Mild. Temperate. Those are the words used to describe the agreeable climate in many parts of the globe come May. In so many destinations, it’s an oh-so-lovely time to be hiking, rafting, sightseeing, or simply people-watching at an outdoor café.
(Don’t miss the rest of our “Where to Go” series on the best destinations for each month of the year. If you’re wondering when’s the best time to book your destination to get the best value for your dollar, see our “What to Book Now” series.)
The California Coast
In May the weather is generally nice, even in the north of the state, but the busy summer season hasn’t yet kicked in. —Sheri Doyle, Trusted Travel Expert for Washington, Oregon, and California
Read Sheri’s Insider’s Guide to Your Perfect California Coast Road Trip, and reach out to her through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.
The American West for River Rafting
Though water levels and weather vary from river to river, May is generally a great time for rafting in the American West (except for the Northwest, where it’s still cool and sometimes wet): It’s not yet too hot, and many free-flowing waterways—think Cataract Canyon, the Tuolumne, and the Salmon—are at their peak. This year is shaping up to be a great one for thrill-seekers, with high water expected in California and Utah thanks to heavy snowfall over the winter. —Mindy Gleason, Trusted Travel Expert for American West River Rafting
Read Mindy’s Insider’s Guide to River Rafting in the American West, and reach out to her through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.
Anguilla, British West Indies, Caribbean
On May 30, Anguillan Independence Day, you can mix with locals for a trooping of the colors, a parade, and an around-the-island regatta. All of Anguilla turns out for this hotly contested race of traditional craft. By May, the Caribbean has entered its shoulder season, meaning that the spring break crowds and prices are gone. Plus, it’s not yet hurricane season, which technically kicks off in June (though it’s rare to see a hurricane that early in the year); May typically gets mild, sunny days with a few showers here and there. —Lindsey Epperly, Trusted Travel Expert for the Caribbean, Florida, and Beach Vacations
Read Lindsey’s Insider’s Guide to Finding Your Perfect Caribbean Island Resort, and reach out to her through our site to be marked as a VIP and get the best possible trip.
Los Cabos, Mexico
I love May, when the weather is mild and there’s no chance of rain. Plus, villa rates are lower than in high season (December through April), and it’s less busy. — Julie Byrd, Trusted Travel Expert for Cabo Villa Vacations
Machu Picchu, Peru
May is my favorite month for hiking near Machu Picchu: Skies are mostly clear, hillsides are green following the heavier rains that have ended by mid-April, and there are fewer crowds. Temperatures are also warmer on average than the peak (June through August) season. —Tom Damon, Trusted Travel Expert for Chile, Ecuador, Galapagos, Peru, and Patagonia
Quito is called the City of Four Seasons for a reason: The weather can change in the blink of an eye. May falls during the shoulder season, when the temperature is mild, usually reaching the high 60s, and there are fewer travelers.
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Rio de Janeiro and the Pantanal, Brazil
Given its large mass and varied geography, the perfect time to visit Brazil depends on what parts of the country you hope to see. May makes for a good city-country combo: some of the best animal sightings in the Pantanal wetlands, and the sunniest skies and a gentler mood in Rio. —Martin Frankenberg, Trusted Travel Expert for Brazil
The Cotswolds, England
By May spring has taken hold, so flowers are blooming across the Cotswolds—fruit-tree blossoms, clematis, and wisteria are everywhere. The air smells so fresh, and there are so many shades of green. Hotel rates are also lower than in the summer high season. — Jonathan Epstein, Trusted Travel Expert for England, Ireland, and Scotland
In May the weather is mild and even warm on occasion, and you won’t have to deal with the August crowds. Since this month falls before peak season (June–September), you can find some bargains, and the hills and roadways are dotted with blooming gorse, a bright-yellow flower. — Jonathan Epstein, Trusted Travel Expert for England, Ireland, and Scotland
Barcelona and Madrid
Terraces and cafés open and residents head outdoors to enjoy these beautiful cities before the heat sets in. Spring is the perfect time for strolling and picnicking in the sparkling Mediterranean light. In Madrid, everyone pours into the streets in mid-May to celebrate San Isidro. —Virginia Irurita, Trusted Travel Expert for Spain and Portugal
The Algarve, Portugal
The weather is beautiful from March to mid-June, and the coastal towns are not too busy yet, so you can get a table in the restaurants and enjoy uncrowded beaches. —Virginia Irurita, Trusted Travel Expert for Spain and Portugal
Lots of delicious local crops are in season, from cherries and strawberries to fava beans, wild asparagus, and artichokes. It’s also festival time, when the reserved Umbrians really let down their hair for small but rollicking historical and religious celebrations. This year, Gubbio’s Corsa dei Ceri happens on May 15, Assisi’s Calendimaggio (a contest between the upper and lower town staged in medieval costumes) on May 3–6. —Maria Gabriella Landers and Brian Dore, Trusted Travel Experts for Italy
May is an ideal time to visit, as the countryside is filled with wildflowers, the seas are getting warmer, the weather is more stable (and without the heat of summer), and the tourist areas are relatively calm. In towns such as Siracusa, there are live performances of the ancient Greek Tragedies in the actual theaters where these cultural events were staged thousands of years ago. — Marcello Baglioni, Trusted Travel Expert for Italy: Sicily
In late April and May, you have nice weather, the crowds aren’t there, and prices are a little lower than at the height of summer. —Mariana Fisher, Trusted Travel Expert for Croatia
The weather is warm in May but not hot, and hotel rates are more competitive than in summer. What’s more, the crowds are thinner, which has the added benefit of ensuring the service will also be better (during the hectic summer months, service suffers). Visiting in May means you’ll feel more like a local than a tourist. —Christos Stergiou, Trusted Travel Expert for Greece
Aegean Coast, Turkey
In May the sun is out but it’s not sweltering; the sea is calm; and summer crowds haven’t arrived. Plus, rates are up to 50% lower than during the high season of July and August. — Karen Fedorko Sefer, Trusted Travel Expert for Turkey
May is the sweet spot: The weather is gorgeous, temperatures are ideal for sightseeing, and crowds are not as abundant as in summer, when kids are out of school and both overseas visitors and Europeans flock to the Mediterranean. —Tom Baker, Trusted Travel Expert for Large-Ship and River Cruises
May (after Golden Week, which ends on May 5 this year) brings great weather and vivid colors. In the springtime, you can enjoy the sweet scent and beauty of the cherry blossoms permeating the country; the entire nation comes alive to celebrate hanami, or flower viewing, in colorful kimonos. —Scott Gilman, Trusted Travel Expert for Japan
The optimal time to visit Jerusalem is after Passover—which ends on April 18 this year—but before summer: During this window, the weather is pleasant and the hotel rates are lower. Particularly wonderful is the transition from Memorial Day to Independence Day (April 30–May 1, 2017)—a two-day holiday when the country goes from national mourning into instant celebration—and to be at any of the thousands of kibbutzes that dot the country for the festival of the first fruits for Shavuot (which happens on May 31 this year). — Joe Yudin, Trusted Travel Expert for Israel
May falls during the islands’ drier “winter,” but outside the peak months of June and July, when Aussie and Kiwi vacationers drive up airfares and hotel rates. During the winter, temperatures are at their coolest (with highs hovering around 80), and the occasional rain showers are brief. With less humidity there are also fewer mossies (mosquitoes). — Lynette Wilson, Trusted Travel Expert for Fiji and Papua New Guinea
Zambia and Zimbabwe
In May, everything is still verdantly green from the rains and the temperature is delightful, but it’s dry enough that you see plenty of wildlife and there are virtually no mosquitoes or tsetse flies. Game viewing during this time is not quite as intense as later in the season, when it is very dry and dusty, but the landscape is more beautiful and the animals more at ease. —Cherri Briggs, Trusted Travel Expert for Safaris: Southern Africa
In May, temperatures are mild night and day, the occasional rains tease the desert wildflowers into bloom, and the animals are fat and happy. —Cherri Briggs, Trusted Travel Expert for Safaris: Southern Africa