Where to find cool travel getaways in the hot boreal summer of 2021

(CNN) – Summer trips can be very attractive. There are fewer clothes to pack. The days are long for playing outside. Alfresco dining abounds. And the simple joy of enjoying the soothing rays of the sun cannot be overstated.

But in the summer there can sometimes be too much of a good thing, as people in the Northwest might tell you: too much heat isn’t just unpleasant, it’s deadly.

Whether you’re playing it safe or just prefer relatively cooler temperatures over warm locations, here are nine places that are generally ideal for summer travel getaways. Be aware of all travel precautionary guidelines, especially if you are not fully vaccinated or if you are crossing international borders.

1. Switzerland

Mountainous Switzerland always offers a cool place somewhere. Dent Blanche is next to the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images

Nestled in the snowy Alps, Switzerland was recently opened to American travelers and is accessible to Europeans and other select nations from around the world.

If major cities like Geneva, Zurich, and Bern get too hot for you (which is unlikely, especially at night), escape to the higher parts for an alpine hike. Even in early July, temperatures in the 5 lake circuit near the Matterhorn they can stay below 10 degrees Celsius for highs.

For something less strenuous, take a boat tour of the idyllic Lake Brienz.

2. San Francisco

Alcatraz Island can be seen from the Russian Hill neighborhood in San Francisco. Brontë Wittpenn / The San Francisco Chronicle / Getty Images

“The coldest winter I have ever had was a summer in San Francisco.”

The quote often attributed to Mark Twain is a good summary of the weather there. Summer isn’t even its warmest season, that honor falls to fall. While much of the Northwest has been cooking this year, the city’s microclimate has kept things fresh.

You can explore neighborhoods like mountainous Russian Hill (home to crazy crooked Lombard Street) or head to the nearby Muir woods to have a good time in the trees. Don’t forget a light jacket.

3. Anchorage, Alaska

Cool sight: Spencer Glacier in Chugach National Forest. Ray Bulson / Alamy

Alaska isn’t necessarily the year-round block of ice that you would think it is. It can get surprisingly warm at times in Anchorage. But compared to the Lower 48, it’s usually a relatively cool escape in the summer. (In early July, CNN Weather forecasts that the hottest day will be 17 degrees Celsius.)

Ride a bike through the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail or explore wilderness areas like the Chugach State Park (located primarily within the Anchorage limits) or the slightly further out in the Chugach National Forest.

4. Iceland

The Seljalandsfoss waterfall is a spectacular sight in southern Iceland. Sven-Erik Arndt / Arterra / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

With a name like Iceland, you’d better relax, unless you’re near a lava flow or soaking in a hot spring. Average July highs in the capital Reykjavik are 14 degrees Celsius.

Take advantage of the summer to go to Highlands, which are usually closed again at the end of September, to see waterfalls and glaciers. Or wander around Reykjavik in search of unusual delicacies like kæstur hakarl (“treated shark”) or Svið, smoked sheep’s head.

5. Dubai

A skier competes during the DXB Snow Week at Ski Dubai last year. Francois Nel / Getty Images

No, we haven’t gone crazy. Dubai is indeed a hot desert emirate. But it offers year-round snow skiing and other winter activities. How can it be?

It’s all thanks to Ski Dubai. When you are making money from oil, you can build a huge indoor ski park and attract people from all over the world. Along with skiing, you can have penguin encounters, ride snow slides, or take a chairlift for a bird’s eye view.

If you’re too cold, warm up with a desert sand safari.

6. Destination malls with air conditioning

You can retreat to destination malls like CentralWorld in Bangkok and spend a full day indoors and never get bored. Lauren DeCicca / Getty Images

Online shopping has taken a big hit to many malls, but there are large destination malls in the US and around the world that can still satiate your shopping and entertainment appetites in glorious air-conditioned comfort.

The Mall of America Minnesota is a climate-controlled playground for kids, from an aquarium to a Nickelodeon theme park.

Dubai has some of the most luxurious (and therefore comfortable) shopping malls in the world, including Mall of the Emirates Y Dubai Mall.

Even hot and steamy Bangkok offers a cool respite if you go to malls like CentralWorld, where there is an ice skating rink.

Be aware of local mask-wearing requirements when visiting indoor public places. Even if you are fully vaccinated, in some places you may be required to wear a mask.

7. Caves for tourists

You can see stalagmites, stalactites, and formations called curtains at the Postojna Caves. Jure Makovec / AFP / Getty Images

Caves have long provided a natural escape from extremes of heat and cold, and most maintain a nearly constant temperature throughout the year. So when it’s hot on the surface, head underground. Any ideas:

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky: The longest known cave system in the world has an average temperature of 12 degrees Celsius. Bring a jacket for your tour.

Eisriesenwelt Cave, Austria: Here you go from cool to absolutely cold. This is an ice cave and one of Salzburg’s favorite sites.

Postojna Caves, Slovenia: See impressive formations from the comfort of a subway train.

8. Fresh water pools

An old stone bridge spans the Voidomatis River. Antony Bouchagier / Alamy

There are all kinds of freshwater pools around the world that provide an exhilarating dive even when it’s unbearably hot on land. A couple of examples:

Barton Springs; Austin, Texas: Residents and visitors can escape the notoriously brutal Texas heat in this naturally fed pool, where the water is always 20-21 degrees Celsius. On a cold winter morning, the pool provides a relatively warm place to swim.

Voidomatis Springs, Vikos Gorge, Greece: These spring-fed pools can be found in the Voidomatis River, deep within the Vikos Gorge in northern Greece. Keep in mind that they can dry out in late summer.

9. Cold water beaches

A couple walk along the shore of Coast Guard Beach in Eastham on Cape Cod. Craig F. Walker / The Boston Globe / Getty Images

Even if the sun is out strongly, some beaches have cold-water ocean currents that generate cold air and strong, or even shocking, splash spots. Some of them are:

Nazaré, Portugal: This charming spot on the Portuguese coast north of Lisbon is known for surfing, but the waves are generally bigger in winter. The Atlantic is usually calmer here in the summer. The water temperature in early July was 17 degrees Celsius.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts: A favorite with New Englanders and beyond, the average July water temperature on scenic Cape Cod is around 19 degrees Celsius. That’s a lot better than June, when the average is just 15 degrees Celsius.

Bryher; Isles of Scilly, UK: Bryher has strong Atlantic waves on one side, but calm sandy beaches on the other. It is about 25 miles from the extreme south-west of Cornwall. The water is cold enough for swimming laps unless you’re really tough, but it doesn’t take long to cool off with a dip here.

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