Winning tip: County Sligo, Ireland
The west coast of Ireland remains one of the best places in the summer if you want to escape the heat. With temperatures rarely (if ever) above 20°C and weather straight from the Atlantic, the inevitable rain will make you appreciate the bursts of sunshine even more. County Sligo is one of the hidden gems of the Wild Atlantic Way, and Strandhill Beach has everything you need for the perfect day: a decent hike to the mysterious and mythical tomb of Queen Maeve (and the views for days if the weather is clear) and Seashells Café for delicious teas and cakes after a cool dip in the Atlantic.
Riga is a brilliant summer destination minus the extreme heat. Always around 22°C, the capital benefits from lovely sea breezes blowing in from the Baltic to keep you energized during its long summer days when the sun sets around midnight. The old town is flat and shiny to explore, with car-free streets, wooden houses, medieval churches and trendy cafes for a cold local beer or refreshing tea – and all at prices that won’t make you sweat . Take a short train ride to Jurmala Beach, where the sand and sea are cool enough for comfortable sunbathing and swimming.
North Uist, Outer Hebrides
Nothing like the Outer Hebrides to cool off. The beaches are gorgeous – white sand and clear waters – but you need your woolens just in case. We stayed at Creagan na Mara near Lochmaddy, North Uist which is perfect for an early morning ferry to the mainland. Since it’s not the easiest place to get to, I 100% recommend staying one night and coming back for easier travel, preferably north of Fort William. Worth it. Besides being cool, the scenery is out of this world and it’s the most relaxing and friendly place I’ve ever been.
Isle of Skye
We like to make an annual visit to Ardvasar on the Isle of Skye. Easily accessible by car, train and ferry, this village is a fantastic base for exploring the southern peninsula of the island, known as the Garden of Skye. There are many beautiful promenades and white sand beaches reminiscent of the Caribbean coasts but without the high temperatures. Ardvasar has several self-catering accommodation options, a hotel and a village shop.
While the heat and crowds make southern Europe unbearable in summer, Copenhagen is chilly in many ways, with temperatures in the low 20s. We go there every summer and can even swim at the Baltic beaches, such as Amager, or at the lovely and invigorating open beaches and harbor baths. It is a large pedestrian city, full of squares, pedestrian streets and green and shady parks. One way to keep cool and get in on the general vibe of the place is to take an hour-long canal cruise – just watching the locals fishing or having picnics relaxes you.
Hell, Stjørdal, Norway
When it’s really hot and you need to cool off, hell is worth the trip. The tiny Norwegian village has a much cooler climate than its fiery namesake – and a convenient train station for easy travel. Three nights at the Radisson Blu hotel will set you back around £500. With less than a mile of travel, the highway to hell may be faster than you thought.
Golitha Falls, Cornwall
Head to Golitha Falls on the beautiful River Fowey. The leafy trees provide shade and the freezing, icy river offers an invigorating spray as it cascades. The dark, moss-covered rocks look like green cushions for the fairies and pixies I imagine playing in the woods.
Wander the town’s shady cobbled lanes sipping a ‘Poor Bear’ ice cream from Cafe Mauds with an extra scoop ‘go for it’. Listen to music singing from everywhere as you chat with the friendliest locals you can find. Then, stroll through the jets of the Albert Clock Fountain as the Salmon of Knowledge (aka the Big Fish printed ceramic mosaic sculpture) watches as it hits the midday sun. To top it off, escape to the cellars and basements of local pubs to listen to live music, experience the chill of the spirit world at Crumlin Road Gaol or smell the icy sea spray at the Titanic Museum.
Cheddar Gorge, Somerset
You don’t have to go to the Highlands to earn a degree or two; simply explore the world below your feet. Cheddar Gorge, nestled in the Mendip Hills of Somerset, is the perfect place to cool off, with its network of caves providing the perfect shelter from the sun. Gough’s Cave is incredibly cool, not just because of its millennial history, like the remains of Cheddar Man, dating back to 7150 BC. AD, but because the caves maintain a constant temperature of 11°C. It is ideal for refining wheels of the famous cheddar cheese, which is best melted on toast. Maybe a little heat isn’t so bad after all!
Summer in Iceland: epic Bond moments, and cool in every sense of the word. Only in summer you can climb behind vast waterfalls (Seljalandsfoss), climb under glaciers through ice caves and take a boat trip among icebergs at Jökulsárlón. The midnight sun provides unlimited daylight, so you can make the most of every minute.