Climate and weather in St. Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is worth visiting all year round. The four seasons are so different here that you can discover many aspects of the deep character of the city.
Due to the latitude (59°57′ n.l. 30°19′ e.l), Petersburg is well known for the remarkable natural phenomenon “white nights”, which lasts from late May until mid-June. “White nights” have long became a symbol of the city and a time rich withfestivals, creative contests and both cultural and entertainment events.
With the help of literature and poetry; St. Petersburg got a reputation as a city of constant grey skies, rains and fogs. Statistics show that there are at least 62 sunny days per year in St. Petersburg. Probably that picturesque cloudy sky ends up being the perfect frame for the monumental beauty of the North Capital of Russia. Without the rainy season, snow and iron-grey sky, Saint Petersburg would miss part of its charm, it would cease to be that magical city; famous for its mystical beauty, melancholic temper and sophisticated architecture.
The variety of museums, theaters, art centers, shopping malls, restaurants and other interesting places let anyone create their own fascinating cultural program regardless of weather whims.
Seasons and weather in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg is known to be the biggest northern megalopolis in the world. Being so close to the Gulf of Finland it experiences a humid marine climate with a warm summer and moderate winter. The coldest month here is February, with an average temperature of about -7°C. The warmest is July with an average temperature of 18,0°C.
Winter in St. Petersburg
Winter is always snowy in St. Petersburg. While white and fluffy snow covers trees and houses, giving the city a special charm, Neva freezes in the ice fetters and sparkling icicles hang down from the roofs., It is also time for all kinds of winter sports and activities; skating rinks are available, ice slides are made and just in the nearest park it is easy to rent ski equipment or even a Finnish sled. New Years is celebrated lavishly here and the winter holidays are packed with entertainment and interesting events. The average temperature in December is -4,5 °C in January -7,7°C and in February -6,8°C.
Weather in St. Petersburg in December
December is not the coldest month in Saint Petersburg, the temperature varies from 6°C to -14°C. Precipitations are moderate, mostly in the form of snow that melts very quickly. daylight is very short, only about 6 hours, but the sophisticated urban lighting and Christmas decorations make the city look very elegant. Walking can be pleasant and interesting if there is no strong wind.
Things to do in December
City walks and tours take a thematic tour to the churches and cathedrals. Christmas and New Years festivals are everywhere – the city is usually decorated and illuminated by early December. Visit Christmas street fairs, which always offer a wide entertainment program: Pioneer and Ostrovsky square, Elagin Island and in the parks on the outskirts of St. Petersburg.
The International Cultural Forum is usually held in December – an event offering a wide range of performances, exhibitions and concerts at the Hermitage, Russian Museum, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Mariinsky Theatre, Mikhailovsly Theatre and dozens of other venues.
The International Winter Festival “Arts Square” gathers international stars in the halls of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Mikhailovsky Theatre, Musical Comedy Theatre, and others. Enjoy Christmas gift shopping in Bolshoy Gostiny Dvor and Passage Department Stores on Nevsky Prospect.
Weather in St. Petersburg in January
The weather is often cloudy, wet, with snow and thaws. Daylight is short and the sun appears on average only 2 days in the entire month. The average daily temperature is -7.7°C, ranging from 0°C to -15°C, but can go as low as -24°C. Even though the temperature in January is not extremely low, the high humidity can make the freezing air feel much colder than what the thermometer shows. Long walks through the dark city won’t be a lot of fun, it is better to spend time at the numerous museums and enjoy rich theatrical life.
Things to do in January
Christmas and New Years celebrations, fairs, museums, churches, concert halls, theaters, bus tours and short walk tours through the city center (make sure to take good waterproof shoes!) are all good options. In January, there are plenty of festivals: The Festival of ice sculptures at the Peter and Paul Fortress, “Christmas bustle in Gatchina”, Christmas Festival in Jazz Philharmonic, the festival-contest “Guitar Virtuosos”. You may also want to visit one of the numerous galleries of contemporary art.
January 27 – the Day of relief of the siege, on this day a lot of interesting urban activities are held, like free guided tours, historical re-enactment and concerts. Visit Piskarevsky Memorial Cemetery: you’ll be able to feel the incredible trials of residents of besieged Leningrad.
Spring in St. Petersburg
Spring usually comes slowly but as soon as it arrives, it changes the city features by all means. Neva starts flowing again, the trees turn pistachio green and the sun shows up again. But frankly, the winter spirit disappears only at the end of March or April. Average temperature rises above zero, by the end of April it is already +5 °C, in May it is +10 °C and higher.
Weather in St. Petersburg in March
By mid-March spring fills the air, but warm sunny days can unpredictably alternate with returns of winter frost. The air is dry and humidity is at its lowest in the year, number of days without sun – less than 10. The average temperature is -2.1°C, ranging from 6 ° C to -10 ° C.
Things to do in March
It is comfortable enough to make longer city walks in March and tour agencies offer a large variety of excursions. The theatrical life is intensive too: the festival “Dedication to Maestro”, organized by the Hermitage, International festivals “Singing Carnival” and “Mariinsky” at the Mariinsky Theatre, concerts, guest performances of Moscow theaters and theatrical premieres. It is great fun to pass by the Maslenitsa (Cheesefare Week) celebrations on Elagin Island, in Kirov, Gatchina or Tsarskoye Selo.
Weather in St. Petersburg in April
The spring months are the most favorable for city walks. Its already warm, but not yet hot. The air feels fresh, but not very humid. In April is the lowest amount of precipitation, the temperature rises to 20°C, and the average temperature is 3.9°C. The length of daylight increases to 15.9 hours.
Things to do in April
Walking in the city center during beautiful spring days will bring real pleasure: take a walk along Nevsky Prospekt, see Palace square, Hermitage Embankment, Admiralty and St. Isaac’s square. Another interesting itinerary: start from metro station Nevsky prospect and walk along Griboedov canal towards “Savior of the blood” cathedral, then see the Arts Square with Russian Museum and Mikhailovsky theatre, Saint Michael’s Castle and Field of Mars. Spring is also a good time for cycling: the city has many places to rent a bicycle, including urban public bike rental service. Interesting city events in April: “Funny Festival”, organized by the Theatre “Mimigranty”, international action “Biblio-night” in museums and libraries, Mariinsky festival, festivals and excursions in Botanical Garden, events dedicated to the Cosmonautics Day in St. Petersburg Planetarium and Peter and Paul Fortress. Orthodox Easter falls between the 20th -30th April and is widely celebrated on streets, in cathedral and churches.
Weather in St. Petersburg in May
May is a very good choice of time to visit St. Petersburg. The weather is normally good, sunny and the nature is very green and fresh. The average monthly temperature is 10.7°C, in the afternoon it may reach 25 – 30°C. Daylight lasts more than 18 hours and there comes the famous period of “White Nights” (from 25 – 26 May to 16 – 17 June), when the evening twilight goes over smoothly to morning sunrise. The prices of hotels and tourist services at the middle and the end of May are not yet as high as in June.
Things to do in May
Almost the whole month of May is full of festivals and public events. Labour Day (May, 1) is celebrated with marches and rallies; Victory Day (May, 9) is celebrated with a military parade and a concert on Palace Square and other parts of the city, historical reconstructions and fireworks. A bustling opening of moto season is also held in May. Other events in May: On Ostrovsky square – annual Ice-Cream Festival, on Elagin Island – Festival of Tulips, Smelt (local gastronomic specialty) Festival, City Day (May, 27), The Baltic Sea Festival, Festival of icebreakers on Neva River, fountains opening event in Peterhof and the Night of Museums.
The most spectacular of these events –Victory Day, City Day and the opening of the fountains in Peterhof, they are big scale city events and attract a huge number of visitors. In late May, Petersburg takes part in an international initiative “Night of Museums” during one night just paying for a combined ticket; you can visit any number of museums-participants until early morning. In May the weather is comfortable for a boat trip or water cruise on Neva, Fontanka, Griboedova Canal and other waterways of Saint Petersburg, and for seeing bridge openings at night.
Summer in St. Petersburg
Summer can differ from year to year. It is always warm, sometimes rainy, sometimes stuffy if the temperature rises above 30°C – the heat as well as the cold is hard to tolerate because of the high humidity. Quite often, the warm weather lasts until mid-September, indulging with sunshine St. Petersburg’s residents and guests. The average temperature in June 15,5°C, in July 17,6°C, and in August 16,2°C. With approximately 16 days of summer the temperature can rise above the 25°C mark.
Picturesque White Nights season, view on Peter and Paul Fortress through Palace Bridge
Weather in St. Petersburg in June
The weather in June varys greatly under the influence of cyclones and anticyclones. Daytime temperatures can be between 10°C and 30°C. The amount of rainfall increases, the rain can go on for a few days in a row – showers, thunderstorms and even hailstorms can occur. When going out, take an umbrella or a raincoat if you see an overcast sky. The daylight is longest in the year, the season of “white nights” continues until mid-June.
Things to do in June
It is a must to take a water excursion on the rivers and channels of St. Petersburg – the city walls look fantastic from water. Even if it feels a bit chilly, on sightseeing boats they normally give you warm wraps. Choose a boat with a covered deck in case of rain. There are a lot of piers downtown to take a water excursion: on Griboyedov Canal at the intersection with Nevsky prospekt, on Fontanka river, by Anichkov Bridge, near the Field de Mars, on Hermitage Embankment on the Neva, Peter and Paul Fortress, near Elagin Island and many others. Water speed boats can take you to Peterhof and Kronstadt.
Another nice way to explore St. Petersburg in summer is by bike. There are more than 90 urban public bike rental spots. Their website is available only in Russian so far, but you can use their bike parking map spb.velogorod.org.
City events in June: Economic Forum, Festival of graduates Scarlet Sails, the Day of Russia, Festival of Sand Sculpture, festivals “Stars of White Nights” at Mariinsky Theatre, International Festival of street theatres “Elagin Park”, open festival “Green St.Petersburg”, Jazz Festival, “Ballet Summer” in Mikhailovsky theatre, festival-competition “Imperial Gardens” in Mikhailovsky Garden of Russian Museum, Geek picnic on Elagin Island. During the International Economic Forum, St. Petersburg is nicely decorated with flags and flowers, but the prices in city hotels are higher.
Weather in St. Petersburg in July
July is the warmest month in St. Petersburg, but also the rainiest. Temperatures vary between 14°C and 30°C with many hot days when it’s 25°C and over. Daylight hours begin to decrease slowly, but still the evenings are “white”. The water temperature in the Neva rises to 16°C.
Things to do in July
With bright summer colors the city looks fantastic. Visit one of the numerous city parks and antiques gardens (Summer Garden, Mikhailovsky Garden, Yusupov Garden), imperial summer residences (Peterhof, Pushkin, Pavlovsk, Gatchina, Oranienbaum), take a water cruise. Explore the city center by bike or walking. See the city from the colonnade of St. Isaacs Cathedral.
Important city events in July: Navy Day, International Music Festival “Palaces of Saint Petersburg”, Festival “Stars of White Nights”, Festival of Chimes, “Stereoleto” music festival, “Usadba Jazz” jazz festival, “Night of Music” in Gatchina, Medieval festival, “All together Opera” open air classical music festival.
Weather in St. Petersburg in August
The weather can be as hot as well as chilly during considerably long periods of the last summer month. The average temperature decreases to 16,2°C. In some years, August is the hottest month of the summer. Daylight is more than 16 hours; sunset is at 7-8 pm. Heavy and long precipitations is common. The water in the rivers and lakes in August warms up to 19°C. However, there are very few places allowed for bathing in St. Petersburg.
Things to do in August
August is the right time for walking and cycling, visiting St. Petersburg environs and water cruises. The number of outdoor activities decreases, but during weekends you can always find something interesting on Elagin Island, in Peterhof, Peter and Paul Fortress or Alexandrovsky Park.
Big city events: International Marine Festival, “Open Cinema” festival, festival of Sand Sculpture, “Stars of White Nights” festival.
Autumn in St. Petersburg
Autumn, especially late autumn, is rainy, chilly and quite slushy. But it’s the best time, tenderly called “babie leto” (Indian summer) impressing you with the bloom of colors and bright shiny days. Average temperature falls from 10,9°C in September to 0°C in November.
Weather in St. Petersburg in September
September is a great time for a trip to St. Petersburg! Warm weather, “Indian Summer”, falling leaves, mellow light and the amazing beauty of the parks reveal a very romantic image of the city, so beloved by city dwellers. Temperature is around 20°C at the beginning of the month and gradually decreases to 10 C. Rains are rarer than the summer time, and when it pours it does not make you feel melancholic.
Things to do in September
September is still warm enough for walking tours in the city and its environs. Visit one of numerous city palaces – Tauride Palace, Sheremetev Palace, Polovtsev Mansion, Beloselskih-Belozerskih Palace, Stroganov Palace, Yusupov palace. Park and Gardens, Like Summer Garden and Mikhailovsky are nice places to take a breath of fresh air and rest while eating your sandwich, like local students do. In September the new theatre season begins, so reserve your evening for visiting one of numerous city theatres. Not only are famous opera and ballet houses worth visiting, but also chamber theatres like “Sankt-Peterburg Opera” and Hermitage Theatre.
Weather in St. Petersburg in October
The air becomes colder, daytime average temperature is 5,6°C, and at night can drop below zero.
October can havedays with daytime temperatures up to 10°C, but for rather short periods. Twilight arrives much earlier; there are only 9 hours of daylight. Strong, gusty wind, cold rain and sleet if it happens can make staying outdoors uncomfortable. Leaves on trees in late October have already fallen and the city looks quite austere, if not dismal. It’s time to wear good warm shoes and windproof clothing, wear a scarf, gloves, and always carry umbrella.
Things to do in October
For sightseeing consider taking the hop-on hop-off city bus tour. It is not likely you will enjoy walking more than an hour. Plan more of museum visits, enjoy theatre life, visit a gallery of contemporary art. There are plenty of musical events in concert halls and cathedrals.
Events in October: Organ Festival in Mariinsky Theatre, “Neva choral assemblies” festival in St. Petersburg State Academic Capella, International Festival “Multivision”, festival “Dramatists of St. Petersburg on St. Petersburg stage”, International “Lyceum” festival dedicated A.S. Pushkin, Festival “International Conservatoire Week” and International Theatre Festival “Alexandrinsky”.
Weather in St. Petersburg in November
In November, it gets quite cold: the temperature often drops below zero. Strong, sharp gusts of wind, rain and snow, the first frosts, the very few daylight hours do not create good conditions for outdoor activities. Roads can be messy, with ice and slush. The weather is usually cloudy, and the sun appears very rarely. Make sure to have warm and reliable footwear;waterproof and windproof outer clothing.
Things to do in November
This is yet another month when it is better to enjoy rich cultural life than take walking sightseeing tours. There are hundreds of museums, art centers, galleries and theatres in the city. If you are visiting the city with kids, it might be a good idea to visit St Petersburg Circus or Zoo.
Events in November: International Festival of New Music “Sound Ways”, International Folklore Festival “Interfolk”, Festival of Contemporary Art in the center of Sergei Kuryokhin, festival of youth music performances “Musical Perspective”. Many new exhibitions are usually open during this period in Hermitage, Russian Museum, Erarta Museum, art center “Pushkinskaya-10”, Loft-project “Etaji”, “Artmusa” art community, “Tkachi” creative space and many other small galleries in the city.
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Actually, even though in literature St. Petersburg got a name of the city of rains and fogs with a constantly grey sky over your head, the beauty of the landscape stay untouched. And the summer warmth never forgets about the city. Statistics shows that there are at least 62 summer days per year in St. Petersburg. But in practice the number turns out to be much higher. And the cloudy sky ends up being the perfect frame to the monumental majestic beauty of the North Capital of Russia.
Translation by Polina Polyakova
Edited by Joan Akatukunda