The best wool sweaters are cozy, soft to the touch, and effective at keeping you warm. In Ireland, Aran sweaters are a long-time favorite. Carefully crafted with more than 100,000 stitches and distinctive knitting patterns, they do a great job of preserving warmth while giving your skin space to breathe and keeping the water away. They were first created for fishermen who had to endure rough weather, but as their popularity boomed over the years, they reached a global market.
You might think that you can only wear your Aran sweater—or any wool sweater—seasonally. When summer comes around, they’re relegated to the back of your closet in favor of shorts and flip-flops. But there is a way to still don your sweaters during the summer. Short of hanging out in front of the air conditioner all the time, you can instead take a trip to beat the summer heat. Plenty of countries have such a cool temperature on average that even their summer won’t make you sweat, while others have their seasons in reverse, with winter taking place from June 21 through September 23.
So pack your sweaters and stay warm for the next three months at these marvelous summer destinations.
Visit a Glacier in Iceland
Out of all the countries in Europe, Iceland has the coldest summers, with its capital Reykjavik having a maximum temperature of only 55 F. One of Iceland’s nicknames is the “Land of Fire and Ice,” and this is because it has both volcanoes and glaciers in abundance. In fact, glaciers take up 11% of Iceland’s land mass, so chances are, you’ll see them when you visit!
Glaciers are large blocks of ice that move forward slowly because of their mass. However, while they’re floating, they can melt or become locked into place, even forming glacier caves that are sometimes open for tourists. If you’re visiting during the summer, no need to worry—Iceland’s glaciers are available all-year round, and you might even enjoy them better with the sunnier weather. A must-see glacier is Vatnajökull. It’s the largest glacier in Europe, and it covers 8% of Iceland! Svínafellsjökull, a glacier tongue that’s part of Vatnajökull, has been featured in major movies like Batman Begins and Interstellar.
Go on an Irish Whiskey Tour
Ireland may not be covered with snow all the time, but it does remain cool throughout the year. Summer in Ireland feels like spring, averaging only around 60 degrees even in July and August. Rain is very common, even in summer, so an Aran sweater and umbrella will come in handy as you’re exploring the Emerald Isle!
Aside from the scenery, Ireland also attracts travelers because of its culture. Among its greatest historical products is its artfully crafted whiskey. The Irish loved whiskey so much that they originally called it Uisce Beatha, which means “water of life” in Gaelic. They’ve been producing whiskey since the Middle Ages. Whiskey was actually the most popular spirit in the world for some time, and while the number of distilleries in Ireland today has dwindled down to less than fifty, the country is going through a modern whiskey renaissance. An Irish whiskey tour is a unique experience, allowing you to learn firsthand how it’s made and taste it straight from the source. Some well-loved distilleries are the Old Bushmills Distillery and Pearse Lyons.
Hike the Yukon Trail
The Yukon or Chilkoot trail is more than just a scenic attraction for hikers. This iconic historical site was transformed from a trade route into a busy highway during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. Enticed by the promise of gold, tens of thousands of people set out to make the long journey to the Yukon fields, journeying through the mountains with heavy bags of supplies in tow.
All in all, the trail extends for 33 miles, starting from Dyea, Alaska in the US to Bennett, British Columbia in Canada. Because of its cross-country territory, the trail jointly managed by the US National Park Service and Parks Canada. Around 10,000 hikers still walk through it every year, hiking through rainforests and tundras for three to five days. The route may be long, but the view is stunning, from jagged mountains to serene lakes and rivers. It has also been called the world’s longest museum because of all the artifacts left behind by gold seekers, such as old shoes and stoves.
Explore the Wilderness at Denali National Park
Although it’s the least populated state in the US, Alaska draws in at least 400,000 travelers every year just because of the Denali National Park alone. The park’s peak season is summer, from May to September. Getting to beat the heat is just a side benefit. What people are really after is the raw wilderness—and the tranquility of being connected to nature while civilization is far away.
The Denali National Park is home to Mount McKinley, which is the highest peak in North America. On the way up, you’ll be greeted first with taiga forests, then chilly tundras, and snowy mountains until you reach the peak. Rather than walking it out, most visitors opt for a bus ride, from which they can eye the wildlife at a safe distance. Wild animals roam freely here, and you’re bound to spot grizzly bears, mooses, and wolves. To add to the mood, phone services are spotty at best around the area, and the off-the-grid accommodations ensure that you’ll be genuinely taking time off from the rest of the world.
Take a Boat Tour of the Norwegian Fjords
Norway is famous for its intricate fjords, which are long, narrow branches of the sea fenced in by steep slopes on all sides. More than 1,100 fjords can be found along its coastline, and 10 of these are included in most cruise tours, so you won’t have to go out of your way to find them! It’s said that if you want to understand Norway’s soul, its wild, dramatic fjords are the best place to start.
Surrounded by sharp cliffs, lush mountains, and waterfalls crashing down past the rocks, the fjords are absolutely breathtaking. With so many different types of cruise tours available, you can personalize your visit. As you sail from fjord to fjord, each stop will entice you to stay for several days, thanks to the rich local culture and the sheer variety of activities you can do, including surfing and kayaking. Norway’s most famous fjord is Geirangerfjord, which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’ve watched the Disney movie “Frozen,” this fjord will look all too familiar!
Explore Art and Culture in St. Petersburg
Summer in St. Petersburg still sees a lot of rain, and the temperature fluctuates from 60 to 70F, so a sweater should be part of your cargo here. Because it’s not too hot out, exploring the city is fun and convenient. Sometimes you may even feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Although St. Petersburg was declared as Russia’s imperial city a long time ago, before the capital was moved to Moscow, it has retained its grandeur and old-world charm.
St. Petersburg was Russia’s first modern city, and it was designed to show the country’s progress to the rest of the world. It’s practically heaven for art and culture lovers, who will find much to admire in the city’s ornate palaces, classical sculptures, and majestic cathedrals. The top pick for museums is undoubtedly the Hermitage Museum. With more than three million artworks from renowned artists like Michelangelo and Van Gogh, it’s considered the second largest museum in the world.
Ski in Patagonia
The Patagonia is said to be one of the last relatively untouched wildernesses in the world. Its large territory extends to both Chile and Argentina, and it includes several national parks, with a landscape dotted by rivers, mountains, and lakes. You can experience nature in her full glory here. It doesn’t have a lot of human residents as compared to travelers, although wildlife is very much flourishing.
Since it’s located in the Southern Hemisphere, Patagonia’s winter is from June to September. If you’re visiting then, the hottest the temperature can get would be in the low 40s. Skiing is the most recommended winter activity, and the Bariloche is the area’s go-to for skiing and mountaineering. For ski resorts near the area, Cerro Catedral receives the most bookings. Its longest ski run extends up to 5.5 miles. For beginners, lessons are available, while intermediate skiers can proceed to the park.
Go Whale Watching in Kaikoura
Like Patagonia, New Zealand’s winter is also in the opposite months, so the country is at its coldest during June and July. An interesting bucket list item for New Zealand is whale-watching. While whales are generally hard to spot elsewhere, you have a 95% chance of seeing them when you’re in Kaikoura. This small town is bordered by mountains as well as a pebble beach facing the Pacific Ocean.
The main attraction here is the marine wildlife, nurtured by the unusually high concentration of nutrients in the water. Orcas, dolphins, seals, and albatrosses are readily found here, alongside the famed sperm whales. To maximize your chances of spotting the whales, check out Whale Watch Kaikoura, the area’s top whale-watching operator. Surprisingly, winter is the best time to visit because it coincides with the whales’ migration period. If you’re lucky, you might catch sight of multiple species at the same time!
Enjoy City Life in Brisbane
Brisbane is the third largest city in Australia after Sydney and Melbourne. Despite its size, the ambience is much more gentle and laidback, and it’s ideal for vacations where you want to remain inside the city. Regardless of the season, the temperature consistently hovers from 11 to 20 C. With winter in Australia taking place during June and July, sweaters or long-sleeved tops are essential for evenings out!
As the capital of Queensland, Brisbane excels in terms of lifestyle attractions. All throughout the city, you’ll find crowded bars, coworking spaces, and elegant galleries, as well as beaches and vineyards further out. The city’s vibrant, creative energy is the most palpable in South Banks, its prime tourist attraction. In the Parklands, which stretches out for 17.5 hectares, covered walkways lead to a huge number of restaurants and boutiques, and it also doubles as a performance space. For art aficionados, the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art have at least 17,000 artworks—more than enough to keep you busy for hours.
Stay in IceHotel 360
While Scandinavian countries have already put up several ice hotels, Icehotel 365 made history for being the first one to be available all-year round. Ice hotels are literally made of snow and ice so there’s a risk of them melting during the summer, but with skillful design and engineering, Icehotel 365 has defied that. Sprawling out at 22,000 square feet, it has at least 20 suites (and growing) and an ice bar. Far from being freezing, the temperature inside is maintained at 23 F, and thermal sleeping bags ensure that you can doze off comfortably with just your Aran sweater!
One distinctive feature is the degree of artistry involved. Because ice is exceptionally malleable, over forty artists, designers, and architects from different countries have taken a hand in forming ice sculptures and creating the suites. Each suite has its own unique theme, taking around two weeks’ worth of work from the artists.
While sunny days are much appreciated, summer can bring on sweltering heat and intense humidity. When it’s getting too stuffy for you, there’s always the option of visiting any of these destinations. Don’t forget to bring along your Aran sweater!