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What's The Best Time To Take a European River Cruise?

Are you planning a river cruise in Europe this Spring, Summer or Fall? Before you book that cruise down the Rhine, Danube or Seine rivers, be sure to find out what's the best time to take that river cruise. Water levels vary during the year, crowds and weather plays a big factor in deciding when to go. Choose the right cruise, have fun, and know you traveled along Europe's iconic rivers at the best time of the year.
So what time is best for sailing some of Europe’s most popular rivers? Read on....


Danube River Cruises

Cruising through Germany, Austria, Hungary and seven other countries all the way to the Black Sea, the Danube is the soul of Central Europe. Travel along these culture-rich banks, whose scenic vineyards, ancient monasteries and elegant cities have inspired travelers for centuries.


Highlights of the Danube River

A Danube River cruise unveils Europe’s rich and dramatic history. Glittering cultural capitals, lush vineyards, magnificent monasteries and endless scenic splendor line the river’s banks. Here are some sample highlights you will see with Viking:


  • Enchanting Passau, set where three rivers meet
  • Lush vineyards of the Wachau Valley
  • The baroque splendor of Melk Abbey
  • Vienna’s elegant architecture
  • The splendid Benedictine Abbey of Göttweig
  • Scenic beauty of the picturesque Danube Bend
  • Budapest’s stunning Chain Bridge and Parliament Building
  • Soaring cliffs of the scenic Iron Gate
  • Romania’s rural culture and rich folklore
  • Belgrade’s impressive Kalemegdan Fortress

    When to cruise the Danube River?

    Spring: Great to see all the flowers in bloom during the spring. Spring temperatures are milder than during the summer.

    Summer: June, July & August are peak season travel months. Larger crowds

    Fall: September to December river cruises are more affordable.

    December: If you’re into unique holiday shopping,  make sure you look into a  Danube Christmas Market cruise

    Rhine River Cruises

    Raise a glass of Riesling to acclaimed Rhine River cruises through Switzerland, Germany and The Netherlands. See how the Rhine, Main and Moselle river systems unfold to create a spellbinding display of storybook villages, Dutch windmills, German vineyards and Gothic cities.

    Highlights of the Rhine River

    A Rhine River cruise takes you into the heart of Middle Europe, where stately castles, fairytale villages and cultural centers have long been witnesses to history. The river’s banks are brimming with historic treasures, natural beauty and vibrant capitals. Here are a few highlights Viking reveals to you: 

  • Amsterdam’s charming canals and gabled houses
  • Windmills of Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Cologne’s Gothic Dom
  • Rüdesheim’s wine-growing region
  • Marksburg Castle, perched above scenic Braubach
  • Multicultural Strasbourg
  • Breathtaking views of the legendary Black Forest
  • The distinct French-German culture of Alsace
  • Mythical Lorelei Rock at the Middle Rhine Gorge
  • Stunning Heidelberg, inspiration to writers and philosophers


    When to cruise the Rhine River?


    Spring : In the spring, high water levels on the Rhine are unpredictable.

    Summer: June, July & August are peak season travel months. Larger crowds

    Fall: From September through October, the weather is dry and the crowds are smaller.

    December: Europe’s holiday season, and Christmas Markets are all along the Rhine.

    What About Water Levels?

    Should water levels recede, Viking has several contingency plans to bypass any affected areas and minimize the impact to each cruisetour. One strategy employed,  is what's know as, a ship swap.  Passengers on a ship that is on one side of a low water level section of the river change places with passengers on a sister ship, where the water levels are fine.  As all Viking Longships are identical, you get the same cabin and continue on with your journey.

    Seine River Cruises

    The Seine meanders on a serpentine path through the Norman countryside, an historic region of great pastoral beauty. Drift along dreamy apple orchards and medieval ruins. Explore elegant Paris. See Monet’s Giverny home. And honor World War II heroes on Normandy beaches.

    Highlights of the Seine River

    It is only 110 miles as the crow flies from Paris to the English Channel, but the Seine River snakes its way through 240 miles of magnificent Norman vistas. There is much to see as this waterway winds through France’s history: the riverside cultural monuments of Paris, scenic vistas that still today inspire great artists, farmlands that produce Calvados apple liqueur, and so much more. Here are some select highlights you will enjoy during a Seine river cruise:

    • The magnificent sights of Paris, from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame Cathedral
    • Claude Monet’s beautiful house and gardens at Giverny
    • Rouen’s spectacular Gothic cathedral
    • Normandy’s historic beaches, site of the 1944 D-Day landings
    • The remains of Château Gaillard, Richard the Lionheart’s castle
    • Napoleon’s final home, Château de Malmaison
    • Scenic farmlands dotted with Norman cows and half-timbered houses
    • Creamy samples of locally made Brie and Camembert cheeses


    When to cruise the Rhine River?


    Spring: Best deals  from March to May

    Summer: In the Summer months the weather is hot and with not much rain. The popularity of Visiting Normandy’s historic beaches, site of the 1944 D-Day landings draws large crowds.
    Fall: From September to October, cooler temperatures and little worry about water levels.

    Christmas:  Paris during Christmas. What an experience.


    All About European River Cruises

    Immerse yourself in the Old World as you sail Europe’s most iconic rivers. Discover Danube gems like Vienna and Budapest. See storied Rhine castles. Trace French history along the Seine. From the Main to the Moselle, the Douro to the Dordogne, the Viking experience is unsurpassed. Viking takes you to the heart of Europe via its grand waterways, providing you with boundless insight into the continent’s cultural and historic treasures. Immerse yourself in the storybook villages, vibrant cultural centers and picturesque landscapes of The Netherlands, Austria, Germany, France, Hungary and Switzerland, and unlock a whole new world of discovery. Here is a sample of what you will see on one of our European river cruises: 

  • Visits to Germany’s charming wine-producing villages
  • Culinary delights in Lyon, France
  • Medieval Prague, “City of a Thousand Spires”
  • The elegant boulevards and grand monuments of Paris
  • Historic Wittenberg, home to Martin Luther
  • Fairytale windmills of The Netherlands
  • Wine tastings in the quintas of Portugal’s Douro Valley
  • Budapest’s regal Parliament building and Chain Bridge
  • Vienna’s inspirational legacy of classical music
  • France’s famed wineries in Beaujolais, Bordeaux and beyond

    Looking to Book a Viking River Cruise in Europe?

    Cruise Tip:  Before booking that river cruise,  research your options and speak with experts to learn about the best time to go, and what to see & do.
    Get our personal recommendations, based on first-hand knowledge and experience. we'll help you find a European river cruise that fits your budget, travel preferences, and lifestyle. Call us at 800.365.1445 to get your personalized cruise recommendations. The call is free and so is the advice.

  • Did you know?...

    There is no advantage to booking directly with Viking. In fact, there are often monetary and service incentives to booking Viking cruises through one of their Certified Master Viking Cruise Advisors.  These incentives and complimentary perks include available shipboard credit, (up to as much as $400 a couple ) not available directly from Viking. Plus the services of the same advisor from the very start of the planning process to follow-up after your cruise.  At the cruise line you'll be connected to call center agents that you're likely never get to speak to twice again,  as the chances are slim that you reach the same person, every time you call the cruise line for help.

    How to Book a Viking Ocean or River Cruise

    We’re here to help you navigate the many options available to river and ocean cruising. With so many offers, and incentives by Viking, deciding which cruise to take, when to go, and what to do once you get there can often seem overwhelming.

    We are among a select group of leading experts regarding Viking Cruises. Take advantage of our 20 years+ experience and expertise. We offer FREE planning help, with never an obligation to book. Call us at 800.365.1445. The call is free and so is the advice.

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    We travel to explore, to learn, to understand. We believe travel should be more than just a trip, it should be a doorway to cultural insight & personal enrichment. These intimate, inclusive river and ocean cruise itineraries are designed .to help you explore nuances of your destination: its food, culture, people & customs.

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    If you or a guest is pregnant or if there is a need to communicate a request for special meals, medical conditions or physical challenges, you must contact us or the cruise line, prior to booking. Failure to disclose If you or a guest is pregnant, or have any medical conditions or physical challenges may result in denied boarding and no refund will be issued. Minimum age requirements apply.


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