While our International Ground Guide is undergoing some maintenance, we thought we'd provide our usual service of advice and information for travelling supporters in brief blog form.
Once up and running again our ground guide will cover all manner of information from travel options to hotel advice, eating and drinking suggestions to practical tips on getting around, along with safety and security advice and anything else we think will be of use to travelling supporters.
In the meantime, while the below might not necessarily have all the information you'll be after if you're heading out to Russia, we're always available to help - just drop us an email if you have any questions.
We'll do our best to find out what you need to know, either from our own vast experience in covering England and Wales games abroad, or from our friends at Football Supporters Europe.
As with all of our guides, if there is anything missing from the following pages that you need to know then feel free to drop us an email and we'll do our best to find it out for you.
You’ll forgive us if we refer to the side as CSKA, as their full name, "Professional Football Club — Central Sports Club of the Army (Moscow)", is something of a mouthful.
Formed in 1911, the club have had 7 different names, and each of them were as long-winded as their current incarnation. The club have deep ties to the military, as their nickname of the ‘army men’ suggests; indeed the Russian Ministry of Defence is one of the major shareholders in the club (along with a certain Mr R. Abramovich).
The club currently play their European games in the Arena Khimki (pictured above), although concerns over the state of the pitch have meant recent games have been moved. The Arena Khimki is a small 18,000 all-seater stadium located on the outskirts of Moscow. Given the size of the Russian capital, though, these outskirts are about 10 miles from the main city centre, on the edge of the city's main ring-road the E105, close to the Sheremetyevo airport.
Initially founded as far back as 1147, Moscow (Москва in Russian) is now the largest city in Europe, home to some 10 million plus inhabitants, and is the capital of Russia. With the temperature rarely seeing positive digits on the Celsius scale from November through to March, it can be a rather inhospitable climate for visitors not used to the Russian winter. May through to August are the best times to visit, when the temperature typically tops out at a positively balmy 22-24 degrees.
Main Tourist Sights
The main sights are located in the famous Red Square, which is a sight in itself. This is usually the first destination for tourists. Red Square is a UNESCO World Heritage site (along with the Kremlin), and while formerly famous for military parades under the communist regime, it is now more likely to be home to massive open-air concerts.
The Kremlin, on the banks of the Moskva, is the official residence of the President of Russia, and the complex houses four palaces, four cathedrals, and the Kremlin towers.
St Basil’s Cathedral (or Cathedral of Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat to give it its less snappy title) is one of the most recognisable buildings in Europe. Located just across Red Square from the Kremlin, it was initially commissioned by Ivan the Terrible in the 1500s. A popular myth is that Ivan had the architect, Postnik Yakolev, blinded after he created St Basil’s, in order that he could not build a more magnificent building anywhere else.
Lenin’s Mausoleum is also found on Red Square, the resting place of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (otherwise known as Lenin, one of the fathers of modern communism, and leader of the October revolution that established communist rule in Russia in 1917). There is constant debate as to whether it really is the body of Lenin. The tomb is open most days, and there is often a lengthy queue to get in. No photos or videos are allowed in the mausoleum.
Outside of Red Square and its famous sites, there’s also the world-renowed Bolshoi Theatre, home to the Bolshoi ballet. Located close to the Teatralnaya Metro, it’s well worth a look.
Moscow has two circuses, the Nikulin Circus on Tsvetnoi Bulvar (metro: Tsvetnoi Bulvar) and the new circus near the university. Tickets can be purchased for as little as 200RUB. Beware touts selling tickets for inflated prices outside.
If you’re looking for a bit of retail therapy, then head to Ploschad Revolutsii Metro to get to the GUM shopping centre. One of the largest in Moscow, you’re sure to find what you’re after here. The Moscow Zoo is also well renowned, attracting well over 1 million visitors a year.
The metro runs from 5:30 until 01:00. Most of the signage is in Cyrillic, however, so be sure you know where you’re going! Alternatively, check out the FSF guide to Russian, and how to navigate the Metro, on the 'About the Stadium' page (link on the left).
Taxis are easily found in Moscow, and in fact many private residents will offer their services as a taxi driver – there’s no real distinction between hailing a taxi and being a hitchhiker, as it’s customary for Russians to offer a lift to strangers, for a fee.
It is advised to always negotiate a price in advance, and if you can’t come to an agreement then it’s fine to wave a taxi off and wait for another. Your best bet is to navigate by the nearest metro station to your destination when agreeing a fee. It is also advised not to get into a taxi/private car that has more than the driver in for reasons of safety.
The main taxi company in Moscow is called The New Yellow Taxi company (Novoye Zholtoye Taxi). Their cars are, unsurprisingly, yellow, and will charge around 250 roubles for journeys around the city centre, although this is also negotiable.
Eating and Drinking
Given its size, Moscow is host to just about any sort of cuisine you’d wish to find. Eating out in Moscow (avoiding fast food and the major chain restaurants like TGI Friday’s and Hard Rock Café) is a generally expensive business, however.
Main Drinking Areas
Most of the nightlife in Moscow (along with the major tourist sites) are located north of the river, and so it is here that you should focus your energies in finding somewhere to rest your legs and exercise your liver.
Plenty of bars are located around the Arbat district (close to Arbatskaya Metro), but wherever you are in Moscow you’re bound to come across somewhere serving alcohol. Many of the cafés turn into mini clubs/bars at night, and are typically open until midnight or later.
Kruzhka offers a more authentic Muscovite experience than most, and has over 20 locations throughout the city. Kruzhka packs ‘em in and flogs ‘em cheap booze and food, and while not exactly haute cuisine, it certainly fills a hole and helps to soak up the beers. Typically busy, noisy, and popular with students and younger drinkers, it’s a cheap and cheerful beer hall. For more information, check out their website.
We couldn’t let a guide to Moscow go by without mentioning the famous (or should that be infamous?) Hungry Duck. Described variously as ‘the wildest bar in Moscow’, ‘the most notorious bar in the northern hemisphere’, and ‘the craziest bar in the world’, most of the clientele seem to lose their clothes by around midnight. Could this have anything to do with allowing women free drinks until nearly midnight most nights of the week? Perhaps. It’s certainly on the FSF’s list of places to visit when we next go to Moscow, we have to admit! Check out HungryDuck.com if you dare.
Pyaty Okean is a micro-brewery pub/restaurant near Marksistskaya Metro. What marks this out from the plethora of bars in Moscow? The beer is distributed through individual taps at each of the tables in a pay-as-you-drink sort of fashion. Magic! The food is more than reasonable, too. Well worth a visit.
Another chain of so-called ‘beer restaurants’, is 5 Oborotov, who brew their own beers as well as having a wide range of European beers on tap. The menu verges more on snacks than substance, but it’s all reasonably priced (at least by Moscow standards). To be found close to Mayakovskaya, Kaluzhskaya and Oktyabrskoe Pole Metros, among others.
As Moscow is home to more billionaires than any other city in the world, we feel obliged to mention one of the more pretentious bars, for those who want to get their gladrags on and join the Muscovites who really like to flash their cash. The O2 Lounge (a rooftop bar at the Ritz Carlton Hotel) has over 400 varities of vodka on offer, and for those of discerning taste there is on-site vodka sommelier on hand to recommend nothing but the best for Sir or Madam. We won’t mention the prices, just enjoy the vodka.
Propaganda serves as a café during the day, and a fun night-spot when the sun goes down. The tables are cleared out the way to make space to dance, drinks are cheap until 11, DJs come to spin some tunes and the crowd is a good mix of expats, tourists and locals. Kitai Gorod is the nearest Metro.
Tinkoff is the most renowned ‘beer restaurant’ in Moscow, producing over a dozen regular beers along with seasonal variations. They pride themselves on adhering to the 1516 German purity laws when it comes to brewing, resulting in tastier beers! For 249 rubles you can grab yourself a 3 course lunch (starter, soup and a main course) along with a 33cl beer. Bargain! Get along to the Smolenskaya Metro to find them.
Schwarzvald, as its name suggests, takes its inspiration from a good deal further west than the banks of the Moskva. The prices aren’t as easy on your pocket as the waitresses are on the eye, however - they get in on the act by wearing traditional German dress (described as ‘ridiculous but sexy' and 'revealing enough to be distracting’). Still, they stock a good range of Czech and German beers. Head to Kuznetsky Most, Sokol or Noviye Cheremushki to try them out for yourself.
B2 is a veritable smorgasbord of nightlife – spread over five floors, there’s space for 8 bars, dancefloors, a karaoke bar, a sushi restaurant, a billiard room and a jazz club among other things. It very much offers something for just about everyone – head along to bol. Sadovaya 8 to drink, dance, sing, eat and play the night away.
Up there with the swankier establishments in the city is Bosco Bar, which can be found on Red Square. Accessible from the famous GUM shopping mall, its cocktail menu is sure to impress, even if you're not a fan of the kitsch interior design.English and Irish pubs
It is more typical to find American joints in Moscow than British ones, however we have a couple of recommendations for you. Silver’s by Okhotny Ryad Metro is probably the most authentic experience of back home, and comes recommended by none other than Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern who recently paid a visit while on a trip to Moscow. There’s Guinness and Baltika on tap, as well as traditional British/Irish fare from the kitchen.
Shamrock, unsurprisingly, is a typical Irish pub, and possibly the oldest in the city (it first opened in 1991). Found close to Arbatskaya Metro, it serves food and reasonably priced beers.
An authentic-looking but expensive option is the John Bull Pub, which is situated right next to Smolenskaya Metro. Is the price worth it? We’ll leave that up to you. It has a good range of beers that you’re unlikely to find in many Muscovite drinking dens, however (although perhaps not as many as in the beer kiosks you will find dotted around the place).
Seeing as dinner in Moscow can easily set you back sums well into three figures, we’ll aim this part of the guide at the more budget end of the spectrum. If you are interested in some fine dining while in Moscow (and there is plenty to be found), we suggest The Moscow Times’ dining guide, and also Lonely Planet’s restaurant guide.
Don't forget that a lot of the pubs/bars mentioned above serve food, and come highly recommended, but if you’re looking for something other than pub grub, then Grabli have locations throughout the city. Their café style outlets serve up quick and cheap fare, including the ‘blini’ (Russian type pancakes) which are recommended.
If Asian cuisine is more your sort of thing, and you like a little bit of everything, then head to Ist Buffet at 16 Novoslobodskaya Ul. They have a table-service section downstairs, and a cheap and busy buffet section on the 2nd floor. Fan of Italian? Head to the reasonably priced Lemoncello on Bolshaya Serpukhovskaya Ul, close to Serpukhovskaya Metro, or one of the many Il Patio restaurants located throughout the city.
If all you’re looking to do is grab a sandwich on the hoof, then Prime (similar to Pret á Manger) are based near major tourist sites in the Arbat district and at Teatralnaya.
If your accommodation doesn’t include breakfast, then a lot of the ‘American’ eateries serve typical breakfasts that most Westerners would recognise – so for your fill of pancakes, hash browns and all that malarky head to either of the American Bar and Grill outlets, at Mayakovskaya or Taganskaya Metros – likely spots for meeting ex-pats and foreign tourists alike.
Since the first McDonalds opened in 1990, they have sprung up all over Moscow, especially around major transport hubs and Metro stations. There are over 70 outlets throughout Moscow, so you’ll never be far away from the famous golden arches. Sbarros pizza restaurants are also dotted throughout the city, and Rostiks is the Russian equivalent of KFC, which can equally be found everywhere.
There are also a range of independent street vendors who’ll sell food ranging from hot dogs to kebabs, and chebureki (meat pasties) to blini. These street stalls are starting to dwindle in number somewhat, but are still found all over – we can’t vouch for how hygienic they are, though, so if you’re going to try something from one of them our advice is to bring some Imodium!
There are several chains of outdoor stand-up food vendors usually located around metro stations, too. Two to look for: Kroshka-Kartoshka’s green kiosks, which sell stuffed, baked potatoes as well as toasted sandwiches; and Teremok’s brown coloured kiosks that sell Blinchiki - Russian pancakes with a wide variety of fillings.