Sochi is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Russia, welcoming over 4 million tourists every year. Located in a unique climate zone, the city is an attractive beach destination in the summer and an equally attractive skiing destination in the winter. Known for the stunning nature of the Caucasus mountains and abundance of hiking trails and nature resorts, it is also considered Russia’s sports events capital having hosted the 2014 Olympic Games and Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Here are the top 16 destinations to explore during your first visit to Sochi:
The Sochi Arboretum (or Dendrary Park) is the largest subtropical park in Russia, with over 1500 species of trees and shrubs. This tree haven spans over 30 acres and gives you a chance to leave all your city troubles behind and be at one with nature. It was built in 1892 and has a large number of different exotic plants, all of which can be admired in a relaxing, calm and pleasant atmosphere. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the panoramic view of the sea and coast from the local cable car.
Founded in 1898, Park Rivera was the private property of the famous Khludov Moscow merchant dynasty. It’s the most popular weekend spot among the locals and a must-visit on any tourist itinerary, especially if you want to experience the Soviet southern beach town atmosphere. Although not too big, it’s a lively spot housing more than 250 species of plants, attractions, amusement rides, art galleries, cafes, statues, a pool, and beautiful magnolia trees planted by Russian astronauts in the name of peaceful space exploration.
Museum of Sochi History
This is a quaint, little museum that opened in 1920. It was closed for some years, but it has now been renovated and is open to all who want to delve into Sochi’s archaeological history, its maritime roots, its role in WWII and other aspects of its social history. A collection of classic Russian art was introduced some decades ago, with many of the artefacts and photos related to the city’s rich history.
Sochi Art Museum
The Sochi Art Museum, built in 1936, resides in the center of a leafy park, in a classical building that’s in itself a work of art. The museum collection features about 5,000 art pieces, including age-old icons and paintings from the 19th to 21st centuries, and works of renowned Russian artists like Shishkin and Serov, as well as coins and weapons from the 1st century AD. The museum is also a regular venue for Debut exhibitions of local painters.
Sochi Discovery World Aquarium
This Aquarium located on the territory of 6000 square meters and containing 30 aquariums, a total of 5 million liters of water, is considered to be one of the biggest oceanariums in Europe. Here visitors can spend hours enjoying colorful fish doing what they do best… swim and observe sharks, penguins, seahorses, dolphins, and many other marine inhabitants. If you feel adventurous, you can even do a diving tour into some of the tanks.
The Singing Fountains
Built in 1970, the fountains are situated right in front of the Sochi Trade Gallery and are undoubtedly one of the most visited places in the city. They are only active when it’s hot outside and usually closer to dusk, which is usually quite early in the south.
This 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. Today it often serves as a backdrop for holiday selfies.
Located in the central part of Sochi, it’s the major pedestrian embankment about 2 kilometers long running from the Marine Station and to Prospekt Pushkina. Locals call it the Promenade, for this large and beautiful street is one of the most popular recreation areas in the city. Stretching along the Black Sea coast, it has numerous fairground attractions, souvenir shops, cafes with open terraces, bars and clubs with loud music. Beautifully decorated with flower beds, green trees and subtropical palms, graceful lanterns and benches, it’s the center of day and night life in Sochi.
Festival Concert Hall
A massive hall with its front open to the sea embankment below, many significant performances in Sochi take place right here.
Skypark AJ Hackett Sochi is a unique place in Russia and the largest altitude extreme entertainment park in the world, located in the picturesque relic forest of Sochi National Park near Krasnaya Polyana ski resort. Here those brave at heart can go bungee jumping from the longest pedestrian bridge in the world, check out the world’s tallest 170-meter Sochi Swing and other rides, take the fastest trolley, visit the rope adventure park, and enjoy magnificent panoramic views of the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea coast from the height of 207 meters.
The highest point of the coastal area is the 700-meter Akhun Mountain, providing an awesome and spectacular view of the local countryside and the city to all of the visitors. There are also many ancient caves in the Sochi area, making this city even more mysterious and exciting.
The capital of the mountain cluster of XXII Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2014, Krasnaya Polyana is an urban village in the Adler region of Greater Sochi offering a breathtaking panoramic view of the magnificent West Caucasus mountains in any season and some quality skiing in the winter.
Matsesta SPA Resort
Matsesta meaning ‘fire and water’ is a micro-district in Sochi. It’s located on the Black Sea coast and is surrounded by hot springs, where water contains more than 27 types of minerals and is known for its health benefits. It’s especially popular among those with respiratory and cardiac problems. It is also a perfect place for spa relaxation and treatments. With bathing rooms and massage cabinets, it’s everything one needs for a perfect spa day.
Large and absolutely breathtaking, this lake is surrounded by green hills and beautiful plants. The lake is located outside Sochi in the north-west of Abkhazia, at a high of 950 metres above sea level in the West Caucasus mountains, presenting visitors with the most picturesque spots. The best way to get there is to book an excursion tour from a travel agency in Adler or Sochi. Unfortunately, there are no direct buses to the place, so if you want to visit the lake on your own, you’ll 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.
Stalin’s Villa (Dacha)
Sochi was always one of the most favorite resorts of Soviet leaders. Stalin’s big dacha located in the mountains on the way to Ritsa Lake is open to the public. He paid regular visits, and not just for vacation purposes, but to host meetings with political leaders of that period. Nowadays, there’s a small museum displaying Stalin’s waxwork and personal belongings. Visitors have an opportunity to rent a room to experience the true spirit of Russian communism of the past.
Sochi residents take pride in the 33 Waterfalls because of the beautiful natural scenery they create. These waterfalls, true wonders of nature, are a part of the Dzhegosh Stream. They are a great collection of 33 waterfalls varying in height, with the highest one only 10 metres. All of these falls are very picturesque, particularly when the snow of the Caucasus Mountains starts to melt in spring.