The easiest, most efficient way to travel to the Olympic Games is to use a travel agency that will book all of your transportation and lodging. However, not all groups are the same. Here's more information on how to select a 2014 Winter Olympics travel package, so you get exactly what you want for your money.
Before you book your trip, there are several things to look out for. As you review the different travel packages below, keep these questions in mind:
Visas to Russia: In order to travel to Russia, you need to have a tourist visa. Although they aren't hard to obtain, make sure to take note of whether or not your travel agency offers assistance in getting a visa, or if it's something you need to do on your own.
Event Tickets: This is the big one. If you're keen on watching a specific event - or any event - you need a ticket. But, tickets can be hard to come by, because you can't buy them directly from the Olympic Federation unless you have a Russian-issued Visa. As an alternative, tickets are brokered out to different vendors for different countries. Be aware that many travel packages don't include tickets, and although they can help you obtain tickets, if it's not part of the package, it's not guaranteed.
Transportation: Look into whether or not your package includes airport transfers and ground transportation. Because the roads around Sochi are likely to be a madhouse during the Olympics, the U.S. Embassy has recommended that all tourists use the city's public transportation system. If your package does not offer private transportation as an alternative, ask if they will offer assistance in using the city's transportation services.
Now that you know what to keep in mind, read on to review some of the most popular travel packages for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi:
CoSport, the official American ticket vendor for this year's Olympics, offers a wide range of travel packages. Many of the packages include "Pre-selected" tickets, meaning you won't be able to choose which events you attend, although there are also several "Flex" packages available in which you can choose your own events, depending on availability.
However, there are several skiing-oriented packages available, too. Take a look at the "Sport Specific" packages, and under "Downhill" there are various options that include skiing events. Prices range from $2,400 to $9,000 depending on the length of stay and number of people.
If you're looking for the most inclusive package, with the least amount of stress, check out CoSport's "Premier" packages, which include top-notch lodging, transportation, meals and a local guide. While the package comes with pre-selected tickets, there is one option with a ticket to see men's ski jumping.
You can browse the rest of CoSport's packages here.
Choose CoSport if…
- You want a range of options for dates, lodging and prices, and are up to choosing which one suits you!
- You're sports savvy: CoSport trips are all about the athletic events, so if you want guaranteed tickets, CoSport is the way to go.
- You want to experience the spirit of the Olympic Games: CoSport offers a pass to enjoy its hospitality center located in the Coastal Cluster, the heart of the Olympic Park.
Ludus Tours is offering a one-week Winter Games Package at a range of price levels. The packages include hotel transfer and accommodation, daily breakfast, a dinner party, a sightseeing tour and all the staff assistance you need to navigate Russia. "Budget" three-star accommodations range from $2,690 to $3,810, and prices increase based on the quality of the hotel. Ludus Tours also assists with U.S. to Russia visas. A tourist visa is necessary for entry to the country, but only takes a short time to process and is inexpensive to obtain.
Choose Ludus Tours if…
- You want a combination of sports and sightseeing opportunities: Ludus offers sightseeing and activity tours, including a Ski Tour and Vodka Tour, but the packages do not include tickets, so it's up to you to acquire them.
- You want travel assistance: You can apply for your Visa directly through Ludus' website.
- You want a range of pricing options: You can book a trip for as low as $2,690/per person, with payment plans available.
City Travel has extensive experience in Olympic Games tourism. Bookings for two start at $3,970, but prices can be tailored based on which add-ons you choose. While the agency offers information and assistance to get you to the sporting events of your choice per the customer's request, the focus is more on the cultural experience rather than on athleticism.
For example, each travel package includes a three-day guided tour in Sochi, as well as along the beautiful Black Sea and amidst the Caucasus Mountains, with breakfast daily and lunch offered on each day tour. City Travel also offers the option for stop-over add-on trips to St. Petersburg and Moscow. Read more about City Travel tours here.
Choose City Travel if…
- You want a comprehensive cultural experience: All of City Travel's packages include three-days tours around Sochi.
- You want help booking flights: City Travel also offers a flight booking service, and a vast majority of customers utilize it.
- You want to see and do more: You can extend your stay in Sochi up to five days, or book add-ons to other destinations before or after your time in Sochi.
Sports Traveler packages include lodging, transfers and travel assistance, as well as several perks depending on which tour and lodging option you choose, such as daily breakfast, welcome cocktails, souvenirs, shuttle services and Wi-Fi. All tours are either five or six days long, and accommodation is offered at the three-star Marina B&B ($3,795), the Arkadya Hotel ($4,345), or the beautiful Peak Hotel ($4,795) located in the mountains. Although the packages do not include tickets, you can request to customize your travel experience and specify which event tickets interest you, and there is a ticket concierge available.
You can see the rest of Sport Traveler's packages here.
Choose Sports Traveler if…
- You want flexibility: Although Sports Traveler offers 24/7 planning assistance, your five or six days are not pre-planned, so it's up to you to choose your itinerary.
- You want simplicity: Sports Traveler's options are pretty cut and dry. You can choose between three levels of accommodation quality, and three date intervals, so although there are different options for different budget, there aren't an overwhelming number of variables to choose from.
Road Trips provides fully customizable packages that can be tailored to your exact specifications. Each package includes first-class accommodations, roundtrip private airport transfers, local assistance, a full-service concierge, and a personalized itinerary. Road Trips will also book your airfare, as well as optional add-ons for tour extensions to other destinations in Russia. While prices aren't available as they are totally dependent on the details of your trip, you can submit an enquiry for a custom quote.
Choose Road Trips if…
- You're willing to pay more to get more: Road Trips offers the best of the best in terms of lodging and logistics, services and support. If you have the money to spend and don't want to worry about the details, Road Trips is the way to go.
- You know what you want: Because your experience is fully customizable, your activities are up to you. Although Road Trips will have plenty of suggestions for you, you need to know how you want to spend your time before you start booking.