Do you want to go to space? If the answer is ‘yes’, you will probably enjoy Samara not only because of the World Cup matches: the whole city is connected with space and imbued with its atmosphere. Spaceflights are very much part of Samara’s history and present. Samara was an integral part of Russia’s innovative space program (and a formerly closed city because of this), even the rocket that put Gagarin’s Vostok spaceship, flying the first man into space, into orbit was made here. Nowadays there is a Cosmic Museum and a rocket monument to celebrate, and even professional Summer Space School that takes place every summer. And it is worth mentioning Samara State Aerospace University as well!
And if you are not convinced either by the space theme or the FIFA, you will be convinced by the beaches – Samara’s riverfront (the longest in Europe with more than 7km of beaches, green parks, and open-air cafés) is considered one of the favorite recreation places both for local citizens and tourists.
Are you already excited to visit the city? If you are going to Samara for the World Cup, here’s an essential guide to help you decide where to eat, what to see and how to get to the match:
- Basic information about Samara;
- FIFA World Cup in Samara;
- Match schedule;
- Arriving in Samara;
- Transport system;
- Where to stay in Samara;
- What sights to see;
- Where & what to eat;
- Where to shop;
- What to visit near Samara;
- MeetnGreetMe services in Samara.
Introduction to Samara
Samara is located on the east bank of the Volga River and was officially ‘born’ in 1586 when a fortress was built on the site due to its great vantage point along the river. Later it became a popular port and developed into an important trade route with the East. The city’s growth was stimulated during World War II, due to its proximity to Moscow and distance from the war zone. During this time the city also became one of the principal aircraft manufacturers and scientific base, as well as developers of the Volga-Urals oilfield.
Formerly a closed city, now it is the sixth largest city in Russia and a major economic, industrial and cultural center with the population of over 1,1 million people. Do you want to learn more about their life and the life of the city? Read on!
FIFA World Cup in Samara
If the tickets for the matches are in your pocket, you probably know something about the recently opened venue for the 2018 FIFA in Samara – Samara Arena (or Cosmos Arena). You have probably read somewhere that it has a capacity of almost 45,000 spectators and hosts FC Krylia Sovetov Samara of the Russian Football National League, replacing Metallurg Stadium.
But what you don’t know is that the facade of Samara Arena is a transparent dome, making the stadium look like a spacecraft. And this look is very symbolic for Samara, which has made an important mark on the world history of space exploration. Even its name – Cosmos Arena – is translated literally as ‘Space Arena’.
It is also important to say that seating options include non-standard seats for plus-size spectators. The stadium stands include special observation areas for people with disabilities, which offer the space for wheelchairs and accompanying persons.
The stadium is located in the North-Western part of Samara, between Dalnyaya and Arena 2018 Streets and Moskovskoye Highway. The stadium is located at the highest point of the city. The distance from the railway station to the stadium is 15 km, from the Kurumoch Airport to the stadium, 32 km. Currently, the options to reach the Cosmos Arena by public transport are limited due to its location outside of the city. Marshrutka 50 passes just west of the stadium on Demokraticheskaya Street and Marshrutka 1k runs east of the stadium along Moskovskoye Street, but it’s still a bit of an inconvenient hike to the stadium (highest point of the city, remember?). One more option is to catch the bus from Samara railway station or Samarskaya Street in the city center by buses 1, 45, 51, 67, 110, 410a.
Match schedule in Samara
- 17 Jun 2018 – 16:00 – Group E – Costa Rica VS Serbia – Samara Arena
- 21 Jun 2018 – 16:00 – Group C – Denmark VS Australia – Samara Arena
- 25 Jun 2018 – 18:00 – Group A – Uruguay VS Russia – Samara Arena
- 28 Jun 2018 – 18:00 – Group H – Senegal VS Colombia – Samara Arena
- 2 Jul 2018 – 18:00 – 1E VS 2F – Samara Arena
- 7 Jul 2018 – 18:00 – W55 VS W56 (Quarter-final) – Samara Arena
We hope you have already bought tickets because the matches begin in a couple of days. If not, try your luck (let’s cross fingers that several tickets are left especially for you): private individuals can buy tickets at the FIFA website. For companies and organizations, FIFA offers hospitality packages.
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.
Arriving in Samara
Arriving in Samara couldn’t be easier. It is a great transport hub – there are daily international and domestic flights, and trains run from Moscow.
The Kurumoch International Airport (Курумоч) handles flights throughout Russia and Central Asia and to Frankfurt, Prague, Helsinki, and Dubai. Over 60% of the flights are operated by Aeroflot, Utair, S7 Airlines, Ural Airlines, and Nordwind Airlines.
The construction of a new modern passenger terminal is the first successfully implemented project in the framework of the facilities preparation for the World Cup. Even the design concept of the terminal’s interior was inspired by the city’s space-related background – it reflects aesthetics of the cosmonautics era.
To say the truth, getting to and from the airport by public transport is a bit of a headache. The best way to do it is to take an airport bus that departs from the domestic arrivals terminal. Bus tickets are available at the cashier desks located inside the terminal building and the schedule can be checked here. A more complicated option is to take a minibus taxi №392 or public transport bus №78, which runs between Samara and Bereza settlement which is close to Kurumoch airport. A time interval is 7-10 min.
There is also an Aeroexpress train that seems like a comfortable option until you discover it runs only 2 times a day to the airport and 2 times a day from the airport. For schedule and more information, follow this link.
If you don’t want to puzzle over this complicated routes and overpay for a taxi, hire a reliable MeetnGreeter who can arrange you the most comfortable transfer, drive you to destinations or help you to rent a car. Especially for this matter, MeetnGreetMe suggests ‘Meeting upon arrival’ service – learn more about it.
If you come by train, you will find yourself at the tallest station building in Europe with a fantastic view of the city – Samara-Passazhirskaya (Самара-Пассажирская). It is a modern and well-equipped building (unlike many Russian train stations) and offers all the facilities. Moreover, it is located near the downtown, so it will be easy for you to reach any place in the city. If you don’t want to walk, tram 1 runs from the bus station to the center via the train station and is the easiest form of transport to use between these destinations.
From Moscow, the best train to take is the direct link between the two cities (train 010) which takes just under 16 hours and costs from $28 for the 3rd class to $145 for the 1st class.
Samara’s city center is small enough to walk between the most places of interest. In case you need to go somewhere further, buses, trams, trolleybuses, and marshrutkas are the cheapest and most efficient modes of transport. The fare is RUB 25 (approx. $0.4) for all types of transport.
Samara transport network has a wide variety of routes. You can plan your journey using Google Maps or Yandex Maps or 2GIS applications (available for Android and iOS).
There is also a small metro that consists of one line with ten stations. Actually, it is of very limited use for tourists – there are no stations in the city center or near the train station, the single line services only the south-east of the city.
As for taxi, typically, you cannot get it on the street, as nobody stops. Usually, taxis are ordered via phone and such applications as Uber or Yandex Taxi. There is also one carsharing service called Delimobil.
A bonus: you can get full information on public transport from local people in Samara. And if you request ‘planning a trip’ service, you can not even think about it, as MeetnGreetMe assistants will carefully plan everything beforehand for you.
Where to stay in Samara
If you have checked our previous articles about the 2018 FIFA championship in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Sochi, Kaliningrad, and Rostov-on-Don, you probably know how difficult it may be to find a good accommodation.
The situation repeats – Samara is a popular resort city, moreover, the 2018 FIFA does not make the things easier. What to do in this difficult situation if you have not thought about accommodation in advance? Drop locals the request and enjoy a carefree journey, of course.
Or hope that the following housing options still have several offers left:
- Azimut Hotel Samara;
- Renaissance Samara Hotel;
- Hotel Graf Orlov;
- Holiday Inn Samara Hotel;
- Dubki Hotel;
- Bristol-Zhiguly Hotel.
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 in Samara know how to combine everything in one trip and make the most of it. Whether you need a detailed route or a city guiding – feel free to drop them a request and tell about your interests and expectations.
And don’t miss the spots we have selected for you:
- Samara Embankment in the city center. A large bike and pedestrian zone more than 5 kilometers in length offering an impressive landscape of the Volga river and plenty of entertainment.
- Samara Regional Museum of Art with more than 16 thousand pieces of art. It is the oldest and most prestigious exhibition ground in the Samara region – the museum has a collection of Russian art of XVII – ХХ centuries, a collection of West-Europe and East art, a unique collection of Russian Avantgarde and Soviet and post-Soviet art of XX century. Come here to see the works of famous masters of Russian art – Ivan Aivazovsky, K. P. Bryullov, I. E. Repin, V. I. Surikov, I. I. Shishkin, A. I. Kuindzhi, I. I. Levitan, V. A. Serov, K. A. Korovin, K. A. Malevich, O. V. Rozanov.
- Samara Space Museum. The museum’s permanent exhibits are presented by real spacecraft, rocket engines, real spacesuits and space food in tubes. Some exhibits are interactive, like Spacebook (which explains the use of aerospace technology in daily life, including a detailed account of how flight navigation systems and cellular communications work) or the one showing the life of astronauts at a space station. This place was awarded as the best tourism project of Samara, will you check it out?
- Samara Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. While ballet and opera classics are the theatre’s staple, it has also begun to branch out into contemporary productions. Locals advise you to go to this plays: Eugene Onegin, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty.
- Zhigulevsky Brewery. Samara has a proud history of brewing beer, going all the way back to 1881 and the first state-of-the-art brewery in Russia. The beer was rebranded Zhigulveskoye in 1934, and it was pretty much the only beer you could get during Soviet times. And even now it remains one of the most popular in Russia. Come to see the brewing process yourself and try the legendary beer on the spot (but note that excursions are held by prior arrangement for visitors aged 18 and over).
- The Stalin’s Bunker. Presently located under the Academy of Culture and Skill, the bunker built in 1942 is 37 meters deep, which is the equivalent to a 12-story building. Compared to other bunkers of the time, this was the deepest and could withstand a direct hit from an aerial bomb. It remained a secret to Samara citizens until 1991, when it was found, and later turned into a museum.
What else to see in the city? Ploshchad Chapaeva (площадь Чапаева), St George Cathedral, the Monument of Glory, the War History Museum, Strukovsky Garden and observation deck at Ploshchad Slavy (площадь Славы).
Where & what to eat
This city is not an exact place where you would probably think about ordering a gastronomic tour. But try to ask 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 Samara has a lot of undiscovered culinary gems.
If to talk about specific cafés and restaurants in the city, here is our choice:
For dinner – Olivye (for French-Russian fusion dishes), Perchini (for juicy steaks).
Where to shop
If you thought that shopping was something that you could only do in Moscow and St. Petersburg, relax – in Samara, there are numerous shopping malls.
For example, Gudok (Гудок) shopping mall (a 5-minute walk from Samara Station) is a perfect shopping spot. There are more than 200 clothing, footwear and accessories stores of well-known international and Russian brands, hundreds of shops, cafes and restaurants, and even cinema, fitness center and a swimming pool.
Iceberg (Айсберг) offers a full range of shops from digital technology, bags, shoes, clothes, and other latest fashion accessories. It has children’s clothes, a pharmacy, beauty salon, dry-cleaners, and supermarket.
A smaller option in the downtown is Megacity (Мегасити). It features almost 60 shops and is located just across the road from Samara State University.
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 Samara
If you want to step outside Samara‘s industrial buildings and streets, you’ll come face-to-face with some of Russia’s finest scenery, including the Volga River and the Zhiguli Mountains.
The place that should not be missed is Samarskaya Luka National Park. Unique landforms, microclimate, flora and fauna, the amazing beauty of the mountains, have brought worldwide fame to this spot. Moreover, it is a unique area formed by the 180-degree bend of the biggest European river Volga in its middle and the Usa bay of the Kuibyshev reservoir.
Organized hiking and sightseeing paths lead visitors to the park’s major landmarks: the Molodetsky mound, Devya mountain, the Kamennaya Chasha natural landmark and the Vedmino lake. If you want to see all the best spots and catch the coolest views, ask a local from Samara to accompany you there. These heartbreaking landscapes are definitely worth it!
While there, take a trip out to Shiryaevo village (Ширяево) to soak up the village life atmosphere, or check out the Repin Museum that features a small (but extremely beautiful) collection of Volga-inspired art. There are also naturally formed limestone caves for exploring.
Zhiguli Nature Reserve is also located nearby on the Samara Bend. There are two ecotourism routes in the reserve, however, that are open to the public but require permits to be obtained in advance.
And an awesome idea in the end – make the most of the Volga and take a boat tour around the Samara Bend or to such places as Shiryaevo or Togliatti. Ask a local to arrange it for you.
MeetnGreetMe services in Samara
As we would like your stay in Samara to be as memorable and exciting as possible, let us recommend you top 5 services that may be handy in this vibrant city during the World Cup:
- 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 too).
- Driving to destination – after reading the guide you might understand that using a taxi is not a trustworthy option in this city. In case you need an English-speaking driver + guide, turn to our local concierges.
- Providing 24h information support – it is like an English-speaking guide in your pocket ready to explain and help you during the day.
- 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?
- Booking/buying tickets to events – yes, your probable visit to the theatre becomes even easier and pleasant.
Don’t forget to share your experience with us and see you in Samara!