Top Volga River Tours & Vacations 2024/2025 [reviews &...

Volga River Tours & Travel Packages 2024/2025

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Top Volga River Attractions

  • Visit the Kremlin Grounds, a historical and architectural reserve, and the former seat of the Russian Government. While visiting, make a stop at the Armory museum, the depository of Russian riches, including weapons.
  • Take a stroll through the garden’s of Peterhof Palace. Inspired from the Palace of Versailles in Paris, this is a great option for a day trip outside of St. Petersburg, taking about an hour to arrive via train/bus.
  • Take in a performance at Bolshoi Theatre, a historical theatre in Moscow. Depending on the time of year, grab a ticket and enjoy an opera or ballet performance.
  • Visit the first museum dedicated to Russia’s fine art, the TretyakovGallery. Originally start in 1892, the gallery now holds more than 1,300 pieces of Russian fine art.
  • Take a tour of Moscow’s metro, “a palace built for the people.” Make sure to stop at the Mayakovskaya, known as the most beautiful metro station in the world.
  • Visit the Vodka Museum, in Mandrogi, to grab a souvenir or sample one of Russia’s most famous exports.

Volga River Tours & Travel Guide

Volga River Attractions & Landmarks Guide

If you’re looking for a trip to Russia, consider a Volga River Cruise. With a country as rich in history as Russia, give yourself the time to explore the entirety. Volga River cruises can start in Moscow and end in St. Petersburg, or the reverse. Sail your way through Russia enjoying the big cities and quaint towns in between. 

Known as the national River of Russia, as well as the longest river in Europe, the Volga River flows throughout Russia, and into the Caspian Sea. Travel among the Volga River, through the Moscow canal and other waterways. Soak in the diverse architecture and culture as you cruise through various landscapes Russia has to offer.

Volga River Major Regions

Most tours start in Moscow, Russia’s capital city known for its architecture and the Kremlin Grounds. The tour ends in St. Petersburg, home to the Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world, and makes numerous stops along the way. Tours start in both cities, so it’s possible to start in St. Petersburg and end in Moscow as well. Cruises on the Volga makes numerous stops in cities throughout Russia, including Uglich, Yaroslavl, Goritsy, Kizhi, and Mandrogi.

1. Uglich - Uglich is one of Russia’s most beloved towns, and is the second oldest city. Visit the Church of St. Demetrius on Blood, the Palace of Tsarevich Dmitry, and see Russian Orthodox architecture.

2. Yaroslavl - This historically rich city is filled with monuments to remind us of it’s memorable past. A world heritage site, take a stroll through the historic center of Yaroslavl, and visit the Church of St. Ilya, dating back to the 17th Century. Wander through the 12th century Saviour-Transfiguration Monastery, and climb up to the bell tower at the top of the cathedral for a scenic view of Yaroslavl and the rivers.

3. Kizhi - Charming Kizhi is located in the Kareliya region, which spans from St. Petersburg to the Arctic Circle, and is surrounded by nature. Reach the island Kizhi by cruising Lake Onega, Europe’s second largest lake. Fun fact: Lake Onega is fed by 58 rivers!

4. Mandrogi - This lovely vacation village is filled with willows, alder trees, and pines. The village is also comprised of “izbas,” which are wooden houses with carved roofs and window frames. Europe’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Ladoga, is also located nearby.

Volga River Top Experiences on a Volga River Cruise

Volga River cruises offer numerous experiences for travelers to enjoy.

While in Moscow, visit the Kremlin Grounds, a historical and architectural reserve, and is the former seat of the Russian Government. Here, you can see the Czar’s Cannon. The Kremlin grounds also is home to the Armory museum, the depository of Russian Riches, where you can see weapons, carriages, thrones, and other great finds.

Stroll through the garden’s of “Russia’s Versailles,” Peterhof Palace. Inspired from the Versailles in Paris, this is a great option for a day trip outside of St. Petersburg. The electric train takes about 45 minutes, running from Baltiyskiy Station to Noviy Peterhof. After you get off the train, it’s about a 20 minute walk, or there are buses that can transport you between the two. Minibuses are also an option, and you can board them in front of the Baltiyskiy station, and they will drop you off at the gate in front of Peterhof.

Grab a ticket for a performance at Bolshoi Theatre, a world famous, renowned theatre in Moscow that attracts travels from across the globe. Depending on the schedule, enjoy an opera or ballet performance.

See the first museum dedicated to the finest art of Russia, the Tretyakov Gallery. Dating back to 1892 when Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov started his collection of fine art, the gallery now holds more than 1,300 pieces of Russian fine art.

Take a tour of Moscow’s metro, known for being one of the most beautiful metros in the world. The main architect wanted to “build a palace for the people,” and the architectures of these metro stations shows it. Admire the mosaics of Komsomolskaya, and the stained glass of Novoslobodskaya. Don’t miss the Mayakovskaya, known as the most beautiful metro station in the world, and the art deco design.

Admire Russian handicrafts and markets in the village of Mandrogi. Pick up some Russian souvenirs, popular items being pottery and matryoshka dolls, the wooden dolls decreasing in size that stack inside one another.

Another unique experience is to visit the Vodka Museum, in Mandrogi. Look around at the thousands of brands of vodka, one of Russia’s most famous exports. If you’re of age, sample the varieties that line the wall, or buy a bottle to remember your visit.

Volga River Top Landmarks

Visit the Hermitage Museum, another rival of Paris, this one being the Louvre. Visit one of the best art museums in the world, filled with 400 rooms containing pieces from most of the schools of Western Art, which features a grand collections of French Impressionist art. The collection is home to nearly three million exhibits.

Visit two of the Church on Blood’s while you’re on the Volga River Cruise. According to the Russian Orthodox Tradition, Church on Blood is where a church is built in the spot that a royal family member was murdered. While in Uglich, visit the Church of St. Demetrius on Blood, a famous temple built on the site of the death of Tsarevich Demitrius. The Church of the Saviour on Blood in St Petersburg is in memory of the death of Alexander II of Russia.

While touring the island of Kizhi, stop in to the open Air Museum of Architecture, filled with ancient wooden houses and windmills. Featured in this museum is the Church of the Transfiguration - built without even one nail back in 1714.

Moscow city tours often stop at the Novodevichi Cemetery, holding the tombs of Russia’s most famous actors, political leaders, scientists, authors, musicians and poets.

The Church of Elijah the Prophet sits in the center of Yaroslavl on Sovetskaya Square, is an architectural monument that has preserved a majority of its original appearance since it was building in 1647. One of the top attractions of Yaroslavl, visitors love to tour the insides and see the beautiful murals that covers the interior walls. The church is included in the UNESCO world cultural heritage list.

Visit Catherine the Great’s Palace, housing the famous amber Room, featuring six tons of solid amber. The room was stripped by Nazi’s in 1941, but was reconstructed in honour of St. Petersburg’s 300th birthday. The palace was once deemed the 8th wonder of the world.

Food in the Volga River Region

Since Volga River cruises take place on a cruise ship, usually breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all served on the ship and included in the package. Morning and afternoon meals are often buffet-style, and dinners are sit-down. When you’re exploring the towns and cities of Russia during your cruise, there will be opportunities to try new foods beyond what is offered on board. If you’re looking for an authentic Russian cuisine, you must try these following foods:

Blini (Блины)Similar to a French crepe, but a bit thicker and has more grease. These Russian pancakes can be filled with whatever your heart (or stomach) desires. Common savory options include meat covered with cheese, salmon, caviar, etc. Sweeter options are also available, with fillings including honey, jam or condensed milk. This is a common street food, and there is a chain called “Teremok” that is a popular shop to grab a blini.

Baked Potatoes are another popular food in Russia. Often found in fast food chains, such as Kroshka-Kartoshka, stop by to fix your baked potato craving, and top it off with cheese, salmon, dill, vegetables, and/or butter.

Chebureki is deep –friend, crescent shaped pastry that is filled with meat, cheeses, vegetables and spices. A chebureki is basically a savory apple turnover.

Shawarma is a sandwiched with sliced meat. A common street food, you can find stands selling Shawarma on nearly any corner. The meat is sliced when the sandwich is ordered, and topped with whatever you desire – vegetables, ketchup, mayonnaise.

Pirozhki – These deep-fried mini pies are often filled with savory options including fish, meat, rice, mushrooms, eggs, and vegetables, or spring for a sweeter options such as berries and other fresh fruits. Because they are pretty small, try a variety of flavors and see which you prefer.

Ponchiki is similar to a beignet or a doughnut. This sweet treat is a sweet dough ball, that has been fried and topped off with sugar, served out of a paper cone. (These are also known as pyshki in St. Petersburg). Some ponchiki stops offer sides to dip these delicious balls in, such as a strawberry sauce or Nutella.

Volga River Weather

As most places, Russia’s climate depends on the season. In the winter, both Moscow and Saint Petersburg have average temperatures below freezing (between 18-22 degrees F in January). The summer has much warmer weather. Summer averages in July-August are around 64 degrees F in Saint Petersburg, with about the same in Moscow, averaging about 65 degrees F. Some summer days can soar into the mid 80s.

Even during the summer time, any time you’re on the water, it can get a bit chilly from the breeze. It is always a good idea to bring a jacket to dinner incase you need an additional layer.

Volga River Cruise Checklist

Most travelers will need a Russia visa before entering the country, if they are planning on leaving the cruise ship to do their own sight seeing. For visitors arriving and departing the country on an international cruise ship, and will be accompanied by a licensed organized tour guide, you can go ashore without a visa.

Notice: These special requirements only apply for international cruise ship and ferry passengers. Passengers who are doing a river boat cruise must have a visa.

Other things to note about a Volga River Cruise:

Taking a cruise is a different kin travel experience. Unlike staying in hotels/on land, most of the time will be spent on a boat cruising the waterways of Russia. The cruise ship is full of activities that will suit all different interested, including cultural activities, informative activities, and relaxing activities.

Listen to guest speakers or watch movies about Russian culture; channel your creative side, with activities that include making traditional Russian crafts; or take advantage of the chance to get in the kitchen and learn Russian cooking tricks. No matter what your interests, you’ll be sure to find an activity that you will enjoy on a Volga River cruise.

Volga River Photography tips

Before you set off on your Volga River cruise, take some time to explore your camera. Do test photo shoots, read the camera guide, or do a quick internet search to learn tricks about your camera for trips.

When you’re traveling, you can’t always be at the right place at the right time, but knowing what settings to use when and what all your camera is capable of can help you get the best shot in the moment.

Smart phones are another great option if you don’t want to carry around your camera. Some phones have a built in effect that does a terrific job of judging the lighting, and most phones already have photo-editing options installed in the phone.

If you’re hoping for incredible photos that leave your friends asking for copies, try googling your destinations and see where the “hot spots” are for each stop on your journey. You will be in Moscow, one of the most photographed places on Instagram!

The internet is filled with tips for photographing different cities, and you can learn about the lighting and what time of day you should photograph whatever you’re trying to shoot. Another tip if you’re unsure of what you want to photography, take a look at the postcard rack, or images for sale.

This can give you new ideas of perspectives/angles that you may want to aim for along your Volga River cruise. Regardless of where you’re traveling, a top photography tip is to arrive early to whatever area you’re photographing, so you can try to beat the crowds and get that picture perfect shot. Another perk of heading out early or staying out late, is you won’t have to deal with the reflection of the sun. Knowing which way the sun rises/sets can help make a good photograph.

The top three instagram spots in Moscow:

  1. Red Square
  2. St. Basil’s Cathedral
  3. Sparrow Hills is a great place if you’re looking to snap a photo of Moscow from another view. Check out the observation for panoramic views of the city. 

An important trip –follow all rules and regulations regarding camera use. Some places forbid the taking photos inside, so if you see a sign that says no photography allowed, do not take photos. Russia has some tight regulations regarding photographs of military establishments, police and officials, which is prohibited.

It’s always best to err on the side of caution when taking photos of people, so make sure to ask permission before do so. Most buildings and museums in Russia allow amateur photography, but use of professional equipment sometimes requires fees. Make sure you’re outside during sunset while cruising the Volga River, the vastness of flat land allows for incredible sunrise/sunset shots.

Volga River Reviews



Aug 2017

Written on

One of a Kind

This trip through the waterways of northwestern Russia was a truly unique and wonderful learning experience, combining the pleasures of cruising on a small ship (wit...



Aug 2017

Written on

Cruise Of The Czars

My daughter and I traveled in May to Russia for the Cruise of the Czars in May of 2017, and it was fantastic. The ship was very modern and well maintained and the st...


d. Burg

Aug 2016

Written on

Great Way to Visit Russia

Went with a group of seven women on the river cruise Moscow to St. Petersburg and we were extremely well satisfied over all . Trip was handled efficient, our tour le...


Bonnie Mack

Aug 2016

Written on

Another Blockbuster for smarTours!

In celebrating 50 consecutive years of international travel this year, I turned to smarTours for the 16th time, and wasn't disappointed with the "Cruise of the Czars...


Patsy Martinez

Jun 2016

Written on

Wonderful cruise!!

This cruise was excellent. The crew, activities, food, entertainment,tours, services, room, etc. everything marvelous. The cruise directors, Galia Saufulina was the ...

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