Favorite winter activities not to get bored in Russia
- Posted by: Elena Killiakova
- Category: Matryoshka’s diary
Tips to stay active and warm on your winter holiday in Russia
Welcome to the second last edition of Matryoshka’s Diary for 2019. With Christmas and New Year holiday season just around the corner, we thought we would tell you about our favorite winter activities so you don’t get bored (or frozen!). Yes, Russian winter is so harsh it even caused the downfall of Napoleon force while invading Russia. But don’t worry, our author Elena created a list of things that will keep you active (and warm) on your winter holiday in Russia.
Ice-Skating on the Red Square (or, if you are lucky, on a frozen lake)
It’s no surprise that Moscow‘s famous Red Square is on the top of the must-do list. What you probably didn’t know is that during the holiday season this venue is also home to the open-air ice-rink. Traditionally it is available from the end of November until the end of February and you can go skating from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (ice skates are available for rent).
Swish away to the beat of retro Soviet songs and holiday melodies in the surroundings of the St. Basil’s Cathedral, the illuminated GUM department store, the beautifully decorated Christmas tree and, of course, the attributes of the Winter Market. If you are traveling to regional Russia, try skating on a frozen lake – this is a once in a lifetime opportunity!
Traditional Troika Ride (or, dog sleigh rides if you are visiting Kamchatka)
A ride on the traditional Russian Troika sleigh with three horses is definitely a winter experience to remember! Enjoy the views of the Russian countryside as you dash as quick as the wind on an adorned three-horse carriage past the snowy landscape. Such activity is available in many places across Russia, such as in Central Moscow Hippodrome, St. Petersburg’s Pavlovskiy Park or several places on the outskirts of Ekaterinburg. The duration of the ride is from 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your preferences.
If you are visiting Kamchatka, you can try doing something a bit more exotic – dog sleigh rides! Come and ‘mush’ your way around Kamchatka like the aboriginals still do, which to this day is one of the most exciting and practical ways to cover the untamed snow-covered terrain. You can also learn how to drive a dog sleigh yourself. Make sure you visit one of the most popular and beautiful natural parks in Kamchatka – Nalycheva Valley, and bathe in its thermal hot springs.
Ice-Fishing on Lake Baikal and chill Out in a Russian Banya
Those dreaming to see the world’s deepest freshwater lake, Lake Baikal, may be in for a surprise as this body of water freezes entirely during winter, making it an even more unusual place to visit. The phenomenally beautiful lake becomes covered with a meter-thick sheet of crystal-clear ice and it is even possible to see through it underwater.
Visiting a traditional Russian banya bathhouse is both an interesting experience and a way to sit back and relax. Not only will you unwind and feel entertained, but you will surely get a better insight into Russian culture. The banya ritual goes centuries back and includes staying in a hot dry steam room with wooden benches and flapping one another with besoms made of natural birch tree branches and leaves. After the procedure, the braver ones topple over a bucket of cold water on themselves or even dive into a pool of cool water (or into a nearby pile of snow)!
Have a Russian Tea Party and enjoy An Exciting Hockey Match At The CSKA Ice Palace
Russian tea drinking traditions have long become a popular image of the country with the samovar kettle as the table’s centerpiece, sweets, and ring-shaped cracknels. During your journey, you may take a break from sightseeing in a cafe and have some classic tea.
Roaring fans and the fresh icy smell of the arena — the excitement of a hockey game is the perfect way to knock out the dull winter blues. CSKA is home to one of Moscow’s most famous hockey teams and often hosts matches between Moscow clubs as well as other national teams. As you sit enthralled on the edge of your seat, marvel at the speed and prowess of local Moscow teams, who are said to fight all the way to the end and show an amazing presence.
Interested in studying Russian, learning more about Russian culture, or even trying ice-fishing or dog sleigh rides? Come study with us!