Seven Best Vacation Spots to Beat the Summer Heat

The best vacation spots to beat the summer heat and embrace the comparatively cool, include Alaska, Reykjavík, British Columbia, and Stockholm.

Panoramic city view with historic buildings along the waterfront of Sodermalm district, a southern district of Stockholm City Centre.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re trying to stay cool this summer, why not just leave the heat behind? Some of the best vacation spots in the world let you do just that. While it may be sweltering in your part of the world, other countries and cities are experiencing mild summer temperatures or are in the middle of their winter season. 

Many parts of the United States, however, are heating up. Experts believe that there’s a good chance this summer could be one of the hottest on record, with Accuweather predicting that from June through August, temperatures will reach 2 degrees above historical averages across more than half of the country. In fact, a recent heat wave has already set new daily high-temperature records from Washington D.C. to Maine, reports Forbes

If you're finding the summer heat unbearable, you can escape these record-breaking temperatures by traveling to one of the best vacation spots to escape the summer heat.

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 1. Denali National Park, Alaska 

USA, Alaska, Denali National Park, caribou in front of Mt.McKinley

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • July average high temperature: 59°
  • August average temperature: 54°

If you want to stay cool and escape the heat this summer, consider heading to Denali National Park, where you’ll get up close and personal with unspoiled wilderness and wildlife. The best part? The average summer temperature ranges from only 33 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. We recommend taking a bus tour of the park, where you'll have the opportunity to look for wildlife like bears, moose, caribou, foxes and wolves. There are plenty of guided hiking tours as well. Take advantage of the cool summer air while you can!  

It takes 5.5 hours to get to the park from Anchorage by car or 8 hours by train, and only about 2.5 hours by car or 4 hours by train if you leave from Fairbanks. If you really want to get off the grid, you can even stay inside Denali National Park at one of its remote, exclusive wilderness lodges.

2. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Rear view of a man looking at an Amsterdam canal on a sunny day.

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • July average high temperature: 71° 
  • August average temperature: 71°

If you’re not the outdoorsy type, a vacation in the city might be more your speed. Throughout the year, the temperature in Amsterdam usually ranges from 34°F to 71°F, rarely reaching below 22°F or above 81°F — great news if you’re looking to escape the heat this summer. Plus you’ll have plenty of daytime to sightsee. Amsterdam sunsets take place after 10 pm for much of June and July, according to Eating Europe, and traces of light can be seen up to 11 pm or later almost the entire summer. 

If you like art or history, make sure to stop by several of the city’s famous museums, including the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum. You can also enjoy the city’s many canals by taking a guided canal cruise. 

3.  Reykjavík, Iceland 

Wide angle view of the landscape at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, Europe.

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • July average high temperature: 56°
  • August average temperature: 56°

Although June, July and August are technically Iceland's warmest and driest months, don’t expect the weather to be warm or dry — average summer temperatures in Iceland range between 50-59° F, rarely reaching over 80°. And thanks to Iceland’s “midnight sun,” where the sun never fully sets, you’ll have almost 24 hours of daylight to enjoy all the country has to offer — which is a lot. 

Start your adventure in Reykjavik, where you can rent a car and start on what’s known as the Ring Road — an 800-mile loop circling the country. On this route, you’ll find waterfalls, glaciers, national parks and black-sand beaches. While you're in Iceland, also check out some of the best natural scenery on the planet in the Icelandic Highlands, which are inaccessible in the winter but can be explored in the summer. You’ll find breathtaking mountains, lava fields, hot springs and glaciers.

4. Cape Town, South Africa

Colony of Penguins on Boulder Beach, Cape Town.

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • July average high temperature: 68°
  • August average temperature: 68°

While we Americans try to beat the heat from June to August, countries in the Southern Hemisphere are enjoying their winter season. So if you’re looking to escape record-breaking high temperatures, travel south. At this time, Cape Town experiences a cooler and wetter climate, so expect temperatures under 70° as well as plenty of rainy days.

The benefit of visiting in winter? It's the off-peak tourist season, meaning fewer crowds and tourists while you go whale watching, hike Table Mountain, delve into the city’s famous culinary scene or embark on a safari. 

South Africa also made Kiplinger’s list of Best Places to Visit Where the Dollar Is Strong and The 10 Cheapest Countries to Visit.

5. South Island, New Zealand

Pink sunrise over Lake Matheson, South Island, New Zealand

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • July average high temperature: 46°
  • August average temperature: 50°

New Zealand is another great vacation spot to escape the heat, especially for those who love snow. Winter will be in full swing, so expect alpine scenery, snow-capped mountains and crisp, cold air. The South Island in particular is home to many popular ski resorts, making it well-suited for snow sports enthusiasts. From Queenstown, you'll be able to travel to some of the best ski fields in the South Island within just a 20 to 90-minute drive. Coronet Peak, for example, is one of the most popular ski resorts on the South Island, featuring varied terrain for both beginners and experts.

If you're not a skier, no worries. You can still explore the region by taking a train ride through the Southern Alps, exploring glaciers, going on a dog-sledding or snowmobiling adventure and stargazing at the world's largest Dark Sky Reserve. For those who just want to relax, you can enjoy a cozy winter escape while staying in Queenstown.

6. Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver, Skyline, British Columbia.

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • July average high temperature: 72°
  • August average temperature: 72°

Vancouver summers are very mild and pleasant, with temperatures typically ranging from 66˚F to 73˚F throughout the day and dropping at night; the average low temperature for both July and August in Vancouver is 58°. Summer weather in Vancouver is also dry, so expect sunny days with only a small chance of rain — perfect weather to explore the city. 

Make sure you head over to Stanley Park to explore the 400-hectare natural West Coast rainforest, attend the Richmond Night Market, the largest night market in North America, and eat seafood on Granville Island. The city also hosts several summer festivals, including the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Vancouver Greek Fest and Granville Block Party. 

7. Stockholm, Sweden

Skeppsbron embankment in Stockholm.

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • July average high temperature: 75°
  • August average temperature: 72°

Stockholm weather is perfect for sightseeing. Temperatures are comfortable and mild, with lots of sunshine. And during the summer months, the city experiences a total of 18 hours of daylight. 

Stockholm is rich with culture, offering 89 museums, 423 libraries, 80 cultural and community centers and 93 venues for theatrical performances across the 14 islands the city is situated on. The Vasa Museum, the most visited museum in Scandinavia, is a must-visit, housing the world's only preserved 17th-century ship. At the Swedish History Museum, browse 10 million artifacts from Sweden's history, organized by era. Also, take a ferry trip to explore the Stockholm archipelago of 30,000 islands. 

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Erin Bendig
Personal Finance Writer

Erin pairs personal experience with research and is passionate about sharing personal finance advice with others. Previously, she was a freelancer focusing on the credit card side of finance, but has branched out since then to cover other aspects of personal finance. Erin is well-versed in traditional media with reporting, interviewing and research, as well as using graphic design and video and audio storytelling to share with her readers.