Sochi Travel Cheat Sheet
The Olympics in Sochi, Russia, provide a great opportunity to see one of the most interesting and fun cities in Russia. While you’re there, not only will you be able to enjoy the Olympic Games, but you will also have the opportunity to enjoy many experiences unique to Sochi.
There’s still time to make last-minute Sochi travel arrangements, and we can help make your trip easier with these tips.
Flying into Sochi is not a problem. The Sochi International Airport has been completely updated to accommodate all of the traffic that the Olympic Games will bring in. Traveling around Sochi is also very easy: it’s a great walking city, but if you need to go further than you would like to walk, consider taking the bus. According to the Sochi City Guide, the current Sochi Public Transportation consists of a comprehensive system of trolleybuses and smaller mini buses, known as “marshrutki.” In time for the Olympics, the city will also feature the Sochi Light Metro and English-speaking bus and train operators.
Renting a car is also an option, and gives you the freedom to set your own schedule and choose which areas of the surrounding city you would like to explore. If you decide to travel by taxi, you may want to let your hotel make trip arrangements for you to prevent confusion with your driver who, most likely, will not speak English.
Staying in Sochi is much like staying anywhere else. You will be able to find extremely lavish hotels and resorts, or find something a little smaller and quainter. Here are some options that you may want to consider.
- Grand Hotel and Spa Rodina
This resort is one of the most luxurious in Sochi. Surrounded by a 15-hectare park, the hotel’s guestrooms all face the Black Sea and feature summer terraces. There are several high quality restaurants at the hotel, but if you want to venture outside the confines of the resort, you’ll be able to find plenty of restaurants within a short taxi ride’s distance. You’ll have no problem reaching all the neighborhoods of the city.
- Savva Boutique Hotel
If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, then the Savva Boutique Hotel might be the place for you. It is a little further away from all of the Olympic happenings, but if you want an experience that is not of the five-star-resort ilk, then you will have trouble finding a nicer hotel. The rooms are all unique, and the location provides you with unique shopping opportunities and access to great local restaurants.
- Yozh Hostel
For a person traveling on a budget, the Yozh Hostel is the place to go. It’s affordable and right in the middle of Sochi. You can walk to almost anything, and if you feel that you need to take a bus or taxi, you don’t have to go far. While the Yozh Hostel may lack some of the amenities and space that other hotels and resorts have, you can still have a great experience for a fraction of the price.
Culture, Customs, and What to Expect
As with traveling anywhere, you should learn a bit about the customs of your destination. That way, you’ll know what to expect and have an easier time during your trip. Unlike some areas in Europe that don’t run on strict time schedules, in Russia you should always be on time. You should also stay away from talking politics, and never bring up the U.S.S.R.
In addition to those two main guidelines, you should try to learn a few Russian phrases. If you try to speak Russian—even if you struggle or stumble a little—people are more likely to help you than if you only try to talk to them in English. It is appropriate to ask native Russians if they speak English, but first at least try addressing them in Russian.
Although you will have plenty to go and see during the Olympic events, there are plenty of other things to see in Sochi. Here are a few places you need to visit.
- Dendrary Botanical Garden (Dendrarium)
This beautiful park is considered one of the best to visit along the Black Sea coast. While in the park, you can take a leisurely walk among the beautiful trees, and can also take a cable-car up to the mountain to see a panoramic view of the sea and surrounding areas.
- Sochi Discovery World Aquarium
The Sochi Discovery World Aquarium is definitely worth a visit. The 30 tank-habitats, featuring thousands of species of sea creatures, allow guests to see some of the most interesting and unique sea wildlife the world has to offer. Getting through the aquarium can take a while, so plan to spend a few hours there.
- Agura Waterfalls
Located just north of Sochi, the Agura waterfalls are a must if you are in the area. The Agura River flows from the Alek Mountains, and, before it hits the Black Sea, it drops 30 meters via one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. This site is a photographer’s paradise, so make sure to bring your camera.
If you’re interested in some off-the-beaten-path exploration, check out this list of activities to try out in order to experience Russia through Sochi in a way most visitors don’t usually get a chance to see.
Medical Care for Non-Citizens
In Russia, medical care is free. While this may seem like a great thing, you may not feel the same way if you get sick or injured. Why? According to Angloinfo, an online network that provides information for English-speaking expatriates, the quality of Russia’s public healthcare is lower than the healthcare in most advanced countries. In addition to the low quality, foreign nationals visiting or staying temporarily in Russia may not even have access to public healthcare if there is no reciprocal agreement between their country of origin and Russia. For example, UK citizens are entitled to free, limited medical treatment in Russian state hospitals as part of a reciprocal agreement between the two countries.
In light of all of this, if you’re traveling to Russia, it’s highly recommended that you buy some kind of traveler’s medical insurance. This will ensure that no matter what happens on your trip you will be able to get the care that you need. Check out the Atlas Travel package or the Atlas Group Series package from HCC Medical Insurance if you are going to take a short-term trip.