There are many options where to go from Sochi for a 1-day trip. First of all, there are natural sights. The territory around the city is declared a National Park and the number of interesting waterfalls, canyons and caves nearby is endless. However, getting to all those natural treasures is rather difficult: Public transport does not go to the most reserved places, so be prepared for long walking (often up the hill).
When using the public transport remember the following simple rules. Any one-day trip shall start as early in the morning as possible, because after 10-11 a.m. there are longer breaks in the transport schedule (this is especially true for the trains) and the way to the attraction may take a major part of the daylight and reduce the time for sightseeing. It is also recommended to get back (especially from remote natural resorts) before 19-20 o’clock in the evening, as many buses and trains finish work at 21-21 o’clock.
However taxi services and excursion agencies gladly take the job of delivering tourists to places of interest. But the prices and the level of freedom will differ a lot.
Mount Akhun and the Tower
One of the closest of Sochi observation platforms with the breathtaking view over the mountain ranges, the coast, and the endless sea. From here you can see the whole Sochi and even the Olympic Park but the visit needs good weather, otherwise the platform will over the cloud level. Many people call this place a cultic one.
The height of Mount Akhun is 663 meters and that of the Roman style watchtower adds 30 meters more. It was founded (in spite of its medieval look) in 1936 on the personal order of I.V. Stalin, who was impressed by the views from the mountain and offered to establish there a full-value observation platform with an access road. The request was urgently completed in only 3 months. Now there is a café in the tower where you can warm-up with hot tea after the chilling wind on the top. It is especially great to meet the dawn there.
Near the tower there is a parking lot for tourist buses where you can buy inexpensive souvenirs. Prices for meals on the platform are high while the taste leaves to wish for the best.
But the only serious drawback is that getting to the top from the public bus stop is possible either on foot (about 8 km) or by hitch hiking.
Working hours: round the clock.
Entrance to the tower: 100 roubles.
How to get there: from Sochi to the bus stop “Maly Akhun” by buses No 105, 105с, 124с, 125, 125п, 125С or shuttle buses No122, 124с. Also, you can take shuttle bus No 2 to the stop “Mikrorayon Maly Akhun” from there the way to the top will be a little shorter. From the bus stop, take the mountain road to the top (in GPS search for “Road to Bolshoy Akhun”). The travel time is about 40 minutes if you are lucky with hitch hiking and 2 hours on foot if you are not.
The ski resorts Roza Khutor, Gazprom and Gornaya Karusel are “the kids” of the 2014 Winter Olympics now desperately competing with each other. Their pistes (especially of Roza Khutor) were used for competitions and after the Winter Olympics skiers from all over Russia have longed there wishing to try perfectly equipped local slides. Outside the mountain skiing season, visitors come there for impressive views and the spirit of glamour and good living.
Roza Khutor is the most expensive and atmospheric of all the resorts. Unfortunately, it lacks the Russian individuality, as it was built as an imitation of old European resorts and resembles Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic.
Skiers like the place: there are 77 kilometres of pistes of various levels – from the easiest ones to “black” designed by world ski champions. Outside the skiing season it is possible to spend a nice day there admiring the peaks of the Caucasian Mountains at the height of almost 2500 meters.
There are several ski lifts to the observation platforms including traditional gondola lifts and chair lifts. The resort is located on 3 levels. The first of them is called Roza Dolina where you will find the Olympic Village with nice bridges across the Mzymta River, expensive restaurants and empty SPA-salons (560 meters above the sea level), Roza Plato (1150 meters above the sea level with a view over the mountain Olympic Village), and Roza Peak (2320 meters above the sea level with a panoramic view over the Caucasian Mountains and the Black Sea). The lifts can take you both to Roza Plato and to Roza Peak.
Tickets: Admission to the village is free. A ticket to the gondola lift going to Plato costs 850 roubles, getting to the top is 1300 roubles. Both tickets assume 1 ascent and 1 descent, but the ticket to the top includes usage of chair lift cableways “Volchya Skala” and “Krokus” An unlimited ticket for the gondola lift and all the cableways costs 1450 roubles.
Working hours: the lifts work from 08:30 to 23:45.
How to get there: by high-speed train Lastochka from the Sochi railway station to the station “Roza Khutor”. The travel time is about 1 hour 20 minutes, on the way travellers can admire marvellous views. Trains leave at 07:30, 09:02, 12:28, 13:30, 17:40, at 19:20. The return trains leave at 07:00, 08:22, 10:00, 11:22, 13:00, 14:19, 17:26, 18:45, 19:15, 20:36, and 22:25. The ticket price is 422 roubles. You can also take bus No 105 from the Sochi railway station to Roza Khutor resort, but on the way it will stop at the airport. The price is 225 roubles, the travel time is about 2 hours, but may take longer as there may be road accidents and traffic jams on the highway spiral.
The Yew and Boxwood Grove
Not far from Sochi there is a unique grove with flora having an imprint of the Ice Age. Due to special microclimate there are relic plants: the evergreen boxwood (called by many people in the age mate of dinosaurs) and yew with bright galberries. The atmosphere in the groove is almost magical: it is always quiet and shady there and the tree trunks and the ground are covered with a thick layer of moss. Like everywhere around Sochi there are mountain streams with picturesque bridges across them.
There are two hiking trails about the groove: 2-km long and 5-km long. The two-kilometre trail (called “The Small Ring”) goes along the groove, dives into the narrow Rocky Labyrinth and brings to the observation platform with a view over the rocks. The Big Ring that is 5 km long goes along the Small Ring trail and then snakes along the picturesque mountain Hosta River going down to it and back up to the cool groves leaving behind the remains of the walls of a Xth century fortress, the entrance to a cove, and the small waterfall called “Rodnik”.
The path across the grove is well-equipped – it has timber covering and convenient chain rails, on steep slopes there are warning in Russian and English. It is prohibited to step outside the trail in order not to disturb over 50 species of rare fauna inhabiting the reserve. In front of the entrance to the groove there is a memorial to the heroes of World War II.
Working hours: Daily from 09:00 to 18:00.
Tickets: “The Small Ring” route: 150 roubles. “The Big Ring” route: 300 roubles. Entrance to the Big Ring closes at 15:00.
How to get there: from the Sochi railway station by bus No 105 or shuttle bus No 122 to the stop “Hosta Most”. Then go up the Samshitovaya Street for about 1 km following the direction signs. The travel time is about 40 minutes.
A beautiful cascade of waterfalls of a mountain stream in a small canyon not far from village Lazarevskoye in the Greater Sochi. Tourists are shown only 17 out of 33 waterfalls as the rest is very difficult to access, but the number has no effect on the quality. In spring and autumn the waterfalls are affluent and noisily cascade to their stone beds. In summer it is possible to bathe in some of these beds but some streams dry up. The place is surrounded by a shady southern forest with healthful air. It is possible to go above some of the streams along a bridge. Sports footwear is a must as it is very slippery near the waterfalls. At the entrance to the territory there is a café and a local food shop where you can try various products.
Entry ticket: 80 roubles. Working hours: open at daylight hours daily.
How to get there: the route to the waterfalls requires a lot of effort, so it is easier to buy an excursion with a transfer. However, if you want to get there independently, first take a suburban train from Sochi to station Lazarevskaya (trains and suburban trains going in the direction of Tuapse, the travel time is around 1.5 hours, the convenient departures are at 07:36, 07:50, 10:30, and 13:13, from there take bus No 158 that leaves from the bus stop opposite the railway station and go to the mountain village Bolshoy Kichmay (the convenient departures are at 9:20, 0:10, 12:15,14:15,14:45, and 15:25). You can also try to find a car going to the mountain village (the road to the waterfalls is very bad, so the driver may ask a very high price).
From the village of Bolshoy Kichmay there are 7 more kilometres to the waterfalls, but almost near every house in the village you will see an Outlander and the local people will agree to give you a lift to the attraction for a small fee. However, it is better to pay attention to large open-body trucks GAZ-66 and ask the driver to bring you to the 33 waterfalls: this is a great local amusement. Usually you have to wait for more people to come, but this will not take long. The military trucks have fabulous cross-country ability, so they would go to the waterfalls crossing the beds of small mountain rivers and throwing on the tourists sitting in the body splashes of water. The drivers are experienced and know their job, so this journey is safe in spite of all the adventure. It costs about 300 roubles per person.
SKYPARK AJ HACKETT SOCHI
A sacred place for adventurers and those who love adrenaline rushes. This Skypark is the longest in the world (439 m!) and goes across an abyss. The ground is 207 meters below and there are beautiful views over the fancy turns of the mountain Mzymta River.
And this is not all: on the bridge there are amusement rides from which the blood freezes in veins of less adventurous tourists. Those are bungee jumping from the height of 69 or 207 meters; swings over the abyss; and trolls crossing the canyon and achieving the speed of 150 km per hour. Tickets to the rides have to be purchased separately.
The staff of the Skypark claim that their equipment is top professional, the rides are controlled by well-trained instructors, and the place was founded under the support of A.J. Hackett – an expert in bungee jumping. However, this will not comfort budget tourists and those who are not adrenaline addicts as the ticket prices for the rides are really high. There is a climbing wall and a ropes course near by – of course for a separate fee.
An entry ticket to the bridge: 1000 roubles per person. The rides are charged separately: a bungee jump from 69 meters – 6000 roubles, from 207 meters – 17000 roubles, the trolls – 2500 roubles, the swings – 7000 roubles.
How to get there: You can get to the park from Sochi (but the transfer is charged and is less frequent) or from Adler (the transfer is free).
Getting there from Sochi: On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays at 11:00 from the Riviera Park. The return shuttle bus from the Skypark is at 14:30. The cost of the return ticket is 250 roubles. Preliminary booking is required, phone +78001004207, ext. 6.
Getting there from Adler: First get to Adler by a suburban train from Sochi, then cross the whole railway station building and go down the stairs to the sea. There find a bus stop from the side of the sea (in Prosvescheniya Street). The shuttle bus leaves every hour from 10:30 to 15:30. The return shuttle buses from the Skypark are every hour from 11:00 to 17:00.
The second biggest and most powerful waterfall in Sochi area: the small mountain river Bezumenka falls down from a limestone rock 27.5 m high. In warm and dry weather the waterfall grows smaller but after the rainstorms it presents a formidable sight. The waterfall has karstic origin.
Those who wish can base in the waterfall bed and in clam season – even under the water streams. There is a steep ladder leading to the waterfall so it is better to descend slowly and inconvenient shoes.
The place is surrounded by a quiet oak and chestnut forest with numerous picnic places, there is a nice café nearby. If you go up the stream bed you can find two more waterfalls.
Working hours: at daylight hours. Admission: 40 roubles.
How to get there: from the Sochi railway station, take bus No 102 to the terminal stop “Orekhovka”, then go up the road, turn right at the first crossing and continue going up the hill (about 1.5 km). After reaching a meadow with a café pass through the café and go down the metal ladder to the waterfall.
This place attracts gourmands, fishermen, and generally curious people from all over the Greater Sochi. The Trout Farm near Adler is one of the leading in Russia and supplies this noble fish to all the local restaurants. If you order an excursion (for a fee) you can view some of the ponds where trout is grown and watch a documentary film about the farm life. The most popular tourist amusement is fish feeding that is especially excites children.
If you like, you can fish, but you will have to pay both for the license and for the catch (by weight).
Another option is to buy fresh fish in a shop at the gatehouse. You can take it with you or can ask to cook on the spot at a good farm restaurant. The restaurant has a long menu, most dishes are local fish. The cuisine is simple, but as the ingredients are fresh the food is really good. Another farm shop sells salted and dried trout as well as red caviar. However, it is not recommended to order the tasting because you will get only a couple of tiny sandwiches.
Excursion: 200 roubles per person, time shall be agreed on the phone +79884004816.
How to get there: from the railway station, take bus No 105 to the stop “Forelevoye Khozyaistvo”. The travel time is about 50 minutes.