Best time to visit Russia

Best time to visit Russia


temperature & rainfall

Click on a location: Kamchatka | Lake Baikal | Moscow
Early autumn (Sep-Oct) is the best time to visit to avoid crowds, heat and showers, and to see the wildlife of Kamchatka, but its hard to generalise! A country as vast as Russia experiences a huge range of weather. Siberia has very cold, long winters and short, warm summers, while west central Russia, home to Moscow and St Petersburg, has a continental climate, with four seasons and less extremes. St Petersburg on the Baltic coast is the mildest, with July peaking at 23C and Feb dropping to -7C. Moscow falls to -10C in Feb and can reach a toasty 25C in July.

WHEN TO VISIT RUSSIA & WHEN NOT TO


A MONTH BY MONTH GUIDE

From January to March, see the vast winter landscape roll by on a Trans Siberian Railway adventure. Trains run reliably despite temperatures dropping to -40C and will take you to Lake Baikal where you can skate and walk on ice up to a metre thick.

February is excellent for Siberian tiger tracking, although any time in late winter is good. Tracks are easily visible in the snow and tigers tend to wander further out of their usual terrain in search of food.

Winter in western Russia hangs on until March, so if youre visiting Moscow and St Petersburg now, expect temperatures hovering around freezing and even the odd snow day. On the plus side, youll have the big attractions to yourself and could get reduced rates on accommodation, too. Plus, in Moscow between the beginning and end of March, the days get longer by more than two hours!

April marks the start of the main tourist season in European Russia, with temperatures in Moscow pulling out of negative figures to a comparatively balmy 6C, and St Petersburg seeing 8C and pleasantly dry days.

By May in St Petersburg, the Baltic winter is long gone and spring is in full flow, although expect showers and nippy days. By the end of the month, the famous White Nights begin.

It may be harder to spot Siberian tigers in summer, but June, July and August are a wonderful time to visit southeast Russia, near the border with China, for general wildlife watching in Durminoskoye National Park, Sikhote Alyn and Tigers Call National Park.

The landscape is at its most vibrant and most animals are visible in Wrangel Island and Chukotka during July and August, which is when most small ship wildlife cruises run. Come in July and you can catch the Annual Beringia Arctic Games, a highlight of the Chukotka calendar. This regatta and festival features games, races in traditional walrus skin boats and cultural performances, with lots of great food to eat, too. It attracts people from all around the region.

July is when St Petersburg is hottest, at around 23C, but as the citys warm, wet summers are also notoriously changeable, pack for sweltering 30C and chilly drizzle, too. You might brave a dip in the Baltic now, too it should be at about 19C.

August is when the Lake Baikal region is at its warmest, but dont expect a heat wave. Averages for this month are around 14C.

Kamchatka is at its most stunning in September. Brown bears are fat and happy after a summer feasting on berries and salmon, and can be seen snoozing in the autumn sun before hibernation. Mountain sheep and reindeer continue to graze, feeding up before the land is locked under ice and snow again, and thousands of migratory birds are preparing to leave.

Temperatures in European Russia can drop off steeply once September is over, so expect just 6C in Moscow, St Petersburg and Novgorod in October, while over in Yekaterinburg its 2C.

St Petersburg is spectacular in the snow, but do wrap up from November until March. Temperatures drop below freezing in December and dont climb above 0C until March. Neva Bay freezes in late November or early December and the ice doesnt break up until the beginning of spring.
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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IN RUSSIA


RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL RECOMMENDS

Olga Sitnik, from our local supplier ExploRussia, discusses the best time to visit Russia: For nature lovers, for sure, its summer from May to September. Then you can easily explore cities on foot, go trekking and stay outdoors with pleasure. For winter lovers it is quite a thing to go in winter. For sure, one has to be ready for this kind of experience, with winter gear and boots, but youll enjoy unbelievable winter landscapes, skating, skiing. And for example, try walking on Lake Baikal, because the ice is really thick and transparent.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IN RUSSIA


RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL RECOMMENDS

DID YOU KNOW ABOUT...?


Maslenitsa
Celebrated in the week before Lent, this Eastern Slavic folk festival bids farewell to winter and welcomes in spring. People fill up on traditional pancakes blini that are said to resemble the sun, because theyre round, golden and warm! Feasting on them is central to the week-long celebration, as is group fist fighting (yes really), troika rides, fireworks, singing and burning a Maslenitsa scarecrow that symbolises winter.
Photo credits: [Temp chart: kuhnmi] [Olga Sitnik: Harald Deischinger] [Maslenitsa: Лобачев Владимир]

Written by: Joanna Simmons
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