The land of the Tsars has a city that is sheltered by the beauty of the Caucasus Mountains and the breeze of the Black Sea. As the home of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sochi was prepared to welcome athletes and crowds of the Games. Today, it has adapted that infrastructure to reinvent itself as a luxury destination for travelers who enjoy the snow.
However, this city was originally the summer destination for Russian emperors and had earned a reputation as an exclusive beach resort. All these elements are brought together to simply put Sochi as what is it: the perfect destination for travelers who want a city with its own history and traditions, one of a kind natural area and accommodation and cuisine that fits their needs, all year round.
Take a look at the 10 things that you can do for a fantastic stay in Sochi and get ready to feel that you are part of the Russian elite.
1. Mount Akhun and Monument to the Heroes of the Great Patriotic War
Standing alone at 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Sochi in the Khosta district, Mount Akhun is a popular sight for travelers who wish to see the 663 meters (2,175 ft) above sea level pike that was once sacred for the local Ubykh community and holds a Romanesque tower at its peak. The region is quite humid, so it is advisable to bring your raincoat.
On your way there and often missed, is the Monument to the Heroes of the Great Patriotic War. It honors the memory of those who fell while defending their country. If you choose to visit the area with a tour, ask your guide to point it out.
Mount Akhun and Monument to the Heroes of the Great Patriotic War
Address: ul. Samshitovaya, 32а, Khosta, Krasnodarskiy kray, Russia
2. The Feat for Life memorial
Sochi played a crucial role as a hospital center in World War II, receiving and assisting over 335 thousand wounded and sick soldiers. The Feat for Life memorial was built in 1995 to commemorate the doctors, nurses and civilians that worked in those hard times to restore the health of the sick and wounded in battle.
The marble monument is surrounded by benches and is close to the Riviera Park. It features a doctor and a nurse bending over the patient’s bed, and has a cascade of fountains that was added in the restoration made in 2010.
The Feat for Life memorial
Address: ul. Egorova, 1, Sochi, Krasnodarskiy kray, Russia
3. Dendrarium Botanical Gardens (Sochi Arboretum)
A trip around the forests of the world in one place. What once was a private garden is now a 12 hectare (30 acre) park with more than 1,800 exotic and rare plants. The Dendrarium Botanical Gardens, also known as the Sochi Arboretum, is considered one of the most diverse botanical gardens in the country, with species from all around the globe organized into sections that represent different continents.
With beautiful fountains and sculptures, it is a great way to take some fresh air and get amazing views of the sea and the Caucasus Mountains. You can access the top garden’s hill by cable car or walking.
Dendrarium Botanical Gardens (Sochi Arboretum)
Address: Kurortny Avenue 74, Sochi, 354002
4. Stalin's Dacha
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Located 30 minutes from Sochi’s center, Stalin’s Dacha was the summer residence built in 1937 for the leader of the Soviet Union. Visitors get the chance to explore this house in the woods and get deep into the mind of Stalin. Details like the lack of carpets so that the he could hear footsteps if someone was trying to approach him, an exterior painted in green to camouflage against attacks and an indoor swimming pool help learn about his character. The tours are made in Russian, so it is advisable to check in advance if the guides who speak English are present.
Address: Kurortny prospekt 120/1, Khostinsky District, Sochi, Russia
Website: Stalin’s Dacha
5. Krasnaya Polyana Mountain Cluster
Before the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Sochi was mostly known as a summer holiday destination. However, today it also welcomes travelers in the winter season who enjoy what is often referred to as the ‘Russian Switzerland’, one of the most popular and beautiful mountain clusters in the country: Krasnaya Polyana.
The modern and brand new facilities built for the games include stylish resorts, great ski and snowboard slopes suitable for all levels, hiking trails, great restaurants and traditional Russian saunas. This complex is reachable by the railroad line built to connect the resort to the airport and by bus as well. It is a fantastic place to practice winter sports, but also to enjoy the mountain and the incredible views.
Krasnaya Polyana Mountain Cluster
Address: Krasnodar Krai, Sochi, Russia
Website: Krasnaya Polyana Mountain Cluster
6. Sochi National Park
Both Russia’s second oldest and second largest national park, Sochi National Park is part of the Western Caucasus World Heritage Site. It has numerous accessible hikes that offer great views and, while camping is allowed, it is not advisable due to the type of fauna present in the area - bears, wolves and leopards.
The park houses other interesting places to visit, like the Loo Byzantine Church (an ancient ruin from the 10th or 11th-century, located atop a mountain that was used as a fortress) and the Vorontsovskaya Cave (a cave system that features spectacular stalactites and stalagmites).
Sochi National Park
Address: ul. Moskovskaya, 21, Sochi, Krasnodarskiy kray, Russia
Website: Sochi National Park (in Russian)
7. Dagomys Tea Plantation
If you want to taste something unique, you can visit the Dagomys Tea Plantation. Sochi is famous for being the only place that produces tea in Russia and, thanks to particular weather conditions, they have the northernmost plantations in the world. You can participate in a guided tour that explains the history of tea in the region inside an izba, a traditional log house. In there, you will also enjoy a traditional 19th-century style Russian tea party while listing to a folklore group.
If you want to take some of those flavors home with you, you can purchase the local black and green varieties, renowned for their delicate flavors, at the plantation shop. Operation hours vary during the year and the facilities are closed Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in winter.
Dagomys Tea Plantation
Address: Krasnodar, Sochi, pos. Uch-Dere Street. Zaporizhia, 302, Sochi, Russia
Website: Dagomys Tea Plantation (in Russian)
8. Olimpiyskiy Park
Built for the Winter Olympics of 2014, Olimpiyskiy Park is right on the shore of the Black Sea in Adler, south of Sochi. It houses amenities used for the Games and has been adapted for the general public with services like food and ice cream stalls. Among the facilities that you can see inside the complex it is the Fisht Olympic Stadium, which has a 40,000-capacity and served as a venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the games; it was reopened as a football stadium in 2016.
You can rent a bike at the front gate to explore it or hire a rickshaw tour to explore it, since it is very big. One of the most popular attractions at the park is The Waters of the Olympic Park fountain, which showcases a show with water, lights and music every day at 7 pm.
Address: Olimpiyskiy prospekt, Adler, Russia
Website: Olimpiyskiy Park (in Russian)
9. Museum of the Resort Town of Sochi
A visit to the Museum of the Resort Town of Sochi is the perfect way to learn about the history of this city and also about the nature of the area. What started in the early 20th-century as the private collection of the Sochi’s Caucasian Mountaineering Club has developed into a charming little museum with exhibits that are divided into Natural, Archaeological and Historical. They include ethnographic and archaeological that were found in different expeditions made by the original club and an exhibition called “Cosmonauts in Sochi” that features a capsule that spent 18 days in orbit.
Museum of the Resort Town of Sochi
Address: ul. Vorovskogo, 54/11, Sochi, Krasnodarskiy kray, Russia
10. Riviera Park
Designed as a resting area for the Tsar’s in 1898, Riviera Park is now the most popular alternative for locals and tourists for a day out. It has beautiful landscaped trees and flower gardens that join sculptures to provide a great scenery for walking and relaxing. Also, the park features an amusement area with carnival rides and games for fun, an arts and crafts market to purchase souvenirs and lovely cafes with delicious products, among other facilities. One of the visitor’s favorite are the tennis courts of Y. Kafelnikov Tennis School, where it is rumored that champion Maria Sharapova started playing.
Address: 1 Yegorova ul., Sochi, Krasnodarskiy, Russia
Website: Riviera Park (in Russian)
The best of both worlds
Whether you visit Sochi because you want to relax and enjoy the fantastic beaches of the Black Sea or you want to go to the exclusive resorts of the Caucasus Mountains, you can be sure that you will have a great journey. See you there!
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