It’s not simple to decide where you want to go next, but there’s a better way than spinning a giant globe, closing your eyes, and slamming your finger down (you’ll probably wind up in the middle of the Atlantic, with spotty wifi). The definitive month-by-month vacation guide is here: your no-fuss list of locations to visit, activities to see, and excellent weather to chase around the world.
Today, we’re looking at where to go in May, which is a warm, sunny month, especially in the northern hemisphere. Europe awakens from its winter hibernation, tables and wine glasses begin to appear on cobblestone walkways, Caribbean and Mediterranean beaches begin to bustle, and the world settles in with a nice John Grisham novel.
If you’ve been meaning to cross Base Camp off your bucket list, May is the month to do it. The June rains haven’t struck the Himalayas yet, and the sky are normally duck-egg blue with no mist in sight (it’s nice to be able to see the views when you trek a thousand feet). The routes from Namche to Base Camp will be crowded this month, so consider the Annapurna Circuit (Chitwan National Park is also a good option if you’re worried about Yetis). May is Buddha’s birthday month, and you’ll have a hard time avoiding the madal-beating, street-dancing celebrations that erupt across Nepal. Our tip?If you’re looking for a large party, go to Bhaktapur or Patan.
It’s the traditional shoulder season gamble: changeable weather with the promise of fewer tourists. May in Greece is no exception. If you want long days on the beach and a sun strong enough to tan your bags, go in June or August when the weather is ideal. However, if you want to visit Crete, Santorini, Athens, and the Parthenon without the crowds, May is the best month. The temperature will be around 21°C (69°F), ideal for wandering around Delos’ historic alleyways or haggling in a Mykonos market. The Corfu Beach Festival, May Day, and the annual Rhodian Flower Festival, a colourful explosion that sweeps over the island for a few weeks towards the end of the month, are all events to look forward to.
In the summer, Italy, like its Greek cousin, becomes overrun with tourists (June-August). However, the astute travellers can be found in May. The weather is great for sightseeing, with the thermostat set at a warm 25°C (77°F). Crowds are down (no five-hour lines for St Peter’s Basilica), flowers are colonising every available windowsill, and the temperature is perfect for sightseeing, with the thermostat set at a balmy 25°C (77° There may be a few showers early in the month, but after May 15th, you can expect pleasant days and mild evenings.
Visit Tuscany for peaceful cellar door stops, Florence for the annual Festa del Grillo in Cascine Park (when vendors literally unleash a swarm of crickets on the city), or a Monti street market for in-season fava beans, tomatoes, and strawberries.
Okay, America is a large country. Let’s take a closer look. If you chance to be going through the Appalachians, there’s the Kentucky Derby (and want to brave the trackside crowds). May is also an excellent season to visit the Grand Canyon because the winter snows have usually melted, the weather is warming up, and the summer crowds haven’t yet filled all of the viewing platforms. The North Rim, which has been closed for the majority of the winter, reopens for the new season on May 15th – always an exciting moment. In terms of weather, however, the northeast is hard to beat: Cape Cod, Pittsburgh, and New England in general are all in bloom.
Morocco, like any country that claims swaths of the Sahara, can be oppressively hot in the summer. The camels will not fight, but you may. With an average temperature of roughly 21°C (69°F), May is considered one of the best months to visit. It’s the month when spring meltwater runs down the High Atlas, the rivers burst to life, and the nation is awash in flowers and festivals.
Our pick? The Rose Festival takes place at Kelaa-des-Mgouna, a desert village where the country’s famous rose water industry is based. During this time, over 700 tonnes of petals will be plucked from the valleys, and residents will celebrate with traditional dancing, singing, and (our personal favourite) eating. There’s rose water if that’s your thing.
If you throw a dart at a map of the Caribbean, it will land somewhere in paradise. However, sailing the Bahamas is our top recommendation for May. Local costs are beginning to fall, humidity is low (goodbye flies and mosquitos), the water is bath-like, and hurricanes are unlikely. How’s the weather? Although it is falling off after the summer months, the temperature remains at a beach-friendly 29°C (85°F). By late April, most Spring Break students will have packed their belongings and returned to school, allowing the islands to breathe a sigh of relief: the beaches will be less crowded, flights will be easier to book, and European tourists will arrive early in the morning to snag poolside lounge chairs. It’s a good thing you elected to sail solo.
You can’t just advise someone to “go to Australia” in May like you can in the United States; there’s too much regional diversity. While Victoria is bracing for the start of its rainy football season, the Top End and Far North Queensland are just getting started (goodbye monsoonal rains, hello clear, crisp sunny days). However, for us, May is the best month to visit the untamed West Coast, particularly Ningaloo Reef and Exmouth. Why is that? Whale sharks are a type of shark. This is the start of the dry season, when dozens of whale sharks may be seen roaming the warm waters above the reef off the coast of Exmouth.
8. Czech Republic
It’s difficult to find a month when Prague doesn’t look like a million bucks. Snow, rain, sunshine…the it’s city’s equivalent of a tall bloke: whatever he wears, you know it’ll look good. May, though, is our favourite of the lot, if only for the colour and the performances. The magnolia trees are in bloom, and the enormous Prague Spring Music Festival is in full flow. Hanging baskets drape from every street corner and windowsill. Symphony, opera, and chamber music for three weeks (try to book an event in the spectacular Smetana Hall).There’s also the Czech Beer Festival, which runs for 17 days and features over 70 local breweries, as well as a stomach-expanding feast of native Czech cuisine prepared by some of the country’s best chefs. You’ll never want to leave, we promise.
If you ask a native what May means in Barcelona, they will tell you that it means sangria. Sangria al fresco, specifically, with a setting Catalan sun, pleasant company, and a few great platters of jamon iberico or patatas bravas. The month of May is when Spain comes alive again. Summer cruise ship crowds are still a few weeks away, and swimming should be ideal if the weather cooperates. We recommend visiting Castelldefels, which is a little out of the way (great tapas, fewer crowds).The temperature is normally in the mid-20s (°C) or high 70s (°F). We propose locating a good rooftop bar in the Gothic Quarter, ordering a crimson pitcher of sangria, and letting the evening evolve naturally. If you’re into dance, don’t miss the Ciutat Flamenco Festival, which takes place in the Mercat de les Flors.
The month of May is one of the best for hiking Peru’s famous Inca Trail through the Andes. The rainy season is gone, but the valleys are still carpeted in green, and the main crowds aren’t expected until June. You’ll need to plan your permits months in advance, just like the Inca Trail (your tour operator should be able to help with this). After dark, temperatures in the highlands can drop to roughly 10°C (50°F), so bring a couple garments to remain warm. Check out the Qoyllur Rit’I, a vast indigenous pilgrimage to the pinnacle of Mt Ausangate near Cusco, for something truly unique.