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Travel advice

The best times of the year to enjoy a river cruise

Not sure when to plan your next river cruise? Well, thinking about where you want to go may be a good place to start.

There are lots of factors that influence when the best time to visit specific river cruise destinations are; from the weather to any specific events that you may wish to incorporate into your trip. To help, we’ve broken down some of the best destinations to visit throughout the year.

March - April

Beautiful tulips of the Netherlands

If you’ve always wanted to cruise the Dutch and Belgian Waterways then a river cruise in spring is the ideal time to do so. This is when many of the famous tulips are in full bloom, blanketing the riverbanks with colour and creating a magical sight. Many of the most popular cities in the area also make for great springtime destinations, with destinations like Ghent, Antwerp and Amsterdam enjoying beautiful weather and less crowds than the height of the season.


Pelicans swoop in the Danube Delta

As Europe’s second longest river, the Danube flows for 1700 miles across Europe, taking in many of the continent’s most popular destinations. Planning on a river cruise in June? If so, then summer is the perfect time to journey along the Danube, with gorgeous temperatures and long, bright days allowing you to truly make the most of your time on board.


Florence in Tuscany, Italy

The Italian waterways come alive during the height of the summer, making it the perfect time to visit. Packed full of delicious food, magical sights, and plenty of history, Italian waterways offer something for everyone to enjoy. Take in some of the country's most beautiful scenery while you enjoy the gorgeous Mediterranean weather on deck - perhaps with a glass of something lovely in hand. Don’t forget to make the most of a visit to Venice - always a highlight in an Italian river cruise.


A river cruise ship on the Douro in Oporto, Portugal

Enjoy the heat of the Portuguese sun with a summer trip along the Douro. While the Douro Valley is beautiful throughout the year, the intense sun paired with the rugged backdrop of the valley is the perfect combination for a river cruise in August. Sun yourself on board, or enjoy all that Portugal’s famous wine region has to offer during trips ashore. Saude!


Historic Wittenberg

While temperatures along the Elbe start to decline after the summer months, it doesn’t mean that there’s less to enjoy. In fact, there are many attractions dotted along the river that are perfect during the cooler autumn months, as well as being quieter out of the high season. The historic cities that dot the river, such as Wittenberg and Meissen, are wonderful to visit in the autumn light.


Avignon in Provence, France

The beautiful Rhone is an autumnal dream, boasting sunlit days, magical vistas, and plenty of enjoyable weather to make the most of - without the intensity of the summer sun. Provence is also ripe with opportunities in the autumn months, with vineyards going into production and fruit being harvested ready to press. If you’re a wine lover, then a Rhone river cruise in October gives you a chance to see the process in action - and enjoy a glass or two while you’re at it.

November - December

Lake Titisee in the Black Forest

In the run up to the end of the year, most people have one thing on their mind - Christmas. Fortunately, if you’re a fan of the festive season then there’s plenty to get you excited within European river cruise hotspots. The historic cities along the Rhine make for perfect festive hotspots, with gingerbread in the air and the sound of carol singers taking over the cobbled streets. Plus, the magic of the Black Forest in winter is a sight to behold.

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our collection of river cruises and start exploring all that Europe’s waterways have to offer. Whenever you choose to travel, there’s always something magical to explore.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.