​Holidaying in Europe? How to travel safely in extreme heatwaves

​With Europe set to hit well over 40 degrees, how can we enjoy our holidays safely this summer, and still do the things we love while away?
Europe heatwave: How to have fun in the sun and stay safeEurope heatwave: How to have fun in the sun and stay safe
Europe heatwave: How to have fun in the sun and stay safe

Travellers have been advised to set up emergency alerts when travelling, due to the heat, and Italy is braced for extreme temperatures of up to 48 degrees in some areas.

Wildfires are raging in Greece and Spain, and tourist attractions like the Acropolis are closing due to safety concerns.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

So, how can we make our holidays fun, and stay safe in these conditions?

Safe sightseeing

Getting out and about may be a challenge in extreme temperatures.

“When you’re on holiday, you will undoubtedly want to explore the local area and go sightseeing,” says Dr Chun Tang, medical director and GP at Pall Mall Medical.

“You shouldn’t have to miss out on this just because of the extreme heat, so, if possible, I would recommend going first thing in the morning, or as the sun is starting to set, as the temperature will be much cooler then.”

You just need to make sure you’re prepared.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“If you want to enjoy the outdoors during a heatwave, it’s important to take precautions to protect yourself from the heat,” Tang explains.

“Stay in shaded areas, wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF, wear a wide-brimmed hat, and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.”

Keeping cool during the day

Whether you are lounging around or trying to explore, keeping cool during the day will be tricky.

“You should absolutely opt for shaded areas wherever possible, or find somewhere that is air-conditioned,” says Tang.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Use fans or open windows to improve airflow. Try placing a bowl of ice or a wet towel in front of the fan to create a cool breeze.

“Keep your curtains and blinds closed during the hottest parts of the day to block out sunlight and help keep the room cool,” he explains.

You can also “take cold showers or baths, use cold compresses on your neck, wrists and forehead, or try placing a cool, damp towel on your body.”

Avoid sunbathing

You may want a tan, but sometimes, it’s just too hot.

“It’s not advisable to sunbathe during periods of extreme heat. It can increase your risk of heat stroke, dehydration and sunburn,” notes Tang.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“If you are going to sunbathe, do this before 10am or after 4pm, and limit yourself to no more than 30 minutes. Ensure you are drinking plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated.”


Taking a dip to cool off is tempting.

“Swimming pools and the sea can provide relief during periods of extreme heat, but it’s important to take precautions and be mindful of certain factors.

“During a heatwave, the temperature of swimming pool water can rise significantly, due to the hot weather. Before entering the pool, check the water temperature to ensure it’s within a comfortable range for swimming. Extremely warm water may not provide the desired cooling effect and can potentially lead to overheating,” says Tang.

Equally, swimming may lead to dehydration.

“When swimming, it’s easy to underestimate the amount of fluid loss through sweating. Proper hydration is essential, even when in the water. Drink water regularly to stay hydrated, especially during hot weather conditions,” he says.

Remember to top up the sun protection regularly, too.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“While in the pool, be mindful of sun exposure. The sun’s rays can be intense during a heatwave, and prolonged sun exposure without proper protection can lead to sunburn and increase the risk of skin damage. Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and use appropriate sun protection measures while enjoying the pool.”


Lots of us like a drink on holiday, but in extreme heat, “you should avoid drinking alcohol, as this will only serve to dehydrate you further”, says Tang.

“If you are going to be drinking alcohol, try having a glass of water every other drink, to remain properly hydrated.”