Located along the Black Sea, Sochi, Russia has remained a hidden gem to many until being named host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics. For anyone traveling there for the first time, it might be advantageous to know what to expect ahead of time. Read on for a quick visitor’s guide to Sochi.
Sochi has several public transportation options for navigating around the city. Within the city, traveling by bus or train will be less costly but taxis are available as well. And during the Olympics, the city even plans to operate a few free bus lines for anyone with tickets to the games so that will be a great way to save some money. There are different districts around Sochi, some further away than others. For anyone planning to tour these areas, commuter trains are a good option. Visit the Russian Railways website for more information on train schedules and routes, but be sure to click the translate option if needed and the page will appear in English.
Accommodations and Food:
Long before being named as host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sochi was already an established vacation destination. As such, there are plenty of hotels and vacation rentals to suit a variety of budgets. Restaurants are also plentiful and in a variety of price ranges. You can choose from restaurants serving Russian food or other types of cuisine, such as Italian or Greek. And for those not up to eating local cuisine, Sochi even has a few familiar fast food restaurants including McDonald’s, Subway, and KFC.
Sochi Sights and Activities:
There will certainly be a lot going on with the Olympics, but Sochi also offers several sights and attractions beyond the winter games for anyone seeking a diversion. Some sights you might not want to miss include: Sochi National Park, Sochi Seaport, Riviera Park, Matsesta Springs, Stalin’s Dacha, and the Observation Tower on Mount Akhun. The Sochi Seaport, National Park, and Riviera Park all offer the convenience of being located directly in Sochi. Riviera Park is said to be the most popular public park in Sochi and offers various attractions so it’s not to be missed.
The other three sites are located in the Khostinsky City District at the edge of Sochi. Matsesta Springs offers a relaxing spa experience centering around warm sulphurous spring water. Also near Khostinsky is Mount Akhun where you can ascend to an observation tower that grants unbeatable views of Sochi, the Black Sea, and the Caucasus Mountains. Finally, Stalin’s Dacha, cottage home of the infamous former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, is a sight to see. The home is painted camouflage green and still boasts much of the original interior décor. The Dacha is located in the Khostinsky City District and a few areas of the home are open to the public for tours.
While much of Sochi is safe for visitors, as with any city, it does have its share of petty crime. Tourists are wise to take standard precautions. Avoid walking through poorly lit areas in the evening, particularly if alone. After dark it’s best to travel in groups and stick to areas that are well lit. Fodor’s Travel also advises against purchasing food or drink on the street because there have been incidents of poisoning. They recommend only buying food and drink from restaurants or reputable vendors.
Finally, with so much to do in the city of Sochi itself, especially during the Olympic Games, it is probably best to restrict your travel adventures to inside the city limits. Many of the areas around Sochi are not safe to visit at this time. Specific areas to avoid include: Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetiya, and Kabardino-Balkaria. Dagestan, specifically, is considered to be one of the most dangerous places in Europe at present (Fodor’s Travel). But with the Olympic festivities and plethora of other exciting sites within Sochi, you won’t be lacking for excitement. So enjoy Sochi and have fun at the games!
Fodor’s Sochi Travel Guide. Retrieved online http://www.fodors.com/world/europe/russia/sochi/
Sinepostolovich, S. (2013, October 16). Food in Sochi: Top 12 budget restaurants and cafes. Russia Beyond the Headlines. Retrieved online http://travel.rbth.ru/travel/2013/20/21/top_12_budget_restaurants_and_cafes_in_sochi
Sochi City Guide. Retrieved online http://www.sochicityguide.com/