For many Russians, December, January and February are not just the months before and after the New Year holiday. For many people, this is also the time when it is dark outside for a very long time of the day and very often cold. Nevertheless, there is a way out - EcoTourism Expert found out that even in the first months of the Russian winter, you can both enjoy the warm sun, not ice-covered sea and also do it without spending a lot of money.
Our country is huge, and the only answer to the question “Where is it better to spend a vacation at the seaside in December and January” is ‘You’d take a journey to the Black Sea coast’. However, one should not think that visiting Great Sochi would cost you fabulous money. Not at all! Round-trip air tickets, for example, can be purchased for 6-8 thousand roubles only, including your 10-kg baggage.
In addition, Sochi is divided into several settlements, the cost of living in every of them can vary greatly.
It is unlikely that tourists remember that in total, the resort city’s area consists of 21 settlements and they are located along the 110-km long coast line (and some are not close to the seaside, for example, Krasnaya Polyana). Among the towns and villages, there are the ones with the names that not every traveller knows, like Uch-Dere or Volkonka, but there are also those towns and villages that are more well-known.
For example, Adler. This town, by the way, is also divided into several districts, and it is (unlike Sochi) conveniently located because it takes several tens of minutes to get to the airport.
The cost of a taxi to your hotel or guest house makes your December vacations in Adler more attractive. Even in the hot-season, it is small (unless you use the services of sly private taxi drivers). In December, it usually costs about 200 roubles to get to the airport.
The second plus is the cost of accommodation. It is clear that in Great Sochi there is a great choice of hotels and guest houses for a all tastes and budgets, however, the situation with the hotel prices levels off a bit in early December. The reason is simple, the peak of the tourist arrivals to celebrate the coming New Year holiday and spend their winter vacations has not come yet, and it is no longer possible to swim in the sea. So, local hoteliers have to keep the hotel room prices at a quite affordable level.
One way or another, but in the first half of December, you can rent a quite good room with amenities in the private sector for 1,000-1,500 roubles per day within just 5 to 10-minute walk from the sea. By the way, most guest houses are equipped with kitchens for residents - this is a very convenient option for those who are used to have a morning cup of coffee without going outside and looking for vacant places at the coastal cafes.
All the cafes keep on working in winter. Indeed, the locals are happy this year that the vacation season turned out to be quite long. Hence, the prices for food, for example, are quite reasonable - café owners are not eager to quickly earn more money on vacationers during the warm summer months, as it was in other years, and then have no visitors until next summer. An ordinary lunch without drinks can cost from 250-300 roubles per person, which is quite inexpensive!
There are many options to offer to those who do not like just walking along the embankment and go sightseeing. Really, the vouchers for excursions are no longer sold everywhere, but you can walk to the nearest point selling tours and buy vouchers, it can take you just 10-15 minutes.
What is offered? On the one hand, quite a standard set, and the ‘highlight of the programme’ is often a trip to the Krasnaya Polyana. Such a trip, including the funicular ride, costs from 1,500 roubles, but it is very important to take the weather into account when going to Krasnaya Polyana. In December, the weather in Sochi is not always sunny and vacationers cannot enjoy the sun shining every day. So, there is a great chance that the mountains will be covered with clouds during your excursion, and you won’t be able to see anything, and besides, you can get wet and cold. So, it will be quite useful to check the weather forecast before buying a tour voucher. And also take money to purchase souvenirs and pay for your lunch, their cost is not included in the price of the tour.
What else? Jeep tours are very popular when tourists use four-wheel drive off-road cars (most often these are domestic UAZ vehicles, Patriot or Hunter models) to go with a driver along winding roads, cross small mountain streams and visit natural attractions.
The most popular of these jeep tours is a trip to the Psakho canyon. Interestingly, all the guides tell that some scenes of the Russian blockbuster ‘The Last Hero’ were filmed in its yew-boxwood grove. At first, indeed, the film crew had such an idea, but just on the eve of filming, it turned out that the boxwood leaves were destroyed by pest caterpillars carried from Italy, so the Magic Forest was urgently ‘transferred’ to neighbouring Abkhazia. Nevertheless, there are still a lot of places for magnificent travel photos, and its majestic trees, overgrown with bright green moss from roots to the very top, make a great impression on every eco-tourism enthusiast.
The Akhshtyrskaya cave makes a great impression, too. The entrance fee to this natural monument is not high, 100 roubles only, but all the visitors get an unforgettable experience for this money. Firstly, it is considered as one of few caves where some traces of cave men have been preserved. According to archaeologists, there were sites of Neanderthal men and Cro-Magnon men about 70 thousand years ago. Secondly, according to one of the legends, it was here that the hero of ancient mythology Odysseus met the Cyclops Polyphemus.
Tourists, of course, will no longer meet Cyclops in the Akhshtyrskaya cave. However, walking on the wooden flooring designed to protect the rock from the feet of thousands of visitors, the tourists can see bats (most of them live in the cave not in December, but in April), as well as the remains of ancient petroglyphs (rock paintings of a bison, wild boar, bird, and a mountain goat).
For many travellers, one of the main goals of a journey to Great Sochi in December is still a ‘rendezvous’ with the sea. Yes, of course, it is almost impossible to swim in it. By the way, swimming is impossible not only because the temperature of 14-16 degrees Celsius is really cold. The matter is that in December, the weather becomes worse even at this resort city, and there are often rise and fall of the waves in the sea, it rains, and it can be simply dangerous to go into the water. Although it is quite possible to walk barefooted along the coast when the waves are very small.
In addition, sea air is healthy at any time of the year. The air near the sea, especially in stormy weather that is typical of the Sochi winter, is rich in ozone and oxygen. In addition, the benefit of the sea air is that it contains a huge amount of trace elements like bromine, iodine, magnesium, sodium chloride, potassium, calcium, etc. The presence of inert gases in the atmosphere results in a high level of ionization, which enhances the healthy effect of microelements on the human body.