Where to go on holiday in May
As summer ends in the southern hemisphere and spring goes into top gear up north, we enter one of the best overall months for travel. It’s shoulder season (the bit that bridges low and peak periods) almost everywhere, and extreme weather is hard to come by. We’ve selected a few destinations that outshine the rest, so if you can take a little time off to treat yourself this month, you’re in for a brilliant time.
Best for a Short-Haul Holiday
Madrid can be stiflingly hot in summer, but May is unquestionably one of our favourite times to see the beautiful Spanish capital. It’s just after the rainiest time of year. As the Spanish saying goes, En Abril, aguas mil: In April, a thousand waters. But by May those waters have soaked into the ground and set the scene for the spectacular display of wildflowers set against backdrops of dramatic clouds.
It’s also early enough in the year to miss the crowds of summer, but busy enough to catch some great events. There are loads of incredible galleries and museums (of which the Prado is the most famous), offering exhibits by some of the greatest artists of all time. There are also ballets, operas, music festivals, live concerts and fantastic sporting events.
Menorca is an amazing place to be in May. The temperatures are balmy, the wind speeds are low, and there’s little rain. It’s not too hot yet, but there’s plenty of sunshine every day, illuminating the fields of spring flowers that pop up after the rainy season.
There are 900 species of flowering plants, including 25 kinds of orchid, naturally occurring in Menorca. The poppy fields alone are amazing. There are also 30 types of butterfly, and many species of birds you won’t find in the UK. The result is a vibrant and colourful performance that’ll enthrall photographers.
Peak season only picks up towards the end of the month, so there are also great deals on flights, hotels, resorts and car rentals.
Need more inspiration? Here are 6 things you never knew about Menorca
The Greek islands really start to pick up after June, so May is packed with shoulder-season deals. The weather is great - not too hot yet - and there aren’t too many crowds. The sea is still a little chilly at this time, but all things are relative - compared to UK waters, it'll seem positively balmy.
The Greek islands are at their prime outside of peak season. Life is a little quieter and slower, and you'll feel right at home sipping coffee or wine at a rustic taverna overlooking the coast with its clusters of white-washed houses.
Regardless of your budget and interests, the islands are a great choice for your May break.
Best for a Long-Haul Holiday
May is the last month of the dry season in St Lucia, just before the rains start and the humidity levels rise. It’s also at the end of peak season, so you won’t have to fight crowds wherever you go.
The most exciting thing about St Lucia in May is the Jazz & Arts Festival. The festival attracts thousands of visitors every year, with its fortnight-long schedule of world-class music. It’s one of the highlights of the Caribbean cultural calendar, and some of the biggest names in music have graced the main stages, including Rihanna, Elton John and the late Amy Winehouse.
Vegas is always going to be bustling, but the crowds are far more manageable in May. Who wants to spend their holiday in Vegas queuing for an open slot machine, right?
May brings with it warm, sunny days and clear skies. There’s plenty of opportunity to be outdoors, but on the off-chance it’s a little too warm there’s a lot to do. And the range of activities is incredible: everything from slinking away into a casino to try your hand at roulette, to test driving a Lamborghini or hiking through canyons.
Of course, for the quintessential Vegas experience, stroll down the strip any time of the day or night. There you’ll find a veritable feast of shows, live music and other events to choose from. There are literally hundreds of things to do without ever leaving the 3.5-mile strip.
The best part is that despite the perfect weather and incredible array of activities, Vegas in May is as affordable as it gets.
Spring is California’s most beautiful time. The hillsides are covered in lush green grass and wildflowers, and even the desert comes alive with colourful blooms. The Mediterranean climate means you’ll have warm, sunny days and blue skies: perfect for a road trip. Peak season doesn’t begin until June, and car rentals, hotels, and attractions all still have off-peak rates on offer.
If you’ve dreamt of taking a great American road trip, now’s your chance. Rent a van (or something a little sexier if that’s your style), and hit the highways of the Golden State. The scenery can’t be beaten at this time of year, and the beaches aren’t too crowded either. Yep, May’s the month for California dreamin’.
Other Destinations to Consider
Tuscany: In May, the wildflowers are in bloom and the days are mild and usually sunny. There are also many village festivals. It’s one of the busiest times of year, so book early to avoid exorbitant rates!
Istanbul: It’s the beginning of high season, so not too busy yet, and the days are long, warm and sunny.
Scotland: May offers long days, the lowest rainfall, and wildflowers bring a splash of colour to the landscape. It’s outside of peak season, so prices aren’t too bad.
Lake District: The UK's favourite National Park looks spectacular in May - what better place to see spring in all its glory?