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.
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). Derived 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).
After the Soviet Union collapsed, Sochi took the role of Russian President's traditional summer residence from Crimea, as that became a part of the independent Ukraine.
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.
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 °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 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 km² (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 has 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 there. During the summer season, Central Sochi is usually overcrowded and traffic-jammed. Lazarevskoye District is the largest (1744 km 2 ) 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 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, the 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.
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.
For other foreign visitors standard Russian visa requirements apply.
Sochi International AirportSochi's primary gateway. It was totally reconstructed during the preparation to the 2014 Olympics. 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.
There are regular air connections with Vienna (Austrian Airlines), Istanbul (Turkish Airlines), and Tel-Aviv (Rossiya Airlines).
Former Soviet Union countries are also connected to Sochi:
Yerevan, Armenia (Ural Airlines), Minsk, Belarus (Belavia), Cishinau, Moldova (Air Moldova), Tashkent, Uzbekistan (Rossiya), 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
- Utair - flights from Tyumen, Ufa and Surgut
- Yakutia - flights from Yakutsk
- 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 or hotel transfer in advance. The price varies greatly depending on the district you are going to.
phone: +7 8622 358-100SkyExpress discounter airline offers the airport taxi transfer as an addition to other flight services (don't expect discount prices for that).
phone: +7 918 101 0342Transfers 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 Railway company has completed a two-way railway 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.
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 RZD counters, or via travel agencies. RZD opens ticket sales 45 days prior to ride, book in advance during the high season.
There are regular train connections with key cities of Russia, and also with major cities of Belarus and Ukraine. Round-the-year destinations include:
- Kiev, Ukraine (30 hours)
- Minsk and Gomel, Belarus (34-39 hours)
- Kaliningrad (64 hours, via Vilnius, Lithuania)
- Sukhum, Abkhazia (from Adler station, 5 hours)
- 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 M4/E115 road connects Sochi with Moscow (1660 km) via Voronezh (1150 km), Rostov-on-the-Don (570 km) and Krasnodar (300 km).
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. Entering Sochi via Georgia and Abkhazia is impossible because the border between these two countries is closed.
Sochi main bus terminal is 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)
- Astrakhan (26.5 hours, daily)
- Krasnodar (8 hours, 2 times a day)
- Maykop (8 hours, 2 times a day)
- Makhachkala (27 hours, daily)
- Nalchik (17.5 hours, daily)
- Novorossiysk (8.5 hours, daily)
- Rostov-on-the-Don (12.5 hours, odd days)
- Stavropol (14 hours, 2 times a day)
Going to Sochi by a cruise ship or by a regular ferry can be an attractive opportunity to visit Russia without a 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.
Unsurprisingly, up to now, most international tourists come to Sochi by cruise ships (please check the itinerary).
The seaport of Sochi operates several regular international routes, mainly in the period from May to October:
- Fast ferry from Trabzon, Turkey - 3.5 hours, May to October, 2 times a week
- From Batumi, Georgia — 4.5 hours, 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.
There are also regular ship connections with neighbouring cities of Novorossiysk, Tuapse and Gagra, Abkhazia.
Within Central Sochi most distances are walkable, with some regard to hilly landscape and appropriate physical efforts needed.
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.
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.
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. 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. Sochi used to have 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 for the 2014 Olympics, Russian Railways (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, 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 has a travel time of 1 hour and 45 minutes. A ride on a new commuter train has a travel time of 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.
phone: +7 8622 90 3333address: Central - Pirogova Street, 26A reliable taxi service operating in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Sochi, using taximeters. Their yellow cabs are easy to recognize.
phone: +7 8622 369-360, +7 988 502-90-60Economy class cars allow this provider to set cheaper prices for some popular destinations.
phone: +7 918 340-9819, +7 963 160-7800Only air-conditioned cars. A ride can be arranged by phone or via the website.
phone: +7 8622 330 330A bit expensive service, using new Renault Logan cars.
phone: +7 963 163 0603Taxi 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:
phone: +7 8622 357 100address: Sochi International Airport
phone: +7 8622 96-0020address: Locations: 1) Sochi International Airport; 2) Marins Park Hotel (Morskoy pereulok, 2)
phone: +7 8622 960-331address: Locations: 1) Center (Transportnaya str., 130, office 5); 2) Marins Park Hotel (Morskoy pereulok, 2); 3) Sochi International Airport
phone: +7 8622 955-497, +7 8 918 905 59 77address: Locations: 1) Zhemchuzhina hotel (Chernomorskaya street, 3 - Center); 2) Sochi International Airport (pre-booked only
Regular ship service from Central Sochi to other city districts was stopped in 2005 due to an obsolete fleet and several local piers' destruction. Restoration of this shipping is underway.
The city bike rental service allows a bike to be taken and left at any of 30 automated terminals (pilot ones are installed in Central Sochi and Khosta districts). The service is free, but you must leave a 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 buildingsThe 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 Residencephone: +7 8622 69 56 00address: 120, Kurortny - Khosta districtIt was built as 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 fortressaddress: Kurskaya street, Chemitokvadzhe - Lazarevskoe districtThe remains of a Byzantine triangle fortress, which was built in 4-5 centuries AD. Despite the poor condition of this site, it still has remained towers and part of limestone walls.
Loo templeaddress: Loo - Lazarevskoe districtAnother Byzantine site, and also in poor condition. It's at the hilltop away from the sea (1.5 km). It was 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 collapsed Soviet Union, Sochi has several original artworks worth to be explored by the city's guests.
Anchor and Cannonaddress: Pushkinsky park - CentralThe oldest monument in the city, built in 1913. An original 19th century cannon and 18th6century anchor symbolize the victory of Russian army in Russian-Ottoman war of 1828-1829.
Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalinaddress: Vinogradnaya, 14 - CentralProbably, 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 (Oct 2014) - the property on which they were located seems to have closed down.
The Feat for Life memorialaddress: Riviersky pereulok - CentralAn 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 Fleeceaddress: Ploschad Isskustv - CentralA 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 Fontainsaddress: Kurortny - CentralIn 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 Memorialaddress: Zavokzalny subdistrict - CentralThe 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 ClockInstalled 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.
phone: +7 8622 62-2947, +7 8622 62-2916address: Kurortny, 51 - CentralThe 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 Museumphone: +7 8622 64-28-91address: Vorovskogo 54/11 - CentralThis 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 Honourphone: +7 (8622) 64-23-26, +7 (928) 448 90 85 (tours)address: Sovetskaya, 26 - CentralThis 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.
phone: +7 8622 64-33-77, +7 8622 64-08-85address: Yegorova, 1 - CentralThe 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.
phone: +7 8622 62-18-42address: 74, Kurortny - Khosta districtThe 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.
Park of Southern Culturesaddress: Adler districtAnother dendrary botanical garden 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.
Frunze Parkaddress: Chernomorskaya st - Khosta districtOne of the oldest resort parks in the city, in the coastal park of Khosta district, near Dendrarium, having at its area the Summer Theatre, venues for sports, and an amazing cascaded fontain.
Fischt Olympic Stadium
Watch football at a stadium that has hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The home team are PFC Sochi, who play in the Russian National League, the second tier of Russian football. Until 2018 they were FC Dynamo St Petersburg, then they upped sticks and moved down to the Black Sea. The stadium (capacity over 47,000) is actually in Adler, 25 km east of Sochi and only 3 km from the border with Georgia. Long-distance and metro trains terminate at nearby Olympic Park Station.
Sochi Discovery World Aquariumphone: +7 8622 46-33-56address: Lenin 219а / 4 - AdlerThe 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.
phone: +7 8622 67-72-26address: 4 Cheltenham alley - Khosta districtOpen in 2005. It is possible to participate in feeding animals, such as sharks, penguins, hippopotamus etc.
phone: +7 8622 64-43-43address: Yegorova, 1 - CentralThe most centrally located aquarium, however, not the most impressive one.
Adler Dolphinariumphone: +7 8622 46-33-03address: Lenin 219а - AdlerSochi 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.
Monkey Nursery Centeraddress: Vesyoloe, 1 - Adler districtThe 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,
As a rule with some exceptions, Sochi outdoor sights are 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 Akhunaddress: Khosta districtMount 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).
Yew & boxtree woodaddress: Khosta districtAn 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.
Vorontsovka Cavesaddress: Vorontsovka village - Khosta districtThe 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 Housesaddress: Dagomys and Uch-Dere - Lazarevskoe districtThe 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 waterfallsaddress: Lazarevskoe districtThere 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 Farmaddress: Forelevaya st, 45, Kazachiy Brod settlement - AdlerThe 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 Caveaddress: Adler districtMany 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.
phone: +7 8622 609-6031-hour regular sea boat tours. Organized by Sochi seaport, May to October.
Nautilus Aquaparkphone: +7 8622 74-0187address: Pobedy str., 2/1 - Lazarevskoe
Festivals and events
KinotavrOpen 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 PrixThe 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. Two places can offer such classes potentially:
Russian University of Peoples' Friendship (RUDN), Sochi Branchphone: +7 8622 40-0895address: Kuibysheva, 24 - AdlerThis 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.
phone: +7 8622 64-6305address: 11 Navaginskaya Str. - CentralThis 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 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 alcoholSurpisingly, 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 winesAbrau Durso (plant 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.
Abkhazian winesThere 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.
Brand wines of Krasnodar KraiThe best wine brands in the region are Fanagoria (Фанагория) and Myskhako (Мысхако), both produced in Novorossiysk area and having the wide assortment.
BrandyThis 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 near Taman makes the best brandy in Krasnodar Krai, including the aged and souvenir collection.
Alexandriaaddress: Moskovskaya street, 22 - CentralA 5-storey mall built at the place of former city market and combined with a higher office building. In the center of Sochi.
KairosThe 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.
MagnitNationwide Russian supermarket chain with several shops within Greater Sochi.
Melodiaaddress: Kurortny Prospekt, 16 - CentralA midsize shopping mall, at Sochi central street.
phone: +7862 296-07-17address: Novaya Zarya street - CentralThe 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.
Novy Vekaddress: Demokraticheskaya street, 52 - AdlerA midsize mall, in the center of Adler district. Over 100 shops, restaurants, and a supermarket.
Olympaddress: Transportnaya street - CentralSochi's largest mall, having more than 70 shops, hypermarket, bouling, multiplex cinema, foodcourt, and restaurants.
address: Donskaya street, 28 - CentralLarge DIY and furniture mall with more than 80 shops and supporting infrastructure (cafes, parking, etc.)
Trade Galleryaddress: Navaginskaya street - CentralNavaginskaya 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-Pizzaphone: +7 8622 62-2666address: Teatralnaya street, 9 - CentralA reasonably priced pizza place
Mama Rozaphone: +7 8622 64-2872address: Moskovskaya, 19A - CentralIn the center, close to the main train terminal, this cafe offers a budget variety of pizza and other Italian-style food.
phone: +7 8622 64 87 79, +7 8622 64 86 74, +7 8622 64 86 85address: Kurortny Prospekt 17/1 - CentralThe only McDonald's restaurant in Sochi, as of 2011. Traditionally popular for its fast-food and free wi-fi.
Frau Martaphone: +7 8622 33 72 72address: Sovetskaya street, 2 - CentralCosy and stylish German restaurant with a good variety of beers and nice Nuremberg sausages.
Vody Lagidzephone: +7 918 401 3373address: Primorskaya street, 16 - CentralA popular restaurant of traditional Georgian cuisine with live music. Russian and European specialties are also offered.
Zhily Byly Teremokaddress: Demokraticheskaya 50/7Local cuisine with a cosy atmosphere.
phone: +7 8622 96-58-58address: Kurortny Prospekt 105 B - CentralItalian cuisine.
phone: +7 8622 66-21-21, +7 8622 90-20-02address: Chernomorskaya street, Sunny Beach (Solnechny Plyazh)Probably, the most luxurious restaurant in the city. Mediterranean fish & seafood cuisine, plus several meat specialties. Good cocktails.
phone: +7 8622 60 82 00address: Nesebrskaya street, 6 - CentralStylish 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.
Shum Karaoke Clubphone: +7 9882 37 54 20, +7 9882 26 30 30address: Navaginskaya street, 9 - CentralLuxury karaoke club with fine design and wide assortment of cocktails. Professional sound and back vocalists, songs are free on Sundays to Thursdays.
address: Kirova street, 56 - AdlerA 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.
Sochi has more than 200 hotels, 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. On the other hand, many mini-hotels have opened in Sochi, 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.
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address: Bytkha street, 41/28A newly built mini-hotel, having 10 rooms. Cosy, reasonably priced, with felpful staff, new facilities and swimming pool. In a residential area, on the hill of Bytkha, a bit away from the sea and transport.
Roza Vetrovaddress: Pirogova street, 40 B - CentralThe hotel has large rooms with balconies. Breakfast is included, Wi-Fi Internet is paid. There are also open-air swimming pool and fitness center.
Orbita Hotelphone: +78622 45-01-47address: Lenina street, 280 А - AdlerThis 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.
Charm Hoteladdress: Chkalova street, 21 G - Adler21 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.
phone: +7 8622 66-11-88address: Chernomorskaya street 3The monumental 19-stored Zhemchuzhina Hotel was built in the 1970s 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 in the city center right at the coast, always having rooms available, but even having a one-night stay may appear as a challenge.
address: Kurortny Prospekt 72/2 - Khosta districtThis 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.
phone: +7 8622 69-3015, +7 8622 69-3034address: Morskoy pereulok 2 - CentralCentrally located, modern and large 4-star hotel, having both midrange and splurge room categories. Breakfast is included, all rooms are non-smoking.
phone: +7 8622 53-2680, +7 8622 53-2681, +7 8622 53-2682address: Vinogradnaya street 12/1 - Central4 stars, 70 comfortable rooms, open-air swimming pool and other facilities. Problems with internet access have been reported (in lobby only).
phone: +78622 66-3333address: Kurortny Prospekt 103A 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 level of service - seems to be a bit overpriced.
phone: +7 8622 53-9036address: 33, Vinogradnaya St. - CentralThe 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.
Sochi has the traditional set of Russian mobile operators:
phone: +7 861 945-95-95
phone: +7 800 333 0500
phone: +7 800 333 0890
Tele2A 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.
SkylinkThe all-Russian CDMA operator, having less subscribers, than GSM operators, but popular for faster and cheaper mobile Internet service.
Check roaming prices before using non-Russian sim-card, especially those for mobile Internet. Some standards of mobile connection are not supported in Russia, e.g. those for Japan and United States.
Staying in Russia for a week or more, it's definitely 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 Clubaddress: Severnaya street, 10 - Central
Noosferaphone: +7 8622 92-2615address: Kurortny Prospekt, 6 - Central
Novoe Vremya +phone: +7 8622 62-7062address: Navaginskaya street, 9 - Central
- GPRS / 3G Internet is provided by all mobile operators.
- 4G internet is provided with Yota and MegaFon . Yota is available in Sochi and a few 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 . You can use it for free for seven days, after which you should select your tariff on their website. 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 number of days will be changed according to your current payment, the speed will increase. Megafon also 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 AirportService provided by MegaFon.
McDonald'saddress: Kurortny Prospekt, 17 - Centralinside the restaurant and around it.
Antikvar restaurantaddress: Ostrovskogo street, 27 - Central
Botanik Cafeaddress: Pobedy street, 73 A - Lazarevskoe
Diana Cafeaddress: Tuapsinskaya street, 9A - Central
Dobrynya Cafeaddress: Navaginskaya street, 5 - Central
La Terrazza restaurantaddress: Kurortny Prospekt 105 B - Central
Lentyai Cafeaddress: Chernomorskaya street, 12 - Central
London Baraddress: Nesebrskaya street, 6 - Central
Radisson Lazurnaya Hotel, lobbyaddress: Kurortny Prospekt 103 - Central
Sinee More restaurantaddress: Chernomorskaya St. - Central
SV Cafeaddress: Plastunskaya street, 1 - Central
Yuzhnoe Vzmorye Resort Hoteladdress: Kalinina street, 1 - Adler
Among dozens of Sochi newspapers, magazines and radio stations, there are no expat-oriented or internationally focused media. 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 ChannelMusic 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).
Sochi has the following consulates:
Consulate of Armeniaphone: +7 86222 974 428address: Kurortny Prospect, 8b, Zolotoy Kolos
Consulate of Italyphone: +7 962 856-62-80address: Shosseynaya, 3A,
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.
Going to Abkhazia be prepared to comply with Abkhazian visa requirements. Be also aware that, to return to Russia after a trip, you may need double-entry or multi-entry Russian visa.
A fully enclaved into Krasnodar Krai small national autonomy, neighboring to Greater Sochi, Adygea has a significant tourist potential, which is underestimated. 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.
Caucasian Biosphere Reserve
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 in 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
In Sochi you can get the permit at the reserve's headquarter: Karl Marx street, 8, room 10, Adler district, Sochi.
A resort town 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 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 take 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 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.