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If you’re planning on going all out to embrace the sub-zero temperatures this winter, you might as well do it in the company of those who do it the best.

1. Russia

That’s right, the Russians. Bundle yourself up in a heavy fur coat. Invest in an ushanka, those famous Russian hats with the earflaps that keep your noggin nice and toasty (they also offer nearly as much protection as a helmet if you slip on the ice and bash your head).

Then drink a few fiery shots of vodka with every meal and you’re all set: warm and half cut. What better way to spend a day sightseeing in the snow, eh?

Muscovites themselves aren’t fazed by the cold. Even in the depths of their winter, which plummets to as low as -10°C in January, you’ll still see the streets packed with shoppers and the parks full of people taking leisurely afternoon strolls, everyone navigating slippery patches of ice without so much as a casual glance downwards.

In fact the only places that aren’t as crowded as usual, you’ll be pleased to hear, are the tourist sights.

Take your time wandering round St Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin and Red Square and snap plenty of pictures of Moscow’s most magnificent buildings adorned in snow.

When you’ve finished with the conventional sightseeing you can join the rest of the city’s hardy residents in more wintry pursuits. Ice skating on the 15,000sqm rink at Gorky Park is the quintessential Moscow winter weekend activity.

Entrance is £1.60 and you can hire skates on site.

Or you could visit the Gallery of Russian Ice Sculpture, which contains carvings of animals, literary heroes and scenes from Russian fairytales.

The fee of £7 includes the loan of a thermal vest and foot covers to keep you from freezing.

Had more than your fair share of shivers now? Visit Moscow’s most famous banya to warm up again. The Sandunovskiye Baths are part bathhouse, part social club and have separate sections for men and women.

It costs just £12 for a hot soak, and it’ll be like those snowy streets outside don’t even exist.

russianmuseums.info; sanduny.ru

2. Lapland, Finland

Bear and other wildlife might disappear during the winter months, for a season spent snuggling away in hibernation. But not reindeers.

They’re happy being out and about in Finnish Lapland’s forests, despite the chilly -30°C temperatures.

The cold months are the best time to get up close and personal with these hardy beasts, so go for a reindeer-driven sleigh ride in the Arctic Circle. A 3-5hr safari is priced at about £150pp.

laplandfinland.com


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