World Cups have a way of taking on the identities of the nations that host them. Rio 2014 was a raucous, unpredictable party with moments of elation and brilliance ... and then bad hangovers. (The home nation losing 7-1 to Germany, anyone?) USA 1994 was exciting and new — massive crowds celebrating a game they didn’t quite fully understand yet — with a final between Brazil and Italy as ungainly as the fans trying to sing “Ole” in unison for the very first time.
And here we are in Russia for the 2018 World Cup, which, well, we will see. The 12 stadiums are a fine amalgamation of all that makes Russia what it is — both geographically diverse and made up of a wild (and at times deeply awkward) mix of centuries-old tradition and new wealth. And while these host cities will serve as not much more than a backdrop to the action for many people watching on TV worldwide, they are their own places outside of the game.
For those traveling to Russia for the tournament, or those who can only dream of attending, here’s our insider’s city-by-city guide to the 2018 World Cup, which outlines not only the rich tradition, culture, food, and nightlife for the 11 host cities, but should be your go-to resource for how to watch (and where to drink at) the tournament.
— Nate Scott