We’re often asked, “When is the best time to go to Europe?” and “When is the best time to take a European river cruise?”
Answering those questions requires asking a question in return: “By ‘best time’ do you mean ‘cheapest time’ or ‘best time to experience’?”
Personally, and generally speaking, we think Europe is great to visit all year round. High season for European tourism is summer: June to August. We’ve been at all times of year and can cite all sorts of great reasons to visit Europe outside of the prime tourist season, including: leaves changing in the fall, skiing in the Alps, Christmas markets across the continent, and glorious spring weather. Not to mention the distinctly enjoyable lack of crowds during off season.
Taking a river cruise, though, adds a different dynamic to European travel. While you can find river cruises in Europe almost year round (just not in the height of winter), summer is when you’ll find the most variety and options in river cruises. Practically every major river in Europe, from the Thames and the Seine to the Rhine and Danube, Europe’s rivers are bustling with boats from Ama Waterways, ARosa, Avalon, Riviera, Scenic, Tauck, Uniworld, and Viking from spring to fall.
As we’ve said before, shoulder season is usually the best time to find cruise deals and that’s generally true with Europe’s river cruises as well. So if you’re looking for the best fares, consider going from late March to late May or in late September to October. However, these times might not be the best times for having a great experience. Cold weather lingers into May, sometimes even June, and snows can begin falling, particularly in the north in October. Snow melts are notorious for causing variable river conditions in the spring, and remnants of tropical weather drifting north and east can wreak havoc on the entire continent well into November.
To summarize, for a great experience plan your European river cruise between June and August. But for great deals work your way before and after that window. Give us a call to help you plan your European river cruise, (877) 585-SHIP.