Taking a boat tour in Moscow along the Moskva River is a very pleasant experience. It will allow you to get to know the city from another totally different perspective, see the bridges over the Moskva River up close and view some of the city’s main monuments. In this article I’ll give you details of the different tours you can take by boat and how to buy tickets.
I'm going to talk about ...
- 0. Cruises on the Moskva River, a polluted but very navigable river
- 1. Practical information for taking a cruise in Moscow
- 2. Companies that do boat tours on the Moskva River
The Moskva River is about 500 kilometers long and is part of the Volga River watershed. Its source is in the Smolensk Mountains (311 meters above sea level) and it flows across the city of Moscow to empty into the Oka River (the second largest tributary of the Volga River). The Moskva is navigable along its entire course.
In its upper part, the Moskva River is more or less a clean river, but as it moves towards Moscow it becomes dirty due to industrial waste and urban drainage. When it reaches Moscow it is so polluted that its water is unhealthy and bathing in its waters is prohibited for the residents of the city. Of course, Muscovites like to sunbathe in the green areas of the river when the weather is good.
In spite of this, and as you certainly are not going to bathe in the Moskva River, I suggest that you take a boat cruise to see the city from a totally different perspective and to also be able to admire Moscow’s beautiful bridges.
Today, boat tours on the Moskva River are mainly for entertainment and recreational purposes with cruises that begin and end their journey at the same embankment.
If you are traveling through Russia, keep in mind that boat tours can be done not only in Moscow, but also in St. Petersburg, the Venice of the north.
In this article, I’ll tell you about the different tours of Moscow you can take by boat, as well as the companies that operate these tours, their prices and how to buy tickets.
1. Practical information for taking a cruise in Moscow
1.1. When to take a boat tour?
Until not long ago it was only possible to take cruises in Moscow from April to October, that is, the warmer months. However, for some years now an icebreaker boat has been responsible for allowing the passage of boats during the winter.
So there are cruises throughout the year, although when the weather conditions are bad the boats suspend their departures.
However, keep in mind that not all cruise companies operate in winter.
1.2. Schedules, frequency and duration
Normally the boats sail between 10:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. although there are also companies that offer night cruises with dinner included. I recommend that you take advantage of the afternoons for a boat tour, when the monuments and museums are closed. Going on a night cruise to see the Moscow city lights is also a very good option.
The frequency of the boats depends on each company and can range between 30 minutes and 2 hours. The itineraries, however, usually last between 1 and 3 hours.
1.3. Onboard services
While some companies only offer the boat ride, without many additional services, others offer the opportunity to have lunch or dinner on board, such as the boats of the Flotilla Radisson or the River Palace cruises, where you can discover Russian cuisine from another side.
Most cruise ships offer audio guides, which tell you about the tourist attractions as you are going along. In some cases this explanation is only in Russian, while some ships also offer explanations in English, Spanish, French, Italian or other languages.
1.4. Where to buy tickets
You can buy tickets in two ways:
- At the pier itself. This has the disadvantage of tickets for some boats being sold out in the high season.
- On the Internet. This has the advantage of you securing your place. Some companies allow ticket cancellation, others do not. I’ll tell you later at which websites you can buy tickets.
1.5. What’s the cost of a boat tour of the Moskva River
Prices differ according to the company, the type of boat and the service offered, but you can find tours from 400 to 2,000 rubles. If you include the lunch or dinner service you have to add at least about 1,500-2,000 more rubles.
1.6. Where do boats sail from and what routes do they take?
Along the Moskva River and its canals there are lots of embankments. Most boats sail from embankments located downtown. I’ll tell you below which companies operate the cruises, where their boats sail from and how to buy tickets.
Regarding the tours, all the companies offer very similar tours; some are shorter and others are longer.
Along the longest tour you will be able to see up close some of the most beautiful bridges in Moscow and important monuments such as:
- Hotel Ukraina, one of the Moscow’s Seven Sisters
- The Russian White House, headquarters of the Government of the Russian Federation and the President’s official residence.
- Kiyevskaya train station
- Novodevichy Convent
- Luzhniki Stadium (formerly known as the Central Lenin Stadium), the main venue of the 1980 Moscow Olympics or the 2018 World Cup.
- Moscow State University, another of Moscow’s Seven Sisters
- Sparrow Hills
- The Russian Academy of Sciences
- Gorky Park
- Central House of Artists
- Monument to Peter the Great
- The Cathedral of Christ the Savior
- The Kremlin
- Basil’s Cathedral
- The Kotelnicheskaya Naberezhnaya Building, another of the Seven Sisters
- Novospassky Monastery
On this map you can see the details of the longest and most classic of the Flotilla Radisson boat tours:
2. Companies that do boat tours on the Moskva River
There are many companies that do cruises on the Moskva River, but the 4 main ones are:
2.1. Capital River Boat Tour Company (CCK)
Capital Shipping Company (CCK) is one of the oldest boat tour companies in the city and offers a variety of tours.
First, it operates the City Sightseeing tour boat (and also also has the famous tour buses). This tour starts at Zaryadye Park and after a one-hour journey returns to the starting point.
The ship operates from May to October between 11:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., with departures every 40 minutes. If you combine it with the tour bus, the ticket costs 10 euros; otherwise it costs 16 euros. Tickets may be purchased in advance at this website.
In addition to the City Sightseeing boat tour, it also has other boats that do other longer tours lasting from 1 and a half to two hours, which sail from the Gorky Park Embankment and cost from 400 rubles.
It is an inexpensive option, but the boats are rather ordinary and not at all fancy. Tickets can be purchased on their website: https://cck-ship.ru/en/. There you can see all the tours they operate. Most tours begin and end at the same embankment except for one tour where the boat stops at different docks in the city and passengers can get on or off. They operate from the end of April to October.
2.2. Flotilla Radisson
If you’re looking for a good sightseeing cruise to tour around the city, which gives good value for money and where you can travel quietly with your family or your friends, one of the best options are the cruises of Flotilla Radisson, which has 10 very luxurious yachts where you can have lunch or dinner. The cruise ships belong to the Radisson hotel chain.
These cruise ships do a tour that travels all over the city for 2 and a half hours. You can board the boat at two different embankments: at the Hotel Ukraina (actually a Radisson Hotel) or at Gorky Park. Here’s the tour they do depending on the embankment where you take the boat:
Unlike other companies, the boats leave every day of the year from 12 noon to 9:00 p.m. with a one-hour frequency. It’s best to check the detailed schedules because they may vary according to the time of the year: https://en.radisson-cruise.ru/tickets/schedule/
Prices are based on the class chosen and the boat, but for 900 rubles you’ll get a tourist-class ticket and first class for 1800 rubles.
2.3. River Palace Cuises
Finally, there are the luxury cruises offered by the River Palace Company which does tours on the Moskva River in its modern boats with restaurant service.
Regular cruises sail from the embankment located next to the Kiev train station (Kievskaya Metro station) and the journey takes about 3 hours non-stop (starting and ending at the same location.
The boats sail from May to October with 3 or 4 daily departures. Detailed schedules at this link: http://riverpalace.ru/ru/rasp
Prices start from 900 rubles per person. Lunch or dinner in the restaurant may cost on average around 2,000 rubles per person.
There are also tour companies that sell the boat cruise package with dinner on board
If you have questions or if you’ve taken a boat cruise in Moscow and want to share your experience, you can leave your comments below. Thanks for reading me.