May is a delightful month for travelers (and me cus it’s me birthday month too!), as spring transitions into summer in many parts of the world. It offers a great balance between warm and sunny weather without becoming too warm. Whilst crowds are starting to gather in some of the more popular destinations, peak season is also a good month away, so you get a great buzz without being overwhelmed.
The pleasant weather, blooming landscapes, and vibrant festivals make it an ideal time to embark on an exciting adventure. It’s a time of year that whatever I am doing and wherever I am, I always make sure to head off on at least a mini exploration!
Whether you’re seeking a relaxing beach getaway, an exploration of cultural festivals, or a budget-friendly trip, there’s something for everyone. In this blog post, we’ll take you through the best places to visit in May, divided into different categories, ensuring that you find the perfect destination for your next memorable springtime trip.
The Best Places in The USA to Visit in May
When it comes to diverse landscapes and captivating destinations, the United States has plenty to offer. Whether you’re wanting to explore big cities, massive mountain ranges, sleepy seaside towns and just about anything in-between … the USA has got it all!
In May, several cities and national parks come alive with activities and events. The weather also tends to be pretty fair across the varied nation’s climates, so whether you’re heading for the hills, north or south … you’ll be comfortable.
Here are two destinations to consider:
New York City, New York
New York needs no introduction, the truth is that there’s never a bad time to visit New York city, but then again, there are some months that are definitely better than others. When it comes to visiting in May you’ll get the benefit of the increasingly warm weather without the humidity of the summer months. May also offers the best of both worlds as the crowds are a lot thinner than in the middle of summer or in the run up to Christmas.
There’s an enormous amount of things to do in New York, whether you’re planning on having a weekend break or spending a few weeks here, you’ll never be short of varied activities. Explore iconic landmarks like Times Square, Central Park, and the Statue of Liberty before taking in the view over the city from places like One World Trade Center or The Rockefella Building.
There’s some fun free and local things to do too like taking the iconic Staten Island ferry for an unbeatable view of the Manhattan skyline. Don’t miss out on cultural events like the Tribeca Film Festival and the Cherry Blossom Festival in Brooklyn Botanic Garden that happen in May. This time of year is also great for those who want to catch a baseball game and get a look at America’s pastime.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
May offers pleasant temperatures at the Grand Canyon National Park, a place that can be scorching hot in summer and pretty darn cold in winter! Taking in the breathtaking views over at the Grand Canyon in May is just the perfect way to start the spring. The shoulder season here offers the best of both worlds when it comes to both the weather and crowds too.
Be sure to head out on some of the many rim hikes that allow you to take in the canyon from several different perspectives. Viewpoints such as Mather Point on the South Rim, Redwall Bridge on the North Rim, Plateau Point on the Bright Angel Trail and Hopi Point are amongst the best to visit… but there are heaps more to discover too.
Taking a scenic helicopter has to be the ultimate way to see the canyon and in May, the clear weather should provide perfect conditions. Once you’ve done that it’s only right that you get down and into the canyon itself, you can even go white water rafting too! Be sure to cap it all off by catching a stunning sunset over the natural wonder of this iconic national park.
Best Places to Holiday in May for Good Weather
If you’re in search of destinations with ideal weather conditions in May, you’re in luck. From the stunning beaches of Bali to the enchanting islands of the Caribbean, numerous places offer warm temperatures and clear skies. In fact, May might just be perfect for those wanting warm weather that isn’t going to be too extreme.
Here are two destinations to consider:
Greece is the perfect spot to head if you’re looking for both sunshine, culture and great beaches! The charming island of Santorini with it’s rugged landscape, whitewashed houses that cling to its cliffs and black, red and white lava pebbles beaches is a must visit.
Unfortunately this picturesque Greek island has be come somewhat overrun in the summer months and combine this with the sweltering heat and this majestic place becomes a sweaty annoyance! Instead, head here in May for a slower pace, fewer crowds and more agreeable weather. Accommodation in Santorini is also a lot more affordable in May than in summer.
There’s a lot to do here for a relatively small island. Start by exploring the many whitewashed villages including places like Oia where you can take in the iconic view at Oia Castle, which is a popular sunset spot in the evenings. Fira Village is another great spot to explore local culture whilst also offering stunning views over the caldera below. Don’t forget to also indulge in delicious Mediterranean cuisine, relax on volcanic beaches, and immerse yourself in the island’s rich history and culture.
When it comes to vacation destinations, the Maldives has to be right up there when it comes to what most consider to be paradise! The island nation is a great place to visit whenever you choose, but May offers a great window of time just before the monsoon season starts where the peak season crowds are beginning to thin out.
With its pristine beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and abundant marine life, the Maldives offers an idyllic setting for relaxation and snorkeling or diving adventures. Unwind in luxurious overwater villas and create unforgettable memories in this stunning archipelago.
What many people also don’t realise is that there’s more to the Maldives than villas and beaches too … not that there’s anything wrong with that. But exploring the capital city of Male offers a great look into the unique culture of this tiny nation and is actually a very affordable part of the country.
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Best Places in Europe to Visit in May
Europe boasts a rich history, architectural wonders, and charming cities that are even more delightful to explore in May. Considered one of the two shoulder seasons, mid spring is when the flowers are blooming, the sun has finally come from behind the clouds and yet the majority of the crowds are still yet to awaken!
Here are two destinations to consider:
While expensive, Paris is a city like no other and it’s a bucket list destination for travellers the world over … for good reason! The big problem with that is that is can become overrun and so packed full of crowds in the summer that is can be difficult to fully appreciate. May strikes the perfect balance between between good weather and crowds with longer days and a fun vibe.
Stroll along the Seine River, marvel at the Eiffel Tower, and explore world-renowned museums like the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay and the Pompidou centre. Don’t forget to make your way up to the majestic Sacré Coeur as well as experiencing the charm of Parisian cafes, gardens in full bloom, and indulge in exquisite French cuisine.
Some of the great festivals and events taking place in May include the Paris Jazz Festival in Saint Germain-des-Prés and the Villette Sonique Festival. If food is more your thing, then check out the Taste of Paris festival held at the Grand Palais Ephemère in Champs de Mars in May. Another unique festival is the La Fête du Pain … that celebrates that most French passion … bread!
Amsterdam is one of the must visit cities of Europe and May brings with it vibrant colours and wonderfully mild weather. The largest city in The Netherland is often overrun by tourists in the summer months, but May brings with it a more lowkey buzz that just fits with the spring time vibes. The city is in bloom and is starting to come back to life after a long, cold winter and it’s wonderful to experience.
Begin your time here by exploring the famous canal system, whether that’s on foot, bike or by the water, it’s the best way to get to grips with the unique geography of the city and it’s pretty darn picturesque too. In fact, renting a bike and navigating the city like a local is a must if you want to get under the skin of Amsterdam.
Visit places like the Van Gogh Museum as well as more sombre monuments to the turbulent history of the city such as the Anne Frank Museum. If you’re a football fan, then heading out to take in Ajax’s football stadium tour is something you just can’t miss either. Visiting in May also allows you to witness the breathtaking tulip fields at Keukenhof Gardens, a true spectacle of nature.
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Best Places to Travel in May for Festivals
May is a month of vibrant celebrations around the world. Whether you’re a music enthusiast or a cultural aficionado, there’s a festival for you. In fact, there’s something about the springtime awakening that really provides a fantastic atmosphere for the festivals in May.
Here are two destinations to consider:
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
May might not be springtime in Brazil, infact, it’s actually autumn, but that doesn’t mean things are starting to slow down any! Luckily Rio is one of those places that experiences great weather year round and the cooler fall months bring both the extreme heat and humidity of the summer down to a much more manageable level. This also happens to make the month of May ideal for festivals!
Experience the world-famous Carnival in May, join the colorful parades, dance to samba rhythms, and immerse yourself in the infectious energy of this cultural extravaganza. Another cool thing to do in May is to visit the Marina de Glória, which transforms into a giant open-air movie theatre … the biggest open-air cinema in the world!
Of course, no visit to Rio would be complete without exploring stunning beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema. The weather in May is perfect for sunbaking without ending up looking like a leather handbag! Of course, next you’ll also want to witness the breathtaking Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking the city to complete the Rio experience.
Cannes, on the stunning Côte d’Azur, is a good idea any time of year, in fact, this region is know as one of the sunniest in the world. Having said that, May is particularly pleasant with warm temperatures that rarely push into the uncomfortable and a buzzing atmosphere that is turned up a notch during this month in particular.
Of course, the prestigious Cannes festival is the highlight of May, it’s a super exciting time to visit Cannes and the surrounding area for sure. Experience the glamour and sophistication of the red carpet as the world’s film industry gathers for this renowned event and see if you can spot a few stars for yourself.
That’s not the only thing to do in this region either. Once the crowds of dispersed, explore the beautiful Promenade de la Croisette, relax on the sandy beaches, and enjoy exquisite cuisine at upscale restaurants. Cannes offers a blend of luxury, culture, and stunning Mediterranean views, but it’s just one area along a coastline of beautiful and quaint town to visit too, including Monaco which is a short train ride away.
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Best Places to Visit in May on a Budget
Travelling in May doesn’t have to break the bank. There are several budget-friendly destinations that offer fantastic experiences without compromising on quality and in fact May is a great time of year to travel if you’re looking to visit somewhere affordable.
Here are two destinations to consider:
Known as the “Paris of the East,” the oft visited Budapest offers a wealth of attractions at affordable prices. During the month of May you also get a great balance between the weather and off season prices, making it even more budget friendly. Not only that, but if you’re anywhere in Europe then you’ll find it super easy to get cheap flights too.
Begin your time here wandering along the mighty Danube river, taking in the impressive Hungarian Parliament, crossing the majestic Chain Bridge and witnessing the moving “shoes on the Danube” that remembers the Jews killed on that spot during WW2. After crossing over the river head up to the Fisherman’s Bastion for panoramic views over the city below.
After pounding the pavement taking in all the impressive sights, take a load off at the traditional Gellert thermal baths alongside the locals. After that, don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in delicious local cuisine and experience the vibrant nightlife including the unique ruin bars the city is famous for.
If you’re looking for the best budget capital city to visit in Western Europe, then Lisbon is the one! Unlike many other capital cities in this region, Lisbon is still relively unscathed by mass tourism meaning that both prices are low and crowds are not as overwhelming as places like London or Berlin. Portugal too offers incredible weather year round being known as the sunniest capital in Europe too! May specifically strikes the balance perfectly with mild sunny days.
Lisbon combines rich history with a vibrant modern atmosphere around every corner. Be sure to visit iconic landmarks such as Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery on the outskirts of the city that represent the historic seafaring past of the city. Wander around charming neighborhoods like Alfama and Bairro Alto and enjoy breathtaking views from viewpoints like Miradouro da Senhora do Monte.
After catching sunset from one of the many vantage points, be sure to indulge in some of the unique cuisine including visiting the home of the pastel de nata and samping some of the best seafood in the world. Complete the experience in this budget-friendly European gem by taking a day trip out to Sintra and visiting the fairytale Palace of Pena.
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Best of the Rest – Where to Go in May
In addition to the aforementioned categories, there are countless other destinations worth considering for a May getaway, particularly some that are further afield. Here we’ll look at some different ideas for those wanting to have more of a culture shock.
Here are two more destinations to add to your list:
Backpacking Japan is a special experience and Kyoto is a majestic and magical destination that is at it’s best in May with it’s vibrant cherry blossoms, mild weather and buzzing atmosphere. Kyoto is know for some quite extreme weather throughout the year, with May being one of the only times when it hits all the right notes. The only problem, its going to be quite busy at this time of year, but the vibe is undeniably lively and fun.
Of course, the primary thing to do in Kyoto in May is witnessing the city’s temples and parks come alive with stunning pink hues. Spots in the city that are particularly beautiful are the Philosopher’s Path, Arashiyama, Nijo Castle, Kiyomizu-Dera and Maruyama-Koen Park. After that, continue the theme by exploring historical sites like Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), Fushimi Inari Shrine, Toji Temple and embrace the serene beauty of Japanese gardens.
Other unmissable signs include the Yasaka Pagoda and the insta famous street leading towards it. The Fushimi Inari shrine is also popular with influencers, so be sure to get here early for the money shot! Of course, after all that exploration, be sure to immerse yourself in traditional tea ceremonies and savor delicious local cuisine.
Cape Town, South Africa
As with the other Southern Hemisphere countries, May isn’t spring, but instead it’s Autumn! Nevertheless, in South Africa this means pleasant temperatures with the residual heat of summer lingering in the air without being stifling. Being shoulder season, it’s also one of the quieter times to visit this wonderful city too.
Being situated between the mountains and the ocean, Cape Town offers a great variety of different things to explore. This means that you can go from discovering the captivating Table Mountain to taking a scenic drive along the iconic Cape Peninsula the following day. Other natural highlights include a hike up Lion’s Head which offers views out over to Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles and Camps Bay beach.
Visiting Cape Town city itself offers vibrant and colouful culture in areas like Bo Kaap, the V&A Waterfront, Greenmarket Square as well as the everso cool cafe scene on the Long, Loop and Kloof streets. There’s also other more confronting places to visit such as Robben Island, the District Six Museum and taking a township tour where you can learn about the ongoing legacy of the apartheid era.
Final Thoughts on Where to Go in May
May is a remarkable month for travel, offering a plethora of destinations and experiences. Whether you’re seeking warm weather, cultural festivities, or exploring on a budget, there’s a perfect destination for you.
The month of May presents an excellent opportunity to explore the world and create unforgettable memories. Whether you choose to visit captivating destinations in the USA, Europe, or other parts of the globe, there’s something for everyone.
From vibrant festivals to stunning natural landscapes and budget-friendly options, May offers a diverse range of experiences. So pack your bags, book your accommodations, and embark on an adventure to one of these fantastic destinations this May.
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