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How to Beat the Extreme Heat in 5 European Cities This Summer

July 27, 2019
6 min read
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This summer may have already seen the hottest June on record in Europe, but the scorching heat isn't over yet. Though the continent cooled down for a while, a new series of heatwaves is turning large swaths of Europe into a sauna. France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK have seen record temperatures this week.

"Every heatwave occurring in Europe today is made more likely and more intense by human-induced climate change," said a study published by scientists at World Weather Attribution on the regarding the record-breaking June 2019 heatwave in France.

"The observations show a very large increase in the temperature of these heatwaves. Currently such an event is estimated to occur with a return period of 30 years, but similarly frequent heatwaves would have likely been about 4 degrees Celsius cooler a century ago. In other words, a heatwave that intense is occurring at least 10 times more frequently today than a century ago," the report explained.

Traveling to France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands or the UK this summer? We culled some tips for how to deal with the heat.


Photo by Andrea Maschio on Unsplash
Photo by Andrea Maschio on Unsplash

Paris saw a record high temperature of 108.7 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday. CBS This Morning tweeted that it took just 10 minutes for a chocolate Eiffel Tower sculpture to melt under the hot Parisian sun. On a more serious note, officials worry that Notre Dame's already fragile roof could collapse if the masonry holding it up dries out. The city placed restrictions on cars in order to mitigate air pollution.

“I ask everyone who can avoid or delay their journeys to do so,” the French environment minister, Élisabeth Borne, said according to the Guardian. “When it is this hot it is not just people in a fragile state who can have health problems.”

TPG Tip: Stay cool by taking a dip in the city's fountains, like the locals, or plan to visit air-conditioned museums during the day (like the Musee d'Orsay). Limit outdoor activities to the morning or evening hours if possible, and beware of the older metro lines that don't have air conditioning.


Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash
Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

In Germany, where fewer than 2% of homes have air conditioners, a record-high temperature of 106.7 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded. According to the BBC, "In parts of north Germany, rivers and lakes have dried up — with warnings that fish and mussels could be 'severely threatened'."

TPG Tip: If you're planning a trip to Germany this summer, opt for a hotel — and make sure it has air conditioning — instead of an Airbnb.

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Photo by Marius Badstuber on Unsplash
Photo by Marius Badstuber on Unsplash

In Belgium, the temperature reached 107 degrees Fahrenheit this week. "The European Institutions deal with many sensitive issues and things tend to heat up pretty quickly in Brussels, but the temperature record of the past week has taken over every discussion — in offices, homes and also on the streets," Fabienne Zwagemakers, a Brussels-based lobbyist, told TPG. "Rarely, maybe never, has it been this hot in the city and most public transportation in Brussels is not equipped with air conditioning. Visitors who booked a hotel are lucky — most hotel rooms do have air conditioning."

TPG Tip: Brussels has plenty of cool, air-conditioned museums, like MIMA, WIELS contemporary art center and the Magritte Museum. Of course, you should stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, but according to Zwagemakers, "visitors should make sure to drink plenty of . . . beer! Brussels has many terraces and lovely gardens."

The Netherlands

Photo by Adrien Olichon on Unsplash

Though the Netherlands usually has pleasant summers, the temperature soared to a record-setting 105.3 degrees Fahrenheit this week. In Amsterdam, some people were seen cooling their feet off in a kiddie pool under the table at a café.

TPG Tip: If you plan on getting around by bike — as the locals do — make sure to drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks to cool down. And definitetly don't try to take a dip in the canals.

United Kingdom

Photo by Flo Steinle on Unsplash

Though London was baking this week, it was Cambridge that broke records with a temperature of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The UK's Met Office tweeted, "This is only the second time temperatures over 100 Fahrenheit have been recorded in the UK." The heat has had a severe impact on infrastructure. On Wednesday, a Eurostar train traveling from Belgium to London broke down, trapping passengers for over two hours. Trains have been forced to slow down in order to prevent the rails from expanding in the heat.

TPG Tip: In London, only about 40% of the tube is air conditioned, so you might want to opt for a taxi instead. Keep an eye out for the 'Cool Cab,' a black cab tricked out with an interior cooled by dry ice, a freezer stocked with popsicles and a state-of-the-art air conditioning system.