Sochi is one of Russia's most southern cities, located on the Black Sea coast almost 1,000 miles south of Moscow. It's Russia's busiest seaside resort, attracting more than 4 million visitors every year to its mountains and sweeping beaches. It is perhaps most famous for hosting the Winter Olympics in 2014.
Sochi has a host of historical sights, including Stalin's Summer Residence, Loo Temple, Godlik Fortress and the city's Empire Style Stalin Era grand buildings.
The city has a number of monuments of artistic merit, including the Anchor and Cannon, statue of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, Golden Fleece and the Singing Fountains.
There are lots of good museums in Sochi to explore, such as the Sochi Art Museum, History Museum and Museum of Sport Honor.
The Olympic Park facilities offer great winter sports opportunities and are worth a visit in themselves.
Sochi National Park contains some splendid natural sights, such as Mount Akhun - with its views all the way to Turkey - and Agurskoe Canyon.
The Sochi Arboretum is a great way to start your tour of this picturesque city. Many have called it "Italy in Sochi", and that's all thanks to its spectacular views of the Black Sea, the lush green gardens, winding cobblestone walkways and exotic roaming birds such as peacocks and ostriches. Besides this natural beauty, decorative statues and cooling fountains are peppered around the wide territory of old trees. When you're ready for a breath of fresh air, journey up the hill to the Arboretum.
Sochi City is well-known amongst nationals for being the "resort city", a place you go to unwind and enjoy cool breezes and the waters of the Black Sea. But to get a real sense of the history of the area and the culture of the country, a visit to the Museum of History is in order. In its architecture, the majestic building is a nod to the neoclassical gilded styles of the 1930s. With its 14 rooms and 4,000 unique exhibits, visitors can trace the history and ethnography of the peoples of the coast of the Caucasus to Sochi.
The Winter Theatre is both an event and a space, a cultural institution and an experience -- one that will be forever memorable. Hearkening back to the grandeur of old mid-century Russia and to the opulence of well-known spaces like the Vienna Opera House, the Winter Theatre puts on extravagant ballet, opera and theatre performances. Enjoy an evening of classical Russian-style opera or theatrical performance. On the outside, the colonnaded building exudes majesty while, on the inside, visitors are regaled with performances that bring back nostalgia for a bygone era.
Don't be fooled by Sochi's label of "resort town" because the extensive art collections and exhibits at the Sochi Art Museum are a testament to its cultural gravitas. The beautiful architecture of the building itself makes it the perfect place to house such piece of fine art. Like the entire Pompidou in Paris, the Social Art Museum grounds also have incredible outdoor sculptures. Art-lovers and enthusiasts can begin in the world of classical paintings and move on to modern day exhibitions featuring contemporary and local artists. There is also a wing dedicated to computerized installations and 3D displays of art.
The winding, powerful waterfalls, the lush greenery and the roaming creatures like European bison and Persian leopards are just some of the draws of the Social National Park. Whether you're coming to back-country camp, head to a campsite with friends or simply spend the day by a fast-flowing stream with the mountains as your backdrop, the Sochi National Park feels like an entirely untouched and pristine landscape. Pack the trunk of a van and get ready to explore!
Sochi has a sub-tropical climate and can be visited year-round. The resort does come to life in summer, however, with July and August being the peak months.
Sochi International Airport has a number of international connections to cities such as Vienna, Istanbul and to Central Asia and Eastern Europe. There are many domestic services. The bus into town costs from ₽50 depending on destination and a taxi costs ₽1,300
Sochi has good rail connections from Russia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. The fare from Moscow is from around ₽2,000.
Sochi is connected to Moscow by the M4 and by the E97 along the Black Sea coast.
The city has numerous bus services from other Russian cities and international destinations. The 27 hour service from Astrakhan cost ₽1,300.
The Olympic Hotel Sochi on Leningradskaya offers sea views from spacious rooms for ₽2,800 per night. The Rodina Grand Hotel & Spa on Vinogradnaya Street is the city's only five-star hotel, with luxury rooms from ₽12,500.
Central Sochi - has most of the big hotels, shopping and some of the major city attractions. It can get very busy in summer.
Lazarevskoye District - has most of the best coastal resort areas and is less built up than Central Sochi.
Adler District - is closest to the airport and train station and is the site of the Olympic Park.
Sochi has a good bus service covering the whole city. Bus numbers from 1-99 offer a fixed fare of just ₽9 regardless of distance.
There are lots of unofficial taxis in Sochi and even official ones rarely use the meter. Getting help from your hotel is a good idea. Initial fares are usually around ₽90 and then ₽35 per mile.
Sochi has very limited parking and traffic jams are common. Car rental is from around ₽1,800 per day.
Shopping in Sochi tends to be focused on western-style malls. Alexandria on Moskovskaya Street is very central with a good selection of clothing and electronics stores, while Trade Gallery on Navaginskaya Street is good for local crafts and souvenirs.
A quart of milk in Sochi will cost ₽50, while a dozen eggs is priced at ₽66.
Lighthouse on Morskoy Pereulok offers interesting Uzbek dishes from ₽500, while Sinee More on Chernomorskaya Street is renowned as the finest restaurant in the city, with Mediterranean food from ₽2,500.