Sochi is not all snow and winter delights. Turns out this Black Sea pearl is also a summer-lovers haven, offering up a cultural and historic escape for those heading to Russia.
Visiting Sochi is described as a mouthwatering prospect for World Cup fans, with beaches, blue skies and arguably the best game in the group stage as Portugal and Spain meet on 15 June. Sochi was firstly catapulted into the spotlight when it hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics but it is a firm favourite holiday destination with its locals.
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The legacy of the reported $50 billion spent on those Sochi Games is a variety of tourist options. Fans will be able to relax in the beach bars of Adler, a town near the stadium, or hike in the mountains above the city.
Here are 27 pretty cool and interesting things to add to your itinerary if you plan on visiting.
1. Escape to the sandy and pebbly beaches of Sochi’s Lazarevskoye District. It is about a 90-minute drive from the city centre.
2. Otherwise hike to the stunning waterfalls found along the River Agura - with the highest set at 90 feet or about 27 metres.
3. Sochi’s Arboretum is a sanctuary for flora and fauna – best to take a ride on the cable car for some of the best views of the city's skyline.
4. Primorskaya Street is the place to eat, drink and be seen. Suggestions of the Stargorod, Café Terrasa Del Mar and Lighthouse Restaurant are said to be worthwhile haunts.
5. Sochi’s Central Market, where you can walk amongst the many stalls and buy newly baked lavash bread.
6. Walk along Sochi's seaside boardwalk in what is seen to be the Camps Bay of the Blaack Sea with its sub-tropical climate.
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7. Stop in at the Sochi Art Museum, offering a grand neoclassical experience featuring Russian painting & sculpture from many eras.
8. Culture vultures need to check out the Winter Theatre – think the Vienna Opera house standards.
9. Check out old-school Soviet architecture with a visit to Sochi Central Railway Station.
10. Don’t miss the impressive St Michael’s Cathedral, which took over 16 years to complete and is seen as the first and foremost Orthodox temple in the Chernomorsky Borough.
11. The Church of St Vladimir is also a major drawcard - named after Vladimir "Svyatoslavich, Baptizer of Kievan Rus"between 958-1015. He was the Grand Prince of Kiev when Orthodox Christianity was introduced into present day Russia.
12. Check out the Dacha or summer home of Joseph Stalin who led the Soviet Union between the years 1922 and 1953.
13. Day trip to the swanky ski resort Krasnaya Polyana – which also hosted the 2012 Winter Olympics. Polyana is a 75-minute train ride from Sochi’s city centre.
14. Relax with a traditional Russian banya bath and sauna treatment at the Grand Polyana Hotel’s 3 000m2 spa complex. The Russian banya is one of the country's best-known traditions.
15. And of course the Sochi Olympic Park
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16. In the centre of the Olympic Park is the Medals Plaza, with its main attraction including the Singing fountain and the Olympic torch pylon.
17. What about Godlik Fortress, which is said to be more than 1.5 thousand years old.
18. Anchor and Cannon monument, which symbolises a peace agreement between Russia and Turkey.
19. Riviera Park is Sochi's most popular amusement park with rides, art galleries, cafes, statues, a pool and beautiful magnolia trees planted by Russian astronauts to commemorate peaceful space exploration.
20. Sochi National Park contains some splendid natural sights and is ideal for outdoor hiking most of the year.
21. Another ancient sightseeing stop-in would be Loo Temple also found in the Sochi National Park. The Byzantine temple of the X-XII centuries still sees locals light candles and leave notes of wishes in the remaining wall.
22. You can also take some interesting side trips like the Observation Tower on Akhun Mountain, built in 1936 by architect Sergei Vorobyev.
23. Sochi Discovery World Aquarium is made up of 6 000 square metres with some 30 different aquariums in total.
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24. Try some local seafood for a sunset dinner, suggestions include Prichal No.1, a restaurant jutting out on a pier into the sea.
25. Head to some of Sochi’s top nightlife spots, with Cabaret Lighthouse coming up as key recommendation.
26.Sochi even has a Harat’s Pub, part of the largest chain of Irish pubs across the world.
27. And those who love staying up late also wouldn’t want to miss the ABBA Bar – Doing some Sweden in Russia – why not!?