While early October will feel autumnal in many parts of Russia, by later in the month winter sets in. You can expect to see snow falling in late October, although it won't stick around everywhere just yet.
Average October high temperatures in October are generally quite cold without being freezing. You'll need a warm coat, but probably won't need to pile on the layers of thermal underwear and fur hats just yet. Moscow and St. Petersburg experience average October highs of around 46° F (8° C), while Lake Baikal and Ulan Ude sit around 41° F (5° C), and Vladivostok in the far east is much warmer at around 57° F (14° C).
Before snow starts to fall later in October, you may encounter quite a bit of rain. Come prepared with a waterproof jacket.
Crowds & Costs
October is not a busy time to travel to Russia, with relatively few tourists coming at this time of year. Hotel and transport costs, especially within and between Moscow and St. Petersburg, will be lower than at their peak in the summer (or around winter festival times). This is not one of the most popular months to take the Trans-Siberian Railway, meaning that if this epic journey appeals to you, consider going in October for a more chilled out experience on the rails and at the stops en route.
Where to Go
Although many people head to southern Russia in the summer for the beach resorts, autumn is also a good time to head there. The temperatures are warmer than further north, and you can see and do different things here than elsewhere.
If you're a motorsports fan and want to avoid the colder temperatures of further north, head to the Black Sea (Sochi) for the Russian Grand Prix in October (see more below), so you can experience the popular summer resort town in a different light. However, other than Sochi, there's not a whole lot to see and do in beach-side cities when it's not beach weather.
Alternatively, if you're into hiking and the natural outdoors, the North Caucasus in southern Russia should be on your radar. There are beautiful rugged mountains, distinct culture, ancient history, and few other travelers. Parts of the area see political unrest and instability, but others don't. Stay abreast of the political situation before booking your travel, and it's best to travel with a knowledgeable guide who can steer you in the right direction.
What to Do
With cold but not bitter temperatures and unreliable rainfall, October is a good time to plan city sightseeing in Russia. St. Petersburg and Moscow have a great concentration of galleries and museums to suit all interests, from the fine art of the Tretyakov and the Hermitage, to the military history of the Cruiser Aurora museum, and the religious splendor of St. Basil's Cathedral and the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood.
Events in October
Russian Grand Prix, Sochi. This car racing event is held at the former Winter Olympic Park.
Traveling to Russia in October? Check out these great itineraries
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.
Moscow and St. Petersburg Highlights - 6 Days. The fall is an ideal time to check out the highlights of Moscow and St. Petersburg on a short but action-packed tour.
Cultural Immersion in Moscow - 8 Days. Take a deep dive into Russian culture on this fun tour that includes a Russian cooking class, a Russian language class, and other activities that you won't find on every tourist itinerary.