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Choosing the best time for a river cruise in Europe can be tricky. You don’t want your hard-earned adventure to be disrupted by low or high water levels, frozen rivers or broken canal locks.
While weather is always going to be unpredictable, some months have a better track record than others when it comes to providing ideal conditions for river cruising.
The best time for a river cruise in Europe is September.
September has a pleasant climate and usually sees normal water levels, which means a minimal chance of disruption due to high or low water levels. Plus, with the majority of summer crowds gone— and the heat of July and August behind you — September brings some of the best river cruising conditions. Tickets also tends to be cheaper during this time.
October is the next best month to schedule your European river cruise, though the temperature tends to be cooler.
During April, May and June, snow melt and spring rain create flooding in most European rivers. As a result, ships have trouble passing under low-hanging bridges.
When levels start to recede around August, especially after a dry summer, cruises can be postponed or canceled altogether because low water in some of the river systems. However, if this is the best time for you to travel, consider getting cruise insurance so that you’ll be compensated for altered itineraries or canceled sailings.
By November and December, you run the risk of rivers freezing in northern and eastern Europe. They’re sometimes closed shortly after Christmas during the dead of winter. The colder temperatures may also deter you from sitting out on the cruise deck to enjoy views of the passing countryside.
Consider the weather and how much you’ll pay before you take your cruise:
Already have a course in mind? These seasons are lovely for cruising the Rhine, Danube and Main:
Finding the best time of year for your European river cruises makes for a wonderful way to visit bucket list cities throughout the continent. Explore various cruise options to help book the best experience.
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