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Where to Go in May: The Best Places to Travel

by Brook Wilkinson | November 2, 2022

Mild. Temperate. Those are the words used to describe the agreeable climate in many parts of the globe come May. In many destinations, it’s an oh-so-lovely time to be hiking, sightseeing, or simply people-watching at an outdoor café.

To understand what makes a trip WOW, read these recent reviews from our travelers. And don’t miss the rest of our “Where to Go” series on the best destinations for every month of the year.

Japan

Beautiful Cherry Blossom, Japan

Cherry blossom trees, Japan

May (after Golden Week, which ends on May 5) brings great weather throughout the entire country. While the cherry blossoms generally peak in April, you can still enjoy the sweet scent and beauty of the blooms in May, but without the crowds.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Japan. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Scandinavia

Reine, Lofoten, Norway. The village of Reine under a sunny, blue sky, with the typical rorbu houses. View from the top

The village of Reine in Lofoten, Norway. Photo: Shutterstock

After months of darkness, May’s longer days bring locals out to soak up the sunlight, making the outdoor cafes lively. You’ll also find an abundance of freshly caught seafood, and celebrations throughout the countryside leading up to the summer solstice.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Scandinavia. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Santorini and Mykonos, Greece

Oia town on Santorini island, Greece. Traditional and famous houses and churches with blue domes over the Caldera, Aegean sea

Oia town, on Santorini, is famous for its blue-domed churches and white houses overlooking the caldera. Photo: Shutterstock

May through early June is one of the most beautiful times to travel to the Cyclades—the group of Greek islands that includes the iconic spots of Santorini and Mykonos, but also less-crowded favorites of our travelers, including Naxos, Paros, and Sifnos. Days are warm, but the sun is not as relentless as it is in summer. Wildflowers blossom, beaches are empty, and locals welcome you with smiles.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Greece. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Portugal

Vineyards in the Valley of the River Douro, Portugal

Vineyards in Portugal’s Douro Valley. Photo: Shutterstock

The country’s weather is beautiful from March to mid-June. In the Algarve, the coastal towns are not too busy yet, so you can get a table in restaurants and enjoy uncrowded beaches. The Douro Valley’s rolling hills are lush and green from the winter rains, and there is excitement in Porto as the city prepares for summer festivities.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Portugal. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Spain

La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain

La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain. Photo: Ronny Siegel/Flickr

Café terraces open in May, and residents head outdoors to enjoy Spain’s beautiful cities before the heat sets in and the crowds arrive. 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.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Spain. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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France

Burgundy's rolling hillsides

Burgundy’s rolling hillsides. Photo: Truffle Pig

Paris is already crowded by late spring, but May is the optimal time to explore France’s countryside: Down south in Provence, the weather is lovely, there aren’t as many tourists, and fields of poppies are in colorful bloom. In Burgundy, temperatures have usually warmed up after the feast days of the Saint de Glace (which fall in the second week of the month and seem to bring showers or even frost). Later in May, flowers on trees bloom and the vineyards turn a bright springy green. May is also filled with bank holidays and tends to be any French person’s favorite—and it never hurts to see the French in the right mood.
Read reviews of WOW trips to France here, here, and here. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Croatia

view of water and town Rovinj Croatia

Rovinj, Croatia. Photo: Billie Cohen

In late April and May, you have glorious weather, the crowds are thinner, and prices are a little lower than at the height of summer.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Croatia. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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The Cotswolds, England

England, Cotswolds, Hidcote gardens. Photo: Jonathan Epstein

Hidcote Manor Gardens in the Cotswolds, England. Photo: Jonathan Epstein

By May, spring has taken hold, so flowers are blooming across the Cotswolds—fruit-tree blossoms, clematis, and wisteria are everywhere. The air smells fresh, and there are so many shades of green. Hotel rates are also lower than in the summer high season.
Read reviews of WOW trips to England. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Los Cabos, Mexico

a villa with a firepit and pool in Cabo Mexico

May in Los Cabos means less crowded beaches and restaurants—and more comfortable temperatures. Photo: CaboVillas

In May, the weather is mild and there’s little chance of rain. The bustle of spring break has passed, so it’s much less busy than just a month prior. That means less crowded beaches and restaurants—but more comfortable temperatures than the very hot summer months ahead. Plus, villa rates are lower than in high season (December through April), with great deals to be had.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Los Cabos. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Peru’s Sacred Valley

Springtime at Machu Picchu Peru

Springtime at Machu Picchu. Photo: Luis Felipa

May is a wonderful month to be outdoors exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Choose from a wide variety of hiking trails for easy day hikes or overnight treks through the Andes. 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 during the peak season (June through August). Base yourself in the Sacred Valley and enjoy convenient side trips to Machu Picchu and Cusco.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Peru. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Rio de Janeiro and the Pantanal, Brazil

a toucan in Pantanal, Brazil. Photo: Matueté Brasil Travel Design

Pantanal, Brazil. Photo: Matueté Brasil Travel Design

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.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Brazil. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Atacama Desert, Chile

Atacama desert, Andes, Chile

Atacama desert, Andes, Chile. Photo: Shutterstock

This geological wonder is typically dry by May—though the Atacama is one of the driest places on the planet, in recent years it’s seen rain showers and even flooding from January to March—and many dormant desert plants are in bloom, transforming the arid landscape. Try to visit during the new moon, when the Atacama’s famously dark sky is at its prime for stargazing.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Chile. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Bolivia

small piles of sand dot the Salar de Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia. A snowy mountaintop is in the background

Salar de Uyuni salt flat, Bolivia. Photo: Shutterstock

May is the sweet spot at the Salar de Uyuni salt flats: It’s not too cold, not too crowded, and the Salar is dry enough to cross in a vehicle but you still get some reflections off its surface.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Bolivia. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Scotland

Kinnoull Hill tower ruins, Perth Scotland, overlooking the River Tay on a clear day

Kinnoull Hill tower ruins overlooking the River Tay, Scotland. Photo: Shutterstock

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.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Scotland. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Mediterranean Cruises

Celebrity Reflection cruise ship

The Celebrity Reflection cruise ship. Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

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.
Read reviews of WOW Mediterranean cruises here and here. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Aegean Coast, Turkey

view from a wooden gulet boat on Turkey's Aegean Coast

A wooden gulet is an enticing way to explore the hidden islands of the Aegean. Photo: Sea Song Tours

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.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Turkey. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Jerusalem

Tower of David, Jerusalem, Israel.

The City of David, in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, is an archeological site with remains dating back more than 5,000 years. Photo: Noam Chen

The optimal time to visit Jerusalem is after Passover—which ends on April 13 in 2023—but before summer: During this window, the weather is pleasant and the hotel rates are lower. Particularly wonderful is to be at any of the thousands of kibbutzes that dot the country for the festival of the first fruits for Shavuot (which runs May 25-27 in 2023).
Read reviews of WOW trips to Israel. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Fiji

aerial view of Savasi Island Fiji

Savasi Island is a 52-acre private island in Fiji with only seven villas. Photo: Savasi Island

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 mosquitoes.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Fiji. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

Quito plaza, Ecuador

Quito Plaza, Ecuador. Photograph: Myths & Mountains

Ecuador’s capital city, 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. It’s also a great month to combine mainland Ecuador with the Galapagos Islands, before all the families descend in summertime, filling the boats there.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Ecuador. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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A Safari in Namibia

Sorris Sorris Lodge, Namibia

Sorris Sorris Lodge, Namibia. Photo: Tino De Njis/Namibia Exclusive

In May, temperatures are mild night and day, the occasional rains tease the desert wildflowers into bloom, and the animals are fat and happy. Read what Brook and her son loved about Namibia in spring.

Read reviews of WOW trips to Namibia. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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A Safari in Zambia and Zimbabwe

two people paddle past elephants on the Zambezi River in Chiawa, Zimbabwe

Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park is one of the continent’s most magnificent wildlife reserves, in one of its safest and most welcoming countries. Photo: Explore

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.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Zambia and Zimbabwe. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Romania

The Corvinesti castle also known as the Hunyad castle, is a Gothic-Renaissance castle in Hunedoara (Transylvania), Romania.

The Corvinesti castle also known as the Hunyad castle, is a Gothic-Renaissance castle in Hunedoara (Transylvania), Romania. Photo: Shutterstock

May and June offer prime weather with the fewest crowds at the country’s dozens of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Available activities range from horseback riding and skydiving to truffle hunting and wine tasting.  Yes, we’re well aware that Romania shares its northern border with Ukraine, but Wendy and her family felt completely safe there last August, and even got to talk with refugees and hear about their experiences.
Read reviews of WOW trips to Romania. To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Kolb studio.

Kolb Studio, Grand Canyon. Photo: Mike Buchheit

Beat the summer crowds and head to the canyon in springtime, when the weather is still pleasant. The right local fixer can have you flying over the canyon, hiking or riding mules into it, and gazing into its vastness from the best vantage points along the rim. (The South Rim is open year-round; the North Rim opens in mid-May.)
To get your own WOW trip and VIP treatment, use the black button below. 

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Other Good Options This Month

Click on any of the destinations below to find out why May is a good time to go.

North America and Caribbean

Hawaii: Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island

Mexico: Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Maya

Montana and Wyoming: Yellowstone National Park

St. Barts: beach and villa vacations

Utah’s national parks

 

Central and South America

Costa Rica: Pacific and Central regions

 

Europe

England: castles, manor houses, and gardens

European canal barge cruises

France: Paris apartment rentals

Germany: Bavaria

Hungary

Ireland: Killarney and County Kerry

Italy: Umbria and Venice

Malta

Norway (in late May)

Turkey: Cappadocia and Istanbul

 

Asia and Pacific

China: big cities and small villages, and Yunnan Province

India: Trekking and tiger reserves

Indonesia: Bali without the crowds

Myanmar’s higher elevations

Nepal

New Zealand, including Queenstown hiking and cycling

Papua New Guinea

Southeast Asia

 

Africa and Middle East

Madagascar

Morocco

Oman

Seychelles

South Africa: Cape Town and Winelands

 

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2 Comments

    1. Billie Cohen

      Thanks for the question. To make sure Wendy sees it, please click over to the Ask Wendy page and submit it via the form there. That way it will go right to her inbox.

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