The 2018 FIFA World Cup is set to take place in Russia from June 14 – July 15 next year. A visit to any large-scale sporting event can be something of an adventure, particularly for a foreigner. If you’re heading to Russia for the 2018 World Cup, here are some tips to make your trip smooth sailing.
Always carry your passport
As inconvenient as it may seem, always carrying a passport is a common practice in Russia. After deadly attacks in the 1990s and 2000s, the authorities have been making serious counterterrorism efforts, so it’s not uncommon for a police officer to stop a passerby and ask for ID. Even though it may never happen to you, be sure to keep your passport in a secure place no matter where you’re headed.
Beware of pickpockets
When in a city, be especially observant while using public transport and around major attractions, town centres, airports and railway stations, since in Russia like in any other country you’ll be at risk of being robbed by pickpockets and bag snatchers. Don’t flash your cash too much, only carry a little spending money and leave the rest locked away at your hotel.
Stay away from football hooligans
Ever since the clash between England and Russia fans during the European Football Championship in France, the situation around football hooliganism in Russia has received a lot of media attention. While the country’s authorities assure that that the 2018 World Cup will be safe and friendly, some football ‘fans’ will be looking for some ‘action’, so it’s best to stay away from agitated football crowds.
Use public transport
For all its holders, the Fan-ID grants free rides on ground public transport, subway and trains of Moscow Central Circle. Since no private vehicles will be allowed near the stadiums, public transport is the best way to reach them. Just be sure to avoid rush hour and allow yourself enough time to get to the stadium and pass through the security checks.
Steer clear from certain areas
Even without the enhanced security measures you’d expect from the World Cup 2018, the central parts of all 11 host cities in Russia are pretty much risk-free. However, like in any other city or town there are certain unpleasant areas that tourists should stay away from. Check your embassy website or ask your Russian friends or hotel personnel where the tourist no-go zones are, and avoid them at all costs.
Never drink tap water
In Russia, drinking the tap water is unsafe, due to improper sanitizing and bad piping in some areas. While you’ll probably be fine if you get some water in your mouth while taking a shower, definitely use only bottled water for brushing your teeth and for drinking.
Stay alert on trains
Fan-ID holders can also enjoy free train rides between the host cities. Definitely choose train travel if you’re eager to experience Russia’s vastness, just make sure that you plan your trips accordingly: getting on a train from Moscow to Samara will take you around 30 hours. While there are bound to be other World Cup visitors, be sure not to engage into drinking or gambling with strangers.
The World Cup 2018 Organizing Committee promised to limit the sale of alcohol at certain events during the tournament. You’ll be able to purchase authorized food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks (no glass containers though) within the match venues, however all stadiums and fan zones keep the right to deny entry to anyone under the influence. Even mild intoxication can lead to being banned from entering, so it’s better not to push your luck.