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A summer beach resort town sitting right on the Black Sea, Sochi offers long stretches of pebble and sand beaches, imposing examples of Stalinist architecture, a summer film festival known as Kinotavr, and plenty of spas and outdoor markets to please all budgets and tastes. The longest river in Russia, Mzymta, cuts through Sochi before it empties into the Black Sea, and it's a very popular destination for rafting.

The 3000-square-kilometer Caucasian State Nature Biosphere Reserve, just 50 kilometers from Sochi, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to a number of unique species of flora and fauna, including the endangered Persian leopard.