Originally inhabited over 100,000 years ago by early migrating humans from ancient Turkey, this city became a major commodity in the Black Sea area after the ancient Greeks started to visit in the 6th Century BC and began to exchange goods with the inhabitants. After the Russian expansion along the Black Sea coast, the first Russian outpost was set up in central Sochi in 1838. The Russian settlement built in the area was officially named Sochi in 1896 and became a city in 1917.
Nestled between the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains, Sochi offers a spectacular and unique scenery to host a Formula 1 race, but also to spend an exotic weekend away. Due to the timing of the race, visitors to Sochi will have the best of both worlds: The ski season in the mountains of Sochi runs from October to May, whilst the water will still be warm enough to take a dip in the ocean. So, don't forget to bring your ski boots and swimwear!
Sochi has also been a sister city of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, since 1959.
Sochi International Airport is located 11km from the Sochi International Street Circuit. There are no direct flights from the UK to Sochi, so you will need to be prepared for a stop over in Moscow.
Besides skiing and swimming, Sochi offers a good range of other attractions to keep you entertained. The Caucasian Biosphere Reserve is just a short distance north of the city and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the area you will also find several tea plantations. For those passionate about nature, this is an ideal area to visit, as it also boasts the picturesque Sochi National Park. Perfect for woodland walks, this park has many notable waterfalls including Orekhovsky, Ivanovsky and Polikarya. Keep a look out for the persian leopards who were re-introduced into the park in 2009!
If you enjoy Russian historical characters, you may wish to visit the Lenin Mosaic, a 8-metre-high portrait of the father of the Bolshevik revolution, which will make a picture to remember. Stalin's Dacha (summer house), built in 1937, is located to the south of the city and is an intriguing insight of the former Soviet Union dictator's private home. Painted green so it camouflages with the surrounding trees, it might be tricky to find! As well as remnants of the city's Soviet past, there are remainders of the ancient city to be found in the Museum of the History of the resort city of Sochi located in the city centre. Art lovers can revel in the mixture of Russian painting and sculptures from Russia's rich past housed in the Sochi Art Museum in the city centre.
If you are more of an adventurous type, you can book an excursion to the Vorontsovskaya Cave, located about one hour drive from Sochi in the spa and resort district of Matsesta. The Cave has about 500 metres of illuminated passages with stalactites and can reach very cold temperatures inside.
Sochi has a humid subtropical climate and enjoys approximately 200 days of sunshine a year. Temperatures at the end of September can reach highs of 25 degrees celsius during the day and 15 degrees celsius at night. However, with an average of 13 rainy days during the month of September, it is wise to pack some light waterproof clothing just in case!
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