River cruising is the perfect experience for those with a strong sense of curiosity. It allows you to drift peacefully through some of the world’s most magnificent places, and see them from a unique perspective. Timing can be everything though, and there are specific periods in which you’ll get the best experience out of certain river cruises. Let’s start with Europe.
The Rhine is one of the most defining rivers of this diverse continent, where such sights of castles, churches, cathedrals and palaces will have you slipping dreamily into the past. To experience this scenery at its most magical, spring is one of the best times to go, with borders of blossoming flora that accompany sights and emphasise their fairy tale elements.
Vineyards on the banks of the Moselle
November and December are also brilliant times to cruise along the Rhine, as this time of year provides the opportunity to visit a number of famous Christmas markets around Germany, stopping for coffee amongst the cosy ambience of fairy lights.
The Danube is a river that is well acquainted with 10 of Europe’s countries, passing by capital cities such as Austria, Serbia and Hungary on its route. Once again, spring can be the best time of year to visit, due to the weather not being uncomfortably hot yet you’ll still get to experience the sights through the long sunlit hours.
The Rhone is also beautiful to travel along through from September to May, illuminating the beauty of the many historical attributes of Burgundy and Provence, and capturing the corn and lavender fields that pass by in all their vibrant charm.
Lavender fields of Provence
A cruise along the Douro offers some of the most astoundingly beautiful sights, roaming from the Portuguese coast to the Iberian Peninsula. September to October can be the best time to visit, due to this being a quieter period for tourism, and the onset of autumn emphasises the reds of the vines, which are a particular fascination of the World Heritage upper Douro associated with Portugal’s wines.
Not necessarily the first place that would spring to mind, but Russia’s western rivers offer stunning river cruises in the summer. The Volga and the Neva offer a chance to visit Russia’s two most famous cities – Moscow and St Petersburg – to see their imperial majesty as well as some extraordinary scenery of the countryside between the two.
The Far East is host to the longest river within one country: The Yangtze. This is a tie between the past and present, the old and new. It can transport its visitors through some of the majestic scenery of China, and autumn and spring provide the most comfortable temperatures to experience this, as the weather can get extremely hot at the height of summer.