Winter in Russia is a serious matter. Between November and early January nothing cheers people more than a decent snowfall and some crisp weather, and nothing brings them down as much as the lack of it. I have to admit, it’s hard not to embrace this spirit – well, at least once you’ve got your proper winter clothing sorted. Cold weather can start as early as the end of October and may last till the end of March so it’s essential to find some enjoyable outdoor activity to shake off any potential signs of winter blues creeping in. Downhill and cross country skiing, ice skating, hockey, sledging, kitesurfing and dog sledding seem to be the favorite among Самарцы (inhabitants of Samara) but if you don’t own a husky, cannot ski, ice skate or are plain lazy – walks along the Volga are a good alternative.

Local people tend to complain that ”winters in Russia are not as they used to be” but they still are cold enough to freeze the Volga so that it’s possible to cross over the ice to the other bank or to one of the small islands on the river. The fearless Samara fishermen cross wherever they feel like but, in order not to turn this lovely walk into a scene straight from the movie ”Revenant”, it’s recommended to use one of the specially designated paths on the ice (you’ll easily spot them on the surface of the Volga), the resistance of which is regularly checked. Your efforts will be rewarded with beautiful panorama of Samara and some winter wonderland experience on the uninhabited islands. There’s no infrastructure on the other side, and in any case the outdoorsy Russians are typically self-sustainable, so you may want to bring some thermos and sandwiches as the whole hike, including visiting the island, may take up to 3.5hr (we started our walk from the brewery and crossed below the aviator/Glory Square).

Here are a few images taken during this year’s crossings.

One of the safe crossing passages visible from the embankment.
People crossing the Volga to get to the Podzhabny island.
City panorama as visible from the frozen river. On the right are the chimneys of the old power plant.
Ice fishing.
Landscape on the uninhabited island on the Volga.
A small stream flowing into the river Volozhka, a 12 km long river separated from the Volga by the island Podzhabny.
Village Rozhdestveno on the river Volozhka.
Airboats on the frozen river.
Sunset on the frozen Volga.