Things to do in St Petersburg
Brave the Russian saunas
The Russian bathhouses are quite an experience – enthusiasts enjoy a sweltering steam bath followed by a freezing dip into ice-cold water. Traditionalists go further, beating their skin with birch twigs to stimulate circulation. Whack your back at Yamskie Banya (tel +7 812 312 5836; www.yamskie.ru) and don't forget your slippers, soap and towel.
Enjoy a fairytale sleigh ride
During the Farewell to the Russian Winter festival, traditional horse-drawn troika (sleigh) operators gather at parks across the city and pull passengers through the snow. For a fairytale setting, head over to Pavlovsk Palace (30km (19 miles) south of St Petersburg. The beautiful grounds offer a ride to remember.
Find an electric atmosphere at FC Zenit
St Petersburg is home to FC Zenit (http://fc-zenit.ru/), one of Russia's most successful football teams. Currently based at Petrovsky Stadium, the open stands offer little protection from the weather but boisterous chanting and the odd flare make for an electric atmosphere. Catch a game before the new Piter Arena triples their capacity.
Make the most of the natural ice rinks
With temperatures regularly dipping below -20°C (-4°F) during the winter in St Petersburg, there's no better way to warm up than ice-skating. Many parks with ponds rent out ice skates and there are artificial rinks too, but the best venue is the natural rink on the traffic-free Yelagin Island (http://elaginpark.org).
Make the most of the snow with some winter sports
With all that snow, it would be disappointing to miss out on some skiing action. Tuutari Park (tel +7 812 380 5062; www.tyytari.ru), an hour south of St Petersburg, boasts five slopes, sledge runs and inner tube rides. It is a prime spot for winter sports, and the resort also offers lessons for all abilities plus equipment hire.