5 of the most interesting Russian cities that will be hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Russia might not usually be an obvious holiday destination for many Brits, but thanks to the FIFA World Cup, thousands of fans will be jetting over there this summer.

The tournament kicks off on Thursday with England playing their first match next Monday, and a grand total of 11 countries will be hosting games. It’ll be no mean feat travelling between locations for those hoping to catch multiple matches – after all, Russia is pretty huge, with an unbelievable 11 time zones.

But other than being home to huge football stadiums, what else are the host cities about? We’ve picked out five of the most interesting…

1. Moscow

#StBasilsCathedral in #Moscow which is the main landmark!

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What’s it like?

As Russia’s capital and most populous city, with an eye-watering 12.5 million people living there, Moscow is truly one of the big dogs of the country.

It’s a city steeped in history, what with the Kremlin (which contains the old tsar’s palace as well as being the political centre), St. Basil’s Cathedral (with its iconic onion shaped domes), Lenin’s Mausoleum and the Red Square (Russia’s symbolic centre).

What should you do there?

Tive que mostrar para os russos a habilidade do garoto.

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Obviously, any tourist should visit the landmarks, but what if you really want to gauge the vibe of this cosmopolitan city?

You could try a visit to Gorky Park, a huge space in the centre of the city with various activities like rollerskating and volleyball, as well as the occasional art installation on show. If the outdoors isn’t your thing (or the weather proves too harsh), warm yourself up with some vodka and caviar – head to Beluga for a truly Russian experience.

2. Saint Petersburg

Winter Palace ❄️ in Saint Petersburg! We got everything BUT winter in this beautiful city! ☀️ Today it forms part of the “Hermitage Museum”, the second biggest art collection in the world after the Louvre 🎨 . . Palacio de Invierno de San Petersburgo! 🇷🇺 Tuvimos de todo menos invierno en esta hermosa ciudad 🏰, 28 grados TODOS los días! Hoy en día forma parte del “Hermitage Museum”, el segundo museo de arte más grande del mundo después del Louvre. . . TIP: There are huge lines to buy tickets, but there are machines inside and in front at the General Staff Building (also part of the museum) which are always empty and will save you a lot of time. . . . #adventureinyou #keepontravelling #followtheadventure #art #saintpetersburg #stpetersburg #russia #winterpalace #hermitagemuseum #travelphotography #travel #newlyweds #honeymooners

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What’s it like?

Saint Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city, has the history to rival Moscow – it was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great as the country’s then-capital. And while Moscow has the reputation for being the cosmopolitan centre of Russia, Saint Petersburg is known for being home to the arts. It has it all, from majestic canals to romantic palaces, and is often seen as the softer, more European cousin to Moscow.

What should you do there?

Much like Moscow, Saint Petersburg is such a vast city that it’s difficult to know where to start. If you want to see the city’s classic architecture, take a look at The Winter Palace or Catherine Palace. To get into the artistic swing of things, head to the Hermitage Museum – it’s the second largest art museum in the world, and has an impressive collection of everything from Egyptian antiquities to French Impressionist art.

If you’ve already visited Moscow, you’ll be able to recognise the onion shaped domes in Saint Petersburg’s Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood.

3. Nizhny Novgorod

Времена и эпохи 🔥August twilight in Nizhny Novgorod

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What’s it like?

Even though you might not have heard of it, Nizhny Novgorod, located in western Russi, on the banks of the Volga River, is widely considered to be Russia’s third capital after Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

Like many historic Russian cities Nizhny has a kremlin, which is essentially a fortified complex. Nizhny’s is particularly noteworthy however, not only because it can be found on the hills overlooking the point where the Volga meets the Oka, but it’s also where you can see the 17th century Cathedral of the Archangel Michael, as well as the Monument to Heroes of WWII.

What should you do there?

If you’re game for a bit of a challenge – climbing around 1500 steps – then head to the Chkalov Stairs, where you’ll be rewarded with great views over the river.

If sweeping vistas are what you want, however, it’s also worthwhile hopping on the city’s 13-minute cable car, which goes up to 80m high and travels over the Volga.

4. Yekaterinburg

What’s it like?

Yekaterinburg (also known as Ekaterinburg) is particularly interesting, because it’s the only host city that is technically in Asia.

It sits right on the geographic border between Europe and Asia, at the foot of the Ural Mountains. The city also has a rich history – it started life as a mining town, and in 1918 became notorious as the place where the Romanovs were executed (this was the family of ex-tsar Nicholas II, and this period marked the end of a 300-year-old imperial dynasty).

What should you do there?

The impressive Byzantine-style Church upon the Blood is well worth a visit, not only for its imposing structure and gold domes but also because it’s located near to the site where the Romanovs were murdered by the Bolsheviks.

Despite its dark history, Yekaterinburg is also known for being an artistic hot-spot in Russia – the city’s Museum of Fine Arts is home to a vast collection dating back to the 14th century.

5. Sochi

What’s it like?

Sochi rose to prominence in 2014 as the host of the Winter Olympics, but it’s not always a city full of snow. In fact, Sochi is right on the coast of the Black Sea and is predominantly known as a resort town.

In the past, this was where the Russian elite would holiday. Don’t expect temperatures comparable to Ibiza, but it remains a popular tourist destination, in part down to the range of activities on offer – from mountain climbing and sailing, to diving and cycling.

What should you do there?

Красотка ,просто нет слов!!!👍

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Sochi is located on what is known as the ‘Russian Riviera’, so it’s definitely worth taking advantage of the beaches and everything that comes with them – think ocean-view bars, amazing sunsets, and a boardwalk perfect for strolling along.

If you’re looking for something a bit more active, head to the nearby Agura Valley, for a variety of hiking paths that take you up hills and through waterfalls.

- Press Association

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