Hello, football fans all over the world!
It is surely a high time to plan your visit to Russia and Moscow, where the final will take place on 15 July at the Luzhniki Stadium. Every day the quality and quantity of accommodation and, tickets options are getting poorer and, vice versa, the number of people wishing to see a good game is growing. So, let’s hurry up!
What part of the upcoming trip bothers you the most? Regardless of the answer, just keep calm, as in this guide we provide detailed information about all travel aspects:
- Basic information about Moscow;
- FIFA World Cup in Moscow;
- Match schedule;
- Arriving in Moscow;
- Transport system;
- Where to stay in Moscow;
- What sights to see;
- Where & what to eat;
- Where to shop;
- What to visit near Moscow;
- MeetnGreetMe services in Moscow.
Introduction to Moscow
Moscow is the capital of the Russian Federation founded in 1147. It is the most populous part of Russia (with 12.2 million residents within the city limits) and the most developed area in the entire country. Locals notice that if St. Petersburg is Russia’s “window on Europe,” Moscow is Russia’s heart. It is an upbeat, vibrant, and dynamic city.
Moscow is located in western (European) part of Russia about 400 miles (640 km) southeast of St. Petersburg and 300 miles (480 km) east of the border with Belarus. It stands on the Moscow River, a tributary of the Oka and thus of the Volga, in the center of the vast plain of European Russia.
FIFA World Cup in Moscow
Of the 12 venues used, the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow will be used most, with 7 matches being played (including the opening match on 14 June, the second semi-final match on 11 July and the World Cup Final on 15 July). It is the national stadium of Russia, its total seating capacity of 81,000 makes it one of the largest stadiums in Europe.
Luzhniki Stadium is located on the Luzhniki Sports Complex, an area of sports facilities and parkland in a bend of the Moskva River about 6 kilometers south-west of Moscow’s city center. The stadium can be reached with the red metro line 1. Station Sportivnaya, or alternatively Vorob’yovy Gory, both lie within a short walking distance of the stadium. Line 1 directly connects with Moscow’s city center, and the ride from either Okhotny Ryad or Biblioteka takes no more than 10 minutes.
Address: Luzhnetskaya Naberezhnaya (Лужнецкая Набережная) 24, Moscow
The Otkrytiye Stadium (the Otkritie Arena, Spartak Stadium are just other variations of the name) in Moscow will host 5 more matches. It is a multi-purpose stadium used mostly for football matches, hosting the home matches of Spartak Moscow and occasionally the Russian national team. It is designed with a capacity of 45,000 people.
The Otkritie Arena is located in the north-west of Moscow, just within the Moscow Ring Road (MKAD), at about 14 kilometers from Moscow’s city center. The stadium can be easily reached by metro. Newly constructed station Spartak is on the purple Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya line (line 7), which runs through Moscow’s center.
Address: Volokolamskoye Shosse (Волоколамское шоссе), 69
Match schedule in Moscow
- 14 Jun 2018 – 18:00 – Group A – Russia VS Saudi Arabia – Luzhniki Stadium
- 16 Jun 2018 – 16:00 – Group D – Argentina VS Iceland – Spartak Stadium
- 17 Jun 2018 – 18:00 – Group F – Germany VS Mexico – Luzhniki Stadium
- 19 Jun 2018 – 18:00 – Group H – Poland VS Senegal – Spartak Stadium
- 20 Jun 2018 – 15:00 – Group B – Portugal VS Morocco – Luzhniki Stadium
- 23 Jun 2018 – 15:00 – Group G – Belgium VS Tunisia – Spartak Stadium
- 26 Jun 2018 – 17:00 – Group C – Denmark VS France – Luzhniki Stadium
- 27 Jun 2018 – 21:00 – Group E – Serbia VS Brazil – Spartak Stadium
- 01 Jul 2018 – 17:00 – 1B VS 2A – Luzhniki Stadium
- 03 Jul 2018 – 21:00 – 1H VS 2G – Spartak Stadium
- 11 Jul 2018 – 21:00 – Semi-Final – Luzhniki Stadium
- 15 Jul 2018 – 18:00 – Final – Luzhniki Stadium
To buy tickets, first set up your account at the FIFA website. You can use your email address to do so or simply link your social media account to your login. After logging into your account, you just have to submit a ticket application and choose a payment method. Here you can find the tickets’ cost. The price of tickets for the final match starts from $111.
Arriving in Moscow
It is more likely, that you will come to Russia by air. There are five primary commercial airports serving Moscow: Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO), Domodedovo International Airport (DME), Vnukovo International Airport (VKO), Zhukovsky International Airport (ZIA) and Ostafyevo International Airport (OSF). However, Sheremetyevo is the most common entry point for foreign visitors, handling 60% of all international flights.
The best way to get out of there is to take a high-speed train “Aeroexpress” that departs from Sheremetyevo Airport to Belorussky Railway station every 20–30 minutes (travel time is 30-40 minutes). Click here for a map of all terminals (there are 6 of them) and an explanation how to get to Moscow from the airport by different modes of transport (even the helicopter shuttle service can be arranged – can you imagine that?).
If you face some problems navigating in the airports and stations when coming to a foreign country, take into account that MeetnGreeters in Moscow can meet you upon arrival and make you feel truly welcome!
Moscow is a city with a well-developed infrastructure. The quickest way to travel around the city is undoubtedly by metro, but if you want to actually see the city, experiment with the city’s above-ground transport: trams, buses and communal taxis, called marshrutki. The best way to track public transport services on a map in real time, know exactly each vehicle’s time of arrival, plan your journey by public transport or on foot is to use a free Yandex.Transport App. By the way, UBER works in Moscow, too.
While above-ground transport is generally preferable for short trips around the city center, you should certainly try the metro at least once. And there are some reasons for it! It is not only one of the longest in the world (6th, to be precise), but also one the most beautiful as well – it is famous for its art, murals, mosaics, and ornate chandeliers.
Today, the Moscow Metro comprises 14 lines, mostly underground with a total of 215 stations. Yes, it is a lot, so we recommend you to use a Yandex.Metro App that will navigate you and build the fastest routes. The metro has a Wi-Fi, so you can turn to it directly on the spot.
If you decided to visit multiple matches and multiple Russian cities during your visit, you will probably go there by plane (in most cases it will be Domodedovo International Airport that handles a lot of domestic flights) or by train. If you choose the last option, we want to share an interesting feature we have found for you: here you can obtain a free ticket for trains between 11 FIFA 2018 Cup host cities. The right of free travel is granted to FIFA 2018 Cup visitors having a game ticket for the respective city and a Fan ID. Mind reading a ‘FAQ’ section and booking the tickets in advance as their number is limited.
Where to stay in Moscow
Moscow is changing from day to day: hotels that seemed like a win-win option yesterday, now lose their leading positions, and vice versa. If you visit Moscow for more than a day or two, it is better to turn to locals that can suggest you affordable (expect that the prices during the World Cup will be a way higher than regular) and cozy accommodation. Believe that it’s worth it!
What sights to see
We suppose it is wise not only to attend the FIFA sports events but also to discover Russian culture and traditions. Happily, MeetnGreeters know how to combine everything in one trip and make the most of it.
First of all, check out our author Moscow guides written by locals and travelers, that we have recently published on our blog:
- Insider’s Moscow Guide will show you the city through the eyes of Muscovite Natalia.
- Moscow: Fresh Look at Old City with a list of the most contemporary and vibrant places from art museums and creative hubs to modern theater performances and summer festivals.
- Moscow Architectural Guide will take you to the walk along Moscow streets and tell you about must-see buildings and structures, like VDNKh, The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, The State Historical Museum and many others.
Some more good spots every traveler should visit are:
- Arbat Street;
- The obvious (but still interesting) Kremlin and the Red Square;
- Sparrow Hills (a location in the south-west of the city, positioned on the high right bank of the Moscow River and covered in forest);
- Moscow State University (the oldest and most beautiful Russian institution of higher education established in 1755);
- GUM (Russia’s main department store with stunning interior and a variety of high-end boutiques);
- Ostankino TV Tower (the best observation deck with the glass floor and breathtaking 360-degree views);
- Pushkin state museum of fine arts (comprises three branches housing a collection of incredible works by masters of ancient civilizations, the Italian Renaissance and the Dutch Golden Age).
And if this is not enough for you either, or you just turn off these beaten tourist paths, order a personal city guiding service from one of our English speaking locals. They know the city inside out and they can simply create a route tailored to your interests and tastes. And there is also an option if you want to discover the city on your own – you can just ask local guides to create and optimize the route for your interests and then send a detailed description to you.
Where & what to eat
Have you ever tried Borscht (a beetroot and beef soup, lightly spiced and served cold with a dollop of sour cream on top) or Solyanka (a hearty soup made from thick chunks of beef and/or pork, cooked for hours over a low flame with garlic, tomatoes, peppers, and carrots)? No? What about golubtsy (shredded or minced beef wrapped in cabbage and steamed/boiled until cooked)?
A great number of Russian dishes may seem at least strange for the foreigners. But don’t let this mixture of ingredients scare you. Try it and discover how tasty these dishes are! To warm up, start with Bliny – very thin, crepe-like pancakes, usually topped with savory or sweet toppings such as minced beef, caviar, or apples.
This city is an exact place where you would probably like to order a gastronomic tour. You just need to choose a local person to show you the best places depending on the cuisine and dishes you want to try. This experience will be truly unforgettable, as Moscow has a lot of undiscovered culinary gems.
If to talk about specific cafés and restaurants in the city, here is our choice:
- 5 authentic restaurants in Moscow where you can try the dishes described above;
- Our ultimate advice on where to find good Italian food (and get a free Creme brulee if you say a code word “MeetnGreetMe” to the waiter);
- Head to LES for good coffee and to MOS for perfect branches.
Where to shop
As one of the world’s priciest cities, Moscow is pretty diverse when it comes to shopping. If you are looking for expensive and mostly elite-oriented department stores, path your way to GUM (ГУМ), TSUM (ЦУМ) or Petrovsky Passage (Петровский Пассаж). All of them are located within walking distance from the Red Square, thus readily available for anyone visiting the city.
If you travel on a budget, head to Okhotny Ryad Shopping Center (ТЦ Охотный Ряд) – one of the largest and most popular shopping malls situated not far from the Red Square as well. And if you need all famous mass-market brands like Zara, Marks & Spencer, H&M, New Yorker, GAP and River Island in one place – Metropolis Shopping Centre (ТЦ Метрополис) is your option.
The most creative brands can be found at Kuznetsky Most 20 (Кузнетский мост 20), including the likes of Maison Martin Margiela, Mark Fast, and Commes des Garçons. Vintage-lovers can pop into No Wave Store and bookworms – into one of the shops of Respublika (Республика) chain.
If you are looking for something unique, MeetnGreeters can carry out each request and find a shop/item of every kind especially for you.
What to visit near Moscow
Already tired of big crowds of tourists? We can suggest you some proven options:
- The Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve (Приокско-Террасный заповедник) is a natural biosphere reserve located 104 kilometers from Moscow. Come here for its main attraction – European bison that can be observed at a special nursery area.
- The village of Gzhel (Гжель) is a rural place located 52 kilometers southeast from the center of Moscow with the population of 1,006. This place gave its name to the world famous Gzhel ceramics, and here you can learn more about the secrets of Russian folk crafts: watch craftsmen work, buy original crafts or make a toy or paint a meal tray and create your own unique souvenir. Because of the language barrier and bad infrastructure of the suburb, ensure that you are accompanied by a local person who will deal with some arising issues, if any.
- The Arkhangelskoe Estate (Усадьба Архангельское), also known as the ‘Versailles of Podmoskovye’. It is the only palace and park ensemble in the Moscow Region (30 kilometers from the capital) that has preserved its original look. Now it features unique art collections that will wow every art admirer.
MeetnGreetMe services in Moscow
As we would like your Moscow stay to be as bright and exciting as possible, let us recommend you top 5 services that may be handy in this vibrant city during the World Cup:
- Planning a trip – why? Because reviews can be irritating to get through, information on transportation can be outdated or wrong, and it can be a full-time job just to keep an eye on all different offers and deals available online (especially in such a large city as Moscow, where good deals fly away really quickly).
- Meeting upon arrival – just to make sure everything goes smoothly and you arrive at your accommodation safe and sound (and feel welcome in the foreign country, which is more important).
- Providing 24h information support – it is like an English speaking guide in your pocket ready to explain and help you during the day.
- Booking/buying tickets to events – yes, your probable visit to Bolshoi Theatre becomes even easier and pleasant.
- Booking accommodation – it implies that the MeetnGreeter is to find or book accommodation on your behalf taking into consideration all preferences and budget. Isn’t it convenient if you look for something special?
Yep, that is all. Have a nice stay in Moscow! Don’t forget to share your experience with us!