What You Need To Know
Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, located on the Black Sea coast near the border between Georgia/Abkhazia and Russia.
It is known as a summer beach resort and host of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Sochi is often called the unofficial ‘Summer Capital’ of Russia, or the Black Sea Pearl. This is the country’s biggest and busiest summer sea resort, attracting more than four million visitors annually with its amazing mountainous coastline, endless shingle beaches, warm sunny days, and bustling nightlife. From May to September Sochi’s population at least doubles with tourists, including celebrities and the political elite of the country.
Strangely, only three percent of this visitors’ crowd are international travellers, and even the frontier location of the city doesn’t help to change the situation. Maybe the most famous non-politician foreign visitor of Sochi was Bono, who was invited to spend some time at President Medvedev’s residence in 2010. But, in general, the city remains a very domestic destination, somewhat lacking in appropriate international infrastructure and having the same language barrier most regional centres of Russia do.
Population: 364,171 (2012)
Area: 1,353 mi²
The currency of Russia is ruble (also spelled rouble). The ruble was also the currency of Russian Empire and Soviet Union. One ruble consists of 100 kopeikas. The ISO 4217 code of Russian currency is RUB.
Sochi has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), at the lower elevations. Its average annual temperature is 18.4 °C (65.1 °F) during the day and 11 °C (52 °F) at night. In the coldest months—January and February—the average temperature is about 10 °C (50 °F) during the day, above 3 °C (37 °F) at night and the average sea temperature is about 9 °C (48 °F). In the warmest months—July and August—the temperature typically ranges from 25 to 29 °C (77 to 84 °F) during the day, about 20 °C (68 °F) at night and the average sea temperature is about 23–24 °C (73–75 °F). Yearly sunshine hours are around 2,200. Generally, the summer season lasts four months, from June to September. Two months—April and November—are transitional; sometimes temperatures reach 20 °C (68 °F), with an average temperature of around 16 °C (61 °F) during the day and 9 °C (48 °F) at night. December, January, February and March are the coldest months, with average temperature (of these four months) 11 °C (52 °F) during the day and 4 °C (39 °F) at night. Average annual precipitation is about 1,700 millimeters (67 in). Sochi lies at 8b/9a hardiness zone, so the city supports different types of palm trees. Sochi is situated on the same latitude as Nice but strong cold winds from Asia make winters less warm. In fact, temperatures drop below freezing every winter. The highest temperature recorded was 39.4 °C (102.9 °F), on July 30, 2000, and the lowest temperature recorded was −13.4 °C (7.9 °F) on January 25, 1892.
Russian is the predominant language spoken by almost everyone in the city, including nearly all minorities, but many local placenames came from Abkhazian and Circassian languages.
Krasnodar Krai is probably one of Southern Russia’s most safe regions. Sochi does not stand out with the higher crime rate, but standard safety precautions should be used. There is a saying in Russia: “Nights are dark in Sochi”, and this can be explained as that anyone or anything can get lost in the city.
Try to avoid unlit spaces during the night and beware pickpockets in crowded places, such as markets and transport terminals. Beggars can approach you at stations and beaches. Fraud is widespread at Russian summer resorts, but most of its organizers would have problems with English. Anyway, try to avoid drinking and gambling with newly met people.
Sunburn can occur in summer, so use sunblock during the hot season.
The Byzantine Empire brought Christianity to the Sochi region in the Middle Ages. The region was relatively isolated before 1829. In the North, a few hundred Sunni Muslim Shapsugs, a part of the Circassian nation, lived around Tkhagapsh, near Lazarevskoye. The Circassians (also known as Adyghe) converted to Islam from Christianity in the 17th century. In the nineteenth century, Islam spread to the region.
Currently, Sochi is a large predominantly Christian city, though there are thought to be around 20,000 Muslims (5% of inhabitants) living there now (the majority are Adyghe) plus other Eastern Caucasians, Turks, Tatars, and other smaller Muslim groups.
A mosque was built in 2008 by United Arab Emirates in the central area of Bytkha, in addition to the old mosque being around 40 km (25 miles) north of the city center in the Adyghe aul of Tkhagapsh.
There are around thirty Russian Orthodox churches, the largest being St. Michael’s, and two monasteries, plus two Catholic churches, one in the center of Sochi and the other in Lazarevskoye. The Armenian community, which is important in Sochi, gathers in about ten churches.
Public transport is represented mainly by bus and taxi. Sochi is served by the Adler-Sochi International Airport. A kind of non-mass public transport are also two funiculars (the Central military sanatorium and Ordzhonikidze resort) and three cable cars (at arboretum sanatorium “Dawn” and pension “Neva”) also has several cableways in Krasnaya Polyana.
Five of the railway stations of Sochi were renovated for the 2014 Winter Olympics. These are Dagomys, Sochi, Matsesta and Khosta railway stations. In Adler city district of Sochi, the original railway station was preserved and new railway station was built near it. Another new railway station was built in Estosadok, close to Krasnaya Polyana.