Going to Sochi? Here's the free app you need to explore the area

Sochi is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games next month, and for most visitors, it will be their first time in the Russian coastal city.

Sochi is a free app that gives you places to see superimposed on a map of the city, locations of historical sites, loads of photos and even a guide to the area's cuisine.

Since the app doesn't require an internet connection except for maps, it's a hefty 265 MB download. I won't be going to the Olympics, but I found the tour of the area to be fascinating. The area is on the Black Sea near the scenic Caucasus Mountains. It's Russia's largest resort city, and the nearby mountains are great for skiing and the other winter events.

The cuisine guide was most interesting. The Shashlik (marinated meats on a skewer) and the stuffed peppers looked great. If you want additional detail on some of the historical sites, the Sochi app requires a US$3.99 additional purchase.

My only gripe with the app revolves around the home screen. It's designed for landscape viewing, and in portrait mode, some of the icons are off screen. You can scroll to them, but there is no indication that they are actually there.

Other related apps are Sochi 2014 Guide (free), and an app that focuses on US Olympic Team members called Team USA (free).

The Sochi app is not an app that collects competition results, but it is an interesting look at the city and its culture. The app store has dozens of apps that will help you follow the results; just search on "Sochi" or "Winter Olympic Games."

Sochi requires iOS 6 or later, and it's a universal app for all iOS platforms. It's optimized for the iPhone 5, but remember about those hidden home screen icons if you use it in portrait orientation.