News Heading to Russia for the footie? A few tips to make the most of your trip

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Heading to Russia for the footie? A few tips to make the most of your trip

Things are getting interesting on the pitch in Russia – keen to see a match in person? We’ve asked and answered some key traveller questions here.

Q: How do I get out there?

There’s still availability on flights to Russia using Skyscanner’s flight search tool. Direct flights are available from London to Moscow and St Petersburg, but you’ll find cheaper fares if you fly indirect. Connections are good with a typical journey time with one stop of around five hours. You can also fly from other UK airports including Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh. Other venues for the knockout stages such as Sochi, Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan all have one-stop flight options but bear in mind that prices around key match dates are climbing quickly!

Q: Do I need a visa?

A: You can’t just jump on a plane to Russia. You need a visa too. If you’ve already bought a ticket to a match it’s a straightforward process. Go to fan-id.ru and register for a FAN ID. This is a laminated photocard that you need to wear to the game and it acts as temporary visa. You can use it to enter Russia until 15th July,  but you must leave Russia by 25th July. If you don’t have a ticket, it can take up to 20 days for a visa application to be processed – although there are fast-track services available. 

Q: Is there any other red tape?

A: You need to take your passport and it must be valid for at least six months after your visa or FAN ID expires. You’ll also need to fill in an immigration card on arrival and keep one part of it safe to submit to passport control when you leave Russia. Many hotels won’t accept guests who don’t have their immigration card. You must also register with local authorities if you’re staying in one place for more than three days. Your hotel will do this for you: but if you’re staying in rented or private accommodation you need to check your host is taking care of this.

Q: Will I be safe in Russia?

A: The overwhelming majority of British visits to Russia are trouble-free. So far there have been no reported incidents of any problems for British fans. However, LGBT fans may find public attitudes in Russia are less tolerant than at home. The Football Supporters’ Federation has a blog post offering advice to LGBT fans.

Q: What happens if I get sick or am injured?

A: Your European Health Insurance Card is NOT valid in Russia and it’s essential that you buy proper travel insurance before you travel to Russia. The Travel Health Pro website has a useful summary of travel health advice for the World Cup.

Q: Can I watch other games whilst I am there?

A: There are venues in the host cities where all the matches are shown live on a big screen. These special areas – known officially as FIFA FanFestTM venues – were introduced at the last World Cup in Brazil and were a huge success. They’re set right in the centre of each host city, and offer bars and food stalls, high-quality sound, official FIFA shops and entertainment before the game starts. Entrance is free. St Petersburg’s venue looks particularly impressive. It’s next to the iconic Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood and has room for 15,000 cheering fans. The official website has information about all the FanFest venues.

Q: Is it easy to travel between the host cities?

A: Fans with a FAN ID qualify for free train tickets between the host cities on certain trains. However, the distance between them is often immense, so journey time by train can be up to 20 hours. England’s final group match on 28 June  is in Kaliningrad. This separate part of Russia is sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland and most fans are expected to arrive from Poland. The UK Government has a useful page of advice for fans travelling to Kaliningrad from Poland.

Q: Is it easy to get around once I reach the host city?

A: St Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Samara and Moscow all have fast efficient metro systems. If you’re taking a taxi only use a licenced firm. Smartphone taxi apps are widely available. It’s a good idea to keep a written copy of the address you’re staying at in Russian, as many taxi drivers speak very limited English.

Q: What about getting into the stadium to watch the game on the day?

A: Given the vast numbers of people travelling to stadiums on match days you should allow plenty of time for the journey. Take public transport and don’t forget your FAN ID. You will not be allowed in without it. There are restrictions about what you can take into the ground too. You can’t take in large bags or food and drink (including alcohol). Flags are allowed but they must be no bigger than 2m x 1.5m. You could be denied entry if you are drunk or disorderly.

Q: I have a disability. What extra provisions are there for me?

A: Access to the stadia for people with disabilities is good, but getting there may be more challenging. Check out FIFA’s Accessibility Guide for more information.

Q: Will my mobile work in Russia?

A: It should do, yes. But many providers will not include the cost of your calls and data in your monthly package. Check with your provider before you leave, as roaming costs can be significant. It’s also a good idea to store local emergency numbers in your phone too, in particular the British Embassy (+7 495 956 7200) and the local emergency services number (112).

Q: Is it easy to get money there?

A: High street banks and currency exchange booths in the UK can pre-order roubles (Russian currency). If you want to get your roubles in Russia, take US dollars or euros to exchange. It’s illegal to change money from street traders, so only use banks, hotels and airport exchange bureaux. Most large shops, hotels and restaurants accept credit cards and cash machines are easy to find. It’s a good idea to let your credit/debit card provider know you’re going to Russia too to avoid your card being blocked as an anti-fraud measure.

Q: Does anyone speak English?

A: Many younger Russians speak English. During the tournament there will be English-speaking volunteers in all the host cities too. However, it might also be worth downloading a free translation app for your smartphone. Be sure to pick one such as Google Translate that works offline (so you don’t rack up roaming charges), and which includes image translation – particularly handy if you don’t understand a sign.

Q: What about finding a hotel or car?

A: You can use Skyscanner to search for hotels in Russia. There’s a huge range of options with prices to fit all budgets. Driving in Russia is challenging, but should you need to, you can also use Skyscanner to find a hire car in Russia.

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You might also want to book your trip to Russia with our Skyscanner App.

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