What to do in Russia in winter – visitor’s guide to Russian skiing resorts.
To ski or not to ski? It’s not a question anymore.
Welcome to the new edition of Matryoshka’s Diary. This week our author Elena will take you on an exciting journey around Russia.
“No, it does not snow all the time in Russia but when it does snow, we make the most out of it”.
For those of you who want to try something different from a ski trip to the Alps, we offer something different. Would you like to enjoy a breakfast with a view of Mount Elbrus (the highest peak in Russia), experience Caucasus hospitality or skiing on the exotic slopes of one of the most remote Russian islands? There are more than 200 ski resorts in Russia; below are 10 most popular skiing resorts in Russia.
Krasnaya Polyana is the fanciest skiing resort in Russia. Four ski resorts are combined into a single skiing zone under one skipass. There is a snow park and wide trails for beginners (the length of the longest trail is 4.1 kilometers). There are jumps and places to free-ride with warm, moist air drifiting in from the sea and heavy snowfalls for powdery trails. Many like to raise their self-esteem here by conquering a trail called, “Olympic male descent above 1600.”
Where: Krasnodarsky kray, Sochi, Adlersky city district, Estosadok village
How to get there: take a plane to Sochi and take bus 105 directly to the resort from the airport.
The Rosa Khutor resort is located in Krasnodar Kray (1695 km from Moscow) and open to tourists all year round. From December to April you can go skiing and snowboarding, while in summer you can take a buggy up the mountain to go for a hike or practice yoga at an altitude of 2320 meters. Rosa Khutor is not named after a flower or a woman (as might be expected), but after a local resident, Estonian Adula Roosa, who settled here with 72 other Estonian families in the late 19th century.
Where: Krasnodarsky kray, Sochi, Adlersky city district.
The Dombay ski resort is located at an altitude of 1650 meters in a mountain glade at the confluence of three rivers. The resort’s highest peak, Mussa-Achitara (3012 meters), offers ten ski runs of varying difficulty and the chance to stay at the UFO-shaped Tarelka (Saucer) Hotel right on the slope. The popularity of this place is derived primarily from its natural environment: Dombay is located in a gorgeous location 65 kilometers from the Black Sea and 65 kilometers from the summit of Elbrus. There are roughly 20 kilometers of trails on Mussa-Achitara Mountain for all levels of experience. There are ungroomed areas for freestylers, but the majority of trails here are designed for a comfortable ride: moderate slopes, smooth reliefs and a few hillocks.
Where: Karachay-Cherkessia Republic, Dombay village, Mussa-Achitara Mountain
How to get there: take a plane or train to Mineralnye Vody and then take a shuttle or taxi to Dombay.
Bolshoi Vudyavr. The ski resort is located north of the Arctic Circle at the foot of the Khibiny mountain range (1700 km from Moscow). So even getting to Bolshoi Vudyavr is an adventure. Winter temperatures there are rarely warmer than -35 C, and the snow lasts for more than 250 days a year. On a clear day in April you can even ski in the light of the aurora borealis.
Where: Kirovsk, Murmansk oblast’
How to get there: take a plane to Kirovsk.
Mount Cheget. The Cheget ski park is located in the south of the Elbrus region and welcomes skiers from November to May. Since opening in 1960, Cheget has earned a reputation for ultra-extreme skiing: tilting 45 degrees, the slopes here are off-limits to snowcats. The snow is “groomed” by skiers themselves, resulting in mounds two meters high. Those who come to conquer the untamed slopes of Cheget are rewarded with a stunning view of Russia’s highest mountain, Elbrus (5642 meters).
Where: Terskol, Kabardino-Balkaria.
How to get there: a flight to Kislovodsk, Pyatigorsk, or Nalchik and then by bus or car to Terskol.
Sheregesh. Russian and foreign ski-lovers are drawn to Sheregesh in the Kemerovo Region (3900 km from Moscow) for the fluffy snow that falls as early as September and the six-month season. Despite its location in central Siberia, the resort’s annual mass downhill swimsuit skiing run attracts hundreds of skiers and snowboarders every April. There are also paragliding, hang gliding and helicopter tours available. The Shoria Mountain, revered by shamans, and Azasskaya cave, the supposed den of Bigfoot, make this a unique skiing destination.
Where: Tashtagol District, Kemerovo Region, Sheregesh village, Mustag and Zelenaya mountains
How to get there: by plane or train to Novosibirsk, then by bus or car to Sheregesh.
The Zavyalikha ski resort in the Chelyabinsk Region (1573 km from Moscow) at the foot of the eponymous mountain has welcomed tourists since winter 2000. The long gentle slopes with an elevation drop of 350 meters allow beginners to find their feet, while devotees can do some freestyle skiing and snowboarding. There are no chairlifts, just cable cars, so your nose won’t get frostbitten in the Ural winter.
Where: Zavyalikha, Chelyabinsk Region.
How to get there: a flight to Ufa or Chelyabinsk and then by bus or car to Zavyalikha.
The Bobrovy Log ski & fun park complex operates in of one of Siberia’s cultural centers—the city of Krasnoyarsk (3354 km from Moscow). The season lasts for about six months. The upper drop-off points offer a view of the mountain taiga and the Stolby Nature Sanctuary. After skiing you can keep yourself warm in the Tea Yurt cafe, where hot drinks brewed from Siberian herbs and berries are served.
How to get there: a flight to Krasnoyark.
Gora Sobolinaya (The Sable Montain).Sable Mountain rises 1004 meters above the southern shore of Lake Baikal. It is home to the Gora Sobolinaya ski resort, where the season lasts for almost seven months, from early November to early May. The quickest way to get there is by plane to Irkutsk, but the most spectacular is by train along the Baikal-Amur Railroad. The resort is located in Baikalsk on the slopes of the ancient Khamar-Daban ridge, although the main attraction here is Lake Baikal, which can be seen directly from the slopes. There are 12 routes comprising a total length of 15 kilometers with an elevation of 500 meters. All trails are in excellent condition and there is a spa nearby where guests can take baths with herbs and relax with aromatherapy. You haven’t been here if you haven’t tried the delicious “omul” fish (comes hot or smoked).
Where: Irkutsk Region, Slyudyansky District, Baikalsk
How to get there: by plane or by train to Irkutsk, and from there by shuttle bus or taxi to Baikalsk
Solnechnaya Dolina (The Sunshine Valley).The Solnechnaya Dolina is located in the city of Miass (1696 km from Moscow) in the southern Urals. The 230-meter elevation drop and gentle slopes are ideal for beginners. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Solnechnaya Dolina offers horse-riding and husky-sledding. There is plenty to explore in and around the valley and Miass itself, including Lake Turgoyak, Chelyabinsk (the city of industrial tourism) and Zlatoust (the birthplace of Russian damask steel).
Where: Miass, Chelyabinsk region.
How to get there: a flight to Balandino (112 km to Miass), Magnitogorsk (227 km to Miass) or Yekaterinburg (233 km to Miass).
Mountain Air (Gorny Vozdukh). This small complex in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk was built in the 1970s before the Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. In the 2000s it was renovated and became a popular skiing resort. The trails are quite diverse with a variety of steep and flat slopes. There is also a snowboard park here; it has lights for night skiing, as does the main area. There are 11 trails on Bolshevik Mountain totalling 20 km in length. In the vicinity of the resort there is also a paragliding club, from which you can see Sakhalin Island from a bird’s eye-view.
Where: Sakhalin Region, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Bolshevik Mountain
How to get there: a flight to Yuzho-Sakhalinsk, then by bus or taxi to the mountains.
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