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Best Months to Travel on Europe’s Top Rivers

As our name suggests, we have a long history and deep expertise in rail vacation packages.  But did you know we also offer river cruise tours?  Like rail, river cruises provide an immersive experience and allow you to see parts of a country that you wouldn't have otherwise.  And river cruises are hassle-free, convenient and comfortable, just like rail tours. 

But with all the options available today, choosing a river cruise can be overwhelming.  Selecting a river can be challenging enough as each European river is nuanced, but then you still need to choose the right time of year as different factors come into play.

When it comes to river cruising, there's no such thing as the "perfect" itinerary or the "perfect" time of year because not all travelers are the same.  To help you decide what is right for you, we've compiled our recommendations of the best times to travel on some of Europe's most popular rivers.

 

May & June

Best for: The Rhine & The Seine

River levels during spring can be at their highest in May and June without even a drop of rain falling thanks to snow melt at higher altitudes, which means the valleys are at their lushest and most vibrant and the countryside comes alive with color. 

The Rhine: Starting from the Swiss Alps, the Rhine passes through iconic cities in France and Germany before emptying into the sea in Amsterdam.  Industry insiders will tell you that May and early June are two of the best times to embark on a Rhine river cruise. These two months are when the Netherlands are at their most vibrant, with millions of tulip bulbs sprouting. 
Featured tour: Glacier Express & Five-Star Rhine Cruise

The Seine:  Springtime in Paris - and the Seine - is when the trees and flowers start to bloom and the region comes alive with festivals, street fairs and flea markets.  Traveling down France's second longest river, you'll pass charming villages, historic landmarks and elegant architecture making the Seine a favorite among history buffs, art lovers and foodies alike. 
Featured tour: The Loire Valley & Five-Star Seine Cruise

 

Amadeus Silver III

July & August

Best for: The Danube & The Rhone

Budapest Parliament Building

The intimate, serene environment of your river cruise is always a welcome respite after a busy day of touring, but you'll especially appreciate it during the peak European travel months of July and August.  Longer days means more daylight to take in the spectacular scenery and you can expect sunny skies and hot temperatures during the day with cooling breezes at night.

The Danube: It's easy to see why the Danube is the number one choice for first-time river cruises.  On this majestic river, you'll have the chance to travel through both Western and Eastern Europe, passing historic landmarks, vibrant capitals and charming villages along the way.
Featured tour: Imperial Cities & Five-Star Danube Cruise

The Rhone: Experience the romance of Southern France while cruising down one of Europe's major rivers.  Passing through some of France's most historic cities as well as the countryside of Provence and the vineyards of Burgundy, the Rhone offers the perfect combination of history, culture, cuisine and beauty.
Featured tour: The French Riveria & Five-Star Rhone Cruise

September & October

Best for: The Douro & The Dordogne

As the leaves start to turn and the wine harvest beings, river boats fill up with oenophiles looking to take in the intoxicating scenery and old-world charm of these two amazing rivers.  You'll find the daytime weather to be mostly dry and warm, while in October, the red, orange and yellow leaves typical of fall emerge. 

The Douro: Flowing across Spain and Portugal before reaching its outlet in Porto, the Douro is at its best in early Fall is when you can experience the grape harvests. While tours and tastings at riverside wineries are available year-round, the region comes alive in September and October. Watch as local workers deftly traverse the contoured hillsides, cutting down bunches of grapes as they go, and if you're lucky, you may even find yourself involved in a good old-fashioned grape stomp, a traditional Portuguese excuse for a party.
Featured tour: Lisbon & Five-Star Douro Cruise

The Dordogne:  Rolling landscapes, elegant chateaux and culinary delights make cruising down the 300-mile long Dordogne a great choice for those who want to explore France for the first time.  Not only is this the perfect time to experience the wine harvest in this area, but you'll also find fewer tourists competing for space on the walking and cycling paths.  History fans will enjoy seeing the UNESCO-listed port city of Bordeaux, and with ample time to visit the area's world-famous vineyards, the region is paradise for wine lovers.
Featured tour: Five-Star Bordeaux & The Dordogne Cruise

Douro River Spain