The best time to visit Russia

Bronze Horseman in Autumn - Russia Tours - On The Go Tours copy

Seasons and Weather

Certainly summer is a drawcard for many travellers. Devoid of snow-covered landscapes, Russia positively blooms in spring and summer. The snow melts to reveal beautifully coloured flowers and manicured lawns at many of Russia’s most famous palaces, parks and gardens and previously spindly birch trees heave with green foliage. Russia is pleasantly warm in summer. In July and August temperatures have been known to rival the Mediterranean. During mid-summer in the northern city of St Petersburg there is no real darkness and this wonderful phenomenon is known as ‘the white nights’.

Autumn (September - October) is brief but also a good time to travel to Russia, when there are less crowds and the country is swathed in golden autumnal hues. From November through to February winter sets in and the country is usually blanketed in crisp white snow. Despite the freezing temperatures, this is a magical time to visit - think fluffy hats, warm coats, breathtaking snowy landscapes and an almost guaranteed white Christmas.

Siberia is renowned for its bitterly cold winters but the lure of picture-perfect snowscapes, frost-laden monuments, snug fur hats, steamy banya houses and winter sports attracts visitors to the region even in the coldest months of December, January and February. When temperatures start to warm up, beautifully coloured flowers are revealed and During March the snow is still crisp on the ground and the dry days are usually sunny and windless. Spring is a quick affair when the snow thaws and the summer months bring warmer temperatures and showers. By October the temperatures are brisk and the landscape takes on the gorgeous russet hues of autumn.

Climate | Moscow

Temp Min °C-16-14-81811131273-3-10
Temp Max °C-9-6410192123221692-5
Rainfall (mm)393836375358887158454754

Climate | St Petersburg

Temp Min °C-13-12-88611131394-2-8
Temp Max °C-7-520152021201592-3
Rainfall (mm)353031364550727864764640

Climate | Yekaterinburg

Temp Min °C-21-17-12-34912105-2-12-18
Temp Max °C-14-10-4614182118123-7-12
Rainfall (mm)131013184869666941312820

Climate | Irkutsk

Temp Min °C-26-25-17-7171092-6-17-24
Temp Max °C-16-12-4613202120145-7-16
Rainfall (mm)13108153356797143181515
Moscow at Christmas - Best Time To Visit Russia
Large Christmas decorations in Moscow during the festive season

Festivals and Events

From spectacular firework displays to traditional pagan festivals, a number of events take place in Russia throughout the year worth visiting for and here's our pick of the best.

New Year's Day

This is the primary event on the Russian calendar when families enjoy a huge feast and share gifts around a large fir tree, traditions that many in the Western World associate with Christmas instead of the New Year. The celebrations peak with a dazzling display of fireworks in Moscow's famed Red Square.

Orthodox Christmas Day

Celebrated on the 7th January in accordance with the Julian calendar, Christmas Day in Russia focuses on religious traditions with families attending Mass and a special 12 dish feast in honour of the 12 Apostles. This combines with New Year's to form the country's 10 day holiday.

Maslenitsa (Butter Week)

During the week before Orthodox Lent Russians eat buttery pancakes and rich foods containing dairy and eggs in preparation for the 40 days of fasting. Each day holds significance including Cleansing Day when Russians will clear out their cupboards and wardrobes of unwanted items for the coming spring, and Forgiveness Day when Russians make amends with those they are argued with.

Orthodox Easter

Easter is one of the most important holidays in Russia and celebrated a week or two after the Catholic Easter with decorated eggs and special foods including pashka, a pyramid-shaped food made from cheese. Many families will attend church for an Easter service.

Victory Day

Held on the 9th May, Victory Day in Russia marks Hitler's defeat and commemorates the millions of Russians who lost their life during World War II. Military parades are held in major cities across Russia with war veterans donning their medals in honour of their fallen comrades. Some of the most impressive parades take place in Moscow's Red Square.

White Nights Festival

The annual White Nights Festival is held in St. Petersburg at the start of the summer when the city experiences midnight sun thanks to the long days of daylight. It's an international celebration of the arts with a series of classical ballet, opera and music events. As part of the festival a number of St. Petersburg's most popular museums, including the Hermitage, stay open all night with free entry.


This annual exhibition of interactive entertainment, consoles and computer games in Moscow is the largest in Russia and attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. New innovations are revealed by companies such as Sony and Microsoft with gaming tournaments held offering attractive prizes.

Kremlin Cup

Held in Moscow at the Olympic Stadium, this is Russia largest tennis tournament with 48 competitors playing across singles and doubles. The high-value prize draws some of the world's best players as well as plenty of home-grown talent. The event takes place September/October each year.

2017 Calendar

To help plan your 2017 visit to Russia, here's an overview of the year's festivals and events.

January 7th - Orthodox Christmas Day (countrywide)
February 20th - March 4th - Maslenitsa/Butter Week (countrywide)
April 16th - Orthodox Easter Day (countrywide)
May 9th - Victory Day (Moscow)
May 26th - July 23rd - White Nights Festival (St. Petersburg)
September 28th - October 1st - IgroMir Expo (Moscow)
October 14th-22nd - Kremlin Cup (Moscow)

There's also a number of national holidays in Russia and on these dates many businesses and some tourist sites will close for the day so plan your visit accordingly.

Site Closure Dates

Many museums in Russia are closed on Monday and the following attractions are closed on certain days:

The Kremlin in Moscow is closed on Thursday each week with Lenin's Mausoleum closed on Monday and Friday. During the rest of the week it is only open from 10am to 1pm. St. Basil's Cathedral is closed on Wednesday and Christ the Savior Cathedral can be closed at short notice for religious ceremonies.

Red Square will be cordoned off and closed for Victory Day which takes place on the 8th and 9th of May.

In St. Petersburg the Hermitage is closed on Mondays as is the Peterhof Palace. The Catherine Palace is closed on Tuesdays with the Church on Spilled Blood and St. Isaac's Cathedral is closed on Wednesdays. During the winter months of November to March the Peter & Paul Fortress is closed on Wednesday and the Pavlosk Palace on Friday.

See Also

For more useful information when planning your trip to Russia, have a look through our handy Travel Guide resources:

Best Places to Visit - where to go and what to see in Russia
Tourist Visas - you won't get in without one!
Top Travel Tips - what to expect of Russian trains, food and shopping
Traveller Reviews - hear why our passengers enjoy our Russia tours

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