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The World Cup in Russia: 6 cities to visit between matches

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For all those fans getting ready to enjoy the first match of the FIFA World Cup in Russia, here is a simple guide to helping you experience the best of Russia while you're waiting in between matches.

Moscow

With a population of over 8 million people, Moscow is not only home to Europe’s largest urban population but to a vast history spanning from early Russian Czars to the Bolshevik Revolution. 

The best and easiest way to see Moscow in a hurry is to visit the Red Square. Standing in the square’s centre will give you a perfect view of the historic merchant district whilst being only a stone’s throw away from the Kremlin and the notorious Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

When one thinks of Russia it is impossible not to make a connection to its former Soviet past. In order to gain a first-hand account of Russia’s rich Soviet history, there are plenty of museums to choose from with many only taking under two hours, allowing plenty of time to make it to the stadium before the start of the game. 

Saint Petersburg

In what was Russia’s imperial capital for two centuries, Saint Petersburg was founded as a window to the West and has stood as Russia’s cultural capital ever since. 

One of the key locations is the world-famous Hermitage museum which helps assert St. Petersburg as Russia’s cultural hub. There are many sight-seeing tours that will help you get to grips with this vast city and its many cultural locations especially if you are pushed for time before matches.

Some of the most noteworthy landmarks that should definitely be on your to-do list are the iconic Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, the Winters Palace, and the Peterhof Grand Palace.

Volgograd

Volgograd, previously Stalingrad, is arguably the Russian city with the most notable relationship with war and conflict. The battle of Stalingrad is widely accepted as being the battle of WW2 with the largest number of casualties. Volgograd, therefore, is positioned as a city with deep roots in military history and there are multiple landmarks around the city that resemble this past.

When visiting such a historical city it would be counterproductive to pass up on visiting sites crucial to the creation of modern Volgograd. Catch a bus tour through the winding city streets and end your visit with a trip to the historical stomping ground of The Hall of Military Glory.

One thing that is considered imperative for visitors to Volgograd is to visit the Motherland Calls sculpture. Think of it almost like a much grander Angel of the North but it helps to perfectly sum up a rich history of Russian national pride. 

Sochi

Sochi has emerged as another tourist hotspot for Russia in recent years, after hosting the Winter Olympics back in 2014. Sochi has a large variety of day and night time activities ranging from sporting events to immersive cultural outings. 

Leaving visitors breathless with the stunning views over Sochi and the stunning scenery surrounding the city, the observation tower and museum provides visitors with the perfect opportunity to get to grips with this awe-inspiring city. The Sochi Observation tower is one that all visitors have to tick off their to-do list when visiting.

The huge Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi is a real hotspot, as it often hosts incredible sporting events and cultural shows. With many events being hosted all year round, there is an abundant opportunity for visitors to catch something held at this incredible venue.

Kaliningrad

Kaliningrad is where East meets West, a port city pivotal in the World Wars and Cold War. Like the rest of Russia, Kaliningrad is a city full of militarised history and the submarine museum is widely accepted as the best opportunity for visitors to understand this militarised past.

Situated on the coast of the Baltic sea, the creation and use of submarines is undeniably associated with this city. Visiting the museum will give you entrance to a submarine that was used during this turbulent period of history.

Since it's summer, why not whip out a beach towel and head to the promenade. Get some last-minute tanning in before the game and go home looking bronzed and hopefully beaming from England’s success in the tournament.

Ekaterinburg

Arguably one of Russia’s best-kept secrets, Ekaterinburg is another fascinating city with a deep connection to war and conflict embedded in its history. With four of the group stages games being held at Ekaterinburg, there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to discover this well-hidden city. 

In such a historically oriented place, it would be a shame to pass up on the opportunity to visit the Ekaterinburg War Memorial. It is a huge physical remembrance of the men and women who gave their lives fighting for Russia over the centuries.

The Church of Ascension is one of the most stunning buildings in all of Russia, providing visitors for the World Cup an opportunity to find some peace in an otherwise bustling commercial hub and also get some last-minute prayers in before heading off to watch some matches.

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