From mountains to icy hotels or fake Christmas parties, it’s never been easier to hide from the scorching summer heat
This year’s summer heatwave has been especially tough. Getting out of your house almost anywhere in Europe, North America and Asia feels like entering the gates of hell.
If you’re fed up with looking for the last piece of shade, air-conditioned premises or overcrowded public pools, pack your stuff and head to one of the destinations that are cool. Literally.
Our first choice is not a coincidence, as just saying its name out loud reduces the feverish feeling at least temporarily. Honestly, where else to escape from extreme temperatures than to a country named after the very opposite of heat?
With temperatures reaching slightly above 20 degrees, summer in Iceland gives you the ideal conditions to explore its unique landscapes full of the greenest of grass, majestic mountains and geysers. The perk of the season is also its extended daytime, leaving the sun trickling across the landmarks for almost all of the day. The more romantic among you can enjoy the untamed nature while horse riding along the countryside.
Whale watching on the coastline or geothermal bathing in the omnipresent geysers are also experiences you can’t have in many other places. And hanging around the country’s capital Reykjavik, or any other inhabited area on the island, will give you the feeling there are no real problems in life, thanks to the smiles that never cease to decorate the faces of locals.
Belfast and the Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the rare places that has managed to escape the heatwave that’s currently enveloping Europe. The mild climate lacks any severe temperature extremes, making the location an ideal, reachable, and affordable hideout for all melting individuals.
The country serves both those who seek a hedonistic party town in the country’s capital, Belfast, as well as all nature lovers.
Being home to some of Ireland’s most incredible sights, the Causeway Coastal Route stretching 314 km between the cities of Belfast and Derry is an absolute must-see.
Offering sights such as the Giant’s Causeway, a geological wonder that was either formed during volcanic activity over 60 million years ago or by the giant Finn Macool, and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, the land was selected as one of the main shooting locations of the famous Game of Thrones series.
The capital is in many ways quite a new city. In recent years, it has undergone an outstanding transformation from a place once linked to violence to a cultural hotspot. While featuring old architectural gems such as the Belfast City Hall, built in a Victorian style, the city has become quite the design destination with the trendy new towers of the Titanic Quarter, or the arty Cathedral Quarter.
With the most Instagrammable green landscapes and giant succulents, the archipelago of the Azores is sometimes called the new Iceland. Located in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, this group of nine volcanic islands has a surprisingly mild summer.
Temperatures reaching around 20 degrees make the relatively isolated islands a hikers’ dream. This autonomous region of Portugal would suit the more active of travellers being the ideal spot for kayaking, canoeing or whale watching. Mountain biking, fishing, or even paragliding are also very popular.
The Azoreans are fully dedicated to the preservation of their natural heritage, which makes it an ideal destination for those who appreciate sustainability.
The regional government has expressed its plans to produce 75 per cent of the islands’ energy from renewables. In 2017 the Azores were named as the world’s top destination for sustainable tourism by Quality Coast, a European Commission-supported certification programme.
While being still slightly off the usual radar of travellers, the Azores have started to gain the spotlight, also thanks to recognition by Unesco for its unique biosphere. Now, the Azores are even more accessible than ever with direct flights from New York City.
ICEHOTEL 365 – Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Now this one is more specific, but what can be better to refresh your steaming body than actual ice? Being a permanent structure filled with frozen water, the ICEHOTEL 365 in the Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi – 200 km north of the Arctic Circle – gives you the option to enjoy the coldest of the cold, even during the peak of summer.
Despite being made of ice, the rooms are luxurious, each with a private relaxation area and bathroom, and art suites, all sculptured by selected artists. The hotel also features a large ice bar that serves champagne, and an ice gallery.
The year-round operation is also eco-friendly with solar panels running the coolers during the summer months.
It’s all about ice and creativity – with art as the result, and that’s why it attracts artists from all around the world each year.
Get the chill in Chile – Santiago
Going down to the southern hemisphere is always a good idea when the summer is unbearable. And Chile is the place that can give you maximum chill.
Santiago is a cosmopolitan, energetic and madhouse party city, surrounded by the Andes mountains, reaching up to 6,570 metres.
The city is filled with monuments and artistic centres. Don’t miss the opportunity to check out the Centro Gabriela Mistral, a cultural and performing arts centre that received its name after the first Latin American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, or Pablo Neruda’s secret house of La Chascona, where the poet spent his time with his mistress Matilde Urrutia.
Winter in Chile is also the perfect time for some serious wine tasting, which gives you the option of leaving the city and enjoying the peace of the green valleys around. To experience the whole wine tradition, take a route through Colchagua valley that also features the Colchagua Museum, exhibiting artefacts from pre-Columbian history.
Fake Christmas – Buenos Aires, South America
Carols, snow outside the window, eggnog and wood slowly burning in the fireplace. The image of Christmas can’t be further from the reality that most Northerners are experiencing right now.
But, since there are a lot of expats living in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires who suffer from the fact that they have to celebrate Christmas in the middle of summer, they’ve decided to recreate the atmosphere of a real white Christmas during June, July, and August to simply get themselves into the right mood.
So if you feel like Christmas could cool you down a little now, try to get an invite to a Fake Christmas party. You can look for some on the Buenos Aires Expat Hub’s Facebook page.
Hiking in the Alps – Switzerland
If you look at the map indicating the current temperature in Europe, you wouldn’t get many spots that aren’t hellishly red (meaning above 30 degrees). Berlin, Amsterdam, Vienna, Paris, everything is almost melting. Portugal and Spain are bracing themselves for temperatures reaching up to 50 degrees, but there is a slight spot of cool on the map, right between France, Italy, Germany and Austria.
Being hidden in the mountains, temperatures in Switzerland don’t often rise so high and the forecast for the next few days and weeks looks more than pleasant. This makes it an ideal getaway for all nature enthusiasts as well as chocolate- and watch-lovers.
Take your time to explore the surroundings of Geneva, have a ride over the Landwasser Viaduct, take part in a 5.5-hour round-trip to Mt Pilatus from Lucerne with a 30-minute panoramic gondola ride, or just simply pack your bag, grab your Nordic walking sticks and hit some of the famous hiking trails.
Winter is what many of us crave right now, and New Zealand simply rocks in winter. From sporty attractions to cool events, or just chilled out destinations, the land of the Hobbits has a bit of something for everyone.
The country is home to so many ski resorts, that you can’t talk yourself out of not visiting one. If you plan to go to the North Island, head to Mount Ruapehu. Cardrona, Mt Hutt and Treble Cone are the most popular on the South Island.
There’s no better time to make the trek over the Franz Josef or Fox glaciers that top New Zealand travellers’ to-do lists, than in winter. The season reduces the chances of rainfall and the glacier is much more, well, icy in winter!
If you want to see one of the most scenic train journeys in the world, take the Arthur’s Pass. In winter, the route becomes a true wonderland.