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Beat the heat: The ‘cool’ European destinations to visit in summer 2024

Simon Calder’s Travel

Shade seekers can rejoice, holiday travel trends are changing and tan refreshing, sunbed stewing summer getaways are on the decline.

In light of the ongoing climate crisis, Brits – habitually inclined to boil abroad – are redirecting their wanderlust to European shores where they won’t be a prisoner to a hotel room’s air-conditioning or sweat over the midday UV index.

The shift to more moderate climates comes as no surprise. A furnace of Mediterranean holiday heavyweights, from Rhodes to Gran Canaria, were ablaze with wildfires during peak travel season 2023, and temperatures are continuing to break record highs year on year.

Now’s the time to swap searing Andalusia in mainland Spain for the cooler Canaries, trade Portugal’s Algarve for Poland’s Baltic coast, and replace big-hitting Greek islands with German variations.

With chasing scorching sun on the backburner, here are the destinations bringing a breeze to summer holidays from wind-whipped islands to northern Europe’s fine coastline.

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Ostend, Belgium

Belgium’s 68km coastline is scattered with sand, seafood and Flemish culture

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

  • Average high in August: 21C
  • Average low in August: 15C

Though best known for its chocolate, beer and hub of EU democracy Brussels, it would be foolish to turn your nose up at Belgium’s beach resorts. Let Flanders’s largest, Ostend, sweep you away to its golden sands this summer for mornings spent kitesurfing and afternoons filled with fresh oysters on the Albert I Promenade – all without the need to retreat from the heat.

La Gomera, Canary Islands

Swap mainland Spain for the milder Canaries this summer

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

  • Average high in August: 28C
  • Average low in August: 21C

While mainland Spain sizzles, an Atlantic onshore breeze blows through the Canary Islands, blessing balmy year-round La Gomera with inviting 20Cs for holidaymakers to indulge in hiking, black-sand bathing and foodie feasts of melon lobster and marmalade rabbit. The bearable heat doesn’t sacrifice sunshine, with around nine hours of vitamin D on offer in August.

Tartu, Estonia

The 2024 Capital of Culture makes for a cool city break (in two senses of the word)

(Getty Images)

  • Average high in August: 21C
  • Average low in August: 11C

Inevitably laden with sweaty vista climbs, winding refreshment queues and daily step…

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