With January temperatures in Russia plummeting to -35 degrees Fahrenheit, it's easy to see why Russia is labelled as the coldest country on earth. January and February are the coldest months, but provided that you're layered up and prepared for the biting chill, Russia has plenty to offer visitors. From the bustling capital of Moscow to the elegant architecture of St Petersburg, here are some Russian highlights you can't afford to miss.
A stroll around Moscow's Red Square, Lenin's final resting place, is a must for visitors to the capital. Just make sure you're wearing a thick coat, scarf, hat and gloves; you don't want to become ill on holiday. Don't forget to organise your family annual multi-trip insurance before you head off and remember that kids are covered free with insurefor! You might want to stop off at Coffee Mania, one of Moscow's best (and most expensive) coffee shops for an award-winning coffee to help you defrost.
A wander around Izmaylovo Market is essential if you're looking for authentic Soviet souvenirs, or head for Gum (pronounced 'Goom'), a restored Victorian shopping arcade on the square where you can enjoy some window shopping. Take a trip or two on the Moscow Metro whilst you're in town; you'll find plenty to see in the most ornate underground stations in the world, with frescos, marble and chandeliers all regular features.
The most popular museum in Russia, The Hermitage in St Petersburg is the perfect place for history buffs to lose themselves in Russian history. Kunstkammer's museum is also worth a visit; here you'll find Peter the Great's collection of curios dating back to the 18th century.
Families will enjoy a visit to the Peter and Paul Fortress, where regular battle re-enactments are held in full period costume. The city is easy enough to navigate on foot, with most of the attractions near Nevsky Prospekt, which runs through the heart of St Petersburg.
Pack your thermals
Dress for warmth, not for fashion on your trip to Russia and make sure you pack plenty of winter essentials such as hats, scarves and gloves, as well as thermal layers. Whilst you can pick up some great fur-lined hats and other kit whilst you're in the country, some tourist shops will see you coming a mile off and you could find it expensive to shop for winter essentials in the cities, so it's best to be prepared. Sturdy boots that can grip in snowy, icy conditions are also a must, and don't forget you'll need family travel insurance to protect the whole family should you become ill or lose your luggage whilst on holiday.