When the World Cup kicks off in Samara, this Russian port town will be awash with fans caught up in competition excitement. Formerly a closed city, Samara is loaded with historical sights and landmarks, as well being packed with cafés, restaurants and bars. If you’re planning a trip, check out our need-to-know guide.
Where to eat
Puri has several locations around Samara, and is the best option if you want a filling Georgian dinner, or a freshly baked kachapuri bread for lunch or even breakfast. For burgers and craft beer try Parburg, Samara’s first burger bar. Relaxed and laidback, it is a friendly option for a casual bite or drink. If you’re after a coffee and some café fare, the cheerful Cloud Café has a good selection of meals across breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Puri, Ulitsa Kuybysheva 79, Samara, Russia, +7 846 989 33 32
Parburg Burger Bar, Ulitsa Molodogvardeyskaya 96, Samara, Russia, +7 846 332 56 00
Cloud Café, Moskovskoye Highway 4, Samara, Russia, +7 903 301 75 85
Where to drink
Samara isn’t short of drinking options, especially when you want to party on all through the night. Choose from anyone of the friendly late night pubs, or try Podval, the stalwart of the city’s alternative scene and number one choice for sticky carpet music and mosh pits. Van Gogh cocktail bar is great for lovers of EDM and hosts national and international DJs on the weekend as well as the occasional band. For a quiet, laid-back drink try Gustov, which is also open until late.
Podval, Ulitsa Galaktionovskaya 46, Samara, Russia, +7 846 332 92 83
Van Gogh, Ulitsa Novo-Sadovaya 106, Samara, Russia, +7 846 274 28 82
Gustov, Ulitsa Artsybushevskaya 204, Samara, Russia, +7 987 947 64 27
Things to see
There are plenty of things to see around town. Outside the Samara Space Museum is a real life Vostock rocket, the first model to send a human into space and a monument to the city’s key role in Russia’s space aviation. The Modern Museum is right next to the Fan Fest zone and worth a look if you are interested in Art Nouveau design and architecture. One of Stalin’s bunkers is also close by and is super fascinating – bigger and more elaborate than Hitler’s bunker, it was built, but never used, when the city was earmarked to be Russia’s new capital should Germany capture Moscow during World War II.
Samara Space Museum, Prospekt Lenina 21, Samara, Russia, +7 846 263 39 35
Modern Museum, Ulitsa Frunze 159, Samara, Russia, +7 846 333 24 98
Stalin’s Bunker, Uitsa Frunze 167, Samara, Russia, +7 846 333 35 71
Things to do
Go and soak up the sun on the banks of the Volga, on one of Russia’s finest landlocked beaches. Or, for a decent day trip that still makes the most of the river, catch a ferry over to the Zhiguli Mountains. Ensconced in these rugged peaks is the picturesque Shiryaevo village and a lot of splendid views. If you want to stay close to town, stroll up the delightful esplanade and towards the Zhiguli Brewery to taste the Soviet Union’s most iconic beer.
Zhiguli Brewery, Prospekt Volzhskiy 4, Samara, Russia, +7 846 332 41 75
Fan Fest zone
One of the largest city squares in Russia, the imposing Kuybyshev Square is Samara’s Fan Fest zone and is where all the action will be during the World Cup. Its great expanse lies in front of the impressive State Ballet and Opera Theatre, a sight in itself. Centrally located, it is easily walked to from the Volga or from most of the central sights, though buses 24, 92, and 297 run past the square stopping at a stop of the same name. Sleeping-wise, Ost West Hotel is only a couple of blocks away, but if you’re after something cheaper, the Cherry Hostel is clean and affordable, and only a 20-minute walk. Pilzner and local favourite Balkan Grill are a short stroll away, and both places serve large portions and cold beers.
Ost West Hotel, Ulitsa Sadovaya 210А, Samara, Russia, +7 846 230 03 60
Cherry Hostel, Ulitsa Alekseya Tolstogo 137, Samara, Russia, +7 846 310 55 55
Pilzner, Ulitsa Vilonovskaya 24, Samara, Russia, +7 846 993 63 29
Balkan Grill, Ulitsa Shostakovicha 7, Samara, Russia, +7 846 202 21 66
On the north-eastern outskirts of the city, Cosmos Arena is a little way out – from Kuybyshev Square it’s around 30 minutes by car to get to the stadium. As the arena is still currently under construction, there is no direct public transport link to it yet, however this is highly likely to change. Polyanka, Almira and La Maison are the closest hotels to the stadium and are all reasonable. However, it’s a little isolated out there, so staying on the east side of the city gives you easy access to the stadium and nightlife and sights. Hotel Oktyabrskaya and Gostinitsa 4 Sezona are close to Ulitsa Moskovskoye for an easy route to catch a game.
Polyanka Hotel, Ulitsa Tashkentskaya 248, Samara, Russia, +7 846 331 24 03
Almira Hotel, Ulitsa Georgiya Dimitrova 110а, Samara, Russia, +7 937 201 32 22
Hotel Oktyabrskaya, Ulitsa Avrory, 209, Samara, Russia, +7 846 276 16 03
Gostinitsa 4 Sezona, Ulitsa Tsentral’naya 28, Samara, Russia, +7 846 246 62 68