best ski resorts in russia

The Ultimate Guide To Skiing In Russia

When we say skiing in Russia, what do you think of? Ostentatious bling, moon boots, lycra tight ski gear and grunting in the ski queue? Or do you envision a blistering snowstorm where you can barely see 50cm in front of your face, such blustery cold that going outside might not even be an option? 

The truth is, many of us don’t know much about skiing in Russia. We don’t know much about where the best ski resorts are; we heard of Sochi but barely even understood that is was indeed a region. We didn’t even know that there are some stunning jagged mountains and some of Europes best kept secret spots hidden away in the deepest darkest corner of Siberia. 

Russia, offers some friendly and welcoming family skiing, many resorts boast excellent infrastructure offering a stress-free spot to take the kids. 

So, hold on to your ski jackets and ski pants folks and let’s get to know skiing in Russia a little better. 

Skiing In Russia

We are going to break it down for you, starting first with good things to know about travelling to Russia, everything from snow conditions to what plugs you need. We will then dive into the top ski resorts and isolate what makes them special.

Getting to Russia

Generally, your international flights into the country will be via Moscow, or in some cases St Petersburg Airport (LED), then you will likely be jumping on an internal flight to the various mountains.  Moscow has two airports which make things a little more confusing. The main international airport in Moscow, Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO) is north of the city, with a regionally focused airport called Domodedovo Airport (DME), 1hr drive to the south on the other side of the capital.

Accommodation in Russia

Accommodation in Russia and in particular in the ski resorts will stand out. The Russians are known for their love of the finer things, in the big ski resorts around Sochi, you will notice most of the beds are in 5* fancy spots but at a very reasonable price, so steer into the skid, lean into the turn and enjoy those finer things yourself. Then when you head out to the smaller more rural resorts, you will notice the accommodations are a star or two less than we might be familiar with.

best ski resorts in Russia

Snow Conditions In Russia

As Russia is so large (watch out for the different time zones too, a total of 11 across Russia), it’s tough to isolate what the snow conditions are like from resort to resort. For example,  Krasnaya Polyana is the best resort in Russia for powder, it’s even compared to conditions in Japan! Resorts in the Sochi area have a long season with consistent snowfall until May. But no matter where you go, although the ski season length may vary, the snow falls thick and fast and it’s cold, so gosh darn cold. Layer up, more than you would in Europe, pack extra layers in your backpack and perhaps even consider full-face balaclava in the mid winter as that wind might get you. Or maybe wait until spring…

best ski resorts in Russia

Visa

Be sure you check with your countries government website and head to the visa page or to your country’s embassy in Russia website. Generally everyone outside former soviet nations will require a Visa which is straightforward to obtain but you need a referee of sorts, ie a travel organisation/tour operator and a fixed address. 

Currency

The Russian ruble or rouble is the currency, it’s abbreviated at RUB. Cash is king in more rural parts of Russia, ie some of the smaller resorts it might be a good idea to ensure you can pay for food and beverages with cash. In the larger resorts, you can be sure to use your card for paying for accommodation and bigger ticket items such as your ski pass. 

Plugs

It’s always good to know right, in Russia there are two associated plug types, C and F, whatever that means exactly. Plug type C is the plug which has two round pins and plug type F is the plug which has two round pins, with two earth clips on the side. 

Tipping

Generally in Russia the etiquette is to tip between 10% and 15% of the bill. You should tip in cash, and give it directly to the waiter to ensure they get the cash for their hard work and good service. Many restaurants don’t accept credit cards but also wise to avoid adding extra tip onto your card. 

best ski resorts in Russia

Russian Customs

It’s always good to be respectful when travelling to a new country but it is particularly wise when it comes to Russia. A warm and welcoming country generally, that are excited to introduce tourists to their mountains, it’s still a great idea to keep a few things in mind. 

For example, Russia is still a very traditional society, they observe respectful dress codes (I mean it’s freezing in the winter so you won’t be dressing like you are on the Costa Del Sol) but these dress codes, of smart respectful attire, is adhered to in restaurants. They are also, shall we say, traditional and not as liberal, accepting or open as other Western European nations, so public displays of affection or certain behaviours could get you into trouble, they are rather conservative generally speaking. 

best ski resorts in Russia

Price Ranges Explained

We looked at the price of ski passes, gear hire, food/drink, hotel/Airbnb for each region and assigned a rating based on the average cost of staying for 7 nights and 6 days of skiing in mid- January.

Ski Pass

0-150
€€ 150-250
€€€ 250+

Food

0-10
€€ 10-15
€€€ 15+

Beer

0-4
€€ 4-6
€€€ 6+

Hotel

0-100
€€ 100-150
€€€ 150+

Best Ski Resorts In Russia

Shukolovo, Moskovskaya Oblast

Shukolovo
photo credit to Shukolovo snowboard facebook page

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Where: Moskovskaya Oblast, Western Russian, surrounds Moscow. 

Getting there: 1 hour drive from Moscow or get the subway train which takes 2 hours. 

Ski-Able Terrain: 4km slopes and 5 lifts

Elevation: 210m-250m 

Just an hour from the Russian capital of Moscow, you will find the quaint resort of Shukolovo. The resort is small with limited pistes but it is a fun little resort with plenty of activities to keep you entertained on and off the slopes, with an ice rink, wellness center and a surprising amount of restaurants for the resort size. 

The resort is privately owned and well funded, so it has modern facilities and is well looked after, making it the perfect destination to catch the good snow when there has been a sudden dump or a weekend getaway. 

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Test out your skills on the ice rink in the resort centre as an alternative apres ski.

Dombay, Karachay-Cherkessia

photo credit to Dombay Ski Snowboard facebook

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Where: Karachay-Cherkessia , North Caucasus region of Southern Russia. 

Getting there: Fly to Mineral Waters (Mineralnye Vody) which is 200km away and from there you can drive or get a shuttle bus. 

Ski-Able Terrain: 10km slopes and 12 lifts

Elevation: 1650m- 2600m 

Dombay is a high altitude resort with a snow-sure reputation and can even remain open for skiers and boarders to enjoy the pistes well into the summer months. There is not a large ski area to go after but the snow conditions make up for this, ensuring there is plenty of fun to be had. However, if you are a deep snow enthusiast, you will particularly enjoy Dombaj for its amazing off-piste and backcountry opportunities. But the Dombay is also notorious for avalanches, so those skiers and boarders going further afield, must check the conditions and go with caution. 

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If you are a speed junky, there is a 3km descent which means you can pick up some serious speed and cover some distance. 

Mount Cheget

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Where: Kabardino-Balkaria, North Caucasian Federal District.

Getting there: Fly to Mineral Waters (Mineralnye Vody) which is 200km away and from there you can drive or get a shuttle bus. 

Ski-Able Terrain: 20km slopes and 5 lifts

Elevation:  1980m-3100m 

Mountain Cheget is one of the highest resorts in Russia and is close to the famous Mount Elbrus, so it a great place to visit on a short trip from Elbrus. The resort has a strange feel, as there is a lot of military presence and some local politics with the wealthy, but that doesn’t distract from the incredible snow condition and pistes. The resort’s altitude means you can be sure to have good snow covering, with skiing up to 3100m, and this accentuates the great steep slopes on offer. Cheget attracts the intermediate and expert skiers and boarders because of its challenging pistes and steep terrain, with long descents up to 2.5km at a time. 

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Acclimatise to the altitude here before heading to the dizzying heights of Mount Elbrus.

Rosa Khutor

Горный курорт Роза Хутор
photo credit to Горный курорт Роза Хутор

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Where: Southern Russia, Sochi, Krasnodar Krai

Getting there: The nearest airport is Sochi airport, which is around 1 hour drive away. You can easily hire a car and drive, get a taxi or a transfer bus from airport to resort. 

Ski-Able Terrain: 102km slopes and 26 lifts

Elevation:  940 and 2,320 m

Rosa Khutor is blessed with being the largest ski resort out of the four Krasnaya Polyana resorts with a whopping 102km of slopes to go after. It is also one of the key areas to host the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and it has been a star ever since. It stands out for this awesome snow conditions, not to mention the amount of it. Off the slopes, Rosa Khutor is stand out for its incredible neoclassical architecture, giving the resort a high end and luxury feel, especially with its large and fancy hotels proudly standing in the town. 

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There are state of the art and challenging Olympic-level freestyle facilities for you park lovers looking for a challenge

Bolshoi Vudyavr (Big Wood)

photo credit to Bolshoi Vudyavr (Big Wood) ski resort

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Where: Big Wood, Kirovsk, Oblast Murmansk, Russia

Getting there: The nearest airport is Khibiny airport, which is only 30km south of the resort. You can easily hire a car and drive, get a taxi or a transfer bus from airport to resort. 

Ski-Able Terrain: 26.7km slopes and 8 lifts

Elevation: 380 and 1,047 m

Big Wood is so north, that it is actually located in the Arctic Circle, making it an incredible but very cold place. As you can imagine the temperatures can reach bone tingling and somewhat uncomfortable levels during the height of the winter, but wrap up warm and embrace the unusual conditions. During November to January when there are little daylight hours, you will get to experience illuminated night skiing for longer, which is pretty magical. Although, the resort may not be huge but the natural beauty and interesting climate make it a bucket list destination. 

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Combine a visit to Big Wood with a Northern Lights hunting trip in the nearby city of Murmansk. 

Abzakovo

photo credit to xtremesports.com

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Where: Republic of Bashkortostan

Getting there: Fly to Moscow and then connect to Magnitogorsk, from there you can hire a car or get a cheap taxi for the 50 minute journey to the resort. 

Ski-Able Terrain: 15km slopes and 8 lifts

Elevation: 800 and 1,170 m 

Abzakovo is a small and quaint resort that isn’t quite as vibrant as some of Russia’s Olympic resorts, but this has its benefits. There will be less crowds and quieter slopes for you to fully enjoy and take advantage of what’s on offer. The quiet slopes and relatively easy runs means this resort is great for beginner families looking to learn and develop their skills. Be sure to keep an eye for the weather report and head to Abzakovo for a last minute trip, when the snow has come down to play. But as with most Russian resorts, start preparing for a spontaneous trip from late October to late May, as there is often a long season ahead.

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Once you have experienced the slopes and pisted areas on offer, try snow tubing at the base of the main lift, for a new way of travelling.

Sheregesh

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Where: Sheregesh – Kemerovo is located in the Siberian Federal District (Sibirsky federalny okrug). 

Getting there: Novokuznetsk airport is 2 h 31 min (175.7 km) or you can take the N.3 ski bus or a mountain shuttle to and from resort. 

Ski-Able Terrain:  50km 18lifts

Elevation:  670 and 1,570 m

Sheregesh boasts more than a million tourists every year; Simply one ski pass with three awesome skiing areas. They have something for everyone, 18 ski lifts of various types and more than 50 km of ski trails to keep you absolutely occupied.

There are unlimited opportunities for fans of off-piste skiing with super varied terrain, accessed both in the slack country and by snowmobile (which are for hire). There is also a low avalanche danger which makes it a playground for testing your skills. Ski slopes are suitable for beginners as well as for professional riders.

“The snow cover in Sheregesh remains more than 280 days a year. The ski season lasts from October to May. Moreover, glaciers and snowcaps remaining even in the summer!”

Ridestore Recommends

Get a snowmobile and explore the backcountry with your friends. Don’t forget all the correct safety equipment and observe locals rules. 

Zavyalikha

Zavyalikha

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Where: Chelyabinsk Region (1573 km from Moscow)

Getting there: Mezhdunarodnyy Aeroport Strigino is the nearest airport but its around 15 hours away. Might we suggest a Russian road trip? 

Ski-Able Terrain:  12km and 3 lifts

Elevation:  2200m

The resort is based on the picturesque Zavyalikha Mountains, on which 12 ski slopes were created among the Taiga Forrest, 10 of which are active, and 2 are in the process of development. Among the existing slopes there are tracks of various lengths and difficulty levels. From easy routes for beginners to pistes that will satisfy the needs of the most discerning lover of skiing or snowboarding. Fans of extreme sports can get a dose of adrenaline by riding on the boarder cross-track and on the Snow Park.

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Head to the snowpark. It’s quiet and they have a few features and kickers to build your confidence and skills. 

Bobrovy Log (Beaver Log)

Бобровый лог
photo credit to Бобровый лог facebook

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Where:  Siberian Federal District (Sibirsky federalny okrug). 

Getting there: Easy peasy! Aeroport Podkamennaya Tunguska is only 15 minutes away. You can fly there via Moscow and jump on the ski bus. 

Ski-Able Terrain:  10km of slopes and 4 lifts

Elevation:  167 and 517 m.

Bobrovy Log has a super long ski season thanks to the generous snow coverage which also enables skiing in the summertime too! They may only have 10km but they professionally maintain their slopes ensuring a smooth ride every time. The main Cable car also provides access to the Stolby Nature Reserve observation point for panoramic photo ops as well as hiking trails in the spring and summer. For apres ski, why not head to the ice rink!

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Jump on the Roedelbahn an old school style, downhill forest roller coaster. 

Sobolinaya Gora (Sable Mountain)

source unknown, let us know!

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Where: Irkutsk Oblast

Getting there: International Airport Irkutsk is just 2 h 50 min (152 km)

And there are plenty of car hire options

Ski-Able Terrain:  15km slopes and 7lifts

Elevation:  1,004 m

The development of the slopes of Mount Sobolinaya, located in the immediate vicinity of the city of Baikalsk, began back in 1969, when enthusiasts of extreme sports began building and developing in the area. We are sure glad they did and Sobolinaya Gora boasts year-round skiing and great infrastructure.  A minimal but modern lift system and great slopes make this a perfect weekend getaway if you happen to be staying in the nearby cosmopolitan city of Baikalsk. 

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Sobolinaya Gora is home to several apres ski bars! Win!

Solnechnaya Dolina (Sun Valley)

Source unkown, let us know

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Where: Chelyabinsk Oblast (Ural Federal District)

Getting there: Sun Valley is conveniently located west of the city of Miass where Chelyabinsk Airport is only 98km away. 

Ski-Able Terrain:  8km slopes and 9 lifts

Elevation:  1132 ft – 1886 ft

Sun Valley as it’s more commonly known is one of the most family-friendly ski resorts in Russia. They have great hotels, chilled eateries and moderately difficult and mainly easy slopes, ideal for teaching your little ones.  In addition to the 12 alpine downhill runs, they also boast a toboggan run and a cross-country ski run which is excellent exercise and a fab way to vary the trip. Highlights for freestylers are the cross-country runs, the fun park and the large halfpipe. Only draw back apart from the very minimal ski terrain availability is the fact the season is very short, averaging only a few months. They do have some slopes that are floodlit and covered by artificial snow almost year-round that stays open until 9pm. However, if you are a big rider who wants a long season of variable terrain, it might not be for you. 

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You have to try your hand at snowboard/ski cross on the internationally-famed track

Krasnaya Polyana

photo credit to Rixos Krasnaya Polyana Sochi facebook

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Where: located in Krasnaya Polyana (Sochi) (Southern Russia, Krasnodar)

Getting there: It could not be easier to get to Krasnaya, it’s just 37 min (40.8 km) away from Sochi airport with regular ski buses running plus easy car hire. 

Ski-Able Terrain:  13 ski lifts and 30km

Elevation: 960 and 2,172 m.

Krasnaya Polyana village is the home of the Sochi Olympics in 2014, without saying anything else you know that that resort is going to be epic. We are talking perfectly groomed piste, we are talking modern and efficient lift systems, amazing hotels, bars and restaurants plus excellent facilities.  Krasnaya Polyana can offer you the full package, ski schools for the learners and world-class steep challenging slopes to put your skills to the test. The resort atmosphere is super sophisticated too, a little Russain glam and refinery. 

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The resort is home to some awesome off-piste terrain for heliboarding!

best ski resorts in Russia

That’s all for now folks. We hope this has created  a better picture in your minds about what Russia has to offer skiing wise. The resorts are waiting for your visit, go and grab your adventure buddies and your kit and head into the unknown. 

best ski resorts in Russia

PS

Hey Riders, note from your gal Angelica here. All information was correct at the time of writing through research and extensive knowledge and experience. However, things change during different periods in the season and some websites offer out of date information and links may change.

Maybe you have some better information to offer or any addendum or changes to make, in which case, feel free to email me on angelica@ridestore.com, and we can consider adding them in! Let me know. . .

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