Boat excursions in St. Petersburg. Why is it so popular?
• St. Petersburg is located in the delta of the Neva River. A set of branches, tributaries and channels form about 500 islands. Due to the abundance of water, St. Petersburg occupies one of the leading cities in the world. The largest island of St. Petersburg - Nameless. It is located in the central part of the city, between the Neva and Monastyrka rivers, the Obvodny Canal and the Fontanka and Ekateringofka Rivers. It is almost one and a half times larger than the most famous and also very large island - Vasilyevsky. In total, there are about 93 rivers, their branches, channels in it. The total length of these water highways is 300 km.
• The idea of Peter the Great was to make the new city looking like Amsterdam or Venice. Therefore, all the facades of the houses are facing the water
• The Neva is the shortest and deepest river in Europe. It carries more water than Don and the Dnieper combined. It is necessary to feel it during a boat cruise.
• There is no such diversity of water routes that is offered for excursion by boat along the rivers and canals of St. Petersburg in any city in the world.
St. Petersburg boat tours. What are the options for excursions by boat of St. Petersburg?
1. The most common is a team hour or half hour walk along the rivers and canals of St. Petersburg. There are two main differences in the proposed water excursions. The first is with access to the Neva water area, the second is a walk through the central part of St. Petersburg without access to the water area. Specific routes depend on the moorings, from which an excursion begins on the rivers and canals of St. Petersburg. What ships of St. Petersburg excursions are used for such walks? As a rule, these are single-deck motor ships of the Fontanka type with a capacity of 40-50 people. Such Peter water excursions use a live guide, there is a toilet and warm blankets on board.
2. Night excursions to the bridges. Such night excursions on the ship in St. Petersburg will allow you to see one of the main attractions of St. Petersburg - the bridges. During the night tour of the rivers and canals of St. Petersburg, you will see a divorce of the following bridges: Dvortsovy, Birzhevoy, Liteiny, Troitsky, Blagoveshchensky.
3. Our Company North Palmyra offers a combination of a sightseeing tour of St. Petersburg with a tour of the rivers and canals. The duration of the program is 4 hours.
4. Individual excursion along the rivers and canals of St. Petersburg. Duration 1 hour. The cost of the excursion on the ship St. Petersburg prices consist of the rental of the ship and guide services. The indisputable advantage of ordering such an excursion is the absence of a large number of people.
How it all started
In the very beginning of 18th century, Tsar Peter came to the estuary of the Neva river in order to build there his new capital: a large port on the shores of the Baltic, a place of transshipment of goods from all over Russia, from riverboats to the sea to further trade with European countries.
Initially, the rivers and canals were conceived as one of the means of transportation in the city. Numerous vessels ran along the city’s waterways to transport goods and passengers.
There were once much more canals in St.-Petersburg than today. As time passed by, a lot of canals were filled up, the rivers got straightened, and some of the rivers were even diverted into underground pipes so that they would not come out to the surface.
According to the plan of Domenico Trezzini, Vasilyevsky Island was not only built with avenues but also canals designed for water transport. It turned out, however, to be extremely inconvenient for people to move from one place to another on boats and skiffs, and the canals got filled up very soon. On the top of the former canals, streets were laid and are now called “lines” on Vasilyevsky Island.
Ligovsky Avenue was a canal until the end of the 19th century. It was dug up under Peter the Great to deliver drinking water to the city and to the fountains of the Summer Garden. But the flood of 1777 greatly spoiled the fountains, and water pipes started being used instead of the canal. Starting from 1891, Ligovsky Canal began to turn slowly into Ligovsky Avenue.
Nowadays, canals and rivers are no longer being filled up, on the contrary, they are given a fresher look. The old embankments are being restored, and where there were none before, new ones are being built. Several hundred different excursion motor boats run daily along rivers and canals showing everyone how beautiful Saint-Petersburg is from the water.
Saint-Petersburg’s diversity of the waterways
The main waterway of the city is the Neva River which originates in Lake Ladoga and flows into the Gulf of Finland. Within the city, its width reaches 600 meters and its depth 24 m. The total length of Neva is 74 kilometers.
Before flowing into the Gulf of Finland, the Neva forks into many branches, including: Malaya Neva, Moika, Fontanka, Griboyedov Canal, Kronversky and Kryukov Canals, Obvodnoy Canal, Black River, Malaya and Bolshaya Okhta, Malaya, Medium and Bolshaya Nevki, and other rivers and canals. All these numerous large and small rivers and canals formed many islands on which St. Petersburg was built.
One of the Neva branches – Fontanka – bends around the whole center of the city. Previously, the Fontanka River was known as the Nameless Erik; Erik being a river originating from and flowing into the same reservoir.
The Moika, comparing to the Neva, is a very small river. Its total length barely reaches 5 km, the depth is just over 3 m, and the width is several tens of meters. In the second half of the 18th century, however, the Moika was a major water artery along which cargo ships moved. And its water was so clean that it could be used for other purposes than barely technical. The Moika was one of the main attractions of the city, and its embankments – a very prestigious place to build a townhouse.
There are a bit less than 20 bridges that connect the two sides of the river, some of them are painted. This is the only river in Petersburg featuring colored bridges. The banks of the river are decorated with magnificent palaces: the Stroganov Palace and the Yusupov Palace of Count Razumovsky for example.
The history of the river is closely connected to the life of Alexander Pushkin. In the house number 12, which belonged to the family of the Decembrist Volkonsky, the poet lived for several months before his last duel. Today it houses the museum-apartment of Pushkin.
The Obvodny Canal is the longest, its length amounts to 8 km, and the width varies from 20 to 40 meters. Before, the Obvodny Canal constituted the southern border of St. Petersburg. It was originally built in order to protect the city from flooding. Since the construction was spontaneous, the Obvodny Canal never performed its main mission, but many wonderful architectural structures were built on its sides during its existence.
The length of the Griboyedov Canal is about 5 kilometers. More than 20 bridges were built over it.
The name of the second bridge, Bank, was not a coincidence. First, it led to the former Associative Petersburg Bank. Secondly, the griffins are considered the patrons of accumulation and wealth. On the banks of the canal you can see such historical buildings as the Kazan Cathedral, the Church of the Savior on the Blood, the building of the Benoit Russian Museum.
During the floods, which have happened often in St. Petersburg’s history, the water rose very quickly in all the Neva branches. Most often it happened in Autumn, the water level rose by several meters. For 300 years, the city experienced about 70 such floods.
The two most noticeable floods occurred within a century, between the 1820s and 1920s. The first of them was even described by Pushkin in his work “The Bronze Horseman”. At that time, the water in the Neva rose ominously more than 4 meters and flooded almost the entire city center. In the last century, the water did not reach such high levels, but there was such strong wind that the central streets of St. Petersburg were again under water. Neva floods are believed to be caused by a strong surge of wind in the Gulf of Finland which provokes long waves blocking the flow of the Neva.
Saint-Petersburg River and Canal Tours is a very popular attraction for tourists. Such an excursion allows you to have a good time and witness a lot of unforgettable moments, to admire the picturesque views of Saint-Petersburg, to take vivid pictures, and last but not least, to visit many of the city’s memorable places and learn the history of buildings and streets. Excursions are usually conducted on motor ships with panoramic windows and open decks.
An experienced guide will not only tell you about the water of Saint-Petersburg but also entice you with stories about the city’s architecture and all the touristic attractions encountered along the way.
Here are some tours that might interest you when you visit Saint-Petersburg:
Well... We can talk hours about the rivers and canals of St. Petersburg, because each canal, even the smallest one, has its own story. Instead, come and visit Saint-Petersburg, see all these views and hear all these stories in person – we promise, you will not regret!