Sport & Leisure
Sport is very popular in Russia and the desire to lead an active lifestyle is on the rise. We love playing and watching football and ice hockey, and support our favourite teams with passion – come and watch a game at a Russian stadium and see for yourself! There are plenty of local and international sports events to attend each year, held in functional modern arenas. With so much going on, get inspired to do winter sports in Russia’s ski resorts or feel the excitement of flying at the best skydiving clubs.
Russia’s nature, climate and landscapes create the perfect conditions for practising winter sports. Ice hockey, biathlon, skiing races, ice skating – Russians have traditionally been strong in these sports, and there are plenty of annual events going on.
Russia’s biathlon capital is Khanty-Mansiysk, whose Winter Sport Centre regularly hosts international biathlon tournaments as the final leg of the IBU World Cup. In 2003 and 2011, the city hosted the Biathlon World Championship.
Come to Khanty-Mansyisk to watch the competition, get to know local people and their traditional lifestyle, and maybe even ride a reindeer, just like the biathlon champions do.
If you’re a fan of ice hockey, watching a KHL game in Russia is an unforgettable experience. 2018/2019 will be the 11th season for the League, which consists of a total of 775 games.
Being among Russian ice hockey fans in St Petersburg or Moscow is a true delight. The Ice Dome in St Petersburg is known for its high-energy atmosphere, while the CSKA Arena, formerly the VTB Ice Palace, is a great venue for ice hockey fans in Moscow, a real hot-spot – but bring your coat all the same.
Ice hockey is very popular beyond the Urals, where the sport is a genuine passion. Modern venues are being built to accommodate fans, notably a recently launched project for Avtomobilist’s home arena, which will have seating for 15 000.
As soon as the first snow settles on the ground, the ski season starts in Russia. It’s an exciting time, and many Russians have fun doing winter sports: sledging, snowboarding, ice skating, cross-country and alpine skiing.
In February, Russia celebrates its Winter Sports Day. Locals especially look forward to watching or participating in the “Ski Track of Russia” race, a national cross-country ski race held since 1982.
It’s the largest ski contest in the world in terms of the number of participants and the area covered – thousands of participants from 72 regions of Russia take part in the race simultaneously each year. It’s a truly spectacular sight, and it’s even more fun to be among the skiers.
Everyone can participate – all ages and skiing abilities are welcome, and the race has stretches of varied levels of difficulty.
If you prefer alpine skiing, Russian ski resorts have everything a hobbyist or professional could wish for. We recommend Dombay ski resort in Russia’s North Caucasus and Rosa Khutor in the Krasnodar region in the Western Caucasus Mountains for the spectacular views from its slopes and the memorable skiing experience for the whole family.
There are many ways to get your fill of thrills in Russia. One of them is skydiving, a popular hobby. If you’ve always had a fascination for the skies, why not sign up for a training session in one of the air clubs at some of Russia’s amazing skydiving destinations? Consider Anapa for its breathtaking sea views, or Ryazan for the awe-inspiring vastness of the landscape below your feet.
In Ryazan, look no further than Krutitcy aerodrome, the modern club for sky divers where you can experience free flight in a wind tunnel or go for the skydive you’ve been dreaming about. It’s absolutely safe, too – the club has experienced instructors, and this is where the International Handi Fly Challenge, the global festival for handicapped skydivers, was celebrated in 2018. As the saying goes, the sky’s the limit!
Russians take pride in the achievements of our sportsmen and women – wrestlers (notably sambo fighters, who continue to popularise this Russian self-defence martial art), boxers, athletes, ice skaters, biathlon skiers and tennis players, and supporting our basketball, football, volleyball and ice hockey teams is an honour.
Recent international sports events held in Russia include the Winter Olympics 2014 in Sochi, the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, 2016 World Boxing Championships in Astana and St Petersburg, and the FIFA World Cup in 2018 across 11 Russian destinations.
The most anticipated annual basketball events in Russia are the Euroleague and VTB United League competitions. The latter brings together the strongest clubs across Eastern Europe, including the first tier of Russian professional basketball (9 teams) and international club participants from Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Poland.
2019 Euroleague venues in Russia are Moscow and Khimki, home locations for Russia’s leading basketball clubs. In May 2019, Moscow will proudly host the final Euroleague round at the new VTB Arena Park sports complex, Dinamo’s home stadium. Surrounded by a large park, the VTB complex was designed as an active lifestyle centre for Moscow residents and visitors. Be among the first to visit the new venue in 2019.
See our top 3 basketball arenas in other Russian destinations here.
Top 3 favorite basketball arenas
- The warmest atmosphere: Krasnodar Basket Hall
Locals’ favourite venue is Lokomotiv Hall Basket-Hall in Krasnodar, a stunning spot with an electric atmosphere. It’s worth seeing a game even if you’re not a Lokomotiv supporter (beware, as you might become one after watching a game there!).
- The best location: St Petersburg, Sibur Arena
This multifunctional arena is great to watch tennis, football, volleyball – and basketball when there is a Zenit game. Located on the green Krestovsky island to the north of central St Petersburg, the Arena has all the modern facilities and well-planned infrastructure. There are multiple accommodation and entertainment facilities in the area and on Krestovsky Park itself, which is easily accessed from the city centre.
- The cosiest one – Kazan Basket Hall
Unics, Kazan’s team, plays at a modern arena in the heart of the city. Compact yet functional, this venue proves that watching basketball live is an excellent entertainment choice while in Russia. A must-experience location for any sports fan, whether it’s football or basketball you prefer.
Share the passion for sport with Russians and feel welcomed in their favourite sports venues across the country. Russian stadiums are modern and versatile spaces which host events throughout the year. Take a tour of Spartak’s home stadium, cheer along with the crowd at Luzhniki, the largest arena in Moscow, or have fun in Sochi’s Olympic Park – there’s so much to discover!
One of our favourites is the multi-sport Kazan Arena which hosted several amazing football games during the FIFA 2018 World Cup. With many other Kazan attractions close by, this modern stadium deserves to be on your list of places to see in Kazan – especially if you get to watch Kazan’s “Rubin” home game.
In Moscow, Spartak’s home stadium Otkritie Arena is a great location to catch a music concert or a game. It’s an impressive, comfortable space conveniently accessed by public transport. Enjoy the view and the great atmosphere when you watch a Spartak game there – a fantastic experience.
Another excellent location in Moscow is Russia’s largest sports stadium, Luzhniki. With more than 80 000 seats, it’s a massive and well-planned space, and the atmosphere during games is superb. On other days, enjoy a visit Luzhniki Activity Park with a choice of activities for all ages. In winter, head straight to Luzhniki’s grand open-air ice rink, and in summer go for a jog along the Moskva River. Whatever your passion, the stadium truly has everything for your fun, active day out in Moscow.
Sochi is the contemporary magnet for sport lovers, and its spacecraft-like outdoor Fisht Olympic Stadium enjoyed huge success during the 2014 Winter Olympics. The stadium can host more than 40 000 spectators, and has been designed with fans’ enjoyment in mind. The surrounding Olympic Sports Complex is a hotspot for Sochi’s cultural events and entertainment. Other arenas within the complex host major international sport events such as boxing tournaments and Formula 1 races.