Is it safe to travel in Europe during the heatwave and how are Britons affected?

Swimmers enjoy the sea in Athens, Greece, amid the heatwave (Yorgos Karahalis/AP)
Swimmers enjoy the sea in Athens, Greece, amid the heatwave (Yorgos Karahalis/AP) Swimmers enjoy the sea in Athens, Greece, amid the heatwave (Yorgos Karahalis/AP)

Sizzling temperatures have swept across southern Europe, but what does this mean for holidaymakers?

Here explains what is happening and what British people travelling to the region should expect.

– What is happening?

A heatwave has taken hold across many popular British family holiday hotspots in the Mediterranean, such as in Spain, Italy and Greece.

– How hot has it been?

Much of southern Europe has been in the high 30s, while some parts of southern Italy and areas in Greece have been in the low-to-mid 40s, which is eight to 12 degrees above the seasonal average for the region.

The hottest temperature recorded was around 45C.

Greece Weather
Greece Weather Temperatures have reached the mid-40s (Petros Giannakouris/AP)

– Why is this an issue?

It has caused health issues, leading to a strain on local medical services during a busy tourist period.

Fifteen cities in Italy, most of them in the country’s centre and south, were under heat advisories due to a high level of risk for older adults, children and other vulnerable people.

Last week, a 44-year-old man, who was painting a zebra crossing in 40C heat in the northern town of Lodi, lost consciousness and later died in hospital, local media reported.

More than 2,000 people have been evacuated as a wildfire raged on La Palma in the Canary Islands, while authorities in Greece opened air-conditioned areas in public buildings.

Spain Wildfires
Spain Wildfires Forest fires have raged on the Canary Island of La Palma (Europa Press via AP)

– Will it get hotter?

Forecasters say in the coming days parts of Italy and Greece could push the 48.8C recorded in Syracuse, Sicily in August 2021, the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe.

– Why is it happening?

The high temperatures are being driven by a high pressure system that is sat across the region, allowing temperatures to build day by day.

Warm air brought in from Africa is trapped.

– When will it end?

The hot weather is set to continue for at least another week, especially in Greece and parts of Turkey.

It will ease slightly in countries across western Europe, such as Spain and Portugal in the next few days, the Met Office said.

– Why is it called Cerberus?

The heatwave was named by the Italian Meteorological Society after the three-headed dog in ancient Greek mythology who guarded the gates to the underworld.

– Is the UK affected?

A low-pressure system was directed towards the country because of the weather in Europe, and has not moved, causing the recent wind and rain.

Temperatures have been slightly below average for the time of year.

Summer weather July 15th 2023
Summer weather July 15th 2023 The UK has seen wet and windy weather of late (Ben Birchall/PA)

– Will the UK see any of the hot weather?

No, the unsettled and cooler-than-average weather is predicted to continue for the “next few weeks”, the Met Office said.

– Is it safe to travel in Europe?

Flights and holiday packages are continuing as normal, according to trade association ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents).

Britons have been advised to stay hydrated, apply sun cream and avoid being in the sun at midday while on holiday.

Forecaster Simon Partridge said: “It’s a massive shock to the system when you’re there, so give yourself a chance to get used to the heat.”

The Foreign Office recommended people check travel advice on its website.

EasyJet financials
EasyJet financials Flights are continuing as normal (Nicholas T Ansell/PA)

– How are holidaymakers affected?

Some people are changing their plans, it has been reported.

Justine Rush, 53, who is in Corfu, told the Observer: “It’s properly hot – too hot to go outside in the day, except when you’re in the sea. We’ve had to stay in our room most of the day.”

Paola Deitan, 29, from Marlborough, Wiltshire, was planning to travel with her best friend to Greece, but has now opted for Barcelona, the newspaper said.

– Can I cancel my holiday?

People can change their holiday plans, but normal conditions apply, including cancellation fees.