The best time to travel to Russia

by Alexander Popov

The next vacation destination is certain, it should go to Russia, the giant empire wants to be explored. But when is it really worth going to the largest country in the world? Which season is the best? Of course, we cannot make any recommendations for any region in Russia that spans almost 10,000 km and eleven time zones from Poland to Alaska. But at least for Russia’s most popular destination, the capital Moscow, we want to do that.

Moscow in winter

Everyone knows that Russian winters can be very cold and harsh. It is not for nothing that most people associate Russia with the icy winter, and it is not for nothing that Father Frost plays an important role in Russian culture as a kind of Santa Claus. For tourists, the Russian winter is certainly the most unpopular season, since the thermometer in Moscow falls below -20 degrees almost every winter, at least for a few days.

Nevertheless, you can be lucky with the weather even in winter – the average low temperatures in the coldest months of January and February are -9.1 and -9.8 degrees, respectively, while you already experience plus degrees regularly in March. If this is not too cold for you, a completely different Moscow awaits you, without the tourist crowds and with its own fascination.

On Red Square, an ice rink in front of the GUM luxury department store invites you to ice skate and the most famous square in the country is adorned with numerous ice sculptures. The New Year celebrations, according to the Julian calendar used in the Orthodox culture only a few weeks later than by Catholics, are a big celebration in all of Moscow.

Finally, in February, the Russians celebrate their type of Mardi Gras, which is called Maslenitsa. Sleigh rides through the parks, clowns tell stories and traditional Bliny pancakes are eaten. You should definitely consider winter as a travel time for Moscow, but don’t forget to take a warm coat, boots, scarf and gloves with you.

Moscow in spring

In terms of temperatures alone, spring is usually the most popular time to travel and in fact the average temperature in Moscow from February to March jumps from just under 3 to 19 degrees. However, as a tourist you can be just as unlucky in May and get cold days, as it can be very warm in March.

But as soon as the first rays of sun awaken the city from the icy winter, the Muscovites are drawn outdoors – whether in Gorky Park on the banks of the Moskva River or in the Alexander Garden directly on the Kremlin Wall, or in one of the in Moscow popular Beer gardens. Spring with its pleasant temperatures is a great time to explore the city.

The Russians celebrate two of the most important holidays in May. Both May the 1st, the day of work, and May the 9th, the day of victory in the great Patriotic War, are celebrated every year. The victory over Nazi Germany in particular still plays a major role for the Russians. You as a tourist are a welcome guest at the parade through the city and on Red Square.

Spring is definitely the most pleasant time to travel. However, the delightful month of May is the most popular tourist season – long queues with tourists form in the city’s museums, in the popular Arbat Street and in the Kremlin.

Moscow in summer

You may not necessarily associate Moscow with summer, but the maximum temperatures in July and August are not comparable to those in Asia or Australia. The thermometer in the Russian capital can rise well over thirty degrees and, but air conditioning systems are particularly widespread.

It gets stiflingly hot in the subway but it’s pretty cool there. To find lakes and undeveloped banks of the Moskva River, you have to drive a few kilometers from the center – Serebryany Bor in the northwest of the capital with its lakes and swimming spots would be an option.

However, the days in summer are of course particularly long – due to the northern location of Moscow, the Russian capital enjoys more than 18 hours of sunshine per day in June. Accordingly, a lot happens outdoors – open-air concerts in Gorki Park, cafes with dozens of seats outside, mobile ice cream stands – life generally takes place outside and needs to be enjoyed.

Many Russians are drawn to the Datscha in the hot months – small holiday homes in the countryside that were incredibly popular even in Soviet times. You want to escape the heat in the city and accordingly it is a little quieter in the center than in May and early June.

Moscow in autumn

Autumn begins in the Russian capital with the annual “Den Goroda”, the big city festival that is celebrated in the first week of September. Concerts in the red square, a parade, food stands and finally a big fireworks display. The big city festival can also be an attraction for tourists.
The major cultural highlight of the year is on the program in October: the Moscow Biennale will be celebrated throughout the city with hundreds of classical concerts and art exhibitions throughout October.

In terms of weather, autumn in Moscow is very short and relatively unpredictable. While you can still have summer-like weather in September, the first snow falls just as often in November. For tourists, however, September and October are an almost perfect period to visit the Russian capital.

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