The best places to visit in May: hot holiday destinations for early summer sun

Wondering where's hot in May? From sunny adventure hotspots to some of Europe's prettiest beaches, these are the best holiday destinations...

West coast USA

Best May holiday for: Ticking off your USA bucket list

The bright lights of San Francisco. The natural wonders of the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park. The cut-and-thrust of Hollywood…Western USA has it all. And May, with its cloudless skies and comfortable temperatures, is the best month to visit.

best places to visit in May Grand Canyon

THE GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA

For a city break, try San Diego – best-paired with a hop over the US border to Mexico. Alternatively, for a beach break head to the Californian coast. From the sandy stretches of upmarket seaside enclave La Jolla to the secret coves of Treasure Island Beach in the coastal city of Laguna Beach, there really is something for everyone.

Where to stay: The Horton Grand Hotel is located in the historic Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego, and its period furnishings perfectly reflect the Victorian architecture in the wider area.

MORE: The best places to visit in September

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Best May holiday for: Town-hopping

Italy’s Amalfi Coast is one of the most beautiful in Europe, with a craggy shoreline and azure waters – ideal for cooling off in the warm May weather. The highlight is Amalfi’s gorgeous seaside towns, where colourful houses perch on the edge of vertiginous cliffs.

best places to visit in May Positano

The picture-perfect town of Amalfi

Sorrento is an excellent jumping off point for exploring the incredible remains of Pompeii – a sobering experience – and Positano is one of the region’s most picturesque ocean-front towns, with its quaint, multi-coloured cottages and sublime luxury hotels. Perfect for a week away in the sunshine.

Where to stay: Located in the heart of Positano all rooms at the Hotel Marincanto feature a sea-view balcony. Views of the surrounding area can also be enjoyed from one of the hotel’s many terraces.

Ibiza, Spain

Best May holiday for: Relaxing off the beaten track

Forget the Ibiza you think you know. There’s a whole other side to this party-loving Spanish island that’s natural, wild – and like nothing you’ve ever encountered in Europe. In May, before the summer crowds descend, you’ll feel like you have the whole place to yourself. 

best places to visit in May Ibiza

CALA D’HORT, IBIZA

Ibiza’s sandy coves look like they’ve been plucked from the Caribbean, with crystalline waters to boot. Wild walking trails take you through wild herb-scented forests, with white-washed villages and secluded seafood restaurants providing the perfect sundowner spots.

Where to stay: The stylish rooms at design hotel Aguas de Ibiza Grande Luxe Hotel come with sea views, whilst the rooftop bar-terrace (complete with an infinity pool) has views over nearby island Formentera.

Lisbon, Portugal

Best May holiday for: Foodies

Portugal’s vibrant capital city is a culinary paradise and the ultimate foodie’s escape.

best places to visit in May Lisbon

Here, tiny street-side cafes serve up tender Alentejo pork, grilled octopus and just-caught sardines – all washed down with lashings of local wine, with pasteis de nata (custard tarts) for dessert.

The month of May brings the perfect temperatures to linger outside with your lunch, watching the buzz of the city ebb and flow. This month also marks the start of the Out Jazz festival (which continues until September), where free jazz performances are held every Sunday in the city’s pretty public gardens.

Where to stay: Located just a short distance from Lisbon’s historic centre WC by The Beautique Hotels features quirky retro decor that has a 70s feel. 

Corfu, Greece

Best May holiday for: A city-meets-beach break

It’s late springtime in Greece and Corfu is looking lovely, with wild beaches and vibrant countryside basking in the gentle sunshine. Come here for a beach holiday and you might find it’s hard to leave.

best places to visit in May Corfu

Corfu’s Old Town

For culture vultures, the city of Corfu’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has plenty of archaeological interest. Head to the Andivouniótissa Byzantine Museum, then spend an afternoon at the Old Venetian Fortress for a history lesson.

Excellent beach resorts abound here too, so take your pick and put your towel down – this is the ultimate place to slow down.

Where to stay: The adults-only Mayor Mon Repos Palace is less than a mile from Old Town Corfu and features contemporary balcony rooms as well as an on-site restaurant, snack bar and freshwater pool.

Egypt

Best May holiday for: Cruising

History buffs, get your cameras at the ready. Not only is Egypt a wonderfully hot destination in May, with scorching sunshine reaching the mid thirties (celsius), it’s also home to some of the world’s historical wonders.

best places to visit in May Egypt

TRADITIONAL FALUCA BOATS ON THE NILE

Best explored from the River Nile on a cruise, it’s the ultimate wannabe-archaeologist’s holiday. Most Nile cruises stop off at the key ports of Aswan, Luxor and Karnak, and take in peaceful sailing excursions on traditional feluccas.

Where to stay: Located on the banks of the Nile the 4-star Citymax Hotel Aswan features en-suite rooms with river views. On-site facilities include an on-site restaurant and outdoor pool.

Vietnam

Best May holiday for: Far-flung adventures

Vietnam is the jewel in South East Asia’s crown – famous for its majestic rivers, rich history, French colonial architecture, extraordinary food and stunning beaches. May is the perfect month to visit; temperatures are mild, and yet to reach the sweltering highs of summer.

best places to visit in May Vietnam

HALONG BAY

Head to Halong Bay for an otherworldly cruise through karst rock formations and a jaunt in some enormous caves, then make your way down to Hoi An, where hundreds of tailors will hand-craft bespoke dresses and suits for a fraction of the price that you’d pay at home.

Where to stay: The chic rooms at Sunrise Premium Resort Hoi An are complemented by two outdoor pools, an on-site bar and access to Cua Dai beach. Located three miles from Hoi An’s centre, a free shuttle bus takes guests to the heart of the Ancient Town.

Tenerife, Canary Islands

Best May holiday for: An activity holiday

You might know Tenerife from family beach getaways, but it’s also a great fitness holiday destination – with excellent hiking, biking, kayaking, sailing and more.

In May, this Spanish island enjoys long sunny days, providing perfect conditions for the Tenerife Walking Festival, which takes place this month.

best places to visit in May Tenerife

The rugged hillsides of Tagana Village, Tenerife

From coast to countryside, you’ll explore trails all over the island – with expert guides and friendly company. If you fancy a fitness boost with a difference, look no further. You’ve definitely earned a few days on a sun lounger!

Where to stay: All of the Tenerife Walking Festival’s routes start from Puerto de la Cruz. Adults-only hotel TRH Taoro Garden is the perfect base, with rooms offering either ocean or mountain views.

More Inspiration