See a different side of Russia with the FIFA World Cup 2018

Tickets are now on sale for next year’s FIFA World Cup. And while Moscow and St Petersburg are sure to be popular destinations with foreign supporters, there are plenty of other cities around Russia that will be hosting matches during the event.

Like Samara, for example, south-east of Moscow and not far from the border with Kazakhstan.

Samara city View

By Konstantin ak63 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re visiting the city, head for the observation deck at Upravlenchesky village for unforgettable views of the Volga River. With a café and benches by a small pond, it’s a great place to relax and take in the view. And if you fancy popping the question, this is the place to go, as it’s customary among local couples to propose here.

There’s another observation deck at Ploshchad Slavy with its panoramic view of the Volga. In summer, you can see the ‘singing’ fountain by the swimming pool from here, or watch the boats sailing up and down the Volga.

Samara's Square of Fame

By Вадим Кондратьев ( [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Another place offering a great view of the Volga expanse and beyond is the boat-shaped statue on the fourth tier of the embankment. The 20-metre sailboat was built to mark Samara’s 400th anniversary. It is now one of the symbols of the city. The plaza in front of the statue is the customary venue for town festivals, youth events and sports competitions.

Or maybe your planning to catch a match in Saransk, which stands between Samara and Moscow. If so, you may be lucky enough to witness the Aksha Kelu National Folklore Festival. Held every year at the beginning of June, the name translates as ‘white birch’ and is a kind of farewell party for spring. Houses are decorated with birch branches, women dressed in national costumes sing songs praising nature, and national belt wrestling competitions are held.

Then there’s the Rasken Ozks National Folklore Holiday. Held in July, Rasken Ozks (which means ‘tribal prayer’) used to see collective prayers performed on the edge of the forest, asking for a good harvest. Today, the event no longer has any religious connotation, but offers tourists an opportunity to take part in colourful local rituals.

Or maybe the Veyse-Jazz International Music Festival is more your thing. In October, Saransk becomes the jazz capital of Russia, as renowned musicians come from all over the world to entertain the crowds.

October also sees the start of the Shumbrat, Mordovia! festival. For two months, artists and craftsmen and women demonstrate their skills. Last year, the festival attracted an incredible 95 000 visitors, and this year promises to be bigger still.

These are just a few of the sights and sounds on offer at two of next year’s FIFA World Cup host cities. If you’re planning to cheer on your team, contact us today, and we’ll make all your travel and accommodation arrangements for you!