5 of Europe’s best coolcations this summer

For travellers keen to skip the rising heat on a summer holiday, Laura French rounds up some of Europe’s best spots for cooler climes

It’s official – 2024 is shaping up to be the year of the ‘coolcation’, as rising temperatures across the globe are sending travellers flocking to cooler climes. Google Trends revealed a 300% increase in searches for ‘cooler holidays’ in early 2024, compared with the same period the year before, while Scott Dunn has reported a 400% rise in enquiries for Finland for this summer compared with 2023. So where can you send clients looking to escape the heat? From surprising beach breaks in Latvia to adventure holidays in Iceland, here are some of the coolest options.


Why go? For the true definition of a ‘coolcation’, Finland deserves a spot on the list. From cycling, canoeing and swimming around Europe’s largest lake district to hiking through fragrant forests, there’s plenty to do in the summer months. Average temperatures of 15C-20C make it the perfect spot for clients looking to cool off, while summer in the Arctic Circle comes with the added bonus of the midnight sun.

Book it: For clients looking to pair the country with other Scandi adventures, Sunvil has a 10-day fly-drive combining a few days at Finland’s Arctic Light Hotel in Rovaniemi with stays in Sweden, including the Treehotel in the remote Lule River valley. Prices start at £1,768 per person, based on two sharing, including B&B accommodation, flights and car hire.

Rural Finland


Why go? Why go? Latvia might not be the place that springs to mind for a summer holiday, but that’s exactly its appeal, according to Andrea Godfrey, head of Regent Holidays. “With Blue Flag sandy beaches, warm waters, scented pine woods and pleasant average temperatures of 22C in August, the ‘Riviera of the Baltics’ is a great-value alternative to the increasing temperatures in the southern Med,” she says.

Recommend Jurmala for white-sand shores, characterful wooden houses and crystal-clear waters, and direct families to Livi Akvaparks, one of the biggest water parks in northern Europe. For clients keen to explore more, Riga is a 30-minute drive away, while Kemeri National Park, Dzintari Forest Park and Ragakāpa Nature Park offer up panoramic, pine-forested vistas and hiking opportunities aplenty.

Book it: Regent Holidays offers seven nights’ B&B at the Hotel Jurmala Spa from £995 per person, based on two adults and two under-12s sharing, and including flights and transfers in June.

Jurmala, Latvia

The Azores

Why go? For clients looking to escape the mainstream as well as the heat, look to the Azores. Vivid-blue lakes, tumbling waterfalls and mystical caves sit between volcanic, craggy coastlines – and temperatures rarely exceed 25C, even in summer.

“The archipelago is a remote paradise for those who love the outdoors, with unique flora and fauna, excellent whale and dolphin watching plus amazing food and wine,” says Tracy Martin, senior product executive for Kuoni. “It’s also a top spot for wellbeing, with plenty of thermal waters and hot springs. There’s a big focus on sustainability too.”

Book it: Kuoni offers a two-island trip pairing three nights at the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel with four at Zenite Boutique Hotel & Spa from £1,999 per person, including daily breakfast, transfers and flights from Heathrow on July 8.

The Azores
The Azores


Why go? If clients like the sound of scenic mountain hikes, picturesque villages and relaxing days lounging lakeside, the Swiss Alps are an excellent option. And with temperatures in the low to mid-20s in summer, they needn’t worry about hiking in the heat. For an especially scenic spot, Inghams recommends Lake Lucerne. Here, adventurous types can hike their way around 75 miles of trails, glide across the water in a paddle steamer or ride a cog railway up the soaring Rigi mountain – in between exploring the charming, historic towns of Lucerne and Weggis.

Book it: Inghams offers a week’s half-board at Hotel Central am See from £1,219 per person, based on two sharing, including transfers and flights from Luton on June 1.

Lake lucerne
Weggis, Lake Lucerne


Why go? From the giant geysers of the Golden Circle to the steaming, aquamarine waters of the Blue Lagoon, it’s not hard to see what lures cooler-clime travellers to Iceland. For those looking to venture a little off the beaten track, suggest driving the Arctic Coast Way. This scenic route takes in the lesser-explored north of the country and stops at lunar-like lava fields, traditional fishing villages and windswept beaches – all set beneath crisp blue summer skies.

Book it: Best Served Scandinavia’s 10-day self-drive along the Arctic Coast Way, featuring a stay at Hotel Tindastoll (the oldest in the country), starts at £2,270 per person, including flights, nine nights’ B&B accommodation and eight days’ car hire.

3 of the best off-peak escapes

Italian Dolomites

Italian Dolomites

Otherworldly rock formations, peaceful mountain villages and excellent food make the Dolomites an excellent spot for an off-peak Italian break without the soaring temperatures. Newmarket Holidays has an eight-day tour from £995, including an optional excursion to Lake Garda.

Late-season Greece

EasyJet has extended its flights to Skiathos until the end of October, and the adult-only Aegean Suites has lengthened its season to coincide, adding all-inclusive packages from September 27 to October 26. A week’s all-inclusive starts at £595, based on two people sharing, excluding flights.

Scottish Highlands

For a break closer to home, Railbookers has introduced a nine-day Scottish Highlands and the Orkneys trip that winds around Inverness, the Isle of Skye (pictured), Orkney Islands and Edinburgh. Prices start at £1,499, including a night on the Caledonian Sleeper.

Scottish highlands
PICTURES: Shutterstock/Sergei25, nblx, Dov Fuchs, Nataliya Hora, Abo Anas 509

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