The Rio 2016 Olympics is upon us which means two weeks of TV sporting bliss. But if you’re a hard core sports fanatic, you’ll already be looking to see beyond the Olympics to the next biggest World Sporting event and be relieved to discover that just on the horizon is Russia’s World Cup 2018. Russia loves a big ‘knees-up’ – particularly as they don’t often get too many on a global scale – and being the first country in the former Soviet Union to host the FIFA World Cup, this is set to be a big one! Whether you plan to be there in person or enjoy the Vodka from your couch, here’s a snapshot guide to help you prepare for the most viewed sporting event on earth.
Host Cities & Stadiums
Other than Vodka, the largest country in the world is renowned for its diverse cultures, architecture and food, but you would probably need to take all of your annual leave at once to properly enjoy everything it has to offer. If you only have a week or two however, you can still achieve a complete Russian experience during the World Cup as the host cities have been conveniently limited to the West of the country. The games will centre around Moscow, St Petersburg, the Volga River, and the Black Sea resort of Sochi, as well as in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.
If to you, a holiday means a suntan and beaches, then hope the draw favours you, and your team get to play in Sochi which is home to the Black Sea beach resort. Sochi was the setting for the 2014 Winter Olympics but during the World Cup you can expect to enjoy average summer temperatures of 26C – perfect shorts and t-shirt weather with a Black Russian (of the liquid type) in hand. The Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, named after Mount Fisht, will see World Cup action in the group stages and in the first two knockout stages.
The other 2 locations that make up the Southern Cities are Volgograd and Rostov-on-Don. Be enchanted by the former, one of the most beautiful and ancient cities of Russia, then head on over to the latter where you can catch a cruise ship over to Moscow or vice versa. The Pobeda and Levberdon Arenas, respectively, will host some group fixtures.
Two stadiums, located in the capital of Moscow, will most likely host the finals and semi-finals. You may be familiar with the Luzhniki Stadium as the site of the Champions League showdown of 2008 between English Premier League teams, Manchester United and Chelsea. It will also be the location of the opening game, the second semi-final as well as the final. Meanwhile, the Spartak Stadium, which bid to host the opening game of the football World Cup 2018, will accommodate a round of 16 game. The stomping ground of one of the biggest Russian teams, Spartak Moscow, will also hold some group stage fixtures. If you’re planning to stay in the busy capital, avoid the traffic jams by using the extremely efficient and cheap Moscow Metro – arguably one of the most beautiful subway systems in world.
The Nizhny Novgorod Stadium is still being built but is to expect some quarter-final action as well as a round of 16 game.
The Piter Arena in the famous city of St Petersburg is currently under construction but will be home to FC Zenit St Petersburg and will put on a round of 16 game, some group games and a quarter-final game. St Petersburg, of course, is one of the most romantic cities in the world with its winding canals, boulevards and vast gardens, so why not double up your trip to the Russia World Cup 2018 as a honeymoon or romantic getaway (just putting it out there)?
Home to FC Baltika Kaliningrad, the Kaliningrad Stadium is also currently under construction but will host some group games. If you’re planning to make the journey to this Baltic region and wander at the remnants of the German influence throughout the city, you may be able to do so via a high-speed railway which the Russians are planning to build to link Kaliningrad with mainland Russia in time for the tournament.
If your preferred mode of transport is by boat, then base your World Cup Soccer 2018 around the cities dotted around the Volga River. Marvel at the multiculturalism of Kazan, where Europe meets Asia. The Kazan Arena, which features the biggest outside stadium screen in Europe, will host a round of 16 game as well as a quarter-final game. The other cities within this area are the charming Russian provincial cities of Saransk and Samara. Once built, the Mordovia Arena in the former has been assigned group games while the Cosmos Arena in the latter will host a game from the first knockout stage as well as a last eight encounter.
Stop by the UNESCO recognized ‘one of 12 ideal cities in the world’, Ekaterinburg (Yekaterinburg), Russia’s fourth largest city situated in the Urals. The Central Stadium here will accommodate group games for the 2018 World Cup.
Socceroos Important Dates
Thur 1 Sep 2016: Australia v Iraq (HOME)
Tue 6 Sep 2016: UAE v Australia (AWAY)
Thur 6 Oct 2016: Saudi Arabia v Australia (AWAY)
Tue 11 Oct 2016: Australia v Japan (HOME)
Tue 15 Nov 2016: Thailand v Australia (AWAY)
Thur 23 Mar 2017: Iraq v Australia (AWAY)
Tue 28 Mar 2017: Australia v UAE (HOME)
Thur 8 Jun 2017: Australia v Saudi Arabia (HOME)
Thur 31 Aug 2017: Japan v Australia (AWAY)
Tue 5 Sep 2017: Australia v Thailand (HOME)
The Russian Government is allowing all those with valid tickets to the 2018 World Cup to enter the country without a visa. Spectators can stay in the country for over a month: during the world cup, as well as the ten days before and after the event. Don’t forget to bring a voltage adapter for a European standard two-pin plug and the Russian currency is Roubles.
If you’re looking for a great-value package for the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia, why not contact your dedicated FirstClass consultant who’ll do the leg-work for you. Just head on over to our World Cup 2018 Russia Tour page for the best deals in First and Business Class fares and top hotels, or simply pick up the phone to discuss your preferences.