The 105K bus goes to the airport only.
- 106 - from Sochi train station to Trout Farm via Sochi International Airport
- 125 - from the central bus terminal to Imeretinskaya Lowland via Matsesta, Khosta and Adler
- 130 - from Adler train station to Trout Farm
- 135 - from Adler (market) to Krasnaya Polyana
- 155 - from the central bus terminal to Lazarevskoe via most sub-districts of Lazarevskoe district (Dagomys, Vardane, Loo, etc.)
- 167 - from the central bus terminal to Adler (market / Novy Vek Mall)
Bus / marshrutka numbers from 1 to 99 mean that the fare is fixed for all the distance of the ride (9 RUR). Numbers from 100 have flexible fare system depending on the travel distance.
The 100 km length of Greater Sochi makes the railroad one of the fastest and most suitable transports to travel between the city districts. Until recently, Sochi had the only track along significant part of the route between Tuapse and Abkhazia, beading 5 major stations, 4 minor ones, and 28 platforms inside the metropolitan area. Preparing to 2014 Olympics, Russian Railroads (RZD) built two new lines, connecting Adler, International Airport, Imeretinskaya lowland and Krasnaya Polyana region), having a total length of 48 km, with 5 new stations.
Commuter trains of Sochi have been constantly improving during recent years, upgrading from standard Russian elektrichki to modern and comfortable ones. Most of them go from Adler (or from Sochi central terminal) to Tuapse or Goryachy Klyuch and back. One or two trains run daily to Krasnodar and Maykop. One-way ticket for a ride in an old train (elektrichka) from Sochi to Lazarevskoe is 45 RUR, travel time is 1 hour 45 minutes. Ticket for a new commuter train is 100 to 200 RUR depending on class, travel time is 50 to 70 minutes. Expect to pay 40 percent more if going to Lazarevskoe from Adler (travel time is 2 hours 20 minutes for a plain old train).
While summer hot season brings more interregional trains to Sochi, the number of local commuter trains is decreasing for that period. So, there are only 6 round-the-year local trains (16 in off-season period). The good news is that each long distance train will also stop at Adler, Khosta, Sochi, Loo and Lazarevskaya stations, so it is possible to travel inside the city by these trains. The bad news is that you will need a passport each time you are buying a long-distance train ticket.
As usually in Russia, putting your hand out on the street will attract several cars willing to earn on your ride, and only a few of them will be licensed taxis. Such unofficial transportation is still popular in the country because it is usually cheaper and faster than official taxi services. In the same time, it is less safe, cars are less comfortable etc.
You will hardly find any English-speaking taxi drivers in Sochi. So, unless you are a bit adventurous or familiar with Russian, it is highly recommended to use mediators such as hotel receptionists to arrange a ride.
Even official services rarely use meters, more often measuring the fare by time of ride or using fixed prices. Have cash with you as only few services accept credit cards.
- New Yellow Taxi (Новое Желтое Такси), Central - Pirogova Street, 26, ☎ +7 8622 90 3333. A reliable taxi service operating in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Sochi, using taximeters. Their yellow cabs are easy to recognize.
- Taxi Kapriz, ☎ +7 8622 369-360, +7 988 502-90-60. Economy class cars allow this provider to set cheaper prices for some popular destinations (e.g. Central Sochi to the airport - 600 RUR).
- Taxi Kruiz, ☎ +7 918 340-9819, +7 963 160-7800. Only air-conditioned cars. A ride can be arranged by phone or via the website.
- Taxi Sochi, ☎ +7 963 163 0603. Taxi service with receipts given and credit cards accepted. A ride can be arranged by phone or via Internet. The cost of ride is fixed depending on location, see on the website.
Driving style in Sochi is more chaotic than in most parts of Russia: southern blood affects it. So, expect the road culture similar to that one in Greece or Turkey and be extremely careful while driving, if you have finally decided to do that.
Another issue is that Sochi is extremely lacking parking space, especially in the central part of the city. Drivers often have no alternatives to leaving their cars at bus stops, pedestrian areas etc. Together with the fast increase of car users this leads to traffic jamming at the streets.
Car rentals in Sochi:
- Hertz (Independent licensee), Sochi International Airport, ☎ +7 8622 357 100. Mon-Sun 0900-2100.
- Sixt, Locations: 1) Sochi International Airport; 2) Marins Park Hotel (Morskoy pereulok, 2), ☎ +7 8622 96-0020. Mon-Sun 0900-2100.
- ATON / Rentacarov (Sochi local car hire service), Locations: 1) Center (Transportnaya str., 130, office 5); 2) Marins Park Hotel (Morskoy pereulok, 2); 3) Sochi International Airport, ☎ +7 8622 960-331, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Rossa Rent (local car hire service operating in Sochi and Krasnodar), Locations: 1) Zhemchuzhina hotel (Chernomorskaya street, 3 - Center); 2) Sochi International Airport (pre-booked only, ☎ +7 8622 955-497, +7 8 918 905 59 77.
Regular ship service from Central Sochi to other city districts was stopped in 2005 due to an obsolete fleet and several local piers' destruction. Currently, the objective to restore this shipping is in place, and probably in the next few years it will be done.
Sochi authorities recently introduced the city bike rental service. A bike can be taken and left at any of 30 automated terminals (pilot ones are installed in Central Sochi and Khosta districts). The service itself is free, but you need to leave 3,000 RUR deposit before you return the bike.
There is also work on cycle lanes allocation in the city. However, Sochi is still uncomfortable for cycling due to heavy traffic and a lot of construction sites.
Generally, Russia has a huge gap in the level of accessibility for people with disabilities. Several cities have started their improvement programs in this area, and Sochi is among them. The accessible city is a requirement for 2014 Paralympic Games organization.
So far, at least the airport facilities and new commuter trains in Sochi are accessible. The project to create the accessibility map of Sochi has been launched in 2011, giving the start to the same all-Russian project. Hopefully, next few years will bring the significant improvement in the city's accessibility, as it happened in Khanty-Mansiysk prior to another Paralympic sport event.
- Stalinist period Empire Style buildings. The modern-period architecture history in Sochi started from the general construction plan of 1934. During the Stalinist period (till 1953) many monumental buildings around Greater Sochi were built. Among them are: Sochi central train terminal, Sochi seaport, The Winter Theatre, Sochi Art museum, and numerous resort hotels, such as Metallurg, Lazarevskoe etc.
- Stalin's Summer Residence, 120, Kurortny - Khosta district, ☎ +7 8622 69 56 00. Initially a merchant's Mikhailovskoe estate, taken by Bolsheviks and later converted into Stalin's residence by Miron Merzhanov, Soviet chief architect. Stalin visited this dacha quite often, having numerous meetings with top-echelon politicians, such as Chinese chairman Mao. Inside is a museum with many personal belongings and Stalin's waxwork. There are also legends about Stalin's phantom, still walking around this place by nights.
- Godlik fortress, Kurskaya street, Chemitokvadzhe - Lazarevskoe district. The remains of a Byzantine triangle fortress, which was initially built in 4-5 centuries A.D. Despite of the poor condition of this sight, it still has remained towers and part of limestone walls.
- Loo temple, Loo - Lazarevskoe district. Another Byzantine site, and also in poor condition. Located at the hilltop away from the sea (1.5 km), it was initially built in 10-12 centuries, rebuilt in 14th century and converted into a fortress in 15-16 centuries.
Among the traditional Russian set of monuments left as a legacy of the collapced Soviet Union, Sochi has several original artworks worth to be explored by the city's guests.
- Anchor and Cannon, Pushkinsky park - Central (near Primorskaya street). The oldest monument in the city, built in 1913. An original 19th century cannon and 18th century anchor symbolize the victory of Russian army in Russian-Ottoman war of 1828-1829.
- Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, Vinogradnaya, 14 - Central (at Krashmashevsky resort hotel area). Probably, the only one monument to these key anti-fascist coalition leaders in Russia. Erected in 2008 by an Israeli sculptor Frank Meisler. 2 copies of the monument were granted to USA and the UK. At the same place, a historical museum of World War II was opened. Neither the Statue nor the museum are available to visit now (8th Oct 2014) - the property on which they were located seems to have closed down.
- The Feat for Life memorial (Подвиг во имя жизни), Riviersky pereulok - Central (At the entrance to Riviera Park). An architectural ensemble dedicated to medical personnel of Sochi, who returned back to life more than half-million casualties during the World War II. The monument is a steel arc with the marble statues of physicians, nurses and wounded people at its pediment.
- The Golden Fleece, Ploschad Isskustv - Central (near Sochi Art Museum). A symbolic composition, illustrating a well-known Classical Greek myth about Argonauts and the Golden Fleece, was opened in 2008. Between two elegant columns the gold-plated sheep skin is stretched, guarded by a dragon. The sculptor implemented the idea of historical bridge between Greece and Olympic Sochi.
- The Singing Fontains, Kurortny - Central. Located in the center of the city, at the corner of Kurortny Prospekt and Navaginskaya street, at the entrance to Sochi Trade Gallery. A pool with numerous water streams, and special sound and visual hardware, allowing the water to "sing" and "dance" in rhythym. The fontains operate only in summer evenings, when their visual effects are the best-seen. Initially constructed in 1970, the Singing Fontains were totally renovated in 2009.
- Zavokzalny War Memorial, Zavokzalny subdistrict - Central. The memorial to Sochi soldiers, who died during the World War II, and the burial place for more than 2,000 of them, built in 1985 to 40th Victory Anniversary. At the hilltop there are memory desks with soldier names, as a semicircle surrounding an eternal light. Overlooking Central Sochi, this place has become a non-avoidable photosession point for weddings in the city.
- Olympic Countdown Clock (near Sochi seaport). Installed and launched in May (Olympic) and June (Paralympic) of 2011, 1000 days before the start of Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games. An innovatively looking construction, worth to see.
- Sochi Art Museum, Kurortny, 51 - Central, ☎ +7 8622 62-2947, +7 8622 62-2916. The museum occupies one of the most beautiful buildings of Sochi, built in 1936. Its collection is the largest at the Black Sea coast (more than 5 000 items of various style and period from antique to contemporary). The exposition expands with new paintings of Sochi artists, regular solo exhibitions are organized.
- Sochi History Museum, Vorovskogo 54/11 - Central, ☎ +7 8622 64-28-91. This museum, one of the oldest cultural sights in the city, was open in 1920. The exposition embraces the important milestones of the city's history, archaeological findings, nature and famous people. In total, there are 14 museum halls and about 150,000 items.
- Museum of Sochi Sport Honour, Sovetskaya, 26 - Central, ☎ +7 (8622) 64-23-26, +7 (928) 448 90 85 (tours). Daily, 11-00AM - 9-00PM. This is the newest museum in the city, open in 2010 in the threshold of 2014 Olympics. The items of its collection show the history of Olympics, the Olympic movement, and Sochi participation in the organization of Olympics. The most important items are Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic flags, as well as the miniaturized models of Coastal and Mountain cluster venues, which are in construction in Sochi. The museum also acts as a cultural center, where numerous educational programs and meetings are conducted. Entrance 80 RUR.
- A.A.C. Art Gallery of Wood Plastic, Zvezdnaya street, 1, office 24 - Khosta district, ☎ +7 8622 65-90-08. 10-00AM - 8-00PM. The individual art gallery of a talented Sochian wooden sculptor, Alexander Sobol. The exposition of over 500 wonderful wooden works accompanied with specially composed music. 1-hour guided tours are provided.
- Riviera Park, Yegorova, 1 - Central, ☎ +7 8622 64-33-77, +7 8622 64-08-85. The most popular and the biggest public park of Greater Sochi, established in 1898 and fully renovated 100 years after. Riviera is an all-season sight. In summer it offers shadow and numerous leisure attractions, while in winter its silent alleys attract fans of quiet walks and solitude. The park has restaurants and bars, sports facilities, leisure centers, a cinema, and other attractions. The Green Theatre of the park is a venue for frequent concerts and festivals. But the main point of interest is probably Friendship Alley (Поляна дружбы), established in 1960, with trees planted by famous politicians, celebrities and other well-known people. For example, 45 Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts planted their trees at this site. Free entrance.
- Dendrarium (Dendrary Botanical Garden), 74, Kurortny - Khosta district, ☎ +7 8622 62-18-42. daily, 8AM - 9PM. The best park at the Black Sea coast, where a wide variety of trees' species is collected. A beautiful, shadowy, and well-managed place, excellent for leisure, unhurried walking etc. Use cable-car to get to the mountain from the coastal part of Dendrarium and discover a scenic panoramic view of the sea and Caucasus ridges. Entrance 180 RUR.
- Park of Southern Cultures, Adler district. Another dendrary botanical garden located in Adler, at river Mzymta's left bank. Established in 1910, the park collected more than 5,500 plant species from all over the world, blossoming round the year. At a single place you can find 300-year oaks, blossoming sakura, and Chinese fan palms. There are also ponds with water lilies and lotuses, inhabited by swans and ducks. The park with its outstanding landscape and biodiversity is definitely among the best such objects in Russia. Entrance 150 RUR.
- Frunze Park (Парк имени Фрунзе), Chernomorskaya st - Khosta district. One of the oldest resort parks in the city, located in the coastal park of Khosta district, near Dendrarium, having at its area the Summer Theatre, venues for sports, and an amazing cascaded fontain.
Sochi Olympic Park
Imeretinskaya lowland of Adler district was chosen as the place of Sochi 2014 Olympic Coastal Cluster location. In 2014 the Olympic Park was for the Games opening and closing ceremonies, hockey, skating and curling competitions, and all medal award ceremonies.
- Sochi Discovery World Aquarium, Lenin 219а / 4 - Adler, ☎ +7 8622 46-33-56. Tue-Sun 10AM - 6PM. The largest oceanarium in Russia, and one of the largest ones in Europe. Standard, but impressive variety of marine species is complemented with a wide array of Russia's freshwater species of fish. 500 RUR.
- Aquarium and Marine Zoo, 4 Cheltenham alley - Khosta district (New Matsesta), ☎ +7 8622 67-72-26, e-mail: email@example.com. Open daily, summer 9AM - 8PM, winter 10AM - 6PM. Open in 2005. It is possible to participate in feeding animals, such as sharks, penguins, hippopotamus etc. Adult 300 RUR, kids (6-11 years old) 100 RUR.
- Oceanarium at Riviera Park, Yegorova, 1 - Central, ☎ +7 8622 64-43-43. Open daily, summer 10-00 - 0-00, winter 10-00 - 21-00. The most centrally located aquarium, however, not the most impressive one. Adults 300 RUR, kids (6-11 years old) 200 RUR.
- Adler Dolphinarium, Lenin 219а - Adler, ☎ +7 8622 46-33-03, fax: +7 (8622) 46-33-03. Summer Tue-Sun, 11-00, 14-00 and 16-00. Winter Sat-Sun and holidays, 15-30. Sochi representation of Utrish Delfinarium of Novorossiysk. 50-minute performance of dolphins is conducted round the year, the pool is 20 metres in width and 6 metres in depth. The place holds up to 1,000 spectators. Adults 450 RUR, kids (3-12 years old) 250 RUR.
- Monkey Nursery Center (Обезьяний питомник), Vesyoloe, 1 - Adler district (Marshrutka / bus 134). The place is owned by the only Russian scientific institute of medical primatology of Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. It is famous for monkey preparation for experimental space flights, starting from non-manned period of space exploration. Here animals pass the spaceflight training, accustom to spaceship conditions etc. The center has large area, where 2,700 friendly animals of more than 11 monkey species live (primarily macaques). Nursery itself is 1.5 km walk from the entrance. Open for visiting, entrance 200 RUR.
As a rule with some exceptions, Sochi outdoor sights are located inside the area of Sochi National Park. This means that in some cases you will need to pay the park entrance fee. All major sights attract both independent travellers and guided groups. Tours can be arranged at hotels or at the hot tourist areas in the city.
- Mount Akhun, Khosta district. Mount Akhun is the highest Greater Sochi coastal point famous as the best panoramic view of the city. The castle-looking tower on its 700-meter top gives a perfect overlook of the city. It is probably even possible to see the remote Turkish coast, if the weather and visibility are fine. Taking a trail down from Mt. Akhun, it is possible to get to the nearby Agurskoe Canyon (Агурское ущелье), another popular destination with a cascade of 3 waterfalls surrounded by high cliffs. It is spoken to be the oldest tourist sight in the city. Outside of the waterfalls there is the place called Eagle Rock (Орлиные скалы) with few caves around. As a legend says, Eagle Rock is the place, where Prometheus (Classical Greek god of fire) was enchained. To reach Mount Akhun and its surroundings it is best to use a car/taxi. Using a bus, take route 110 from Central Sochi to Sputnik stop. In this case you will need to climb the mountain (2-3 hours walk). Entrance 100 RUR (Mt. Akhun viewing point), 100 RUR (Agurskoe canyon), 50 RUR (Eagle Rock).
- Yew & boxtree wood (тисо-самшитовая роща), Khosta district. An exclave of Caucasian Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage List item, yew and boxtree wood occupies 3 square kilometres at one of the Mt. Akhun slopes. This is a unique nature sight with over 700 plant species, some of those are relicts remained unchanged for 30 million years. There are also endemic species and very aged plants, like 2 thousand years old trees. The wood has 20 endangered species included into the IUCN Red List. If you are not going to use car or taxi to reach it, take marshrutka route 122 from Central Sochi to Khosta. The stop you need is "Khosta-most". From that walk by Samshitovaya street (Самшитовая улица) till the road turning and the pointer. Soon after the turn a usual group of taxi cars act as the sign of the entrance to the wood. Entrance 150 RUR.
- Vorontsovka Caves (Воронцовские пещеры), Vorontsovka village - Khosta district. The mountain part of Greater Sochi area contains over 400 caves in total. The most known of them is the complex of caves in Vorontsovka village of Khosta district. It consists of 3 interconnected parts (Kabanya, Vorontsovskaya and Labirintovaya) with total length of 11 km and the height difference of 240 m. This is one of the largest cave systems in Caucasus, a significant part of it is open for visiting.
- Dagomys Tea-Party Houses, Dagomys and Uch-Dere - Lazarevskoe district. The world northernmost tea has been cultivated in Sochi since 1887, as "Krasnodar Tea" brand. There are group tours to Dagomys Tea Plant, and also, on a hill in Uch-Dere there are tea-party houses, open for visiting. There you can find out how tea is grown, collected and manufactured. You will be offered a tea-party with samovar, pirozhki, pancakes, jam, and folk songs. As a bonus, at the place there is a museum with traditional Russian crafts exposition.
- 33 waterfalls, Lazarevskoe district. There are several waterfall locations in Greater Sochi area. This certain one is a bit remote, but contains as many as thirty three waterfalls, those are not so high (1.3 to 10 metres), but very scenic ones. They are best seen in spring, when rains and snow melting at mountains bring more water. Dzhegosh stream has only 2 km length flowing down to Shakhe river not far from a traditional Circassian settlement Bolshoy Kichmay, 11 km from the sea coast, Golovinka sub-district and regular public transportation. To get to waterfalls less cheaper, but more suitable is to use a taxi or to join an organized tour.
- Trout Farm (Форелевое хозяйство), Forelevaya st, 45, Kazachiy Brod settlement - Adler. The largest fish farm in Russia, includes 131 ponds for trout and 6 more for carps. This is not only a farm, but also an amazing tourist spot. Visiting it, you can get information about trout planting, watch the fish, feed it, and even go fishing at ponds. It's also possible to buy incredibly tasty smoked trout at the place.
- Akhtyrshskaya Cave (Ахтыршская пещера), Adler district. Many of Sochi caves were inhabited by primeval people. Akhtyrshkaya cave is among them, having many petroglyphic drawings and other primeval remains. Take a bus/marshrutka 106 to its ending point (Trout Farm). Cross the street from the bus stop and go to the tunnel. Turn right close to the tunnel and go down to Mzymta river and a monkey bridge. Prior to the bridge go left and up to the entrance to the cave. There is beautiful scenery and panoramic view close to the cave: cross Mzymta river and take the trail left and up. Entrance 100 RUR.
- Boat tours (Sochi port), ☎ +7 8622 609-603. 11AM - 9PM. 1-hour regular sea boat tours. Organized by Sochi seaport, May to October. 300 RUR.
- Nautilus Aquapark, Pobedy str., 2/1 - Lazarevskoe, ☎ +7 8622 74-0187.
Festivals and Events
- Kinotavr. Open Russian Film Festival - conducted in June annually since 1990. Kinotavr is the largest Russian film festival attracting the top talents of Russian cinema: directors, producers, actors, writers, and photographers.
- Russian Grand Prix. The annual Formula One event is held early-mid October, and is based around the coastal Olympic cluster in Adler.
There is no sustainable practice of learning Russian as a foreign language in Sochi at the moment. Two places can offer such classes potentially:
- Russian University of Peoples' Friendship (RUDN), Sochi Branch (Department of additional education), Kuibysheva, 24 - Adler, ☎ +7 8622 40-0895, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This university is among leaders in Russia by number of international students. Sochi branch is, however, a small one, so your case with Russian study will be probably solved on individual basis.
- Sphere Travel, 11 Navaginskaya Str. - Central, ☎ +7 8622 64-6305, e-mail: email@example.com. This company several years ago offered the following programs of Russian: general, intensive, business, speaking, and academic Russian. Due to low number of students please check the actual situation before planning study.
Getting a work permit in Russia is not usually an easy process, at least if you are not a former Soviet Union state citizen. Sochi can possibly be an exception, as the preparation of Olympic Games will create many new workplaces. Some of the potential vacancies will require international expertise. Highly qualified international candidates will have simplified visa and work permit procedure.
There are potential vacancies for English tutors, as the demand for English study in the city is constantly growing. It is also possible to find sport instructors' jobs, in both winter (skiing, snowboarding) and summer (diving, yachting, kitesurfing) sports, but knowledge of Russian is essential for those positions.
- Krasnodar tea (Краснодарский чай). This is the only tea sort grown in Russia, being the northernmost one in the world (due to climate conditions, it's impossible to cultivate tea to the north from Sochi). Tea plantations of Greater Sochi are located in Dagomys, Solokhaul (Lazarevskoe district) and Adler. The amount of their production is limited, so it's not easy to meet it outside Krasnodar Krai. Baloven (Баловень) tea brand by Dagomys Tea Plant is available at Sochi shops. Group tours to tea plants are also available.
- Local alcohol. Surpisingly, Russia is the 11th-largest wine producer in the world. 60% of all Russian wine is manufactured in Krasnodar Krai. In Sochi and around there is possible to buy many kinds of this drink, starting from home-made and market-sold wine in no-brand plastic bottles (looks dangerous, but is spoken to be the best one), finishing with premium-class aged wine and brandy in souvenir boxes. To avoid fake brand production buy it at the city's chain stores, such as Magnit, Karusel, Kairos or Perekryostok.
- Abrau Durso sparkling wines. Abrau Durso (plant located near Novorossiysk) is the leading and the best-known Russian producer of a wide array of sparkling wines, from odious "Soviet Shampagne" to the exclusive Imperial and Millesime wine collections. The production technology is based on traditional shampagnoise method. Abrau Durso (Абрау-Дюрсо) wine is distributed to all Russian regions and exported. The price varies greatly depending on the collection item.
- Abkhazian wines. There are several brands of wine from Abkhazia those are widely common in Russian shops and popular for their inimitative taste. Apsny (Апсны) - red semi-sweet wine from the mix of Cabernet, Sovignon, Merlot and Saperavi grape. Chegem (Чегем) - red dry wine from Cabernet grape. Lykhny (Лыхны) - red semi-sweet wine from Isabella grape. Psou (Псоу) - white semi-sweet wine from Aligote and Riesling grape. 250-500 RUR per bottle.
- Brand wines of Krasnodar Krai. The best wine brands in the region are Fanagoria (Фанагория) and Myskhako (Мысхако), both produced in Novorossiysk area and having the wide assortment. 200-500 RUR per bottle.
- Brandy. This alcohol drink is called Cognac (Коньяк) at Russian domestic market, but is exported as Brandy due to necessity to follow the copyright of Cognac province of France. Together with Dagestan and Stavropol Krai, Krasnodar Krai is among 3 regions of Russia, those grape is acceptable for brandy production. The factory in Temryuk town located near Taman makes the best brandy in Krasnodar Krai, including the aged and souvenir collection. From 150 RUR per bottle for ordinary drink, to 2,500 RUR for upper-class souvenir bottles.
- Alexandria (Александрия), Moskovskaya street, 22 - Central. A 5-stored mall built at the place of former city market and combined with a higher office building. Conveniently located in the very center of Sochi.
- Kairos (Кайрос). 24/7. The largest local retail chain in Greater Sochi. Over 40 supermarkets and minimarkets spread all over the city at walking distance from most tourist and residential locations. Good place for minor daily shopping.
- Magnit (Магнит). Nationwide Russian supermarket chain with several shops within Greater Sochi.
- Melodia (Мелодия), Kurortny Prospekt, 16 - Central. A midsize shopping mall, located at Sochi central street.
- MoreMall (Море Молл), Novaya Zarya street - Central (under construction till May 2012), ☎ +7862 296-07-17. The first regional-scale world-benchmarked mall is constructed at outskirts of Central Sochi. Is numerous shops and boutiques of the best global and federal brands offer the city biggest variety of goods and services. Over 30 restaurants of various cuisines of the world and a multiplex cinema are also there.
- Noviy Vek (Новый Век), Demokraticheskaya street, 52 - Adler. A midsize mall, located in the center of Adler district. Over 100 shops, restaurants, and a supermarket.
- Olymp (Олимп), Transportnaya street - Central (orbital road of Sochi). Sochi's currently largest mall, having 70+ shops, hypermarket, bouling, multiplex cinema, foodcourt, and restaurants.
- Stroy-City (Строй-Сити), Donskaya street, 28 - Central. Large DIY and furniture mall with more than 80 shops and supporting infrastructure (cafes, parkings etc.).
- Trade Gallery (Торговая галерея), Navaginskaya street - Central. Navaginskaya street became one of the main shopping areas in the city, containing a whole lot of various shops, where it is possible to by everything, from souvenir to clothing, and from food to photo camera spare parts.
- Art-Pizza, Teatralnaya street, 9 - Central (Near the Winter Theatre), ☎ +7 8622 62-2666. 10-00AM - 12-00PM. A reasonably priced pizza place Around 500 RUR per person.
- Mama Roza, Moskovskaya, 19A - Central, ☎ +7 8622 64-2872. 11-00AM - 11-00PM. Conveniently located in the very center, close to the main train terminal, this cafe offers a budget variety of pizza and other Italian-style food. About 500 RUR per person.
- McDonald's, Kurortny Prospekt 17/1 - Central, ☎ +7 8622 64 87 79, +7 8622 64 86 74, +7 8622 64 86 85. 8-00 - 24-00. The only McDonald's restaurant in Sochi, as of 2011. Traditionally popular for its fast-food and free wi-fi. 100-300 RUR per person..
- Frau Marta, Sovetskaya street, 2 - Central (near the seaport), ☎ +7 8622 33 72 72. Cosy and stylish German restaurant with a good variety of beers and nice Nuremberg sausages. 500-1,500 RUR per person.
- Lighthouse, Morskoy pereulok, 1/1 - Central (near the seaport), ☎ +7 8622 37-74-74. 11.00-0.00. Uzbek cuisine garnished with Russian and European dishes. Shashlyk and pilav are strongly recommended. 500-1,500 RUR per person.
- Vody Lagidze (Воды Лагидзе), Primorskaya street, 16 - Central, ☎ +7 918 401 3373. A popular restaurant of traditional Georgian cuisine with live music. Russian and European specialtes are also offered.
- Zhily Byly Teremok, Demokraticheskaya 50/7. Local cuisine with a cosy atmosphere. about 700-1000 for a person.
- Kalipso, Moskvina street, 2, Central Sochi (near the seaport and Mayak aquapark), ☎ +7 8622 62-40-33. 12.00-0.00. Elegantly-designed, fine and expensive restaurant of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. 2,500 RUR per person and more.
- La Terrazza, Kurortny Prospekt 105 B - Central, ☎ +7 8622 96-58-58. 12.00-0.00. Italian cuisine. 2,500 RUR per person and more.
- Sinee More (Синее Море), Chernomorskaya street, Sunny Beach (Solnechny Plyazh) (Central Sochi), ☎ +7 8622 66-21-21, 90-20-02, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 12.00-2.00. Probably, the most luxurious restaurant in the city. Mediterranean fish & seafood cuisine, plus several meat specialties. Good cocktails. 2,500 - 5,000 RUR per person.
- London Bar, Nesebrskaya street, 6 - Central (beach zone), ☎ +7 8622 60 82 00. 24/7. Stylish restaurant and bar, offering business lunches during the day and transforming into a music club by nights. European and Japanese cuisine, wide array of cocktails and spirits. Concerts (rock, disco, chillout, both Russian and international) and parties each 1-2 weeks. 500 - 1,500 RUR per person.
- Shum Karaoke Club (Шум), Navaginskaya street, 9 - Central, ☎ +7 9882 37 54 20; 26 30 30, e-mail: email@example.com. 24/7 (9AM - 6PM - restaurant of European cuisine, 7PM - 7AM - karaoke. Luxury karaoke club with fine design and wide assortment of cocktails. Professional sound and back vocalists, songs are free on Sundays to Thursdays.
- Treugolnik Rock Bar (Треугольник), Kirova street, 56 - Adler. 12-00 - 03-00. A democratic rock-n-roll club with an authentic atmosphere and a large musical collection: from rock classics to newest trends. Regular parties and concerts of mainstream and underground teams (primarily from Russia and former Soviet Union countries). A library of books and DVDs on rock topics. The club provides not only drinks and parties, but also breakfasts, lunches and dinners, its pizza seems to be the best in Adler. Transfer to Central Sochi is possible. From 500 RUR per person..
Sochi has plenty of hotels (200+), and their number is steadily increasing, but the cost of stay may seem to be overpriced, comparing to many European destinations. There are more than enough gigantic health resorts and hotels, which were a pride of former Soviet Union resort industry, but which are completely obsolete at the moment. In the other hand, many mini-hotels mushroomed in Sochi recently, but only few of them are able to meet average international service requirements. Hotel staff often has problems with hospitality, helpful answers and advice, and with speaking any other language than Russian.
Between these two extremes, there is a gap of normal chain or chain-like 2-3-4 star hotels with reasonable prices and acceptable level of English and hospitality skills of staff. The situation is slowly improving, but the room to grow is still large.
In general, Lazarevskoe district offers cheaper accommodation, while Central Sochi and Adler have more expensive options. Prices also depend on season, traditionally increasing in summer and in the beginning of May (between 2 national holidays). Always book in advance in summer. The selection of hotels below includes mainly those of them, where better English and/or service level has been reported. For the mountain part hotels please see Krasnaya Polyana.
- Chastny sector - many Russian visitors of Sochi stay at unofficially rented rooms or apartments (so called chastny sector). This opportunity can be significantly cheaper than hotels, especially if several people rent one facility. But owners of such properties usually don't speak English, their facilities are not available via any online booking, and their quality varies greatly. You will meet many rental properties owners and agents at train and bus terminals (they usually offer komnata (комната), i.e. room). Chastny sector of proven quality is usually can only be recommended by someone who has already stayed there. Prices vary from 350 RUR for a room in a basic house with toilet and shower outdoor to 5,000 RUR and more for a comfortable cottage.
- Victor Guesthouse, Kurortny Prospekt 72/5 - Khosta district (near Dendrarium), ☎ +78622 92-88-45. This cosy guesthouse has 15 rooms, 24/7 reception desk. Wi-fi access and breakfasts are provided for additional cost. Rooms are non-smoking only. 2,000 - 3,500 RUR for a double accommodation, depending on room.
- AKS Hotel, Bytkha street, 41/28 (between Central Sochi and Matsesta, part of Khosta district). A newly built mini-hotel, having 10 rooms. Cosy, reasonably priced, with felpful staff, new facilities and swimming pool. Located inside a residential area, on the hill of Bytkha, a bit away from the sea and transport. double 2,300 - 3,000 RUR.
- Roza Vetrov, Pirogova street, 40 B - Central. The hotel has large rooms with balconies. Breakfast is included, wi-fi Internet is paid, 100 RUR per hour. There are also open-air swimming pool and fitness center. Double 2,300-3,900 RUR depending on room..
- Orbita Hotel, Lenina street, 280 А - Adler, ☎ +78622 45-01-47. This hotel has a spa-center with a sauna and a swimming pool. Relatively low price is compensated by some noise from the main street of Adler. 1,200 RUR for single accommodation, 1,600 - 3,300 for double.
- Charm Hotel, Chkalova street, 21 G - Adler (between Adler and Kudepsta). 21 air conditioned rooms, open-air swimming pool, a bit far from the center of Adler, continental breakfast and wi-fi Internet are included into room rate. double 2,400 - 2,900 RUR.
- Zhemchuzhina, Chernomorskaya street 3 (sea coast, city center), ☎ +7 8622 66-11-88. The monumental 19-stored Zhemchuzhina Hotel was built in 1970-s and became the symbol of Soviet Sochi tourism center. Unfortunately, little has changed since that: rooms haven't been renovated and new staff hasn't been recruited. The existing personnel hardly knows the word "hospitality". Zhemchuzhina is perfectly located in the city center right at the coast, always having rooms available, but even having a one-night stay may appear as a challenge. Single 2,900 RUR, double 3,500 RUR.
- Villa Anna, Kurortny Prospekt 72/2 - Khosta district (near Dendrarium). This 4-star hotel occupies the building, which is a copy of a Scottish medieval castle. 30 rooms, free wi-fi, open-air swimming pool. Some rooms have jakuzzi and kitchen facilities ensuite. Double 3,400 - 4,800 RUR depending on room and season.
- Marins Park Hotel, Morskoy pereulok 2 - Central, ☎ +7 8622 69-3015, +7 8622 69-3034. Centrally located, modern and large 4-stars hotel, having both midrange and splurge room categories. Breakfast is included, all rooms are non-smoking. Double 3,500 - 8,000 RUR depending on room and season.
- Hotel Chebotarev, Vinogradnaya street 12/1 - Central, ☎ +7 8622 53-2680, +7 8622 53-2681, +7 8622 53-2682. 4 stars, 70 comfortable rooms, open-air swimming pool and other facilities. Problems with internet access have been reported (in lobby only). Single 2,500 - 6,000 RUR, double 3,000 - 9,000 RUR.
- Radisson Lazurnaya, Kurortny Prospekt 103 (Between Cenral Sochi and Matsesta), ☎ +78622 66-3333. A large Radisson's hotel with its own beach and all supporting facilities. Positioned as a luxurious place, but in reality a 4-star resort hotel with fair leve of service - seems to be a bit overpriced. Single 5,600 - 10,000 RUR, double 9,000 - 16,500 RUR.
- Rodina Grand Hotel & Spa, 33, Vinogradnaya St. - Central, ☎ +7 8622 53-9036. The only 5-star luxury boutique hotel in Sochi. Each of the 40 rooms is individually designed by Suzanne Loggere and Patrick Brugman, court decorators of Queen Beautrix of the Netherlands. From 12,500 RUR.
Sochi has the traditional set of Russian mobile operators:
- Beeline (by Vympelcom), ☎ +7 861 945-95-95.
- Megafon, ☎ +7 800 333 0500.
- MTS (Mobile TeleSystems), ☎ +7 800 333 0890.
- Tele2. A multinational European provider, operating in 22 countries including Russia. Tele 2 has its network in many regions of the country, excluding Moscow. Comparing to others, it is the cheapest operator, but having the smallest coverage area.
- . The all-Russian CDMA operator, having less subscribers, than GSM operators, but popular for faster and cheaper mobile Internet service.
Staying in Russia for a week or more, it's definetily worth to buy a local sim-card, but be aware, that a passport is needed for that. The easiest way refill a local mobile account is to use an ATM for that. Most ATMs have bilingual interfaces, allowing numerous kinds of payments, including those for mobile services by local operators.
- Computer Club, Severnaya street, 10 - Central. 9-00 - 24-00.
- Noosfera (Ноосфера), Kurortny Prospekt, 6 - Central, ☎ +7 8622 92-2615, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 9-00 - 24-00.
- Novoe Vremya + (Новое Время +), Navaginskaya street, 9 - Central, ☎ +7 8622 62-7062.
- GPRS / 3G Internet is provided by all mobile operators.
- 4G internet is provided with Yota and MegaFon . Yota available in Sochi and some other cities. You can buy their USB modem in almost every outlet selling mobile phones (Euroset, Svyaznoi, DNS etc.) as well as in any computer related store. The price of the modem is 2900 rubles. You can use it for free for 7 days, after you should select your tariff on their site (https://my.yota.ru/) suggested in English as well. To switch the language, click "EN" on the top. The advantage of this operator is that you can change your tariff at any time without paying. You just choose another tariff using the scroll bar, and the amount of days will be changed according to your current payment, the speed will increase. Also Megafon currently offers 4G (LTE) connections.
- Wi-fi connection can be found at part of Sochi hotels and restaurants. Below is the list of major free wi-fi spots in the city (see also Krasnaya Polyana):
- Sochi International Airport (Adler district). Service provided by MegaFon.
- McDonalds, Kurortny Prospekt, 17 - Central. inside the restaurant and around it.
- Antikvar restaurant, Ostrovskogo street, 27 - Central. 10AM - 9PM.
- Botanik Cafe, Pobedy street, 73 A - Lazarevskoe.
- Diana Cafe, Tuapsinskaya street, 9A - Central.
- Dobrynya Cafe, Navaginskaya street, 5 - Central.
- La Terrazza restaurant, Kurortny Prospekt 105 B - Central. 12.00-0.00.
- Lentyai Cafe, Chernomorskaya street, 12 - Central.
- London Bar, Nesebrskaya street, 6 - Central. 24 hours / 7 days.
- Radisson Lazurnaya Hotel, lobby, Kurortny Prospekt 103 - Central. 24 hours / 7 days.
- Sinee More restaurant, Chernomorskaya St. - Central (Sunny Beach (Solnechny Plyazh)). 12.00-2.00.
- SV Cafe, Plastunskaya street, 1 - Central.
- Yuzhnoe Vzmorye Resort Hotel, Kalinina street, 1 - Adler.
Among dozens of Sochi newspapers, magazines and radio stations, there are no expat-oriented or internationally focused media at the moment. Everything is published in Russian only. Hotels often provide satellite TV with standard assortment of international channels (BBC, CNN, Russia Today, etc.). Following resources are recommended in addition:
- Sochi Life TV Channel. Music channel with both Russian and international playlists, mixed with views of Sochi and tourist information (in Russian only). Available within some satellite TV packages e.g. Tricolor.
Krasnodar Krai is probably one of Southern Russia's most safe regions. Sochi does not stand out with the higher crime rate, but standard safety precautions should be used. There is a saying in Russia: "Nights are dark in Sochi" ("В городе Сочи темные ночи"), and this can be explained as that anyone or anything can get lost in the city.
Try to avoid unlit spaces during the night and beware pickpockets in crowded places, such as markets and transport terminals. Beggars can approach you at stations and beaches. Fraud is widespread at Russian summer resorts, but most of its organizers would have problems with English. Anyway, try to avoid drinking and gambling with newly met people.
Several reports of explosions in Sochi area luckily were more vandalistic than terroristic, and their organizers were arrested soon after.
Sunburn can occur in summer, so use sunblock during the hot season.
Tap water is practically safe and Sochi was awarded with first in Russia drinking tap water certificate (2011).
At the moment Sochi has the following consulates in the city:
- Consulate of Armenia, Kurortny Prospect, 8b, Zolotoy Kolos, ☎ +7 86222 974 428.
- Consulate of Italy, Shosseynaya, 3A,, ☎ +7 962 856-62-80.
Once a flourishing sea resort and part of Soviet Georgia, this mountainous Caucasian republic passed through a bloody civil war with Georgians after the Soviet Union collapse, proclaimed its independence and was supported by Russia, but yet unrecognized by most countries. Honestly loved by many Russian tourists, Abkhazia is undeservedly mostly unknown by travellers from other parts of the world.
Abkhazia is quite small and can be quickly discovered within a weekend, but longer stay is certainly needed for deeper impressions. The monastery and the cave at New Athos, as well as Lake Ritsa, are definitely among most amazing places at the Black Sea. This breathtaking beauty mixed with Abkhazian poverty and the remains of the civil war will leave no one indifferent. Locals are very friendly, but only few of them will understand anything in English.
Sochi is the only place with Abkhazia border crossing possibility from Russian side. There is a crossing point at Vesyoloe (southern part of Adler district). It can be crossed both by foot and by car/bus (two separate bridges through the border Psou river). Coming to Abkhazia by foot, you will find a marshrutka parking right after the bridge - a cheap opportunity to reach any key destination of the country. The Abkhazian capital Sukhum is also reachable by a direct bus from Sochi, and a commuter train (elektrichka) is planned to start operate in 2011. There is also option to get to Gagra, Abkhazia by boat from Sochi port.
A fully enclaved into Krasnodar Krai small national autonomy, neighboring to Greater Sochi, Adygea has a significant tourist potential, which is underestimated by the moment. Rafting, waterfall seeing, trekking and other mountain activities in front of awesome Caucasus views make this destination very promising. It is also important that Adygea is safer than any other Caucasian region except Krasnodar Krai.
Maykop, the capital of Adygea, is accessible from Sochi by train (daily, 6 hours) and bus (1-2 daily plus transit buses, 8 hours). There is also an option to reach Adygea by car (6-8 hours via Tuapse). An extreme alternative to that is the mountainous unpaved direct road connecting Sochi with Adygea via Caucasus ridges. Be more than careful using it.
This natural reserve has the second-largest protected area in Europe and the largest one in Caucasus mountains. It occupies the mountain ridges of Krasnodar Krai, Adygea and Karachay-Cherkessia, including part of Greater Sochi metropolitan area (Khosta district and Krasnaya Polyana), bordering Sochi National Park.
Caucasian Biosphere Reserve is the richest biodiversity treasury, having no equivalents in Russia and an international value as a piece of untouched nature with primeval habitats. Reasonably, this unique area is included into the UNESCO World Heritage List. The official site of the reserve is available in Russian only:
Two exclaved parts of the reserve, those are located inside Greater Sochi, are easy to visit: yew & boxtree wood at Khosta and the wild animals nursery at Krasnaya Polyana. To visit other parts of the reserve, you need to get special permit, requiring the following:
- list of participants,
- passport details and passport copies of each participant,
- name of the group's leader,
- planned route/itinerary,
- period of stay (number of days),
- entrance fee (150 RUR per person per day, 50 RUR for children).
In Sochi you can get the permit at the reserve's headquarter: Karl Marx street, 8, room 10, Adler district, Sochi.
A resort town located at the Black Sea coast to the north-west from Sochi, one of the most popular domestic summer destinations of Russia. Gelendzhik has both natural and leisure attractions. Gelendzhik's aquapark is the largest in the country, and its surroundings have very beautiful scenery. The town is home to International Sea Aviation Conference, which is conducted there each two years.
Gelendzhik is a transit point for several buses going from Sochi (4-5 daily). A ride will take 5.5 hours. The Sea Flight fast ferry going from Sochi to Novorossiysk and back also makes stops at Gelendzhik.
This Krasnodar Krai's 3rd largest city is the biggest Russian port at the Black Sea and the main cement industry center in Southern Russia. The majority of the city's tourist attractions are related to the II World War, when Novorossiysk was among Russian key battlefields. The most known memorials are Malaya Zemlya, Defence Line (Rubezh Oborony) and Death Valley (Dolina Smerti).
Novorossiysk's vicinities have beautiful nature of Caucasus foothills. On the top of local natural wonders is the amazing Abrau lake, the biggest one at Northern Caucasus. Just nearby the wine manufacture of Abrau-Dyurso is located, making this place the capital of Russian champagne / sparkling wine (tours to Abrau-Dyurso with wine testing are available). There are also several smaller beach resorts around the city.
There are several ways to get from Sochi to Novorossiysk. Buses go daily (8.5 hours). Sea Flight speed ferry connection operates from May to October, 3 times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays). One-way ride will cost 1,800-2,700 RUR, taking about 5 hours. It is also possible to get to Novorossiysk by train via Krasnodar.
Another important Russian port at the Black Sea and the closest neighbour town bordering Greater Sochi. This is mostly industrial and transport hub, attracting fewer number of tourists, than other Russian Black Sea coastal locations. But anyway, Tuapse is good for a single-day trip from Sochi. After a look at the downtown, the awesome surroundings should be visited. There are several very scenic cliffs around, the top of those is Kiselev's Rock, a 46 meter upright cliff breaking down into the sea. Quite many ancient cultural remains, such as table-stones, are also located around Tuapse.
Any elektrichka or long-distance train from Sochi stops in Tuapse, the frequent bus/marshrutka connection is also available. Expect 2 - 2,5 hours for one-way trip from Central Sochi.