Winter wonderland: 5 weekend escapes near Moscow

Imagine staying overnight in a hut, spending a cozy evening warming your feet against a Russian stove after a refreshing walk in the woods.

Imagine staying overnight in a hut, spending a cozy evening warming your feet against a Russian stove after a refreshing walk in the woods.

Alexey Malgavko/Sputnik
The legendary Russian winter is upon us. Best known for ravaging foreign invaders such as Napoleon’s Grand Army in 1812, and then the Nazis in 1941, the Russian winter is actually an immense source of fun and entertainment. Here’s how you can spend a splendid weekend without driving too far from Moscow.

Winter in Moscow is often magical and unforgettable, but escaping the city for the countryside is an even more exhilarating experience. Here is a list of places and activities that will enhance your winter experience.

  1. A night in an authentic Russian village
The abundance of eco-tourism venues in the Moscow Region keeps the prices in check.

Eco-tourism is a fashionable trend these days. Hipsters and common Russians admire the experience alike, and there’s good reason why. Imagine staying overnight in a hut, spending a cozy evening warming your feet against a Russian stove after a refreshing walk in the woods and a dinner made from fresh and natural food. Then, end the evening by relaxing in the banya (don’t confuse it with the saunas that you find in the city).

National hero and military leader, Alexander Suvorov, used to say that it’s worth selling your last pair of pants to have a sip of vodka after a good banya. Today, there’s no need to sell your pants. The abundance of eco-tourism venues in the Moscow Region keeps the prices in check.

Some options:

  1. Dimino Bath Compound

Fees:

3,600 rubles ($60) a night in a hut for two; but only an additional 350 rubles for a third person.

Banya is 1,700 rubles ($30) per hour for up to 12 people.

A night in a hayloft – 350 rubles ($6)

Website (in Russian)

  1. Babin Dvor

A night in a Russian hut costs 6,000 rubles ($100) for six people; a cottage accommodating up to 40 people will cost 62,000 rubles ($1.000) per night; there are also in-between options.

The banya fee costs 2,000 rubles ($35) for 15 persons; and the venue offers countless services including organization of weddings (the fee is individually discussed);

Website (in Russian)

  1. Kolkunovo

A hunter’s hut rents for 5,500 rubles a night for two, and 17,000 rubles for a 5-night stay for two.

Renting a hut for four persons costs 9,000 rubles ($95), and 21,000 rubles ($355), respectively; for 10 people the cost varies between 15,000 rubles ($250), and 43,000 rubles ($730).

New Year’s holiday season (Jan. 1 – 8) lifts the bar up in the sky;

Banya costs 5,000 rubles ($85) for 2.5 hours for up to 10 people;

Website (in Russian)

  1. Olgino

A night in a two-floor hut accommodating up to four people costs 3,500 rubles ($60) on weekdays, and 5,000 rubles ($85) on weekends. Bringing your pet with you will cost an additional 300 rubles ($5).

Website

  1. Van’kovo Eco-Farm

This place rents out huts of various sizes in the range of 18,000 rubles ($305) a night for 8-10 people, and 6,000 rubles ($100) per night for one room in a three-room hut.

Website

  1. ‘Kataniya’
Skiing, sledding, dogsledding, horse-sledding: it’s all called kataniya in Russian, and we love it.

Skiing, sledding, dogsledding, horse-sledding: it’s all called kataniya in Russian, and we love it. There was a time when kataniya was the only entertainment people had, especially in the snowy countryside. Today, it’s only one of many winter activities, but Russians love it no less.

If you prefer skiing, it’s better to head to Sochi, but if you only have one night free, then the slopes of the Moscow Region are a decent alternative. Here are some options for downhill skiing:

  1. Downhill skiing at Luzhki.club

1,500 rubles ($25) per day of skiing during the week, and 3,000 rubles ($50) on weekends;

Website

  1. Cross-country skiing is common in the Moscow Region; just pick a route featured on this website (in Russian);
  2. Dog sledding

Husky Park ‘Severny veter’ (North wind)

The park charges 500 rubles ($10) for one lap of dog sledding, and 1,800 rubles ($30) for four laps; a passionate Instagrammer will have to fork out between 1,000 rubles ($17) and 3,200 rubles ($55) for a photo shoot with the dogs.

Website (in Russian)

Kennel Artyomov

A 10-15 minute ride costs 1,500 rubles ($25) on weekdays; 2,500 rubles ($42) on weekends; a 20 and 25 minute ride costs 3,000 rubles ($50), and 5,000 rubles ($85), respectively.

Website (in Russian)

  1. 4. If dog sledding does not sound authentic enough, try the deer at Oleni v Balashikhe (in Russian) or at Kochevnik Ethno-park (in Russian). Prices are individually negotiated.

There are countless options for sledding in and around Moscow; just choose your type.

  1. Hunting
Today, anyone can bring back a few hunting trophies to his Moscow apartment.

Common perception says that hunting is an expensive countryside activity of the Russian nobility. But this stereotype is wrong. Today, anyone can bring back a few hunting trophies to his Moscow apartment, and there are plenty of hunting venues offering services to tourists. This pastime is not cheap, but it’s a perfect choice for a day with friends. To enjoy this activity a person must obtain a rifle. Here is instruction how to do so.

Some hunting venues in the Moscow Region:

Lesnyie Ugodya Safari Park (in Russian)

Karabin Hunting Club (in Russian)

Pod Aistom estate (in Russian)

Fees vary drastically depending on the animal and the season, adding up to a few thousand dollars for hoofed animals, and a few hundred dollars for waterfowl.

  1. Shopping at winter markets
This is a relaxing and fun way to pass winter weekends.

Nothing beats a Christmas market. Celebrations in the open air, bliny, mulled wine or hot tea, and shops galore.

This is a relaxing and fun way to pass winter weekends, especially if you’ve not yet bought all your Christmas gifts.

Some options:

  1. Chief fair at the Sovetskaya Ploschad in Sergiyev Posad(in Russian)
  2. Russkie Sezony at Sergiyev Posad(in Russian)
  3. Kolomna New Year’s fair

Address: Kolomna district, Pirochi village, Central Street, 5B

  1. Christmas Bazaar on the Trade Square

Address: Moscow Region, Dmitrov, Trading Square

There are no entrances fees, and the amount you spend depends on your appetite. Normally, this is one of the most affordable weekends out.

  1. Visiting estates
The Vorontsovs-Dashkovs Estate. Architect Bazhenov. Moscow Region. Russia

The Moscow Region is filled with Imperial era country estates of all sorts. They are magnificent all year round, but the winter landscape gives them more charm. Since few people visit Moscow Region estates in winter you’ll have the chance to walk around in solitude, as if it was yours. The cost is often free of charge, or maybe there’s a negligible fee.

Some options:

  1. Usad’ba Valuyevo
  2. Usad’ba Bykovo. Address: Kolkhoznaya St., Bykovo, Russia
  3. Ostafyevo State Museum
  4. Marfino Estate.

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