64 matches, 32 countries, 12 stadiums, and it all comes down to 1 golden cup which declares 1 team as world champions! As FIFA 2018 kickstarts in Russia on June 14, the football fever grips one and all. Every football fan is waiting with bated breath to see whether Germany successfully defends their title, if Lionel Messi finally puts a period to the “Messi or Maradona” comparison, will Brazil make a comeback, or a new star will gloriously rise at the end of the championship. Be it whatever, it is definitely going to be a joyous and tearful journey.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony will happen in all its splendour on June 14 at the Luzhniki Stadium of Moscow. Not only this, the capital of Russia also has the honor of hosting other important matches including the semi-final and final. Moscow has a total of two majestic stadiums where in all 12 enthralling matches will be held; 7 matches at Luzhniki Stadium and 5 matches at Spartak Stadium. The dates of matches at the two stadiums in Moscow are as follows.
|Luzhniki Stadium||Spartak Stadium|
|June 14 – Russia vs Saudi Arabia||June 16 – Argentina vs Iceland|
|June 17 – Germany vs Mexico||June 19 – Poland vs Senegal|
|June 20 – Portugal vs Morocco||June 23 – Belgium vs Tunisia|
|June 26 – Denmark vs France||June 27 – Serbia vs Brazil|
|July 1 – Round of 16 match||July 3 – Round of 16 match|
|July 11 – Semifinal|
|July 15 – Final|
Now that you are all set knowing the match-dates, how about taking a look at the beautiful city of Moscow. It is that city in Russia where the cultural heritage and modern innovations go hand in hand. If you are going to be in Moscow for a long period, then you will have plenty of time in between the matches. Lace up your walking boots and set out to wander in the city. Let’s explore the best things to do in Moscow during FIFA 2018 to make the most of your visit.
1. Know football and your favorite players through guided tours
With more than 600 walking and bus tours, Moscow is sooo ready to welcome football fans from all over the world and serve them well. These guided tours will tell you all about the unheard football stories. Listen to the interesting tales about Moscow football clubs and their famous players. You will also land-up a chance of taking a look at the newly renovated stadiums that will be used during the FIFA 2018 championship. Other tours will take you around different attractions in Moscow, allowing you to bask in its history and culture. If you see a football-shaped mobile booth when in Moscow, head towards it and register yourself for these tours.
The guided tours are available from June 13 to July 14 and will be held between 10:00 AM and 8:00 PM. They will be conducted in Russian, English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Chinese. You will find such tours being conducted near the glass dome of Zaryadye Park, at Triumfalnaya Square, Arbat Street, and at the start of Nikolskaya Street in Moscow.
2. Have a gala time at the Football Fan Festival
Football Fan Festival in Moscow will be held at Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills). This would be the second best place after the stadiums to soak in the festivities of FIFA 2018. Vorobyovy Gory is considered to be one of the most scenic part in Moscow. It treats you to mesmerizing vistas of the city. The site holds a massive capacity of 25,000, allowing all those football fans to watch live screening of matches who failed to get tickets. There is a huge stage set up at the site where a variety of entertainment programmes will be organized throughout the championship. These will be reflected on the seven monitors installed at Vorobyovy Gory. All the matches will be streamed live on these screens.
With thousands of fans gathered at the site, the atmosphere will be no less electrifying than that at the stadiums. Besides the screens, there is also an observation deck nearby from where you can treat yourself to panoramic views of Moscow. Souvenir shop for the World Championships, a food court, and children’s play area complete this place to the T.
3. Grab the chance of seeing your favorite football player
Several teams have their base in Moscow region. What does that say? Well, it means that you have a golden chance of seeing your favorite football players! The current world champions, that is the national team of Germany will be practicing at the CSKA sports base in Vatutinki, the Russian team will be training at the Federal Sports Centre Novogorsk, the team of Portugal will practice at Saturn Training Base, Iran will be at Lokomotiv Bakovka Training Center, France will train at the Glebovets Stadium, Peru will be at Arena Khimki, Argentina has their training site at Stadium of Syroyezhkin Sports School, Mexico will be at Training base Novogorsk-Dynamo, Belgium has their training site at Stadium of sport complex Guchkovo, and Tunisia will practice at Stadium Stroitel.
Remember that many of these training sites are located in the region of Moscow. Also, it will be the national team’s call when to communicate with their fans. So just cross your fingers and pray for the lady luck to shine upon you. Who knows, you may even land up with an autograph of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo!
4. Set out to see the awe-inspiring football murals
Wouldn’t it be fantabulous to see all the Avengers play football? Imagine, all of them playing the game using their powers! Until Marvel decides to give their superheroes a little time for recreation, let us all be satisfied looking at their larger than life mural in Moscow. The facades of two buildings that are in the heart of Moscow have been painted, showing superheroes like Iron Man, Spiderman, Captain America, Black Widow, as well as Groot! Painted on an office building on Alexander Solzhenitsyn Street, this is an 8-meter high mural. Another mural can be seen on a residential building on Marshala Zhukova Prospekt. This mural shows a teenage boy striking the football on the pitch.
Painted mostly in red, these spray-paintings have been painted by renowned artist Martin Ron who is considered amongst the top ten street-artists in the world. These murals have been painted as a part of the MOST Street Art Festival. Through these murals, Moscow sends a strong message about the importance of sports in everybody’s life.
5. Enjoy exhibitions and shows about football at different art museums
The art museums in Moscow have come alive with a number of football-centric exhibitions and shows. Be it through paintings or photographs, these exhibitions bring football to the fans at its best. Head towards New Tretyakov Gallery and through numerous lovely paintings, sculptures and photographs of women, men, and children, you will see how sports gained importance in all of Russia.
Garage Museum of Contemporary Art is just across the street from New Tretyakov Gallery. Considered to be the oldest and best private museum of modern art, this museum has held a special museum for football fans. This exhibition showcases a series of photographs and videos shot by Juergen Teller. These photos and videos are about football, famous players, ardent fans, matches, and football accessories. Other two museums that have interesting events about football include Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and Schusev Museum of Architecture.
6. Visit different parts of the city that have football amusements
To keep the visitors entertained throughout FIFA 2018 Championship, Moscow has installed a variety of football amusement games at nine parks. These include foosball tables as well as costumes shaped as football that kids can get into. These are the best places to visit if you are in Moscow with kids. You will find these amusements on Poklonnaya Hill, Kuznetsky Most Street behind the TSUM department store, Krymskaya Embankment, Revolution Square, near the main entrance of Gorky Park, next to the main entrance of VDNKh National Exhibition Centre, at Arbat Street, Tverskaya Square, and in Zaryadye Park.
7. Listen to live broadcast in Sokolniki Park
Just a day ahead of FIFA 2018, the Sokolniki Park in Moscow has got a huge electric vuvuzela with a loudspeaker. This 9-meter long electric instrument was installed in the park on June 13. Painted in the colors of the Russian flag, the prime purpose of this giant vuvuzela will be to broadcast the Russian matches. Fans, who wish to escape the crowd and enjoy the match in greenery, should gather here to cheer out loud for the home team.
The above exciting activities will let you revel in the festive vibes of FIFA 2018 in Moscow. Apart from indulging in these, here are a few attractions in Moscow that you must visit.
8. Walk through Russia’s history at Moscow Kremlin
Steeped in history, Moscow Kremlin is a fortified cultural site. It lies at the center of Moscow and has the residence of the Russian President. It overlooks the River Moskova and has other prime attractions such as Red Square, the Alexander Garden, and Saint Basil’s Cathedral surrounding it. Touring The Kremlin will give you a glimpse of entire Russia. Amongst those 600 bus and walking tours organized for football fans, you will definitely find one that will take you around the Kremlin complex.
9. Admire the vibrant Saint Basil’s Cathedral
Located in the Red Square of Moscow, Saint Basil’s Cathedral now serves as a museum. Built in 1561, this colorful building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church stands tall at a height of 156 feet and features 10 domes and 2 spires. Constructed in the Russian architectural style, the structure is seen as a bonfire flame rising high in the sky. Visit Saint Basil’s Cathedral to be awestruck by its beauty and to know about its history.
10. Enjoy a Russian ballet performance at Bolshoi Theatre
Opened in 1825, the Bolshoi Theater is considered as a historic theater. Every year the theater hosts 3-4 different operas and 2-3 ballets. The theater itself is a magnificent piece of architecture and makes for a sight to behold at night. Russian ballet is world famous and one must not miss a chance of attending it when in Moscow. You may visit their official website to check whether any shows are being held during the period of FIFA 2018 tournament.
Other tourist attractions in Moscow that deserve a visit include the State Historical Museum, Lenin’s Mausoleum, GUM, VDNKH All-Russian Exhibition Center, and Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve.
While you are all set to enjoy the thrilling FIFA 2018 matches in Moscow, do not forget to make the most of your free time in between matches. Get down on the streets of Moscow and check the most happening European capital off your travel bucket list.
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