Full Text Available This article offers an integrative approach to the development of trans-border water routes. Route development is analysed in the context of system approach as integration of geographical, climatic, meaning-related, infrastructural, and marketing components. The authors analyse the Russian and European approaches to route development. The article focuses on the institutional environment and tourist and recreational resources necessary for water route development. Special attention is paid to the activity aspect of tourist resources. At the same time, the development of all routes included an analysis of physical geographical, technological, infrastructural, economic, political, and social aspects. The case of water routes developed in the framework of the Crossroads 2.0 international project is used to describe the practical implementation of the theoretical assumptions. The work also tests the methodology of point rating for objects that can be potentially included in the route. The creation of trans-border water routes is presented as an innovative technology of identifying a territory’s potential and its further development. The authors stress the trans-border nature of water routes is their essential characteristic based on the natural properties of water routes.