Hotels and Accommodations

The best time of year to take a river cruise in Europe

If you’re thinking of taking a river cruise in Europe, it’s important to choose your dates carefully.  Some months are definitely more appealing than others and each season has its advantages and disadvantages.  

At certain times of the year, some river cruises can be disrupted by water levels that are too high or low for river boats to cruise. In winter, rivers might freeze making river cruising impossible. So, read on to find out when’s the best time to take a river cruise on the waterways of Europe. 


Spring is a lovely time to take a river cruise, particularly if you intend to cruise through Holland as you can see the tulip fields in bloom and attend events such as the Keukenhof Gardens. 

If you head to Spain to cruise on the Douro, you’ll enjoy lovely warm weather in the springtime. So, if you fancy sunning yourself on the top deck, or taking a dip in the outdoor jacuzzi whilst you watch the scenery pass you by, but want to avoid the scorching summer sun, May could be the best time to cruise. 


In European countries with milder weather such as France, Belgium and Germany, summer can be the best time to cruise if you’re looking for nice weather. 

If you’re taking a family river cruise, the school summer holidays are the best time to cruise. Choose one of the family-friendly river cruise lines and your kids can be entertained with kids’ clubs, video games and family-centric excursions. 


September is the best time to take a river cruise in Europe. The weather will be pleasant, the water levels will be stable and the large crowds of summer will have left. 

Cruise in the autumn and you can admire the wonderful colours as the autumn leaves turn to red, orange, yellow and brown along the banks of Europe’s scenic waterways. 


Winter is the cheapest time of year to take a river cruise, so if you’re looking for a budget short break, this could be the ideal time. 

December is actually a great time explore many of Europe’s historical cities and you’ll find that Christmas markets river cruises are a lovely way to soak up the festive atmosphere of many of Europe’s wonderful Christmas markets. 

There’s a chance of the rivers of northern and eastern Europe freezing after Christmas. This is why you won’t often see European river cruises in January and February. Instead, cruise lines use this time to refurbish their fleet and give their staff some much-deserved time off. 

Choosing a river cruise 

Are you thinking of taking a river cruise in 2021? Whether you want to see lush, blooming scenery, enjoy the summer sun or enjoy a festive break, you’re sure t have a great time with a river cruise in Europe. 

This guest post was written by Jenni Fielding from