If you’re tied to school holidays, keen to miss the monsoon season or hoping to snag an off-season bargain, read our month-by-month guide on where to go on holiday when.
Top 10 May holidays in 2021
We’ve made a list of our top 10 May holidays to get your imagination racing. They cover everything from brushing up on your knowledge of Greek archaeology under sunny skies to leisurely cruising the Croatian waters. There’s plenty here for active travellers, whether you want to hike or bike in the mountains or search for whales or orangutans in the wilderness.
Our Best places to go on holiday in May Holidays
1. Cruise Southern Croatia
Meander your way through the waters of Southern Croatia on board a small ship with up to 40 passengers. There’ll be plenty of time to enjoy swimming and snorkelling from the ship, as well as heading for dry land to hike, cycle or sightsee. It’s not too hot either, with temperatures around 23°C. The biggest crowds have yet to arrive, although the winds along the coast are less predictable.
2. Explore Scotland by railExplore both cities and wilderness on this car-free holiday which takes you from the cities of Glasgow, Inverness and Edinburgh to rural Perthshire and even the magical Isle of Skye. The highlight is the West Highland Line, considered by many to be one of the world’s most scenic rail journeys. You’ll lay your head in locally-run hotels, where organic meals and home baked goods are often on offer.
Our top selling trip: Scotland by railway holiday
See all our trips: Scotland rail holidays
Read more: Scotland railway holidays travel guide
3. Watch whales in the AzoresThe Portuguese islands of the Azores sit conveniently in the mid-Atlantic feeding grounds of the world’s largest animal: the blue whale. Whales migrate through the Atlantic waters surrounding the Azores each May, and a week-long small group tour will give you the chance to observe these giants in their natural habitat in the company an expert marine biologist, with nights spent on a sturdy catamaran as well as in a hotel on dry land.
Our top selling trip: Blue whale tour in the Azores
See all our trips: Azores holidays
Read more: Azores travel guide
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4. Hit the trails in Japan
The Nakasendo Trail is not only one of Japan’s most ancient thoroughfares, it’s also one of modern Japan’s most aesthetically pleasing walking trails, and May livens it up even more with bursts of flowers and greenery. You’ll spend a week making your way from one ancient ‘post town’ to another, with walks lasting between two and six hours, leaving plenty of time to enjoy traditional ryokan inns and minshuku guesthouses.
5. Explore the Silk RoadSpend 16 days on an incredible overland journey through Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The dramatic landscape of desert plains, undulating steppe and mountain peaks perfectly complements the ancient Silk Road cities that you’ll visit along the way. Nights are spent in local hotels, with a night on a train and in a yurt camp to increase the adventure.
Our top selling trip: Silk Road small group tour
See all our trips: Silk Road holidays
Read more: Silk Road travel guide
6. Step into the past in GreeceYou’ll follow the sandal-strapped footsteps of the past around the Peloponnese’s greatest wonders, including Sparta, Tegea and Mycenae, along with a bunch of ancient history aficionados. It’s not all about historic architecture, though. There’s time for wine tasting, cycling and lying comatose on sun-kissed beaches.
Our top selling trip: Archaeology holiday in Greece
See all our trips: Greece holidays
Read more: Greece travel guide
7. Learn Spanish in Picos de Europa
This wild mountain range rising out of the Atlantic in Northern Spain is an enduringly popular choice for walking adventures, and you can throw in some language learning too. Morning Spanish lessons are followed by afternoon or early evening walks and there’s a maximum group size of six to make sure that you get lots of time to practice your new skills.
8. Cycle CroatiaGuiding yourself around Croatia by bike on either a five- or an eight-day itinerary allows you to combine the country’s fairly moderate inclines with medieval heritage, Roman ruins and old-fashioned fishing villages. You won’t be totally on your own, with transfers, local recommendations and 24/7 backup just in case you need it.
Our top selling trip: Self guided biking tour in Croatia
See all our trips: Croatia cycling holidays
Read more: Croatia cycling travel guide
9. Walk the Amalfi CoastYou might imagine the best way to see the Amalfi coast is zipping around hairpin bends in a vintage Fiat, but spend eight days getting to know the region on foot and you’ll get behind the Mediterranean glitz to discover mountain trails with dramatic views, little-visited villages and a glorious slow food scene. With cooler temperatures and fewer crowds, May is a great time to do it.
Our top selling trip: Amalfi Coast walking holiday
See all our trips: Amalfi Coast holidays
Read more: Amalfi Coast travel guide
10. Seek out orangutans in Sabah
The state of Sabah is a region that is packed with some of the most extraordinary wilderness experiences. Much of the trip will be all about Borneo’s orangutans and their habitats in the jungles around Kinabatangan River, but you’ll also explore Mount Kinabalu National Park as well as the waters around Lankayan Island, a marine park with a prolific sea turtle population.
More about Best places to go on holiday in May
This is a brilliant time to soak up the best of the European sun before the summer holiday crush, and further-flung jaunts offer everything from wildlife watching in Borneo to cruising down the Nile.
Where should you go on holiday in May? Check out our map and highlights for some ideas. Where you go depends on whether you fancy chilling out in the sun, getting active on a walking or wildlife holiday, or doing your exploration by romantic rail.