Summer is here and mercury levels are rising. Each year, you gasp for air under the blazing sun and 95°F. For once, choose a cooler destination where you'll enjoy milder temperatures without parting with the sun. There's a new craze for Nordic cities, satisfyingly revealing their secrets. Or cross the equator and hang out in a country where winter rules!
Stockholm, 14 islands to cool off
Stockholm can be visited on foot, or even better, on a bike. The Swedish capital is a strong contender for the most eco-friendly city ever. Wander around its streets, riddled with cafés and design shops, and cross over its many bridges, 57 in total, linking the 14 islands that make up Stockholm. During summer, days are much longer, which makes it easier to spend time outside in the evening.
In the course of your stay, make sure you visit the Fotografiska, or photography museum, on the Södermalm island. Exhibitions are regularly renewed and give you the opportunity to admire the work of famous artists. Irving Penn, Patrick Demarchelier, Martin Schoeller and Nick Brandt have all had their photographs on display within these walls. From there, you'll also enjoy a wonderful view onto the Skeppsholmen, Gamla Stan and Djurgården islands.
+46 (0)8 50 900 500
Vancouver, connected to nature
On the west coast of Canada, Vancouver is the very definition of a cosmopolitan and multicultural city. You will like its dynamism and dedication to put environmental issues on the forefront.
On one side, the mountains make for a very harmonious background behind Vancouver's forest of skyscrapers, and on the other, beaches are a perfect playground for these lengthy summer nights.
When the weather is nice, the waters around Vancouver are a stage of migration for passing whales. These whale watching adventurous tours on boats allow you to come as close as possible to the huge mammals. Expect a double spectacle, taking place both at sea and on the land. Your eyes will be looking for any sign of upcoming cetaceans, while the viewpoint onto the city skyline and mountains is extraordinary.
Prince of Whales
1601 Bayshore Drive
Vancouver, BC V6G 2V4
+1 888 383 4884
Saint Petersburg and its eventful history
Now second largest town of the entire country, Saint Petersburg was the former capital of the Russian Empire. Founded by Tsar Peter the Great, it displays unique architecture and offers very rich cultural outings (almost 250 museums and 4,000 protected monuments). You are sure to fall for the charm of the city, nicknamed the “Venice of the North” for its Neva River and artificial canals.
During the “white nights” of June and July, Saint Petersburg feels even more magical, when the intense sun never seems to set below the horizon line and nights are never truly dark.
The colourful Church of the Saviour on Blood towers over the Mikhailovsky Garden. It is one of the biggest Russian Orthodox churches of the city, and undoubtedly its most famous sight. Almost destroyed on multiple occasions and then restored, it has not been reconsecrated. It was turned into a mosaic museum instead, displaying some 7,500 sqm of tiles on its walls.
Church of the Saviour on Blood
Griboyedov Channel Embankment, 2Б
+7 812 315 16 36
Wintertime in Cape Town
Facing the blue waters of the ocean, Cape Town is overlooked by the Table Mountain, one of the New7Wonders of Nature. The city developed in its shade, born again from the ashes of its past.
Just like in the rest of the country, the Apartheid struck Cape Town, from the 1950s to the 1980s. Nowadays, culture and togetherness help South Africans make a fresh start. It explains why art museums, galleries and design shops now open everywhere.
Not far from there, Robben Island is a reminder of what went on in a not so-distant past. The prison walls where Nelson Mandela was jailed for 18 years are still standing, but tourists have replaced prisoners. The place is so impressive you're sure to feel the weight of history.
Robben Island Museum
Private Bag Robben Island
7400 Cape Town
+27 (0)21 413 4200
At the beach, in Mauritius
Lost in the middle of the Indian Ocean under the Equator, Mauritius enjoys two main seasons: austral winter and austral summer, reversed when compared to the seasons of the northern hemisphere. Summer in Europe therefore means winter in Mauritius. Temperatures remain pleasant all year round, between 68 and 77°F, making it ideal to go to the beach during your stay.
Hiking is the best way to appreciate the sheer beauty of the landscape. The Morne Brabant is best kept for good climbers, whereas families will favour Le Pouce, the third highest mountain of the island, easier to climb with children.
As for culture, Mauritius holds its own and carries the traces of history. Visit the Eureka house, in turns English then French, where history will surprise you from the get-go and discover the colonial ways of life as you go along.
+230 433 8477
Cooling off in Rio de Janeiro
In the southern hemisphere, the Brazilian summer is a promise of very enjoyable temperatures, around 77°F, so as to fully enjoy the beaches of Rio: Ipanema and Copacabana are ready for you! Rio is one of the most exciting cities in Brazil, and you'll be there at the right moment to discover what it has to offer under perfect conditions.
When in Rio, it is impossible not to climb the Corcovado, up to the Christ the Redeemer statue. You can either use a train or walk if the temperatures allow you to do so – expect 2 hours and 30 minutes for the hike. Once at the top, the immense statue will stand right before your eyes. Speechless, you'll gaze at the infinite views over the city and the ocean. Early morning departure is recommended to increase your chance of clear and sunny skies, hence making sure you enjoy the view best. You can try to play and discern the different neighbourhoods of the city below.
Parque Nacional da Tijuca
Alto da Boa Vista
Rio de Janeiro
+55 (0)21 2558 1329