Where to go on holiday in May
May is one of the best months of the year to go on holiday – you’ll find sensational weather in many of the world’s best destinations, and mouth-watering bargains.
In the Mediterranean, most tour operators start their summer flight programmes in May, but the crowds have yet to arrive, so prices are set low. Long days of warm sunshine are all but guaranteed, yet it’s rarely too hot to wander into town or do some sightseeing.
May is also one of the best months to fly long haul. Prices in the Caribbean plummet after the Easter holidays, yet the weather is all but perfect with several months to go before the start of the hurricane season. It’s also a great time to visit the USA. Here’s our guide to where to go on holiday in May.
If you’re travelling with children, see our recommended family holidays in May half term.
Note: all the travel companies featured on this page are personally recommended by our editors.
Mediterranean beach holidays in May
The welcome in May is unusually warm – it’s too early in the season for waiters and taxi drivers to start feeling jaded, and everyone is pleased to see the start of a new tourist season. The weather will be amazing, the sea is warming up and the countryside is still dotted with spring flowers. Best of all, prices are low so you can pick up some great cheap holidays in May.
Where should you go on holiday in May? In the Med, almost anywhere. In Spain, we recommend the unspoilt beaches Costa de la Luz and the beautiful coastline of Catalonia. On the islands of Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza you’ll find some first-class villas. Explore more destinations in Spain.
Greece is magical for May holidays. Head to the quite island of Paxos to chill out, or explore fascinating Crete where you’ll find stylish houses to rent and the stylish contemporary Daios Cove hotel. On the mainland, we recommend the Sani Resort.
We love the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia, home to two of the Med’s great hotels, Forte Village Resort in Sardinia and the Verdura Golf & Spa Resort in Sicily. On mainland Italy we recommend the beautiful Amalfi Coast and the gorgeous region of Puglia in the “heel of the boot”. Find more Italy holiday ideas.
The Aegean coast of Turkey has some great boutique hotels while Turkish-speaking North Cyprus is a great destination in May with some fascinating historical sights, remote beaches and remarkably low prices. We particularly like the Pia Bella Hotel near the charming port town of Kyrenia.
Although classic destination for May – although not in the Med – is the Italian Lakes. Perfect for boat trips, walks along the shores, eating in charming local restaurants.
If you’re feeling flush, you could rent a luxury staffed villa with Scott Dunn in the Mediterranean, complete with a private pool and the services of a private chef, villa host and fully-qualified nanny.
Long haul beaches and adventures
Low season rates in the Caribbean mean that previously unaffordable destinations become genuine bargains. You can push the boat out in Barbados or live it up in style at Sandals Royal Plantation, Ocho Rios in Jamaica.
A nice alternative to staying in a hotel is to rent a luxury Caribbean villa which comes fully staffed. Book with CV Travel. If you travel with friends the price is surprisingly affordable. See our pick of the best Caribbean holidays.
Bermuda is closer than the Caribbean – it’s in the Atlantic, and not so inviting in winter. But by May the weather has really cheered up and you can enjoy stunning pink sand beaches, immaculate gardens and golf courses and excellent hotels including Cambridge Beaches and the budget-friendly Grotto Bay Resort.
May is one of the best months to visit Peru – a once in a lifetime destination where you can visit the Lost City of Machu Picchu, explore colonial towns, Andean mountain villages and the Amazon rainforest. Find more Peru holiday ideas.
In Asia you need to pick and choose your destination – some are arguably too hot in May. This is a good time to explore the beaches and jungles of Borneo including visits to see the Orang-utans. If you just want to relax in some perfect sunshine we recommend the Tanjong Jara Resort in Malaysia and the Thai island of Koh Samui.
May is the perfect time to visit Japan. The temperature in Tokyo is mild, the gardens are in full bloom and the mountains are green. Kenrokuen gardens in Kanazawa are considered amongst the most beautiful in Japan. Find more holiday ideas in Japan.
UK holiday ideas in May
Long days of sunshine and warm temperatures can make May a great time to holiday in the UK. Both Devon and Cornwall offer the prospect of good weather, ideal for family holidays in May half term. Find more half term holiday ideas.
If you love the idea of camping but aren’t so crazy about the idea of soggy canvas, take a look at Trevella Park on the coast of Cornwall, and Feather Down Farms, which has luxury tents (wooden floors, proper beds and a wood-fired stove) set on working farms across the UK.
A boating holiday on a river cruiser or narrowboat is great value and a wonderfully relaxing way to explore the British countryside at this time of year. Options include the Norfolk Broads where you can explore 250 miles of waterways, motoring gently through reed marshes, meadows and woodland. There are plenty of riverside pubs and restaurants where you can moor up. Real Enid Blyton stuff.
If you want a weekend break in the countryside, try Gilpin Lodge in the Lake District, the stately Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa near Bath or the Old Swan & Minster Mill, a 15th-century inn that has recently been restored by the de Savary family.
On the Suffolk coast, The Wentworth Hotel is a gorgeous bolthole overlooking the beach at Aldeburgh, one of Britain’s prettiest seaside towns.
From London it is an easy journey to Maison Talbooth, a charming, family-run hotel on the Essex-Suffolk border.
Often overlooked by holidaymakers tearing down to Devon and Cornwall, the delightful county of Dorset has lovely countryside and a dramatic coastline. We recommend staying with Countryside & Coastal B&Bs.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay with a large group of family or friends, why not rent a large house. We recommend The Big Domain which has a great collection of properties in the UK and abroad that all sleep 12 or more.
We’ve discovered a wonderful collection of short breaks in Scotland including a steam train journey on the West Highland Line and self-drive tours in classic cars. You can take a whisky tour of Islay and spot Minke Whales on Mull. You can also join a genteel cruise in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland on a lovingly-restored traditional wooden boat.
Activity holidays in May
With the heat of the summer yet to descend, May is a great month for an activity holiday – whether you want to push your body to the limits or just enjoy some leisurely exercise in beautiful surroundings.
Northern Spain offers rolling hills, empty beaches and dramatic mountains – great for hiking, biking and white-water rafting. It’s great value and the food is excellent. Find out more from Casas Cantabricas.
May is a great month for cycling in the UK. We recommend Saddle Skedaddle which has a range of escorted and independent trips exploring the best of the British countryside, including both road cycling and mountain bike weekends. They are aimed at all levels and you don’t even need your own bike. Try the Lake District, Wales, the Quantocks or the Cotswolds.
We also recommend Martin Randall which specialises in expert-led cultural tours in some of Europe’s most fascinating destinations. Travelling in a small group, each tour is themed around art, architecture, gastronomy, music or history. See the website for details.
If you crave adventure, how about a check out Star Clippers which runs tall ship cruises on a traditional sailing boat. Peter Sommer Travels also runs gulet cruises in Turkey, Italy and Greece accompanied by an expert guide to show you around cultural sites.
Indulge your mind and body at a luxury spa retreat in the South of France or Andalucia. If you want to stretch yourself, how about a fitness holiday in the Italian Dolomites or a dedicated yoga holiday with healthy food and expert yoga teachers in a choice of beautiful destinations including Crete and Italy. Details from Destination Yoga.
If you’re a golfer, try a golfing holiday at a self-catering holiday village in France, which works out much cheaper than staying at a hotel. If you love food, how about taking a cookery course at Annie B’s Spanish Kitchen in Andalucia.
In Northern Spain you’ll find some wonderful rail journeys on luxury state-owned trains including the Transcantábrico and La Robla. A great way to visit some elegant cities and see magnificent countryside.
Head to Norway in May as midsummer approaches and you’ll see some of the world’s most spectacular wonders bathed in long hours of sunshine. Take an independent tour of fjords, lakes and mountains or a coastal voyage on a ship used by locals. You can spot whales in the Lofoten Islands or take a short break to Tromso, the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Iceland is one of the world’s most dramatically beautiful countries – with mountains, glaciers, volcanoes and geysers. We’ve picked some great group tours and fly-drive holidays. View the latest special offers.
The Latvian capital of Riga is a fascinating city for a short break – it’s packed with historical sights, interesting architecture and some of Europe’s cheapest bars and restaurants. Other great value destinations in Eastern Europe inlcude Kiev in the Ukraine, and the historic city of Budapest.
In Northern France, we recommend the Auberge d’Inxent, a gorgeous simple inn with great food set in rolling countryside near Calais. You could take a city break in Germany, exploring the fascinating capital Berlin or historic Cologne. Or live it up in Madrid where you’ll find art galleries, pavement cafes, tapas bars and grand architecture.
Or cross the Channel to Camping Duinrell just 30 miles from Hook of Holland. Rent a family-sized tent or mobile home and spend your days on the beach, splashing about in the pools and water park and visiting Amsterdam. If you have young children, you can’t go wrong at Disneyland Paris, easily reached by Eurostar. See the latest offers.
Got some cash to splash? Celebrate a big birthday or anniversary by booking a private jet holiday to France with Jet Escapes. If you travel with a few friends or family, a day trip or short break can cost less than £1,000 per person.
Holidays in America in May
Spring is the perfect time to visit the Eastern US cities of New York and Boston. You can expect fabulous sunny weather on a fly-drive around New England or staying on a working farm. For a really stylish entrance, how about arriving in the Big Apple by transatlantic cruise, perhaps on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.
Rent a car and you can explore the highways and byways of America at your own pace. You could take a fascinating and emotional journey along the Civil War route, or discover the beauty of the Great Lakes. Take the Grand Circle route through Nevada, Utah and Arizona, or motor south from Miami to the Florida Keys (where we recommend the gorgeous Little Palm Island).
It’s a great time to explore the South before the heat of summer descends. Drive the 250-mile Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, stay in gorgeous plantation houses on the route from New Orleans to Charleston or meet the friendly folks of Alabama. If you want somebody else behind the wheel, try this escorted coach tour of Georgia and South Carolina.
California is sunshine all the way. Take it easy at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, on Redondo Beach or in glamorous Palm Springs. There are plenty of great fly-drive options including the Pacific Coast Highway, one of the world’s most scenic drives. Why not do it in a convertible!
More ideas? How about a golfing holiday, a house rental in Orlando, a river cruise on the Mississippi or through the states of Washington and Oregon, or a tour of the locations used by TV shows including Sex & The City and The Sopranos. You can even get married in the US.
Try our holiday quiz
If you’re still stuck for ideas, why not try our fun holiday quiz. Answer 10 easy questions like the one below to find out what kind of holidaymaker you are, and get personalised travel recommendations. Try the quiz now.
More holiday ideas
Where to go on holiday in May