Your travel guide for The 2018 FIFA World Cup Soccer in Russia

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Soccer in Russia is closing in fast! If you are a staunch fan of soccer, chances are you already made some arrangements to obtain tickets both to the soccer matches and the plane tickets to Russia as well as accommodation.If you haven’t yet then hurry up, you can still try and apply for your tickets here. As a last resort the last minute tickets sales have started and FIFA venue ticketing sales are now open. Now this article is not about tickets to the World Cup, which most fans already have arranged for well in advance. I am sure many of you out there have never been to Russia before and therefore would love to ask for some advice on the following (well, it’s a guess but this is what I would be asking if I was to embark on a journey to a country I have never visited before)

Is Russia a safe place to visit?
What activities can I do in Russia besides attending soccer matches?
Do I need a visa?
How do I get to and from different Russian cities?
What is a Russian attitude to tourists in general?
Do Russians speak English?
Is public transport available and/or reliable?
Is Russia an expensive country to visit?
Is there anything I should know, such as dos and don’ts while in Russia?
Useful links

Is Russia a safe place to visit?
In general, Russia is fairly safe. When in Russian cities one should pay a similar attention to personal security as they normally would in most big cities anywhere else. Common sense goes a long way.
The crime rates are on par with most Moscow’s western twin cities and statistics say that Moscow is actually safer than New York. That said, the World Cup is always an extremely busy time in host countries, therefore it is expected that there will be hordes of people everywhere and as a result it might attract more pickpockets as well. As a rule of thumb ensure that you keep a close watch on your personal items such as watches, wallets, backpacks and bags in general and don’t carry big amounts of cash around. Also, just like in any other big place – avoid walking alone in poorly lit areas at night. Just like anywhere else, the outer suburbs of Moscow tend to be more dangerous than inner ones closer to the city (this is where the pickpockets will be concentrating but less violent criminals of sorts. But tourists in general have no business going there anyway. And if they did – chances are they will still be fine (but a bit of caution never hurts anybody). Finally, expect as many police officers in and around soccer matches as tourists, because after all this prestigious tournament is very important for Russia so the authorities will do everything possible to protect people.

What activities can I do in Russia besides attending soccer matches?
Again, expect the World Cup soccer to be extremely busy time, therefore a lot of tourists attractions are very likely to be packed to the rafters. That said, if you pick the right time, then you should be able to enjoy it. See our travel guide for things to do in Russia in general.

Do I need a visa?
Usually, obtaining a Russian visa for most Western tourists is somewhat both tedious and confusing process. But here is the good news: for FIFA World Cup, Russian authorities waved the visa requirements a visa to Russia for anyone visiting the World Cup games. All you need is a passport or a travel document (if you are stateless). But you will also need to obtain a Fan ID issued to the spectators of 2018 World Cup  to be eligible for visa free travel. For that, you will need to obtain tickets first. You can apply for a Fan ID here
How do I get to and from different Russian cities?
All World Cup games will be concentrated in the several cities of European part of Russia, namely: Kaliningrad, Kazan, Krasnodar, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Saint Petersburg, Samara, Saransk, Sochi, Volgograd, Yaroslavl, and Yekaterinburg. The travel between these cities for spectators will be absolutely free (whohooo!)You still need to register for your free ticket, which can be done here. If you are just happened to visit Russia during the World Cup but not actually planning to attend any of the World Cup games, then you will have to buy your tickets.

What is a Russian attitude towards tourists in general?
There is actually a (false) negative perception of Russians being “unfriendly” to tourists. This is not the case. In reality, Russian etiquette is a little different from the Western one.Russians tend not to smile as much as westerners to strangers – this is not a case of resentment but rather in Russian culture smiling without a reason is not very common. But if you smile at them, most will smile back. Once you get to know a Russian, you will come to realise that Russians are actually very warm and friendly people. Most tourists are visiting big cities such as Moscow, where they usually see people who are always in a hurry. So it often looks like they are unfriendly when they are actually wrapped up in their own lives. But should you require assistance most will do everything they can to help you. Russians would also like to get to know a person a bit more before they get comfortable with them. Finally, many Russians (bar the younger generations) don’t speak English. So the “Russian rudeness” can often be mistaken for inability to understand what you are saying. This by the way, brings me to the next point:

Do Russians speak English?
As compared to non-English speaking countries of Western Europe (where the integration is inseparable fact of being in the EU) English is not as widely spoken. In fact most Russian do not speak English. And why would they? Russia is a huge country and Russian is one of the most widely spoken language in the world. Most didn’t find the need to learn English. Russia has also (relatively) recently opened up for a general tourism (after the break-up of the Soviet Union that is) therefore this is also a factor. So most hotels and main touristy areas will have English speaking personal (I am sure the Russian authorities will hire more of them during the World Cup) but if you ever stroll outside of these areas and need help, look for younger people as there is more chance of them speaking English than the older generation. It won’t hurt to learn a few phrases in Russian either. There are also quite a few applications you can install on your phone that translates the conversation.

Is public transport available and/or reliable?
Public transport in Russia is on par (and in most cases better) with Western standards.For example, Moscow metro is arguably the best in the world. It is also a museum in itself as the historical architecture of Moscow metro stations is mind blowing. It was opened in 1935 and was a huge soviet propaganda project, so expect to be well… blown away by its beauty.  It also serves as one of the attractions to visitors and will get one to virtually any part of Moscow. Many Russians don’t even find the need to use their cars to get around Moscow.
Is Russia an expensive country to visit?
Generally speaking, Russia is much cheaper than Western countries. Moscow and the St Petersburg are one of the most expensive cities in the World but you shop where locals shop you will find that many places are actually much cheaper. But the World Cup being a hugely popular event might change that. Expect accommodation to be ridiculously expensive, so shop around and don’t stick to hotels only. There will be many people willing to lease out their own places for the duration of the World Cup event so the first place to look is Airbnb. It is also possible to arrange for accommodation with locals on the spot but as a word of caution beware of scammers, therefore I won’t recommend this option if you don’t know what you are doing.  If you decide to book a hotel (the safest option) then you can find them here 

Most of the World Cup action will be concentrated in Moscow, including the opening and the finals.
To help you decide where to look for accommodation, we are listing the Moscow games below:
The 2018 FIFA World Cup Schedule 
June 14th – Match 1. Moscow, “Luzhniki”. Russia – Saudi Arabia
June 16th – Match 7. Moscow, “Spartak” Argentina – Iceland
June 17th – Match 11. Moscow, “Luzhniki”. Germany – Mexico
June 19th – Match 15. Moscow, “Spartak” Poland – Senegal
June 20th – Match 19. Moscow, “Luzhniki”. Portugal – Morocco
June 23rd – Match 29. Moscow, “Spartak” Belgium – Tunis
June 26th – Match 37. Moscow, “Luzhniki”. Denmark – France
June 27th – Match 41. Moscow, “Spartak” Serbia – Brazil
July 1st – Match 51. 1/8 finals. Moscow, Luzhniki. 1B – 2A
July 3rd – Match 55. 1/8 finals. Moscow, “Spartak”. 1H-2G
July 10th – Match 62. 1/2 finals. Moscow, Luzhniki. P59 – P60
July 15th – Match 64. Final. Moscow, Luzhniki

Is there anything I should know, such as dos and don’ts while in Russia?

Do apply for a visa early. The process can be confusing and tedious. If you are a spectator, then do register and obtain a Fan ID early and register for your free travel tickets between World Cup hosting cities
Do learn the Cyrillic alphabet. Many places in Russia do not have any signs in English, therefore it will help you to read the signs (e.g. metro and street signs)
Do try some local dishes and visit top attractions
Do learn some Russian phrases – many Russians don’t speak any English
Do use the Moscow Metro, visit the Red Squire, Kremlin and the Saint Basil’s Cathedral. These are the biggest must see Moscow attractions by far.
Do try and engage with the locals – this will be part of your Russia experience. Start of by asking if they speak English or other foreign language first and you will find that most will be more than willing to help you.
Do remove your shoes (unless asked not to) if you are invited by local to their house – this is a Russian custom. You will most likely be given a pair of slippers to walk around their home.
Do make a photocopy of your IDs.

Don’t be disrespectful.
Don’t engage in sensitive political topics (such as Crimea or war in Ukraine’s Donbass region)
Don’t speak negatively of the Russian president. Whatever opinion you have of Putin keep it to yourself, as most Russians are actually genuinely supporting him and even those that don’t, might still get defensive and offended (after all they live here and you are a visitor).
Don’t carry large amounts of cash around
Don’t hand your passport or travel document to a police officer. If asked, hold it out in your hand for him to see. The Russian law does not require you to hand it over. We do not expect you to face the police in Russia during the event but still be mindful of that fact.
Don’t travel to trouble areas, such as Chechnya or Dagestan. The conflict might be over but these places can turn unfriendly in a beat.

Useful Links
Travel guide Russia
Travel video Moscow
Travel video Saint Petersburg
Top hotel deals in Russia
2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018 Schedule PDF
Fan Guide

Have the best time at The FIFA 2018

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