6 Reasons Why Every Nature Lover Should Visit Sochi
Sochi is the most famous beach resort in Russia. After the Winter Olympics, 2014 attention was drawn to its ski resorts. Sochi, however, with its nearly 500,000 acres of forests, several protected areas, nature parks, 30 botanical gardens, numerous waterfalls and caves, Caucasus Mountains and the warm Black Sea is a perfect destination for anyone, who loves nature and outdoor activities.
No matter if you are a more of a relaxed type or an extreme adventurer, you will always find exciting things to do in Sochi and its nearest surroundings. Hiking, mountain climbing, caving and so much more to experience in the South of Russia!
1. Climb Mountain Akhun
The peak of Greater Akhun is 663 metres above sea level. The fastest way to reach the summit is by taxi, along 11km serpentine road (built by Stalin). If you prefer to climb Mount Akhun yourself, expect 2-3 hours walk from the bus stop (“Sputnik”) at the bottom of the mountain.
What to do on the top? First of all, go to the observation stone tower, which offers panoramic views of the sea shore, the entire city and snowy peaks of the Western Caucasus (if you are lucky, you might even see Turkey!). It’s pretty windy in the evenings, so don’t forget to take a jacket.
The entrance to the tower costs about 2 euro. If you have some more time, we recommend you to take another 2-3 hours walk down the trails through the forests to the Agursky waterfalls (a cascade of 3 waterfalls surrounded by high cliffs) and the Eagle Rock, which according to the legend, is the place where Prometheus was enchained.
2. Walk, hike, ski or simply enjoy the beautiful panorama of the Caucasus Mountains in Krasnaya Polyana
Krasnaya Polyana (“red glade” in English) is home to the Roza Khutor ski resort, which hosted Winter Olympic Games 2014. Thanks to the Olympics, the whole area got upgraded to a truly international standard, with pedestrian areas, shops, stylish hotels and new slopes.
There are many easy and picturesque runs for beginners and some off-piste opportunities for advanced skiers. The best months for winter sports are February and March, however many hiking trails and breathtaking views make this place worth visiting all around the year.
Reach the summit (at 2,320 metres) to enjoy stunning views of the snow-capped Caucasus Mountains. With a new high-speed train, you will get from Sochi to Krasnaya Polyana in 40 minutes.
3. Explore subtropical flora in Dendrarium botanical gardens
Located close to the Sochi city center, it is 20 hectares of land with 1,800 species of trees, plants and bushes, arranged into separate geographical regions and representing virtually every continent of the world.
Climbing the stairs to reach the highest point of the garden is worth the effort because the views of the Black Sea from the top of the gardens are simply gorgeous! In the park, there is also pond with white and black swans, geese and colorful ducks. For more details, check Dendrarium’s official website (translated via Google Translate:)).
4. Visit Vorontsov Caves, one of the longest in Europe
Located near the city, Vorontsov Caves is a 12km long labyrinth of caves, including the Voronya Cave, the world’s deepest one. Water created beautiful underground halls, palaces, fountains, waterfalls, flower beds and flowers. The temperature remains at 9-10 degrees Celsius all year round. To reach the cave you will have to walk 2-3 km across the forests. Unless you are not an experienced caver, we don’t recommend you to go alone – book an excursion or hire a professional guide.
5. Dive into the world of pristine nature in Sochi National Park
The region surrounding Sochi is part of the Caucasus mountain range. Big majority of Sochi outdoor sights are located inside the area of Sochi National Park, which belongs to Caucasian State Nature Biosphere Reserve. It offers many opportunities for wildlife observation.
Many of the plant species found in the Sochi region are listed in the IUCN Red List. The Western Caucasus is home to threatened species, such as the Persian leopard. The park is filled with streams, rivers, and 70 waterfalls, among which “33 waterfalls” is the most famous one.
6. Drink tea at the only Russian tea plantation in Dagomys
Dagomys, located just 12km from Sochi is the only in Russia and one of the most northern tea plantations in the world. Learn how tea grows and what wole does in play in the Russian culture.
Visit tea houses in the area to indulge in a real Russian tea ceremony, with tea served from an original samovar, along with typical Russian sweets and snacks. Dagomys is a pretty touristy place, chatting about Russian traditions over a cup of delicious tea will always be a great experience.
Do you still need more reasons to visit Sochi?
Check our blog for more posts about Sochi and visit The Sochi Project website, created for the Winter Olympics, with many insightful and really interesting articles about history, people and peculiarities of Sochi region.
Last but not least, check some pics from ExploRussia’s tour to Sochi!