Every country has its national river and Russia has the Volga - the longest river in Europe, the Queen of rivers - and I was one of the many who went to bow to her Majesty River Volga." - once wrote the famous French author Alexandre Dumas.
No Russian can hear the word "Volga" without picturing the river's wide, plangent waters, gracious ships, and hovering ivory gulls. Mother Volga's place in every Russian heart is assured and is celebrated in the famous song of the Volga boatmen, “Mighty stream so deep and wide, Volga, Volga, our pride”.
7000 years ago, the river's lower reaches were the cradle of Indo-European culture. Since then the Volga has played a central role in Russian history and folklore. The great bend in the river around Samara was the haunt of the colorful 17th century Kazak bandit Stenka Razin, while the lower plains were the scene of the Pughachev rebellion, romanticized in Pushkin's novel 'The Captain's Daughter'. Today almost 50 million people live in the Volga basin, one-third of Russia's population, and many of Russia's greatest cities call its banks home. It remains a key transportation route, navigable with the help of giant locks and canals.
Rising from a small spring in the Valdai Hills northwest of Moscow, the river flows southeast in a great arc over 3690 km before spilling into the Caspian Sea. Although industrialization has marred its traditional clarity, much of its length is covered in a matchless wild beauty. The Volga Delta is a must-see for anyone interested in wildlife. Its marshland climate has become a refuge for beavers, otters, and countless birds from herons to the great bald eagle. Another must for nature-lovers is the Samara Bend National Park, famous for its woodland hikes and stunning views of the Volga.
If you wish to relax on a summer holiday, there are countless places along the Volga's lush green banks. The extraordinary sense of tranquility that permeates from the river at sunrise has long captivated Russian artists. As the sun warms up, you can take a dip in the river as many young Russians do or simply sunbathe on the sandy beaches like those at Samara.
The best way to experience the Volga is from the decks of our Russian river cruise ships during the summer months. Like Russian trains, Volga boats have transit cabins with two to four bunks, and journeys take anywhere from ten hours to three days. Cruises in Russia and holidays on the Volga River are the experiences of a lifetime. This enchanting river will introduce you to Russian culture, open you to natural beauty, and give you a charge of relaxation. Come discover the soul of Russia!