The FIFA World Cup is coming to Russia in June! If you got your tickets to a game or two (or seven) a few months ago, you’ve probably thought of little else since. But here are a few things you should start to wrap your mind around.
First, know that your Fan ID acts as your visa to Russia. Russia has relaxed its visa rules for the World Cup so all you have to do is order a Fan ID here, and this works as essentially a FIFA visa. These FIFA visas let you into the country for the tournament, give you free rides on public transportation, and let you into stadiums (along with your ticket) for the games.
Second, if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to think about other things you might want to do while in Russia. The World Cup is spread over a number of great cities, and activities in these cities are likely to book up early, so plan ahead if you want to see a show, visit a museum, have a spa day, or anything else you can imagine. Here are some highlights from the Russian host cities:
- Moscow – The largest city in all of Europe, Moscow has a bit of everything. Plan to see the Kremlin and Red Square, and consider visiting some of the cathedrals if you’re a fan of architecture. Saint Basil’s Cathedral, in particular, is iconic.
- Petersburg – If you’re an art lover, you have to see the Salvador Dali Museum. You might also consider a trip to the Sunken Gardens for a relaxing break from all the excitement of the tournament. This is the most cosmopolitan city in Russia.
- Sochi – Sochi is a resort city and was home to the 2014 Winter Olympics. Here you’ll find wonderful nightlife and restaurants as well as spas and an amusement park called the Dolphinarium.
- Ekaterinburg – This city (sometimes spelled with a “Y” at the beginning) is Russia’s fourth largest and home to sixteen universities. You’ll find a lot of young people in this city and one of the fastest metro systems anywhere in the world.
- Saransk – Saransk is one of the smaller host cities with a population of 300,000. Here you’ll find beautiful cathedrals and mosques as well as a number of speed walkers – Saransk has an Olympic training center for race walking.
- Rostov-on-Don – This port city sits on the Don River delta near the Sea of Azov. It is a center of technology in Russia and home to many startups and top universities.
- Kazan – A multitude of cultures mix together in Kazan, which is considered one of Russia’s most beautiful cities. Be sure to check out the city’s colorful mosques and beautiful parks.
- Kaliningrad – This city was once part of Germany, and much of the German architecture remains. It’s home to 90% of the world’s amber deposits, so be sure to go jewelry shopping while staying here.
- Samara – This is the space and aviation capital of Russia. Visit the Kuibyshev Aviation Institute to learn all about the space race from the Russian perspective.
- Volgograd – Once known as Stalingrad, this city was home to what’s considered the longest and bloodiest battle in the history of war. History buffs simply must see this city.
- Nizhny Novgorod – Another major technology center of Russia, this city also has beautiful monasteries and cathedrals, as well as a brand-new stadium for the World Cup.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.