A river cruise between Moscow and St. Petersburg is a relaxing way to see Russia's two main cities, as well as some of its fascinating towns, villages, ancient churches and monasteries in between.
Moscow and St. Petersburg are connected by the mighty Volga, a series of canals, and the two largest lakes in Europe, Lake Onega and Lake Ladoga.
Boats stop along the way at various small villages as well as Golden Ring towns, where you have the chance to explore the pretty churches and monasteries.
The longer cruises spend more time here, while the shorter ones just give you a taste of the region. It is possible to travel from Moscow to St. Petersburg or vice versa.
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Russian river cruise highlights
For centuries, Moscow has been the political, cultural and economic center of Russia.
It's a city of contrasts where the medieval architecture of St. Basil's with its iconic onion domes sits alongside Soviet-era high-rise blocks and gleaming skyscrapers of the 21st century.
With so much to see and do it's a good idea to stay for a few days in Moscow before or after your cruise to take in its many historical sights, buildings and galleries such as: Red Square, the Kremlin, the Pushkin Museum and Tretyakov Galleries, the Novodevichy Convent, Arbat Street and the Bolshoi Theatre.
Approximately half way between Moscow and St. Petersburg is Goritsy, famed as the place where Ivan the Terrible exiled not one, but two, of his wives. Nearby is the Kirillo Belozersky Monastery, which was once one of the country’s most powerful monastic settlements.
In the middle of Lake Onega lies Kizhi, home to one of Russia’s most iconic sites — the Church of the Transfiguration. Built entirely of wood in 1714 and with thirty domes, the church looks like something out of a fairytale.
There are a number of other notable wooden buildings on Kizhi that have been brought from the surrounding area to create an interesting display.
Completely destroyed in WWII, but then rebuilt to preserve a traditional way of life, the small village of Mandrogui has become something of a living museum.
Its old wooden houses, colorfully decorated by paintings and wooden engravings, help create a traditional atmosphere, and show visitors what life used to be like hundreds of years ago.
There is also an extensive vodka museum, housing more than 2,000 different types of the country’s national drink.
St. Petersburg boasts a magnificent collection of grand buildings, galleries and theaters, and is perhaps Russia's most opulent cultural destination.
Built in 1703 by Peter the Great and the heart of the Russian Empire at its most splendid and extravagant.
St. Petersburg was bestowed with a legacy of wealth and sophistication which is evident in the city's architectural style, its art collections and, perhaps most famously, its vast palaces.
Recommended cruise options in Russia
The MS Tolstoy is one of the more comfortable ships cruising on Russia's rivers.
Discover the highlights of the Russian countryside on board the luxury river cruiser, Volga Dream.