Europe Through the Seasons: Where’s Best to Visit

Europe's effortless beauty all year round means there's never a best time to visit, it just depends on where you want to go. With so many vibrant cities, picture-perfect rural landscapes and relaxing retreats across the continent, there’s an endless number of destinations to choose from.
Whether you’re seeking somewhere rich in culture, an area of sprawling natural wonders or a city to delight in authentic culinary experiences, we’ve handpicked some of the continent’s most stunning places and highlighted the best time to explore them. From spring through to winter, you can start planning your next Europe holiday around the seasons.

Spring in Europe

a group of people that are standing in the grass
Lyon in spring is all about the serene and verdant landscapes. Explore the expansive Parc de la Tête d’Or, wandering among the beautiful flowers, trees and boating lake. A picnic in the park with a spread of French cheese, wine and strawberries is the perfect way to enjoy a spring afternoon in this beautiful city. Before you leave, make sure you visit the Botanical Gardens, housed within the park, to see a magnificent collection of plants from around the world. 

You can also soak up the sights of the city by taking a relaxing stroll or bike ride along the Rhône riverbank. Witness the impressive Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière on the hilltop, the ancient Cathedral of Saint-Jean-Baptiste, and the spires of Saint George Church of Lyon.
a large clock tower in the middle of a garden with Romanian Athenaeum in the background
Bucharest stands proudly on the banks of the Dâmbovița River and its charm is undeniable. The Romanian capital is especially picturesque during the spring months and best explored on foot. From cultural landmarks like the Palace of the Parliament to picturesque parks like Cișmigiu Gardens, there are plenty of things to see in this energetic and dynamic city.

Relax with a picnic in the Cișmigiu Gardens, watching the local wildlife flock around the tranquil lake. The beautiful Romanian Athenaeum concert hall is an idyllic location to enjoy a classical performance after wandering round the ornate Parcul Ateneului gardens.
The Dutch capital of Amsterdam truly comes into bloom during the spring months. Everywhere you turn, you’ll be met with colourful displays of tulips. There’s a reason these flowers have become synonymous with the Netherlands. The country’s tulips are a sight that needs to be seen to be truly appreciated. Enjoy the world famous flower strip and wander through Amsterdam’s annual Tulip Festival during April. 

Elsewhere, the city’s iconic canal system is enjoyable to navigate on foot or by bike – the typical mode of transport for locals. Or board a traditional glass-top canal boat to take in the city’s historical centre from the water. The gabled buildings, rows of tulips and quaint canal boats of the city will charm you.

Summer in Europe

St Petersburg
Considered the imperial capital of Russia, St Petersburg is best visited during the summer. The city of ‘White Nights’ attracts people from all over the world during these months owing to its more temperate weather, which is a complete contrast to the cold winters. Discover the majestic architecture and highlights of the city, including The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, Peterhof Palace, and the Winter Palace.

By day, indulge in some delectable Russian ice cream as you stroll the parks and streets, or pop by a café for a slice of traditional medovik honey cake. Kirov Park on Yelagin Island and Maritime Victory Park on Krestovsky Island are both peaceful retreats from the bustle of the city. During the evenings, head to one of the city’s many theatres to watch a classical ballet or opera performance, both of which have become an integral part of Russia’s heritage.
a castle with water in front of a building
Summer is the perfect time to soak up the romantic atmosphere of Bordeaux. The French city is famed for its delicious selection of wines. There’s no better way to experience the city than with a glass of local wine as you watch the sun set.

During the daytime, take a tour of the renowned vineyards and learn more about the wine-making process. Or wander the streets to be inspired by the city’s elegant architecture. Widely considered to be France’s most culturally significant city after Paris, Bordeaux features an epic 1,910 hectares of urban area belonging to designated World Heritage Sites. Visit the Triangle d’Or (golden triangle), the lavish 18th-century Palais de la Bourse, and the ancient Grosse Cloche belfry.
a boat traveling along a river next to a body of water
Moselle Valley
With its rolling vineyards, fairytale-like villages and pastoral hills, the Moselle Valley has all the right ingredients for a romantic summer holiday. Bask amidst the relaxing postcard-worthy landscapes, enjoying a myriad of traditional German cultural experiences.

The region is renowned for its exquisite Rieslings, which are among the best in the world. Savour a glass of local wine in one of the quaint riverside bars or embark on a tour of the area’s sun-drenched vineyards. A number of towns and villages are dotted along the Moselle Valley, including Trier and Koblenz. Be entranced by the ancient architecture and Roman influences in Trier, such as the 2nd-century fortified Porta Nigra gate. The Moselle meets the Rhine River in Koblenz, offering an idyllic route for cyclists and walkers. Take a cable car across the river to Ehrenbreitstein Fortress or witness the mighty 37-metre high monument of German emperor Wilhelm I.

Autumn in Europe

a bridge over a body of water
Not only is Paris a little less crowded in autumn, nature is also at its prettiest this time of year. Reminiscent of a watercolour painting, red, yellow and orange leaves scatter parks across the city. The Jardin de Luxembourg is the archetypal Parisian park; as the source of inspiration for many artists and writers spanning centuries, the park’s sprawling landscapes are sure to ignite your creativity. 

Experience the magnificent landmarks of the ‘City of Lights’ at your leisure, from the iconic Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe. Or visit the world’s largest art museum, the Louvre. A brisk walk around the city is made more magical with the chance to warm up over a hot drink in one of the many patisseries or quaint cafés. In the evening, enjoy a glass of French wine overlooking the glistening lights of the city.
a close up of a green field with a mountain in the background
Douro Valley
The sun-soaked Douro Valley is a beautifully peaceful destination for autumn. Attracting fewer crowds and pleasant temperatures, Portugal’s acclaimed wine region is most enjoyable during these months. The timeless villages, green pastures and hilltop wine estates will enchant you.

The city of Porto is a gem of the Douro Valley. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed city possesses an intoxicating charm due to its rich history, maze of cobbled streets, and colourful buildings. Savour an authentic glass of Port wine – the city’s namesake – cultivated from local wineries along the Douro Valley. Golden autumnal sunsets over the river offer a romantic flourish to your holiday.
You might be drawn to the vibrant summer scenes of Hungary’s capital, but Budapest is just as beautiful, if not more so, in the autumn months. The city’s thermal spas are the perfect place to warm up and take in the views, while enjoying an authentic cultural experience. Budapest’s bathing heritage dates all the way back to Roman times and has become an integral part of the city.

Wander along the sweeping tree-lined boulevards, taking in the impressive architecture. The Hungarian Parliament Building looks truly magical lit up at night, as does the glistening lion-fronted Széchenyi Chain Bridge. On bright autumnal days, take a brisk walk up Buda Hill to Buda Castle for views across the entire city.

Winter in Europe

A city of opposites, Strasbourg in France fuses medieval architecture with contemporary touches. Due to this, the city offers a delightfully unpredictable mix of sights and cultural experiences, so there is something to suit every type of traveller.

In the winter months, the twinkling Christmas lights and festive wooden huts amid the historic riverside backdrop make the city truly magical. Stroll around the various Christmas markets, enjoying local Alsacian delicacies such as choucroute (wine pickled cabbage with sausages and pork) and flammekueche (wood-fired pizza topped with crème fraîche, bacon and onions). The city is at the heart of France’s Christmas markets and is home to the country’s first ever market, dating back to 1570. Today, the main market area can be found in the Old Town at Grande Île, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site.
a clock tower lit up at night
The city of classical music is enchanting all year round, but perhaps mostly so during winter. Clear blue skies, a crisp blanket of snow and bustling Christmas markets cast a fairytale glow on the Austrian capital in wintertime.

Weave a magical route through the city’s lively market stalls during the daytime, warming up over a hot mug of mulled wine and a slice of traditional sachertorte. In the evening, your festive celebrations wouldn’t be complete without witnessing a classical ballet or opera performance at one of the city’s famed theatres.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague’s Baroque cathedrals, Gothic monasteries and charming cobbled streets appear even more magical during the winter months. You will feel as though you have stepped into a fairytale when you look out over the ‘City of a Hundred Spires’ under a dusting of snow, surrounded by the lush forestry and serene Vltava River.

The city’s Old Town Square, home to the world-famous Prague Astronomical Clock, features the biggest number of Christmas markets in the whole of the Czech Republic. Marvel at traditional handmade fare, including Czech blown glass ornaments and carved wooden toys. Be tempted by the classic festive treats on display, such as Czech Christmas biscuits, hot roasted chestnuts and Czech grilled sausages. 

Europe Through the Seasons with Scenic

Whichever corner of the continent you wish to uncover, you can explore Europe in truly all-inclusive luxury on a Scenic river cruise. Join us on one of our 5-star Space-Ships for a relaxing journey to both renowned cities and quaint villages, witnessing the very best of Europe like never before. View our complete collection of European river cruises online or request your free brochure to learn more.