Where to go on holiday in May

where to go on holiday in may switzerland
Where to go on holiday in MayThun, Switzerland. Photo: Sanga Park - Getty Images

Wondering where to go on holiday in May? It's the perfect time to escape for a getaway in the UK or abroad and we've selected the loveliest places to visit this year.


In May, the countryside bursts into life with bleating lambs in the fields, chirping birds in the trees and sunshine peeping through the clouds between occasional showers. Flowers begin to bloom across Britain and Europe, transforming gardens and meadows into a sea of vibrant colour.

Even though it might be a bit early for full beach days of sunbathing and ice cream, the arrival of sunnier weather makes it the ideal time of year for enjoying long hikes or more leisurely strolls along the coast, exploring culture-packed cities on foot, sailing along scenic rivers and wandering around stunning gardens.

Start looking forward to summer with a May holiday in one of these unforgettable destinations across Europe and the UK.


where to go on holiday in may
Urs Flueeler / EyeEm - Getty Images

With its fertile volcanic soil, Madeira is heaven for garden-lovers and May is one of the best months to visit. You can expect plenty of sun and t-shirt friendly temperatures. It’s also the month when Madeira’s colourful Flower Festival takes place, when the picturesque streets of Funchal are filled with floral floats and parades.

Green-fingered visitors will also love exploring some of Madeira’s many gardens, which are carefully maintained and boast an incredible array of flowers and plants. The island also offers plenty of scenic hiking opportunities around its rugged coastline, whale-watching boat trips and volcanic beaches.

Good Housekeeping readers can experience the 2024 Madeira Flower Festival on a fabulous eight-day tour. You'll see the horticultural highlights of the island; from the orchids at Palheiro Gardens to the exquisite colours of the Monte, and enjoy the festival on the pretty streets of Funchal.



the asinelli and garisenda towers in bologna they are found in the historic centre of the city which has been designated a world heritage site by unesco
Julian Elliott Photography - Getty Images

Bologna is one of Italy's top foodie hotspots. And for any keen cooks looking for the perfect Italian escape centred around delicious, fresh cuisine made with local produce, a holiday to Bologna in May should be high on your list of potentials.

Springtime in Bologna is a wonderful time for taking long walks in the hills surrounding the city. They'll be at their greenest at this time of year, before the intense summer heat kicks in, and you will also find the cherry trees ripe with delicious Amarena cherries used to make syrups and desserts.

Our six-day tour of Bologna and nearby Modena will have a focus on food, taking you on tours of local producers, including a local Parmesan factory, a Balsamic vineyard, and a family-run Parma ham producer.



the sands of luskentyre viewed from the hill above seilebost on the isle of harristhe isle of taransey can be seen on the left and the hills of harris in the distancea red roofed cottage,abandoned some years ago sits on the hillside
Paul Carroll and Mhairi Carroll

Scotland's wild and wonderful Hebridean isles are a real magnet for wildlife enthusiasts, walkers, and anyone looking to escape from the stresses of mainland life. Good weather is never guaranteed, but a May visit offers a reasonable chance of sunny days perfect for long walks on white-sand beaches, which are rarely crowded but will be quieter at this time of year than in the summer.

The Hebrides burst into colour in May, with vibrant wildflowers carpeting the hillsides and cliffs, creating wonderful vistas for walking. And if you're less lucky with the weather, there are always cosy, traditional pubs to duck into for a hearty lunch and a wee dram by the fire.

Visit the Hebrides with Good Housekeeping on a luxurious cruise over the May Bank Holiday. You'll visit several of the isles' atmospheric castles, archaeological sites, and natural wonders, and will have the chance to spot incredible marine life as you sail.



pier leading to moored rowing boats on ormesby little broad, part of the fresh water lakes that make up the norfolk broads in east anglia, england this landscape photograph was taken shortly before sunset during the spring time on a warm, sunny day
stevendocwra - Getty Images

Another wonderful part of the UK to discover in May in sleepy Norfolk, where windmills stand on the banks of the famous Broads, which are bursting with wildlife in the spring. May is when migrant songbirds return from the south, and you're bound to see swallows soaring above the marshes and hear swifts twittering overhead.

You can expect pleasant, sunny weather in Norfolk in May, although showers are still a possibility. It's a great time to take a paddle-boat ride along the Broads, passing thatched cottages and windmills on the banks and spotting water birds in the Norfolk reed beds.

Good Housekeeping has a special five-day trip to Norfolk with special guest Lucy Worsley. You'll take a boat trip along the Broads, explore some of Norfolk's most picturesque villages and visit Sandringham with royal expert Lucy.


Douro Valley

the vineyards of douro valley in portugal high angle landscape image of the douro river with the surrounding villages and vineyards as seen from a scenic road viewpoint
JurgaR - Getty Images

The delightful Douro River has been a key part of the city's port wine trade for centuries. Little wooden boats called rabelos transported the wine from hillside quintas down the river to Porto's bustling harbour, and you can still see some of these little boats bobbing on the water today. A cruise on this enchanting river makes the perfect way to explore pretty Porto and the surrounding region.

Every month of the year has plenty to offer in this rich wine region, but May brings perfect weather for hillside walks, admiring the leafy greens of the vineyards as you go — and stopping for plenty of tastings along the way, of course.

Join Good Housekeeping for an eight-day cruise along the Douro on a luxury ship with a heated pool and panoramic lounge with a bar. You'll start in Porto, and wind your way along the river visiting hillside winemaking towns and tasting local vintages.



scenic view of mt assiniboine a pyramidal peak mountain aka canadian matterhorn with lake magog and surrounding canadian rockies, mount assiniboine provincial park, border of british columbia alberta, canada
Noppawat Tom Charoensinphon - Getty Images

The National Parks of the Canadian Rockies boast some of the most jaw-dropping scenery the world has to offer. In winter, many of these National Parks, like Banff and Yoho, are buzzing ski resorts. Come spring, the frozen lakes and rivers begin to thaw and walking trails open, allowing visitors to enjoy these landscapes by foot.

Another way to traverse these dramatic mountains during the spring is on board the Rocky Mountaineer, a historic railway that winds through the Canadian wilderness, including beautiful mountain passes, serene lake shores, winding river canyons and pristine forests.

Good Housekeeping is offering a bucketlist trip to Canada and Alaska in May, which will include a ride on the iconic Rocky Mountaineer. You'll ride through the snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies towards the Vancouver coast, where you'll set sail for Alaska on board the luxury Ruby Princess.


Alternatively, you can explore other parts of Canada in May with a special 10-day tour. You'll follow the Maple Leaf Trail from Niagara to Montreal, discovering the diverse cultures of Canada's eastern cities and the beauty of the surrounding countryside in springtime.


Loire Valley

loire valley, chateau de chenonceau
Hiroshi Higuchi

The Loire Valley is one of the loveliest regions of France, nicknamed the 'Garden of France' and famed for its high number of fairytale châteaux, with vast manicured gardens to explore. These include the fantastically ornate Château de Fontainebleau, where you can explore some of its incredible 1,500 rooms and 130 acres of parkland and gardens.

May is a great time to visit this heavenly region. The weather be pleasant and sunny without getting too hot and it's also a time of festivities and celebrations in the area. These include the Vitiloire festival in the village of Tours, an annual celebration of the region's local wineries and winemaking heritage.

Good Housekeeping's trip to the Loire Valley includes visits to several of the region's châteaux, including Fontainebleau, Chenonceau, Villandry and Clos Lucé, which was once home to Leonardo Da Vinci. You'll also taste Saumur wines with a visit to the wine cellars at Maison Ackerman


Swiss Alps

bernina express railway, graubünden, switzerland
Markus Thoenen - Getty Images

The Swiss Alps are a favourite springtime destination for walkers, who enjoy the carpets of wildflowers on the mountainsides and the views across sparkling lakes like Thun and Lucerne. As well as a few refreshing mountain walks. if you're visiting in May you might choose to ride the Glacier Express, an iconic red train dubbed the 'slowest express train in the world'.

It's a leisurely ride, allowing you the chance to really appreciate the exquisite mountain scenery between the two major resorts of Zermatt and St Moritz, over the Oberalp Pass. Along the way, you’ll pass through 91 tunnels and over 291 bridges, seeing some remarkable feats of engineering as well as breathtaking vistas.

Ride the Glacier Express from Chur to Brig with Good Housekeeping on our five-day trip to Switzerland. You'll enjoy a three-course lunch as you chug through the Swiss Alpine landscapes in their springtime glory.



trulli buildings and shops, via monte san michele, rione monti, alberobello, bari province, puglia region, italy
Melvyn Longhurst

Puglia is the heel of Italy's boot; a beautiful region of white-walled villages, vineyard covered hills and hundreds of miles of glorious Mediterranean coastline to enjoy. Puglia also has distinctive cuisine to treat your tastebuds too, from the ear-shaped orecchiette pasta to pasticciotti, sweet pastry tartlets filled with sour cherry.

The weather in May will be mild and dry, with near-guaranteed sun. Avoiding the scorching temperatures of southern Europe in summer, May will be perfect for exploring all that Puglia has to offer, like the ancient caves and rock churches of Sassi di Matera and Alberobello, the tiny village famous for its quirky trulli houses with coned roofs.

Join Good Housekeeping on a tour of Puglia , taking you to some of the best spots in Puglia to eat and drink, with trips to historic bakeries, olive farms and Masserie - traditional stone farmhouses surrounded by picturesque vineyards.


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