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Boat tours of St Petersburg’s canals

  • St. Petersburg , Northwestern Region, Russia

Last updated: 06 April, 2024

There’s no better way to appreciate the extraordinary beauty of St Petersburg than from the comfortable seat of one of the city’s canal cruisers. Gliding along the river Neva, past Baroque facades and under elegant bridges, gives you the chance to experience St Petersburg as Peter the Great, founder of the city, meant it to be seen. (His idea was to model the city after Amsterdam; in Peter’s time there were no roads or bridges, only canals).

Canal cruises start at points at major boat stations all over the city. The most reliable, and largest boats, are at the intersections of Nevsky Prospect with the Moika, Griboyedev and Fontanka Rivers. The routes may vary, but a standard 60–90-minute ride will take in the major highlights of the historic centre.

Hiring a private boat is also an option and can be an excellent way to get around the city.

Don't miss

Highlights to look out for en route include the Church of the Spilled Blood, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the elegant mansions of the 18th and 19th centuries along the Moika and Fontanka Rivers, the ‘Bridge of Sighs’, The Hermitage, and the Rostrol Columns of the Spit of the Basil Island.


Price from: £7
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around
Duration: 1-2 hours

Getting there & doing it

Canal boat stations abound in the city, usually at the intersections of major canals and streets. The Moika River Embankment or Anichkov Bridge are good places to begin and/or end a cruise.

Tickets are on sale at the boat station. Private boat tours can be booked in advance; the company will usually collect you from your hotel and drop you back after the tour (using public transport is included in the price, a private transfer is more). Alternatively, you can book on the spot – private boats go from the same stations as the public boats, although this depends on availability.

When to do it

Navigation begins in May and runs through September. Boats run almost 24 hours during the summer months; late evening and night is very popular during summer and the White Nights, and fares can increase.

The best time for photographers is towards the end of daylight (which in June and July is around 10 pm), when the city is bathed in a magical twilight glow.