Sochi, Russia is the official host city of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Although this location is most often known as a summer seaside escape, it is also Russia’s largest resort city, and this year, it will be used as a Wintery Wonderland! This February, an estimated 2,500 athletes will compete in the games. There will be thousands more people coming in to Sochi to watch the games. If you plan on attending the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, here are some helpful tips to make your Olympic Game experience a pleasant one!
Money – Russian rouble (RUB) is the only currency officially accepted in the city. A passport is needed for any money exchanges. Make sure to only exchange money at airports or official banks. The approximate exchange rate is 45 RUR for 1 Euro or 33 RUR for 1 U.S. Dollar (as of Jan 2014).
According to the section on money on Wikitravel, “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. 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.” http://wikitravel.org/en/Sochi
During the Olympic games, ATM’s will be very popular and will have a limit at how much money can be withdrawn each day, so be prepared! You may want to exchange money in advance at the airport, and also have some money on your VISA card.
Flight Information – Guests can fly directly into Sochi using the Sochi International Airport. Most flights to the Sochi airport are connected at either Moscow, or St. Petersburg. Book your flight well ahead of time, as tickets will be largely in demand and may run out the closer it gets to the games.
Food – There are many options for meals in Sochi. Café’s and Tea are quite popular, and there are even McDonald’s in the city, just in case you’re missing American food! Russian, German, and Italian cuisines are the main types of food you will find in Sochi.
Shopping – Shopping malls and vendors are found mainly in central Sochi. There will be many vendors in the Olympic village as well, selling Winter Game souvenirs and apparel.
Safety – Sochi is generally a safe area, but you are advised to watch your back at night. The Olympics are unfortunately, always a high threat for terrorist attacks and burglary, because of the high number of people in one area. Keep your belongings on your person at all times, and try not to carry valuables with you.
Travel – U.S. citizens must have a passport and VISA to be able to travel in Russia.
Transportation – The Olympic Express Train Shuttle will be carrying visitors to and from each major Olympic event site. Visitors are encouraged to use all forms of public transportation, as roads will be very busy and traffic jams are likely to happen with so many people in the city.
Attending the Olympic games as a spectator is on many people’s bucket list. If you are one of the lucky few that gets to attend the Winter Games this year, make sure you do your research ahead of time, so that you can have a positive experience in Russia. Refer to the links below for more information on traveling, customs, money, and more. Enjoy your trip!