Sochi National Park is 190,000 hectares (469,500 acres) of natural and cultural wonders. There are mountains, canyons, rivers, waterfalls, gorges, and caves. Among the park's main attractions are Akhun Mountain, the Zmeyka Cascade, the Vorontsovskiye Caves, and the Khosta Yew and Boxwood Grove. Cultural attractions include the ruins of a Byzantine temple, a Bronze Age dolmen, and the watchtower on top of the Akhun. The national park is home to various kinds of rare flora and fauna, including several leopards that live in open-air cages.
The three Agura River waterfalls count among the top natural attractions in Sochi. They are located in the Khosta District, about two and a half miles (four kilometers) from the seashore. You can get there by bus or marshrutka (share taxi). You will have to catch your ride in the center of the city, get off at the Sputnik stop, and then cross the Agura River and follow the signs for a little bit more than half a mile. The entrance to the Agura Gorge is situated near Kavkazsky Aul, a local restaurant. The first and lowest waterfall is considered the most splendid, so there are often a lot of tourists there. Stairs lead to the next two waterfalls. After you see them, you can either visit the Orliniye Skaly (Eagle Rocks) or take a longer route to the majestic Akhun Mountain. Orliniye Skaly are said to be the rocks to which Prometheus was chained, and fittingly, there is a statue of him on top. Prometheus was watched by a god called Akhyn, who lived on the Akhun mountain. When Akhyn saw a local girl named Agura giving Prometheus water, he turned her into a river. On top of the Orliniye Skaly you can not only enjoy the view and take pictures with Prometheus, but also buy some snacks and drinks at the nearby kiosk. From here, you can descend to the Matsesta microdistrict, famous for its balneotherapy resort.
Locals call this park "green Hermitage." It has an astonishing collection of rare plants from all over the world. The park is especially gorgeous during spring, when the sakura is in full bloom. Yuzhniye Kultury is located in the Adler District, where the coastal Olympic facilities are located.
On an Akhun Mountain slope there is a truly ancient grove, with yew and boxwood trees hundreds of years old. In 1952 the grove was featured as an in the famous Soviet fairy tale movie Sadko. There are two routes through the grove: the small ring, which allows you to see the main attractions in 30 minutes, and the large ring, for those who want a longer hike. To get to the grove, you will need to walk up Samshitovaya Street from the Khosta-Most bus stop. From the grove you can get to the top of Akhun Mountain, the Orliniye Skaly (Eagle Rocks), and the Agura Gorge.
This beautiful garden is located close to the Central Stadium and the Arboretum. Its centerpiece, the Friendship Tree, is a unique experiment started by horticulturalist Fyodor Zorin in 1934. It is a wild lemon tree, onto which branches of other citrus trees, including orange, grapefruit, and tangerine trees, have been grafted. The tree has branches added by people from more than 160 countries, some of them famous politicians, scientists, astronauts, and cultural figures. The landmark celebrates internationalism and peace. The garden has a museum where various gifts to the Friendship Tree are collected.
The Arboretum (Dendrary) park is one of Sochi's main tourist attractions. It dazzles with its collection of subtropical flora, including various species of pines, oaks, cypresses, and palms. There are special zones on-site dedicated to the flora of the Caucasus, China, Japan, South America, North America, Australia, and Mediterranean countries.
Sochi has a Japanese garden, located close to the city's main street, Kurortnyy Prospekt. It has everything that you might expect, from pagodas, Japanese lanterns and arched bridges, to a rock garden and an array of Japanese plants. It's a gorgeous place for a walk.
Sergey Venchagov (1927-1997) was a well-known landscape designer who created many parks and hotel complexes in Sochi. He also created Venchagov's Corner, or Phytofantasia, a little park featuring a collection of plants from all over the world. The park is located close to the Zimny Theater.
Matsesta is a microdistrict in Sochi that is known for its balneotherapy complex. Its other attractions include this aquarium and zoo which can count sharks, seals, penguins, crocodiles, and even a hippo among its inhabitants. Watching the employees feed the animals is said to be quite entertaining-- check the aquarium's website for the feeding schedules.