Top Tips For Visiting The World Cup 2018 Host Country’s Dynamic Destination
By Ivan Crnogatic From MoscowNightGuide
Moscow is an amazing and vibrant city that often gets overlooked as a tourist destination. With this three-part guide I want to warm you up to the idea of visiting the Russian capital. The football World Cup will take place in Russia next year, so the time to visit has never been better.
Because this guide turned out to be very long, I split it into three parts. In part 1 I’ll cover everything you need to know before coming to Moscow:
• When is the best time to visit Moscow
• How are the seasons like
• When you should NOT come
• Benefits of visiting in summer or winter
• What clothes to bring
• How to get a visa to Russia
• What you need for your visa
• Where to get your visa
• How much a visa will cost you
• How long it takes to get a visa
• Where to stay in Moscow
• Airbnb, hostels & hotels
• What are good areas to stay in
Let’s jump right in!
The Best Months To Visit Moscow
Quite frankly, there’s (almost) no bad time to visit Moscow. But if you put a gun to my head, these are the months I’d recommend for coming to Moscow (in that order):
Summer starts in the beginning of June in Moscow and lasts until about the end of August. It’s warm and sunny but usually not unpleasant because the air humidity in Moscow is very low. May is a very nice spring month and September still gets just enough sunlight to be pleasant.
I explicitly excluded August because, like in many other cities, it’s an OFF month in Moscow. Many Russians travel to their summer houses (dachas) and the city feels significantly less busy in August. The weather is of course still great.
Winter does get indeed quite cold with temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius. For the inexperienced traveller I recommend packing:
- A very warm overcoat or winter jacket
- A very warm cap or whatever you prefer to cover your ears
- Good boots with a rough profile (but not for nightlife!)
- Warm gloves and a scarf
- For the really scared ones: thermal underwear if you plan on staying outside longer
Visiting in winter might seem like a daunting prospect but it’s really not that bad. Take a look at both seasons and decide which one sounds more fun for you. You should visit in summer to:
- Not deal with snow and cold weather
- See some of Moscow’ beautiful parks and experience the hustle and bustle of Moscow in summer
- Enjoy the many, many summer terraces to sit and party outside.
You should visit in winter to:
- See the beautiful decorations before NYE (which is the most important holiday in Russia)
- Avoid the big tourist crowds
- See how Moscow parties in winter, which is at least as hard as in summer
There’s only a few certain dates I’d avoid coming to Moscow. The first 10 days of January are holidays and almost the entire country is off duty. Not the best time to visit really. I’d also avoid coming in February (cold and unpleasant), April (an “in between” month) and November (also “between the season”). Spring and fall are really short in Moscow, so better go for deep winter or real summer.
How To Get A Visa To Russia
There’s no denying it, getting a visa is one of the really annoying aspects of travelling to Moscow. Unless you’re from South America or the ex-USSR republics, you’re probably going to need a visa. I run you through the process step-by-step on my site but here’s a quick overview.
- A passport that’s valid minimum another 6 months after your visa expires and has minimum two consecutive blank pages
- Travel insurance
- A letter of invitation and a passport photo of yourself for the application
- Proof of funds, like an account statement, that indicate you’re going to return home after your visit (I think not necessary for all nationalities)
The entire process takes usually about two weeks and costs you something in the ballpark of 150-200$. If you want it faster, or want to stay longer, the cost will go up. You can get the visa either in a Russian consulate or in a visa center, if there is one in your city. Just google “russian visa center + name of your city” to find out whether there is one close to you.
Most important info: ticket holders to the World Cup 2018 do NOT need a visa.
Your Fan ID will serve as a visa. So next summer is the ideal time to visit Moscow!
Where To Stay In Moscow – Accommodations Tips
Moscow is a huge city and any info I can give you on accommodation will be incomplete. That’s why my advice will focus more on location than on accommodation. Nevertheless, here are a few tips on the latter.
Airbnb is a solid option and a decent, old-school Soviet apartment will be around 50$ a night in a decent location.
Hostels are not comparable to European hostels with loads of people and parties and all that jazz. Most of the times they’re more like apartments that can host a few people. However, hostels in Moscow are really cheap and you can find good ones for less than 20$.
In terms of hotels your budget is the limit. Decent hotels start at 50$ and have no upper limit.
If we talk about areas to stay in, you should take a look at this map below where I marked a few nightlife clusters.
These are by no means complete but serve just as a rough indicator. Basically your best case scenario is to be within the first yellow ring. This means you are dead in the center and everything will be a 15-20mins cab ride away at best. Anything within the half-visible orange ring is still good but you’ll need to take the metro or a cab to get to the center.
Moscow is very big and very spread out. Unlike in NYC or London roads are massive. During the day you can walk a good part of the city (in summer) but at night you will be restricted to cabbing it when you’re jumping places.
Unlike these cities Moscow is also very centralized in the sense that you do not really have quarters that are completely different from one another. Some might have more cafes and bars and others might be more hipster-ish but overall they’re all broadly similar.
Hence why I can’t really give a top recommendation on which area to stay in besides the obvious tip that being in the center is more convenient (though not necessary). A good rule of thumb is the closer to a metro station, the better.
This content is brought to you by Ivan of Moscow nightlife. You can find Ivan here: