We all learned this lesson from our parents: Just because everyone else does something doesn’t mean you should do it too. When it comes to travel, that’s especially true. Who wants to follow the masses and be herded like sheep through the most popular tourist attractions at the most popular times of the year? No one—because in travel, the converse of that old lesson is true as well: Just because most people dismiss a destination at a certain time of year, that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it too. Places you wouldn’t think about visiting in their off-seasons are sometimes the exact places you should be exploring—offering better deals and a more authentic experience.
Moscow in winter is that kind of place. “The city is hip and happening, with a vibrant food scene,” says Greg Tepper, our Trusted Travel Expert for Russia—“and you won’t be nearly as cold as you think.” As for safety, “There are no security issues—that is, beyond the pickpockets you find in other major European cities such as Paris and London,” says Greg. “The days of gang violence in Moscow are long over (1990s) and there hasn’t been a terrorist incident in Moscow in many years. There simply is no anti-American feeling on the streets of Moscow, and visitors from the U.S. are treated just as any other travelers are.”
Greg is a big fan of visiting Moscow in the winter—so much so that he’s offering a complimentary special enticement for WendyPerrin.com readers: If you reach out to Greg via his WP trip-request formfor a trip to Moscow (or St. Petersburg), you get your choice of a room upgrade at one of his recommended hotels, a half-day private expert guide, or a world-class theater performance.*
Here, Greg shares his top five reasons for visiting the Russian capital during the cold season.
- The value doubles
“The Russian ruble is down more than 50 percent against the U.S. dollar. In the winter and on the weekends, the hotels offer their lowest rates of the year. That compounds the savings to make Moscow more affordable than it has been in more than 20 years. Top Moscow hotels cost less than $370 a night, including 18 percent VAT and full breakfast!”
- Theater is at its best
“Travelers go to Russia for world-class opera, ballet and symphony. These are all at their best in the winter, which was always the ‘social season’ there. A wonderful bonus is that Russian operas are sung in Russian with English supertitles in the theater, making them so easy for English speakers to follow. (Italian and other foreign-language operas have Russian supertitles.)”
- Sites are less crowded—by far
“The summer crowds are gone by November, and Moscow’s world-class museums are empty.”
- The Dr. Zhivago effect
“Honestly, who doesn’t dream about snowy sleigh rides with a mink blanket, vodka, and mittens to keep you warm? No one ever forgets an evening stroll through Red Square with snowflakes drifting atop St. Basil’s Cathedral.”
- Russian hospitality means really warm buildings!
“You can stop worrying about being cold in Moscow in the winter. In fact, if you wear long underwear indoors, you’ll likely find yourself uncomfortably warm and start looking for a window to open to let in more cool air! Russians like it this way, so bring a big, warm coat (preferably fur, which is very much in fashion and not taboo there) and be prepared to take it off and check it at the coat-check the moment you walk indoors.”
What other destinations do you think are worth visiting in their off-season?