When is the best time to visit St Petersburg in Russia? More than 9 million travellers visited St. Petersburg in 2019. Choosing the right time to visit St Petersburg is essential for a 100% successful trip. In this blog post, I will talk about what to expect in St. Petersburg in spring, summer, autumn and winter (month by month). Let’s get started!
I will first describe the main criteria that will help you choose when to go to St. Petersburg:
- Climate in St. Petersburg: temperatures and weather
- Festivals and special events in St. Petersburg
- Budget, touristic seasonality, visa
Then I will talk about each season (go directly to this party if you already have an idea of the desired departure date):
- Advantages and disadvantages month by month to help you choose the best period to visit Saint Petersburg, according to your criteria.
The weather cannot be the only criterion. Even if the temperatures are low, Saint Petersburg in December is very beautiful under the snow. That’s why I advise you to take into account several criteria at the same time.
What is the best time to visit St Petersburg: weather, climate, temperatures
Weather in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg climate. At the same latitude as Stockholm and Oslo, St. Petersburg is characterized by a continental climate with large temperature differences between winter and summer. On the other hand, global warming is increasingly changing the situation. Indeed, today, the difference is less and less visible and regular.
Temperatures. In St. Petersburg, weather records begin in 1722. In order to be closer to reality, I propose to take the most recent averages.
In summer, it is generally cooler than in Italy. July is the hottest month, but the rainiest.
In winter, temperatures in St. Petersburg are much colder than in Italy, but it is very rare to have a whole week at -20. And even if it’s -20 at night, temperatures rise during the day. When temperatures drop below -5, the days are often sunnier. Winter 2019-2020 is an exception: very mild temperatures in December and January (between -3°C and +3°C).
Sunshine in St. Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is the northernmost metropolis in the world. As a result, the days are very short in winter, while in summer the sun sets for only a few hours. This summer phenomenon lasts from May 25 to July 16: the famous White Nights. At the time of the summer solstice, from 21 to 22 June, the night is almost non-existent.
Therefore, in winter, as in Scandinavian countries, you can expect short days. On the other hand, life does not stop at sunset. So you won’t be bored. The local rhythm of life and labour laws mean that places of entertainment, shops, skating rinks … stay open until very late or work 24 hours a day.
When to go to St. Petersburg: highlights of the year and events
If you know roughly which months you are interested in going to St. Petersburg, you can go further down in the month-by-month descriptions.
White nights in St. Petersburg
Dates. We can say that the sleepless nights correspond to the period from the beginning of June to mid-July. There are almost as many people downtown at 2am as there are at noon!
Festival Alye Paroussa, Voiles Écarlates in French, is a big party organized on the night of June 21-22 (or the nearest date that falls on the weekend). It’s a party for all those who passed their BAC, so it marks the end of high school. For everyone else, it’s the magical moment of the White Nights St Petersburg. Splendid boats sail on the Neva and a magnificent firework display explodes at the darkest moment of the night! Here’s a Youtube video to give you an idea of the party.
In term of budget, however, it’s at least double the off-season prices (airfare and accommodation), if not more. On the other hand, there’s really a lot of people and therefore a lot of waiting in museums and palaces.
During the summer months and especially during the White Nights, we advise you to go for a walk along the canals and go through other less known but equally interesting things and atmosphere to discover.
Russians have a lot of holidays, but some of them set the rhythm of life for the inhabitants. In Russia, it is: May 1st and the victory of 1945. Unlike Italy, the end of the Second World War is celebrated on 9 May (time zone difference for good reason). On this day, there are impressive demonstrations all over Russia.
End of the year celebrations in St. Petersburg
The most festive time of the year is the holiday season! December 31 is the most important holiday for Russians. Russian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January 7. The week from 31 December to 7 January is a public holiday. A large part of Russians do not work during this week. However, the entertainment and service sectors are still active. There are a lot of travellers during the holiday season. A special article has been written about the end of the year holidays in St. Petersburg.
When is the best time to visit St Petersburg: budget part
Flights, hotels, food, visits, guided tours, visa!
Budget to go to St Petersburg
There are a multitude of possible routes to St. Petersburg. The fastest way to get to St. Petersburg, however, is by plane. For example, for a direct return flight from Rome it will cost around 300€. Prices are higher in high season, especially during the White Nights.
During your trip, you can also fly to St. Petersburg from Moscow. In this case, the most practical solution is by train. The cost of a single ticket for a 3h30 fast train is 3000 rubles. For more information read our article: How to buy train tickets from Moscow to St. Petersburg?
Budget in St Petersburg: accommodation budget is a decisive factor in deciding when to go to St. Petersburg.
There is a very strong seasonality in St. Petersburg. It is punctuated mainly by the White Nights, and to a lesser extent by Russian holidays and festivals.
If you wish to discover St. Petersburg during the White Nights, prepare your trip well in advance. June is the best time to enjoy the White Nights in St. Petersburg. Prices at the end of June can then easily double the prices in October, February or even April.
The rest of the year, you will enjoy much lower prices. There is a sharp increase in the week from December 31 to January 7, but it is not as big as the Nuits Blanches. The price for a double room in the city centre with breakfast is 40 euros. To learn more about accommodation, read my article: Where to sleep in St. Petersburg?
Budget in St Petersburg: food
Prices are cheaper than in UK. In the city centre, you will find correct “lunch” offers (from 12h to about 16h) for 250 rubles (less than 4€ in 2020). Lunch (obed in Russian) includes a starter, soup and a hot dish. It is not a gourmet meal, but the quality is quite correct. Apart from its offers or in restaurants that are positioned on a higher segment, you will find dishes at 300 or 500 rubles. Also read: Where to eat in St. Petersburg?
Budget: guided tours and local experiences
See the palaces. If you don’t know when to go to St Petersburg and you really want to see the palaces of the tsars: avoid the period from mid-June to mid-July, because the number of visitors to the palaces is very high. For example, entrance tickets to Catherine Palace in Pushkin are limited.
Visa to visit Saint-Petersburg
Electronic visa. From October 1, 2019 it is possible to visit St. Petersburg with an e-visa. It is free and easy to obtain. Electronic visa is available for the most of EU countries, but not available for UK, US and Australian citizens. Read more here: Electronic visa for Saint-Petersburg.
Classic tourist visa. If you want to visit St. Petersburg, or to go to Moscow or on the Trans-Siberian Railway, you need to get a classic visa. The cost of a classic visa is about 150 euros per person.
Travel in autumn: best time to visit St Petersburg in autumn?
Travel to St. Petersburg in autumn allows you to take advantage of lower fares and rather mild weather.
Saint Petersburg in September
The weather in St. Petersburg in September is still mild, although temperatures are cooler than in Italy for the same period. School holidays are over (also in Russia). More and more travelers consider September to be one of the best times to visit St. Petersburg. As a result, the demand for September is increasing. The fountains are functional, and it is still possible to go boating on the canals and the Neva River.
St. Petersburg in October
Autumn colours will be on display from the beginning of October. Beautiful walks in the Summer Garden or in the immense parks of the imperial palaces are therefore in prospect! The weather in St. Petersburg in October still allows long walks in the city. This is the beginning of the low tourist season. In St. Petersburg in October there is less waiting in museums and palaces than in September. The shipping season ends towards the end of October. Therefore it is still possible to get a boat trip on Neva.
St. Petersburg in November
The November weather in St. Petersburg is beginning to approach Parisian winter temperatures, although there are always exceptions (in 2019: +6 during the day). On the other hand, it is one of the quietest months of the year. Accommodation prices in St. Petersburg are at their lowest. There is no real need to buy tickets in advance, as there is little waiting. So, why not go to St. Petersburg in November to enjoy the sightseeing more serenely?
Travel in winter: when to visit St Petersburg in winter?
The coldest month of winter is February. The shortest days are in December.
St. Petersburg in December: is it the best time to visit St Petersburg?
o Nothing special is organized on December 24th. Orthodox Christmas is on January 7. It is primarily a religious holiday. We stay with the family or/and go to church. Christmas markets start later than in Europe, rather towards the end of December. This is clearly the best time to visit St. Petersburg and enjoy the holiday atmosphere.
- On December 31st the Russians give presents to each other. Often the evening starts with the family, then we go out in the street or/and join friends. In some restaurants there are special New Year’s Eve parties with places to be reserved in advance.
- Many people come to the centre to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. There are three main places: Palace Square, Gostiny Dvor, Malaya Konnyuchennaya Pedestrian Street. A fireworks display is organized on the Neva River at 3am. All in all, even outside the city centre, firecrackers can be heard all over the city.
- On 1 January, all museums and most theatres are closed (except the Peter and Paul Fortress).
- Read more in the article Christmas and New Year in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg in January
The Neva River and the canals of St. Petersburg are frozen. Snow, ice rinks, winter games! Everything is there to enjoy winter in St Petersburg. On the other hand, the first week of January is very busy. It is also a week of holidays for Russians. But from mid-January the prices of accommodation are lower.
Saint Petersburg in February
For those who are not afraid of the cold, February is perfect! The days are longer than in December. Temperatures are low, but the days are also sunnier. It is one of the quietest months of the year, the hotel rates are very interesting. It is one of the best times to visit St. Petersburg at a lower cost. Why not choose this period for a trip to St. Petersburg?
Read more here: Best things to do in St Petersburg in winter
Travel in spring: when to visit St Petersburg in spring?
Spring is a beautiful season for a trip to St. Petersburg.
St. Petersburg in March
The weather in St. Petersburg in March is still wintery. Even if the temperatures are rising, snow often remains until April. It is also a calm month. The difficulty of this period is mid-season: the snow may start to melt. You should therefore bring suitable footwear. Otherwise, in terms of budget and visits (low season), it’s great!
Saint Petersburg in April
It is towards the end of April, beginning of May, that one begins to find the refreshing scents of the first plants and the joy of the birds. The sailing season resumes around mid to late April. There are still few tourists, but by the end of April the number of visitors is increasing. Like March, it is a month where you can benefit from good rates.
Saint Petersburg in May
From the beginning of May, we can feel the start of the high season. It is therefore necessary to book tours or tickets in advance to avoid queues. This is the case for the Hermitage Museum, Katharine’s Palace and Peterhof Palace. For the other visits, there is also more waiting. Accommodation prices are rising.
Travel in summer: when is the best time to visit St Petersburg in summer?
Summer is the busiest time for tourists, especially during the White Nights. If you prefer walking to sightseeing, it’s not so impactful for the trip. On the other hand, if you want to visit the most important places in St. Petersburg, you should prepare your trip in advance. Hotel rates are extremely high throughout the summer, but at the same time it is one of the best times for boating on the canals of St. Petersburg.
June: is it the best time to visit St Petersburg?
If you are going to St. Petersburg in June and want to enjoy it to the fullest, think about the Festival of Scarlet Sails (earlier in the article), as it is the highlight of the summer. June days are the longest. You can take a lot of walks around the city, which is very pleasant.
Going to St. Petersburg in July
July is the rainiest month. The city is rather grey, although from one year to the next it varies. We were on a trip to St. Petersburg 3 times in July and all 3 times it was rain with lightning (a bit Breton weather). In July, the high season is in full swing. The boat trips continue until mid-October. On the other hand, for the visits, it is rather complicated to get the entrance tickets.
Going to St. Petersburg in August
The dreariness of July is going away, but tourist numbers are still high. Remember to book tours and accommodation in advance. However, it’s a good time to do so. The weather in St. Petersburg is rather pleasant. You can still walk for hours and hours outside, which is very positive, as there are a lot of choices to see on foot. Nice moments to live! This is one of the best times to visit St. Petersburg, if you don’t take into account the budget and avoid waiting in some palaces or museums.
When is the best time to visit St. Petersburg?
The best time to visit St. Petersburg depends on the criteria you want to focus on: weather, budget, quietness of visits, special events to live in the city.
In summary, the best time to visit St. Petersburg can be:
- The high tourist season in St. Petersburg begins in early May and ends in early October. During this period the weather in St. Petersburg is milder. This is the best time to visit St. Petersburg if you want to avoid low temperatures, but also to enjoy the sailing season. However, the prices are much higher and the visits are likely to be less pleasant.
- Late December and early January are also very busy.
- Late January, February, March, early April, November are the quietest months of the year. This is the best time to visit St. Petersburg if you want to discover the city more serenely and on a reduced budget. We have already slept in a 3* hotel in Saint Petersburg for less than 17€ per night, breakfast included.
Have you decided when to go to St. Petersburg? Are you planning to go to St. Petersburg in spring, summer, autumn or winter? What is the best time to visit St. Petersburg for you?
Travel idea! It is only 4 hours by train from Moscow to St. Petersburg, why not visit both cities? Read a sample itinerary here: Moscow to St. Petersburg in one week.
If you are still hesitating, look at what you can visit in Moscow to choose the best time: what to visit in St. Petersburg?
St. Petersburg in video. Finally, here is a nice video of St. Petersburg that will certainly make you want to discover this beautiful city!
Hope you know when is the best time for your to visit St Petersburg! 🙂 Have a nice trip!