If you’re going to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia here’s some helpful information to help your trip go smoothly, with FAQs about the best ways to travel between venues, where to watch the games without a ticket, and what else you might do while you’re there.
How can I find a cheap flight to the World Cup?
If you’ve left it late to book, don’t panic, you can still get a cheap flight to Russia. If you’re more concerned about just being there than you are about the departure airport, select “United Arab Emirates (Any)” in the Skyscanner flight search box, and “Russia” as your destination country. This allows us to search all flights to Russia from all UAE airports, giving you the best chance of finding a cheap flight. You can also select “Whole Month – June” as your departure and return dates, giving even more flexibility to the search.
Don’t forget your visa (if you don’t have tickets to the games) or your Fan-ID. The latter are given to all holders of World Cup tickets and are valid as a multi-entry visa between June 4 and July 25.
How to travel between different World Cup venues
Due to the sheer size of Russia and the spread of World Cup 2018 venues, it’s essential that you do your homework on the best ways to travel between cities before you arrive. Skyscanner has delved in to the match timetables and can reveal that Saudi fans can save a massive 20 hours by flying between games, instead of jumping on a train.
Valid ticket holders with Fan-IDs can take advantage of additional – and free – trains that have been put on specifically to ferry football fans from place to place. You can see the timetable and more information here. You’re advised to book in advance. Some of the train journeys are long (we’re talking 24 hours or more) so consider yourself forewarned!
Certain cities hosting World Cup games are well served by local airports. These include:
Where can I watch the games if I don’t have a ticket?
Lots of cafes and restaurants across Russia will be showing World Cup games and understandably wanting to cash in on number of visitors in the country.
There’s also an official FIFA Fan Fest location in each of the host cities which will show the games, for free, on match days. There’ll also be a music and cultural program at every Fan Fest, along with food and drink stalls, FIFA World Cup stores, and plenty of giant screens showing the games.
The biggest FIFA Fan Fests will likely be in Moscow and St Petersburg. See the full list of locations here.
What should I do when I’m not watching the games?
To help you make the most of your visit to Russia, here’s a quick round-up of what to see and do when you’re in host cities.
If you want to add a cultural element to your trip, make the effort to see Moscow’s stunning St Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin, which are both located at the famous Red Square and something of icons of the country. It’s unlikely you’ll get a ticket to see a show at the incredible Bolshoi Theater if you leave it really late, but if you happen to get lucky (check the ticket website here) make sure you go. The theater is one of Moscow’s highlights and has been hosting ballet and opera shows for more than 200 years. The Moscow FIFA Fan Fest is located in Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills).
World Cup fixtures in Moscow: Russia v Saudi Arabia (June 14), Argentina v Iceland (June 16), Germany v Mexico (June 17), Poland v Senegal (June 19), Portugal v Morocco (June 20), Belgium v Tunisia (June 23), Denmark v France (June 26), Serbia v Brazil (June 27), plus winners of these rounds.
The city of St Petersburg surpasses even Moscow when it comes to culture and art. There’s an incredible collection – including some Picassos – at The Hermitage and the Russian Museum houses the world’s best collection of Russian art. It’s also a wonderful city to just ‘be’, so spend some time walking around the canal filled historic center admiring architecture that wouldn’t look out of place in rural England. The FIFA Fan Fest in St Petersburg is located in Konyushennaya Square.
World Cup fixtures in St Petersburg: Morocco v Iran (June 15), Russia v Egypt (June 19), Brazil v Costa Rica (June 22), Nigeria v Argentina (June 26), plus winners of these rounds.
Ekaterinburg (or Yekaterinburg)
The FIFA Fan Fest will be in one of the Ekaterinburg’s best and largest public parks – Mayakovskiy Central Park – and is set up to host up to 17,000 visitors, making it a great option for your time in the city, even when the football isn’t on. Other popular sights here include the huge Church upon the Blood, which sits on the site where the Romanov family was executed and acts a lavish memorial. The best way to explore and find fun things to do in Ekaterinburg is to do the self-guided Red Line Walking Tour which takes in the top 35 things to see and do. Get the map here.
World Cup fixtures in Ekaterinburg: Egypt v Uruguay (June 15), France v Peru (June 21), Japan v Senegal (June 24), and Mexico v Sweden (June 27).
It’s not the prettiest of cities but nevertheless Kaliningrad is much more laid back and easier to navigate than some of the other World Cup host cities. Top attractions include the Museum of the World Ocean, which is made up of several ships and submarines in the Pregolya River, and includes some great exhibitions on the ocean, a few small aquariums and a large exhibit on space research. All in all it’s not a bad way to while away a spare morning. Other popular things to see and do there include Kaliningrad Cathedral, the Bunker Museum and the quirky Amber Museum. The Kaliningrad FIFA Fan Fest is located in the Central Square.
World Cup fixtures in Kaliningrad: Croatia v Nigeria (June 16), Serbia v Switzerland (June 22), Spain v Morocco (June 25), and England v Belgium (June 28).
The biggest jewel in Kazan’s tourist crown is the Kazan Kremlin, a Unesco World Heritage Site and the only surviving Tatar fortress in all of Russia. It was conquered in 1552 by Ivan the Terrible but much of the complex is still in tact today. Another of the city’s seriously impressive buildings is the brightly colored Temple of All Religions which has a very distinct red dome and was inspired by the architect’s travels to temples in India and Tibet. The FIFA Fan Fest is located in the Family Center Kazan.
World Cup fixtures in Kazan: France v Australia (June 16), Iran v Spain (June 20), Poland v Colombia (June 24), South Korea v Germany (June 27), plus later games in the tournament.
This city is quite a lively one with loads of options to eat and drink, as well as things to see and do. Top of most visitor’s lists is (another) kremlin, which houses the city’s oldest and most historically important buildings. Another popular attraction is the Gorky Museum, which is the former home of Maksim Gorky, five-time Nobel Prize in Literature and now a museum dedicated to his life and work. If you’d rather just meander, do it along Bolshaya Pokrovskaya, one of the oldest but most bustling streets – a great spot for people watching. The FIFA Fan Fest is located in Minin and Pozharsky Square.
World Cup fixtures in Kazan: Sweden v South Korea (June 18), Argentina v Croatia (June 21), England v Panama (June 24), Switzerland v Costa Rica (June 27), plus later games.
Rostov on Don
As a port city, Rostov on Don is larger and busier than some of the other cities on the FIFA World Cup 2018 itinerary, with plenty to see and do. The biggest crowds are usually found in Pushkin Street which is a long boulevard lined with plenty of restaurants, cafes, food stalls and, as is rather common in Russia, statues. It’s the place to go to get a feel for the city. Other popular attractions are Rostov Zoo, one of the biggest in the country, the Central Market in downtown Rostov, and the embankment by the Don River, which gets especially busy at night. The Rostov on Don FIFA Fan Fest is located in Theater Square.
World Cup fixtures in Rostov on Don: Brazil v Switzerland (June 17), Uruguay v Saudi Arabia (June 20), South Korea v Mexico (June 23), Iceland v Croatia (June 26), plus winners of these rounds.
As well as being a busy city, Samara also benefits from a city beach along the banks of the Volga, the longest river in Europe. In the warmer summer months it pulls in crowds who bring their beach towels, wind breaks and picnics! If the World Cup crowds get too much for you, head here for a beach break. Other top attractions in Samara include a wonderful Museum of Modern Art, which focuses on local talents, the Samara Cathedral Mosque and Samara Space Museum, which explains how Russia became one of the world leaders in space exploration. The Samara FIFA Fan Fest is located in Kuibyshev Square.
World Cup fixtures in Samara: Costa Rica v Serbia (June 17), Denmark v Australia (June 21), Uruguay v Russia (June 25), Senegal v Colombia (June 28), plus winners of earlier fixtures.
As well as being the capital of the Republic of Mordovia, Saransk is possibly best known as the home of the former French actor Gerard Depardieu! As well as lots of museums (including the rather quirky Museum of War and Work Efforts), art galleries and monuments, there’s lots of great public parks, including the family-friendly Pushkin Park. The city’s most famous sight, however, is the Cathedral of St Fyodor Ushakov, built to celebrate the life of a revered Russian naval commander.
World Cup fixtures in Saransk: Peru v Denmark (June 16), Colombia v Japan (June 19), Iran v Portugal (June25) and Panama v Tunisia (June 28).
Sochi is one of Russia’s most popular summer vacation spots so if you’ve got tickets to a game here, consider yourself lucky! Despite playing host to the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sochi has more of a riviera vibe with a subtropical climate in summer. Famous for its lavash bread and caviar, there’s lots of restaurants and bars to keep you busy. Other popular things to do include boat cruises on the Black Sea coast, visiting the nearby 33 Waterfalls which form part of the Dzhegosh Stream, and shopping at the Sochi Central Market. The FIFA Fan Fest in Sochi is located at the South Mall of the Seaport.
World Cup fixtures in Sochi: Portugal v Spain (June 15), Belgium v Panama (June 18), Germany v Sweden (june 23), Australia v Peru (June 26), plus later round matches.
Like Sochi, Volgograd is a great place to be when the weather’s nice. Here you can take a cruise down the Volga, enjoy a walk in Komsomol Park, visit the Volgograd Planetarium or take advantage of the very hip coffee house scene in the city. By far the most popular attraction – especially for tourists from around Russia – is the Mamayev Kurgan memorial complex commemorating those who died in the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II. It’s a must-see in the city. Volgograd’s FIFA Fan Fest is at the 62nd Army Embankment.
World Cup fixtures in Volgograd: Tunisia v England (June 18), Nigeria v Iceland (June 22), Saudi Arabia v Egypt (June 25) and Japan v Poland (June 28).
*Content first written/published in June 2018. Information correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.