Matches: Group Stage x 4
flight time from moscow: 2h 20m
Stadium: central stadium
Local Team: FC URAL Yekaterinburg
Fun Fact: The official border between Europe and Asia is 17km outside Yekaterinburg.
Yekaterinburg is the most eastern of the World Cup 2018 host cities, a two-hour flight and two time zones away from Moscow. The city is just beyond the Ural Mountains and is considered the place where European Russia ends and Asia begins.
However, Yekaterinburg is notable for more than just its location. Former president, Boris Yeltsin, made his name here, and it was in this city that the ruling Romanov dynasty came to a violent end at the hands of the Bolshevik revolutionaries. A cathedral stands on the site where the Tsar and his family were brutally murdered in 1918.
There is no such revolutionary upheaval to speak of in Yekaterinburg today. The River Iset widens out in places, creating large, tranquil water features that dissect the city centre. The river runs through a large square, where visitors can find museums, monuments and restaurants not far away.
Yekaterinburg’s Central Stadium is being renovated and will hold 35,000 spectators upon completion. The local team, FC Ural Yekaterinburg, narrowly avoided relegation from the Russian Premier League this year to seal a fifth consecutive season of top flight football.
Being one of Russia’s largest cities, there is plenty of activity, particularly in summer as locals enjoy walking by the water or in parks such as Mayakovsky Central Park, which will host the Fan Zone in 2018.
For a panoramic view of the city, there is a viewing platform at the Vysotsky Tower. A couple of rooftop bars make for great places to enjoy the sunset. Failing that, why not head out of town for a ceremonial glass of wine with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia?