Winter in St Petersburg can be defined by three words: dark, icy and cold. Apart from that it is an evocative season filled with things to do as well as places to see. From restaurants, art centres, and museums, you've plenty of choices.
If you're planning a trip to St Petersburg Russia during Winter, be prepared to deal with a city covered by a lot of snow and parks buried in an icy mantle, as well as long dark nights, cold days and slippery streets.
On the other hand, be ready to be seduced by enchanting views of frozen rivers and canals and beautiful snowflakes in the sun. You will be entertained by diverse cultural events, Russian celebrations and fun outdoor activities. At the same time, you will also discover a city aglow with hundreds of unique architectural monuments and sculptures.
Now, in terms of our Russian weather, Winter in St Petersburg runs from late November to March; and, like most of Russia, it is long, snowy and icy. The rivers and canals freeze throughout most of the Winter until Spring.
Generally the average temperature is -8°C/-18°F, though January and February are usually the most snowy and coldest months with temperatures ranging from -2°C/-28°F to -20°C/-4°F.
So expect to see temperatures rise above freezing only at the start of April and all of the snow and ice to start melting by mid-April.
Honestly, some of most brilliantly beautiful days occur between December and January. In fact, St Petersburg weather over this time offers a new romantic quality to our Russian city that combined with the New Year celebrations may definitely amaze you.
So don’t let the cold defeat you as it defeated both Napoleon and Hitler! But rather, challenge yourself and
enjoy this real Russian Winter experience.
Interested in coming during Winter? If so read on...
Yes, it's cold, dark and snowy, we know that! But winter in St Petersburg is also wonderfully atmospheric with plenty of things to do and see.
If you are one of those people who still think that visiting St Petersburg during the winter will be too cold or too boring, you are wrong. Of course, it won't be warm, sunny, and busy as in the summer; and it's also true that you won't be able to cruise along the Neva River and canals or admire the famous White Nights.
But you will have many outdoor Winter activities to enjoy and a variety of concerts, plays, Russian ballets and operas to choose from every night, including a wide range of historical museums and Russian restaurants.
For example, if you love ice-skating and skiing, you can have fun at the Victory Park, with one of the largest outdoor rinks, or go to the frozen pond at Yelagin Island, where you will be able to glide hand in hand under twinkling fairy lights surrounded by nature.
If all of this is not enough, then go off the beaten path and enjoy a Troika ride in the Russian countryside or try some steaming bowls of the famous borsch with a shot of vodka at the Russian Vodka Room Restaurant.
Winter is also a good time for you to experience the Russian New Year and its chaotic street parties and concerts on Nevsky Prospekt and Palace Square, and maybe be congratulated by Father Frost (Ded Moroz) and Snowmaiden (Snegurochka) while walking around.
As you can see, there are many reasons to visit St Petersburg in Winter. So don't always follow the crowd, but get a different perspective of Russian life. This charming city of Peter the Great with its graceful bridges, glittering palaces and spectacular frozen canals and stunning snow-blanketed parks await you.
If you go, Tour St Petersburg with the help of a qualified local guide, and get the most out of your Russian holidays!☺
Wondering what to do in St Petersburg during the Winter? Drink a shot of vodka, try traditional Russian food and enjoy the long Russian winter holidays as well as its activities.
We, Anastasia and I "Davide" usually like to go ice-skating or
skiing in the park near where we live or just outside the city. But we also love to warm up in
the Russian sauna at the Dacha, or in one of the many Russian SPAs in town; plus once a month, we go to Stroganoff Steakhouse for a great steak along with tasty Russian baked potato.
But what about you?
As I wrote early Winter in St Petersburg brings not only beautiful snow views and long mysterious dark nights, but also offers many different outdoor or indoor activities to do such as skiing, ice-skating, snowboarding, ice fishing, sleigh rides, folk shows and much more. So, you decide!
Alternatively, if you don't fancy these activities, then you can plan a visit to the famous Hermitage to see its vast art collection, or go to the Yusupov Palace, the Mikhailovsky Palace (Russian Museum), or the must-see St. Isaac's Cathedral, the Russian Orthodox Church whose golden dome is one of the skyline's most familiar landmarks.
After all, you came here to see the cultural treasures of St Petersburg Russia, didn't you?
If you are not too tired, in the evening don't miss a visit to the Mariinsky Theatre to watch the Russian Ballet or Opera performance. You'll enjoy the works of Russia's most talented musical sons Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky and Rimsky-Korsakov.
Lastly, if you're up for a challenge , why not take a walking tour or stroll on your own through St
Petersburg’s central thoroughfare Nevsky Prospekt ( a broad
boulevard lined with department stores, boutiques, cafes, restaurants,
office buildings and old stunning palaces which is richly decorated in winter) and dare our cold and dark.
For the ultimate Russian winter experience, just head about 12 miles south of the city to Tsarkoe Selo, and take a Troika (three horses with a sleigh) ride through the big snowy park.
Whatever you do we have no doubt that you will love it!
Have you bought the warmest gear you could find in a nice hiking shop for your trip to Russia? Sorry, if so, you will look like you are going to climb a mountain in your mountain face jacket and hiking boots!
To cope with the Winter in St Petersburg, all ladies should bring a fur, or at least a nice long puffa coat with a fur lined hood. Meanwhile, men should wear a great coat and scarf. And, if you don't want to look dirty, blend in to the crowd with black, grey or brown.
At this time of the year the temperature rarely rises above freezing.
So wearing a warm leather or fur coat, coupled with a fur hat and woolen gloves will keep you warm and allow you to enjoy the amazing and magical Russian winter as you stroll down some of St Petersburg’s fashionable streets, like Nevsky Prospekt.
Waterproof and warm boots are also essential during Winter in St Petersburg and will make your visit more enjoyable.
Of course, you should also bring a pair of your best heels if you plan to go to see the Russian ballet at the Mariinsky, Mikhaylovskiy or Alexandrinsky theaters. Remember that shoes must be clean and your evening dress should be elegant.
Speaking of cold, if you really can't stand the Winter in St Petersburg, then we suggest you drink one or two shots of Russian vodka. In just a few minutes, you will feel warm enough to leave your long underwear, woolen hat and bulky sweater in your suitcase.☺
This is a time-honoured Russian tradition and it still works today! So it should work for you too!
The best time to travel to St Petersburg during Winter is between December and beginning of January, when the cultural life of the city is at full pace, the long Russian holiday season is about to begin and it isn't too cold.
During this time, don't miss the Russian New Year, if you
love street parties with fireworks and champagne corks flying all over the place. Also, don't miss the celebration of Russian Christmas, which lands on January 7, and is a much more solemn and religious affair than in the west. Remember also to take advantage of the snowy and icy weather.
Make sure to wrap up warm before you hit the town or you will catch a cold. Also, as the colder weather blows in, beware of ice on the streets and paths, especially if you are a woman. Russian women here know how to walk on the icy streets in 6-inch heels. They have had a lot of training, so don't be surprised! But for tourists, maybe it is wiser to stick to comfortable shoes with good grip.
After a day exploring the finest Russian museums and famous landmarks, we recommend you take a traditional Russian Banya. It will make you feel reborn, if you have a chance!☺
Lastly, although Winter in St Petersburg doesn't bring a lot of tourists, we always recommend you book your flight, hotel, and private tour in advance. This way you save money, find the best place to stay, and have a private guide reserved for you before you come.
To enjoy your visit to the imperial city to the fullest, see also our St Petersburg Russia Tours page. There you may find a lot of tour ideas!!!
Written by Davide C.