You may think of summer as prime time for holidays, but why not beat the rush and book a European canal or river cruise in the Spring? More comfortable temperatures and less crowded tourist attractions – not to mention the chance to enjoy a relaxing holiday in one of Europe’s prettiest regions as it wakes from its winter slumber – all make Spring cruising a delight. Here are some of our top Springtime locations:
The Canal du Midi
Picturesque at any time of year, this historic French waterway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, becomes especially charming as winter loosens its grip. As the trees lining the canal start to bud, an abundance of wild flowers bursts into life, including the vibrant poppy and elegant mimosa. In the countryside, gently rolling hills get greener as the days get longer and warmer, and the scent of almond blossoms floats on the breeze. Choose a 6-night cruise on the hotel barge Anjodi or Enchanté if you’re looking for a little rural French tranquillity during the Spring months.
Southern Europe can be uncomfortably hot in the summer, so Spring is the ideal time to visit Italy. And since the tourist season isn’t yet in full swing, crowds will be thinner and rates lower. From late March to May there are plenty of dry, temperate days, perfect for being out on the spacious sun deck of our Italian hotel barge, La Bella Vita, as she cruises from Venice to Mantua. Like the Canal du Midi, you should expect Italy to be in full bloom, with flowers bursting from market stalls, shop windows and the gardens of Renaissance villas you will visit along the way. As you navigate through the idyllic Po Delta, expect to see the wetlands coming to life with fish and birds. And you can be sure that your onboard chef will prepare gourmet meals using the bounty of local Italian produce that is in season, including artichokes, asparagus, strawberries and truffles.
Spring is by far the best time to visit Holland when the country’s famous tulips are in full bloom. A cruise along the delightful waterways of the western provinces aboard the Panache reveals a countryside sprinkled with windmills and striped with bulb fields of purple, yellow, red, and orange. If you just can’t get enough of these colourful blooms, there’s much more waiting for you at Keukenhof gardens in Lisse. Open annually from mid-March to mid-May, the so-called “Garden of Europe” boasts over 7 million individual flowering bulbs – truly breathtaking!