Sochi’s lush parks are a salvation in the summer for anyone trying to find shade from the scorching sunlight. This much would already be enough to satisfy city visitors, but in Sochi, parks offer a little bit more.

The arboretum

While Sochi is famous for its many sprawling and exotic parks, the Arboretum is the crown jewel in this expansive network. Sochi’s Arboretum is one of the largest in the world and worth a day trip of its own. If you do not have a whole day to spare, maximize your time by taking a cable car to the highest point in the park then walking downhill to the front entrance. The top viewing platform offers breathtaking views of the Caucasus Mountains, and looking down at the park it is hard to believe that it was built on the enthusiasm of one person, especially someone with no background in gardening. That one person was the aristocrat and publisher of a St. Petersburg newspaper, Sergei Khudekov, who bought 50 acres of land in Sochi in 1889.

Exotic plants were brought in from botanical gardens in the Caucasus and Crimea, even Europe. Terraces, ponds, fountains and sculptures helped to make the arboretum even more heavenly, and Khudekov was so enchanted with the results that he built a villa there and named it Nadezhda in honor of his wife.

Unfortunately, the good times did not last. Khudekov had to sell the garden after the revolution in 1917, and the park fell into disarray and many plant species were lost. It was restored only a decade later as part of Josef Stalin’s efforts to turn the city into a top-notch resort.

Now the park covers 49 hectares and has more than 1,700 plant species, including 76 varieties of pine, 80 varieties of oak and 24 species of palm trees, as well as bamboos, cypresses and rare subtropical plants. In addition to the wide variety of plants, you will have a chance to see some exotic birds in the garden. Peacocks proudly walk along its alleys, ostriches look out from their cages while swans, pelicans and ducks swim nonchalantly in the lower pond.

Kurortny Prospekt, 74 dendrarium.ru