The best time to visit Novosibirsk. When?
The idea to write this post came to me a week ago when I guided a group of Thai tourists. We had planned a great itinerary for 8 hours, including a visit to a nearby village to get an idea of the rural Russia, a visit to Academgorodok to see how people of science live surrounded by the forest, and a lot more. But we had to go to the market and the shopping mall instead as the day was impossibly dull — snow-rain, grey sky, dirty melting snow… Novosibirsk refused to show its best to this Thai group, apart from one of the Beerman restaurants, which are exceptionally good all year round.
But these travelers read about Novosibirsk in a blog of another Thai traveler, who was lucky to come to Novosibirsk on a beautiful December day. It was about -20 that day, it was snowing, but we had a great time exploring the pine forest, and the village, and the city covered in sparkling snow.
So what season is the best for a visit to Novosibirsk? As a guide, I do my best to arrange a perfect tour to any visitor whenever he or she comes. But in this post I’ll try to be fair and impartial.
Winter (mid-November — mid-March). These four months (more or less, it varies from year to year) offer you true Siberia covered with snow. You may be lucky to experience -30 or even -35, but the average winter temperature is between -10 and -20. It can be terribly windy, and relatively warm (up to -10) but windy weather may feel worse than cold (-20 -30) and windless. It gets dark early in November, December and nearly all January, but the day gets pretty long and sunny by late February. if you want to stay out more, the best time is mid-February- mid-March. The sun is bright, in the middle of the day snow is melting, but in the forest it’s still real winter. We usually go cross-country skiing until late March. If you are interested in New Year and Christmas celebrations, the right time is mid-December — mid-January. New Year is celebrated in the night December 31 — January 1, and it might be exciting. People get extraordinary friendly, everyone is congratulating each other and wishes all the best.
Anyway, if you come in winter, be prepared to cold temperatures and don’t forget to take as many warm garments and boots as you can. And it’s hard to stay outside for more than 2 hours,
Spring (Mid-March — late May). The beginning of calendar spring (early March — mid March) is still winter. It can be sunny in the day time, but it’s always below zero in the night, sometimes up to -20 or so. Anyway, as spring progresses, snow starts to melt and gets black, especially in the city and along the roads and streets. On a cloudy day the city looks awful: grey and dull. Even in the downtown it’s terribly wet; the best boots during this season are rubber boots. In the remote city parts and in the countryside you can hardly walk at all: some puddles look like and feel like pools. there is water everywhere in the daytime and ice in the morning. One doesn’t know what to put on, as it’s pretty warm during the daytime and below zero in the night. By mid-April snow melts away, apart from deep in forests and in shadowy places, but it gets terribly dusty because of all the sand, which was used for treating pavements and streets during winter. The city looks better anyway, and on a warm and dry day you can stay out as long as you wish. But if you want to go to the forest — beware! Ticks are especially dangerous April to late June, and forests around the city are full of them. This is the time when you can see life in Novosibirsk as it is, without any decorations.
May is generally a nice time. Leaves are coming, then blossom, and it can be up to +25 on certain occasions. But it can easily be -3 and don’t be surprised to see snow even in the end of May.
Summer (Early June — late August). Ask a local which season he or she prefers, and the answer is nearly always ‘summer’. Perhaps because it’s short short here. Formally it’s three months, but only two of these three months are REAL summer, and the matter is you never know which two this time. Sometimes we have to wear jackets the whole June, and I remember the summer 2013, when it was only +12 on July 1. August is nearly always warm, but nights get pretty cold, up to +5-10 degrees. Anyway, we swim in the river and lakes a lot, every girl has at least 10 summer dresses, we buy sun creams and sunglasses, and all restaurants and cafes make up verandas. There are flowers everywhere, all fountains are open, and you can stay out 24/7. You are destined to see at least a dozen weddings on Friday and Saturday; you can taste fresh strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, Siberian tomatoes and cucumbers in August, and mushrooms all summer long. Ticks get much less active by mid-July and a picnic in the forest is no longer dangerous. This season is perfect to explore the surroundings of the city like Rocks on the Berd and Kolyvan. There are numerous open-air festivals of all sorts, in the city and in the surroundings.
Ice-cream, cold beer, Mojito and Frappe! A perfect time for a visit to Novosibirsk, except for… Summer is summer everywhere, but Siberia is associated with snow and cold, right?
Autumn (Early September — early November).
Early Autumn is perfect here. We call it Indian Summer. September 2016 was exceptional — we swam in the river on September 18! Nature gets bright and colourful: green trees turn yellow and red, flowers still in bloom, clear sky… but don’t be surprised if it rains the day you come; in this case you may need a jacket and even gloves sometimes. October is often rainy, rain often turns to snow by the end of the month. Sometimes you can see amazing things: bright trees and flowers covered with fresh white snow! In September the local markets are full of fresh local fruit, vegetables, berries and mushrooms. Berry-picking and mushroom-picking can be a great experience! But don’t forget warm clothes if you come in October. The closer the calendar winter, the colder it gets.
So which is the best season for a visit to Novosibirsk? It’s always up to you and your preferences!