Formula 1 is back this weekend and, this time, the circus rolls into Sochi, the so-called gateway to the Russian Riviera. A relatively new race on the calendar, below is a destination guide for this vibrant and upcoming resort.
“Sochi’s lively, pedestrian-only sea embankment is packed with restaurants, cafes and bars, some of which are ideally placed for watching the sun drop slowly behind the Black Sea horizon,” – The Lonely Planet.
At a Glance
Sochi held the 2014 Winter Olympics and, as a result, was subjected to some big media attention. It was then that the Russian city was placed on the map for the international travellers from the rest of Europe and beyond. Since then, the city has thrived from tourists in Summer for its warm temperatures and sea-side-resort feel. In the winter, it is a fully functioning ski resort.
The first Formula 1 race was held here in 2014. The city will only continue to become a sporting hub. The grand prix is set to feature here until at least 2020, and 2018 will see Sochi being one of the Russian cities to host the FIFA World Cup.
The Tsentralny District is the city centre and is a short journey away from the Sochi race track which is built around the Olympic park.
Seeing the Sites
Visiting the Olympic Park and taking a wander goes without saying; you would be silly to miss out if you’re a fan of sport. Nonetheless, there is a lot to see in Sochi and the local vicinity of the race circuit.
Sochi Park – Theme park
This brightly coloured theme park is a must. It is fun, vibrant and a place to let your hair down. The park really focuses on Russian folklore, whilst making the stories fun for children and adults alike. In all, there are twenty rides to cater for all ages. There’s an abundance of entertainment too: dolphin shows, petting areas and fairytale stories. This is not your average theme park! Access to the race circuit is brilliant too. You can see the Sochi Park from the grandstands.
Sochi Art Museum
In the centre of Sochi, there are plenty of museums, galleries and historical spots that must be visited.Sochi Art Museum is one of the largest museums along the coast of the Black Sea. The halls exhibit artefacts and paintings from the times of antiquity to modern-day masterpieces, though the main emphasis is on Russian and Soviet painters, especially the evolution of Russian academic painting of 19th and 20th centuries.
Where to Eat
If you are staying in the city centre of Sochi itself, then Trattoria Fettuccine comes in top of the food reviews. This gem has a beautifully designed interior, with dainty cutlery and furniture, making the experience fantastic! The food is here is reasonable and delicious: plates of pasta, pizzas – unsurprisingly this restaurant serves up Italian cuisine. And what Italian cuisine it is…
Khmeli and Suneli is situated very close to all of the racing action and crowned top restaurant in the area by Tripadvisor. The staff are one of their main assets; friendly, smiling, welcoming. And they also know their food. This eatery is inside of a shopping centre, so it is excellent if you fancy a spot of retail therapy before or after your meal.
If you are after traditional Russian food, then Belye Nochi is the place to head to. Famous for its khinkali, or large Caucasian dumplings, with fillings like spiced meat, onions, and greens, this restaurant is located in the heart of the city. Local wines, spirits and brandies are also served for you to get a real sense of Russian cuisine. The attentive staff are always a highlight too.
Public transport is mainly by bus, taxi and the newly-constructed Aero express railway in Sochi. Served by the Adler-Sochi International Airport, connecting flights are easily available to the rest of Russia and subsequently Europe. Luckily, the airport is just a stone’s throw away from the race track.
If you fancy trying something a little different, then there are three cable cars (at arboretum sanatorium “Dawn” and pension “Neva”) and also several cableways in Krasnaya Polyana.
Five of the railway stations of Sochi were completely renovated for the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In the Adler city district of Sochi (where the circuit is based) the original railway station was preserved and a new station was built near it.
If you want to cut down on your carbon footprint, then the area is beautiful to walk around, especially the area surrounding the Olympic Park.
Sochi is the most popular travel destination in Russia for the locals to head to in both summer and winter, thanks to its temperate climate. Perhaps it isn’t the most glitzy or famous city on the grand prix calendar, but it is most certainly unique. And beautiful.