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Russia’s Black Sea Spas and Resorts

Russia, as the world’s largest country in land area, encompasses many climates as it stretches from the far northern wastes to the sun-drenched shores of the Black Sea. It is here, surrounded by palm trees and lulled by the sound of the crashing waves, that Russians (and a growing number of foreign tourists) love to take their vacations.

The cities and towns of Russia’s Black Sea coast are famed for their healing spas and rejuvenating waters. Once restricted to the aristocratic elite of Czarist times, then to high-ranking Communist Party members, the spas of Russia’s Black Sea coast now offer access to all and sundry.

These resorts not only have experienced a surge in foreign visitors, but also from native Russians who find that the easy access they formerly enjoyed at other resort towns is now restricted since they now lie in countries like Ukraine and Georgia.

The main Russian resort towns on the coast of the Black Sea are Anapa, Tuapse and Sochi. Each of these towns has a resident population of at least 50,000 that swells seasonally. Anapa is famed for its sandy beaches and warm climate, but it does not attract many international visitors due to the lack of direct or at least convenient transportation connections and a modest infrastructure not designed for large volumes of tourists. Sochi is the largest and best-known spa town in Russia, long famed for its resorts, spas and sanatoriums. With a population of over 300,000, Sochi sits between the beaches of the Black Sea and the foothills of the snow-capped Caucasus Mountains. In Communist times, Josef Stalin chose Sochi to be the site of his favorite “dacha”, or summer cottage.

Today Sochi’s reputation as a spa town is still strong, and tourists who come to partake of the healing mineral baths also enjoy sampling the locally grown tea and wine. It’s estimated that in summer, Sochi’s population rises into the millions. A popular film festival draws visitors from around the world, and the nearby Caucasian Biosphere Reserve north of the city has spawned a growing ecotourism business. You may be hearing more about Sochi as the city is making a determined effort to hoist the 2014 Winter Olympics.

If successful, the creation of permanent winter sports facilities will provide a welcome cool-weather attraction and create many year-round employment opportunities.


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