Has the Winter Olympics given you a taste for visiting Russia? The recent TV coverage has turned the world’s attention on Sochi and is likely to boost tourism for this popular resort, which already attracts four million visitors every year.
So apart from winter sporting facilities and mountains, what can Sochi offer the discerning tourist? Well, quite a lot actually including some features that you would not expect to find at the site of the Winter Olympics.
Sochi has a mild climate and palm fringed avenues, perhaps not so surprising when you consider its position which is as far south as Nice in France. Alongside skiing and winter sports, you can soak up the sun on long expanses of pebble beaches lapped by the Black Sea, earning the city the name of the ‘Black Sea Pearl’ or the ‘Summer Capital of Russia’.
Russia is a country of extremes, with a diverse mixture of ancient and new buildings and customs and Sochi is no exception, offering everything from live music, shopping and good restaurants to nature expeditions for those wanting to move away from the beaten track. Pine tree-covered mountains and ancient caves can be explored, with one interconnected cave complex measuring 11km in length.
Sochi also has a thriving tea growing industry, boasting some of the most northerly plantations in the world. Visitors can take part in a traditional tea party, hosted in a log home complete with Russian folk songs at Dagomy’s Tea Plantation.
But if you travel anywhere in Russia, make sure you have the right paperwork in place and don’t take British Pounds as they can be hard to exchange. Take cash in the form of the local currency, Roubles, or buy them in Russia and take US Dollars or Euros to exchange. If you are staying in a hotel, keep some Dollars handy as housekeeping staff expect tips of between 1 and 2 Dollars a day.
Most hotels, restaurants and larger shops accept credit cards and there are ATMs in the major cities, but it is worth informing your bank before you travel to Russia to avoid having a temporary stop placed on your card.
Paperwork required for Russia travel:
1) Passport and visa: British citizens need a visa to travel to Russia, and your passport should be valid for a further six months after your Russian visa expiry date.
2) Immigration form: You will be given an immigration form at passport control which must be kept in your passport. You will need this to register and to exit Russia.
3)Registration: If you are staying in Russia for more than 7 working days you will need to register with the local Federal Migration Service. Your accommodation provider should help you do this.
4)Visa expiration: It is your responsibility to check that all the information on your visa is correct and ensure you do not stay past the expiration date.
5)Travel Insurance: Remember to book your comprehensive travel insurance before travelling, so you are covered for any unexpected events.
For full details on travel to Russia please visits the FCO.