Our Favorite Ways to Enjoy an Unconventional Winter in Russia, Poland & Europe

Our Favorite Ways to Enjoy an Unconventional Winter in Russia, Poland & Europe

Remarkable Russia, Poland, and the fascinating countries of Central Europe are wonderful destinations to visit during the height of summer, when sun-drenched climes, al fresco dining, and fantastic festivals are in full swing. But those willing to brave the chill and travel here in the winter months are often rewarded with magnificent marvels and unconventional experiences all their own.

Red Square in Moscow

Snow dusting Red Square in Moscow
Photo credit: Jonathan Irish

Under a blanket of fresh snow, these countries are breathtakingly regal in winter, and ring with the romance and nostalgia of a bygone era. Gorgeous medieval towns and villages are illuminated by dazzling lights and holiday markets, lines at popular attractions and museums are nearly nonexistent, and pubs and restaurants are at their most charming and cozy best. And there’s plenty of ways for both grownups and kids to revel in a bit of frigid fun in the frosty cities and crisp countryside, from scenic sleigh rides to toasty mugs of mulled wine over a boisterous bonfire.

Experience an Unconventional Winter with MIRMake this the year you celebrate an unconventional and adventurous winter holiday with MIR. With more than 30 years of specialty travel experience, we know how to do winter right in RussiaPoland, Central Europe, and beyond.

Here’s what awaits you on a one-of-a-kind winter trip with MIR:

  1. Celebrate New Year’s in St. Petersburg as you dine in a private Russian home with newfound friends.
  2. Discover Christmas Traditions of Poland with a brisk sleigh ride followed by roasting kielbasa on a bonfire and enjoying a festive tasting of Polish vodka.
  3. Venture across Russia by private train on a deluxe Trans-Siberian winter rail journey.
  4. Cross the Arctic Circle by private train, searching for Northern Lights and visiting a snow hotel.
  5. Embark on a luxury private train heading toward a dazzling New Year’s Eve party in Vienna.
  6. Design your own Winter Experience with the help of MIR travel experts. Interested in a custom family trip or private travel? Check out MIR’s Flexible Essential Private Trips, or contact us to design a custom journey just for you!


1. Celebrate New Year’s in St. Petersburg

Russian Winter Wonderland: New Year’s in St. Petersburg is a classic journey to Russia’s political and cultural capitals of Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as a few days spent in the Golden Ring towns of Vladimir and Suzdal, and takes place over the most festive time of year — New Year’s. It’s the favorite holiday of the year, replete with parties, presents and champagne toasts.

No one loves New Year’s like the Russians do. This celebratory tour includes:

  • Ringing in the New Year in a private St. Petersburg home with newfound friends.
  • A night at the opera or ballet at one of St. Petersburg’s prestigious theaters.
  • A sleigh ride through Suzdal.

Experience the beauty of a Russian winter, visit grand palaces, museums and churches, discover Russia’s warm hospitality and cherished holiday traditions, and explore three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

(click on photo to see larger version)

2. Discover Poland’s Heartwarming Christmas Traditions

MIR’s small group tour, Christmas Traditions of Poland, is a rich wintry journey that brings you close to the warm heart of Poland’s long-standing customs:

  • Learn how to make traditional Polish-style pierogi, Poland’s national dish, with your own private chef.
  • Gather with a Polish family in their home for a traditional Wigilia, the Christmas Eve vigil and dinner, where you can sample 12 different traditional dishes.
  • Browse the brilliant stalls of Krakow’s Christmas Market, looking for hand crafted ornaments, traditional costumes and seasonal treats.
  • Drive into the foothills of the Tatra Mountains to discover the timber architecture and savory cuisine of the Polish highlanders, or gorale.
  • Take a tour of one of Krakow’s small factories where Poland’s famous hand-blown glass Christmas ornaments are created.
  • After a brisk sleigh ride, warm yourself at a bonfire, roasting kielbasa and enjoying a festive tasting of Polish vodka and hot mulled wine.

(click on photo to see larger version)


3. Experience Winter Magic in Seven of Russia’s Time Zones

Glide across seven time zones by deluxe train between Moscow and Vladivostok on the Trans-Siberian Winter Wonderland rail journey by private train. This fascinating Russian odyssey features tours of nine locations, including the charming city of Suzdal in Russia’s Golden Ring and Siberia’s Lake Baikal.

Frozen in winter, Lake Baikal is the perfect location to experience the thrill of an ice ride. Choose an exciting snowmobile ride or opt to ride a dog sled. Try your hand at ice fishing and enjoy the freshly caught fish quick-smoked in a mobile smokehouse and served warm – delicious!

Relax in the comfort of Russia’s most exclusive private train, the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, on the eastbound or westbound departure between Moscow and Vladivostok.

(click on photo to see larger version)


4. Northern Lights & A Snow Hotel

Join a band of rail voyagers on this unconventional rail journey offering, Arctic Explorer by Private Train. Venture above the Arctic Circle on a winter hunt for the spectacular Northern Lights in the warmth and comfort of a private train. Head north from frosty St. Petersburg and cross the Arctic Circle near the Norwegian town of Kirkenes, squarely within the Aurora Borealis Zone.

During this journey aboard the comfortable Golden Eagle private train:

  • Chase the Northern Lights through the tundra.
  • Visit the cool Snow Hotel, built of snow and furnished with ice sculptures.
  • Celebrate New Year’s Eve in style, complete with champagne and caviar.
  • Stop in the ice-free Arctic port of Murmansk, the Golden Ring towns of Vladimir and Suzdal, and end in magnificent Moscow.
  • Visit four fabulous UNESCO Sites along the way.

(click on photo to see larger version)


5. Enjoy a Brilliant New Year’s Celebration in Vienna

Enjoy the pleasures of Old World rail travel on a festive holiday rail journey, New Year’s in Vienna by Private Train. Glide in style on a circular route from Budapest, Hungary, where layer upon layer of civilizations have flowered and faded, on to a date with a brilliant New Year’s celebration in magnificent Vienna, Austria.

Encounter four spectacular Central European countries and five UNESCO World Heritage Sites along the rails as you roll from one fascinating city to the next, plus:

  • Tour Budapest’s Royal Palace, the largest baroque palace in Hungary, used by Franz Josef of Austria as his opulent summer home in the 19th century.
  • Visit the Helikon Castle Museum, its 111-room main building once home to one of the wealthiest and most influential families in Hungary’s history.
  • Take a walk in the heart of Old Town Vienna, the Innere Stadt, admiring its main religious edifice, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, as well as many of Vienna’s most renowned sights, such as the Rathaus (Town Hall), the Burgtheater, the University, and the fabulous Hofburg Palace.
  • Explore Prague’s famous 14th century Charles (Karel) Bridge, as well as the old Jewish Quarter with its seven synagogues – remnants of the old Jewish settlement.
  • Attend a performance at the grand Prague National Theater, symbol of the Czech National Revival.
  • Admire Kosice’s Cathedral of St. Elizabeth, a 15th century gothic building that is the largest church in Slovakia.

(click on photo to see larger version)


6. Winter Your Way!

Want to create a completely customized winter adventure just for you and yours? Leave the planning to MIR and enjoy a trip of a lifetime this holiday season.

Experience the highlights of a real Russian winter on a family-friendly holiday celebration. Ice skating in the middle of the city, a private New Year’s Eve get-together in a St. Petersburg home, dog-sledding across a frozen Lake Baikal, and warm welcomes at world-class museums, restaurants, and performances are all featured in a holiday package for your family to unwrap at its leisure.

Special family features available on our private tours include (but aren’t limited to):

  • An exclusive tour of the Gold Rooms of the Hermitage Museum.
  • Red Square and the Kremlin’s Armory Museum, where the czars’ collection of Fabergé eggs is on display.
  • A performance of the classic ballet, The Nutcracker, at a world-class Russian theater such as the Mariinsky or the Bolshoi.
  • Ice skating at a special winter rink set up on Red Square.
  • Izmailovo Market, bursting with Russian handicrafts, Soviet memorabilia, amber jewelry and lacquer miniatures.
  • A ride on a horse-drawn sleigh through a countryside village.
  • Gliding over frozen Lake Baikal on a dogsled pulled by Siberian Huskies.
  • Sampling Siberian specialties in the home of a Baikal village family.

Call 1-800-424-7289 for more information, or complete our quick Custom Travel Inquiry form.

(click on photo to see larger version)


Celebrate the Wonders of Winter with MIR
Ready to celebrate the adventure with a uniquely Siberian twist Photo: Douglas Grimes

Sipping iced vodka through straws, Baikal style
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

MIR is celebrating over 30 years of connecting travelers with fascinating destinations at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. MIR’s full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”

More than 30 years of travel expertise means that the specialists at MIR know how to get there, what to do while you’re there, and how to enhance your trip in each of our destinations.

Wondering which destination or itinerary is right for you? In addition to browsing the pages of our free catalog, you can narrow down your choices online using our Trip Finder and the Destination Map. Or chat with our Private Journeys department to have a trip handcrafted to your interests, pace and budget.

Contact MIR today at info@mircorp.com or 1-800-424-7289.

(Top photo: A sleigh ride through the Tatra mountains in Poland. Photo credit: Polish National Tourist Board.)

PUBLISHED: July 23, 2018

Related Posts

Share your thoughts