Cruises in Russia: An Unexpected Hidden Gem

Russia: a vast land of gilded palaces and remote villages, of sweeping beaches and icy wilderness, of ancient tradition and modern lives. Russia's huge size and its varied landscape and history make it a fascinating place to visit. Once of the most relaxed and romantic ways to do so is board a cruise ship. Cruise travel in Russia will take you down the great River Volga, past some of the country's greatest cities. It can take you along the river Lena, through the mysterious Siberia. It can take you to the elegant resorts of the Black Sea. From a cruise ship, you can see the best that Russia has to offer.

Volga River Cruises

The Volga rise in the Valdai Hills a little to the north of Moscow. It passes through the vast, calm Lake Sterzh and then heads south to the Caspian Sea. It is Europe's longest river, and flows through the center of Russia. It plays a special part in the hearts and minds of Russians, referenced often in literature and folklore. The Volga runs near Moscow, and most Volga cruises will travel via one of its tributaries to take in the great city, home to the stunning Kremlin and historic Red Square. Some cruises also take in the fairytale city of St Petersburg, which lies to the north but is connected to the Volga via tributaries.

Further downriver, there are many less well-known but equally as beautiful cities to explore. Uglich is off the general tourist trail, but certainly deserves to be seen. There, you'll find echoes of Russia's past in its ornate cathedrals and ancient streets. In Kazan, you can see old and new Russia meet. Founded in 1401, the city is an important river port, and home to the university at which both Tolstoy and Lenin studied. It is famous for its museums and cultural scene. Volgograd, once known as Stalingrad, might not be one of Russia's most beautiful cities, but it is a fascinating place to visit if you want to know more about Russia's long and often bloody history. In Astrakhan, close to the river's mouth, you'll find a city focused on the water, home to fishermen and traders of wide variety of ethnic backgrounds.

Black Sea Cruises

The Black Sea is connected to the Aegean and Mediterranean seas via the narrow Bosphorus. Cruises along Russia's Black Sea coast could also take in resorts in other Black Sea countries, including the Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. As an almost inland sea, it is very calm, making for smooth cruising. Russia's Black Sea coast has long been its playground, with the country's wealthy making their way there now as they have done for generations. Temperatures stay warm from around June to October.

The city of Sochi is known to many as the Russian summer capital. The city has changed considerably in recent years, as Russia has developed. It is modern and glitzy, a little like a Russian Marbella. It has good shopping and a lively nightlife, and while the coast is rocky, sand is being imported to create beaches. Anaya is a gentler and more relaxed destination, with several long sandy beaches. Other smaller resorts dot the coast, many of them home to spas, which take advantage of the area's thermal mineral springs.

Siberian Cruises

Siberia has a fearsome reputation. In the past, it was home to infamous labour camps in which political prisoners toiled in terrible conditions. Today, it is one of the world's best kept secrets. The Lena River takes you through some stunning scenery. The Lena Pillars are an incredible rock formation, with the red-brown rock eroded into delicate columns which reach up to 150 m high. The Siberian countryside is home to local tribal people, who have survived in the harsh Siberian environment for thousands of years by hunting and fishing. Along the river, they have created small settlements which cruises often visit, allowing their guests to get to know the local culture. As it flows into the Arctic Ocean, the Lena breaks up into numerous small channels which flow around islands.

Russia is a place of both mystery and modernity, with a rich history Its waterways are a wonderful and relaxing way to get to know it.

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures! It seems you really enjoyed this trip. Looking forward to more cruise and travel posts from you.