SOCHI (The Greater Sochi), the largest city-resort of Russia, is situated in Krasnodar region and stretches for 147 km/91mi along the Black Sea Coast against the background of the snowcapped peaks of the majestic Caucasus Mountains. The territory of Sochi became part of Russia at the end of the Caucasian War. Officially founded in 1898, Sochi was set aside as a resort area. Its fate was decided when mineral springs were discovered throughout the area. Since then it has been developed as a health resort and is now the best in Russia. The city has been selected to host the XXII Olympic Winter Games in 2014. It is a paradise for tourists where the guests can experience the unique flavor of both coastal and mountain living. Sochi is a home to the annual Kinotavr Film Festival and the summer vacation place of Russian leaders. Annually more than 2 500 million tourists visit Sochi to get medical treatment (the resort boasts many sanatoria and mineral baths) and for leisure (destination attracts many vacation-goers with its pebbly and sandy beaches, subtropical vegetation, numerous parks and monuments). The city is divided into 4 administrative districts: Adler, Khosta, Central and Lazarevsky.
Sochi has over 200,000 hectares of forests, 4,000 of which are within Sochi Centre. Sochi encompasses several specially protected natural zones: the Caucasian National Biosphere Reserve (a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Caucasian Biosphere Reserve, which sprawls just north from the city), Sochi National Park, the Russian Federation National Wildlife Sanctuary, and over 30 botanical gardens and parks and nature sanctuaries housing over 30,000 wild-life plant species.
Krasnaya Polyana (Red Valley) is a well-developed ski resort with chairlifts for intermediate skiing and snowboarding and is just 70 km/43mi away from Sochi Center. In the last few years there’s been an explosion of hotel building aimed at making the place a major European skiing centre. A few shops, bars and cafés are clustered around the chairlift station. The ski season is from October through April.
The permanent population is more than 400.000 inhabitants. There are more than 100 ethnic groups reside in Sochi.
Sochi experiences a humid subtropical climate with warm summers and mild winters that seldom see the temperature drop below freezing. Average summer temperatures range between 25ºC/ 77ºF and 28ºC/83ºF while average winter temperatures hover around the 6ºC/43ºF mark.
The Krasnaya Polyana mountains experience perfect snow conditions and are largely protected from the wind - a unique condition that cannot be found anywhere else in Europe.
GMT/UTC + 03:00 hour (the same time as in Moscow)
The city is served by the Adler-Sochi Domestic & International Airports (22 km/14mi to/from Sochi Center).
Daily flights from Moscow and from some other major cities like St.-Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, etc.
Austria: Austrian Airlines (3 flights a week)
Uzbekistan (Tashkent): Uzbek Airlines
Turkey (Istanbul): Don-Avia (Russian airlines)
Turkey (Istanbul): Turkish Airlines
Israel (Tel-Aviv): Don-Avia (Russian airlines)
Krasnodar (8 hours)
Novorossiysk (9 hours)
Kislovodsk (17 hours) and many other destinations of Russia & Ukraine
Daily trains from/to Moscow (27-37 hrs):
St. Petersburg (38 hrs)
Krasnodar (5-8 hrs)
Rostov-on-Don (9-11 hrs)
Ukraine (Kiev) (30 hrs)
Byelorussia (Minsk) (50 hrs)
Berlin (Germany) and many other destinations
Commuter trains (daily)
Krasnodar (5 hrs)
Tuapse (2.5 hrs)
Maikop (5 hrs)
Daily boats (in summer) (4hrs)
No vaccinations are required for entry in Russia, however, if you’re coming to Russia for longer than 3 months, some Russian consulates will require an AIDS certificate before issuing your visa.
Hepatitis A & E, diphtheria, fever and tuberculosis.
• Try not to drink raw water.
• All fruit and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before eating.
• Be careful when you buy food outside, especially during summer time.
• All dairy products are pasteurized and safe.
Health insurance purchased for the period of one’s travel to Russia is required. Contact the local consulate about specific requirements.
VISA & INVITATION
Russian Embassies & Consulates
All foreigners (except citizens of some former Soviet republics) visiting Russia need a visa. In order to get one, travelers need an invitation from a Russian citizen or a company, which is then along with required paperwork taken to a Russian embassy or consulate, where the actual visa is issued.
Within 72 hours (3 business days) upon arrival in Russia, the visa needs to be registered by the person/organization that issued the invitation or if you stay at the hotel the hotel staff will handle this for you. Otherwise, there will be problems when leaving the country.
Cruise/ferry passengers do not need a Russian visa for 72 hours given they stay overnight aboard.
Russian National currency is called Rouble. There are 5000, 1000, 500, 100, 50, 10, 5, 1 rouble denominations. One rouble consists of 100 kopecks. You can exchange foreign currency in banks or in exchange offices. Credit cards, travel checks are accepted but in a limited number of hotels and shops. If you're going to small towns, tours or to the countryside, it's better to take cash only, because you might have problems cashing the cards or travelers’ cheques. It’s not legal to use US dollars or Euro for transactions in Russia.
There are more than 100 ethnic groups in Sochi who profess Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.
Russian is an official language in the country.
Everywhere in Russia 220 Volt and 50 Hz AC current supplies are used. Most of the sockets are standard European-size for double round-pin plugs, the same as in France or Germany. Appliances from the US, Canada, Britain will need adaptors (it’s better to buy them in your own country, as it’s very hard to find them in Russia).
Power cuts are not very common, but the electricity current is not as quality as in Europe (power surges), so if you have a sensitive device it’s better to get a stabilizer for it, especially if you are traveling.
Hotel bills in the large Russian cities include a 10 to 15% service charge; otherwise 10% is usual. If a service charge hasn’t been added at a restaurant, a 10% tip is expected. City Guides and their drivers also expect a small tip and tipping in bars and nightclubs is common.
January 1-5 - New Year Holidays
January 7 - Russian Orthodox Christmas
February 23 - Protector of Motherland Day
March 8 - International Women’s Day
May 1 - Spring and Labor Day
May 9 - Victory Day (over German Nazism in World War II)
June 12 - Independence Day
November 4 - Day of Reconciliation and Harmony