When my friend asked me if I would like to join her to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Games in Russia, I didn’t hesitate in saying yes! Attending the FIFA World Cup has been a bucket list item on mine. I was also able to visit a country that I had a lot of interest in due to how foreign and different it was to Canada and the Western World. In this post, I will give you a budget breakdown of my 2018 FIFA World Cup experience in Russia!
Currency Info: In July 2018, the exchange of the Russian Rubles to the Canadian Dollar was around 47.32 RUB to $1 CAD.
When I was looking at flights to Moscow from Toronto for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, it was at least $1,500 CAD. I played around with Google Flights to see if I can create a path that would be significantly cheaper. The cheapest flight to Europe I found was a WOW Air flight to Stockholm. My friends and I were already planning to take the Sapsan high speed train from Moscow to Saint Petersburg, so I had to look for flights from Stockholm to Moscow and Saint Petersburg to Stockholm. In the end I paid $1,288.71 CAD on these flights:
- Toronto to Stockholm (Return) on WOW Air for $926.22 CAD
- Stockholm to Moscow on Aeroflot for $228.36 CAD
- Saint Petersburg on LOT (night layover in Tallinn) for $134.13 CAD
Food & Drinks
I never had Russian food before my trip, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Good thing one of the friend who I went with was Russian and is able to guide me through the food scene. I find that Russian food is heavily influenced by its geography. Due to its harsh winters, lots of soups and tea plays an important role to a meal. I also noticed that Russians love mayonnaise and dill, as a lot of dishes have either one in them.
I was able to try a lot of different foods without breaking the bank as the three of us shared all the food we ate! All in all I spent $326.45 CAD on food & drink, which included:
- Beef stroganoff 740 RUB ($15 CAD)
- Pelmeni 250 RUB ($5.15 CAD)
- Salmon caviar 1400 RUB ($30 CAD)
- Vodka shot 250 RUB ($5.15 CAD)
- Chicken Kiev 480 RUB ($10.43 CAD)
- Honey cake 320 RUB ($6.96 CAD)
- Picked herring 290 RUB ($5.72 CAD)
- Lots of Georgian restaurants in Russia, and never trying it before I we got the classic khachapuri, which is baked bread topped with butter, cheese, and egg!
- and many more
Make sure you check out my Top 5 Eats in Russia!
As I had a day layover in Stockholm, I visited my university friend who moved there. I took the cheapest way of getting from the Stockholm Arlanda Airport to Central Stockholm by using the Flygbussarna bus service for 99 SEK ($15.26 CAD). The journey takes about 50 minutes but is significantly cheaper compared to the 280 SEK ($40.68 CAD) train service provided by Arlanda Express.
Most of Stockholm is pretty walkable but I did take one metro ride which cost 44 SEK ($6.81 CAD).
When I got to Moscow, I arrived at the Sheremetyevo International Airport, which is the main international airport. From there I took the 500 RUB ($10.57 CAD) 30 minute Aeroexpress train ride to the Belorussky Railway Terminal which is in the northwest section of the city centre. From there you can take the metro which cost 55 RUB ($1.20 CAD) for a single ticket to your accommodations. You can also purchase 3 day metro passes for 415 RUB ($9.10 CAD) which I unfortunately had to buy twice as I lost one. The Moscow metro stations are also major attractions of the city as some have beautiful architecture. If I had more time in the city, I would visit a lot more stations and take a guide tour to learn more about the history.
Getting to Saint Petersburg, we decided to take the Sapsan high-speed trains to experience the train service in Russia. The journey took about 5 1/2 hours and was 3,185 RUB ($67.31 CAD) per person. Going through the Russian country side, you can see the quaint villages and rolling fields and trees. The ride was also comfortable and convenient as it takes you between the city centres of the two cities.
Saint Petersburg is a lot smaller than Moscow and as most of the tourist attractions are located in the city centre, we walked to most of the places we visited in exception of Peterhof and the Saint Petersburg Stadium. We took the high-speed hydrofoil to Peterhof and on our way back to Saint Petersburg. This is the fastest and most convenient way to the palace complex as it takes only 45 minutes and picks you up near the Hermitage Museum. However, at 1500 RUB ($31.70 CAD) each it is also the most expensive. We decided to take the hydrofoil as we had a limited time in the city. To watch the third place match, we took the cheap and reliable metro which only cost 45 RUB ($0.89 CAD) each way!
Luckily, my Russian friend was able to get us a free stay in Moscow near the Yugo-Zapadnaya metro station. All three of us had to share the one room and the common areas with other housemates. I also had to sleep on a lawn chair padded with some blanket, but it did save us on accommodation costs in Moscow.
In Saint Petersburg, we stayed in a really nice apartment with one bedroom with a sofa-bed through AirBnB in for $127.53 CAD a night, which came to $42.51 CAD per person. It had a good location as it was located near the Moskovsky railway station and was 30 minutes walk to the city centre.
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FIFA World Cup
The main reason I was visiting Russia was for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. We got tickets to the semi final match in Moscow and third place match in Saint Petersburg.
Semi Final Match – England vs. Croatia ($285 USD)
Heading to Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium was an experience by itself. England and Croatian fans already started their chants from the subway stations. Mass crowds gather for drinks, food, and merchandise outside the stadium. Once you get in, you realize you are in a sea of people, all surrounding the football pitch. The atmosphere for the game was electrifying! You can hear chants from clusters of England fans and Croatian fans from each side of the stadium. There were also a lot of neutral fans like myself who were there to enjoy the game. The game went to extra time, which added to the intensity and when Mandžukić scored for Croatia, the stadium erupted. Croatia ended up winning the match and would advance to the finals, where I would watch England face Belgium in the third place game in Saint Petersburg.
Third Place Match – England vs. Belgium ($175 USD)
The third place match was held in the new Saint Petersburg Stadium. This modern stadium felt more cozy than the larger Luzhniki Stadium. However, the atmosphere in the stadium was not the same as the semi final match due to the importance of the games. These teams were playing for a consolation prize rather than a chance to win the World Cup in the semi final match, so you can see both teams did not play as intense as their previous games. There were still lots of fans who were there to enjoy the game. Belgium controlled the game and won comfortably to achieve its highest finish in a FIFA World Cup tournament.
Russia’s capital and largest city is home to around 13 million people and is massive in size. The city offers a lot of attractions and activities, and we did not have time to get to them such as the Lenin Mausoleum and the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines.
Here are the attractions that we went to:
- Red Square FREE
- St. Basil Cathedral 700 RUB ($14.79 CAD)
- Kremlin 500 RUB ($10.57 CAD) which includes access to
- Tsar Cannon and Tsar Bell
- Ivan the Great Bell Tower
- Cathedral of the Dormition
- Cathedral of Christ the Saviour FREE
- Gorkiy Park, a great place to walk around as it is Moscow’s version of Central Park
- GUM, a high end department store that used to be filled with Soviet-era goods. I recommended to go inside and look at the architecture
- Peter the Great Statue
This city is one of the most beautiful city I have ever visited. The city’s stunning architecture with its beautiful winding canals and a sun that never fully sets in the summer creates a place like I have never been before. Due to its proximity to the Arctic Circle, the sun only sets for a brief period of twilight, and the streets stay alive with locals and tourists around the clock. I stayed up until 4 AM and the streets were still filled with people out for food and drinks! It felt more like 4 PM rather than 4 AM.
Something to see in the summer is definitely the drawing of the bridges. Starting at around 1:30 AM, bridges across the city are drawn to allow for the passage of boat traffic. And as the sun doesn’t fully set, it creates such a beautiful scene. Just take a seat and watch the boats pass by!
Here are the other attractions that we went to:
- Faberge Museum 450 RUB ($9.51 CAD)
- Peterhof Palace 1000 RUB ($21.13 CAD)
- Kazan Cathedral FREE
- Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood 250 RUB ($4.96 CAD)
This is one city that I definitely have to go back to! There were a lot of attractions that I didn’t have time to go to such as the Hermitage and Peter and Paul Fortress.
For souvenirs, I got a postcard for 90 RUB ($1.90 CAD) which unfortunately did not make it to Canada.
Tips & Advice
- Public wi-fi is only available if you register with a Russian number. Hence relying only on wi-fi will not work in Russia. I suggest geting a sim card with a data plan.
- Don’t be too intimated with fellow Russians. They might not seem to friendly to begin with, but that’s just who they are. Once they get to know you, they are one of the most friendly people I have met!
The Sum of 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia
My trip to Russia cost me $ 2,661.38 CAD. While this is a lot more than my other trips that I have covered in the blog, I think this was a reasonable amount. Keep in mind that the FIFA World Cup is probably the biggest sporting event in the world, and tickets do not come cheap! I felt that the $460 USD that I paid for the World Cup tickets were pretty reasonable. Accommodations and flights were also were more expensive due to it being high season and during the World Cup festivities.
I was also able to save money due to:
- Free accommodation in Moscow
- Free accommodation in Stockholm, thanks to my friend Stacey!
- Sleeping overnight in the Tallinn Airport (another layover), where they have sleeping pods available!
|Food & Drinks||326.45|
|FIFA World Cup Tickets||607.20|