Allowing for social distancing inside the Northern Capital, ice skating is one of the most available and famous activities in winter St. Petersburg. If you have never had the chance to visit an ice rink and don’t know what to expect, check out our detailed guide to make your first step on ice confidently. There’s no need to sacrifice an already rare weekend to road trips as ice rinks are located in almost every district waiting for you to spontaneously treat yourself to an active evening. For me, the main advantages here are that no special clothes or an athletic body are required to feel the magic of ice (maybe a bit of luck and your friend’s assistance if you learn it from scratch).The prices of a ticket fall between 150 and 500 rubles, excluding skates renting. If you’re a lucky owner of a pair of skates, search for hockey areas near your house called ‘korobka’ to skate for free and without time limits.
For kids and adults who miss the excitement of riding down slopes and forgot the taste of snow, tubing may literally be the most fun to have sitting down. The tubes themselves are also called donuts, but in Russia they are widely known as ‘vatrushkas’. Here comes an indisputable pro – this activity requires no special skills (maybe except for the ability to take a safe position in case of an unsuccessful drifting) but energizes you for at least a week. Take your friend with you to race, and let the loser drag the vatruska up the hill. Renting a tube will cost you about 400 rubles a day.
All kinds of sleds
The proximity of St. Petersburg to the Finnish border makes some adjustments to traditional Russian winter sports in this region. One of these is kicksledding. The kicksled or the Finnish sled looks like a tall sled with metal runners and a skating frame attached to the seat. They are jokingly called IKEA chairs due to their Scandinavian design. The sled is driven by kicking the ground with your feet. The most exciting skiing takes place on a dense layer of snow or ice, where the sled reaches fantastic speeds. Renting kicksleds for an hour will cost you 200 rubles on average.
For those who've mastered all the basic skills and are looking for something outlandish, dog sledding will definitely become an unusual adventure. Take the chance to ride in a sleigh accompanied by the charming furry four-legged friends – huskies, rescue dogs, or other arctic breeds to enjoy the calmness of your surroundings, the breathing of the high-spirited dogs, and the swish of the sled runners. Bet these are memories for a lifetime… Although riding such sleighs is not a cheap pleasure – a one-kilometer long ride will cost about 2,500 rubles, but this will obviously save you a trip to Siberia or Alaska!
Don’t make the mistake of ignoring the invitations of your Russian friends to go cross-country skiing. In Russia, this activity has been considered a traditional family recreation for generations. It's cheaper than snowboarding and is unpretentious in regard to venues – you can ski not only at a resort but also in the nearest park. In the Northern regions, during especially frosty seasons, skis are used as means of transport, when car engines won’t start because of the cold. Gather a group of enthusiasts (one local included who will guide you not to get lost) to try forest skiing – a unique opportunity to simultaneously get in shape and behold the beauty of quiet snowy landscapes. I’d also recommend making your favorite tea to warm up when you take a break. You can also go alpine skiing at pretty much the same places you would use to snowboard. In comparison to hasteless cross-country skiing, it requires more energy, risk, and money. Rental and ski pass prices are comparable to those of snowboarding.
Let's pump up the adrenaline! If one of your New Year resolutions was to learn something new and cool, go for snowboarding without a second thought. Although this sport has been on the scene only for several years in Russia, St. Petersburg, in particular, boasts snowboarding areas with various terrains for both beginners and experienced snowboarders, performing mind-blowing tricks. The closest ski resort – Okhta Park, is only a 20 minutes ride from the city and has zones even for those who’ve seen snowboards only on pictures before. If this is your first time, hire an instructor to teach you all the basics. Renting equipment, which includes bindings, boots, and the snowboard itself, will cost around 800-1000 rubles an hour on weekdays. Resorts equipped with ski lifts will charge you 80-250 rubles per lift. That’s a fair price for the boundless freedom you feel while smoothing down the mount slopes.
To get fully packed for winter adventures, check out the tips from international students on how to survive Russian winter and take advantage of our strategies to keep your spirits up during this snowy season.