When is the best time for a river cruise?

How to know the best time to cruise the European Rivers?


When to Cruise the rivers of Europe

Embark on scenic and peaceful travel experiences through Europe

“When is the best time for a river cruise?”

While the river cruise season begins at the end of March and runs through November or December, the most popular months for travel are September, followed by May, late April, and early October. Summer is a key time for travel in Europe when the cities are filled with the most travelers arriving by the rivers and by land.

Not a simple answer, the best time to visit varies depending on itinerary, local experiences, and time of year.

Read on to learn more on the rivers:

Bordeaux – Two rivers flow through the famed wine region, the Dordogne on the left bank and Garonne on the right bank. The busiest time in the Bordeaux region is the summer season. Spring and fall offer fewer crowds, cooler weather, and of course the annual grape harvest in late August or early September.

Danube – Filled with culturally rich cities, this itinerary travels through many countries; Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, and Croatia. Itineraries are broken down between the Upper and Lower Danube. With cooler weather influencing this region, May through September will offer the best weather, specifically April and October when there are also fewer crowds. With Christmas Markets illuminating the river during the end of November through December, this is a fantastic holiday experience with magical winter weather. 

Douro – This region is all about scenery and vineyards and there are itineraries available from March through early November. Weather-wise, April and May are the best months for hiking and taking in the spring blooms. Summers can be quite warm in this Mediterranean region and the heat may put a damper on your travel experience. Visit in late August through early September to experience the wine harvest period. If you want to beat the heat, October has cooler weather and the fall colors are in full bloom. 

Main/Moselle – Both rivers travel through the most scenic regions for travel within Germany and they offer experiences from medieval architecture to wine tasting. The weather here is fantastic compared to other parts of Europe through spring and summer offering cool to warm days, but not scorching hot temperatures. Though the local experiences are best enjoyed during the fall which offers cooler temperatures filled with fall harvest activities and celebratory festivals. 

Rhine – this river is the second-longest in Europe traveling from Switzerland through northern France and across Germany into the Netherlands. The weather varies  drastically. May through September offers the best opportunity to enjoy active experiences like hiking and bicycling in the region. Though fall is the perfect time to experience the harvest period and for holiday magic, late November and December are a must for enjoying the Christmas Markets.

Rhone/Saone/Seine – Cruising the charming French countryside can be enjoyed March – November on the Seine and through December on the Rhone and Saone rivers. But opportunities for exploring the culture, architecture, and art of these regions are available year-round. June – August is the busiest time of year in France as well as the warmest. April, May, September, and October are less crowded with more opportunities to enjoy temperate weather and cruise through the postcard-like beauty of the seasons. Lavender season on the Rhone is mid-June -mid-August, wine harvesting season on the Saone is in September. 

River cruising has an itinerary to enjoy most of the year. The most popular months will also have the least availability and the highest cost, while the less busy times usually  offer cooler weather. Cruising is available all four seasons for immersing in the periodic cultural activities of the regions.

When searching for a river itinerary, Sandee at BucketList Travel Advisors is a river cruise specialist who can match you with an itinerary based on your interests and personality. Get to know more about the European Rivers with our PDF comparison.

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