Discover when is the best time to visit Moscow. In this blog post, I will talk about weather, budget and other things to know to choose the best time when to go to Moscow for you. I cannot account the times when we went in Moscow. Here are the pros and the cons of each month taking all main criteria into account!
I will first describe the main criteria that will help you choose when to go to Moscow:
- Climate in Moscow: temperatures and weather
- Special events in Moscow
- Budget and 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
The weather cannot be the only criterion to decide when is the best time to visit Moscow for you. Even if the temperatures drop low, Moscow in December is just magical! This is why I advise to take into account several criteria at the same time. Also remember that it takes at least a month to get the Russian visa.
When to go to Moscow: climate and weather
The seasons are well marked. The mid-season months are not necessarily the best for the weather. However, they are not necessarily to be avoided, because, as we will see later, Moscow is a city that changes all the time and the prices can be more attractive. For example, for a lot of people winter is the best time to visit Moscow.
Weather in Moscow. Moscow is inland, making the city “more protected” from changing weather. For example, the weather is much more changeable in St. Petersburg. On the other hand, the weather in Moscow is more and more scorching in summer, we can then easily reach 30 degrees (for the Russians, it’s already the heat wave).
As soon as you think of Russia, you want to do “Brrrr”. Let’s prepare our down jackets! Indeed, the Russian climate is not the mildest on the planet. However, it all depends on the region, because the country is very large. Moscow is almost at the same latitude as Copenhagen. As Moscow is relatively far from the coast, there is a pronounced continental climate. It is hot in summer and cold in winter.
In addition, global warming is there. For several decades, annual average temperatures have always been recorded above the past. I suggest you look at the averages over the past five years to be as close as possible to reality:
Sunshine and precipitation
Sunshine. This is surprising, but there is more sunshine in Moscow than in Paris or even in Berlin: 1,731 hours in Moscow, compared to 1661 in Paris and 1626 in Berlin.
Duration of the day in winter. We had questions about the length of the day in winter. So, here are a few things. As in Europe, the shortest days are in December. In Moscow, at the end of December, the sun rises around 9 a.m. and sets around 4 p.m. Then the day gets bigger until the end of June, when the day is the longest.
Precipitation. There is more precipitation in Moscow than in Paris (705mm against 637mm).
When is the best time to visit Moscow: interesting events
Moscow is a city that moves a lot. It is even said that this city never sleeps. So there are a lot of events, forums, exhibitions, conferences. Here I’m going to talk about the main recurring events that punctuate the year and that may help you decide when to go to Moscow.
End of year celebrations in Moscow
December 31 rather than Christmas. The Russians are eagerly awaiting the holiday season. Here on December 31 is like Christmas with us. Religion, “opium of the people” according to Marx, and, above all, its official absence marked the country during the Soviet years. This then reinforced the celebration of December 31, while Orthodox Christmas is January 7.
Russian calendar. In addition, it should be known that the first week of January is a bank holiday. Many Russians therefore do not work during this period. Europe also greatly influences the habits of Muscovites. Consequently, the Christmas markets start in early December and, for some, continue until early February!
Fairytale atmosphere. If you are wondering when to go to Moscow and you love the holiday mood, then the end of December – early January, and even February, is for you! There are many things to do during this time: for example, Christmas markets, decorations, winter games, skating rinks. In 2016, Moscow opened the largest ice rink in Europe. In short, the city is doing a lot of entertainment during this period and the general atmosphere is at the top! However, everything comes at a cost. You can see more detail below in the article, month by month.
Find our more in this blog post: Christmas and New Year in Moscow.
Visit Moscow in May
May 1 and 9 are two big festivals in Russia. Both dates are known worldwide. May 9 in Russia is May 8 with us in France. The signature that marks the end of the Second World War. The shift day is explained by … the difference in time zone.
The May 9 holiday is a very important holiday for the Russians. The Soviet human losses amounted to millions. So there are many families who have been directly affected by the war. The first big parade was organized by Stalin on June 24, 1945 in Red Square in Moscow. Later each year the USSR and then Russia organized a parade on May 9. Here is the video of the first parade dating from 1945 in color, then the last – that of 2016.
A disadvantage of the beginning of May. For the planned events, Red Square will not be completely empty. There are always installations for May 9, but also rehearsals. So, to the question “when is the best time to visit Moscow”, I would not say that May is the best one. You can find out more in the article “Moscow in autumn” below.
Special events in Moscow
Throughout the year, the Moscow City Hall organizes free events (festivals, small markets, concerts, etc.) in the Red Square and in the streets of the city center. For example, there are two major interesting events:
- Festival of Lights “Around the World”: in 2019, it was from September 28 to October 4.
- Anniversary of the city of Moscow always celebrated the first weekend of September.
When is the best time to visit Moscow: budget, price seasonality, visa
Most touristy periods. Many travelers come to Moscow from May to October. This is the period when we see the most tourists in Moscow. In addition, many are also those who come at the end of December and at the beginning of January for the New Year. The beginning of May and the first week of January are also strongly requested, in particular by the Russians (school holidays, public holidays).
Accommodation. Hotel rates therefore necessarily increase during these periods of the year. But they do not go so far as to triple. To give an idea, count at least 80 euros in the city center for a double room with breakfast. You can read more about the districts of Moscow in my article: Where to stay in Moscow?
Guides and tours. Also take into account that during these periods it will be more difficult to find a guide at the last moment. It’s best to do it 2-3 months in advance. There will be more waiting or difficulty obtaining tickets during the months of high tourist influx: late December, early January, May, June, July, August.
Visa for Russia. The cost of the visa does not change depending on the month of the year. On the other hand, the deadlines can be longer if you make the request for the high tourist season (from May to October). Allow about a month. Getting the Russian visa is not complicated, there is a procedure to follow.
In Russia, the seasons are divided as follows:
- Fall: September, October, November.
- Winter: December, January, February.
- Spring: March, April, May.
- Summer: June, July, August.
Discover Moscow in autumn: when is the best time to visit Moscow in autumn?
From the beginning of September, we feel that the temperatures begin to drop gradually, especially at night.
Moscow in September
More and more travelers are choosing the month of September to go to Moscow. Because it is not cold yet and there are fewer tourists than in summer. Prices drop slightly, but remain higher than in the lean months of the year. There is also the city’s birthday on the first weekend in September, but also the “Around the World” festival towards the end of the month.
Moscow in October
You are likely to come across the colors of autumn from the beginning of October. The accommodation prices are starting to drop gradually. There is less waiting in the places to visit. Temperatures are not very low: during the day they are generally around +6 degrees. On the other hand, the only negative point can be the cost of plane tickets, if you leave during the French school holidays.
Moscow in November
It’s one of the least calm! Temperatures drop and can approach zero during the day in mid-November. Hotel rates are low, there are few tourists, and therefore less waiting in museums. It’s easier to get tickets for the Kremlin Palace of Armor, which can be very difficult in the summer. Guides also have more availability. So why not go to Moscow in November?
Discover Moscow in winter: when is the best time to visit Moscow in winter?
Winter is a very nice time to go to Moscow, because the Christmas and New Year decorations are installed from the beginning of December and are not removed until the end of February. To learn more about the different activities in winter, read this article: What to do in Moscow in winter? If winter temperatures scare you, check out Moscow in the spring (see below).
Moscow in december
Normally, negative daytime temperatures set in, although the weather can vary significantly from year to year. In general, from mid-December the snow is durable. It is from December 20 that more and more travelers come to Moscow. December 31st is celebrated like Christmas in France. Accommodation rates are higher from mid-December. It’s also more complicated to find a guide at the last moment. Furthermore, as in Europe, the days of December are the shortest of the year. But if you want to mark New Years Day, you will have lots of memories!
Moscow in january
January is also a very festive month. The first week of January is a public holiday in Russia. Besides, it’s also a week of Russian school holidays. There are more people in the streets, museums and everywhere in the city. To find out more about this time of year (Christmas markets, itineraries, etc.), read: Christmas and New Years in Moscow. Prices remain high during this week, but drop from mid-January.
Moscow in February
It’s the second quietest month of the year. In February, winter clearly takes its ease. The temperatures are the lowest, it’s a real winter! The days are longer in February than in December. So we’re enjoying the day more, and with the snow it’s really nice, because the weather in Moscow in February is pretty sunny. Accommodation rates are at their lowest, and the decorations are still there. So, if you are looking for when to go to Moscow, if the cold does not scare you and you appreciate the snowy landscapes, why not consider the month of February?
Discover Moscow in spring: when is the best time to visit Moscow in spring?
Spring is a contrasting period between March, which is still quite cold, and May, when we really feel the arrival of summer.
Moscow in March
The ice and snow begin to melt around mid-March. Winter is coming in March, but spring is not quite there yet. It’s the third quietest month of the year. It is therefore possible to visit the city more quietly. Accommodation prices are low, guides are available. The weather in Moscow in March is milder than in February. In addition, the days are longer, so you can take many walks.
Moscow in April
It is only from mid-April that we begin to feel the beginnings of sunny days. The weather in Moscow in spring and April in particular is getting milder and colder: we can expect +7 during the day. In addition, there are not many travelers yet and we fear to enjoy the places more quietly, but we feel that the start of the tourist season is approaching. Accommodation rates are lower than in May.
Moscow in May
The early May holidays attract many travelers to Moscow. There are also many Russians who come to the capital on public holidays. It is therefore advisable to plan visits in advance to avoid queuing once there. Red Square can be closed or partially closed for rehearsals for the May 9 parade, the same day and one or two days after. More info in: Moscow in May: events, budget, what to do?
Discover Moscow in summer: when is the best time to visit Moscow in summer?
All summer months are great, if you take temperatures into account. The weather in Moscow in summer is quite pleasant. However, in recent years, there have been great heat peaks or heat waves in July (30 degrees during the day).
Moscow in June
From June, you can take long walks in the city’s parks, very numerous and much appreciated by the locals. Boat trips are more enjoyable from June. On the other hand, the prices of accommodation in Moscow are higher than in the lean months. There are also more tourists. Book your hotel, tours and activities in advance.
Moscow in july
July is the hottest month, but we’re not on +40. Moscow is a city inland and therefore there is little fresh air, if it is very hot. We can do lots of walks to discover the city. We have written several complete itineraries so as not to miss anything of Moscow in our special Moscow travel guide. It also contains tips to save time and enjoy the city off the beaten track, as there are so many tourists during this time of year.
Moscow in August
Temperatures are starting to drop gradually, but there are still so many people. In order to be sure of the choice of accommodation, I advise you to book in advance. The same goes for guided tours or entrance tickets to the Kremlin. It’s also a good time to discover the city differently by going to places that are less touristy and more frequented by locals.
When is the best time to go to Moscow? In summary!
The best time to discover Moscow depends on the criteria you want to favor: the weather, the budget, the tranquility of the visits, the special events to be experienced on site.
- The peak tourist season in Moscow begins in early May and ends in late September.
- Late December and early January is the best time to experience the holiday mood, but it comes at a cost.
- End of January, February, March, beginning of April, November are the quietest months of the year, when you can visit the city more calmly and on a reduced budget.
So, have you decided when to go to Moscow? 🙂 Do you plan to visit Moscow in spring, summer, autumn or winter?
Travel idea! As in all cases you will get a visa and there is only 4 hours by train between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, why not visit both cities? Read an example of a route here: Moscow to Saint Petersburg in one week.
If you still have doubts, take a look at what you can visit in Moscow in order to choose the best period: Things to do in Moscow in 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 days.