The Russian Waterways comprise a system of rivers, lakes, inland seas and canals linking the Volga River with Baltic and thus Moscow with St Petersburg. The River Volga also flows southward from Moscow through the steppes of Russia to the Caspian Sea. River cruising is a safe, secure and informative way of exploring the timeless Russian countryside with its medieval kremlins, fortified monasteries and churches as well as providing access to Moscow and the other cities making up the famous Golden Ring.
Please note that it can take three weeks to secure a visa for this region.
The Volga is Europe’s longest river, rising in the Valdai Hills northwest of Moscow, it flows into the Caspian Sea, some 2,193 miles (3,530 km) to the south. It is the the principal waterway of western Russia and the historic cradle of the Russian state. From its source, the Volga heads east past Lake Sterzh, Tver, Dubna, Rybinsk, Yaroslavl, Nizhny Novgorod, and Kazan. From there it turns south, flows past Ulyanovsk, Tolyatti, Samara, Saratov and Volgograd, and discharges into the Caspian Sea below Astrakhan.
The Moscow Canal connects the Moskva River with the main transportation artery of European Russia, the Volga River. It is located in Moscow itself and connects to the Moskva River 191 km from its estuary in Tushino (an area in the north-west of Moscow), and to the Volga River in the town of Dubna, just upstream of the dam of the Ivankovo Reservoir. Length of the canal is 128 km. Thanks to the Moscow Canal, Moscow has access to five seas: the White Sea, Baltic Sea, Caspian Sea, Sea of Azov, and the Black Sea. This is why Moscow is sometimes called the “port of the five seas”. Apart from transportation the canal also provides for about half of Moscow’s water consumption, and the shores of its numerous reservoirs are used as recreation zones.
The system starts at Rybinsk, on the Volga River and the Rybinsk Reservoir, and goes northward by way of the Sheksna River and reservoir to Lake Beloye. Crossing the lake, now within the Sheksna Reservoir, the waterway follows the Kovzha River, which is linked by a canal section to the canalised Vytegra River. The Vytegra River flows into Lake Onega, and from there the waterway continues westward through the canalized Svir River. It follows the Svir to Lake Ladoga and the Novoladozhsky Canal, and then to the Neva River, which empties into the Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea at St. Petersburg. The Volga-Baltic Waterway connects with the White Sea-Baltic Canal at Lake Onega.
WHEN TO CRUISE?
The main cruising season is May to September.
In June, July and August temperatures are around 23°C (73°F), but during heat waves, which can occur anytime from May to September, daytime temperature highs often top 30°C (86°F) for sometimes one or two weeks.
May and September offer daily highs of around 18°C (64°F).