15 Cool Survival Tips when you Travel in a Heat Wave in Europe

Europe is suffering through one of the driest periods in modern-day meteorology. It has never been so hot and dry for such a long period of time. If you’re currently traveling through Europe or have plans to travel to Italy or Spain or France, or Greece or Germany the next summer, then this post is for you. Here are 15 cool tips to survive the heat wave in Europe!

Of course, your health is your most prized possession, so always consult a doctor if you’re health is suffering.

I paid for all my travels in full myself. I was not paid or sponsored. All my opinions and experiences are my own.

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We suffer from a heat wave in Europe at the moment. If you travel to Europe during a heat wave, read my 15 tips to stay cool and enjoy Europe in summer.

Heat Wave in Europe

A summer in Europe typically consists of long days with plenty of sunshine. But we also have rain, and clouds and wind. Normal temperatures range from 18 degrees to 25 degrees Celsius (64 to 77 Fahrenheit) in Northern Europe, like Sweden, England, Germany, and the Netherlands.

22 to 30 degrees (72 to 86 Fahrenheit) are no exception for Southern Europe like France, Spain, and Italy. In Eastern Europe, temperatures can rise even further. Nothing special.

But for the past 2 months, we haven’t had a drop of rain and the heat continues and temperatures rise. 36 degrees (97 Fahrenheit) for Northern Europe and upwards for Southern Europe.

How to handle such heat in Europe?

What is a heatwave?

A heatwave is an extended period of hot weather relative
to the expected conditions of the area at that time of year.

Source: Metoffice.co.uk

As European hotel rooms are not standardly equipped with AC, and you do want to see something when you travel to Europe, it is important to stay cool and healthy. Check out my practical tips to stay cool during the high summer temperatures.

Like this? Share this infographic about European Heatwave and how to stay cool in Europe

Infographic showing a thermometer with a map of Europe and the 15 tips to stay cool during a heat wave in Europe. Avoid the hotest hours of the day, Stay hydrated, refresh yourself, upgrade to hotels with AC, travel by bus or train, travel to Northern Europe, find greenery in the city, dress weather appropriate, cool your skin, find waterparks and fountains, skip the lines at museums, take a siesta, cut your days in 2 halves, find museums and churches that are cool and most importantly: stay healthy! Probe around the Globe.

1. Avoid the hottest hours of the day

Health organizations advise avoiding the heat of the day between 11 am and 3 pm. This is when the sun shines fiercest, but in large urban areas like Paris and Rome, temperatures are actually higher around 5 and 6 pm.

Midday can be a cool 25 degrees, whereas tea-time greets you with 32 degrees. I’d try to avoid the hottest hours of the day.

Check your weather app to see the different times.

We suffer from a heat wave in Europe at the moment. If you travel to Europe during a heat wave, read my 15 tips to stay cool and enjoy Europe in summer.
Always get an umbrella or sunscreen on the beach.

2. Stay hydrated


And I don’t mean alcohol.

Keep alcohol consumption low, but other fluid intakes above average.

Try to avoid sugary drinks but good alternatives are real lemonade, ginger smoothies, and good old plain water.

Eat vegetables and fruits that contain a lot of water. For example, watermelon, cucumber, and celery. Find more fruits and veggies with high water content here.

And eat gelato of course! I went on a quest to stay cool AND find the best ice cream in Cinque Terre. You can also use crushed ice to even cool down more. Drinks in Europe don’t standardly come with ice, so make sure to ask for it when ordering.

Be careful with tap water though. If water has stood still in the pipes for a long time, it can go bad quickly. Also if you’re not used to the local water, it’s better to drink bottled water.

Bring your own water bottle, or use iodine tablets or a life straw if you’re going camping.

3. Refresh yourself

Splash water on your face or put your feet into a bucket of water. This is the best tip for how to stay cool in Europe when you travel.

Your neck, wrists, and ankles are body parts that distribute the coolness the quickest.

If you feel overheated, drain a bandana or scarf in tepid water and wrap it around your neck. Did you bring your cooling wristband? No worries, you can always put a cool washcloth on your wrists to cool down.

Don’t put a frozen icepack or ice-cold water on your body as it can cause frostbite. Your body’s reaction will be to preserve as much heat as possible, so better use cool and tepid water instead.

We suffer from a heat wave in Europe at the moment. If you travel to Europe during a heat wave, read my 15 tips to stay cool and enjoy Europe in summer.
Cool refreshing water

4. Upgrade to rooms with AC

If you travel to Europe during a heatwave, it might be the moment to splurge. Now is not the time to try out that budget 20-bed dorm room.

If you can upgrade to an accommodation with air-conditioning, do it!

Check for recent ratings mentioning if the AC functions or not. I always use Booking.com for my hotel and apartment bookings in Europe as they have a good rating and customer experience system in place.

Tip: Check if the room has AC, not just the hotel. You can find this under “room facilities”.

If AC is not an option, then keep the windows and curtains of your hotel room closed during the day.

Turn off all electrical devices and only open the windows when the outside temperature has dropped. If possible, stay on the lower floor.

This prevents long hot elevator rides (or climbing numerous staircases) and the bottom of the building is usually cooler than the top floors.

We suffer from a heat wave in Europe at the moment. If you travel to Europe during a heat wave, read my 15 tips to stay cool and enjoy Europe in summer.
Pretty fancy upgrade with a private pool in Greece.

5. Travel by train or bus

I hate airports. Sitting in an airport for 3 hours before my flight, being patted down by security and stuffy waiting rooms are not my idea of comfortable travel.

With current airport personnel and ground staff shortages, queues can be longer than usual and even waiting outside the airport is not uncommon any more.

But Europe has an elaborate bus and train network that gets you almost anywhere, so make sure to use it for your European trip.

Most modern trains in Europe have AC and bring you right to the center of town. No need for stuffy airport departures but whizzing through Europe the cool style!

6. Head to Northern Europe

If your plans are not set in stone just yet, you might want to consider ditching overheated Spain, Portugal and Italy and head north.

Iceland, Ireland, Norway, and Finland are hot for the time of year but considerably cooler than +40 degrees (+104 Fahrenheit) in in-land Portugal and Spain.

Find the coolest place in Europe with this map of the weather forecast in Europe.

7. Leave the concrete jungle and head for the greenery instead

If you can’t change destinations when you travel during a European heatwave, you might need to tweak your travel plans.

Big cities with loads of concrete conserve the heat and release it during the evening. Making for hot sticky nights and even hotter days the next morning.

Plenty of big cities have city parks, hills, shaded areas and more greenery to enjoy.

Visit the botanic garden and wander around Parc Guell in Barcelona. Paris & Amsterdam have some artificial beaches set up to enjoy in the city.

Rome had plenty of outdoor activities like a bike tour of the Via Appia or a day trip to Ostia Antica.

We suffer from a heat wave in Europe at the moment. If you travel to Europe during a heat wave, read my 15 tips to stay cool and enjoy Europe in summer.
Great green garden in Valencia Spain

8. Cover up in thin flowing cloths

It can be tempting to take off all your clothes to cool down. If you can’t show a little skin in summer, when can you?

However, bare arms and legs run a higher risk of sunburn, plus you’re banned from any (cool) religious monuments to enter.

The cities in Europe are no place to wander around in your bikini tops or swim shorts.

Wear thin, flowy clothes. Better size up than something that sticks to your skin or pinches your thighs. Don’t choose synthetic fabrics as they make you sweat easily and start to smell after 5 seconds.

Now is the moment to wear that floppy hat. No, not just for the gram, but to shade your face from the sun.

We suffer from a heat wave in Europe at the moment. If you travel to Europe during a heat wave, read my 15 tips to stay cool and enjoy Europe in summer.
Hat, sunglasses and covering my skin to avoid heat rash and sunburn in Provence France.

9. Hydrate your skin with a cooling moisturizer or after-sun cream

Don’t just hydrate yourself by drinking plenty of fluids, also take good care of your skin.

Sweaty skin, covered in clothes all day needs a breather at night. Make sure to also hydrate your skin enough.

For an instant cooling effect, pop your skin moisturizer in the fridge for an hour or so or just cooling after-sun lotion. Aloe Vera always does the trick for me.

We suffer from a heat wave in Europe at the moment. If you travel to Europe during a heat wave, read my 15 tips to stay cool and enjoy Europe in summer.
Playing fountains in Nice, France

10. Cool off at a waterpark or fountain (if allowed)

Did you know many cities have cool attractions like waterparks? Or aqua parks? Play around in the water all day, go from the highest slide and go tubing in your floaty device! The Illa Fantasia Waterpark near Barcelona is a great option to avoid the heatwave in Spain.

Not possible or too expensive?

Some cities have water fountains or sprinklers to enjoy.

I’m not saying to dive in the first fountain you see. Some are monuments or even dangerous, but many cities have these cool water sprouts where you can run around, cool off and just have fun (with the kids.)

For example, the water fountain in Bordeaux is great fun, and very refreshing!

We suffer from a heat wave in Europe at the moment. If you travel to Europe during a heat wave, read my 15 tips to stay cool and enjoy Europe in summer.
But joining the kids is fine!

11. Avoid waiting in line, purchase time-slotted tickets online

Waiting in line is never a good idea in my book, especially not during a heatwave in Europe. Standing for hours in the blistering sun can be avoided as many big attractions have skip-the-line tickets or prebooked time-slotted ticket options.

Some come at an extra fee of 2 or 3 euros but others are the exact same price. All you have to do is go online and purchase in advance.

Notorious are the lines around the Vatican, waiting to get into the museum. I just bought skip-the-line Vatican tickets online, walk straight past all the people waiting and enjoy the grandeur that is air-conditioning (and the fine art of course).

Search for your skip-the-line tickets via GetYourGuide or Viator.

12. Take a siesta


The best invention ever if you ask me.

In some countries in Europe, siesta is an official afternoon break where banks, sights, and stores can be closed for 2 to up to 5 hours!

But even when it’s not an official siesta, take some afternoon chill time during the hottest hours of the day.

Have a late lunch and then just relax. You don’t necessarily have to go to the hotel and take a nap, just relax for a couple of hours, sit back, save your energy and try to avoid exhausting yourself.

We suffer from a heat wave in Europe at the moment. If you travel to Europe during a heat wave, read my 15 tips to stay cool and enjoy Europe in summer.

13. Cut your day into 2 halves

Explore a European city, like Florence, on foot in the morning. Walking is exhausting, especially in severe heat but before 11 am it usually isn’t that bad. The shadows of buildings cover most of the streets and temperatures are not soaring just yet.

After a long (long!) siesta, you can go back out and be active again.

In summer, the sun doesn’t set in Europe until 9 or even 10 pm so there is still plenty of time to explore. Check the opening times of sights you want to see; some stay open until late.

14. Museums and churches are your best friends in Europe during a heatwave

Museums usually have air-conditioning and churches are often very cool because of the small windows, tall ceilings, and meter-thick walls. These can be a great refuge when the summer heat gets to you.

Find the best churches in Rome to visit here.

Another great option to cool off indoors is a visit to an ice bar! Check out these frosty options: IceBarcelona or Amsterdam’s Icebar, or Berlin’s Icebar for a chilled experience.

15. Stay healthy during the heatwave

Always a good idea when you travel, but especially during a heatwave in Europe. Watch out for the people you’re traveling with.

Check up on yourself and others. Watch for the signs of heatstroke, like shortness of breath, dizziness and extreme lethargy.

Find more symptoms of heat stroke and sunstrokes here.

Literally, watch each other’s backs and check for sunburns.

Did you and your travel partner put on enough sunscreen? Are there any signs of sunburn?

I always use Nivea sun protection factor 30 or even Ambre Solaire Sensitive Expert+ factor 50 when I travel but even then I get heat rashes that need to be treated. These brands are readily available in almost all European shops, drugstores and pharmacies, supermarkets, and tourist shops.

In case you do get struck by a heatstroke, try to cool down with the above-mentioned tips of crushed ice and a cooling cloth on your wrist or bandana around your head or neck. If things don’t improve, seek medical help.

We suffer from a heat wave in Europe at the moment. If you travel to Europe during a heat wave, read my 15 tips to stay cool and enjoy Europe in summer.
Even with SFP50 and covering up, I get heat rash

A few things NOT to do during a European heatwave

Ok, I can’t help myself. Besides these 15 cool tips on how to survive the heatwave, I also have some things you shouldn’t do:

Don’t dive into just any water

It can be very tempting to cool off in lakes, ponds and water pits but not all are safe.

Due to the long period of dryness, combined with extreme heat, open water can be unhealthy.

Still standing water and high temperatures are the perfect breeding ground for the toxic blue algae. Follow local advice if you can swim somewhere or not.

More about healthy bathing in Europe, here.

We suffer from a heat wave in Europe at the moment. If you travel to Europe during a heat wave, read my 15 tips to stay cool and enjoy Europe in summer.
Ask locals if you can go swimming somewhere.

Be careful around rivers and beaches

Maybe it’s normal to go swimming in the river near your house, but if you travel in Europe, you’re not familiar with the waters.

Currents and commercial traffic on the rivers in Europe can cause dangerous situations when you want to go for a swim.

Wind can be heavy on the beaches of Europe. Nice if you want to cool off, but strong winds cause strong currents. Combined with the tides, this may cause you to drift together with your floaties to the open sea.

Of course, you can always buy a new pink flamingo floating device, but it’s a bit of a dangerous predicament.

For both situations, follow local advice and only go swimming when it’s safe or there are lifeguards on call. They will advise you when it’s safe to cool off in the water.

Continue reading below the image.

We suffer from a heat wave in Europe at the moment. If you travel to Europe during a heat wave, read my 15 tips to stay cool and enjoy Europe in summer.
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Travel to Europe in a heatwave

Will you travel to Europe during the Summer? Did you check the weather forecast? Luckily, you now have all the tips you need to survive a heatwave in Europe and keep things cool.

Have you ever suffered from a heat stroke? Or change your plans due to the weather forecast? Share it in the comment sections below.

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  1. I have been reading about the unprecedented heat wave in Europe. I guess such conditions are because of the effects of global warming. The earth is getting hotter day by day and weather patterns across the world are getting topsy-turvy. You have provided some valuable tips. The best is, of course, try to avoid the sun during the afternoon hours and staying hydrated.

  2. After my experience today walking two blocks through 35 celcius morning heat for my Schengen visa appointment the tip on keeping hydrated with water and refreshing non sugary drinks is so valuable, as I felt parched for the rest of the day. One of the things I loved most when I was travelling in Italy were the public drinking water fountains with the most delicious ice cold water.

  3. We’ve also been having really hot and dry summers on the West Coast too. Since most homes don’t have AC it makes for some uncomfortable days. I haven’t been to Europe during the summer, but I can imagine how hot it can be, and these all sound like great tips. I think for travelers, making your day into 2 halves is a great tip, and will give you a much better experience than trying to pack a ton of sightseeing on a long, hot day, and coming back to the hotel exhausted and burned. I also liked that you included what not to do, and that included not getting into any body of water. We also get algae blooms in Washington, and that could totally ruin your vacation.

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