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Europe in bloom: When and where to see the continent's finest flowers


From tulips and edelweiss - discover the continent's iconic seasonal blooms

Colour, fragrance and beauty combined; flowers provide a wonderful accompaniment to some of Europe’s most spectacular natural regions. Whether on the steep slopes of the Douro Valley, the endless tulip fields of Holland, or the alpine reaches of Switzerland and Austria – native seasonal blooms are always a welcome sight on the rivers of Europe.

If you love flowers as much as us, join us as we explore some of the continent’s classic varieties, including lavender, poppies, sunflowers and almond. We’re travelling from the Low Countries to the South of France, bringing you closer to Europe’s floral highlights.

Tulips - Lisse, Netherlands

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Think of the flowers of Europe, and tulips are probably one of the first varieties that spring to mind. Native to the Low Countries, these colourful blooms are cultivated in massive numbers in the Netherlands – with vibrant fields of tulips, in a spectrum of colours, a common sight in Holland’s rural backwaters.

The tulips of the Netherlands are at their best in spring, particularly in April and May. And, one of the best places to see them remains the Keukenhof Gardens – the so-called ‘garden of Europe’ whose sprawling floral display creates one of the world’s largest flower gardens.

Experience Keukenhof and the beautiful blooms of the Netherlands on the Tulips and the Rhine itinerary.

Lavender - Provence, France

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Chances are you’ll smell the fragrant lavender fields of Provence before you see them – their sweet scent permeating this beloved region of southern France in the spring and early summer months. June and July are considered the best times to see and smell Provencal lavender, when the plants are at their most fragrant and colourful.

The historic commune of Sault, which lies slightly east of Avignon, has become the unofficial capital of Provencal lavender. Here, lavender fields seem to stretch for miles in all directions, providing a feast of colour and fragrance for those travelling the water of the Rhône from Lyon to Avignon and beyond.

Marvel at Provence’s prized lavender fields as part of the Sensations of Lyon and Provence journey.

Olive and Almond Blooms - Douro, Portugal

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While the magnificent Douro Valley may be best known for its terraced vineyards and historic ‘quintas’, the region cultivates other seasonal crops too – including olives and almonds. This means that, at certain times of the year, the distinct blooms of olive and almond trees can be seen among the grapevines, providing pops of colour on the Douro’s beautiful riverbanks.

Those cruising the waters of the Douro in spring may catch a glimpse of fragrant almond and olive blooms high up on the slopes of the valley. Such trees are grown commercially on dedicated produce farms, though you may spot wild varieties dotting the landscape.

Of course, if you miss the olive and almond blooms, there’s always the Douro grape harvest, which takes place in September. For wine lovers, this is considered the best time to visit the Douro, as the pickers gather the year’s crop, ready for the press. Working on the steep slopes of the Douro, pickers and farmhands will call out in greeting as your Star-Ship goes by – creating a special memory you won’t forget.

Take in the beauty of northern Portugal on a 2021 Douro river cruise.

Pipacs (Poppies) - Great Hungarian Plain, Hungary

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The untouched, rural landscapes of Hungary offer a swathe of seasonal colour in the spring and summer months, with a variety of wildflowers flourishing from the Slovakian border to the Great Hungarian Plain. Cornflowers, violets, and may bells are among the most common varieties, though pipacs (poppies) are considered one of the national wildflowers of Hungary.

With their long stems and delicate blooms, poppies are rightly beloved across Europe. Here in Hungary, whole fields can be seen on the banks of the Danube, particularly in spring and summer. As the sun sets on the Great Hungarian Plain, its native poppies are a poignant, atmospheric sight.

Revel in the captivating beauty of rural Hungary on our Enchantment of Eastern Europe itinerary.

Cherry Blossoms - Berlin, Germany

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For centuries, Japan’s spectacular cherry blossom trees have delighted visitors from far and wide – their vibrant pink blossoms symbolising the dawn of a new season. But few people know that it’s possible to enjoy this seasonal floral showcase much closer to home, in a handful of Germany’s historic cities.

Following Germany’s reunification, the Japanese Sakura Campaign raised funds to gift the country hundreds of cherry blossom trees. That’s why, today, you’ll see iconic cherry blossoms in Bonn, Berlin, Hamburg, Dortmund and Munich – the blooms providing a symbol of enduring peace for these once war-torn cities. April and May are the best months to see Germany’s beautiful cherry blooms.

Marvel at Germany’s majestic cherry blossom on the Berlin and The Majestic Rhine itinerary.

Sunflowers - South of France

There are few sights more impressive than a field of golden sunflowers, their huge, vibrant heads upturned to the blue sky. This is one of the great wonders of southern France, where sunflowers have been commercially cultivated for decades – providing a feast of colour and fragrance on the banks of the Rhône River.

From Provence to the Mediterranean, sunflowers grow widely throughout the South of France, and are the standout feature announcing the arrival of summer. You’ll see sunflowers growing shoulder to shoulder beside lavender fields in May, June and July – it’s a classic Provencal sight you’ll never forget.

See sunflowers on the Rhône as part of the Aix-en-Provence & Sensations of Lyon and Provence journey.

Edelweiss - Swiss Alps

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The attractive and rare edelweiss flower is one of the continent’s most iconic alpine blooms, growing amid the foothills and grasslands of the Swiss Alps and the Austrian highlands. This delicate flower is an important aspect of Swiss tradition and folklore, and, of course, inspired the classic show tune from the famous musical, The Sound of Music.

Edelweiss flowers are relatively difficult to come by at low altitudes, but time it right and you may see encounter the flower in both Austria and Switzerland. The flowers bloom from July to September, and most often grow on craggy rock faces. It’s important to note that edelweiss is a protected species in Switzerland, so it’s illegal to pick them.

Search for edelweiss amid the beauty of the Alps on the Jewels of the Rhine with Lucerne & Zurich itinerary.

 

Culture, heritage and the natural world are yours to savour on the rivers of Europe. For your chance to encounter beautiful wildflowers and spectacular vistas, explore our collection of deluxe European river cruises or call our team today on 0808 163 6325.