It’s Officially Too Damn Hot to Travel to Europe

Extreme heat has tourists packing their bags and heading home

Digital board indicating 47 degrees Celsius in the city center of Madrid during a heat wave
Digital board indicating 47 degrees Celsius in the city center of Madrid during a heat wave

Imagine having to cancel your summer holiday because it’s too damn hot. That’s what’s going on across much of Europe at present, according to The New York Times.

In early June, it was reported that the number of Americans traveling to Europe this summer was expected to increase by 55% over last year. For context, last year’s numbers were 600% higher than in 2021. And that’s only Americans.

But, due to the heat, they’re not having the time they were anticipating. Tourists are fainting at famous landmarks, like the Colosseum, being airlifted off beaches and forgoing plans in favor of hunkering down in the AC (though, in at least a handful of European countries, air-conditioning systems can’t be set lower than 77-80.6 Fahrenheit). It’s even forced some places, like the Acropolis, to close in the afternoon until it cools off again.

“I’m telling my clients to adapt their itineraries and take advantage of the after-lunch siesta and then push their tours to later in the day when it’s cooler,” Sarah Johnson, owner of Paper Ink & Passports Travel, a luxury travel company based in Pennsylvania, told The Times. “There’s a reason they’ve been doing it in Spain and Italy for generations. Walking around in the midday heat and waiting in line could really hurt some people.”

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Because it’s hot af out there

Some are calling it quits early, heading home to more moderate temps instead. Even the beaches are intolerable, with some travelers saying they weren’t able to stomach the heat until 6 p.m., with the water offering little to no reprieve. Elissavet Bargianni, the chief heat officer for the City of Athens (because we need chief heat offers now) is calling it dangerous.

“We all need to be more aware that heat is not only physically demanding, but it’s also extremely dangerous,” she told AFAR. “We are not always aware when we have reached our limits.”

Of course, it’s worth noting that it’s hot everywhere as a direct consequence of the climate crisis. New York has been in the throes of a heat wave for weeks. But for its part, Europe has been experiencing extreme heat during the summer months for years now. In 2021, it reached a record-setting 119.8 degrees in Sicily, per the World Meteorological Organization — a record that could very well be broken this summer based on how things are trending.

So it’s perhaps no coincidence that, in 2024, Americans already have their sights elsewhere — Canada and Mexico, chief among them, according to a survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of YMT Vacations. And while France was still high on the list, Italy and Greece were markedly lower.

If there is a silver lining to be gleaned here, it’s that a lot of Europe could benefit from a break from the throngs of tourists that have become synonymous with cities like Barcelona, Rome, Paris and Athens. That said, I’m not sure 120-degree weather exactly constitutes a “break” for anyone, anywhere.


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