Top 10 coolcations in Europe to avoid the heat
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Coolcations – 10 Summer Holidays to Avoid The Heatwaves in Europe

Coolcations from Finland to Fuerteventura, Norway to Normandy, I’ve got 10 great summer holidays to avoid high temperatures in Europe.

Coolcations is a buzzword that popped up at the beginning of the year as one of the new travel trends. Most of us involved in the travel industry believed that this wouldn’t catch on in Ireland, and that people would still travel to hot climates in July and August as we have always done.

However, global temperatures last year were the hottest on record, and it is likely that temperatures will rise even further this year. The wildfires that swept through Rhodes and other parts of Europe last year, and the recent announcement from Ryanair that flight sales were lower than expected in July and August, may mean that some people have already made the decision to avoid peak summer temperatures. For the rest of us, it looks like it is only a matter of time before we start to think about swapping sun holidays for coolcations…

With this in mind I have selected some holiday destinations in Europe with cooler climates, as well as ideas for sun holidays that are not too hot, or at least are unlikely to get heatwaves like what we have seen in Europe in recent times.

Holiday Destinations in Europe with Cooler Climates

1. Norway

new routes from Dublin airport to Bergen

Bergen is Norway’s second largest city, but I’m told it feels like a small town. It is renowned for being the capital of the Fjords and for its UNESCO World Heritage site Bryggen – a colourful wharf with museums, shops, galleries, and restaurants.

Bergen is also UNESCO city of gastronomy, and has a famous outdoor fish market that is a real treat for seafood lovers. It is also a lively city, with plenty of concerts and live music venues.

Bergen is called ‘the city between the seven mountains’ so it is popular with hikers. The most easily accessible summit can be reached on a six-minute funicular ride from the city centre, while the highest of the seven mountains is 643 metres above sea level, which can be reached by cable car, and offers panoramic views of the city, the islands and fjords.

Most visitors tend to book a tour of the fjords as Bergen is located between two of Norway’s biggest. A trip on the Bergen Railway (voted one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys ) is also another popular thing to do.

Oslo is also having a moment, its latest tourism video has gone viral for its sarcastic ‘is it even a city’ approach. It is famous for having innovative architecture and museums – two of the biggest art museums in Europe have just opened there.

It is also a green city – more than half of it is covered by parkland, and it is connected to a fjord. You can even go island hopping here – there are 40 islands within the city limits!  

How to get to Norway: Fly direct from Dublin to Bergen with Widerøe, or Dublin to Oslo with SAS.

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2. Finland / Estonia

coolcations in Finland

While Finland holidays may be synonymous with winter trips to Lapland, summer time is a wonderful time to visit. Like Norway, it is considered the land of the midnight sun, so you can enjoy sunshine almost 24 hours a day in the summer.

There are plenty of lakes, mountains and beaches to enjoy with an average temperature of 20 degrees, and if the temperature drops, there are 3 million sauna experiences to enjoy! 70% of Finland is covered in forests and there are over 40 national parks.

Helsinki is known as the Art Nouveau capital of Europe, and is home to 330 islands – it is the world’s largest archipelago. It is also considered one of the safest cities to explore, with modern public transport and crisp clean air. It was also voted the happiest country in the world for seven years in a row.

A twin centre holiday with Estonia is a great combination – it is just 60km from Helsinki to Tallin and is easily reached by ferry in just over 2 hours.

Estonia is the northernmost country in the Baltic region and is home to 2300 islands – it is often called Finland’s little brother.

Tallin, Estonia

The seaside city of Tallinn is has a picture postcard medieval town with cobblestone streets and stunning architecture, including a show-stopping cathedral and castle. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe.

How to get to Finland and Estonia: Finnair fly daily from Dublin to Helsinki and Ryanair fly from Dublin to Tallin twice weekly.

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3. Iceland

Iceland in summer time

Iceland has been a popular short break destination for many years, particularly during the winter time, as visitors chase the northern lights.

However, visiting Iceland during the summer does have its advantages. It is 18 – 23 hours of daylight, so there is more time to explore its natural wonders! It is packed with hot springs, glaciers and fjords, and visiting them during warmer temperatures is a lot more pleasurable.

There are many parts of Iceland that are almost impossible to visit during the winter months as roads are quite often impassable due to snow. The remote highlands and Westfjords are spectacular, you will find glaciers, volcanoes, fjords and waterfalls here, it is Iceland at its best, and a paradise for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Iceland is one of the best places in Europe to go whale watching and the summer is the best time to see them.

How to get to Iceland: There are daily flights from Dublin to Reykjavik with Iceland Air and five times weekly with Play Airlines.

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4. Austria

Hallstatt, Austria
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Swap beaches and bars for lakes and mountains. Austria is a great choice for an active summer holiday. Ski resorts are transformed into popular summer holiday destinations, with cable cars and gondolas used to transport people up and down the mountains.

Choose a walking, cycling or hiking holiday and relax in one of the many outdoor thermal baths at the end of the day, surrounded by snow capped mountains.

There are many music festivals during the summer, including the Innsbruck festival in July and August and the Salzburg festival in May, June, July or August, where the average temperature is about 25 degrees.

How to get to Austria:

There are direct flights to Vienna but if you want to holiday in the Alps, it is best to fly into Munich as there are no flights to Salzburg from Ireland during the summer. Package holidays offer the best value and are available with Topflight and TUI with flights into Munich. Average transfer times are about 90 minutes.

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Sun Holidays With Cooler Climates

5. Northern France

Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy

Brittany and Normandy are packed with gorgeous beaches, pretty villages and plenty of vineyards. The walled town of St Malo shouldn’t be missed in Brittany, while the abbey at Mont St Michel is a must see in Normandy. History buffs can also enjoy exploring WW2 battlegrounds, see the American cemetery and many museums pertaining to D Day.

Slightly further south is La Rochelle and the Vendee region which has a wide selection of campsites and is the gateway to the beautiful island, Île de Ré. There is a choice of accommodation options with everything from campsites to chateaux as well as gites and hotels.

For families looking for coolcations – but still want sunshine and beach time, Northern France is an ideal choice.

How to get to Northern France:

There are numerous ferry services including Brittany Ferries from Cork to Roscoff, Irish Ferries from Dublin to Cherbourg, and Brittany Ferries & Stenaline from Rosslare to Cherbourg. There are also flights to Nantes from Ryanair and Aer Lingus, La Rochelle from Dublin & Cork with Ryanair and Rennes with Aer Lingus from Dublin.

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6. Madeira, Portugal

Madeira is a great choice for coolcations as it rarely sees temperatures rise above 27 degrees

Often described as the Hawaii of Europe, the volcanic island of Madeira rarely sees temperatures rise above 27 degrees – despite its location off the African coast.

This tropical Portuguese island is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, due to its many hiking trails, natural pools and adventure activities – canyoning, rafting and tobogganing are just some of the activities available.

Its vibrant capital, Funchal has a huge choice of shops, bars and restaurants, and is known as a top foodie location.

How to get to Madeira: Ryanair fly weekly from Dublin

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7. Lisbon Coast, Portugal

The Lisbon Coast has it all, a wonderful city that is packed with things to do, a coastline with pretty resorts and a mild Mediterranean climate that rarely gets above 28 degrees.

Cascais and Estoril are great choices for beach holidays for couples and families, and you can combine a beach stay with a few days in Lisbon – it is just 30 minutes away by train.

Cascais was a favourite holiday resort with the Portuguese royal family. It has a gorgeous old town with a modern marina, great restaurants and popular boutiques

Read: Top things to do in Lisbon with or without kids

Read: Where to stay in Lisbon – A first timers guide

How to get to Lisbon: There are daily flights from Dublin with Aer Lingus, TAP Air Portugal and Ryanair.

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8. Canary Islands, Spain

While the Canary Islands may not usually be associated with cooler climates, they do have a consistent summer temperature of around 27 degrees, due to their location close to the equator. Heatwaves like we have seen in Greece, Turkey and Italy are rarely seen in the Canary Islands, there is often a cool breeze circulating in the Canary Islands too.

Fuerteventura, known as the windy island, tends to feel the coolest, and the north of Tenerife has a cooler climate than the south, due to the volcano, Mount Teide, that divides the island in two halves.

For those looking for coolcations – but still want traditional sun holiday resorts, it is hard to beat the Canary Islands.  

How to get to the Canary Islands: There are multiple flight options from Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Knock airport, and TUI have good value package holiday deals to all islands.

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9. Northern Spain

San Sebastian

Swap the Costa del Sol for the Costa Brava, or Seville for Bilbao, and you may find milder temperatures during the summer months. There are numerous direct flights to Bilbao, as well as a ferry service from Rosslare to Bilbao, and road trip through the Basque Country is a wonderful idea. 

Read: San Sebastian

Read: 48 Hours in Bilbao

Read: Discovering Rioja

While the seaside town of San Sebastian may be a household name, the lesser known beach resorts in Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia will offer better value, and perhaps cooler climates. The Costa Brava is another popular choice with direct flights to Girona from Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Knock airports.

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10. Cornwall, UK

Cornwall cove beach
Image by falco from Pixabay

If you fancy a summer holiday closer to home, take advantage of the new services from Ryanair and Emerald Airlines (via the Aer Lingus website), to Newquay from Dublin airport.

Known as one of the Celtic nations, Cornwall has a quaint centre that is full of old world charm.  Its southern location ensures warm temperatures during the summer months, which are ideal if you want to relax on some of its golden sandy beaches.

Families will love the futuristic Eden Project – where sustainability combines with family fun.

Read: 10 unique family breaks in the UK

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I hope this post on coolcations will help you plan a holiday soon. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, descriptions and flight details are subject to change. Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links, where I receive a small commission if a booking is made,  but at no additional cost to you.

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