How To Keep Cool In A Heatwave

We often go abroad for the heat – but no one enjoys holidays in extreme temperatures that Europe is currently facing! In the next few weeks, temps are expected to rise to 40C ­in some areas. And because of the historical nature of our favourite European destinations, we can’t always expect air conditioning as standard.

These heatwaves are likely to continue – Spain’s spring was the hottest on record, and Europe is the fastest-warming continent, according to a WMO and Copernicus report.

How to best keep our cool in sweltering conditions? Here are tips and tricks to avoid the pitfalls of soaring temperatures, so that we can make the most of our holiday without too much fatigue, discomfort, or missing out on exploring a new place.


It’s an obvious one, but it needs to be mentioned: drinking plenty of water is crucial to keeping healthy during a heatwave. Carry around a water bottle – these days it’s easy enough to fill it up in most major European cities. Drinking fountains are often scattered throughout town, or cafes and restaurants will gladly fill them up for you. Liven up water with a sprig of mint, as the menthol stimulates the cooling receptors in the body.

Keep your accommodation cool

Unless it’s a beach break, you’re likely to be out and about most of the day. But it’s still important to keep your room as cool as possible, to ensure a good night’s sleep if nothing else. Keep the windows and curtains closed throughout the day, to stop the sunlight heating up the room, and hot air from entering. That said, if you have a fan and it’s cooler outside than inside, you can place the fan across the room from an open window to create cooling airflow.

Use damp towels to cool you when you sleep

A hot and sweaty night can ruin a day of adventure, so dampen towels or spare T-shirts to cool you down in bed – it’s surprisingly effect. It’s most comfortable to lie the cloth on your neck, but your wrists and ankles are also helpful areas when it comes to keeping cool. You could invest in cooling wristbands to make sure of skin contact the whole night, plus they’re also useful when out and about in the day.

Stay in during the hottest hours

Locations that often hit unbearable temps already have it sussed: many of them go extremely quiet and close in the afternoon when the heat is at its strongest. So follow their lead. Instead of trying to troop on because of the itinerary created in British weather, start your day early, be active in the morning, and then take a large lunch and a well-earned break in the afternoon. Usually, 11am-3pm are the hottest hours, but in large cities with concrete that holds the heat, the peak can be around 5 or 6pm. It’s a good excuse to go back to the accommodation, recharge, and get ready for the evening ahead.

Visit cool sights

If you do want to head out on an all-day adventure, plan your day so that the hottest part of it is spent in museums, galleries, and churches – they’re often the coolest buildings in a destination in more ways than one! Museums and galleries will be temperature-controlled to help preserve their displays. And churches, with their small windows and airy size, have a low ambient temperature compared to outside. If you need to buy a ticket, do that in advance so you can avoid having to stand in a queue.

Wear light, covered clothing

When’s it’s sizzling outside, it’s tempting to head out in a vest and shorts. But that leaves your skin exposed to the strong sun, and even small bits of heavy materials like denim can leave you feeling clammy. Instead, wear natural fibres like cotton and linen, and keep them long and loose so they protect you from UV rays yet are light and breathable. It’ll look chic in your holiday pictures too! Also don’t forget the sun cream and a hat for max protection.


Wherever you’re planning on heading this summer make sure to protect your travels with Switched On Insurance. Our Single Trip and Annual policies are packed with features for total peace of mind when you’re away from home. Find out more here.