As summer mercury levels look increasingly likely to keep rising across the globe, 2024 sees the rise of a cool new travel trend: the cool-cation. This could be a breath of fresh air for those looking for a cooler alternative to the traditional summer vacation spots, and find some respite in crisper climates. From breezy Reykjavik to surprisingly refreshing Tasmania, here are 8 cool destinations to inspire your vacation
1. Reykjavik, Iceland
Iceland’s capital is a haven for those seeking colder climates. With its mild summers averaging just 54°F (12°C), you can get out and enjoy the outdoors in Reykjavik and beyond. Explore the stunning landscapes of the Golden Circle or relax in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon. The long daylight hours in summer also mean more time for sightseeing, hiking, and immersing yourself in the rich Viking history and culture of this cool island nation.
Explore Reykjavik on: Iceland including the Blue Lagoon
2. Bariloche, Argentina
When it comes to cool destinations, Argentina’s Bariloche should be on your list. Set on the edge of Argentina’s Patagonia region, Bariloche is a natural wonderland, with breathtaking mountain landscapes, crystal-clear lakes, golden beaches, and a range of activities from hiking and cycling to kayaking and canoeing. The Swiss-style architecture and chocolate shops add to the charm and the best part is that it only averages around 73°F (23°C) during the daytime in summer.
Explore Bariloche on: South America Landscapes
3. Banff, Canada
Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff is a cool destination in more ways than one. The town – with its trendy shops, bars and restaurants – serves as a gateway to the stunning, and deliciously cool Banff National Park, where you can enjoy endless hiking, wildlife watching, and canoeing surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery in North America. The crisp mountain air and the turquoise glacial lakes are the perfect refreshing break from the summer heat. Average daytime temperatures are around 72°F (22°C) in summer, but it gets much chillier at night, so pack your layers.
Explore Banff on: Canada’s Rockies
4. Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown is another cool-cation gem for those looking to get away from the scorching summer in the Southern Hemisphere. As the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown is packed with exciting things to do in the cooler temperatures. Get the heart rate up with bungee jumping, skydiving, or jet boating, or go hiking and cycling in the beautiful Alps (which transform into a ski paradise in winter). Whether you want to explore the nearby Fiordland National Park or hop around the world-class wineries and restaurants, you’ll enjoy it in temperatures averaging a pleasant 70°F (21°C).
Explore Queenstown on: Contrasts of New Zealand
If you can’t bear the summer heat but still want to enjoy the outdoors, consider a trip to Norway this summer. This cool destination is packed with spectacular landscapes, from dramatic mountains and breathtaking fjords, to pristine beaches and emerald forests. The average summer temperatures are just 65°F (18°C), although it can be hotter or colder depending on which part of the country you’re visiting. It’s perfect for hiking, kayaking, boating, or exploring the charming towns and villages. The longer daylight hours during the summer Midnight Sun also mean you get more hours in the day to explore.
Explore Norway on: Best of Norway
6. Tasmania, Australia
Tasmania is the perfect choice for those in the Southern Hemisphere looking to stay closer to home while escaping the brutal summer heat. While Australia is renowned for its sweltering temperatures, Tasmania is a beautifully cool destination all year round. This gorgeous island is covered in pristine wilderness, with lush forests, sandy beaches, and unique wildlife. Roam the historic streets and food markets of Hobart and Launceston. Explore in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Marvel at the white-sand crescent of Wineglass Bay. And do it all at an average summer temperature of just 68°F (20°C).
Explore Tasmania on: Perfect Tasmania
7. Edinburgh, Scotland
If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere and looking for a crisp city break, put Edinburgh on your list. The historic capital of Scotland serves up a refreshing retreat in summer, with everything from ancient history to avant-garde galleries to explore. The city is also renowned for its summer festivals like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the world’s largest cultural festival held in August – just part of what makes it such a cool destination. With average summer temperatures of just 66°F (19°C), you can explore Edinburgh Castle, walk the Royale Mile or hike up Arthur’s Peak, all in cool comfort.
Explore Edinburgh on: Best of Scotland
8. Lucerne, Switzerland
Love the summer but want to dial back the temperatures a touch? Lucerne may be the destination for you. The average summer temperatures reach 75°F (24°C) in the daytime, so you’ll get plenty of warmth and sunshine, without overdoing it. This stunning city is also surrounded by breathtaking nature, from the dazzling lakes to the Swiss Alps. Wander the streets and soak up the medieval architecture, take a scenic boat on Lake Lucerne, or ride on the world’s steepest cogwheel railway to the top of Mount Pilatus for a panoramic view. Whether you roam through flower-filled meadows dotted with charming chalets, or indulge in the finest chocolate and cheese, you’ll love your cool-cation in Lucerne.
Explore Lucerne on: Best of Switzerland
What are your favorite cool destinations for a more comfortable summer escape? Let us know in the comments below!