Tag Archives: russia

St. Basil Cathedral, Moscow Russia

Why You Should Go to Moscow in Winter

We all learned this lesson from our parents: Just because everyone else does something doesn’t mean you should do it too. When it comes to travel, that’s especially true. Who wants to follow the masses and be herded like sheep through the most popular tourist attractions at the most popular times of the year? No one—because in travel, the converse of that old lesson is true as well: Just because most people dismiss a destination at a certain time of year, that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it too. Places you wouldn’t think about visiting in their off-seasons are sometimes the exact places you should be exploring—offering better deals and a more authentic experience.

Moscow in winter is that kind of place. “The city is hip and happening, with a vibrant food scene,” says Greg Tepper, our Trusted Travel Expert for Russia—“and you won’t be nearly as cold as you think.” As for safety, “There are no security issues—that is, beyond the pickpockets you find in other major European cities such as Paris and London,” says Greg. “The days of gang violence in Moscow are long over (1990s) and there hasn’t been a terrorist incident in Moscow in many years. There simply is no anti-American feeling on the streets of Moscow, and visitors from the U.S. are treated just as any other travelers are.”

Greg is a big fan of visiting Moscow in the winter—so much so that he’s offering a complimentary special enticement for WendyPerrin.com readers: If you reach out to Greg via his WP trip-request form for a trip to Moscow (or St. Petersburg), you get your choice of a room upgrade at one of his recommended hotels, a half-day private expert guide, or a world-class theater performance.*

Here, Greg shares his top five reasons for visiting the Russian capital during the cold season.

  1. The value doubles

“The Russian ruble is down more than 50 percent against the U.S. dollar. In the winter and on the weekends, the hotels offer their lowest rates of the year. That compounds the savings to make Moscow more affordable than it has been in more than 20 years. Top Moscow hotels cost less than $370 a night, including 18 percent VAT and full breakfast!”

  1. Theater is at its best

“Travelers go to Russia for world-class opera, ballet and symphony. These are all at their best in the winter, which was always the ‘social season’ there. A wonderful bonus is that Russian operas are sung in Russian with English supertitles in the theater, making them so easy for English speakers to follow. (Italian and other foreign-language operas have Russian supertitles.)”

  1. Sites are less crowded—by far

“The summer crowds are gone by November, and Moscow’s world-class museums are empty.”

  1. The Dr. Zhivago effect

“Honestly, who doesn’t dream about snowy sleigh rides with a mink blanket, vodka, and mittens to keep you warm? No one ever forgets an evening stroll through Red Square with snowflakes drifting atop St. Basil’s Cathedral.”

  1. Russian hospitality means really warm buildings!

“You can stop worrying about being cold in Moscow in the winter. In fact, if you wear long underwear indoors, you’ll likely find yourself uncomfortably warm and start looking for a window to open to let in more cool air! Russians like it this way, so bring a big, warm coat (preferably fur, which is very much in fashion and not taboo there) and be prepared to take it off and check it at the coat-check the moment you walk indoors.”

What other destinations do you think are worth visiting in their off-season?


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

*Offer valid for travel between October 1–March 31, 2017. Suites are not included in the hotel upgrade offer.

Private Villa, Transcoso, Brazil

Five Expensive Destinations That Will Be Cheaper in 2015

The dollar is once again king: Since the Great Recession, the Unites States’ economy has recovered better than any other major country’s: At the start of 2015, our currency was at an eleven-year high compared to those of other major countries, while the euro was at a nine-year low. Local currencies are down at least 10% against the January 2014 dollar in many popular travel destinations, including Mexico, Argentina, the euro zone, Sweden, Norway, and much of Africa. Parts of the world that not long ago were unaffordable for many are now within closer reach. Here are five places where the strong dollar will carry you surprisingly far in 2015:


Temple monks in Wakayama, Japan

Temple monks in Wakayama, Japan. Courtesy Paco

Since 2012, the yen has decreased in value by a whopping 43%. Hotels have raised their rates a bit, says Duff Trimble, our Trusted Travel Expert for Japan, but not nearly enough to keep up. This makes the country a bargain compared to what it cost to travel there a few years ago. You’ll find the best deals outside the peak periods for cherry blossoms (early April) and fall foliage (late November). Game for a last-minute getaway? Why not try skiing in Japan this winter.

To get the best possible trip, Ask Wendy.


Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia

Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia. Courtesy Cherri Briggs

South Africa & Namibia
A weakening rand and strong U.S. dollar mean that these two African nations are a steal for American travelers right now (the Namibian dollar is tied to the South African rand). Two years ago, $1 bought you about 8 rand; today, the rate is above 11.50. Over the course of a five-night safari, that difference could save a couple more than $3,500 at Royal Malewane, a luxury lodge situated on a private game reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park.

Read Insider’s Guides from some of our Trusted Travel Experts for Africa: Nina Wennersten and Dan Saperstein’s Insider’s Guide to South Africa Safaris, and Cherri Briggs’s Insider’s Guide to Namibia

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request forms to contact Nina and Dan, or Cherri.


Evening View, London, England

The view from Victoria Tower of the Houses of Parliament, the River Thames, Westminster and Westminster Bridge, towards the East as dusk is falling. Courtesy Visit Britain

Yes, the dollar buys more British pounds than it has in over a year. But that’s not the only reason that there’s value to be found in this perennially expensive city, says our Trusted Travel Expert for the United Kingdom, Jonathan Epstein. Several new five-star hotels have opened recently, and the competition has driven prices down: At the Milestone Hotel overlooking Kensington Palace, for instance, your fourth night is free (in a suite, the third night comes at no charge); at the Athenaeum Hotel in Mayfair, Epstein’s clients get 50% off a second room during certain times of year.

Read Jonathan’s Insider advice for London Heathrow overnight layovers.

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request form to contact Jonathan.


Gardens of Peter, St. Petersburg, Russia

Gardens of Peter, St. Petersburg, Russia. Courtesy Greg Tepper

With “diminished crowds and dramatically lower prices,” reports our Trusted Travel Expert for Russia, Greg Tepper, “now is the best time to visit Russia in many, many years.” Despite the current political climate, urban Russians are generally pro-Western, and personal safety is no more a concern than in Rome or Paris. If you want the best value, advises Tepper, start booking now: Hotels are at a huge discount, but many have already warned Tepper that they may soon start quoting rates in dollars or euros. Dance lovers would be wise to plan a trip during the Mariinsky International Ballet Festival in mid-March, when acclaimed dancers from around the world perform together in St. Petersburg. Tepper’s three-night programs to Moscow and St. Petersburg are the perfect introductions to these legendary cities; for WendyPerrin.com readers, the packages (including luxury hotel accommodations with breakfast, airport transfers, and one day’s private guided touring) start at $1,675 per person in Moscow and $1,200 per person in St. Petersburg—about 25% off what the same would have cost last year.

Read Greg’s Insider’s Guides to Moscow and to St. Petersburg.

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request form to contact Greg.


Even in the quiet year shoehorned between hosting duties for the World Cup and the Olympics, Brazil is a hot destination—but also a more affordable one for Americans, thanks to the most favorable exchange rate in almost a decade. From the megalopolis of Rio de Janeiro to the jungles of the Amazon, prices are about 20% lower than even last year, and the Brazilian real isn’t predicted to strengthen until 2016.

Read our Trusted Travel Expert Paul Irvine’s Insider’s Guides to Rio de Janeiro and to Trancoso, Brazil.

To get the best possible trip, use Wendy’s trip-request form to contact Paul.


Where are you headed this year?