The FIFA World Cup 2018 host cities, the perfect time to explore Russia

The FIFA World Cup 2018 host cities, the perfect time to explore Russia

If you were looking for a reason to visit Russia in 2018 then the football World Cup 2018 is the best one you will find in a while. The football cup that glues the eyes of the world to the tv screen will be hosted by Russia in 2018. Ever since the event was announced Russia has been working hard to prepare for the world cup. And next year masses of sports fans will be flocking towards it. To prepare for the FIFA World Cup 2018 this blog will showcase each of the enchanting host cities. So you will know exactly what to expect when you visit Russia in 2018.


The largest host city is the enigmatic city of Moscow. In the city live over 12 million people and in its urban area live over 17 million people. Moscow does not only has two stadiums available for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which are the Luzhniki Stadium with a capacity of 81,000 people and the Otkrytiye Arena with a capacity of 45,360 people. It is also the historical and economic heart of Russia, known for its ballet and renowned literary achievements capturing the Russian spirit. The city of Moscow is a perfect destination for football fans that want to find out more about the rich Russian culture. One of the most distinct icons of Russia is the monumental world heritage site containing the Kremlin and the Saint Basil’s Cathedral, which is a bonfire shaped church on the famous red square. It’s a must visit for every tourist and arguably the most popular draw of Moscow. Just like the Tretyakov Gallery where you can the grandest collection of Russian art on the planet.

Luxurious shopping is also not foreign to Moscow, so don’t forget to buy a fancy fur hat as a souvenir. In short, Moscow is an obligatory visit to anyone who visits Russia during the upcoming 2018 FIFA world cup.

Saint Petersburg

On the far west of Russia you will find Saint Petersburg, which is Russia’s window to the world giving Russia access to the seas to the west. It is Russia’s most important port city and second most populous city with over 5 million inhabitants. The city itself was founded by Tsar Peter the Great who lent his name to this magical city.

Saint Petersburg is notable for its rich cultural offering, perhaps even more so than Moscow itself. It has beautiful churches and canals throughout the city. The city is blessed with hundreds of museums, including the famous Hermitage Museum, founded by Catherine the Great who ushered in Russia’s golden age, in front of the palace square. This beauty of this place has certainly made it one of our favorite Russian cities. The football fans probably know the largest football club of this city which is FC Zenit Saint Petersburg. This successful football club plays in the Krestovsky Stadium with a capacity of 56,196 people. And this stadium is also one of the 12 venues for 2018 FIFA World Cup.


Separated from mainland Russia and tucked away between the borders of the EU countries Poland and Lithuania you will find the coastal city of Kaliningrad. This Russian enclave was founded by the Teutonic Knights and used to be the spiritual and political center of the Prussian empire, which still shows in its architecture today and its famous neogothic city gates. The city has produced several notable people, including the philosopher Immanuel Kant, who revolutionized the European way of thinking. The stadium in this city that will host some of the games of the World Cup is the Kaliningrad Stadium (also called Arena Baltika) with a capacity of 35,212 persons.


A fact that any person visiting Russia for the FIFA World Cup 2018 can certainly appreciate is that Kazan is the sports capital of Russia and has produced many fine athletes that represented Russia in sports like football, ice hockey, ice skating, tennis and more. The main football stadium in this city is called the Kazan Arena and has a capacity of 45,379 persons. This mainly Tatar city can be found deep inside West Russia next to the Volga river, which is the longest river in Europe. Kazan is considered the third city of Russia and popular tourist destination as this is where European and Asian cultures come together in this merchant city. It’s fun to see the traditional Tatar attire and great to taste the local traditional foods.


Volgograd is one of the most iconic cities of Russia, as here you can find the famous The Motherland Calls statue, which is the tallest statue in Europe and shows a woman with a sword rallying the Russians. The statue remembers the history of the city, that used to be known as Stalingrad, where one of the most notable battles of the second world war happened. So locals often fondly call it “the hero city”. And across the city you will find plenty of beautiful historical monuments. The stadium in Volgograd that is one of the venues for the 2018 FIFA World Cup is the Volgograd Arena with a capacity of 45,568 persons.


Sochi is a familiar name to many sports fan, as we will always fondly remember the 2014 Winter Olympics that took place in this city. For there Olympics was the Fisht Olympic Stadium built and will also host several matches for the 2018 World Cup. This open-air football stadium has a capacity of 47,659 persons. Russia is a vast country so foreign travelers are often not aware of this subtropical leisure resort city. But with its warm summers and being located at coast of the black sea Sochi is a popular destination for tourists who want to enjoy a nice vacation at a beach resort during the summer or a ski resort in the winter.

Sochi is an excellent city to enjoy the FIFA football world cup in 2018 in if you enjoy a leisure or sportive vacation. This city of luck and relaxation offers plenty of facilities and activities to keep you entertained during your stay.


Saransk is a city in the central European part of Russia, at about 630 km (390 mi) from Moscow, and has about 300,000 inhabitants. It is the capital city of the Republic of Mordovia. Although it is the smallest host city for the 2018 FIFA World Cup it is still a very interesting and pleasant city to visit. This is probably the reason that Saransk has become the place of residence of Gérard Depardieu, which is one of Russia’s most famous new citizens.

Saransk has two important museums, which are the Saransk Regional Museum that displays all kinds of arts about the history of Saransk and the Mordovian Museum of Visual Arts has works done by the famous sculptor Stepan Dmitrievich Erzia and a collection of works of Mordovian folk artists Fedot Sychkov and Ivan Makarov. Other important sites to visit are the beautiful Russian Ortodox Cathedral of St. Theodore Ushakov and the Church of St. John the Apostle which is established in 1693. For the people that would like to visit a performance could go to the State Russian Drama Theatre of the Republic of Mordovia, the Opera and Ballet Theatre of Saransk. Also a stroll in the beautiful Pushkin’s Park is recommended.

Most foreign visitors of Saransk will in 2018 come for the soccer games in the Mordovia Arena. This is a new stadium with a capacity of 44,442 spectators. An advantage is that it is not far from the railway station and the newly completed airport of Saransk.


Rostov-on-Don is a city with about 1.1 million inhabitants that call their city simply Rostov.The city is located in the south of Russia not far from the border of Ukraine and as its name suggests it is on the Don River. It has always been a strategic location and is seen as the gateway to the Caucasus. Even nowadays it is important as Rostov-on-Don has the Volga-Don Shipping Canal and is a port to the Black Sea the Sea of Azov, the Caspian Sea, the White Sea and even the Baltic Sea.

For foreign visitors is Rostov-on-Don a compelling city because it can easily reached by airplane and offers lots of culture and fascinating Russian Orthodox churches. Some examples of exciting theaters that the city has to offer are the Maxim Gorky Academic Drama Theater, the Rostov State Musical Theater, the Rostov Regional Academic Theater of the Youth and the Philharmonic center. And suggested museums are Museum of Fine Arts on Dmitrovskaya and the Rostov Regional Museum of Fine Arts. Also shoppers are spoiled at the Central Rinok (Bazaar/ Farmer’s Market) and the Megamag Shopping-Entertainment Complex (Megamag TrK).

Rostov-on-Don has seven stadiums, but the stadium that will host five 2018 World Cup matches is the new built Rostov Arena with a capacity of 45,000 people.


Yekaterinburg is a city east of the Ural Mountains and at the border of the European and Asian continent. That is about 1,667 kilometers (1,036 mi) east of Moscow. It is the fourth largest city of Russia with about 1.5 million inhabitants and is named after Yekaterina, which was the wife of Peter the Great.

The city is considered as the “window to Asia” and became in the 2000s a prosperous city where some of the largest skyscrapers of Russia have been built. The living standards in Yekaterinburg exceed the average all-Russian standard. This also has attracted many forms of entertainment and culture. There are over thirty museums and many theaters like the Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater, the Yekaterinburg Academic Dramatic theater, the Sverdlovsk Academic theater of Musical Comedy, the Volkhonka (a popular chamber theater), and the Kolyada theater among others. One of the must sees is the Church on the Blood, which is built in 2003 at the site of the execution of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. Churches and other religious buildings in Yekaterinburg are relatively new as many of them were destroyed in the Soviet era. And from the Antei Tower you can have a lookout from a 273 m (896 ft) high rooftop.

Of the eleven 2018 FIFA World Cup host cities is Yekaterinburg the one that is located the most eastern. This is important to know because their time is two hours ahead with Moscow Time and five hours ahead of UTC. The matches will be played in the upgraded Central Stadium with a capacity of 35,696 Spectators. During the World Cup this stadium will be called Ekaterinburg Arena. Interesting about this stadium are the temporary stands behind each goal that sit outside the main structure of the stadium.This construction was necessary to have the minimum capacity of 35,000 spectators that is required by FIFA. Fortunately can this marvelous city easily be reached by airplane as their airport, the Koltsovo International Airport (KSX), is one of the larger airports in Russia.

Nizhny Novgorod

The city of Nizhny Novgorod, or Nizhny by the locals, was from 1932 until 1990 known as Gorky because the writer Maxim Gorky was born here. Nizhny lies 420 km (260 mi) east of Moscow at the confluence of the Volga and Oka rivers. It is a city with about 1.3 million inhabitants.

Interesting was that this city was a closed city for foreigners in the Soviet era to protect the security of Soviet military research and the associated production facilities. Even until the late 1970s it was almost impossible to get a street map of Nizhny Novgorod. Nowadays is the city one of the centers of the engineering- and IT industry in Russia. It has also become an attractive city for tourists with the beautiful Archangel Cathedral, the grand Kremlin with its thirteen towers and over six hundred monuments. If you love art then is the Nizhny Novgorod State art gallery with over 12,000 exhibits a must visit. And shoppers should go to Mega, which is the largest shopping mall in Nizhny Novgorod with about 160 shops.

Also spectacular is the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, with a capacity of 44,899 people, that has recently been built on an island in the Volga river.


Samara lies in the southeast of the European part of Russia at the confluence of the Volga and Samara Rivers not far from the border of Kazakhstan. During the period from 1935 to 1991 was the city called Kuybyshev and was it the alternative capital of the Soviet Union in case Moscow was taken over by invaders. Because of this reason was Samara a closed city during the Soviet era.

Nowadays the city can easily be reached via its airport called Kurumoch International Airport. And there is also a lot to do because the city has a zoo, a circus, an opera and ballet theater, a philharmonic orchestra hall, several museums and drama theaters. During the summer is sunbathing and taking a stroll along the riverbank and its promenade very popular. But most foreigners will come in 2018 for the six World Cup soccer matches in the Cosmos Arena, that will be called Samara Arena during the World Cup.

So if you are wondering which country to explore in 2018, then at Meet The Cities we can certainly recommend taking this opportunity to tag along with the other football fans to explore the major Russian cities and and let yourself be immersed in their rich culture.

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