Sochi is a dynamic modern city where traces of Russia's Soviet past stand side-by-side with contemporary architectural projects. As the eyes of the sporting world turned toward the Black Sea coast, extensive regeneration has transformed Sochi into Russia's answer to the French Riviera. Today this previously unknown metropolis is a favorite destination for business guests and tourists alike. If you want to make the most of your visit, here are the top six experiences to squeeze into your itinerary.
1. The Dendrarium
A shady botanical garden with a dazzling collection of subtropical flora, the Dendrary Botanical Garden (or Dendrarium) is widely considered to be the most beautiful park on the Black Sea. It boasts various species of pine, oak, cypress and palm trees, and its location high above the city offers panoramic views over the sea and the surrounding hills. To best appreciate the scenery, take a cable car up the mountain from the coast.
2. Stalin's summer residence
Stalin's dacha at Sochi was reportedly his favorite summer residence, where he held secretive meetings with political friends and foes. Among these was Chairman Mao, whose letters are now displayed alongside Stalin’s beloved pool table and bulletproof couch. The atmosphere is eerie and the weight of history still looms large - as does Stalin's ghost, which (according to rumors) still walks the halls by night....
3. Tea time at the vacation village of the Tsars
Just outside of Sochi, the village of Dagomys has been a popular holiday resort spot since the time of the Tsars. A visit to Dagomys today should include a trip to one of the renowned tea plantations, where the famous local brand Krasnodarskyi is grown. Visitors to the farms can enjoy a tea party in a wooden izba, where tea is served from the samovar (an elaborately designed, heated metal container) with local breads, honey and jams.
4. AAS Plastic Tree Art Gallery
The gallery of talented Sochian sculptor Alexander Sobol is a unique space, exhibiting over 500 impressive wooden works sculpted with exceptional dexterity. A guided tour helps visitors to appreciate the complexity of the sculptures and is accompanied by music composed especially to complement the exhibit.
5. Browsing the markets
Sochi’s lively markets offer a glimpse at authentic city life beyond the glitzy European boutiques that have sprung up during recent years. The historic Sochi Central Market is the main trading venue and dates back to the 1930s, while the buzzing Adlersky Market offers an array of traditional Sochi cuisine to sample. The market offers tastes of often unfamiliar Georgian red wine and a variety of local delicacies, including churchkhela, a sweet snack made with natural grapes and walnuts.
Experience this Russian Riviera with Radisson Blu Sochi!