Best time to visit Russia

Best time to visit Russia


temperature & rainfall

Click on a location: Moscow | Kamchatka
The Russian climate can range from one extreme to the next with central regions in-land experiencing humid continental conditions whilst Siberia and the north often face sub-Arctic opposites, especially from Nov - Feb. Early autumn (Sept/Oct) is generally considered to be the best time to visit Russia to avoid crowds, heat and showers although, the endless mid-summer daylight experienced in northern cities, such as St Petersburg, can be well-worth staying up for.

Things to do in Russia


WHAT TO DO IN RUSSIA & WHAT NOT TO

Things to do in Russia


Russia promises plenty for nature lovers with everything from puffins and sandpipers to bears and Siberian tigers, providing an endless and exciting animal itinerary. Kamchatka, in the northeast, is especially blessed with untouched habitats and a small ship cruise of the fjords and islands offers the chance to see grey whales, snowy owls, Peregrine falcons and the world’s largest colony of Pacific walrus.

Meeting and taking the time to talk to local people is one of the best ways to rip up the guide books and see what lies beneath. Russia is certainly no exception and from fellow passengers and beaming babushkas on the Trans Siberian Express, to homestays on the shores of Lake Baikal or meals with Muscovites, sometimes the most memorable cultural encounters start with you.

Staying in Moscow and Saint Petersburg for at least a couple of days is definitely a worthwhile idea. Both cities feature some of Russia’s ‘must see’ highlights and present a chance to lift the lid on Russia’s remarkable art history and cultural heritage. A glimpse of the Bolshoi Theatre or an exploration of The Peter and Paul Fortress, there’s so much on offer so aim to do the experience justice.

Things not to do in Russia


Although President Putin persists in getting his shirt off he’s staying firmly in the closet when it comes to LGBT rights in Russia. Even Sir Elton John could do little to dissuade him from passing Russia’s anti-gay act which bans any positivity related to gay rights, including non-Russians promoting pro-gay messages. Holding hands, kissing and basically being affectionate as a same sex couple are things not to do in Russia, just to be on the safe side.

The lowlands of Sochi were once a habitat for over 400 bird species including 11 classed as ‘threatened’. Despite boasting a Winter Olympics with little or no environmental impact, quite the opposite occurred and if you’re planning to head to Sochi for a spot of birdwatching then prepare for disappointment. Twitchers take note: a small ship cruise to Wrangel Island will have you in a flutter.

Moscow is a must on a trip to Russia if only before boarding the Trans Siberian Express. Be aware that things aren’t cheap (London prices plus) and if you’re thinking of stocking up prior to taking the train then don’t. Buy from babushkas at train stations en-route or bring porridge, noodles and ‘just add hot water’ products from home.

Russia travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS IN RUSSIA

Olga Sitnik, co-founder of our tour suppliers ExploRussia, shares her local knowledge of Moscow.

Cultural advice


“Although some sign posts are in English it would certainly help travellers if they had a book or app to translate the Russian alphabet.

If you’re planning on a trip to the ballet then be aware that most ballerinas take a break in August/early September and tickets need to be booked at least two months in advance.”

Staying safe


“The same rules apply for Russian cities as they do for anywhere else in the world: keep your bags close by, particularly on public transport, and avoid areas with few or no people, especially after dark.”

Money saving tips


“Although the current exchange rate is pretty good for visitors some restaurants and cafés in Moscow can be really overpriced. Best advice is to check out reviews online or just ask to see a price list before you sit down to eat or drink. Some of Moscow’s most affordable things to do can be found in Gorky Park with chess, salsa, table tennis and ice skating all great fun to watch or play.”
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Russia travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR TRAVELLERS

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Russia travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday - and the space inside your suitcase.



Not to bother with travellers’ cheques or American dollars as they are a massive problem to exchange. ATM's are available everywhere. -Dannielle Bouche


Make sure to bring a sink plug for the Trans-Siberian train and a pre-paid travel money card is definitely the way to carry money. - Alan Kay


Go with an open mind... chat to as many people as you can on the train! Take cards and make sure you buy some vodka before you get on as you won't have another chance. I think it is the people that make it, so chat to as many people as you can! Don't be scared of buying food on the platform... it is so worth it! - Heido Hosgood, on the Trans-Mongolian Express


Try and learn the Cyrillic alphabet, it makes life a lot easier in Russia. Bring a Chinese phrase book with you. Don't bother with travellers cheques - they are time-consuming and difficult to change. US$ and plastic works everywhere. Beware pickpockets in temples - keep your hand on your camera, or keep it round your neck. - Christine Johnstone

Written by: Chris Owen

Photo credits: [Temperature box: Peter] [Ballet: ADDA, Auditorio de la Diputación de Alicante] [Gorky Square: Andrey] [Metro map: Jorge Láscar] [Moscow: Larry Koester]
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Ride the rails on this once-in-a-lifetime trip

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