Russia World Cup - know before you go
Taking place every four years, 2018’s World Cup kicks off on Thursday 14 June and lasts until Sunday 15 July. It will see 32 teams play in matches across 11 of its key cities, including Moscow, Sochi and the beautiful St Petersburg.
For those lucky enough to be heading over, it’s worth spending some time researching the logistics of the trip. Russia’s rules can be quite strict and enforced under normal circumstances, and these rules are changing in light of the footie tournament. To give a head start, here are five pointers the Flexicover team thinks are important to know before you go.
Travellers visiting Russia for the 2018 World Cup don’t need a Russian visa, but they do need a valid passport, as well as a ‘Personalized card of the spectator’ otherwise known as ‘Fan ID’, which they can get after purchasing a ticket for a World Cup event and registering online. The ID will then be sent in the mail or available at distribution centres. But be warned: this is only in effect from 14 June to 15 July 2018 and for travel to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Ekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saransk and Volgograd.
Fewer than one in ten Russians speak fluent English, so it is beneficial for tourists to learn basic greetings and phrases before visiting the country. Apps like FluentU and Duolingo allow for daily practice of easy phrases – the earlier you start, the more you’ll learn. It helps that many police officers, hotel workers and tour operators speak English, especially in large cities like St. Petersburg and the capital of Moscow. For the World Cup, visitors can expect bilingual staff members to help. German is the second most-known language in Russia, and it’s also useful.
The Russian currency is the ruble (RUB) and British travellers should note that it is against the law for any currency apart from the ruble to be accepted in the country. Because sterling is extremely difficult to exchange outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg, the local government recommends visitors only bring currency in US dollars or euros. Or exchange currency in advance: many high street banks and currency shops can pre-order rubles. Credit cards are widely accepted in major hotels, stores and restaurants, and cash machines are present in Russia’s larger cities. At the time of writing, 100 Rubles equates to £1.23.
Forget the furry hats - Russia’s temperature during the World Cup is likely to range from 21C to 32C during the day. July is known to be the warmest month in Moscow, as well as the wettest: the average rainfall is 95 mm. Further north in St. Petersburg, the temperatures are similar but with a little less rain. So even with higher temperatures World Cup-watchers are encouraged to bring a raincoat and waterproof shoes to account for its unpredictable weather. St. Petersburg is also famous for its White Nights celebrations from May through July, when it enjoys 80 continuous days of sunlight.
With the required ‘Fan ID’, travellers will have complimentary access to transport services in Russia’s major cities during the World Cup – just show the right documentation and hop on board. Moscow has an impressive and reliable metro system with more than 200 stations as well as trams, trolleybuses and buses, making it easy to get around the city. A modern railway system with hundreds of stations also connects the capital to the rest of the country. In cities, taxis are in plentiful supply and reasonably priced. Download a taxi app like Gett or Yandex for the most efficient way of hailing one, especially if you don’t speak Russian well.
Wherever you plan on travelling to this year it’s good to know that Flexicover Travel Insurance is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.