• Population: 1.1M

  • Matches: Group Stage x 4, Last 16 x 1

  • flight time from moscow: 1h 55m

  • Stadium: Rostov Arena

  • Capacity: 45,000

  • Local Team: FC rostov

Suggested Reading: 'And Quiet Flows The Don' - Mikhail Sholokhov.

Rostov-on-Don lies on the Kuban Steppe in southwestern Russia, not far from the border with Ukraine. Manchester United fans will be familiar with the city after Jose Mourinho’s men played here during their successful Europa League campaign. 

Visiting players will be happy to hear that the pitch and stadium that so infuriated the Manchester United manager will not be used during the 2018 World Cup. The new 45,000-seater Rostov Arena is close to completion, and the new grass has already been planted. 

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Temperatures can reach as high as 40˚C in July, which may make conditions tough for both players and fans. The Fan Zone at Theatre Square, a place that regularly holds local events, is vast, exposed and likely to be very warm.

Fortunately, fans can find shade nearby under the trees on the pedestrianised Pushkinskaya Street, which also hosts a wide variety of bars and restaurants. Down by the banks of the Don, there are more restaurants to choose from and a welcome breeze from the river.

Another place worth visiting in Rostov is the central market, where vast chambers of locally-sourced produce are on sale. This region is fondly known as the bread basket of Russia and it is easy to see why as so much fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, nuts and bread pass through this market every day. 

Flying into Rostov, fans will see an expanse of flat plains that stretches over the steppe, bearing the fruits that make their way to market. Visitors to the city can look forward to a brand new airport, but will most likely have to fly via Moscow if coming from abroad. 

Rostov-on-Don is a welcoming and vibrant city, ready to host five games at the World Cup. It will give visitors an altogether different experience of Russia to what one might find in cosmopolitan Moscow or St Petersburg.