remember my first Summer in Valencia. It was in July 2016 and I was here for a couple of days. The sweat was dripping from my body, I was walking as slow as a turtle, looked like a lobster, and had little to no interest in actually doing something. I then understood why the Spaniards are famous for “taking it easy”. Because once June comes along … the heat is on.
300 days of sun
When you’re from a country where it rains more than you can emotionally handle, visiting a sunny destination is really exciting. Now, imagine how exciting it is to move to a city with 300 days of sun per year! However, I was never prepared for the Summer heat. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Valencia and I would choose the heat over Dutch weather any time. But dealing with the heat can be a struggle and that’s why I decided to create the ultimate Summer survival guide for you. Let’s cool our pits, shall we?
The hottest months of the year
June, July, and August are the hottest months of the year and August is definitely the winner. The city is much quieter during the Summer holidays. Why? Well, most locals try to escape the heat by going to their family Summer houses in the Valencian province. Lots of expats visit countries with lower temperatures or they go to their home countries to cool down.
The tourists in Valencia spend their days on the beach or in the city as if the heat doesn’t exist. Well, I understand. I used to want to soak up every bit of sunshine, even if it meant sitting on a terrace with my bum stuck on the plastic chairs. My Spanish friends refused to sit with me on a terrace in the middle of the day: “Are you crazy? It’s so hot!” Those days are over. I refuse to sit in the sun during the hottest moment of the day - voluntarily, sweating like a pig. I guess I’m fully integrated now.
Best times of day to go outside
At some point, my body slowly got used to the new temperatures. However, the heat is something I keep struggling with. Luckily I’m not the only one, you’ll hear Spaniards say: “Qué calor!” (which means: “It’s so hot!”) at least a few times a day. The humidity doesn’t help either, but we can’t let the heat stop us from having a good time, of course. We just have to be a little smart.
The best times of day to go outside are in the mornings until 12.00 and in the late afternoons starting from 18.00. Official guidelines advise staying inside between those hours and reducing physical activity. It’s actually strongly encouraged to take a siesta (a short nap). Man, I love this country.
Do keep in mind that it’s still hot at night. If you want to go for a night swim in the sea, don’t expect to cool down, the water is still warm. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun, though :-)
If you want to be as sophisticated as the elderly Spanish ladies and are not as clumsy as I am, buy an Abanico (a hand fan).
How to keep your home cool
Imagine you’re coming home after having spent a few hours in the heat. You open the door and it feels like someone is wrapping a warm blanket around your body. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like that. So how do you keep your home cool?
If you don’t have air conditioning: buy a fan, keep your blinds down, and your windows open during the day - this allows the air to circulate without direct sunlight coming in. If you don’t do this, you’ll feel like you’ve turned into a slow-cooked meal. Embrace the darkness, my friend.
If you do have air conditioning: I’m jealous. In this case, keep your blinds down as well and keep your windows closed, otherwise it doesn’t work. It can be a little expensive to keep your air conditioning on for a long time, though, so that’s something you should keep in mind.
Some people are worried that air conditioning will make them sick, but you don’t have to worry about that. A doctor I work for told me that it’s much healthier to keep your body cool than to suffer from the heat. Who wants to have a heatstroke? I know I don’t.
Another great piece of advice is to take frequent cold showers or baths. Yes, keep it cool, friends.
Work & school - slow down
Don’t make a busy schedule for yourself. If you do, your body will tell you to slow down anyway, because the heat makes you much slower.
Lots of companies close during August, this is why it’s very common for Spaniards to have the whole month off. It’s simply too hot to function.
This is also the reason why kids in southern European countries have much longer Summer holidays. In Valencia, the holidays usually start around mid-June and end around the beginning of September.
How to keep your dog cool
Just like us, dogs need to avoid going outside during the hottest moments of the day too. This is to reduce the risk of heatstroke and burning their paws on the sidewalk.
The best moments to walk your dog are early in the morning and late afternoon/evening.
If you do have to go out between those moments and take them with you, just check the temperature of the sidewalk. You can do this by placing your hands or feet on the sidewalk for a few seconds - if it’s too hot it means it’s too hot for the paws. Makes sense, right?
So how do we beat the heat with our little friends? Let them drink cold, clean, and fresh water, play with frozen toys, swim in paddling pools, and dance with water sprinklers. Always make sure to create shaded areas in and outdoors. Never leave them in vehicles, caravans, conservatories, or outbuildings.
What to eat & drink
Drink at least two liters of water a day. Eat little meals, preferably fruit and vegetables. Choose fruit that has a high water content such as watermelon or strawberries. If you can’t live without a few cups of coffee or a glass of wine, try to decrease your intake as it can add to dehydration.
We absolutely love Mercadona’s coconut water. Besides a number of other health benefits, it helps in preventing and treating dehydration. And hey, it’s just yummy and super refreshing. That’s exactly what we need!
How to take good care of your Summer skin
I’ll admit it, I’m a skincare junkie. And if you know some things about skincare, you know that the most important thing to use (not just during Summer) is: sunscreen! Lots and lots of sunscreen. The Valencian sun is really strong during the Summer months and you don’t want to look like a tomato, risk getting skin cancer, or become super wrinkly when it’s totally unnecessary, do you?
Some people say that putting on sunscreen is just too much of a hassle. They’re worried that it’s gonna make them look too shiny or feel sticky. It doesn’t have to!
There are lots of products that are suitable for your skin and are very easy and pleasant to use. You just have to do some research. I have sensitive skin and I try to avoid perfume or fragrance in skincare products. Some of my favorite brands are Eucerin, Laroche Posay, The Ordinary, and Cerave.
As I’m very dedicated to taking good care of my skin, I still want to use body lotion during those hot Summer months. Our skin suffers a lot from exposure to the sun, so it can use some extra love. However, it’s difficult to not immediately sweat it all of. But, I came up with, what I would call, a total life hack. I put my fan in front of the bathroom door and when I’m done taking a shower, I open the door and switch the fan on. In that way, I can apply my lightweight body lotion sin problemas. Oh yeah!
Unfortunately, because my skin can be very sensitive, I get heat rashes too. I just apply some non-perfumed deodorant on the parts where I usually get it (heat rashes are caused by sweat) and that’s that. No more heat rashes!
If you’ve got a sunburn, mix some cold-pressed jojoba oil with your body lotion. Jojoba helps reduce inflammation and speed up cell regeneration both in the body and skin, making jojoba oil a great treatment for sunburn. Another great product is pure Aloe Vera gel because it helps relieve pain and redness by reducing inflammation, just like Jojoba oil. Aloe vera also stimulates the production of collagen, which helps the healing process.
If you wanna know where I buy all these products, check out this blog post.
How to deal with mosquitos
Let’s talk about our lovely friends: the mosquitos. They seem to really love me, so I always take a repellent roll-on with me. Especially when I’m going to parks because that’s where they love to catch up with their other mosquito friends. I apply it before I go to sleep too, I mean… who wants to be eaten alive? Keeping your windows closed during the night can help as well, as these little creatures love to come out at night. But if you do like some fresh air, then you can hang a mosquito net over your bed and you’re good.
What to wear
Go sale shopping in Summer(but remember to take it easy.) Choose lightweight and loose-fitting clothing. Use natural fiber fabrics such as cotton and linen, they work best in absorbing sweat and allowing the skin to breathe. This will help you stay cool and avoid or minimize skin irritations.
How to get around the city
If I have to go somewhere during the hottest moments of the day, I prefer to hop on a bus, order a taxi, or get in a car. You can stay cool and still smell nice, sounds like a good deal to me ;-) However, sometimes I feel like using my legs instead of transportation - then I prefer walking rather than riding a bike. Why? Because I can walk in the shade slowly, when I ride a bike I get much sweatier. I know, so sexy.
Valencian Summer: survival of the hottest.
Do you have any cool, refreshing tips? We’d love to know!