Best Time to Visit Russia

The best time to visit Russia really plans on what you hope to experience. As the world’s largest country, the climate and landscapes are incredibly diverse. If sightseeing is your main goal, you can visit year-round, if you don’t mind experiencing some extreme weather, but if you want to hike or enjoy the beaches, late spring through early fall is when you’ll want to go. Summer is the most expensive time to visit, and it also brings the biggest crowds and high temperatures, and while winter brings stunning scenery, especially at Lake Baikal where you’ll have the chance to glide across the ice on the world’s largest freshwater lake, you’ll have to be prepared for frigid cold.

Taking a more in-depth look at what you can expect in each season will help you decide the best time to plan your visit.

St. Petersburg, Russia
Uglich, Russia

Spring/Shoulder Season (March through May)

Spring brings different weather depending on where you plan to go in Russia. If you visit early in the season, snow is still possible, and it often means snow will be melting on the streets or things will be very slippery with lots of ice. Butter Week is celebrated at the start of spring, a tradition that takes place for a full week ending on the Sunday before the eve of Lent with music, shows, games and other activities.

April and May are better months to visit, with things warming up and colorful flowers in bloom. While you might still see some rain, sunshine is more frequent now and the mercury may climb as high as the mid-60s Fahrenheit. The weather is unpredictable however with temperatures in the low 50s possible too, but that’s a lot more pleasant than the searing heat of summer, especially when it comes to sightseeing. Another plus is that hotel rates will be cheaper as high season prices won’t have kicked in yet.

St. Petersburg, Russia
Moscow, Russia

Summer/High Season (June through August)

The majority of people visiting Russia arrive during the summer months, an ideal time for hiking, enjoying the parks and gardens, picnicking and beaches. St. Petersburg is amazing in the summer when the evening sky never darkens. Known as “white nights” you’ll enjoy practically endless days for sightseeing. The downside of summer is that it can get very hot, with temperatures often reaching into the upper 90s, and air conditioning uncommon, even in the major attractions like The Hermitage. Crowds will be thick, and the lines will be long, making it even more uncomfortable.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of summer with warm weather but not scorching hot temperatures, plan to visit in June when the average temperature in St. Petersburg is around 68 degrees, and 71 in Moscow. You’ll get plenty of sunshine and some brief late afternoon showers. Russia Day is celebrated on June 12, as one of the country’s most important holidays – it brings spectacular military parades, but many attractions and businesses will be closed.

Moscow, Russia
Lake Baikal, Russia

Autumn/Shoulder Season (September and October)

Fall is a short season in Russia, generally occurring in only September and October, with November often bringing cold winter weather in. While nights will be chilly, days are often sunny and pleasant, and you can expect brilliant colours with fiery reds, golden yellows and brilliant oranges just about everywhere you can to go. It’s possible to find discounts on room rates and better deals on airfare, and you won’t have to contend with the thick crowds of summer.

Early fall is one of the best times to visit Russia, especially if you want to enjoy outdoor activities. Around the Golden Ring north-east of Moscow, the Ural Mountains and Lake Baikal it will be particularly stunning with the trees having transformed to their most vibrant colours. The trails in the mountains will still be open, and the weather will be ideal for hikes.

Winter/Low Season (December through February)

Winter in Russia is magical with the snow-covered landscapes and few crowds to contend with. Lake Baikal is gorgeous with the water a deep sapphire hue underneath its frozen surface. Life doesn’t stop despite the cold temperatures, even in Siberia where the mercury may drop to 40 below, there’s plenty to enjoy among the snow-covered streets by bundling up a bit. If you plan to visit St. Petersburg it doesn’t get frigidly cold with temperatures typically hovering just below freezing, enough so that the canals freeze over to create an enchanting sight.

While you’ll need to bring waterproof boots, a warm hat and a thick winter jacket, during the winter you can enjoy some incredibly beautiful scenery, lower prices and short lines for an especially memorable and more budget-friendly trip to Russia.