By now, the Winter Olympics are well under way. You've probably seen Great Britain's Jenny Jones win the team's first medal on snow in GBR's history or snowboarding legend Shaun White miss out on his third straight gold medal in the Men's halfpipe competition. If seeing the Games on your television no longer cuts the mustard, it might be worth jotting up a travel plan to see the event for yourself.
The 2014 Winter Olympics is currently being held in Sochi, Russia. As one of the biggest and most beautiful resorts in the country, the city of Sochi is well known for its favourable climate; the resort is often called the 'Russian Riviera'.
With a gentle climate of 8-10 degrees centigrade in the winter and a sizzling 38-40 degrees centigrade in the summer, the city has an almost Mediterranean climate. However in Sochi's mountains, it is a much different story; in winter the temperature is often below zero, making it the ideal location for snowboarding and skiing. That's why countries from across the globe have flocked to Sochi's mountainous region to compete in this year's Winter Olympics.
Unfortunately if you're travelling from the UK, Sochi is not the easiest place to reach. The Telegraph suggests there are no direct flights to the city so travellers will have fly via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines or via Moscow with British Airways/S7 Airlines. If travelling to Moscow, Sochi is around a two-and-a-half hour flight from there.
If heading straight to the Games, Sochi's four resorts (Rosa Khutor being the biggest) lay 30 miles from the city. Around 72km of pistes will greet guests of Rosa Khutor, the home of the Games' alpine/freestyle skiing and snowboarding events. The Alpika Service resort and Gazprom Laura resorts are home to the bobsleigh, luge and biathlon events.
Away from the Games, travellers have a wealth of activities at their feet should they want to take a break from the cold weather. Adventure-seekers can explore caves in the mountains or raft down the White River. Horse riding, yachting, waterfall excursions or trips to the peak of Akhun Mountain are all highly recommended if you're planning an extended stay in Sochi.
There's still a huge amount of medals left to play for and, after seeing the city and the resorts, there's no doubt travellers will want to stay put until the closing ceremony. Fortunately, there's a number of hotels in the area that will be able to cater for long stay travellers but hurry - availability is extremely limited.
The Rosa Khutor Park Inn is only a few minutes from the resort's gondola while the The Golden Tulip is a three-minute walk to the resort's lifts. In Gazprom, the five-star Grand Hotel Polyana is only 300m away from the lifts but if this is too much trouble, there are electric carts to transport guests to the slopes. However as this is a five-star hotel, expect to pay five-star prices!
Guests that want to try their hand at snowboarding and skiing away from the Games are welcome but, naturally, it's important to have travel insurance before doing so. Winter sports can be dangerous and if you're intending on taking part, travellers need to be covered in case of medical emergency. Furthermore, travel insurance can also provide cover for sudden cancellations, personal belongings, cash, travel documents and more.
The big one: you'll also need to get tickets to watch a specific event. Tickets are tough to come by as you won't be able to buy them directly from the Olympic Federation unless you have a Russian-issued Visa. However tickets are brokered out to different vendors for different countries so it's worth doing some research into certain events to see if you can pick up any tickets. You'll also need to acquire a tourist visa to visit the Sochi Winter Olympics unless you're an athlete or an official connected with the Games.
Heading to Sochi for the Winter Olympics is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Nevertheless despite your eagerness to reach the Games, it pays to be safe. Sort out flights, accommodation, transfers and travel insurance before setting foot outside your doorstep. Once these essentials have been acquired, your only duty is to enjoy yourself!
If you're eagerly awaiting the next big sporting event, why not check out our post on safe long stay travel to Brazil 2014 in preparation for the FIFA World Cup!
Alpha Travel Insurance and alphatravelinsurance.co.uk are trading names of Travel Insurance Facilities Plc, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FRN306537. tifgroup is trading name of Travel Insurance Facilities Plc registered in England No. 3220410. tifgroup; all rights reserved. Registered Office: 1 Tower View, Kings Hill, West Malling, ME19 4UY