While it’s true that Russia has had its share of controversial news in the last couple of years, it remains one of the most compelling and historically rich tourist destinations in the world.
And due to the fact that it is a controversial destination, tourists can get some seriously amazing deals if they decide to make their way to Russia to cheer on their country at the 2018 FIFA world cup in Russia. Here are five great reasons to make the trip to see your team compete for soccer’s biggest prize.
Exclusive Spa Resorts
Spa resorts are all the rage in Russia. For my rubles, the Velich Country Club Hotel is best of all of them. It is a world-class spa in Zvenigorod, just outside of Moscow. Complete with large spa center water zone, billiards, bowling, tennis court, gym, beauty salon, complementary WiFi, children’s playground, biking, and skiing. A shuttle to Moscow is available as well.
Velich Club is made up of four separate buildings. Each room features Rooms are located in four separate buildings. Each room is decorated in a modern fashion and features air conditioning, heated floors, flat-screen TVs, minibars and balconies. The private bathrooms feature bathrobes and slippers. Velich’s two restaurants feature Russian and European fare as well as a buffet breakfast. Cocktails are available at the bar. Room service is also an option.
Known as the “Venice of the North”, St. Petersburg is full of crystal clear, charming waterways that wind through the magnificent city. It’s the most European city in Russia. Visit the world famous Hermitage Museum. You can view samples of Picasso’s great Blue Period paintings, many Rembrandts, Titian, Giorgione, and Leonardo. You can also visit Michelangelo’s famous unfinished sculpture. The museum also boasts Impressionist, post-Impressionist and modernist masterpieces featuring Bonnard, Monet, Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Matisse.
Don’t miss the summer palace of Peter the Great which faces the beautiful Gulf of Finland. Its gardens feature a beautiful and elaborate fountain system. Take advantage of a riverboat cruise on the Neva River. You can see much of St Petersburg this way from the sparklingly clear waters. There’s always ballet at the Mariinsky theatre where you can catch a world-class production of Swan Lake.
Moscow is the most cosmopolitan city in Russia, and everything is world class. Be sure to visit Gorky Park. Have a stroll along the Moscow River or have a picnic. When you arrive, there’s a gorgeous Brandenburg Gate–style structure at the entrance that will greet you. Experience the world famous Ferris Wheel or you can rent a boat or horse, play tennis at tennis courts, or even go bungee jumping. In the winter much of the park becomes a massive skating rink. In the summer much of the park becomes a “beach” and an open-air dance club at night.
On the busiest street in Moscow is the brand new Ritz-Carlton, featuring the O2 Lounge. The O2 Lounge is the most upscale dining and drinking establishment in Moscow. Visit the O2 Lounge for out of this world sushi, Champagne, and, of course, vodka. Of course, no trip to Moscow would be complete without a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site, the famous Red Square. You simply must take a selfie in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral. Red Square is located at the center of Moscow, dividing the commercial district from the Kremlin. The square is considered a sacred place for the Russian people, hosting thousands of tourists and holding various festive processions and parades.
The national drink of Russia, Vodka is the poison of choice for visitors and locals alike. Vodka, a distilled drink made up mostly of water and ethanol, and made by distilling fermented cereal grains or potatoes. The standard Russian vodka is 40% alcohol content. There are various Vodka tasting tours in Moscow and St. Petersburg to enjoy. These specialized jaunts will take you to cocktail bars and fancy eateries. Vodka is best enjoyed in ice cold shots and accompanied by pickles, caviar, and other salty foods that will delight your taste buds.
Often described as cold, suspicious, or indifferent, the Russians are actually surprisingly hospitable and accommodating. While it’s considered rude to smile at strangers in Russian culture, once engaged, Russians are kind and helpful. If you are doing an activity (like watching soccer) in common, or if you need directions, Russians are always eager to help. It’s just best to avoid politics and religion upon first meeting!
If you are thinking about visiting the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia I highly recommend staying at the Velich County Club Hotel and making it your base for the trip!