There's no escaping the fact that Russia in February is cold. It's not the coldest month, statistically speaking (that's January), but the difference is minor. It's also very snowy and icy, with storms common. The average February temperature in Moscow and St. Petersburg is just 23° F (-5° C), with other places like Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, Ulan Ude, and Vladivostok much colder. For this reason—and the fact that storms can delay travel to and around Russia—we recommend sticking to Moscow and/or St. Petersburg if traveling to Russia in February.
However, if you come from other parts of Europe or North America with very cold winters, you're unlikely to find the conditions in many parts of Russia unmanageable. Bring your winter clothing from home and you will be well prepared. If you're from Australia, New Zealand, or milder parts of Europe and North America, you may need to invest in a warmer winter coat, hat, and gloves before you arrive in Russia.
Crowds & Costs
February is the low season in Russia. Outside Moscow and St. Petersburg you're unlikely to see many (or any) other travelers, but that's for good reason and we also recommend sticking to these cities. Flight and accommodation costs will be lower in February.
Where to Go
As already mentioned, it's advisable to stick to Moscow and/or St. Petersburg during the winter. But that doesn't mean missing out, as these cities have a wealth of indoor cultural attractions to enjoy, and cityscapes that look quite lovely covered in snow. Plus, the great metro systems in both cities are easy to use and an attraction in their own right, and minimize the need to be outdoors.
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What to Do
Moscow and St. Petersburg have some of the finest art galleries and museums in Europe, including the Hermitage, the Kremlin, the Tretyakov, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, and much more. Art lovers will hardly notice what the weather's doing outside anyway. While getting around these cities you can also enjoy the amazing public art in the metro, constructed during communist times.
Ice skating is a popular winter pastime in Russia, traditionally done on frozen rivers and lakes. There are also special seasonal rinks set up for ice skating, so this is a great way to warm up.
Events in February
Maslenitsa (Butter Week). Russia's version of Mardi Gras has variable dates, depending on the date of Easter, and can also run into March. People celebrate the end of winter with folk games and pancakes.
Defender of the Fatherland Day, February 23rd. This day celebrates veterans with parades.
Traveling to Russia in February? Check out these great itineraries
Winter Holidays in St. Petersburg - 3 Days. This quick three-day tour of Russia's cultural capital includes a lot of seasonally appropriate activities, including time at indoor galleries and theaters.
Moscow and St. Petersburg Highlights - 6 Days. The winter is an ideal time to check out the highlights of Moscow and St. Petersburg on a short but action-packed tour.
History and Art in Russia - 9 Days. Lovers of art and history are in for a treat in Russia, as there's plenty of each. This tour focuses on the historic, artistic, and architectural highlights of Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as Tolstoy's country home in Tula.