Travel Guide Europe Russia Southern Russia Sochi

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Introduction

Sochi - Sanatorium

Sochi - Sanatorium

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Sochi is a town located on the Black Sea in the Krasnodar Krai region in Southern Russia, not far north from Georgia's territory Abkhazia. It was once a popular summer resort among Russians, and you will still find many sanatoriums in the area.

Sochi was host for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, which is a bit weird when you consider that the city has a subtropical climate and the average temperature in February - when the games will be held - is just below 10 °C during the day. It will be a strange sight to see speed skaters relax under a palm tree after their race.

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Sights and Activities

  • Michael Archangel Cathedral
  • Archangel Column
  • The Railway Terminal Station
  • Sochi Art Museum
  • Arboretum (botanical gardens)

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Weather

Sochi belongs to that tiny part of Russia, which is happily located in the subtropical climatic zone. In contrast to Mediterranean climates, Sochi has a very high humidity level, like that in Abkhazia or in some USA states (e.g. Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia). Despite high precipitation, Sochi enjoys 300 sunny days annually, which is unbelievable for any other part of Russia except neighboring Krasnodar Krai coastal cities. This makes nearly all the year months comfortable for visiting Sochi, except maybe November, December and January.

Most of precipitation falls during the winter, partly in snow, but there is usually no regular snow cover in the coastal part of the city. Sochians rarely use winter tyres, so every heavy snowfall comes unpredictably for drivers. The climate of the mountainous part of Greater Sochi is significantly colder, allowing for a full ski season in winter (usually, February and March). Thanks to that, Krasnaya Polyana is quickly developing as a winter resort and hosted all outdoor competitions during the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The period of spring is quite short and is characterized by gardens blossoming (usually starts in March, even if temperatures are lower than in February). This is a comfortable season with less rain, but still with the cold sea.

Sochi summer can be associated with the swimming season, which usually lasts from the mid-end of May till the end of October. This is the true high season with its touristic peak in July-August. In September and October the city attracts fewer visitors, partly because of the start of the school year. These two months, when the Black Sea is still warm, air is not very hot, and streets are not filled with tourists' crowds, seem to be the most enjoying time to visit Sochi. This period is called smoothy season ("бархатный сезон").

The off-season autumn, coming to Sochi in the end of October, is warm, but with more cloudy days and rain. By the end of November daily average temperature drops below 10 °C.

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Getting There

Sochi - Promenade

Sochi - Promenade

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By Plane

The main airport is to the south of Sochi, in Adler: Sochi International Airport (AER). For the Olympics Games it will be expanded, and connections will be built with Sochi, and Krasnaya Polyana. There are connections to many Russian cities, including Moscow, Novosibirsk, Kazan, Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and even Yakutsk, as well as international connections to Kutaisi, Batumi (both in Georga), Tashkent, Istanbul, Frankfurt, Yerevan, Vienna, Gyumri (Armenia), Cologne/Bonn, Hanover, Munich, Khujand, Dushanbe (both in Tajikistan) and Tbilisi.

By Train

Sochi has two major rail terminals in Central Sochi and Adler. However, most trains make short stops at small transit stations of Great Sochi: Lazarevskaya, Loo, Dagomys, Matsesta and Khosta. Tickets can be purchazed via Russian Railways website (at the moment the service is available in Russian only), at RZD counters, or via travel agencies. RZD opens ticket sales 45 days prior to ride, book in advance during the high season.

There are regular train connections with key cities of Russia, and also with major cities of Belarus and Ukraine.

By Car

The M4 / E115 road connects Sochi with Moscow (1660 km) via Voronezh (1150 km), Rostov-on-the-Don (570 km) and Krasnodar (300 km).

The quality of this busy road differs from a narrow serpentine to a highway depending on its section, tending to improve during last years. Normally it takes 2 days to reach the city from Moscow and 5-9 hours from Krasnodar, depending on traffic.

Going to Sochi from Europe you can use transit roads through Ukraine or Turkey. In the last case a car can be transferred to Sochi from Trabzon by ferry. Please note that entering Sochi via Georgia and Abkhazia is impossible at the moment because of closed border between those two countries.

By Bus

Sochi main bus terminal is located right near the main train terminal in Central Sochi. The second important terminal is in Adler. Buses go mainly to Russian destinations but also some destinations in Abkhazia, Moldova and Ukraine.

By Boat

Sochi can be reached over the Black Sea from a couple of places including Trabzon in Turkey, Yalta and Batumi in Georgia. For more information check the Seaport Sochi website.

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Getting Around

By Car

As usually in Russia, putting your hand out on the street will attract several cars willing to earn on your ride, and only a few of them will be licensed taxis. Such unofficial transportation is still popular in the country because it is usually cheaper and faster than official taxi services. In the same time, it is less safe, cars are less comfortable etc.

You will hardly find any English-speaking taxi drivers in Sochi. So, unless you are a bit adventurous or familiar with Russian, it is highly recommended to use mediators such as hotel receptionists to arrange a ride.

Even official services rarely use meters, more often measuring the fare by time of ride or using fixed prices. Have cash with you as only few services accept credit cards.

By Public Transport

In contrast to other Russian cities of the same size, Sochi does not have any trams or trolleybuses. The initial bus transportation system after the collapse of Soviet Union was doped with smaller private buses and marshrutka (minibuses). The last category mostly duplicates the existing bus routes with some minor, but often useful additions. The service is quite frequent and relatively cheap, that makes it the most popular way of transportation in Sochi.

By 2014 Olympics the city authorities plan to provide English signage in buses and even English-speaking drivers. But as for now, neither the first nor the second can be found. So, as elsewhere in regional Russia prepare to bend your intuition not to miss your stop.

The 100 kilometres length of Greater Sochi makes the railroad one of the fastest and most suitable transports to travel between the city districts. Until recently, Sochi had the only track along significant part of the route between Tuapse and Abkhazia, beading 5 major stations, 4 minor ones, and 28 platforms inside the metropolitan area. Preparing to 2014 Olympics, Russian Railroads (RZD) built two new lines, connecting Adler, International Airport, Imeretinskaya lowland and Krasnaya Polyana region), having a total length of 48 kilometres, with 5 new stations.

Commuter trains of Sochi have been constantly improving during recent years, upgrading from standard Russian elektrichki to modern and comfortable ones. Most of them go from Adler (or from Sochi central terminal) to Tuapse or Goryachy Klyuch and back. One or two trains run daily to Krasnodar and Maykop. One-way ticket for a ride in an old train (elektrichka) from Sochi to Lazarevskoe is 45 RUR, travel time is 1 hour 45 minutes. Ticket for a new commuter train is 100 to 200 RUR depending on class, travel time is 50 to 70 minutes. Expect to pay 40 percent more if going to Lazarevskoe from Adler (travel time is 2 hours 20 minutes for a plain old train).

While summer hot season brings more interregional trains to Sochi, the number of local commuter trains is decreasing for that period. So, there are only 6 round-the-year local trains (16 in off-season period). The good news is that each long distance train will also stop at Adler, Khosta, Sochi, Loo and Lazarevskaya stations, so it is possible to travel inside the city by these trains. The bad news is that you will need a passport each time you are buying a long-distance train ticket.

By Foot

Within Central Sochi most distances are walkable, with some regard to hilly landscape and appropriate physical efforts needed (take into account that the big volume of construction prior to 2014 Olympics has made some walks less suitable). Other districts of the city have signuificant spaces between their parts, so it's better to use some transport to get, for example, from Matsesta to Kudepsta or from Loo to Lazarevskoe. To walk between districts and sub-districts of Greater Sochi is also usually not convenient due to lack of sidewalks, hilly terrain, and intensive traffic.

It may seem that the city extended along the sea coast should have long promenades. In fact, most of the coastline space behind the beach is taken by the railroad. So, the only real promenade is between Riviera Park and Dendrarium of Central Sochi. The other one is under construction in the Olympic Park of Adler.

Due to the resort specifics of Sochi, the usual approach there is to measure the distance in meters from the beach. This may play a bad joke: you can find yourself at a hotel or apartment close to the sea, but far away from any infrastructure and transportation. So, be attentive while booking.

By Bike

Sochi authorities recently introduced the city bike rental service. A bike can be taken and left at any of 30 automated terminals (pilot ones are installed in Central Sochi and Khosta districts). The service itself is free, but you need to leave 3,000 RUR deposit before you return the bike.

There is also work on cycle lanes allocation in the city. However, Sochi is still uncomfortable for cycling due to heavy traffic and a lot of construction sites.

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Sleep

Sochi has plenty of hotels (200+), and their number is steadily increasing, but the cost of stay may seem to be overpriced, comparing to many European destinations. There are more than enough gigantic health resorts and hotels, which were a pride of former Soviet Union resort industry, but which are completely obsolete at the moment. In the other hand, many mini-hotels mushroomed in Sochi recently, but only few of them are able to meet average international service requirements. Hotel staff often has problems with hospitality, helpful answers and advice, and with speaking any other language than Russian.

Between these two extremes, there is a gap of normal chain or chain-like 2-3-4 star hotels with reasonable prices and acceptable level of English and hospitality skills of staff. The situation is slowly improving, but the room to grow is still large.

In general, Lazarevskoe district offers cheaper accommodation, while Central Sochi and Adler have more expensive options. Prices also depend on season, traditionally increasing in summer and in the beginning of May (between 2 national holidays). Always book in advance in summer. The selection of hotels below includes mainly those of them, where better English and/or service level has been reported.

View our map of accommodation in Sochi or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

Russia is a huge country, and excess to the internet varies a lot. The main cities and tourist places have (free) wifi excess at lots of places, like restaurants and cafes (McDonald's is always a safe bet). Internet cafes are present in larger places as well. Rural areas and especially if you venture into remote and/or mountainous areas have little excess at all. Most travellers will find connections though when using their phone or tablet.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The emergency number is 112. The country code for Russia is 7. Russian phone numbers have an area code with three, four or five digits (according to their province), followed by an individual number with, respectively, 7, 6 or 5 digits, always yielding 10 digits in total. The three digit code 800 is used for toll-free calls. Mobile phones always have three-digit "area" codes and seven-digit numbers. Calls within any one area code may omit the area code (except in Moscow). Inter-area code calls within Russia: 8 (wait for tone) full Russian number including area code. The international access code for dialling outwith Russia is the sequence of 8 (wait for secondary tone and then) 10. International calls to Russia, as always, replace the plus sign (+) in the international phone format with the local international access code for the country you're calling from, followed by Russia's country code of 7 followed by the individual Russian phone number including area code.

You will require a SIM-unlocked GSM 900 / 1800 compatible international cell phone when buying a Russian SIM card. If you do not have your own international cell phone, it's best to buy a cheap cell phone with some value on the card. Foreigners can purchase a local SIM card by showing your passport. BeeLine is considered to be the best in terms of reliability and connections quality. However Megafon's services can be a bit cheaper.

Post

Russian Post is the national postal service of Russia. It's English version is currently under construction, but mainly involves the track&trace system. The domestic post is reasonably reliable, and sending international mail is fairly reliable but slow, taking at least a few weeks to European countries, longer to the USA or Australia for example. The delivery of mail sent from abroad to Russia is highly unreliable, and people or companies tend to use foreign adresses, from where a private carrier sends it to Russia. Alternatives like poste restante are non-existent with Russian Post. Most cities and large towns in Russia have a Central Post Office (Glavpochtamt), which also sells stamps and envelopes, and usually has fax services and Internet availability, though the latter mostly not in smaller places. Also, many hotels have postal services, including mail boxes. Post offices tend to keep long hours, usually from 8:00am or 9:00am until 8:00pm or 9:00pm Monday to Friday, and closing earlier during weekends. The main central post offices in the biggest cities keep even longer hours. For sending parcels, you can also try services by DHL Russia and FedEx Russia. For all mail you can use the regular alphabet, though maybe include the country's name in Cyrillic. For sending post to Russia (or trying to receive it) note that addresses should be in reverse order: Russia, postal code, city, street address, name.

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Quick Facts

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Population
337,947
Coordinates
  • Latitude: 43.586857
  • Longitude: 39.71961

Accommodation in Sochi

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This is version 14. Last edited at 14:51 on Nov 21, 17 by Utrecht. 16 articles link to this page.

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