It is an event which matters so much, to so many people and provides team and fans with the opportunity to come together and celebrate the beautiful game for just one month every four years.
The Top Soccer Tournament in the World
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is an event like no other on the planet. It is an event which matters so much, to so many people and provides team and fans with the opportunity to come together and celebrate the beautiful game for just one month every four years.
Attending the World Cup
To attend a World Cup is something special, a moment in life which will never be forgotten. Perhaps even more so than ever before in 2018. The tournament will be played across the vast country of Russia, providing visiting fans with an eclectic mix of cities, cultures and people throughout the tournament.
Even people who have less interest in football are swept away by World Cup fever. They support their nation and cheer on their new-found heroes.
With a World Cup also comes the opportunity to visit places never dreamed of before and to meet like minded people under the umbrella of one great sporting event. Fans from Russia, Iceland, Panama, Japan and Senegal to name but a few will be at the tournament. Where else can you meet so many people from different countries, in one place?
The World Cup Teams
All the big names will be there too, including defending champions Germany, South American favourites Brazil and Argentina. Also the European powerhouses France and Spain are massive contenders. Add the likes of an exciting Senegal team from Africa and confident Japanese outfit from Asia and we have the makings of a tremendous tournament.
The World Cup produces more dramatic and memorable incidents than any other football competition. Whether it be a last-minute winner, a nerve racking penalty shoot-out or a pure moment of individual brilliance from a world class player, the World Cup is full of enduring moments.
Which team will lift the trophy?
Germany will be aiming to win their fifth World Cup in Russia. This would move them level with Brazil in the all-time rankings. The Brazilians themselves looked very impressive in qualifying, topping the notoriously difficult South American group with ease. Argentina led by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi will also be hoping to have a say in things.
Iceland and Panama will be making their first appearance at a World Cup. The former will set the record for being the smallest country in terms of population to play in the finals. Will they cause an upset and go deep in the tournament or will the favourites come to the fore?
The 2018 World Cup is going to be a truly epic sporting event and the trip of a lifetime for fans.
Fan ID Requiered
Every fan who is attending the 2018 World Cup in Russia will need to hold a Fan ID card in addition to a match ticket. It is the only way fans will be allowed to enter stadiums during the tournament.
Fan ID Benefits
Fans must apply for the Fan ID card after obtaining a ticket or receiving a ticket confirmation. The great thing about the Fan ID card is it allows all foreign supporters to enter Russia for the World Cup without the need to obtain a Visa. You can stay 10 days before the first match you are attending and 10 days after the last game.
Inter-city trains and public transport in the host cities is free on presentation of the Fan ID card and an official match ticket. So, while the Fan ID is compulsory, it does have some significant benefits to fans during the 2018 World Cup.
Will European Dominance Continue?
Only one nation outside the European federation has competed in the last three World Cup final matches. That country was Argentina in the 2014 World Cup, but they could not end the dominance enjoyed by Europe as Germany defeated them with a late goal.
Germany’s recent success
Photo by Pabak Sarkar
Germany’s success followed World Cup wins for Spain in 2010 and Italy in 2006, meaning you must go back to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea to find the last time a non-European country won the tournament.
The honour that year was Brazil’s, who were led to the trophy by the phenomenal performances of Ronaldo. The striker netted a phenomenal 8 times to land the Golden Boot award.
However, Germany have enjoyed a successful period in the lead up to the 2018 World Cup. They have qualified from their group with a 100% record and winning the Confederations Cup with what was essentially a reserve team.
France and Spain
The European challenge looks even stronger when you look at a French squad packed with superstars including; Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Hugo Lloris. Spain also has a powerful team including; Sergio Ramos, David De Gea, Andres Iniesta and David Silva. Both teams are more than capable of lifting the trophy in Russia.
The European challenge is going to be big again this year.
Brazil and Argentina
Outside of Europe, Brazil can call upon Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar in addition to Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho. Argentina can boast the huge talent of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala.
Belguim the outside contenders
However, if you are looking for a potential outsider to back in the 2018 World Cup, then it’s back to Europe and a Belgian team including Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens looks superb.
Belgium are not ranked alongside the other top nations mentioned above but if Roberto Martinez can gel the talent at his disposal into a well-oiled machine, expect to see the Belgian’s go deep in the tournament.
So why World Cup 2018?
The 2018 World Cup in Russia is sure to produce its own special memories for everyone involved. From the team which lifts the trophy, to the team which performs above expectation and those who are just happy to be there, it’s going to be a momentous occasion.
However, without the fans the World Cup would be nothing and thousands of supporters are set to invade Russia for a month between 14th June and 15th July for the time of their lives. Will you be there?
The World Cup is a massive tournament and the host nation has a big job on its hands to stage the tournament. However, Russia is packed with tremendous cities and venues, meaning this World Cup is going to be a real treat for every fan who attends.
There is a total of 11 cities hosting games in Russia, with 12 different stadiums being used throughout the event.
The Luzhniki Stadium
The main focus for many fans will be the capital city Moscow, which has two stadiums in use during the tournament. The Luzhniki Stadium will host the opening game of the tournament, plus one semi-final and the final on the 15th July.
All the Big Events
The Luzhniki Stadium has a capacity of 81,000 and has a history of staging big football matches, having played host to the 2008 Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea. The stadium also hosted the 1999 UEFA Cup final, meaning it will join a small group of stadium’s to hold these two events and a World Cup final.
Moscow has many great sites for visitors to enjoy including Red Square, the Kremlin, Saint Basil’s Cathedral and GUM, Russia’s most famous department store including an 1890’s glass roofed arcade.
The Kremlin provides a unique insight to the running of modern day Russia and that of it’s tsarist past. You can see the palace in all it’s glory and gaze upon the Tsar Bell, which is the largest bell in the world. Also, do not miss the views over Moscow from the top or the Tsar’s treasure in the Diamond Fund.
Moscow Red Square
If you would like to catch a glimpse of local life, head to Red Square which is a busy hive of social activity and will provide a magical atmosphere and a great place to meet other fans during the World Cup.
Saint Basil’s Cathedral
From Red Square you can witness the splendour of Saint Basil’s Cathedral and the famous multi-coloured onion domes which sit upon the top of its towers.
The cathedral is now a museum and you can take a wooden spiral staircase into the central church.
The other semi-final plus the third-place match in addition to five other matches at the 2018 World Cup will be played at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg.
This stadium will have a capacity of 64,000 people for the World Cup and was opened in 2017, successfully hosting Confederations Cup matches, including the final.
During the tournament the stadium will be known as ‘Saint Petersburg Stadium’, to match the name of the tremendous city in which its located. The Hermitage Museum, Catherine Palace and Kizhi Island are all must-see attractions when staying in Saint Petersburg for the World Cup.
If you think you can see the Hermitage Museum in a day, forget it, this is a huge museum including masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso and Rembrandt. The impressive building itself plus the vast palace square mean you could spend days here and never get bored.
However, here are some many sites to see in this beautiful city and its surroundings you will have to try and drag yourself away.
A real contender for the most jaw-dropping building in Saint Petersburg can be found at Catherine Palace. The elaborately decorated blue-and-white facades immediately capture your attention and the magnificent interiors, including the state rooms form part of the stunning tour you can enjoy of the palace.
Saint Petersburg is not known as ‘the Venice of the North’ for no reason and is home to many fascinating islands. However, we recommend taking a trip to Kizhi island, which is like an open-air museum thanks to its stunning collection of Russian wooden buildings and churches.
Also, look out for what’s known as the ‘white nights’ during the tournament because of its northern geographical location, the sun does not dip below the horizon at night time.
While Russia and Saint Petersburg are the two most visited cities in Russia, the 2018 World Cup also gives fans the opportunity to see less visited parts of the country, such as Kazan.
Kazan is a city located on the banks of Volga and Kazanka rivers, in southeast Russia. Attractions here include the Kazan Kremlin, Kul Sharif Mosque, Old Tatar Settlement and the Soviet Lifestyle Museum, which provides a very interesting insight into Russian life in the 1970’s and 80’s.
If you would like to travel as far east as possible during the tournament, head to they city of Yekaterinburg. It’s located on the border of Europe and Asia and the stadium will have a 35,000 capacity for the World Cup, hosting four games.
The Other Cities
However, with 11 cities to choose from including Kaliningrad, Krasnodar, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saransk, Sochi, Volgograd and Yaroslavl you are spoilt for choice at the 2018 World Cup.
During the 2018 World Cup, Kaliningrad will host four group games, featuring some of the biggest teams in the tournament including Spain, England and Belgium.
Each game will be played in the Kaliningrad Stadium, which can accommodate 35,000 fans for the World Cup and has been constructed especially for the tournament. For those attending this stadium, look out for features like the Allianz Arena in Munich.
Kaliningrad is very interesting in that it is not part of mainland Russia and is not connect to it in any way.
In fact, the city of Kaliningrad is located between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea.
You will not be short of things to see and do while staying in Kaliningrad.
The Konigsberg Cathedral cannot be missed, situated on the banks of the Pregolya River. Many rooms inside are dedicated to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant and his grave can be viewed outside the cathedral walls.
Museum of the World Ocean
For those interested in maritime history, the Museum of the World Ocean featuring many ships, submarines and vessels used for deep sea diving.
You are free to step on board and explore them all, with the submarine considered by many as being the main highlight.
If you thought it would be impossible to step on sand while in Russia, think again because Curonian Spit has plenty.
This world heritage site in Kaliningrad was formed thousands of years ago and is home to desert, wetlands, dunes, meadows and the sea. It is a great place to spend the day exploring.
Where to Stay?
Moscow and Saint Petersburg have been popular destinations for travellers for many years and therefore there is a wide range of accommodation to from which to choose. However, the World Cup is the biggest sporting event on the planet so do not delay in booking your accommodation.
This five-star hotel has a fantastic rating of 9.1 on booking.com from over 1,500 reviews and it is easy to see why. The Radisson Royal Hotel provides panoramic views of the Moskva River and features an indoor swimming pool, restaurant, bar and lovely breakfast making your stay in the capital for the 2018 World Cup a pleasurable one.
If you enjoy staying somewhere with a more local feel, the Hotel Library is a great choice.
Located close to the Bolshi Theatre, this is a hotel used and enjoyed regularly by Russian people, so you are sure to meet some local people and with free wifi, room service and air conditioning, you are sure of a comfortable stay and friendly atmosphere.
For those travelling to Moscow for the World Cup with a large group of fans, we recommend Design Suites Taganskaya, situated just 2 miles from the city centre.
They offer fully equipped apartments which can sleep up to 6 people and continue to receive high ratings on booking.com thanks to the high quality of the rooms and furnishings.
If you are planning a World Cup trip alone or with a friend, perhaps a hostel would be a good choice and a great way to meet fellow fans? Moscow is packed with great hostels and Hostel Olimpiya, Hostel Netizen and Icon Hostel all come highly recommended.
Why not consider heading to the wonderful city of Saint Petersburg for the World Cup? It is home to many luxury hotels including the Petro Palace hotel, which is conveniently located in the centre of the city.
The Petro Palace Hotel features a hot tub, sauna and private restaurant so you can sit back and relax following a great day of site-seeing and watching the World Cup action.
If you would like to save a little cash for spending money but don’t want to compromise when booking your hotel in Saint Petersburg you cannot beat the three-star Adagio on Nevsky Prospect.
This hotel has a rating of 9 out of 10 from reviewers on booking.com and comes complete with large rooms and a very tasty breakfast.
Saint Petersburg is also a great place to stay for groups of fans attending the World Cup together and the highly rated Agni Club Hotel offers complete apartments with a kitchen that sleeps up to 6 people.
Russia is fully geared up for the World Cup and has been preparing for several years to ensure every fan has a great time and somewhere to stay during the tournament. So, whether you are based in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan or Rostov, you will find the perfect accommodation.
While staying in Kaliningrad during the group stage of the 2018 World Cup, why not try somewhere a little different yet very stylish in the Villa Glamour.
With various rooms available including spa tubs, bathrobes and slippers in addition to the stunning exterior, you will have a memorable time.
For a room with a view in Kaliningrad, we recommend staying at the Skipper Hotel.
This hotel is situated on the river and the terrace offers fantastic views of the water below. Guests on booking.com have given the Skipper Hotel and excellent 8.8 rating.
You could try one of the many hostels in Kaliningrad and Hostel Suffix is one of the best the city has to offer.
With rooms providing great views of the river and city plus English speaking staff and the potential to accommodate groups of up to 5 people, Hotel Suffix has it all.
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Where to Eat?
Many World Cup fans will be arriving and leaving Russia via Moscow and as this is the city hosting the most games, finding the best places to eat is important.
You cannot leave Moscow without having tried Café Pushkin, which features three floors full of Russian antiques and elegant furnishings.
Each floor has a different theme and a different menu with both Russian and international cuisine available. Why not try a traditional Russian stew, dumplings or caviar? In addition to the great food and atmosphere you can enjoy tremendous views of Tverskoy Boulevard from the Library floor.
For something a little different when staying in Moscow, you must locate Mari Vanna, a restaurant which has a secret door and bell which you must ring to get inside the building. The key is to make a reservation and you will receive all the details you need.
Once inside, Mari Vanna you will notice the restaurant is decorated like a traditional Russian home and the choice of food matches the interior design. Borscht (a sour soup), pelemeni (Russian version of Chinese dumplings) and pirogi (dumplings stuffed with potato and cheese) are some example of the tasty food on offer.
Snacks at Pyshechnaya
Sometimes you just want a snack, maybe between games and in Saint Petersburg you can you enjoy a typical Russian doughnut at Pyshechnaya.
The shop has been open since 1956 and has remained the same as it always has, giving a taste not only of fine doughnuts but also of the old USSR. Ask any local in Saint Petersburg where to go for a snack and they will point you to Pyshechnaya.
Burgers at Biblioteka
Of course, not everyone wants to eat local every day and if you have a craving for something else we recommend trying the burgers at Biblioteka. Located on Nievsky prospect, Biblioteka serve amazing chargrilled home-made burgers, with a choice of toppings and drinks to suit. Menus are available in both Russia and English and it is a great place to stop if you are travelling with kids.
To start the day if you are staying in Kaliningrad, you should head to Königsbäcker, of which there are a few around the city.
Here you can buy the tastiest pastries, tea and coffee, which make a great breakfast and you can also stoke up on pies and cakes for later in the day.
Brikas by Victory Square
If you would like to lunch, you should try Brikas by Victory Square.
This restaurant offers Lithuanian food, which is one of the two countries which borders Kaliningrad.
Here you can try tseppeliny, which is a traditional Lithuanian dish of stuffed potato dumplings and other tasty Lithuanian dishes.
In the evening we recommend you book a table at the luxurious Dolce Vita.
The furniture and chandeliers are antique and the huge mirrors and opulent material combine to make this a unique dining experience.
The al a carte menu is full of delights including baked lobster with herb butter and hazelnut mousse and venison tartare.
Dolce Vita is one of the most expensive places to eat in Kaliningrad but is worth every Rouble.
How to Get There?
Entry to Russia will not be a problem for fans coming to the World Cup from around the world. Firstly, the capital city of Moscow has three international airports called Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo.
Each of these provides the perfect gateway to Moscow and the surrounding area, with matches being played in Moscow itself and the surrounding area.
Transportation from Moscow’s three international airports includes the Aeroexpress, which provides direct links from the airport to the city centre, the bus service and booking a taxi.
During the 2018 World Cup finals you can expect to find plenty of signage around the airports, in different languages to help you get around easily.
You will also need to get to the two stadiums in Moscow, the Luzhniki Stadium and the Okritie Arena.
Red Metro Line
The Luzhniki Stadium can be reached on the Red Metro line 1 and is located 6 kilometres south-west of Moscow’s city centre. This metro line connects directly with Moscow city centre and is the most convenient way to get the to stadium other than taking a taxi.
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The Purple Line
If you are attending a match at the Okritie Arena, you will need to take the Purple Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya line from the city centre, which is line number 7. This will arrive at the Spartak Station, which is the name of the Russian club team which uses the stadium during the club season.
Saint Petersburg has one major international airport called Pulkovo and while this receives direct flights from other European cities, fans from other countries may need to catch a connecting flight. These are usually via another European city or Moscow.
Bus or Taxi from Airport
Once in Pulkovo your options include a taxi and bus service from the airport into the city centre, neither of which take very long due to the fact the airport is only 10 miles away.
The great thing about Saint Petersburg is your options do not end there and you can travel to the city using train from Finland and Moscow or use a ferry from other Scandinavian countries.
The Metro Purple Line
Every match in Saint Petersburg will take place in the aptly named Saint Petersburg Stadium.
If you have tickets for matches in this stadium, you will need to take the Purple line number 5 metro from the city centre and get off at Krestovsky Ostrov. This station leaves a 20-minute walk to the stadium but is the closest available.
The other option is to take bus 10 (from the city centre) or 25 (from northern Saint Petersburg) which stops a little closer to the stadium but still leaves a walk of 15 minutes.
Every stadium being used at the 2018 World Cup is situated on mainland Russia other than the Kaliningrad Stadium. This is in Kaliningrad, which is situated in an enclave between Poland and Lithuania and can be reached via flights from Moscow, Saint Petersburg or Warsaw.
Many other of the venues being used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia will need an additional flight, usually from Moscow. These places include Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Volgograd, Saransk, Rostov, Sochi and Yekaterinburg.
For those who have the time, an interesting way to travel during the World Cup could be via the Trans-Siberian Railway. Starting in either Saint Petersburg or Moscow, the train stops at Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan and Yekaterinburg.
Every stadium being used at the 2018 World Cup is situated on mainland Russia other than the Kaliningrad Stadium.
Kaliningrad can be reached from Russia via flights from Moscow, Saint Petersburg or Warsaw.
So, for those travelling from other European and worldwide destinations, you will need to catch a connection flight from the aforementioned cities.
From airport to city centre
Once you have arrived at Kaliningrad Hrabrovo Airport, you can take bus number 144 which runs regularly between the airport and the city centre.
You can also take a taxi with the 2 approved taxi companies inside the airport and these are often considered better than getting from outside arrivals.
If you are travelling to Kaliningrad by train, sit back and relax because it is a long journey, especially from Western Europe where you may need to change trains at Gdansk, in Poland.
If you are in Russia, you can ride both the train and the bus to Kaliningrad but this will take around 24 hours.
Different time zones
Be aware that inside Kaliningrad train station, the time shown is Moscow time and that is one hour ahead of local time.
If you need to catch a train back to Moscow, keep this in mind.
To Kaliningrad Stadium
The Kaliningrad Stadium, which also known as the Arena Baltika, is situated on Oktyabrsky Island in the Pregolya river.
To reach the stadium, you can walk from Konigsberg Cathedral and it will take about 20 minutes.
If you are in the centre of Kaliningrad and would like to walk, it will take you around 30 minutes.
If you do not want to walk, you can take trolleybus numbers 1 and 5 from Victory Square,
but these stop at Konigsberg Cathedral and you must walk the rest of the way but there is also the option of a taxi.
There is no other event on earth which has the same aura and history as the World Cup. It’s simply the biggest and greatest sports tournament we have and to look back over it’s history and pick out the best moments really is a matter of opinion.
Pele and Maradona
However, there are some special times which will never be forgotten including when a 17-year-old Pele led Brazil to World Cup victory in Sweden 1958 and Diego Maradona’s individual brilliance against England in 1986.
From moments of magic from individuals to great team performances and who can forget Cameroon shocking Argentina at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, claiming a remarkable 1-0 win against the defending champions?
There have also been many infamous moments such as Zinedine Zidane being sent off in the 2006 World Cup final against Italy and Diego Maradona climbing high to put the ball in with his hand against England in 1986.
Every World Cup has so many stories to tell, of team triumphs and defeats, flashes of brilliance or madness from individual players and the way fans have come together to enjoy the spectacle.