Matches: Group Stage x 4, Last 16 x 1, Semi Final x 1, Third-place playoff
flight time from moscow: 1h 25m
Stadium: Krestovsky stadium
Local Team: zenit st petersburg
Fun Fact: Actor Gerard Depardieu registered as a resident of Saransk in February 2013.
St Petersburg is the undisputed jewel in Russia’s tourism crown. The city centre is small enough to walk around, so visitors can take in all the sights on foot. From neoclassical palaces and expansive squares to the famous domes of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, the city is packed with beautiful buildings.
In the height of summer, daylight lasts until well after 11pm, so there is plenty of time to explore and wander. Such is the city’s popularity with foreign visitors, fans at the World Cup will have no trouble finding food and drink to suit their tastes.
St Petersburg has developed quite a hipster-style culture in recent years meaning an independent coffee shop or craft beer bar is never too far away. Festivals and outdoor gatherings are common in summer. It is a lively, happening place.
The Hermitage Museum stands on Palace Square, colossal and resplendent. It would take days to explore the museum in its entirety, but it is well worth a visit just to glimpse some of the detailed extravagance on show and some of the fine works of art. Those really keen to see more of the Russian palace seen can head slightly out of town to the Summer Palace, another stunning building.
St Petersburg’s Krestovsky Stadium has taken around a decade to build and has cost billions of roubles, in what some believe is a bit of a waste. However, tournament organisers are determined to make use of this spaceship-style stadium now that it is done.
The 56,000-seater hosted the Confederations Cup final and will see a World Cup semi final in 2018. Sent St Petersburg have moved into the Krestovsky Stadium as their domestic home.