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Keep cool and carry on: readers’ favourite trips to escape the heat

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Winning tip: County Sligo, Ireland

The west coast of Ireland remains one of the best summer locations 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 bursts of sun 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’s clear) and Shells Cafe for delicious tea and cake after a chilly Atlantic dip.

Riga, Latvia

City Hall Square Riga old town.
City Hall Square Riga old town. Photograph: 5xinc/Getty Images

Riga is a brilliant summer destination minus the extreme heat. Always around 22C, the capital has lovely sea breezes coming off the Baltic to keep you energised during its long summer days when the sun sets towards midnight. The old town is flat and brilliant to explore, with car-free streets, wooden houses, medieval churches and trendy cafes for chilled local lager or refreshing tea – and all at prices which won’t make you break into a sweat. Take a short train ride to Jurmala beach, where the sand and sea are cool enough to sunbathe and swim in comfort.

North Uist, Outer Hebrides

Beach at Baleloch, North Uist.
You need your woolies on the beach in North Uist. Photograph: FedevPhoto/Alamy

There’s nowhere like the Outer Hebrides for keeping cool. The beaches are stunning – white sands and clear waters – but you need your 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’s not the easiest location 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. As well as being cool, the scenery is out of this world and it’s the most chilled-out, friendliest place I’ve ever been.
Toni Devonport

Isle of Skye

A quiet beach on Skye’s Sleat peninsula.
A quiet beach on Skye’s Sleat peninsula, in the island’s far south. Photograph: Photononstop/Alamy

We love 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 island’s south peninsula, known as the Garden of Skye. There are many beautiful walks and white-sand beaches reminiscent of the Caribbean shores but minus the soaring temperatures. Ardvasar has several self-catering accommodation options, a hotel and a village shop.


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Copenhagen, Denmark

Heatwave, Sunbathing and Swimming in front of Royal Danish Playhouse
With swimming areas and leafy parks, the Danish capital is a city that keeps you cool. Photograph: Dylan Garcia/Alamy

While the heat and crowds make southern Europe unbearable in summer, Copenhagen is cool in many senses, with temperatures in the low 20s. We go every summer and can even swim on Baltic beaches, such as Amager, or the lovely, invigorating open lidos and harbour baths. It’s a great walking city, full of squares, car-free streets and leafy, shady parks. One way to stay cool and keep with the whole vibe of the place is to take an hour’s canal cruise – just watching the locals fish or having picnics chills you out.
Nigel Williams

Hell, Stjørdal, Norway

Hell station.
Hell station. Photograph: Niels Melander/Alamy

When it’s baking hot and you need to cool down, Hell is worth a visit. The tiny Norwegian village has a much cooler climate than its fiery namesake – and a handy train station for easy onward travel. Three nights at the Radisson Blu hotel will set you back about £500. With less than a mile of onwards travel, the Highway to Hell may be quicker than you thought.
Ceri Mitchell

Golitha Falls, Cornwall

The falls on the River Fowey
The falls on the River Fowey, under a green canopy, create a natural fine spray to cool walkers down. Photograph: Will Tudor/Getty Images

Head to Golitha Falls on the beautiful River Fowey. The leafy trees provide shade, and the flowing, freezing-cold river provides an invigorating spray as it cascades down. The dark, mossy-covered rocks look like green cushions for the fairies and pixies I imagine playing in the woods.
Elaine Pluckrose


Visitors can enjoy the spray of the Albert Clock fountain and admire the Big Fish.
Visitors can enjoy the spray of the Albert Clock fountain and admire the nearby Big Fish. Photograph: Laurence Cochrane/Alamy

Wander down the city’s shady cobbled lanes clutching some “Poor Bear” ice-cream from Cafe Mauds with a “go on then” extra scoop. Hear music lilting from all around as you chat to the friendliest locals you’ll ever find. Then wander through the spray of the Albert Clock fountain while the Salmon of Knowledge (AKA the Big Fish printed ceramic mosaic sculpture) looks on as it hits the midday sun. To cap it off, escape to the cellars and basements of local pubsfor some live music, experience the chill of the spirit world at Crumlin Road Gaol, or feel the icy sea spray at Titanic museum.
Edele Watters

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset

Cheddar Gorge.
Head underground in the Mendips for protection from the sun. Photograph: Stephen Spraggon/Alamy

There’s no need to head to the bracing Highlands to drop a degree or two; simply explore the world beneath your feet. Cheddar Gorge, nestled in Somerset’s Mendip Hills, 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 thousands of years’ history, such as the remains of the Cheddar Man, dating from 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!
Charlotte McKnight


An iceberg at Jökulsárlón
An iceberg at Jökulsárlón. Photograph: Belinda Jiao/Alamy

Summer in Iceland: epic Bond-worthy moments, and on the cool side in every sense of the word. Only in summer can you climb behind vast waterfalls (Seljalandsfoss), climb under glaciers through ice caves and take a boat ride among the icebergs at Jökulsárlón. The midnight sun provides unlimited daylight, so you can make the most of every minute.
Louisa Gamble

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