- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Visit Sochi, Russia
Sochi is a city that will defy every one of your expectations. Located on the Black Sea in southern Russia, Sochi is not only located in an idyllic subtropical climate but it’s also every bit of a coastal resort, rivaling its sister city of Long Beach, California while still being classically Russian. Complementing its natural beauty, Sochi is home to a variety culture, accommodations, and attractions making it the perfect destination for any traveler every day of every year.
Here are our top things to do in Sochi:
Ski the Slopes
While Sochi is first and foremost known as a beach resort, its location by the Caucasus Mountains means vacationers can enjoy a wealth of winter-sports activities, including at its Krasnaya Polyana ski village. The exact ski season varies from year to year, but generally runs from December through to April. If previously the snow facilities were somewhat modest, the Winter Olympics has seen Krasnaya Polyana upgraded to a truly international standard, while new resort areas, such as the Rosa Khutor complex, have taken shape. Comfortable modern express trains now run between the ski village and Sochi proper, taking roughly 70 minutes each way.
Swim in the Black Sea
The summer months are considered the most attractive for swimming, with water temperatures ranging from 67.3 F in June to 75.2 F in July and peaking at 77.5 F in August. However, those in the know often prefer to come in early fall, referred to as the “velvet season” in Russian, when the resort is less crowded but the water remains warm (an average of 73.6 F in September). The public bathing areas can get crowded in peak season, but many of the better hotels have their own section of the beach cordoned off for use by their guests or those willing to pay a little extra for the privilege. The beaches may be pebbly, but at least you won't have to worry about getting sand in your swimsuit.
Visit the Botanical Gardens
Sochi is rightfully proud of its botanical gardens, referred to as the Dendrarium. Founded in 1889, the park now occupies more than 120 acres on the side of the low-rising mountain Lysaya Gora just south of the city center. The gardens boasts more than 1,500 types of trees and bushes, most of which are arranged into separate geographical regions – Caucasus, Japan, China, the Mediterranean, North and South America and the surprisingly authentic Australia section. The views of the Black Sea from the top of the gardens are fantastic. The climb to the top is fairly steep, but luckily there is a chairlift to carry weary walkers up the slope.
Climb a Mountain
Mount Akhun, located just outside Sochi proper, is a small mountain offering big views. Rising 2,175 feet above sea level, at its peak the mountain features a 100-foot-high viewing tower. Built in 1936, the romantic medieval-style stone tower treats tourists to spectacular panoramic views from sea to snow-capped mountain peaks. Near the tower are various stands selling souvenirs, snacks and other items. Those who choose not to take transport to the top should expect to spend 2 to 3 hours to reach the summit on foot.
Treat Your Tastebuds
Located in the subtropical south, Sochi naturally offers plenty of fresh farm produce. Head to the town's central market for a mouth-watering selection of sun-ripened fruits and vegetables perfect for a picnic lunch. Further afield, the trout farm in the Adler district, reportedly Russia's largest fish farm, is supplied with clean water from the surrounding mountains and serves freshly cooked trout that is simply divine.