Tipping is standard in the better restaurants (count on leaving 10%); elsewhere 5% to 10% of the total is fine. Tipping your guide is an accepted practise. Generally the equivalent of a few dollars a day would be a good tip. Small gifts, such as a bottle of skin cream, a box of chocolates, or a cassette or CD are appropriate if the service has been great.
When to go
Moscow’s climate really consists of two seasons: winter and summer. Russian winter, if you’re prepared, can be adventurous: furs and vodka keep people warm, and snow-covered landscapes are picturesque. A solid snow pack covers the ground from November to March. The lowest recorded temperature is -42°C (-43°F), although it’s normally more like -10°C (14°F) for weeks on end. Occasional southerly winds can raise the temperature briefly to a balmy 0°C (32°F). Days are very short.
During the spring thaw – in late March and early April – everything turns to mud and slush. Summer comes fast in May and temperatures are comfortable until well into September. The highest recorded temperature is 39°C (102°F), although on a humid August day you’ll swear it’s hotter than that. July and August are the warmest months and the main holiday season. Train tickets and accommodation can be difficult to come by during these months, and attractions around Moscow tend to be overrun with visitors. They are also the dampest months in Moscow, with as many as one rainy day in three. Rain showers are brief but thunderstorms can be violent. For these reasons, early summer, with its long days, and early autumn, with its colourful foliage, are many people’s favourite seasons.