Everything’s a beach

Maybe it’s because summers can be short here (in St. Petersburg, define summer), you’ll often find people happy to soak in the sun in random public places. Whether it’s grassy, rocky or sandy, someone has spread out a blanket and is laying star-fish style in their bikini. One of the most famous places for getting tanned is the “beach” by Peter and Paul’s Fortress.

Flaunt your Speedos

Always wanted to show off your Olympic-style swimwear? Russian beaches will welcome you with scores of enthusiasts just like you. It seems like the concept of board shorts is foreign here. In fact, those who own them are likely to take them off before going swimming – not naked, but in something drastically tighter.

Get smothered in sour cream

If by some miracle you manage to get sunburnt, don’t be surprised when your friends offer to frost your barbecued parts with sour cream. It’s widely believed that this staple ingredient of Russian food has magical moisturizing powers and will keep your skin from peeling. Whether that’s true, or it just feels cool becomes it comes from a fridge, count it as an all-natural after sun lotion.

Escape to the dacha

Spending most of their time in relatively close quarters, Russians will jump on the chance to spend a weekend – or a week – at their summer home “the dacha”. It may be a wooden barn or a two-story mansion with a pool, but it holds a promise of shashlik (Russian-style barbecue), forest mushrooms and berries, and soul-searching discussions deep into the night. If you’re lucky, there might also be a banya, a Russian version of sauna, that will leave you clean and exhausted. Be prepared to do some weeding, and bring mosquito spray.

Invest in a packable down jacket or at least a vest

You thought down was for winter? Welcome to summer in St. Petersburg. The weather can turn on a dime, and evenings can be chilly even on the warmest days. Trust us, you’ll blend right in with the metro crowd even in July.

Disclaimer: Russia is vast. Experiences (and weather) may vary.