As the football World prepares for the four-yearly extravaganza that is the World Cup, Russia has a chance to up its tourist magnetism and appeal by showing us all how cool a country this is to visit. For the first time tourist, Russia can seemingly cause problems. Things like visas, bureaucracy, flights in and out can be complicated. But these should not be obstacles in the way, rather challenges to overcome because it’s worth it. Once you see sunrise over Lake Baikal or sip Vodka on Arbat Street in Moscow, you will surely fall in love with Russia’s charm. These are some of the best cities to visit during the 2018 World Cup.
It’s really essential to start off in the capital to get a feel for what this country is really all about. Why not tick off all the iconic Moscow landmarks while you are here. Sure, the football stadium will be busy as will the bars, but don’t forget the obvious sights. Visit Lenin’s Mausoleum, tour the Kremlin, stroll through Gorky Park, have a coffee overlooking Red Square and get into the city’s most famous Cathedral – St. Basil’s.
Lenin has been and gone and with it of course, the name of Leningrad is no longer used. St. Petersburg is arguably the most visited Russian City. Cruise Ships come in and out on day trips. However it is recommended to spend a few days here to really get a feel for this special city. Don’t miss the Winter Palace and the Peter and Paul Fortress, it’s a very photogenic city.
Kaliningrad is as European as Russia gets as it borders Poland and Lithuania. This little enclave of Russia has been chosen to host three World Cup games. Tour the islands on the river, visit the world’s first Upside Down House, go to the tomb of famous philosopher Immanuel Kant and drink some Russian vodka in the Lenin Bar. What’s also cool about Kaliningrad is that it has more relaxed visa options than the rest of Russia and is also on average slightly cheaper.
It might seem unusual to add Irkutsk to such a list as officially no World Cup matches will be played here, but there are infinite reasons to visit beautiful Irkutsk. Firstly, it means you will have to ride the Tran-Siberian Railway. Secondly you can tour Lake Baikal. Thirdly you can watch real life Shamans in action here. If that’s not enough for you, head across to the crazy Republic of Buryati near the Mongolia border where they have the biggest Lenin head in the world. It will be busy during the World Cup so make sure you have some Trans-Siberian package tours booked in advance.
That list should keep you going as you marvel at the history and culture within Russia – the country occupying more land mass than any other.