Volga Region, Russia


The Volga region is located in the European part of Russia. The boundaries of the Volga region are defined by the boundaries of the regions located in the middle and lower reaches of the Volga. In the north it borders on the North-Western Region, in the east on the Urals, in the south on Kazakhstan and the Southern Federal District, in the west on Central Russia and the Central Black Earth Region.

The Volga region is very diverse. In the north, the region is covered with impenetrable and uninhabited forests, in the south, the traveler is met by steppe and deserts. Since the 13th century, Nizhny Novgorod has been part of North-Eastern Russia, monuments of the Golden Horde have been preserved in Tatarstan, and the steppes of the Saratov and Volgograd regions were settled only in the 18th-19th centuries - before they were part of the Great Steppe. Unless you are sailing along the Volga on a cruise ship, you are unlikely to be going to see the entire region at once. It is more likely that you will watch it in parts, each time discovering completely different sides of the Volga region.

There are not very many old Russian cities in the region - the best preserved ones are Nizhny Novgorod and its environs (Gorodets, Balakhna, Arzamas), Sviyazhsk, Astrakhan, and partly Kirov, and Lalsk lost in the northern forests. Kazan stands apart here, which has everything in general - the Russian Kremlin, Tatar mosques, and monuments of the provincial city, because Kazan was among the first provincial cities in Russia. But still, the most typical settlements of the Volga region are rich merchant cities along the banks of the Volga and the Lower Kama. The Volga was used as a trade route until the end of the 19th century. Then came the railways, then the Soviet government, and not all urban centers were able to survive it, but quite a few remained, primarily Kozmodemyansk, Cheboksary, Alatyr, Yelabuga, Sarapul, Ulyanovsk, Penza, Saransk, Samara, Syzran, Volsk and Saratov . In the Saratov and Volgograd regions, there are small reminders of the Volga Germans who once lived here, who made the steppes south of Samara habitable. Izhevsk and other cities and towns in the north of Udmurtia remind us of the industrial development of Russia in the 18th century, when ironworks and weapons factories were built in the Urals.

The Volga region is one of the regions of Russia where the proportion of non-Russian population is large. There are five national republics here: Tatarstan, Udmurtia, Chuvashia, Mari El and Mordovia. All these peoples have their own culture, which is noticeably different from Russian, and you can get to know it both in big cities where there are museums, and in villages where this culture really exists. Tatarstan is one of the few fragments of the Golden Horde that have come down to us, as evidenced by the monuments of Bolgar, and Chertovo Gorodishche in Yelabuga is apparently the only monument of Volga Bulgaria that has come down to us.

The nature of the northern part of the Volga region is large-scale, but nothing more. The Volga and Kama along the entire Volga region from Nizhny Novgorod to Volgograd are dammed and turned into reservoirs, and the most interesting features of the relief are the mountains along the banks, primarily the Zhiguli and Samarskaya Luka. Forests consisting of huge trees are wonderful, and in the Kirov region they completely turn into a real taiga. But the best landscapes begin where there is a good view - the forest-steppe and steppes south of Samara.

At first glance, the Lower Volga region - the Volgograd and Astrakhan regions - is by no means the most interesting region of Russia for a traveler. The distances here are large, and the population is concentrated in a small number of cities. This is the Russian part of the Great Steppe, the oldest settlements of which date back to the 16th century, and everything that was before has long gone down in history and has not even left behind full-fledged archaeological monuments. The Russian heritage of the last three centuries could have been quite numerous, but not much care was taken about its preservation either. However, all this does not mean that there is nothing to do in the Lower Volga region. If you take a closer look, it turns out that there are more than enough cultural and natural attractions on the Lower Volga. Landscapes are much more diverse than it seems: the lower reaches of the Volga and Don, chalk mountains and canyons, steppe, deserts, salt lakes Elton and Baskunchak, and, finally, the Volga delta - an ecological system that is generally unlike anything in European Russia. Astrakhan has preserved evidence that for many years it was the only Russian city on the Lower Volga, maintaining trade and diplomatic ties with Asian states. Volgograd today is basically a reminder of the events of the Battle of Stalingrad, the point of the furthest advance of German troops to the east. In general, you will not find in the Lower Volga region - except, perhaps, Astrakhan - whole preserved pre-revolutionary areas, at best separate streets. The Lower Volga region is a region where attention to detail is important. There have never been many architectural and historical monuments, and the more valuable preserved.


Republic of Bashkortostan

Kirov Oblast

Republic Mari El

Republic of Mordovia

Nizhny Novgorod Oblast

Orenburg Oblast

Penza Oblast

Perm Kray

Samara Oblast

Saratov Oblast

Republic of Tatarstan

Udmurt Republic

Ulyanovsk Oblast

Chuvash Republic



Regional centers
Astrakhan is the oldest southern Russian city with the Kremlin and a preserved, albeit very neglected, historical center.
Volgograd, a city almost completely destroyed during the war, is interesting for its war memorials, as well as the former German colony of Staraya Sarepta.
Kazan is good for everyone: monuments of Russian history, and Tatar, and, moreover, just a lively modern dynamic city.
Nizhny Novgorod
Saratov is a large merchant city with a well-preserved center
Ulyanovsk is the birthplace of V. I. Lenin. In the center of the city there is a nature reserve "Motherland of V. I. Lenin", which represents a quarter that has preserved the appearance of the second half -19th - early 20th century.


Small towns



Other destinations

Bilyar Museum-Reserve
Salt mining on lakes Baskunchak and Elton
Samarskaya Luka National Park and Zhigulevsky Nature Reserve
Serafimo-Diveevsky Monastery



Russian, Bashkir, Tatar, Chuvash, Udmurt, Mari: Mountain Mari and meadow Mari, Mordovian: Erzya and Moksha.


How to get there

By plane
There are major international airports in Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Samara and Volgograd. Often it will be cheaper to fly to one of these cities, and then go to the place. All other regional centers have local airports, mainly serving flights to Moscow. Since 2019, Saratov has also acquired a new international airport.

On the ship
Interregional scheduled flights along the Volga have long been discontinued. Only local and cruise lines remain.