The FIFA world cup 2018 is just around the corner, and hopefully by now all the lucky ticket holders will have accommodation and flights booked ready for the big event.
Russia is the largest country on earth, with an area of just over 17 million km2. Luckily for fans and players alike, all the stadiums being used for the tournament are on the European side of Russia. Fans can look forward to matches in the cities of Moscow, St Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Saransk, Samara, Kazan, Ekaterinburg, Volgograd, Sochi, Rostov on Don, Kaliningrad.
This travel guide for the 2018 world cup in Russia will give you an overview of the locations, highlight any safety issues you may encounter and give you some great travel tips for your adventure.
- Locations, Stadiums & Matches
- Travel Warnings
- Travel Tips
Locations, Stadiums & Matches
(All times shown in local Russian time.)
Moscow is the capital of Russia and its most populous city with 12.5 million residents.
Moscow is the only city with two stadiums which will be used for world cup 2018 matches. This includes the final on July the 15th to be played at the Luzhniki Stadium.
As with any major metropolitan area, common sense and street smarts should be applied to keep you safe. Walking alone at night should be avoided where possible. Visitors who stick to popular tourist locations generally have incident free visits.
Moscow has a problem with feral street dogs, which can operate in packs and attack humans. Some statistics suggest there are around 20,000 dogs bites every year in the city, making it a more common occurrence than being mugged. Street dogs also frequent the Moscow subway system, even riding the train cars between locations.
Pickpockets are a problem in certain crowded areas such as Red Square or in long queues. Always wear a handbag or rucksack facing forward. Do not stop or engage with large groups of children or teenagers, as they are often used for distraction robberies and pick pocketing.
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
14th June 2018 18:00 – Russia vs Saudi Arabia – Group A.
17th June 2018 18:00 – Germany vs Mexico – Group F.
20th June 2018 15:00 – Portugal vs Morocco – Group B.
26th June 2018 17:00 – Denmark vs France – Group C.
1st July 2018 17:00 – Group B Winner vs Group A Runner-up – Round of 16.
11th July 2018 21:00 – Winner of Match 59 vs Winner of Match 60 – Semi Final.
15th July 2018 18:00 – Winner of Match 61 vs Winner of Match 62 – Final.
Spartak Stadium, Moscow
16th June 2018 16:00 – Argentina vs Iceland – Group D.
19th June 2018 15:00 – Poland vs Senegal – Group H.
23rd June 2018 15:00 – Belgium vs Tunisia – Group B.
26th June 2018 17:00 – Serbia vs Brazil – Group C.
3rd July 2018 21:00 – Group H Winner vs Group G Runner-up– Round of 16.
Saint Petersburg is an important Russian port on the Baltic Sea, and Russia’s second-largest city with five million residents. Saint Petersburg was the capital of Imperial Russia until 1918 when the capital was changed to Moscow.
Saint Petersburg is the cultural capital of Russia with over 200 museums, including extensive fine art collections. It is also a hub for important Russian ballet, opera and theater institutions. As well as a strong heritage in Russian literature.
As a major Russian tourist location, safety is good for a city of this size. Tourists are unlikely to become victims of crimes, except maybe incidents of petty theft. As always, standard travel security precautions should be observed.
Saint Petersburg Stadium
15th June 2018 17:00 – Morocco vs Iran – Group B.
19th June 2018 21:00 – Russia vs Egypt – Group A.
22nd June 2018 15:00 – Brazil vs Costa Rica – Group E.
26th June 2018 21:00 – Nigeria vs Argentina – Group D.
3rd July 2018 17:00 – Group F Winner vs Group E Runner-up – Round of 16.
10th July 2018 21:00 – Winner of Match 57 vs Winner of Match 58 – Semi Final.
14th July 2018 17:00 – Loser of Match 61 vs Loser of Match 62 – Third Place.
Nizhny Novgorod is a Russian city in the Volga Federal District and Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. It is the main center for river tourism in Russia, and an important cultural city with a large number of universities, theaters, museums and churches.
Nizhny Novgorod does not have any major issues with crime, and walking alone during the day or night is generally safe. General travel safety precautions should be observed.
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
Capacity: 45,000 seats
18th June 2018 15:00 – Sweden vs Korea Republic – Group F.
21st June 2018 21:00 – Argentina vs Croatia – Group D.
24th June 2018 15:00 – England vs Panama – Group G.
27th June 2018 21:00 – Switzerland vs Costa Rica – Group E.
1st July 2018 21:00 – Group D Winner vs Group C Runner-up – Round of 16.
6th July 2018 17:00 – Winner of Match 49 vs Winner of Match 50 – Quarter Final.
Saransk is the capital city of the Republic of Mordovia in Russia. It is located in the Volga basin about 630km east of Moscow.
The stadium, along with a lot of new local infrastructure including airport and accommodation construction have been purpose-built for the world cup. This may indicate there is not a great deal to do in Saransk and for a city of over 300,000 you would be right. There are some local museums and attractions, but they are limited. The city is mostly an industrial area.
Crime is not a significant issue in Saransk. However, the city has not experienced an event like this before. Use common sense travel precautions as with any city visits.
16th June 2018 19:00 – Peru vs Denmark – Group C.
19th June 2018 18:00 – Colombia vs Japan – Group H.
25th June 2018 21:00 – Iran vs Portugal – Group B.
28th June 2018 21:00 – Panama vs Tunisia – Group G.
Samara is the ninth largest city in Russia. It is located in the Samara Oblast, situated in the southeastern part of European Russia the east bank of the Volga river which serves as an important economic and cultural part of the city. The city riverfront is a highlight of the city for tourist activity.
The local Zhigulyovskoye beer takes its name from the nearby Zhiguli Mountains across the other side of the river. The city population is about 1.2 million residents.
The city suffers from an above average crime rate for a city of this size. Walking alone at night is not advised. Robberies and violent assaults are not uncommon. Discrimination is rife, especially against members of the LBGT community.
17th June 2018 16:00 – Costa Rica vs Serbia – Group E
21st June 2018 19:00 – Denmark vs Australia – Group C
25th June 2018 18:00 – Uruguay vs Russia – Group A
28th June 2018 18:00 – Senegal vs Colombia – Group H
2nd July 2018 18:00 – Group E Winner vs Group F Runner-up – Round of 16
Kazan is the capital of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan with a population of over 1.1 million it is the sixth most populous city in Russia. Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia. Many consider Kazan to be the third capital of Russia behind Moscow and St Petersburg.
In 2009 it was chosen as the sports capital of Russia, and it is still considered its sports capital today. In the past it has hosted the Bandy World Championships in 2005 and 2011, the World Summer Universiade in 2013, the World Fencing Championships in 2014, the Aquatics Championship FINA in 2015, and the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2017. It has established and successful Russians sports teams competing in football (Ruben Kazan), Ice hockey, basketball, bandy, volleyball and water polo.
The streets between Profsoyuznaya, Kremlevskaya, Bauman and Pravobulachnaya are nicknamed the “Bermuda Triangle” and are home to the largest concentration of nightclubs and bars. This is the area where most of the street crime in Kazan occurs as a result of drunk behaviour or robbery. It is advised to avoid these paces at night, or take sensible precautions if visiting them. During daylight hours the city is reasonably safe to visit most popular areas. The area around the arena is also a crime hotspot.
16th June 2018 13:00 – France vs Australia – Group C
20th June 2018 21:00 – Iran vs Spain – Group B
24th June 2018 21:00 – Poland vs Colombia – Group H
27th June 2018 17:00 – Korea Republic vs Germany – Group F
30th June 2018 17:00 – Group C Winner vs Group D Winner – Round of 16
6th July 2018 21:00 – Winner of Match 53 vs Winner of Match 54 – Quarter Final
Yekaterinburg (Ekaterinburg), is the fourth-largest city in Russia and the administrative centre of Sverdlovsk Oblast, located on the Iset River east of the Ural Mountains. It has a population of just over 1.3 million residents. Ekaterinburg is one of the largest financial and business centers in Russia, which has created the city to be one of the most developed in the country, with good infrastructure and amenities.
There are no special safety concerns in Yekaterinburg. Due to the nature of the city and its important commercial status security is well maintained. In fact you are more likely to fall victim to over zealous local authorities than criminals. However, with all cities you should be aware of your surroundings and use common sense.
15 June 2018 17:00 – Egypt vs Uruguay – Group A
21 June 2018 17:00 – France vs Peru – Group C
24 June 2018 20:00 – Japan vs Senegal – Group H
27 June 2018 19:00 – Mexico vs Sweden – Group F
Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) is a city in the southwest of Russia, located on the western bank of the Volga River. It was the site of infamous and brutal Battle of Stalingrad in World War 2. You will find the battle commemorated on a hill overlooking the city called Mamayev Kurgan, where a complex of statues and memorials can be found.
Due to the important historical nature of the city, it is generally a safe city for tourists. There have been several suicide bombings in recent years which resulted in fatalities, but such incidents are rare. You should take general safety precautions and pay close attention to warnings and public safety announcements.
Capacity: 45,000 seats
18 June 2018 21:00 – Tunisia vs England – Group G
22 June 2018 18:00 – Nigeria vs Iceland – Group D
25 June 2018 17:00 – Saudi Arabia vs Egypt – Group A
28 June 2018 17:00 – Japan vs Poland – Group H
Sochi is a city in the Russian federal subject of Krasnodar Krai of the North Caucasus region. It is located on the Black Sea coast near the borders between Georgia, the disputed region of Abkhazia and Russia.
The city is a famous sporting location in Russia having held the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, and has been the location of the Formula 1 Russian grand prix since 2014.
Sochi is on the Western side of the North Caucasus, which is considerably safer than the Eastern areas around Chechnya. However, visitors are advised not to stray far from the city, especially towards Mount Elbrus and the disputed border areas.
15 June 2018 21:00 – Portugal vs Spain – Group B
18 June 2018 18:00 – Belgium vs Panama – Group G
23 June 2018 18:00 – Germany vs Sweden – Group F
26 June 2018 17:00 – Australia vs Peru – Group C
30 June 2018 21:00 – Group A Winner vs Group B Runner-up – Round of 16
7 July 2018 21:00 – Winner of Match 51 vs Winner of Match 52 – Quarter Final
Rostov-on-Don is a Russian port city in the Southern Federal District of Rostov Oblast. It lies on the Don River, 32km from the Sea of Azov.
The city is also in the North Caucasus region and the largest Southern Russian city with over one million inhabitants. Rostov-on-Don does suffer from a high crime rate, and precautions should be taken against theft and robbery. It is advised not to walk alone at night in the central part of the city, where violent robberies and assaults occur.
During the World Cup Russian authorities will be taking special precautions in Rostov-on-Don to protect visitors.
17 June 2018 21:00 – Brazil vs Switzerland – Group E
20 June 2018 18:00 – Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia – Group A
23 June 2018 21:00 – Korea Republic vs Mexico – Group F
26 June 2018 21:00 – Iceland vs Croatia – Group D
2 July 2018 21:00 – Group G Winner vs Group H Runner-up – Round of 16
7 July 2018 18:00 – Winner of Match 55 vs Winner of Match 56 – Quarter Final
Kaliningrad (formerly Königsberg) is the administrative capital of the Kaliningrad oblast, a Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea, which is bordered by Poland to the south and Lithuania to the east. Russia proper can only be accessed from Kaliningrad by sea or air. The oblast was annexed by the Soviet Union during world war 2, and remains a key strategic location for Russia.
Kaliningrad is a popular Russian tourist destination due to its unique location and status. The region is relatively safe, and crimes against tourists are rare. General travel safety measures should be observed, as when visiting any European city.
16 June 2018 21:00 – Croatia vs Nigeria – Group D
22 June 2018 20:00 – Serbia vs Switzerland – Group E
25 June 2018 20:00 – Spain vs Morocco – Group B
28 June 2018 20:00 – England vs Belgium – Group G
The U.S Department of State
The U.S Department of State now advises to reconsider travel to Russia due to terrorism and harassment. Some areas of the country have an increased risk.
It also advises against all travel to the North Caucasus region due to civil unrest and terrorism, and to Crimea due to the ongoing occupation and conflict.
It notes that bomb threats against public venues are common, and U.S. citizens are often victims of harassment, mistreatment, and extortion by law-enforcement and other officials. Consular assistance to detained individuals is often unreasonably delayed by Russian officials.
The U.K Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The UK Foreign Office advises against all travel to within 10km of the border with the Ukraine, at the Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts. Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan and the districts of Budyonnovsky, Levokumsky, Neftekumsky, Stepnovsky and Kursky in Stavropol Krai.
It also advise against all but essential travel to within 10km of the border with the Ukrainian Kharkiv Oblast. North Ossetia, Karachai-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria.
With the heightened political tensions between the United Kingdom and Russia, visitors should be aware of the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade
The official advice from the Australian government is to exercise a “high degree of caution” when visiting Russia.
Australian travelers should be aware of the possibility of anti-Western sentiment or harassment. Remain vigilant, avoid any protests or demonstrations and avoid commenting publicly on political developments.
Travelers should reconsider visiting the border regions near the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkiv , and do not travel to the North Caucasus region.
The Government of Canada
The advice from the Canadian government is to exercise a high degree of caution in Russia due to crime and the threat form terrorism.
It continues by advising against all travel to the Republics of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia. The Republics of Kabardino-Balkaria (including the Mount Elbrus region), Karachai-Cherkessia and North Ossetia
Budyonnosky, Kurski, Levokumsky, Neftekumsky and Stepnovsky districts, in Stavropol’ Krai (region) and the districts of the Rostov Oblast that border Ukraine.
Travel Tips for Russia
- Klinskoye Svetloe, Nevskoe Imperial, Zhigulevskoye, Ochakovo, Baltika No. 3 and Permskoye Gubernskoye are all common and popular beer and lager brands in Russia.
- Vodka is a common drink for toasts and pretty much all occasions. Most often drank straight.
- Be alert for attempts to spike your drink in bars and nightclubs.
- Do not accept unlabeled vodka which is most likely bootlegged, and mixed with dubious ingredients.
- Don’t get too drunk, you may become an easy target for criminals. Public intoxication is also a crime in Russia.
- Russian nightclubs will almost certainly decline you entry if you show any signs of intoxication.
- “Face Control” is common at Russian nightclubs and bars. Russian door staff will make a snap judgement based on your looks and attire to decide if you are allowed entry.
- Some nightclubs refuse single patrons, both male and female. Find a friend to go with.
- If refused entry to a nightspot, turnaround and politely leave. Arguing with the door staff can be detrimental to your health.
- Public transport does not run from 1am to 5am, so you will need a taxi when going home at these hours.
- Try to avoid illegal taxis and other unofficial transport methods.
Local Superstitions and Social Faux Pas
- Don’t shake hands while wearing gloves. It considered very impolite.
- Don’t go to a house party or dinner party empty handed.
- Always remove your shoes before entering a house.
- It should go with out saying, but be respectful to your elders. This is an important social norm in Russia.
- Gender rules are still well defined in Russia. Holding a door open for a lady or helping her with heavy bags is considered good manners.
- Overt happiness is treated with suspicion in Russia. They come across as a surly bunch, but they smile when given a good reason.
- Whistling indoors is considered bad luck.
- Don’t step over someone on the floor, also considered bad luck for the person on the floor.
- Don’t criticize Russia or its politics. For example avoid discussions about Ukraine & Crimea, or speaking negatively about Putin who is widely popular.
- If you owe someone money dont pay that back after dark, wait until daylight hours. Another superstition.
- Another peculiar superstition is you must look in a mirror if you forget something in someones house. For example if you return to collect a jacket or hat you leave at someones house. Look in a mirror before you leave
Racism and LGBT Discrimination
In Russia there are various groups which promote radical nationalist and neo-nazi ideologies. Discrimination and hate crimes are common against immigrant populations. Ethnic groups that are regularly targeted include Arabs, Africans, Peoples of the Caucasus, Central Asians, Jews and the Vietnamese.
Football fan groups and hooligan elements have a long history of association with neo-nazi skinhead gangs. Racist chants and hate speech are common at matches throughout Russia.
Physical violence is common, and often goes unpunished by authorities.
There are currently no laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or against transgender people in Russia. Recently enacted laws could even make is possible to discriminate against transgender residents.
Polls indicate that Russians are against the acceptance of homosexuality and have shown support for laws discriminating against homosexuals.
Federal laws passed on the 29th of June 2013 ban the distribution of “propaganda” to minors which promotes “non-traditional sexual relationships”. This law is extremely ambiguous and are often used by law enforcement to discriminate again same sex couples.
We hope you enjoyed our article on the FIFA World Cup 2’18 in Russia, and we wish any travelers to the tournament a safe journey. Stay safe and enjoy the country and the football.
If you have anything to add, please let us know in the comments below.