World Cup 2018 in Russia: how to get there, visa, what to do?

Assister à la Coupe du Monde 2018 en Russie

Our best tips for preparing your trip to Russia to attend the 21st edition of the 2018 Football World Cup

Every four years since 1930, FIFA has organized the Football World Cup, the most popular sporting event, for your enjoyment. The next edition, from June 14 to July 15, 2018, will be held in Russia. While Russia attracts 3 million visitors every year, the event is expected to attract a further million.

If you’d like to attend this eagerly-awaited sporting event, you’ll need to organize your trip in advance, because getting to Russia isn’t as easy as getting to Europe. The conditions of entry and stay in Russia are, for us French, subject to a drastic protocol regime, and the Russian authorities do not skimp on controls, although these have been relaxed with the organization of the sporting event. Here’s how to prepare your trip to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Coupe du Monde de football 2018 en Russie

How can I buy a ticket to attend the 2018 World Cup in Russia?

Online ticketing to book a 2018 World Cup ticket has been open since September 14, 2017.

As demand exceeds the number of available tickets, FIFA has set up a draconian selective system for purchasing tickets:

  • From September 14, 2017 to October 12, 2017: anyone can submit an application, but the approval decision is subject to a draw, with a response formulated by November 16, 2017
  • From November 16 to 28, 2017, it’s competition time: FIFA applies the « first come, first served » method
  • From December 5, 2017 to January 31, 2018, selection by lottery
  • From March 13 to April 3, 2018, « first come = first served » method
  • From April 18 to July 15, 2018, last-minute ticket sales, « first come = first served » method.

To get your ticket, visit FIFA’s online ticketing service. All payment cards are accepted.

What is the World Cup schedule?

The World Cup kicks off on June 14, 2018, with the Russian national team. In keeping with tradition, the host country is the first to play. For the moment, no match schedule for the Russian World Cup has been released.

Which cities will host World Cup matches?

Although the country has a foothold in Eastern Europe, Russia is an immensely large territory. As a result, some matches can take place over 2,000 kilometers apart.

When planning your schedule for the stadium marathon, it’s essential to take into account the geographical dimension, which will inevitably influence transport and travel times between the host cities.

These are :

Kaliningrad and Yekaterinburg are 3000 kilometers apart. In addition, there are 2,340 kilometers between St. Petersburg and Sochi… It’s easy to see why you’ll need to take a plane between matches to cover such distances. But thanks to the « Fan-ID » (see below), you can travel free of charge in Russia (excluding air travel).

Travelling to Russia for the World Cup: what are the formalities?

Usually, entering Russia is rather complicated: you have to show your credentials with a panoply of documents and procedures to obtain your visa:

  • Valid passport (6 months after return) with at least 2 free pages
  • Photocopy of first pages of passport (photo and signature)
  • Online visa application form
  • Certificate of health and repatriation insurance
  • Recent, color, unscanned passport photo
  • Voucher with invitation (from travel agency, host, hotel, etc.)

There are five types of visa for Russia: tourist, business, study, private and transit. You won’t be able to get any of them if you haven’t booked accommodation in advance.

But for the World Cup, the procedures have been relaxed somewhat in 2016. In fact, a new law passed by the Russian executive stipulates that – in addition to having a ticket purchased with its invoice – it will « only » be necessary toobtain a Fan ID, or supporter’s passport.

The application is made online after receiving confirmation of the World Cup ticket from FIFA, on the official partner website.

Fan ID, Coupe du Monde Russie 2018

Screenshot of the site where you can reserve your Fan ID for the World Cup

This « Fan-ID » must be requested by everyone, including minors under the age of 14 (upon presentation of a birth certificate and the identity document of the legal representative in addition to the ticket). Once issued, it entitles the holder to enter the stadiums, as well as free use of public transport (bus, metro, train) linking the host cities.

Magic, isn’t it? So now it’s time to study the route…

How do I get to Russia?

There are four ways to get to the World Cup: by plane, train, coach or car.

On average, a return flight from Paris to Moscow – with stopovers – costs around €200-250, but can be found for around €180, depending on the airline and the time of year. For a direct flight, expect to pay at least €400.

Between June and July 2018, prices are expected to rise due to the high demand ahead. Only buy your flight tickets when you have your confirmed ticket and Fan-ID visa.

Aeroflot, compagnie coupe du monde 2018

Aeroflot is a Russian airline that will operate during the 2018 World Cup – Photo credit: Wikimedia – Dmitry Petrov

Getting to Moscow by coach will take much longer: depending on the bus company you choose, the journey can take over 60 hours, but will cost around €170 to €200.

A road-trip by car through Eastern Europe can also be an unforgettable experience. The road trip lasts four to six days, giving you the chance to see a lot of different landscapes.

Finally, the train, a more comfortable option than the bus or car, for a 200 km/h journey through Germany, Poland and Belarus.

Find cheap airfare for the 2018 World Cup in Russia

Several sites allow you to compare flight prices, selected from all types of airlines, including low-cost carriers. I prefer the comparator, because you can choose a flexible date over the whole month, change the airport according to the price and really get the lowest fares on the calendar.

Where to stay during the 2018 World Cup in Russia?

With the World Cup coming up, accommodation in Russia is likely to be more complicated than usual. Russia’s major cities are notoriously expensive. Although the average cost of living is lower than in France, accommodation in Moscow or St Petersburg, for example, is one of the most expensive items on the budget.

The accommodation on offer ranges from large luxury hotels – popular with business travellers and wealthy Russian oligarchs – to high-comfort accommodation. Affordable establishments will be hard to find, so be warned.

Nevertheless, the youth hostel, the Holy Grail for the budget-conscious traveler, has also seen a boom in Russia, as it has throughout Europe and Asia: stay in a kommounalky, the former communal apartments of the Soviet era, for a low price and an interesting experience…

Where to stay for the World Cup in Russia?

– Find a hotel in Moscow

– Find a hotel in Saint Petersburg

– Find a hotel in Kazan

– Find a hotel in Sochi

What’s your budget for Russia?

How much will I spend in Russia to live? It all depends on your consumption and travel habits, but air travel and accommodation will weigh most heavily on your travel budget.

To be on the safe side, allow at least €30 per person per night (€100 at the higher end) for your accommodation, €30 to €40 for food, €5 per person for transport and €6 for activities and visits.

This can only be an order of magnitude, as the general price index in Russia is subject to large recurring fluctuations, and this inflation rate will mechanically increase as the 2018 World Cup approaches…

Vladimir Poutine, Coupe du Monde de Football 2018, Russie

Photo credit: Kremlin