If you’re looking to escape the heat this summer (assuming we get one here in the UK), there are plenty of opportunities to ditch the sun cream, put down your beach towel and exchange the nearest beach for a mountain. Whilst Southern Europe might enjoy the best of the summer sunshine, up here in Northern Europe, we’re sat wondering whether we should wear shorts or a coat. Cut out the uncertainty this summer and let’s take a trip to some of Europe’s slightly cooler, yet still incredibly desirable locations.
Enjoy a drink at Germany’s highest beer garden
At 2,962 metres above sea level, the Zugspitze is Germany’s highest peak. I am a firm believer that any hike or walk should end in reward, and the Zugspitze delivers the ultimate prize. Don’t be daunted by the sheer size and dominating appearance of the mountain- it may be scary from a distance, but once you get up close you’ll fall in love with its rocky, crooked, snow-capped appearance. Visitors can either opt to take the cable car up which stops just shy of the summit, or to hike for around six hours in good weather. If you’re a serial hiker you might find that you’ve become desensitised to those mountain views that have become so familiar, but this is one of my favourite vistas in the entire world. The summit provides panoramic views over the alps, spanning four countries and 400 mountains. Enjoy a bratwurst and a beer in Germany’s highest beer garden as you take in those spectacular views. You’re above the clouds, so enjoy the sunshine!
The scots aren’t blessed with the finest weather. If there’s snow or rain forecast in the UK, you can almost guarantee that Scotland will take the brunt of it. Not renowned for their t-shirt weather, Scotland is the perfect place to escape the heat in exchange for some epic scenery. Stumbling across a little slice of luxury up there isn’t difficult. Visitors can stay in castles centuries old, forage with local chefs, taste from a collection of the best whiskies in the world and even take a luxurious railway journey of bliss through the stunning Scottish Highlands. If you’re happy to swap the flip flops for walking boots, Scotland is blessed with a landscape capable of competing with the world’s heavyweights like New Zealand, Nepal and Chile.
If you’re looking to escape the heat, this is the ultimate destination for bragging rights. Located half way between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is one of the most northern landmasses in the world. It’s a place where polar bears outnumber people and guns are like an extra limb to the population of just over 2,500. Temperatures here can get down to as low as 20-30 degree below freezing as the sun never rises during the winter months, creating ideal conditions to hunt the Northern Lights. During the summer months this is still a worthy escape, as with temperatures averaging at around 8 degrees, you won’t be suffering from sun burn, yet with the midnight sun in full swing, you can enjoy sunlight 24 hours a day- make the most of it! Enjoy hiking, dog sledging, fjord cruising and much more on the island that never sleeps… just because it’s too bright.
The Faroe Islands
Despite the fact you might not have heard of this mysterious set of islands that sit unknowingly in the North Sea, they await with open arms and are a trip worth making this summer. The terrain is stunning. Green, rugged rolling hills and colourful rooftops dominate the landscape, as do sheep; there’s 70,000 of them. People come here to experience the nature and the wildlife, the beauty of the fjords and majesty of the mountains. Days exploring here are days well spent, as the landscape is a dramatic as they come. The medieval ruins of Kirkjubour are worth a visit, especially the striking Magnus Cathedral, but the weather is unpredictable here, so pack for any eventuality. You didn’t want a tan anyway, did you?