Winning tip: County Sligo, Ireland
The west coast of Ireland remains one of the best summer destinations if you want to escape the heat. With temperatures rarely (if ever) above 20C and the weather rolling in straight from the Atlantic, the inevitable rain will make you appreciate the sunshine even more. County Sligo is one of the hidden gems of the Wild Atlantic Way, and Strandhill beach has everything you need for a perfect day: a decent hike up to the mysterious, mythical Queen Maeve’s tomb (and views for days if the weather is clear) and shells Kafe for delicious tea and cake after a cool Atlantic dip.
Riga is a brilliant summer destination minus the extreme heat. Always around 22C, the capital has lovely sea breezes coming off the Baltic Sea to keep you energized during the long summer days as the sun sets towards midnight. The Old Town is flat and glorious to explore, with car-free streets, wooden houses, medieval churches and trendy cafes for chilled local lager or refreshing tea – and all at prices that won’t break a sweat. Take a short train ride to Jurmala Beach, where the sand and sea are cool enough to sunbathe and swim comfortably.
North Uist, Outer Hebrides
There’s no place like the Outer Hebrides for keeping cool. The beaches are amazing – white sand and clear water – but you’ll need woolies just in case. We stayed at Creagan na Mara near Lochmaddy, North Uist, which is perfect for an early morning ferry back to the mainland. As it is not the easiest place to get to, I 100% recommend staying a night there and back to ease the journey, preferably north of Fort William. It’s worth the effort. Besides being cool, the scenery is out of this world and it’s the most relaxed and friendliest place I’ve ever been.
Isle of Skye
We love making 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 island’s southern peninsula, known as the Garden of Skye. There are many beautiful walks and white sandy beaches reminiscent of the Caribbean coast, but minus the soaring 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 cool in many ways, with temperatures in the low 20s. We go every summer and can even swim on Baltic beaches, such as Amager, or the beautiful, refreshing open lidos and harbor baths. It is a great tourist town, full of squares, car-free streets and green, shady parks. One way to keep cool and keep up with the whole vibe of the place is to take an hour canal cruise – just watching the locals fishing or having a picnic will relax you.
Hell, Stjørdal, Norway
When it’s baking hot and you need to cool down, Hell is worth a visit. The small Norwegian village has a much cooler climate than its fiery namesake – and a convenient train station for easy onward travel. Three nights at the Radisson Blu hotel will set you back around £500. With less than a mile to go, the highway to hell may be faster than you thought.
Golitha Falls, Cornwall
Walk to Golitha Falls on the beautiful River Fowey. The leafy trees provide shade, and the flowing, icy river provides a refreshing spray as it flows down. The dark, moss-covered rocks look like green cushions for the fairies and goblins I imagine playing in the forest.
Wander down the town’s shady, cobbled streets with a ‘Poor Bear’ ice cream from Cafe Mauds with a ‘go on then’ extra scoop. Hear music from all sides while chatting with the friendliest locals you’ll ever find. Then wander through the spray from the Albert Clock Fountain as the Salmon of Knowledge (AKA Big Fish printed ceramic mosaic sculpture) watches as it hits the midday sun. To top it off, escape to the cellars and cellars of local pubs for some live music, experience the chill of the spirit world at Crumlin Road Gaol, or feel the icy splash of sea at the Titanic Museum.
Cheddar Gorge, Somerset
There’s no need to head to the swaggering highlands to drop a notch or two; just explore the world beneath your feet. Set in Somerset’s Mendip Hills, Cheddar Gorge 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 only because of its thousands of years of history, such as the remains of Cheddar Man, which date back to 7150BC, but because the caves maintain a constant temperature of 11C. This is ideal for maturing wheels of the famous cheddar cheese, best melted on toast. Maybe a little heat isn’t so bad after all!
Summer in Iceland: epic Bond-worthy moments, and on the cool side in every sense of the word. Only in summer you can climb behind large waterfalls (Seljalandsfoss), climb under glaciers through ice caves and take a boat trip among the icebergs at Jökulsárlón. The midnight sun provides unlimited daylight, so you can make the most of every minute.