Football stopover

Being one of the world’s largest nations, Russia draws tourists from all across the globe. Whether you’re interested in historic cities and monuments, dramatic landscapes and scenery, or world-class museums of art, literature and culture, Russia has something for every kind of traveller. With the country set to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, we take you to five of the best cities that the country offers.

Moscow

The largest city on the European continent, Moscow has been transforming for centuries. Russia’s cultural, political and industrial capital, Moscow has a rich history, which can be seen in its diverse architectural styles. The city is blessed with beautiful architecture and cultural landmarks like the Bolshoi Theatre, the Kremlin, the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum and the Tretyakov Gallery. It is served by three international airports and the world’s second-busiest underground system. Moscow’s metro system, the deepest in the world, is like a gallery itself with beautiful stations designed with intricate mosaics, columns, socialist statues and murals, offering a dose of culture for your daily commute.

Matches: Eight matches will be played here, including the semi-final and the final.

 

Saint Petersburg

The cultural crown of Russia, Saint Petersburg is a great place to learn about Russian culture and history. Founded as the imperial capital by Peter the Great in 1703, the city sees a footfall of over five million tourists each year. From the Imperial palaces to quirky and absorbing museums, from boat trips along the city’s majestic rivers and canals to walks in the footsteps of Saint Petersburg’s literary and artistic greats, there’s a lot to see and do here to keep you busy.

Matches: Saint Petersburg Stadium will stage Round of 16 game, the semi-final and the match for third place.

Kazan

Boasting over 1,000 years of history, Tatarstan’s capital city Kazan is one of the oldest cities in Russia and is full of history and culture. Also known as the ‘Sports Capital of Russia’, the Kazan Kremlin, a World Heritage Site, is a must-visit here. The only surviving Tatar fortress in Russia, the bright, white sandstone walls encircle the city’s historical centre filled with age-old gems. Highlights include the Kul Sharif Mosque, the Hermitage and the Tatarstan Museum of Natural History. Don’t forget to indulge yourself in the traditional delicacy chak-chak, a national Tatar and Bashkir dish made from pastry and honey.

Matches: Kazan Arena to host four group games, a Round of 16 match and a quarter-final.

Saransk

With a population of just under 340,000, Saransk is the capital of Russia’s Mordovia region and is one of the smaller host cities at the 2018 World Cup. However, the beauty of this city is beyond words. Located on the banks of the Saranka river, this European-influenced city has plethora of historical buildings, theatres, museums and parks.

Matches: Mordovia Arena to host games in Groups B, C, G and H.

Samara

The capital of the Samara Region, this town is one of the most prominent of the Volga region cities. Primarily famous as Russia’s aerospace centre, Samara is also known for Stalin’s massive 37-metre deep bunker and the beautiful nature preserve, Zhigulevskie Hills, on the Volga river. Other activities that tourists can take part in while visiting the city are swimming in the Volga at Samara Beach, trekking or hiking the Zhiguli Mountains, eating vobla (salted, dried fish) at Troitsky Market, etc. 

Matches: It will host four group stage matches, a match in the Round of 16 and a quarter-final.

Words: Alan Malnar

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