Sochi is a beautiful seaside city located to the north of Russia’s border with Georgia along the Black Sea near the Caucasus Mountains. It is one of the longest cities in Europe, stretching almost the entire length of the Black Sea coast. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Russia, receiving over four million tourists annually. It is a perfect summer vacation spot due to its unique climate zone, stunning mountain views, abundant hiking trails, subtropical vegetation, numerous parks, monuments, sand beaches and nature resorts.
Sochi used to be part of Turkey until after the Russo-Turkish War in 1829 when it was ceded to the Russians. The Turkish heritage remains visible till today. The city is one of the very few good things the Russian dictator, Joseph Stalin is remembered for: Stalin took personal interest in the splurge of investment that transformed Sochi into one of the most beautiful European resorts. It is a favoured spot for hosting international dignitaries and signing treaties for over 60 years.
Sochi landed on the global radar when Russia won the bid for hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics in the city, spending around $51 billion in the process. The Sochi Olympics and the Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix which was established also in 2014 transformed Sochi into Russia’s sports capital and a mainstream global travel destination. Many new international hotels have arrived, and old buildings spruced up to accommodate the influx of tourists. The massive Olympic Park erases all doubts that Sochi is just a seaside resort.
Sochi has preserved popular historic sites such as Godlik Fortress and the Loo Byzantine Church which predate the Byzantine era and even the arrival of the Turks. The city’s rich history, beautiful landmarks, and artistic architecture makes it a rewarding destination for tourists.
Places to Visit in Sochi
- Sochi Arboretum (Dendrary Park):
With over 1500 species of trees and shrubs, it is the largest subtropical park in Russia. The park is situated on 30 acres of land, giving you enough space to get lost in the beauty of nature.
- Rivera Park:
This is the private property of the famous Khludov Moscow merchant dynasty which was founded in 1898. A must-see for every tourist. It houses over 250 species of plants, amusement rides, art galleries, cafes, statues, a pool, and beautiful magnolia trees planted by Russian astronauts in the name of peaceful space exploration.
- Sochi History Museum:
The museum which was founded in 1920 contains Sochi’s rich archaeological history, its maritime roots, its role in WWII and other vital aspects of its social history.
- Sochi Art Museum
The classical building holds a collection of about 5,000 art pieces, including age-old icons and paintings from the 19th to 21st centuries, and works of renowned Russian artists, as well as coins and weapons from the 1st century AD.
- Sochi Discovery World Aquarium:
Considered the biggest oceanarium in Europe, it boasts of 6000 square meters space, 30 aquariums, and a total of 5 million liters of water. Tourists are allowed the adventure of a diving tour into some of the tanks.
- Sochi National Park:
It is Russia’s second oldest and second largest national park. 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).
- The Singing Fountains:
This is one of the most visited places in the city. The fountains are only active when it’s hot outside and usually closer to dusk, which is usually quite early in the south.
- Lenin Mosaic:
One of the most instagrammed backdrops for selfies in the city. It is a sparkling, red, 8m-high head shot of Lenin unveiled in 1980 to mark the 110th anniversary of the birth of the father of the Bolshevik Revolution.
- The Promenade:
This beautiful 2 kilometers long street is a popular recreation area in the city. Its numerous fairground attractions, souvenir shops, cafes with open terraces, bars and clubs with loud music, is the center of day and night life in Sochi. It is like Dubai in Russia.
Skypark AJ Hackett Sochi is the largest altitude extreme entertainment park in the world, located in the picturesque forest of Sochi National Park. Only the brave at heart can attempt the bridge, which is the longest pedestrian bridge in the world.
- The Feat for Life memorial:
The hospital was built in 1995 to celebrate the crucial role Sochi played during the World War II, receiving and assisting over 335 thousand wounded and sick soldiers.
- 33 Waterfalls:
These beautiful waterfalls show the true wonders of nature. The 33 waterfalls vary in height, with the highest one only 10 meters.
- Ritsa Lake:
The Lake is surrounded by green hills and beautiful plants, at a high of 950 meters above sea level in the West Caucasus Mountains. The best way to get to this picturesque spot is to book an excursion tour from a travel agency in Adler or Sochi because there are no direct buses to the place. To get there on your own, you will have to get to the border with Abkhazia (by bus, minibus, train or taxi), cross the border, get to Gagra, New Athos, or Pitsunda and take a sightseeing bus or a taxi.
- Matsesta SPA Resort:
Matsesta meaning ‘fire and water’ is a spa located, on the Black Sea coast and is surrounded by hot springs – the water contains more than 27 types of minerals and is known for its health benefits. People with respiratory and cardiac problems troop to the Matsesta. It is perfect for spa relaxation and treatments.
- Krasnaya Polyana:
It is an urban village in the Adler region of Greater Sochi, where the Olympic and Paralympic Games were held at the Olimpiyskiy Park in 2014. It offers a breathtaking view of the magnificent West Caucasus Mountains in any season and some quality skiing in the winter.
- Akhun Mountain and Monument to the Heroes of the Great Patriotic War:
This 700-meter-high mountain is the highest point of the coastal area. The mountain provides a spectacular view of this ancient city. There is the Monument to the Heroes of the Great Patriotic War on the way to the mountain – people who visit on their own without a guide often miss this. It honors the memory of those who fell while defending their country during WWII.
- Stalin’s Villa (Dacha):
During the Soviet Union, Stalin held high-profile political meetings here. It is now a preserved tourist site with a small museum displaying Stalin’s waxwork and personal belongings. It is said that Stalin didn’t allow Persian carpet to be put in the building so he could hear his enemies approach.
- Festival Concert Hall:
This massive hall with its front open to the sea embankment below, has hosted many significant performances in Sochi.
- Dagomys Tea Plantation:
This is the only place that produces tea in Russia. There is 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 listening to a folklore group.
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