How Is the Weather in Russia? Best Times to Visit

Night view of the Red Square and St. Basil Cathedral in Moscow during snowstorm
Night view of the Red Square and St. Basil Cathedral in Moscow during snowstorm.

Elena Liseykina / Getty Images

The weather in Russia depends on the region and can vary from very cold in some areas to moderate and even hot in others. Overall, Russian climate is continental and has four defined seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. However, some areas are significantly colder and have a very short spring and fall.

Weather in Russia

  • The weather in Russia varies depending on the location
  • The Central European Russian Area includes Moscow and Saint Petersburg and has four defined seasons with a spring, summer, fall, and winter.
  • The northern parts of Russia have long winters and very short summers that last 2-3 weeks.
  • The Far East area gets frequent typhoons.
  • The Russian South near the Black Sea is warm with a mixed subtropical and continental climate. It has four defined seasons with hot summers and mild winters.

The world's coldest inhabited area is in the Yakutia part of Russia in the Far East, with temperatures recorded as low as -71.2°C (-96.16°F) in 1924.

In other parts of the country, the weather is much warmer. For example, in Sochi, in the southwestern part of Russia, the climate is humid subtropical and the highest summer temperatures reach 42°C (107.6°F) while the average winter temperature is around 6°C (42.8°F).

While Russian winters have a reputation worldwide as being harsh and freezing cold, in reality, very cold snaps are not that frequent. Additionally, central heating is automatically switched on in all buildings, including offices, shops, and apartment blocks once the outside temperature is at or below 8°C (46.4°F) for five consecutive days.

Even so, the best time to visit Russia is between May and September unless you want to experience the beautiful Russian winter. January and February are the coldest months of the year, with average temperatures of -4°C (24.8°F) in the central parts of the country.

Russia federal districts map
Russia federal districts map. Rainer Lesniewski / Getty Images

Moscow Weather: The Central European Russia Area

This area encompasses Moscow and surrounding areas and has a moderate continental climate. It is referred to as средняя полоса России (SRYEDnyaya palaSA rasSEEyi)—literally "the middle area of Russia".

The weather in Moscow and surrounding areas is moderate and has no great peaks of temperature. Average winter temperatures are between -4°C (24.8°F) and -12°C (10.4°F), whereas in the summer temperatures rise to an average of 17°C (62.6°F) to 21°C (69.8°F). If you travel to the Moscow region during winter, you are likely to see snow but it won't be anywhere near as bad as the way Russian winters are portrayed in popular culture in the West.

This area has four well-defined seasons, with real sunshine and warmth arriving mid-April. July is usually the warmest month of the year. Flowers and trees are in full bloom from May onwards, while September offers a mild transition to fall and is referred to as бабье лето (BAb'ye LYEta)—literally translated as "old women's summer".

Saint Petersburg Weather: The North West

The climate in Saint Petersburg and the Leningrad Oblast is a mix of continental and moderate oceanic climates. It is very similar to the weather in Moscow, with the addition of dull, cloudy skies and higher than normal humidity. Overall, there are only about 75 sunny days a year in Saint Petersburg and the surrounding areas.

Saint Petersburg's famous White Nights season (белые ночи - BYElyyye NOchi) arrives at the end of May and lasts until the middle of July. The sun never fully sets during this time and the light at night is similar to a sunset.

South of Russia: Subtropical Climate

The south-western part of Russia around the Black Sea has a warm humid continental and, more to the south, subtropical climate. Winters are never too cold, although the average winter temperature is still quite low at 6°C (42.8°F), and summers get very warm with temperatures as high as 40 - 42°C (104 - 107.6°F).

The coast of the Black Sea, particularly Sochi with its subtropics, is popular with holidaymakers from the rest of the country.

The other areas with this type of weather are the Republic of Ingushetia, Dagestan, the Kabardino-Balkar Republic, Stavropol Krai, the Adyghe Republic, Krasnodar Krai, and Crimea.

The North: The Arctic and Subarctic Climates

The islands in the Arctic Ocean, as well as the sea-facing areas of Siberia, have very short cold summers that last no more than two to three weeks. These areas are constantly cold, with average May temperatures between -6°C (21.2°F) and -19°C (-2.2°F). In July, it can get as warm as 15°C (59°F) in Severodvinsk or Norilsk.

The Subarctic area is a little warmer and encompasses northeastern Siberia, parts of the Far East of Russia, and southern islands of the Barents Sea. Some parts of this area are as cold as the arctic climates while other parts can get warmer in the summer. The Tundra is located in the Subarctic area.

The North is the least-populated part of Russia.

The Far East: The Monsoon Climate

The Far East area of Russia has a monsoon climate characterized by dry cold winters and warm humid summers with frequent typhoons. Vladivostok is the main and largest city in the area with a population of just over 605,000.

Average summer temperatures in the area reach 20 - 22°C (68 - 71.6°F) but higher temperatures up to 41°C (105.8°F) have also been recorded. The average winter temperature is between -8°C (17.6°F) and -14°C (6.8°F) but it can feel much colder due to the cold winds.