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21 best places to visit in europe in may (+ seasonal tips).
Europe, as a whole, is one of the most beautiful places to visit in spring! This guide will detail many of the best places to visit in Europe in May – and all are worth a spot on your bucket list!
Whether you want to check out the historical sites, museums, and tourist attractions, or you want to go on some hiking and biking tours, the European continent is bound to have something for everyone.
However, since there’s an endless amount of activities to do in Europe, trip planning can be overwhelming.
You’ve come to a great place to start! In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the best places to visit during May in Europe.
Did we miss your favorite European spring destination? Let us know in the comments. Thanks!
In this post...
4. brighton, 5. amsterdam, 6. florence, 7. budapest, 10. côte d’azur, 12. scottish highlands, 13. sorrento, 14. interlaken, 15. santorini, 20. the azores, 21. copenhagen, more europe travel guides, pin this where to go in europe in may guide, best places to visit in europe in may.
Location: Germany Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 19 C and lows of 8 C; 11 days of precipitation
Trust us, there is more to Munich at the start of summer than clinking cold beers! For example, check out Schneider Brauhaus for some white sausage, or visit the incredible Peterskirche and Asamkirche churches.
Sights like the Marienplatz and the Neues Rathaus, Freiheiz, Glockenbachviertel district, and the Ruhmeshalle and Reichenbachbrücke are perfect for getting a sense of Munich’s history while enjoying music shows, great food, and beverages at the same time.
Since it’s the beginning of summer, why not go for outdoor activities and even more monuments in the English Garden, Westpark, Luitpoldpark, and Ostpark?
The Isar River is also great to wind down and relax at. For a more royal experience check out the Munich Residenz or visit the BMW Museum if you’re a car enthusiast.
More of a nightlife person? Visit Schwabing. Don’t miss out on the Olympic museum or Feldmochinger See if you’re into water sports!
Location: France Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 20 C and lows of 10 C; 10 days of precipitation
There are plenty of things to do in this breathtaking renaissance city that is one of France’s best weekend getaways ! Start by exploring the historic architecture of Vieux Lyon and take a detour to visit Lyon’s Roman Amphitheater.
Next, get your camera ready for some must-have photos at the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière. Then head out to see the shops and sights at La Place Bellecour.
Of course, what is Lyon without a bit of wine tasting? Book wine-tasting tours to areas like Rhône Valley and don’t forget to taste the cheese while you’re at it!
Then visit Parc de la Tête d’Or for some outdoor recreation like picnics and biking, and stop by the famous Musée des Beaux-Arts for amazing exhibitions.
The Museum of Fine Arts and Musée des Beaux-Arts shouldn’t be skipped! Foodies should grab a bite at Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse. And don’t forget Lyon’s beautiful murals!
If you’re renting a car (or even using a car shipping company to get your car to Europe for a lengthy amount of time), Lyon is a fantastic base for many day trips around the region!
Location: Belgium Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 18 C and lows of 9 C; 10 days of precipitation
Late spring and early summer in Brussels means that the city’s famous outdoor terraces are back, and you can grab a coffee, drinks, and Belgian waffles there after exploring sights like the Grand Place, Brussels City Museum, Brussels City Museum, Old England Building, Palais Royal, and Notre Dame Du Sablon.
If you’re a fan of fashion, check out the Costume Museum. Brussels is also famous for its bars and cafes (such as Belga), most of which are located in city parks along with eateries.
There is no shortage of great music here either! Head to the hip Madame Mustache, or Maidson de la Ballone. Need more historic sights to check out?
The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula and Palais de Justice comes to mind. A popular sight is the hilarious Manneken Pis statue.
Don’t skip the famous Belgian beer tours in the city, and end your day at Parc Du Cinquantenaire for relaxation!
Location: England Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 20 C and lows of 8 C; 8 days of precipitation
Welcome to Brighton, where you can get great coffee, and fantastic live music, go on a shopping spree, and visit historic sights at the same time!
Late spring and summer are perfect here, so why not explore sights such as Castle Hill, the Royal Pavilion, the Lanes district, British Airways i360, and the Brighton Palace Pier?
Cool down from the heat by knocking down a few cold pints at the many breweries while enjoying the city’s famous fish and chips. Brighton isn’t for adults only!
There are many great summer camps for kids here, including Barracudas Activity and the Outdoors Project to name a few. You can see even more sights by taking bus tours around the city.
If you’re looking for outdoor activities, try cycling along the Undercliff Path. Fan of flea markets? Don’t skip Snoopers Paradise! Trust us, Brighton in early summer is truly a bright experience!
Location: The Netherlands Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 17 C and lows of 8 C; 8 days of precipitation
Heading to Amsterdam in May? Join the city’s many cyclists and explore the sights… regardless of whether you have one day in the city… or four!
Start with the Jordaan district and enjoy the beautiful buildings before heading to the Waterlooplein Flea Market and Amsterdam’s colorful neighborhoods.
Grab an ice-cold drink at the popular Amsterdam Icebar. There are three main festivals here which you can attend in May: Vondelpark Open Air Theatre, London Calling – Paradiso, and Rolling Kitchens.
If it’s history you’re after, check out the Anne Frank House, Stedelijk, MOCO Museum, and the Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam is also home to the world’s biggest street art museum.
If you’re visiting with kids, stop by Efteling Park and take the Amsterdam Canal Cruise. If you’re feeling adventurous, then the Red Light District is the place to be.
At the end of the day, beer is always a good idea, which is why you should grab some from the Heineken Experience.
Location: Italy Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 24 C and lows of 12 C; 8 days of precipitation
Why visit Florence in May? Because it is home to the Uffizi Gallery and Florence Cathedral, and because the weather will allow the perfect wine-tasting and hiking experiences in the Tuscany outdoors.
Pay a visit to David and his friends at Galleria dell’Accademia, then head for a walk in the Piazzale Michelangelo.
Other popular sights are Giotto’s Campanile, Palazzo Vecchio, the Stibbert Museum, and Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella.
Visit Caffé Gilli and Mercato Centrale for fantastic food and great coffee.
Whether walking around or on Vespa tours, Florence’s many basilicas and churches are never tiring to the eye, and the restaurants around the city are never uninviting!
Late spring is the perfect period for visiting this gorgeous city, especially since you can visit the majestic Boboli Gardens. It is also the best time to explore some of the cool, hidden gems of the area.
Florence is great to visit year-round (even winter! ) but we think that late spring is absolutely the best time to head to the Italian city!
Location: Hungary Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 23 C and lows of 12 C; 7 days of precipitation
May is the sweet spot when it comes to Budapest because you can experience a ton of activities before the Danube-side city hits its tourist peak.
There are many events that take place here in May, such as Budapest100, Rosalia Wine Festival, and OTP Bank Gourmet Food Festival, so mark your calendars! A-Ha, Zaz, and James Blake will be performing here this May.
Budapest is also great to walk around due to its beautiful sights: Budapest Parliament, Gellért Baths, Heroes’ Square, and of course: the Danube River!
Don’t forget to book a cruise over the river and relax while tasting wine and Hungarian cuisine!
Once off the cruise, check out more historical sights such as Pest, State Opera House, Memento Park, House of Terrors, and the slightly-creepy Faust Wine Cellars!
Speaking of alcohol, check out Budapest’s Ruin Pubs while you’re there. And last but not least, shop at Great Market Hall.
Location: Spain Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 24 C and lows of 12 C; 8 days of precipitation
From old fortifications to historic churches and medieval walls, there’s a lot to do in Girona and it is a must for every Northern Spain itinerary !
If you’re into biking, then try the cycling tours of this beautiful city where you can see the Girona Cathedral, the medieval Jewish district, and the Cases de l’Onyar.
If you enjoy walking long distances, you can walk along the famous Medieval Wall, across the Eiffel Bridge, and the Plaça de la Independència.
When sunset hits, take a walk alongside the Onyar river and enjoy the views. If it’s shopping you’re after, then head to Rambla de la Llibertat.
The Art Museum, Museum of Jewish History, Arab Baths, and Church of Sant Feliu is also popular sights.
Game of Thrones fans will love Girona because of the familiar sets in the TV series! Don’t forget to try the Rocambolesc Ice Cream and end your trip at Lake Banyoles for a relaxing wind-down!
Location: Poland Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 19 C and lows of 8 C; 9 days of precipitation
Start your pre-summer trip to Krakow by checking out the city parks and admiring the flora.
This will also give you the chance to explore sights such as Market Square, Wawel Castle, the old Jewish cemetery, St. Mary’s Basilica, Barbican, and St. Florian’s gate.
Krakow is also rich in great food and drinks which you can taste at Starka, Wodka, and Starpolski among others.
The city offers regular pub crawls and vodka tours! The Kazimierz neighborhood is also popular with its many eateries and pubs. For extra relaxation, visit the Zakopane Thermal Baths.
Other attractions include Krakow Cloth Hall and Sukiennice Museum.
Further explore the city’s past by visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau, which was a Nazi extermination camp that is now a museum dedicated to the memory of the millions who died there, and the Ghetto Heroes Square.
The 62nd Krakow Film Festival, Krakow Photomonth Festival 2023, and Mastercard Off Camera 2023 will take place here in May, so make sure to attend if you’re there!
Location: French Riviera Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 22 C and lows of 11 C; 5 days of precipitation
Côte d’Azur, aka the French Riviera , is a summer (and year round!) hotspot.
Visit the resort town of Nice, where you can check in at the Palais de la Méditerranée hotel and visit attractions such as Villa Masséna, Cours Saleya Market, summer performances at the Theâtre de Verdure, and Fete des Mai folklore festivals.
Promenade des Anglais is popular with its beaches, palm trees, cycling trails, and historical buildings. So is Juan-Les-Pins with its summer jazz festival.
Make sure you check out the medieval villages located on the French Riviera, including Biot where you can shop for souvenirs. We recommend Grasse if you’re into perfumes.
You can also take a boat trip to St. Honorat and St. Marguerite Islands which are ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
May is also the ideal time to visit Saint-Tropez, Eze, Monaco, and Cannes , where you can attend the famous film festival from May 11-22.
Location: Austria Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 21 C and lows of 13 C; 8 days of precipitation
What can we say about Vienna in May? It’s teeming with festivals, such as the Schönbrunn Summer Concert and Danube Island Festival. And, it is far more comfortable than visiting the city in winter !
The open-air events are also back, such as the Music Film Festival. Aside from that, you can go sightseeing and checking out attractions such as Schönbrunn Park and Palace, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and Naschmarkt food market.
Feeling hot? Jump in the Alte Donau and Old Danube for a swim! Vienna is also famous for its wine and ice cream, so don’t miss out and try them at places like the Danube Canal and Kahlenberg.
Outdoor fans can hike in the Vienna woods or in the city’s parks such as Burggarten, Prater Park, and Augarten.
You can also go on cycling tours around Vienna, especially New Danube paths. For art enthusiasts, the Museumsquartier is a must-see. Finally, end your day by enjoying the sunset views on the riverfront.
Location: Scotland Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 13 C and lows of 7 C; – days of precipitation
What better way to spend World Whiskey Month than visiting the Scottish Highlands in May? Summer is also perfect for catching the Scottish and Celtic Highland games.
Start your trip with the Isle of Skye, then head to Fort William and Hermitage forest for hikes. Fan of hunting monsters while enjoying scenic views?
Try Loch Ness! Scotland is full of attractions, such as the National Museum, the Helix sculpture, the mystic Calanais Standing Stones, and the Nevis Range, where you can visit for some mountain biking adventures.
Glasgow and Edinburgh are two popular spots in Scotland with tourists and locals, due to their historic vibes and of course, great cuisine!
This is where you’ll find most spring-summer events, such as the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival and the Edinburgh Film Festivals.
Scotland is also popular with Potterheads who rejoice at seeing the famous locations used in the Harry Potter films.
Location: Italy Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 26 C and lows of 18 C; 7 – days of precipitation
With the arrival of May, the hiking season opens up in Sorrento, so make sure to visit the Sorrento Peninsula and hike around the Lattari Mountains. It really is Sorrento’s perfect day trip !
This is also the season for boat rides, which you can take to visit the Isle of Capri, Positano (one of the most famous Amalfi towns !), and Atrani town. The Amalfi Coast is definitely one of the top places to visit on the continent!
Take some time out of your trip to explore historic locations like Pompeii, Herculaneum , or Villa Jovis. Aside from the ruins, Pompeii offers great wine-tasting experiences.
We also recommend trying the famous limoncello while you’re here.
Marina Piccola is a great spot to relax while taking in the Gulf of Naples views. Check out private beach clubs like Marameo, and Da Salvatore.
Other attractions in Sorrento include the Vallone dei Mulini, Basilica di Sant’Antonino, Baths of Queen Giovanna, and the Piazza Tasso.
Event-wise, you can check out local traditional festivals, as well as the Sorrento Opera Festival and Ravello Festival.
Location: Switzerland Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 18 C and lows of 7 C; 12 – days of precipitation
With its beautiful hiking trails (Oberburghorn, Loucherhorn, Hardergrat), Interlaken is the perfect outdoor summer location (it’s also pretty awesome in winter ).
So perfect, it has its own Touristik-Museum (Museum of Tourism)!
Start off by checking out the Harder Kulm viewpoint, especially the Panorama Restaurant for beautiful views of the Harder Alpine Wildlife Park and the Aare river.
When in this area, pay a visit to the memorials of famous composers Mendelssohn and Wagner located in the Hohbühl pavilion.
St Beatus Caves, Höhematte Park, Unspunnen Castle, and Oberhofen Castle are also popular places to visit in Interlaken. The city is also famous for paragliding events.
Tourists with a sweet tooth should check out the Funky Chocolate Club, while drink enthusiasts can quench their thirst at the Jungfrau Grand Hotel.
If you have time, also check out the Jungfraujoch Sphinx Observatory and ride the Historic Brienzer-Rothorn Railway for a fantastic experience!
Location: Greece Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 22 C and lows of 16C; 3 – days of precipitation
Start your May vacation in Santorini by visiting beaches such as Kamari, Baxedes, Perissa, and Perivolos. Make sure to hit the beach bars as well!
There are also sunset boat cruises you can take. This area is famous for its volcano, the sight of which you can take in from Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, and Ola. Or, better yet, by jetskiing there !
Fira is also the go-to spot for its nightlife, shopping areas, and eateries. For an extra sense of history, check out the Akrotiri ruins, an essential for any Santorini itinerary .
Whether hiking or driving, you can also check out the chapels in Santorini, such as the Convent of Saint Nicholas, the Chapel of Saint Antony, and the Chapel of Prophet Elias. Skaros rock is also a popular attraction.
If you happen to be in Akrotiri on May 29th, make sure to attend the Feast of St. Theodosia celebration. You’ll find so many things to do in Santorini during the spring!
Location: Czech Republic Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 18 C and lows of 7 C; 8 – days of precipitation
May is festival and concert season in Prague, where you can catch the Prague Food Festival, Veggie Festival, Czech beer festivals, and the festival of small breweries.
The venues for these festivals (Prague castle, Letná Park, Břevnov Monastery) are all attractions on their own.
This year, bands like Scorpions and Imagine Dragons will perform in May. St. John’s Navalis Sound & Light Show is also a popular May event.
Aside from that, you can pedal on the Vltava river while enjoying the views, and get off to enjoy the delicious Prague cuisine in areas like Náplavka.
Prague is also home to a number of amazing museums such as the Frantz Kafka museum, the Petřín Observation Tower, the Museum of Music, Sternberg Palace, the Jewish Museum, and the Astronomical clock tower.
Finally, end your day on a high note by going on a Beer Tour!
Location: Montenegro Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 24 C and lows of 12 C; 12 – days of precipitation
From beautiful beaches to relaxing bars and restaurants, Kotor is the perfect May-time holiday spot.
Relax at Bajova Kula Beach and then join others to hike all the way up from the city walls to the famous medieval fortress in Kotor where the view will open up for you to enjoy.
Next, take a walk in Old Town or Perast to admire the architecture. The carnival on the Budva Riviera also takes place in May. Needless to say, you have to try the seafood in Kotor’s restaurants, and dip in for a swim in Kotor Bay!
Also, try the food at Palazzo Radomiri, and have a sip at Old Winery.
If you wind up in Perast, make sure to visit the Our Lady of the Rocks landmarks for a nice view of the bay. Other sights to check out are the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon and the Kotor Cats Museum.
Location: Slovakia Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 21 C and lows of 10 C; 9 – days of precipitation
Košice in summer is a city of adventure. Take a walk around the city to see landmarks such as the Baroque Immaculata, Jakabov Palác, St. Urban’s Tower, and the Historical Town Hall.
You’ll also be able to catch some shows at Tabacka Kulturfabrik. Don’t forget to get a taste of famous Slovak cuisine and of course, beer!
If you’re an outdoor person, then go for hike tours at the High Tatras Mountains and visit the Museum of Sherpas. Alternatively, you can take aerial tours over Spišská Nová Ves and engage in skydiving.
Košice is also home to WoodRock, the highest indoor gym in Europe, in case you’re into hitting the gym while on vacation!
For more outdoor fun, rent a kayak and hit the Hornád River. End your trip by enjoying a meal at any of Košice’s historic restaurants.
Location: Ireland Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 15 C and lows of 6 C; 11 – days of precipitation
Dublin is the ultimate experience in May and summer in general.
Start with the outdoors at Three Rock Mountain, and continue hiking to Dublin Mountains and taking the Great South Wall Walk.
Next, it’s time for sightseeing, and Dublin has a ton of opportunities for that!
The Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship, the War Memorial Gardens, Stephen’s Green, Temple Bar Food Market, James Joyce Centre, and the Crypt of Mummies at St. Michan’s Church are just some of them!
Of course, you can’t miss Dublin’s fish and chips and the Guinness Brewery.
May is also full of events, so make sure to catch Trevor Noah, My Chemical Romance, and Whitesnake in action, as well as festivals such as Life Festival and the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival.
For an even more exciting Dublin cuisine experience, end your day with a Dublin Food Tour!
Location: Portugal Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 19 C and lows of 14 C; 7 – days of precipitation
Vineyards, beautiful hiking trails, thermal springs, and more await you at the Azores in the early summertime. Start your journey by hiking the Lagoa do Fogo trail on Sao Miguel and Maia Trail on Santa Maria.
The Azores are known for their fajas or lava spills, which can be seen from the Serra do Topo route on Sao Jorge. When visiting Sao Miguel, don’t miss the boiling thermal waters and the gardens at Terra Nostra Park.
More springs are located in Poca da Dona Beija. All of these are especially beautiful at nightfall.
Others places to visit are the Gorreana Tea Factory, Mount Pico, and Poço da Ribeira do Ferreiro.
The Azores are also home to Angra do Heroísmo , a beautiful city full of historic buildings. Monte Brasil is also worth a visit, with its luxury hotel. Islet of Vila Franca do Campo is also a must-see in the Azores.
Location: Denmark Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 16 C and lows of 8 C; 6 – days of precipitation
The May weather in Copenhagen makes it the perfect vacation destination where you can visit beautiful sights such as the Tivoli Garden, Stroget Square, Copenhagen Distillery (don’t forget to taste the Carlsberg beer!), and the Islands Brygge Harbour.
May is also when beautiful flowers bloom here after the long winter , which is why visiting the Tulips and Rapeseed fields is a must.
And of course, you should try the cuisine of Denmark ! Enjoy the blue cheese, pastries, and the world-famous Frikadeller and Smørrebrød. Restaurant suggestions?
Aamanns 1921 and Restaurant Palægade! Another popular attraction is the Little Mermaid statue.
There are many May-time festivals as well, such as Copenhagen Salsa Festival, Liberation Day, and Howling Day.
Don’t forget to visit the many architectural marvels like Rosenborg Castle, Botanical Garden, Christiansborg Palace, and the National Museum.
Did we miss any of the best places to visit in Europe in May? Let us know where to go during May in Europe in the comments. Thanks!
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Megan is a travel blogger and writer with a background in digital marketing. Originally from Richmond, VA, she now splits her time between Frankfurt, Germany and Arctic Finland after also living in Norway, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. She has a passion for winter travel, as well as the Nordic countries, but you can also find her eating her way through Italy, perusing perfume stores in Paris, or taking road trips through the USA. Megan has written for or been featured by National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, the New York Times, and more. She co-authored Fodor’s Travel ‘Essential Norway’ and has visited 45 US states and 100+ countries.
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The 15 Best Places to Visit in Europe in May
In May , Europe is perfect for city lovers and outdoor adventurers alike. The continent has shifted from spring to summer, and as the long days and short nights set in, festivities and fiestas are a top priority for Europeans.
Experience the unique ceremony of Beltane (a pagan fire festival welcoming summer) in Edinburgh , or join the religious festivities in Madrid , where San Isidro is glorified with much pomp and plenty of music. The Nordic nations start to see incredibly long days, making Norway and Iceland popular places to visit in May, while the Algarve, Malta , and Cyprus all offer southern European sunshine.
With so many things to see and do in Europe during this time of year, you might not know where to start. That’s why we’ve compiled our list of the best places to visit in Europe in May for you. Stick to these fun and unique bucket list destinations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an incredible time exploring this beautiful continent during your late-spring getaway!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).
The 15 Best Places to Travel in Europe in May
1. london, united kingdom.
London is one of the most fun destinations to visit in Europe in May. While temperatures might seem mild to you, you’ll love how Londoners are embracing the start of the British summer as they flock to pub beer gardens and public parks (try Hyde Park!) as soon as the first rays of sunshine poke through the clouds.
Temperatures can hit a high of 18 or even 19 degrees Celsius (they might even crack the 20 degrees Celsius barrier on a particularly hot day), and while this isn’t the south of Spain, the long evenings and unusually large number of Bank Holiday weekends (a type of public holiday) ensure that everyone is outside, rain or shine.
You can start by ticking off the touristy stuff that London offers in droves. Visit the Tower of London , see Buckingham Palace , and watch the Changing of the Guard (hopefully, you won’t have to worry about the infamous English rain). The RHS Chelsea Flower Show , held in May, is a colorful display of floral beauty, while the weather is perfect for a walking tour of London’s best sights.
Once you’ve seen the top London sights (Westminster, Big Ben, HMS Belfast, the London Eye, Tower Bridge – the list goes on and on!), head on over to Camden or Shoreditch, where you can spend a lazy afternoon and long evening trying craft beers, ales, and cocktails on rooftop bars (we love the Aviary or Queen of Hoxton ).
2. Andalusia, Spain
Andalusia is the south of Spain , and if you’re hoping to enjoy scorching May temperatures, then this popular Spanish region is one of the best European destinations to visit in May. Andalusia’s southern shores are just a short ferry ride away from North Africa, so it should come as no surprise that this is where you’ll find some of the sunniest and most consistent weather in Europe.
At the start of May, temperatures are already above 20 degrees Celsius, and by the end of May, it’s not uncommon to reach highs of 27, 28, or 29 degrees Celsius. We think that’s perfect for a beach holiday, and you can choose from any number of resorts along the Costa del Sol if that’s your style.
But the best thing about Andalusia is planning a vacation that includes beaches, tapas, history, and culture. Start in Seville, the region’s largest city, where temperatures are perfect for a walking tour of the Plaza de Espana. You can experience the solemn joy of a flamenco performance before gorging on endless wine and tapas.
Next, travel to the famous Pueblo Blancos (White Towns) in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where you can trace a Moorish history that went all the way back to 711 AD. The cooler climes are refreshing, and in Ronda, you can visit a town perched precariously on tall cliffs while learning about the traditions of bullfighting.
See the glory of the Alhambra in Granada (the last Islamic city in Spain to be reconquered by the Christians) and then finish your trip in Malaga , the birthplace of Picasso that’s home to glorious beaches.
3. Lake Balaton, Hungary
Hungary is surprisingly hot in May, thanks to the landlocked country’s continental climate, and it’s fast becoming one of Europe’s hottest summer vacation destinations. But still, when you think of Hungary, you probably think of Budapest, even though there are many more beautiful places to visit.
Budapest can be visited any time of the year, though, and we recommend escaping the crowds with a trip to Lake Balaton. This long freshwater lake has 120 miles of shoreline, and this is where Hungarians go when the sun is shining.
In May, you’ll welcome the cold waters of Lake Balaton as temperatures reach above 20 degrees Celsius. If that’s not quite warm enough for you to enjoy a swim, then don’t worry because Lake Balaton has been an iconic spa destination since antiquity. The Romans loved the region’s thermal waters, and you can enjoy them too with a session at Heviz Spa.
Base yourself in a lakefront town like Siofok or Balatonfured, and you can hike, bike, or boat your way around the lake. Visit vineyards, Szigelet Castle, Tihany Abbey, and Festetics Castle before heading back to Budapest, suitably refreshed after a weekend (or why not a week?) at Lake Balaton.
4. Prague, Czechia
Prague is one of Central Europe’s most popular destinations and one of the best places to visit in Europe in May. You’ll not only beat the summer crowds (although we’ll be honest, Prague can feel busy any time of the year), but with daytime temperatures averaging around 18 degrees Celsius, it’s walking tour weather.
Join a Free Walking Tour of Prague , and you only pay what you feel the tour was worth at the end. The guides are super motivated to show you the best of Prague, and you’ll delve into local history and culture as you explore iconic sights like Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, and the famous Astronomical Clock.
Join a food tour and you can eat your way around Prague’s best goulash spots, trying chimney cakes along the way, while a beer tour needs little introduction in Czechia’s capital city (this city was made for drinking!).
May is the start of Prague’s long festival season, with the Prague Spring Music Festival and the Czech Beer Festival being top of the agenda. May 1st is also the date of a unique Czech tradition, which sees lovers hiking up Petrin Hill to kiss under the newly blossomed summer flowers.
Experience a Foodie Walking Tour
Cyprus is a classic Mediterranean destination, and with temperatures reaching highs of 27 degrees Celsius, May is a great time for a beach vacation. Check into a seafront resort in Larnaca, Limassol, or Paphos, and you can score great deals as Cyprus gears up for the summer crowds that don’t arrive until June.
Spend the month of May lounging around the hotel’s swimming pool, gorging on halloumi and gyros, and enjoying the best Mediterranean wines out there. If you love your nightlife, then head over to Ayia Napa, where the bars and clubs are getting into their rowdy, full swing.
But Cyprus has much to offer the intrepid traveler too. With a human history dating back to 10,000 BC, you can explore Mycenaean, Greek, and Roman ruins across the Med’s third-largest island. Visit the ancient ruins of Kourion, the Tomb of the Kings, or Paphos Castle in the morning, then spend your afternoon lazing on the beach.
In Nicosia, the Cypriot capital, you can learn about more recent history. Cyprus is divided in two between Turks and Greeks, and you can see the lasting divides that separate the two sides in Nicosia. Things have calmed down a lot in recent years, though, and you can safely cross the border to Turkish Cyprus, where you can visit Crusader Castles, isolated peninsulas that are home to wild donkeys, and ancient sites like the Ruins of Salamis.
6. Bergen, Norway
If you’re craving sunlight after a long winter, there’s no better place to be than Norway. The Nordic nation is a land of extremes, and as they ease into the month of May, they’re shaking off short dark days and replacing them with extended hours of daylight.
You can expect as many as 17 hours of sun in May, with even more daylight hours as you head toward the summer solstice in June and travel further north. Norwegians embrace it alongside their passionate love of the great outdoors, and this is the perfect time for hiking, biking, kayaking, sailing, and so much more, all over Norway.
We recommend visiting Bergen , one of the oldest cities in Norway. Surrounded by seven mountain peaks, Bergen is your gateway to the western fjords. Search for legends of trolls in the forests, enjoy the freshest cod straight off the boats and in the city’s famous fish market, or explore an artistic legacy at the Kode galleries, which is home to Edvard Munch paintings.
Of course, as the summer season begins, you have to jump on a Hurtigruten ferry or take the iconic Flam Railway into the fjords. Make your way north from Bergen, then travel to Sognefjord, the longest fjord in Norway.
Like Norway, Iceland is one of the best destinations to visit in Europe in May if you’re craving a bit of Vitamin D. After a long winter and a short spring, Icelanders are gearing up for several months of sunshine in a land where the sun rarely sets throughout summer.
Forget about seeing ice (unless, of course, you visit the Vatnajokull Glacier or the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon!), but do embrace the long days and warm climes as you average huge hours of daylight. We love it because it means there’s more time to explore!
Whether you enjoy hopping from one museum to the next in Reykjavik (our favorites include the Whales of Iceland , the Settlement Exhibition , and who could forget the Icelandic Phallological Museum ?) or touring through the Golden Circle , you’ll have an incredible time getting to grips with the best sights in Iceland.
While a quick trip is just great, May is also the first month when the improved weather really allows you to road trip Iceland’s epic Ring Road. Rent a car and hit Route 1, stopping off at black sand beaches, volcanoes, islands teeming with puffins, whale-watching hotspots like Husavik, and natural hot springs like Myvatn Nature Baths .
Book a 6-Day Tour of Iceland
8. The Algarve, Portugal
The Algarve is one of Portugal ’s most beautiful holiday destinations, and May might just be the best time to visit. This is the most southerly region of Portugal, and the Algarve is known for its sun-drenched beaches and resorts, its dramatic sea cliffs and coastal walks, and its fresh seafood and relaxed tavernas.
In May, temperatures sit in the mid-20s (degrees Celsius), but the beaches are often cooled by the Atlantic winds that sweep over the coastline. Fly into Faro , and book yourself a beachfront hotel or apartment if you’re looking to relax. Praia da Luz is perfect for a laid-back vacation in a small, former fishing community that’s now turned to tourism, while larger Lagos is known for its old walled town and modern marina.
Temperatures are optimal for hiking in May, and we recommend hitting the trails. Start with the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, a four-mile walking route from Praia de Marinha to Praia do Vale de Centianes, then upgrade to the Fishermen’s Trail, an epic 143-mile, 12-day trek along the coast from Porto Covo to Lagos!
9. Madrid, Spain
Madrid enjoys (relatively) cool temperatures in the low 20s (degrees Celsius) in May, a welcome respite before the scorching summer weather arrives in June and July. That’s just wonderful if you love to walk because you’ll love exploring famous sights like Retiro Park, the Plaza Mayor, and Mercado de San Miguel on foot (why not join a free walking tour?).
But Madrid is a fantastic destination any time of the year, and the real reason to visit the Spanish capital in May is to join the festivities celebrating San Isidro, the city’s patron saint. The San Isidro Fiesta is the most important annual festival in Madrid, with a public holiday on May 15th and a packed schedule of public events in the weeks on either side.
San Isidro (who was also known as Isidore the Laborer) was a Madrid local who lived around the 11th century. Hundreds of miracles have been attributed to the saint, who is still remembered almost a thousand years after he lived and died. During the fiesta, locals dress up in traditional clothes, concerts are held in squares and parks, and religious ceremonies take place in churches.
Malta is sunny at the worst times, but in May, you can expect this little Mediterranean island to be drenched in sunshine, with temperatures hitting highs of 24 degrees Celsius toward the end of the month.
Located off of the southern tip of Sicily, Malta is one of the smallest countries in the world, but its strategic location at the crossroads of East and West ensures it’s had a fascinating history. To learn more, head to the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta, the country’s capital, before heading out to explore the ancient megalithic temples (including Ggantija) that are thought to date back at least 5,500 years.
These are some of the oldest man-made structures ever discovered, but Malta has a more recent history to see in the Three Cities, too, where you can learn how the Knights of St. John withstood Ottoman sieges in the 16th century. Malta fell into French and then British hands, and at the National War Museum Fort St. Elmo , you can delve into the island’s World War II history and learn how the Maltese and British forces withstood German and Italian onslaughts for almost two years.
But Malta isn’t just for history lovers. Stay in St. Julians, and you can enjoy beach resorts, nightlife, and even casinos, while Maltese cuisine – an unusual mix of British, Italian, French, Middle Eastern, and Maltese influences – is divine. Enjoy the natural beauty of Comino and the Blue Lagoon, snorkel the Mediterranean, dive down to shipwrecks, and enjoy one of the best island getaways in the Mediterranean.
11. Sofia, Bulgaria
Are you wondering where to go in Europe in May that’s off the well-trodden path? Then why not book a flight to Sofia? The Bulgarian capital sees temperatures climb to 20 degrees Celsius in May, but despite the warm weather, the city sees just a fraction of the number of tourists the big names, like Prague and Budapest, do.
Visiting Sofia feels almost as if you’re visiting another world, too. Orthodox Cathedrals, with their resplendent round domes and golden interior, rise above the city’s communist-era apartment blocks, while you’ll need to get to grips with the Cyrillic alphabet to make your travels easier.
Visit the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the National Museum of History , the National Museum of Archaeology , the National Palace of Culture , and so many more fascinating sights. Then dig into a Bulgarian-style kebab or a Shopska salad, and wash it down with a shot of homemade rakia!
Little-known Slovenia is fast becoming one of Europe’s best outdoor destinations, and it’s a brilliant choice for anyone looking for one of the best places to travel in Europe in May – especially if you’re in the mood for an active vacation!
The best thing about Slovenia is that there really is a place for travelers of all levels of fitness. If you’re in extreme shape, then tackle the ultra-marathons in the soaring Julian Alps or attempt the long climb to the summit of Mount Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia at 2,864 meters.
If you love a quick getaway, then Ljubljana is home to wonderful museums (including the National Museum of Contemporary History ), art galleries (visit the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova ), and medieval castles, all of which can be explored on a walking tour.
Then there’s Lake Bled, where you can enjoy an easy 4-mile walk, followed by a famous slice of Bled Cake. You can hike multi-day trails around Lake Bohinj or cycle your way (on an e-bike, to make things easier) through the vineyards and farmyards of the Soca Valley.
Book a Ljubljana and Lake Bled Tour
13. Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
Croatia ‘s Dalmatian Coast is a fantastic choice for sun-seekers, with mile upon mile of blisteringly beautiful coastline stretching from the Istrian Peninsula south to the walled city of Dubrovnik.
Croatia’s coastline, with its turquoise bays, rugged islands, and hot, Mediterranean climate, has been transformed into one of Europe’s most popular summer destinations in recent years. When you’re enjoying a glass of Croatian wine and a plate of sizzling prawns on the terrace of your beachfront hotel, you’ll understand why, but luckily, May is the quieter prelude to the coming peak season.
If you love mixing history and beaches, head to Split , where you can walk through the ruins of Roman Emperor Diocletian’s palace before sailing to remote vineyards on Hvar or Brac. In Zadar, you can hear the Sea Organ play its melodies, and in Dubrovnik , you can explore the cobbled streets and towering fortifications built by the Venetians.
14. Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Edinburgh is one of the best places to visit in Europe in May, especially if you’re fascinated by Scotland ’s Gaelic past. May 1st is a gloriously eccentric time to be in Edinburgh because this is when many of the city’s inhabitants celebrate the revived tradition of Beltane.
Beltane is the age-old celebration of May Day, when farmers would bring their livestock down to summer pastures and when people would welcome the start of summer with pageantry, fire, and festivities. Beltane was brought back in the 1980s, and Edinburgh’s festival on Calton Hill – expect pagan costumes, music, and lots of fire – now attracts tens of thousands every year.
But Edinburgh has much more to offer, including the National Museum of Scotland , Edinburgh Castle , Holyrood Palace , and Greyfriars Kirkyard . If the rain holds off, which we can never promise in Scotland, then you can join Harry Potter-themed walking tours and hike to Arthur’s Seat (an extinct volcano above the city). If it doesn’t, then a wee dram at The Scotch Whisky Experience never goes amiss.
Book a Tour of Edinburgh Castle
15. Transylvania, Romania
Thanks to Bram Stoker’s Dracula , Transylvania will forever be associated with vampires, but give this often misrepresented Romanian region a visit, and you’ll find yourself in one of Europe’s most up-and-coming destinations.
And you can start by getting the cliches out of the way. Stoker loosely based Dracula’s exploits on the bloody, real-life tales of Vlad the Impaler, a Romanian national hero who fought the Ottomans in the 15th century. Locals claim that Bran Castle , near Brasov, was the setting for Dracula , although Stoker never visited.
Transylvania is much more than its fictional characters, though. The region is home to Cluj-Napoca, the second-largest city in Romania, while the Carpathian Mountains are gorgeous in May. Visit Corvin Castle , the Turda Salt Mine , and drive the Transfagarasan Highway, one of the most spectacular road trips in Europe!
There you have it! The 15 best places to visit in Europe in May. What’s your favorite European destination to visit in the late spring?
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out our favorite travel books!
About the Author:
Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities. Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot). When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.
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Best Places to Visit in May in Europe
Posted on Last updated: October 12, 2023
The weather is the epitome of ‘just right’ for exploration, and blooming landscapes colour the scene in the best places to travel in May in Europe. This is your last chance to beat the summer rush of tourists, along with the heat, if sweating while sightseeing doesn’t sound ideal.
For fragrant gardens and wildflowers peppering incredible landscapes, you could almost close your eyes, point at the map and pick anywhere on the continent. Spring is in full swing, so this is one of the top months of the year for packing your hiking boots and getting out into nature.
The Balearic and Greek Islands are gearing up for summer and, while the water is still a tad refreshing, it’s beach weather all the same. However, if you’re looking for hot places to go in May in Europe, the always-sunny Canary Islands have you covered with temperatures soaring by the minute.
No matter where you choose to go, get ready to pop on your sun hat to enjoy one of Europe’s best months of the year in the great outdoors.
Best European Cities to Visit in May
Along with cobbled streets lined with dazzling flowers, the best places to visit in Europe in May celebrate the season with unique festivals, gourmet food and colourful traditions. The atmosphere is one of exciting anticipation in the lead up to summer, without the focus on tourism that sometimes overwhelms peak season. Set your sights on these spectacular spring spots.
The gastronomic and cultural delights of Lyon are always alluring, but it’s one of the best cities to visit in May for music fans too. The annual Nuits Sonores electronic music festival brings events, workshops and performances across five days.
Performances take place in numerous locations across the city, highlighting heritage sites, iconic landmarks and artistic culture. However, it’s not just the festival that makes this one of the best places to visit in Europe in spring.
The city’s opulent buildings are beautifully wrapped in blooms and pleasant temps are perfect for strolling or cycling among them. Rent a bike and cycle along the picturesque banks of the Rhone and the Saone, stop to smell the rose gardens at Le Parc de la Tête d’Or and find treasures in the trendy shops of bohemian Croix Rousse.
Don’t miss the chance to try the celebrated Lyonnais cuisine at a traditional bouchon.
Read more: Best Day Trips from Lyon
Abruzzo might be one of the country’s most underrated regions, but it’s also one of the best places to visit in Italy in May. Ensconced within the salty breezes of the Adriatic, the open countryside explodes in a riot of purple, pink and yellow, with poppies peeking through crumbling walls and picturesque pathways.
For hiking among wildflowers, visit the Gran Sasso National Park.
Choose to base yourself in the pretty medieval town of L’Aquila or the seaside resort of Pescara. Then, discover surrounding castles, quaint villages and caverns, like the Grotte di Stiffe with its cascading spring waterfall.
On the 1st of May, make sure you’re in the town of Cocullo, in the Majella Mountains. The annual Snake Festival celebrates San Domenico di Sora and sees live (harmless) snakes draped over the patron saint’s statue, before being released back into the wild in a religious respect for nature.
With its Mediterranean climate warming up to near-perfect temperatures for exploring, Portugal is one of the best countries to visit in Europe in May. Plus, the country’s capital is in the vibrant grips of the yearly Iberian Mask International Festival. The Parade of the Iberian Mask is the top event, with around 500 people displaying colourful mask rituals from across the Iberian Peninsula.
Famous as the ‘City of Seven Hills’, the mild weather of spring is your best friend when traipsing up and down steep cobbled laneways. Stroll around Alfama and soak up the rich heritage of Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood, shop ‘til you drop around the Baixa district’s Commerce Square and sip coffee in Chiado’s artsy cafes.
For magnificent spring views over the city, visit one or all the viewpoint terraces, known as miradouros. Jump on the historic number 28 tram when your feet need a break.
If you’re looking for the most fun places to visit in Europe in May, the yearly Iris Festival in Brussels brings the party. Celebrating the region, of which the iris is a symbol, you’ll find free outdoor concerts, events, workshops and organised activities galore across the city.
That’s not all though, as the city also lives and breathes music over the Brussels Jazz Weekend . A multitude of concerts in squares, bars and clubs highlight new and established musicians for toe-tapping fun.
Visit the castle of Grand Bigard to see Floralia, a spring flower exhibition that features tulips, hyacinths and daffodils across 14 hectares. If the weather doesn’t behave, this is one of the most interesting places to visit in Europe for indoor pursuits.
Delve into comic book heroes at the Art Nouveau Belgian Comic Strip Centre, learn the art of chocolate-making at the Choco Story Museum and sample the famous Belgian brews across the city’s fantastic beer cellars.
SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN
Stunning San Sebastian is a frontrunner for having the best weather in Europe in May for sightseeing. Up to 13 sunny hours a day and quickly rising temperatures also make sangria-sipping on outdoor terraces an absolute delight.
Held in late May and early June, the Olatu Talka festival hits town with cultural spaces, concerts, live music, art installations and workshops celebrating Basque heritage.
Whether or not the ocean is warm enough for you, the picture-perfect La Concha Beach and surfer’s favourite, Zurriola, await for lazy days beneath the Spanish sun. When you’re feeling active again, hire a bike to explore the coast and greenways or hike up Monte Urgull for breathtaking views at the top.
At each step of the way, treat your taste buds to the pintxos scene. You’ll smell this relative of tapas from numerous bars in the Old Town and wash each tasty morsel down with local Txakoli, Tempranillo or beer.
With dreamy weather, the Festival of Sant’Efisio and gorgeous trails for spring hiking, Sardinia is one of the best Italian islands to visit in May.
The historic capital, Cagliari, kicks off the month with the island’s premier festival, celebrating the saint who’s said to have rid the city of plague in 1656. A spectacular parade of about 5000 people winds through the streets, featuring traditional dress, colourful wagons, Sardinian pipe music, horsemen and an atmosphere that’s wholeheartedly festive.
For those looking for the best beaches to visit in May, you’ll find plenty of those here. Soak up the luxurious vibe of the Costa Smeralda, discover the hidden coves of the Golfo di Orosei and float in the serene, turquoise waters at Spiaggia Rena Bianca.
For strolling and hiking, an abundance of wildflowers surround the ancient ruins of Tharros and the Cannoneris Nature Reserve is a magical land of waterfalls, wildlife and some of Europe’s biggest holm oak trees.
Read more: Sardinia with kids / The Most Beautiful Sardinia Beaches
Can’t wait to take your taste buds on a journey too? Bratislava is one of the top places to visit in May for foodies.
This is the month of the Slovak Food Festival, to top off a city bursting with farmers markets and events celebrating fresh, seasonal produce. There’ll be more tasty treats at the annual Bratislava May Festival, along with concerts and fireworks over the romantic river Danube.
Then, there’s the wine. The city just happens to be surrounded by some of Europe’s most celebrated vineyards, including in the Small Carpathians Wine Region. To make sure you stay hungry for more, Bratislava is heaven for cyclists, with trails around the Danube that connect the city to Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
If you’re not up for an all-out cycling adventure to a neighbouring country, hop on and off the historic Prešporáčik train to see the sights, including majestic Bratislava Castle.
Read more: Day Trip to Bratislava
One of the more obscure places to visit in Europe, the capital of Lithuania tends to surprise visitors with an exhilarating blend of Old Town quaintness and cutting-edge art culture.
In May, the annual Skamba Skamba Kankliai Festival brings the sounds of traditional Lithuanian culture, along with international folklorists. Local handicrafts, workshops, night dances and singalongs bring young and old together, with a key concept of erasing boundaries of countries and ages.
Get up high to see the scenic charm of this city, with its red-tiled roofs, ample green spaces and towering spires, from the Three Crosses monument or Gediminas’ Tower in the Castle Complex. To combine nature and sightseeing, stroll along the riverbank and explore the haunting Bernardine Cemetery along the way.
No matter where you stay within the historic, cobbled streets, you’ll stumble across colourful political graffiti and quirky modern artworks that’ll have you reaching for the camera, time and again.
With warm, sunny weather, yet still the possibility of scoring a lounge chair on Kamari Beach, Santorini is one of the best places to visit in Greece in May.
Spring covers the grassy hills in blooms throughout the perennially popular honeymoon destination. So, it’s a prime time for doing the 10-kilometre trek from Fira to Oia, ending your day at Oia Castle for what’s among the most famous sunsets in the world.
Temperatures of around 23°C are spot-on for exploring sights often overrun by tourists in the following summer months. See the remains of the ancient Minoan city, Akrotiri, which was buried under volcanic ash in 1613 BC. Explore the hidden laneways of Fira and hike the steep trail up to the Roman, Byzantine and Hellenistic ruins of ancient Thera.
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or a bite in between, the joy of feasting on local produce, seafood and wine among the breathtaking views here can’t be overstated.
LOFOTEN ISLANDS, NORWAY
Jagged mountains, postcard-perfect villages, incredible fjords and natural light that’s driven many an artist’s brush to otherworldly inspiration – Norway’s Lofoten Islands are indisputably among the most beautiful places to visit in Europe.
In late May you can experience the midnight sun along with the power of freshly flowing waterfalls, just to add to the extraordinary adventure that awaits here.
The main islands are connected by bridges and a road that crosses the entire archipelago, so a scenic road trip is a great way to start your explorations. Choose your preferred outdoor activity, whether it’s hiking, fishing, scuba diving or even surfing. Yes, this wildly diverse landscape even offers stunning white-sand beaches and some of the best cold-water waves in the world.
The best places to visit in Northern Europe just wouldn’t be the same without delving into the Viking Age and the Lofotr Viking Museum in Borg boasts the largest Viking-era house ever found.
Flower Festivals in Europe in May
What else makes the best places to visit in Europe in May so spectacular? Flowers of course! This month sees a colourful array of flower festivals making the most of the fragrant spring season.
No less than 7 million flower bulbs explode in a riot of colour throughout Keukenhof, better known as the ‘Garden of Europe’. It’s open from late March to early May each year in the town of Lisse, a short drive from Amsterdam .
This is the month of the romantic rose in the world’s perfume capital. Grasse honours the flower with a festival each May, including rose-themed gifts, rose-flavoured food and cut roses decorating the already-atmospheric town.
Temps de Flors, Spain
Flower power fills the medieval streets of Girona at this annual flower festival in May. Fun festivities join extravagant floral exhibits scattered across the town’s historic sights.
Chelsea Flower Show, UK
One of the most famous flowery festivals in the world, London’s prestigious Chelsea Flower Show features horticultural displays on the grounds of the Royal Hospital. This is the place to spot cutting-edge garden trends and the best works of some of the world’s top landscapers.
Chantilly Flower Show, France
Most recently held in the magnificent grounds of the Chateau de Chantilly, exhibitors, workshops and conferences showcase everything horticulture and floriculture at the spring edition festival in May each year. Chantilly is an easy drive or train ride from Paris .
Spend your time stopping to smell the roses, hike to the heights of majestic mountains or frolic at festivals. Whatever you choose to do, Spring serves up the holiday fun on a backdrop of gorgeous weather and seasonal joy in the most amazing places to visit in Europe in May.
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22 Best Places to Visit in Europe in May 2023
Most of Europe still isn’t warm enough for sitting on a beach or by the pool in May, but you’ve still got lots of great choices if you are looking for culture, food, nightlife, and just about anything else. The Nordic region is still too chilly to be comfortable this month, but just about the rest of Europe will be pleasant in May where you’ll only need a light jacket or sweater most of the time.
In case you were looking for warm places to visit you might instead check our list of cheap destinations with great weather in May , which highlights choices from around the world. And if you really want a beach destination, check our list of Caribbean islands ranked from cheapest to most expensive for some great bargains.
If you are the type who likes to live it up a bit while traveling you might be interested in our new list of the cheapest 5-star hotels in Europe , starting at US$80 per night for a super nice place.
Important May holidays for Europe in 2023
- May 1 – International Workers’ Day/Labour Day/May Day: A public holiday all over Europe
- May 16 to 27 – Cannes Film Festival (France)
- May 18 – Ascension Day (Germany, France, Italy, Spain etc)
How is the weather in Europe in May?
As you’ll see by scrolling down the choices below, May brings hot, or at least warm, temperatures to most of the Mediterranean countries, so they are perfect for visiting this time of year. In fact, all of the places that are hot or warm in May in Europe are also much hotter and sometimes unbearable in July and August, so May is the perfect month to arrive.
Central Europe is still a bit on the chilly side in May, but it’s warm enough to enjoy being outdoors in the day, so it’s a good time to visit these areas as well.
Northern Europe, including Britain and the Netherlands, is still fairly cool in May, but these aren’t places you visit to sit by a pool or on a beach anyway, so visiting in May is still one of the better times of the year.
Warmest places in Europe in May for beach visits
Costa del sol/malaga, spain.
- May avg high: 75F/24C
- May avg low: 56F/13C
- May avg precip: 0.9″/2.3cm
Costa del Sol highlights in May
- Very nice beaches with great hotel prices in May
- A variety of different towns to choose from
- Small crowds and still plenty of activities
- Malaga city tours and museums
- Easy for English speakers
Since the season doesn’t really begin until June, hotel and apartment rental prices in this area can be very good in May. And cheap flights into Malaga are easy to find on various discount airlines all over Europe in May. If you are coming from North America it’s probably cheaper to fly into Madrid or Barcelona and then book a separate flight from there to Malaga. On the other hand, if you are coming from North America it might not be worth stopping in this area at all. It’s a place most people visit simply to relax and sit in the sun.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €58 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €87 for two people
- Hostel dorm beds in May from €14 per person
>> Check hotel deals for Costa del Sol >>> Costa del Sol/Malaga prices and travel tips
Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
- May avg low: 64F/18C
- May avg precip: 0.2″/0.5cm
Tenerife highlights in May
- Sandy beaches and hotel pools everywhere
- A relaxing atmosphere with very affordable food and drinks
- Interesting and mellow nightlife with no huge clubs
- Teide volcano and national park
- Comfortable and familiar for English speakers getting out of the cold
Hotels and apartment rentals are good deals in Tenerife all year round. The best area that usually has the best weather in Tenerife is along the southwest corner of the island, in Los Cristianos and up the coast from there. Flights into either Tenerife airport are pretty cheap from the European continent. Often the flights into the North Airport are cheaper, and there is a public bus that connects it with the South Airport in one hour. Air+hotel package deals from major cities in Europe can be great deals as well. The main activity is relaxing in the sun. Aside from an interesting volcano in the south, there isn’t much to do here and even the nightlife is quite mild.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €49 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €73 for two people
- Hostel dorm beds in May from €13 per person
>> Check hotel deals for Tenerife >>> Tenerife prices and travel tips
- May avg high: 79F/26C
- May avg low: 58F/14C
- May avg precip: 1.3″/3.3cm
Antalya highlights in May
- Sandy beaches in some areas, but it’s worth checking your hotel
- Very cheap food and drinks
- Small crowds in May yet good weather
- Historic Antalya with the old city filled with restaurants and bars
- Good beach destination for English speakers
The value at hotels here is excellent, especially as the value of the Turkish Lira has struggled recently. Some areas in greater Antalya are popular with certain nationalities, so that’s worth looking into if you prefer to fit in. There are beaches where Germans or Brits or Russians or Swedes dominate, particularly at all-inclusive resorts. Many Europeans are skipping all of Turkey in the current political climate, which has helped bring room rates down even more. There have been no reports of any problems for tourists in Antalya, though it never hurts to check the news before you book. It will be interesting in 2023 because Russians had been a large portion of the visitors, and the Ukraine war may slow that down a bit, or maybe not.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €17 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €27 for two people
- Hostel dorm beds in May from €9 per person
>> Check hotel deals for Antalya >>> Antalya prices and travel tips
Non-beach destinations that are nice in May
- May avg high: 72F/22C
- May avg low: 53F/12C
Rome highlights in May
- Coliseum, Ancient Rome, Vatican City, Trevi Fountain etc.
- Modest crowds and pleasant weather
- Easier to get into major attractions than summer
- East connections for day trips to Naples or Pompeii
- Cheaper hotel prices than high season
The busy tourist season in Italy starts in June, so May is really the perfect month to visit as you’ll get cheaper flights, cheaper hotels, and smaller crowds even though the weather is perfect. If you have extra days you might consider taking a train down to Sorrento for a few days along the Amalfi Coast nearby, which is also wonderful this time of year. It’s worth noting that Rome can be a rather hectic place to visit, so many savvy travelers prefer to stay only a few days and move on to someplace more relaxing. Rome is an obvious stop on the best Italy itineraries , and the whole country has pleasant weather in May.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €68 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €81 for two people
>> Check hotel deals for Rome >>> Rome prices and travel tips
- May avg high: 74F/23C
- May avg low: 52F/11C
- May avg precip: 2.9″/7.3cm
Florence highlights in May
- The Duomo (Florence Cathedral)
- Ponte Vecchio Bridge
- Uffizi Gallery (make reservations)
- Amazing food in the capital of Tuscany
- Easy base for day trips to Pisa, Siena, Cinque Terre, and hill towns
Since Rome can feel a bit chaotic, it’s nice to linger in Florence if you have extra days. You can do a day trip to Pisa or Siena from here, as well as the Cinque Terre. There are also some very nice hill towns just a short train ride away, so Florence is an ideal hub for sightseeing in the central Italy region.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €73 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €95 for two people
- Hostel dorm beds in May from €22 per person
>> Check hotel deals for Florence >>> Florence prices and travel tips
- May avg high: 70F/21C
- May avg low: 54F/12C
- May avg precip: 2.7″/6.8cm
Venice highlights in May
- St. Marks Square and Basilica
- Rialto Bridge
- Canal rides (expensive but memorable!)
- Walk the island in peace in the morning and later evening
- Probably Europe’s most photogenic city
Hotels on the main island are understandably more expensive than those on the mainland, but they are worth it at least for one night to avoid the crowds. The main sights can be seen in less than a day, and it’s so crowded that you really won’t want to linger for more than two days, although Venice is so unforgettable that no one regrets a visit.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €97 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €177 for two people
- Hostel dorm beds in May from €36 per person
>> Check hotel deals for Venice >>> Venice prices and travel tips
- May avg high: 68F/20C
- May avg precip: 2.4″/6.0cm
Paris highlights in May
- Eiffle Tower
- Louvre and Musée d’Orsay
- Seine cruise at sunset to see the lights and bridges
- Amazing food that exceeds expectations
- Arc de Triomphe, Versailles Palace etc.
Hotel prices are moderate in May, but this is also a major business capital so many of the 4-star hotels in the city center will be full for most of the month. You should be able to stay reasonably in non-business neighborhoods such as the glorious Rue Cler or the more edgy Montmartre. One other great thing about Paris is they have Metro stations within a few blocks of almost everywhere, so you can save money by staying a bit out of the center, and then take the Metro into the tourist areas in a short time for not much money.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €93 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €127 for two people
- Hostel dorm beds in May from €28 per person
>> Check hotel deals for Paris >>> Paris prices and travel tips
- May avg precip: 1.9″/4.8cm
Nice highlights in May
- Explore the city before summer crowds make it almost unbearable
- Walk the Promenade des Anglais (beach walk)
- Castle Hill
- Great food (different from Paris)
- Famous farmer’s market through the center of town
The city of Nice itself is a very worthwhile destination, but it’s also a great stop because it’s a 20-minute train ride from Cannes to the west and from Monaco to the east. Both of those cities are fascinating day trips, yet the hotels in both are quite expensive so Nice is the ideal base. The Cannes Film Festival is held in May so some people come to see the stars and that can fill up some hotels in Nice since it’s so close. If you want to visit Cannes and Monaco while here, it could be worth staying in the area near the Nice train station so you don’t have to spend too much time going back and forth.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €78 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €118 for two people
- Hostel dorm beds in May from €31 per person
>> Check hotel deals for Nice >>> Nice prices and travel tips
- May avg high: 63F/17C
- May avg low: 48F/9C
- May avg precip: 2.0″/5.0cm
London highlights in May
- Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey
- Tower of London and Tower Bridge
- West End theatres
- Oxford Street for shopping
- Smaller crowds and cheaper hotels than summer
You can easily take the Eurostar train from here to Paris in a bit over two hours, and then be in Amsterdam in a bit over 3 hours from there. London hotels are expensive all year round, but you should have a better chance of finding a decent deal in May compared to July or August. The London Pass can be a good choice for those who want to do a lot of sightseeing in a short time. The British pound continues to be weak as 2023 approaches so England is cheaper now than it has been in many years, even with the inflation they have also been experiencing.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from £72 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from £127 for two people
- Hostel dorm beds in May from £29 per person
>> Check hotel deals for London >>> London prices and travel tips
- May avg low: 59F/15C
- May avg precip: 2.2″/5.5cm
Split highlights in May
- Warm, sunny weather and very small crowds
- Stunning historic center (rivals Dubrovnik)
- Cheap hotels and sobes (local name for accommodation)
- Easy to get around in May
- Ferries to nearby islands are cheap
Split is also the main travel hub along the Croatian coast, as the train comes here but doesn’t reach Dubrovnik. There are also ferries in Split that can take you to the various nearby islands. The May weather may not be warm enough for sunbathing every day, but on some days it will be. And since the main tourist season doesn’t start until June, hotel prices and apartment rentals (called ‘sobes’ here) are very reasonable.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €39 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €54 for two people
- Hostel dorm beds in May from €12 per person
>> Check hotel deals for Split >>> Split prices and travel tips
- May avg high: 72F/21C
- May avg low: 61F/12C
- May avg precip: 2.3″/5.8cm
Barcelona highlights in May
- Amazing architecture unlike anywhere else in the world
- Great beaches right in the city
- Sagrada Familia cathedral (nearly complete now)
- Hotels are cheaper than in summer
- Great nightlife that is easy to join for foreigners
Flights into Barcelona can be cheap, especially from within Europe, but even from the US and Canada the fares are reasonable. If you are visiting Barcelona you should really also visit Madrid (see below) and get there on the high-speed train in only 3 hours. Both cities are huge and quite different from one another.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €75 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €103 for two people
- Hostel dorm beds in May from €15 per person
>> Check hotel deals for Barcelona >>> Barcelona prices and travel tips
- May avg high: 71F/22C
- May avg low: 51F/11C
Madrid highlights in May
- Prado Museum
- Puerta del Sol (main square)
- Royal Palace
- Inexpensive hotels in May
- Best and easiest place to enjoy tapas culture (free food with cheap drinks)
The May weather is pleasant enough for sightseeing in the day, and the evenings are mild enough that staying out late is still comfortable if you bring a jacket or sweater. You can get to nearby Toledo on a short train ride so it’s a popular day trip, and connections to Seville and Granada are also good so Madrid is an ideal hub for a full visit to Spain.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €53 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €121 for two people
>> Check hotel deals for Madrid >>> Madrid prices and travel tips
Lisbon highlights in may.
- Castles, towers, and cathedrals, all in the historic center
- Tram 28, which connects many of Lisbon’s tourist sights in style
- Elevador de Santa Justa – the famous outdoor elevator
- Great cuisine at appealing prices
- Fado (famous local music) shows to go along with great meals
Hotels and hostels in Lisbon are known for high quality at moderate prices, and May is one of the better month for deals before summer begins. The warm but not hot weather is also ideal for sightseeing in this hilly town. This is a good city to start a Europe tour in this month, because temperatures will get warmer as you move north and east as June approaches.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €54 for two people
- Hostel dorm beds in May from €24 per person
>> Check hotel deals for Lisbon >>> Lisbon prices and travel tips
- May avg high: 66F/19C
- May avg precip: 2.1″/5.3cm
Berlin highlights in May
- Brandenburg Gate and Unter den Linden
- Reichstag Building and Berlin Cathedral
- Fascinating and unusual nightlife
- Cheap hotels for a big European city
- Beer gardens and outdoor markets
There are a lot of outdoor attractions in Berlin, but at least May is a fairly dry month so you should be able to spend all day outside and be comfortable. One of Berlin’s many charms is that it’s one of the cheapest capital cities in western Europe. Hotel deals here are still quite good, especially in the areas of the former East.
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €77 for two people
>> Check hotel deals for Berlin >>> Berlin prices and travel tips
- May avg high: 61F/16C
- May avg low: 46F/8C
Amsterdam highlights in May
- Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House
- Rijksmuseum and Rembrandt House
- Stunning 16th Century architecture and canals
- “Coffeeshops” and other odd ball attractions
- Nearly car-free city center that is walkable
Flights into Amsterdam can be reasonable from all over the world. And if you are already in Europe you’ll find that trains here are wonderful. The high-speed train from Paris takes only a bit over 3 hours, and Berlin is only a bit over 5 hours away. A new hotel tax that launched in 2020 has made it even more expensive than it already was, but Amsterdam is amazing enough that it doesn’t sting as much as it might elsewhere.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €128 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €167 for two people
- Hostel dorm beds in May from €44 per person
>> Check hotel deals for Amsterdam >>> Amsterdam prices and travel tips
Krakow highlights in may.
- Historic district surrounded by a park
- Wawel Royal Castle
- Day trip to Auschwitz (worth it)
- Cheap hotels and hostels
- Cheap local food and fun nightlife even for tourists
One of the reasons that Krakow isn’t even more crowded is that the trains are still fairly slow in this part of Europe, and the closest other large cities are Prague and Budapest. For that reason you might want to fly into Krakow, but you can also consider buses because they are usually cheaper and often just as fast as trains around here.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €41 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €66 for two people
>> Check hotel deals for Krakow >>> Krakow prices and travel tips
Prague, Czech Republic
- May avg low: 47F/8C
- May avg precip: 3.0″/7.5cm
Prague highlights in May
- Prague Castle and Charles Bridge
- Old Town Square and Astronomical Clock
- Some of Europe’s finest original architecture
- Excellent beer that is cheap if you avoid other tourists
- One of Europe’s nightlife capitals
While Prague hotel prices have gone up in recent years, it’s still possible to get a well located hotel with good rates. And food here is still cheap as long as you avoid the most touristy places with the big English-language menus out front. If you have 2 or 3 more days in your trip you should consider a side trip to the wonderful small town of Cesky Krumlov , which is 3 hours away on a scenic bus ride or train.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €38 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €53 for two people
>> Check hotel deals for Prague >>> Prague prices and travel tips
- May avg precip: 2.5″/6.3cm
Budapest highlights in May
- Hungarian Parliament Building
- Buda Castle
- Hot springs that are cheap and easy to visit
- Cheap food and hotels (if you avoid the Danube-view places)
- Ruin pubs and other unusual nightlife with cheap drinks
The nightlife in Budapest is also a highlight, even for those who speak no Hungarian. The famous “ruin pubs” are like nothing you’ve seen before, with several forms of entertainment going on at all times, along with cheap drink prices.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €47 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €68 for two people
>> Check hotel deals for Budapest >>> Budapest prices and travel tips
- May avg low: 57F/14C
Athens highlights in May
- Acropolis and Parthenon
- Acropolis Museum
- Ancient Agora of Athens
- Cheap hotels and food by Europe standards
- Ferry ride away from many islands, which are opening for the year in May
Greece has hundreds of islands with hotels and tourism, spread over a large area. There are a few within a short ferry ride to Athens, but the most famous ones are farther out. If this is your first visit to Greece you should consider Santorini , Mykonos , or Rhodes . They are the most popular and can be reached by ferry or air. Santorini has become so insanely crowded during summer in recent years that it’s probably not worth a visit, but in May it should still be rather pleasant.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €51 for two people
- Hostel dorm beds in May from €11 per person
>> Check hotel deals for Athens >>> Athens prices and travel tips
Istanbul highlights in may.
- Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque
- Grand Bazaar and general shopping
- Topkapi Palace
- Great food at very reasonable prices
- Very cheap hotels in central locations
Turkey has gone through some struggles in recent years, not having to do with the pandemic. Their government has been trying to kick-start the economy with low interest rates and that has triggered runaway inflation instead. Fortunately for outside visitors, the currency decline is outrunning the inflation rate, so all of Turkey is a fantastic bargain in 2023. Consider a visit to the stunning Cappadocia area if you’ve got 2 or 3 extra days.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €27 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €38 for two people
>> Check hotel deals for Istanbul >>> Istanbul prices and travel tips
- May avg precip: 0.5″/1.3cm
Malta highlights in May
- Historic Valletta and harbour
- Blue Grotto
- Popeye Village
- Pleasant small island where English is common
- Cheap food and drinks, even with a great view
The value in Malta is also very good, as you can get hotels and meals even in the tourist-friendly areas such as Sliema at very appealing prices. Valletta itself is the small historic capital district with only a few hotels, so most people stay elsewhere on the coast and visit Valletta for a few hours here and there.
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €89 for two people
- Hostel dorm beds in May from €23 per person
>> Check hotel deals for Valletta >>> Valletta prices and travel tips
- May avg precip: 4.8″/12.0cm
Interlaken highlights in May
- Jungfraujoch railway and Schilthorn cable car
- Lauterbrunnen Valley (perhaps the most beautiful mountain area in the world_)
- Cable cars and mountain walks
- Adventure sports
- Spend a night in the tiny mountain village of Gimmelwald
Interlaken is Switzerland’s top outdoor sports capital, with skiing and snowboarding for almost half the year, as well as hiking and paragliding among other things for the rest of the year. May is usually too late to ski, but a perfect time for the non-snow adventure activities. The Alps views here are the best in Europe, particularly the Schilthorn cable car and observation deck, and the Jungfraujoch railway.
- Good 3-star hotels in May from €98 for two people
- Good 4-star hotels in May from €164 for two people
>> Check hotel deals for Interlaken >>> Interlaken prices and travel tips
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22 Best Places to Visit in Europe in May 2023 " --> All Comments
oops forgot to add I’ve thought of adding Munich for Bavarian Alps, maybe Rothenburg and day trip to Salzburg
Thank you, I’m more interested in outdoors, natural beauty, and food. Not really into art, museums, or architecture.
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Home » Blog » 25 Best Places To Visit In Europe In May (2023)
25 Best Places To Visit In Europe In May (2023)
Last Updated on August 18, 2023 by Nicole
May is the best time to visit Europe. The sun is shining and feels warm on your skin. The grass is green, flowers have bloomed, and patios have started to open. There is a feeling of expectation and excitement with the thought that summer is just around the corner. Best of all, tourist crowds have not yet arrived. It is still considered shoulder season so hotels are reasonably priced and so much less expensive than the summer months. In other words, you get the best of all worlds – wonderful weather, travel savings, and the opportunity to visit stunning historical sites or walk along beautiful beaches without jostling for space. So where should you go? Here are the 25 best places to visit in Europe in May.
This post may contain affiliate links. That means that I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you buy something through my site. This helps me run my website and produce the articles that I hope you find helpful.
After reviewing this article, you may be curious about other destinations in Europe in spring. Here are some other articles for travel inspiration.
You may be looking for the ultimate European destinations for romance and fun with your partner. If you are looking for inspiration, please see 26 Best Honeymoon Destinations In Europe In May .
Here are other springtime destinations in Europe by month:
- 25 Best Places To Visit In Europe In March ;
- 24 Best Places To Visit In Europe in April ; and
- 25 Best Places To Visit In Europe In June .
If you are keen to find good beach options in Europe around May, please see 27 Best Beaches To Visit In Europe In June .
For those who would prefer to find budget-friendly destinations in Europe, check out these fabulous spots:
- 29 Best Cheap Spring Destinations In Europe ;
- 27 Best Cheap Cities In Europe For A Fantastic Vacation ; and
- 22 Best Cheap Countries To Visit In Europe .
For those of you who are flexible about their destination, check out 25 Best Places To Visit In The USA In May .
Best Places To Visit In Europe In May
I have asked some of the best travel bloggers for their recommendations for the best European places to visit in May. Each of them highlights what makes these springtime vacation destinations a fantastic choice, the best things to do, and the expected weather. If there are annual events or festivals that could make it an even better May holiday, then those are mentioned as well. In addition, if someone stayed or knows of a fabulous hotel, it has been included.
By Nadine from Le Long Weekend
The South of France is a beautiful place to visit at any time of the year, but come May, the landscape puts on a special kind of show. Poppies bloom in every empty field, crack in the pavement, and between the ochre-coloured stones of ancient village houses. The poppies are joined by delicate almond blossoms, and vibrant yellow rapeseed, creating a spectacle for the senses. It’s a true delight to witness, like something straight from a Van Gogh painting, and one of the best places to go for a May getaway in Europe.
Besides the flowers, May is the best time to hike the region’s trails , including those in the incredible Calanques National Park which are studded with stunning beaches and breathtaking vistas.
Visit the bustling farmer’s markets which are brimming with fresh spring produce and locally made artisanal items. Explore the hilltop villages of the Luberon that aren’t yet overtaken by tourists, and which offer a true insight into what life in Provence used to look like.
May is also a perfect time to visit the Camargue, as visiting Flamingos are in high numbers at this time of year. If you can, try to time your visit with the annual festival held in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and witness religious processions in the streets, or the Lubéron Jazz Festival which is held later in the month.
The weather in May is typically sunny & warm, with daytime temperatures averaging around 72°F.
Best Way To Reach The Destination
The main airport in Provence is in Marseille, with incoming flights from all over the globe. Alternatively, you can get the TGV high-speed train from Park to Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, or Marseille and continue your journey by rental car , private transport or train.
Best Place To Stay
Nadine says, “If you’re looking for somewhere truly special to stay, look no further than La Bastide de Marie which is situated in the Luberon and ideally located for exploring the region’s villages, poppy fields and vineyards.”
By Martha from May Cause Wanderlust
Kraków is one of the best destinations for a European trip in May for many reasons. The weather is very pleasant with lots of sunshine, but not so hot to be overwhelming when exploring the city. May avoids peak season, so there’s less likely to be crowds at the main attractions.
In addition, there are several amazing festivals in Kraków to attend in May including the Kraków International Film Festival, Kraków Month of Photography Festival and Juwenalia Student Festival where for a few days, the city is transformed into one big party.
And finally, Kraków is a really vibrant city with a rich history and buzzy nightlife. There are a staggering amount of things to do in Kraków.
These include exploring the Old Town , which is an UNESCO World Heritage site. Its main square, Rynek Glowny, is incredibly pretty and the largest medieval town centre in Europe.
Consider walking Planty Park, a gorgeous belt of green surrounding the old town. It really adds a sense of freshness to the city.
Take a tram ride out to Podgorze neighbourhood, which has several memorials to the victims of the Holocaust. There are also museums about those who helped, such as Oscar Schindler, whose enamel factory was here.
At the end of the day, watch the sunset over the River Vistula and Wawel castle.
As well as these activities, you could take day trips out of the city. For example, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum is only 1.5 hours away by bus. This is a difficult place to visit but one that is important to see if you wish to understand the horrors of WWII and the Holocaust.
In addition, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is an extraordinary destination where you will see works of art crafted from and into the walls of a salt mine.
Average daytime temperatures are 68 degrees Fahrenheit with lots of sunshine.
To get to Kraków, you can fly into Kraków’s John Paul II International Airport, which is approximately 20 minutes’ drive to Kraków city centre, or Katowice Airport, which is more like an hour and 20 minutes. There are also direct trains from Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, and Kiev.
For old world charm with an exceptional breakfast in an amazing location on the main square, consider Hotel Wentzl.
By Kerry from Vegg Travel
Santorini, the iconic volcanic Greek island, is stunning and one of the best places to visit in May in Europe.
There are several “must do’s” to add to your Santorini Itinerary . First, catch the beautiful sunset over the Caldera. While the town of Oia is the most famous place to watch this with the pretty houses and blue dome churches, it is usually horribly overcrowded. Visiting in May means you’ve got a much better chance of seeing the sunset in peace.
Second, take a boat trip to the volcanic crater and hot springs in the middle of the ocean and learn about how this intriguing island was formed.
Third, visit one of the stunning black sand beaches in Santorini .
Finally, take a journey to the Akrotiri lighthouse on the southern tip of the island for incredible views. The drive is spectacular. You go through traditional Greek villages and pass several of the famous beaches – Red beach and White beach – tempting you to stop and lounge the day away.
Santorini isn’t a cheap island and staying anywhere with a Caldera view can be expensive. Visiting slightly out of season means that you will get much better prices on accommodation and flights, as well as fewer crowds and less intense summer temperatures.
In May, the weather is beginning to heat up and you can expect an average temperature of around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. You don’t even need to worry too much about rain as on average Santorini only has 3 days of rain in the whole month of May.
There is only one airport on the island and it’s easy to organise transfers, pick up taxis or rent a car to your hotel. Santorini is small, so you won’t spend longer than an hour driving from the airport to the other side of the island.
Kerry says, “Consider staying in Imerovigli which has some of the best sunset views in the island and which is relatively central for easy travel around the island. The Regina Mare adults only hotel has beautiful modern rooms, a great pool, top room delivered breakfast and fantastic staff.”
By Ali from Berlin Travel Tips
Berlin really starts coming back to life in the spring, so May is one of the best months to visit this exciting European city. The weather is finally getting warm but usually isn’t too hot yet. This is important in a city with very little air conditioning!
Berlin is gorgeous in May, and early in the month you can see cherry blossom trees around the city. One of the best places for cherry blossoms is the park near the Lichterfelde Süd Sbahn station where tons of them were planted along the former border between West Berlin and East Germany. If you want a place a little closer to the center of the city, check out the areas near Mauerpark and near the Bornholmer Str Sbahn station.
Since it’s shoulder season, you can visit the places on your Berlin bucket list without crowds. The weather in May means you should have a pleasant time doing so.
Check out the TV Tower which gives you great views of the city from above. Then wander west to Museum Island, a Unesco World Heritage Site, where some of the most important museums in Berlin are located. The Berlin Cathedral is also located here. It’s still a functioning church, but you can take a tour and climb to the top for great views.
Next check out Brandenburg Gate (one of the famous landmarks in Germany ), which once stood at the border between East and West Berlin. Today it symbolizes unity. Beyond the gate is Tiergarten Park where spring bloom will be in full force for your spring trip to Europe.
The temperatures in May are often in the 60s during the day and 50s or a bit lower at night. You’ll get plenty of sunny days, but come prepared for the possibility of rain .
The BER airport is located about 16 miles from central Berlin. Since public transportation is extensive and easy to use, your best option is to take the train . The airport express train (FEX) and the regional trains RB14 and RE7 reach several stations in central Berlin in 20-40 minutes.
Ali says, “The 25Hours Hotel in Charlottenburg overlooks the Berlin Zoo. Its 10th floor bar is called Monkey Bar and is a popular spot for a cocktail because of the gorgeous views.”
By Anya from The Road Is Calling
Budva is known as a beach holiday destination . However, to experience the cultural and scenic side of Budva with fewer crowds, the best time to take your trip is in May.
It is the most popular location in Montenegro for the impeccable purity of the water and gorgeous beaches. In addition, it has a well-thought-out and well-developed tourist infrastructure.
Here, you’ll find absolutely everything you need for a full and interesting vacation – an 11-km wide coastline made up of sand and pebbles, many hotels and villas for every budget, an abundance of restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, sports centers, and quirky shops. At the same time, this city has its own Old Town with medieval charm.
In addition, Budva is a fantastic home base to explore the entire country at your own pace. There are many road trips that start there and in May, you can avoid the traffic on local roads that sometimes clogs the streets.
Consider driving 30 minutes to Kotor to see the old medieval town totally surrounded by fortified walls. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is filled with winding cobblestone paths, medieval architecture and historic monuments.
Alternatively, drive 50 minutes to Lake Skadar National Park , a stunning lake shared by Montenegro and Albania. It is the largest lake in Southern Europe with the largest bird reserve in Europe.
Take a boat from Budva or Kotor and explore the Bay of Kotor with incredible fjords, and sunbathe. At the end of May, when the sea temperature is around 68F degrees, you can even swim.
You can rent a car and do all of these road trips on your own. For the best rates in Europe, visit Discovercars.com . However, many of the roads in Montenegro are narrow with lots of treacherous turns. We chose to hire guides and book tours. For a selection of some of the best experiences, please click here .
The average daytime temperature in Budva in May is usually 75F degrees (although in the second part of the month it can even reach 86F) and at night it drops to 50-55F.
The best way to reach Budva is by car or public bus from Podgorica or Tivat. Both these cities have international airports and accept visitors on a daily basis. Since Montenegro is a very small country, distances are very short too. It takes only 1 hour to drive from Podgorica and half an hour to reach Budva from Tivat.
Anya says, “As for the hotel, a 5-star Dukley Hotel & Resort is one of the best places to stay. It is located in a secluded area in Budva, overlooking the sea. Its private sandy beach is only 1 minute away.”
Scottish Highlands, Scotland
By Krix from Travel Hacker Girl
The Scottish Highlands are any nature lover’s paradise. It’s wild landscapes, majestic scenery, picturesque fishing villages and medieval castles will take your breath away. It is one of the best places in Europe for a May getaway.
The Highlands are known worldwide for their whisky distilleries. There are 47 to be exact, so you have plenty of choices. Most of them offer tours , where the guides are on hand to walk you through the intricacies of whisky making. They even give you tasters. Strathearn Distillery, Glen Ord Distillery and Edradour Distilleryare are just a few good examples of Scottish Distilleries offering informative tours.
Of course, there is no trip to the Highlands without visiting a medieval castle. Urquhart Castle has a visitor centre and the tower offers great views of Loch Ness and the surrounding area. Alternatively, you can go for a boat ride to search for the famous Nessie Monster.
May is the best time to visit the Scottish Highlands as you are more likely to encounter the best weather conditions Scotland has to offer. In addition, in spring, you will be able to avoid the nasty midges. They are tiny flying insects that bite and appear from June-August.
Because wild camping is legal in Scotland a lot of people rent a camper van and tour. Spaceships is a good company with several motorhomes. Just make sure to pack your wild camping equipment as you can also stay at regular campsites along the way.
Scotland is not exactly famous for its sunny weather. As the old saying goes, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes!’ So be prepared for some rain and cool temperatures ranging from 45°F to 55°F during May.
Fly into Edinburgh or Inverness Airport, rent a car , and begin your adventure.
By Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler
The perfect time to travel to the idyllic city of Florence is in May. The weather is lovely and there are also a lot of festivals that take place in the city. This includes May Day celebration on the first of the month to the month-long arts and music festival, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.
Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe in one of the best countries in Europe . It is one of the best vacation spots in Europe in May and has been named one of the world’s best places to live by Lonely Planet, CNN, and Forbes.
There are plenty of things to do in Florence including enjoying beautiful art and architecture, and delicious food and wine.
Art lovers should tour famous museums like the Uffizi Gallery, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Palazzo Pitti, Galleria degli Uffizi, and others. The famous David by Michelangelo is found in the Accademia Gallery. Many of these museums and art galleries are stunningly beautiful themselves.
In addition, as you walk around the city , you will easily stumble upon beautiful churches that you can explore like San Lorenzo, Santa Croce, Santissima Annunziata, and more.
If you want to experience real Italian life, you should go to Mercato Centrale. It dates back to when Florence was the capital of Italy in the late 19th century. You’ll find a wide array of food – including handmade pasta and cheeses. While the food is at the center of the market, you will also hear Italian music playing and artwork on display throughout the market.
In May, the temperatures are warm, around mid-to-high 60’s Fahrenheit, and the crowds are minimal.
Most people visit Florence by flying into Florence Airport only a couple miles outside of town. Alternatively, you can fly into Pisa International Airport or Fiumicino Airport in Rome, pick up a rental car or take the train to Florence.
Pamela says, “Since you’ll be exploring a lot of the city, your accommodation should be in a great location. The Hotel Bigallo is located across the street from the breathtaking Basilica, right in the center of Florence.”
Korcula Island, Croatia
By Martina from Places Of Juma
Korcula Island in Croatia is definitely one of the most beautiful and worthwhile places to take a holiday in Europe, especially in May. Most visitors come from June to August to spend their summer vacations . However, in May, you will experience a quiet atmosphere. You will find breathtaking beaches and natural bays, and enchanting villages and old towns. Accommodation is also much cheaper than summer. The absolute highlight is Korcula town with its historic fortified old town that is on the Unesco World Heritage List. Visitors love its medieval charm. Thanks to its walls and towers, it is often referred to as “little Dubrovnik”.
In addition, there are lots of beautiful beaches, another reason why Korcula Island is so special in Europe. From sandy beaches to pebbly coves and rocky beaches, there is a wide range of places to explore and swim. From the end of April-beginning of May, you can already have great beach days
Korcula is a true paradise for those who want to feel the warmth of the sun and the lovely waters in the Adriatic Sea.
In May, the weather is lovely at approximately 73F.
Korcula Island is located in the Dalmatia region and can be easily reached by ferry from Split on the mainland. From the airport Zračna luka Split-Kaštela, you take a bus or taxi to the Split Ferry Port (35 minutes) and then a ferry to the island (3 hours).
Best Places To Stay
Martina says, “One of the most beautiful resorts on the island is Lumbarda, a pretty vacation resort for wine lovers. On the sandy hills above the sea, some of the best wines on Korcula are produced there.
Another option is Tara’s Lodge Hotel directly on the beach and with a beautiful outdoor pool.”
By Ben From Ticket 4 Two Please
Valletta, the European Union’s smallest capital city, may be small in size, but it is vast in culture and history.
With approximately 2 million tourists visiting the Maltese islands every year, it is important to arrive in the country at a time when you are going to get the most from it. For this, visiting Valletta in May is a great option. It is one of the best places to visit in Europe in May.
There are several must-see places to enjoy in Europe’s 2018 Capital of Culture, but you should start in the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Twice daily (Midday and 4pm) throughout May, the Saluting Battery tradition of greeting international shipping vessels is upheld. A single cannon is fired across the harbour to offer a uniquely Maltese welcome. It makes for an excellent introduction to Maltese life.
As Valletta is less than 1km wide and only 1.5km long, it is fairly easy to explore the entire city on foot . In May, the temperatures won’t be too high so you will be able to navigate the cobbled, steep city streets without getting too hot and tired.
Start your walk at the top of Valletta at the New City Gate and head down towards Fort St Elmo on the coast. This route will take you past many of Valletta’s architectural highlights.
Finally, you wouldn’t be paying a true visit to the Maltese archipelago without heading out to sea. There are numerous daily boat excursions setting sail from Valletta that take you out to the stunning Blue Lagoon.
In May, the weather is calm enough to enjoy the sail over to the Island of Comino, but without the multitude of boats that make the journey in July and August.
Valletta is one of the forgotten places to visit in Europe and May is the best time to take advantage of this.
The average temperature for Malta in May is around 77 Fahrenheit. Accordingly, you will be able to experience the famous Mediterranean warmth without it being too hot to explore.
However, your packing list for Malta and Gozo should always include something to keep you warm in the cooler evenings.
Luqa International Airport is the only airport that serves the Maltese Islands. From the airport, it is a 20-minute drive to the centre of Valletta.
A well populated taxi-stand and several bus options make it relatively simple to get to the heart of Valletta from the airport.
San Sebastian, Spain
By Kat From Biker Girl Life
If you’re looking for one of the best cities to visit in Europe in May, then head to San Sebastien in Spain .
This vibrant city is wonderful in May. It’s the perfect weather to explore the city, full of small winding streets, great bars, jazz music, fashionable shops and jazz – lots and lots of jazz! There are also some wonderful beaches and great hikes in the area.
One of the best things about visiting in May is the Olatu-Talka Festival, which usually takes place the last weekend in May. This local festival was started in 2010 as a way for the city to become a European Cultural Capital.
The festival was such a success that the locals decided to make it an annual event (and the city is now a Capital of European Culture)!
Each year, the format of the festival changes. People send their suggestions and ideas to the organisers, who then choose the best ones. Concerts, workshops, markets and local fairs are set up across the city. Locals are encouraged to take part and showcase any hidden talents- it’s a fun atmosphere and there’s so much to see over the weekend.
Whilst you’re in the area, be sure to catch the funicular cable car on Ondarreta beach. You can go up to the top of Mount Igueldo, where you can enjoy fantastic views over the harbour, the town and the Bay of Biscay. There’s also an amusement park with a roller coaster, water rides and bumper cars.
For surfing and beautiful beaches, head to La Zurriola right in the heart of San Sebastian. Alternatively, try Mundaka just along the coast, which holds international surfing competitions.
Lastly, don’t miss the chance to wander around the historic old town , Parte Vieja.
If you’re motorcycling in Spain , you can take advantage of the free parking. There are plenty of narrow cobblestone streets, tapas bars, restaurants, shops, churches and galleries to explore.
San Sebastian is lovely in May, with an average temperatures of 65 degrees Fahrenheit and around 13 hours of sunshine each day.
The nearest airport is Biarritz Pays Basque Airport, only 20 miles (32 km) from the city. Bilbao is also quite close, at just 72 miles (117 km).
Kat says, “Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra is an excellent choice which is right on the seafront.”
Prague, Czech Republic
By Samantha from The Wandering Wanderluster
The month of May is a wonderful month for a European holiday. Prague, in the Czech Republic is a beautiful city and one of the best places to explore in Europe in May when the city is in full spring bloom.
Peak tourist season begins in June, so by visiting in May you’ll not only benefit from shoulder season hotel and flight prices but comfortable temperatures. It is an ideal time for strolling around the city in a light jacket and taking in the sights with fewer crowds.
In addition, there is so much to see and do in Prague .
May is known as the most romantic month of the year in the Czech Republic. On the 1st of May, couples celebrate the Czech version of Valentine’s Day. It is tradition to kiss for good luck under a blossoming cherry tree.
While the spring cherry blossoms in Prague typically bloom in March and April, it is not unusual to see the trees across Petrin Hill and in many of the parks still flourishing in early May.
May also marks the beginning of the festival season, when many of the bars and restaurants officially open their outdoor seating areas. Enjoy a gastronomical experience while appreciating the spired skyline from a rooftop bar or Villa Richter’s terrace amongst the growing vines.
Take a shopping trip to a local farmers market along the river at Náplavka, a place where many food and family friendly festivals are often held throughout the month.
Beer lovers will want to schedule their trip to coincide with the annual Czech beer festival that takes place in mid-May in Letna Park. It is a unique opportunity to try a variety of different beers from a number of breweries from all over the Czech Republic under one tent.
If you miss the festival, then hop into a warm beer bath with your friends or loved ones! With unlimited beer and a massage , it is an amazing way to spend an hour or two.
In May, expect temperatures in the mid 60s.
It is only a 30 minute drive from the airport to the center of Prague.
Samantha says, “Stay at the newly renovated Mosaic House Design Hotel to enjoy not only a comfortable and stylish stay but a central location. It is just minutes walk from top sights including the Dancing House, Náplavka River Side, and Nove Mesto shopping districy. In addition, it is a 10 minute walk to historic sights including the Old Town Square and Charles Bridge.”
By Leyla from Women On The Road
Dijon is a stunning city with beautiful architecture and captivating history on every street. It is one of the best cities to visit in May in Europe.
The most delightful thing to do in Dijon is follow the Dijon Owl’s Trail , a marked city route designed to guide you to its most worthwhile attractions. There are many including the architectural complex of the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy. Consider sauntering along the winding cobblestoned streets and admire its half-timbered houses. A free shuttle bus will ferry you if your feet need a break.
An equally lovely stop is Les Halles, the city’s covered market (it is also one of the stops marked along the Owl’s Trail). The market has quite a history: it was almost razed in that crazy wave of “modernization” that hit many cities during the 1970s. Rather than ending up as a parking lot, it was listed as a National Monument and saved.
Dijon is known for its food so take a tour and discover local specialties to sample in the market, including great cheeses and meats. Grab a selection and head out to the Darcy Gardens for a picnic.
Dijon is also beautiful from above, and you’ll get a wonderful sense of it by climbing the 15 th -century Philippe le Bon tower – all 316 steps of it. The tower itself is relatively plain, although several small statues dot the walls as you go up. You can stop and admire them while catching your breath.
Once you reach the top, you will feel the beautiful spring air. You will also see vibrant colors, such as the red roofs that stand out distinctly among the dozens of churches and manor houses, a reminder that Dijon was once the capital of Burgundy.
Two wonderful festivals take place in May within an hour’s drive of Dijon: Les Montgolfiades, a three-day hot air balloon extravaganza in Chalon-sur-Saône, and the Medieval Festival in Semur-en-Auxois, a pretty medieval town.
Despite the exciting attractions outside the city in May, Dijon will be difficult to leave.
In May, it is sunny at least a third of the time, with average temperatures of 63°F, although it can get distinctly warmer. The weather is perfect for walking around – which you’ll do a lot of in Dijon – but without the hordes of tourists that will ultimately descended upon the city in the summer.
Most people who arrive by air land in Paris or Lyon (two hours by train to Dijon) or Geneva, Switzerland, which takes a little longer.
Leyla says, “Vertigo Hotel is a cool, modern and very offbeat hotel right near the Porte Guillaume, a stone’s throw from the old town.”
By Kat from World Wide Honeymoon
Budapest is one of the best places to visit in Europe in May. It is shoulder season which means you’ll face fewer tourists in the popular spots in the city, and hotel prices will likely be far lower than peak season. Also, the weather is a pleasant compromise between the cold winters and hot summers the city often sees.
Something you’ll have to do during a trip to Budapest is visit the bathhouses. These natural thermal baths are all over the city. They are the perfect thing to do whether you want to relax mid-day or party it up at night.
Szechenyi Baths is easily the most popular and largest bathhouse in the city with ornate neo-Baroque architecture. Gellert is also very popular, and for a fun rooftop hot tub, visit Rudas Baths.
You’ll also want to walk across the Chain Bridge and wander up to Fisherman’s Bastion on the Buda side of the Danube River. This scenic walk offers stunning views of the city.
To wrap up a perfect day in Budapest, you should catch a stunning sunset while taking a boat cruise on the Danube river . Watch as the Hungarian Parliament Building and Fisherman’s Bastion light up and twinkle in the evening.
Budapest has quite a few festivals during the month of May that are fun to attend like the Gourmet Festival Budapest celebrating Hungarian food. In addition, Budapest Folk Fest is a four day festival dedicated to Hungarian folklore heritage.
Budapest is easily a must-visit destination for any European vacation, but in May, it is one of the best times to go.
With average temperatures hovering around 68-70ºF during the day and 50-57ºF at night, you’ll enjoy walking around the city in May.
This central European city is also easy to reach thanks to the Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport. It is only 30 minutes from downtown by car or public transport.
Kat says, “For a fantastic stay in Budapest, the Continental Hotel Budapest has gorgeous rooms, a rooftop pool and terrace, and beautiful architecture.”
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
By Anne from Packing Light Travel
One of the best getaways in Europe in May is the Unesco listed Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. Water levels are at their highest, trees flaunt a variety of rich green hues, and spring-blooming plants add complementary colours to the landscape. Daytime temperatures make it very pleasant for hiking the many trails crisscrossing the park. In addition, there are fewer visitors compared to the busier summer months.
The distances from Zagreb or Split make a day trip possible, especially on a tour , but the National Park is best appreciated with a two-day visit if you can manage the time.
You can explore the higher trails that offer stunning views and hike the more popular boardwalks and trails before and after day trippers arrive and depart. It also allows you to enter when the park opens and stay until it closes, with opportunities to photograph in various shades of light. There are 22 kilometres of trails throughout the lake system and an additional 36 kilometres of hiking trails.
One-day and two-day tickets are available online or at park entrances. During busier periods, online tickets may be sold out and therefore, not available at the entrances. The admission price includes transportation on the panoramic train and the electric boat on Lake Kozjak.
In May, daytime temperatures hover around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Two international airports place travellers within easy reach of the National Park. Pick up a rental car and drive 87 miles (140-kilometres) from Zagreb airport or 132 miles (213-kilometres) from Split airport.
Anne says, “Having a vehicle makes it easier to enjoy the local hospitality and home-cooked meals offered by the many private accommodation providers located outside the Park.
However, there are four hotels within the Park, so this is another option, along with Borje Camp that opens in May for the season.”
By Jordan from Hamburg And Beyond
After a cold and wet winter , Hamburg comes alive again in May and is one of the best places in Europe for a late spring trip.
Located in Northern Germany, this port city celebrates its birthday with a big boat parade in early May. Over 830 years old, “Hafengeburtstag” or “Harbor Birthday”is a giant festival along the Elbe River that includes over 1 million spectators and 300 ships. Besides the parade of ships, there’s live music, traditional Northern German food like fish sandwiches and beer, and a wide array of entertainment options.
There’s so much more to Hamburg in May than just Hafensgeburtstag. Rising high above the Elbe River, make sure to go up to the Elbphilharmonie’s viewing platform. This state-of-the-art concert hall in the shape of a wave offers unparalleled views of the river and the entire city. You can also take a tour of this impressive concert hall .
If you’re musically inclined, try to catch a performance. The tickets are reasonably priced and the musical acts include world-class performers.
Head out to the Speicherstadt, the old warehouse district in Hamburg and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Germany . With the old cobblestone streets and brick buildings, it’s photogenic and filled with cute cafes and outdoor restaurants.
While the dreary winter weather is over by May, there still might be a bit of a chill in the air. The average temperature is around 60 F and you may get the occasional rain shower.
If flying into the city, Hamburg Airport is a short 20-minute train ride from the city center. It is also reasonably well-connected to other European destinations. However, if coming from another continent, it’s easiest to connect to Hamburg through London , Amsterdam, Paris, or Frankfurt.
Jordan says, “If you feel like splurging, book a room inside the Elbphilharmonie at The Westin hotel for a luxurious experience.”
Larnaca , Cyprus
By Ciara from Wellness Travel Diaries
Anytime of year, the beautiful island of Cyprus welcomes visitors and locals to embrace its magnificent sunshine. It offers gorgeous coastlines, a ghost town, vibrant beaches, and ruins.
However, if you’re looking for one of the best holiday destinations in Europe in May, taking a road trip through Cyprus to visit the magnificent beach city of Larnaca is a must.
In May, Larnaca’s weather is absolutely stunning. There are few tourists because the island only begins to open up from the winter season in May. Car rentals are also cheaper than summer making it even more affordable to effortlessly travel around the city and Cyprus.
In Larnaca, you’ll find a delightful beachfront promenade packed with tasty eateries, and shops right across from the beach. There’s vegan food, gluten-free choices, fresh seafood and more. Stay in this area to explore the Medieval Castle that sits right on the water. Climb to the top for a scenic view of the beach and promenade.
Wander to the heart of the city to experience even more of the city. Here you’ll find museums and shops.
Considering taking a day trip to the famous Cape Greco — a National Park. You will be able to witness lush wilderness, cliffs and bask in the incredible views of the clear blue seas.
During the month of May, Larnaca offers sunshine, warmth, and temperatures around 80 degrees.
Fly into Larnaca International Airport — the biggest airport in the country. You are only a few minutes away from the center of Larnaca.
Ciara says, “In the heart of the city, you will find the Josephine Boutique Hotel. It’s the perfect destination for city dwellers looking for beachy vibes.
If you’re craving a hotel closer to the water, head over to the Napa Mermaid Hotel & Suite. It’s not in Larnaca, but it’s a quick drive to town.
By Helen from Helen On Her Holidays
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and one of the best vacation spots in Europe for a May getaway. In May, the city comes back to life after the long Baltic winter. Everyone is outside enjoying the first warm days of summer and the skies are filled with hot air balloons.
Start your adventure by taking a hot air balloon ride over Vilnius to appreciate this beautiful city with a gorgeous old town and lots to do. At one end of the old town, you’ll find Cathedral Square. The cathedral itself is breathtaking – a classical, bright white wedding cake of a building with a separate tower. In front of the tower there’s a “miracle stone”. Close your eyes and spin around three times while making a wish and it is sure to be granted.
Vilnius Cathedral is watched over by Gediminas Tower, which is the only remaining part of Vilnius’s castle. There are great views across the city from the tower.
No visit to Vilnius is complete without a visit to the Republic of Užupis. Užupis is an area of Vilnius which declared itself independent in 1997. The tiny nation has its own flag and constitution. The constitution is displayed on a wall near the centre of Užupis and is well worth a read.
Street Music Day is an annual event which takes place each May. From around lunchtime until late evening, seemingly every street corner in the city centre becomes its own concert venue. The range and quality of performers is astounding – walking down central Pilies Street, you can see folk musicians playing traditional instruments, rock bands, jazz bands and acoustic singer-songwriters. It’s a really magical and joyful sight.
In May, the average high is a very pleasant 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
Getting to Vilnius is easy. The city has a very convenient airport just 3.5 miles (6 km) from the city centre. Buses and trains link the two.
Helen says, “Hotels are generally very reasonably priced, but the Artagonist Art Hotel is a particularly good choice for its central location, quirky, artist-decorated rooms and fantastic breakfast.”
By Sinead from York With Kids
Yorkshire is one of the best destinations to visit in Europe in May as lighter, warmer days are ideal for exploring all the outdoor attractions Yorkshire has to offer.
In the Yorkshire Dales, visit the 230-foot-high natural stone amphitheatre, Malham Cove and enjoy local walks to Gordale Scar gorge, Janet’s Foss waterfall and Malham Tarn (Yorkshire dialect for a lake).
May will see Yorkshire’s waterfalls in peak flow so make a stop at Aysgarth Falls and Hardraw Force, England’s highest single drop waterfall.
May is also the peak month for wildflowers at Muker in the northern Dales. Visitors can walk on specially laid paths that wind through seven meadows awash with colourful wildflowers.
For a change of pace, visit the vibrant City of York, famous for its cobbled streets, Georgian and Victorian architecture and Viking history. Tour York Minster, the largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe or explore one of the city’s museums such as the Jorvik Centre or York Castle Museum.
For a special treat, walk York’s medieval era walls, the longest city walls in England, the slopes of which are bathed in pink cherry blossoms in May.
In May, you can expect pleasantly warm sunny days (with an average temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit) though pack some wet weather gear for occasional spring rain showers.
Visitors can fly into Leeds Bradford International Airport and pick up a rental car . It is a 1 ½ hour drive from the heart of the Yorkshire Dales and just 1 hour by car to the City of York.
Sinead says, “In the Yorkshire Dales, The Lister Arms in rural Malham offers a cosy, country stay. In York, Dean Court Hotel has an unbeatable location tucked inside the city walls directly opposite York Minster.”
By Anca from Dream Book And Travel
Austria’s capital is famous worldwide for its classical music, coffee and cafe culture, its rich history, grand architecture and gourmet traditions. In May, Vienna is also one of the best European holiday destinations.
First of all, the fine weather allows you to enjoy the city’s best activities. Those include outdoor seating at restaurants and cafes, visiting lively parks and beer gardens, taking a horse-drawn carriage ride , having fun at the Prater (an amusement park) or cruising along the Danube .
Secondly, the Wiener Festwochen ( festive days of the city) is held which is meant to kick-start the tourist season. A contemporary art festival dating back to the 1950s, the Wiener Festwochen combines theatre, dance, music, fine arts, installation, workshops, and new art forms to illustrate the complexity, globalization and individualization of artistic discourse.
Outdoor and indoor venues across the city host these events, allowing you to not only experience locations otherwise not included in typical tourist itineraries but also to mingle with locals who thoroughly enjoy this festival.
For those who prefer the more classical arts, concert venues and opera houses are still open before the final curtain falls for the summer break at the end of June.
In addition, you can experience the Viennese cultural scene authentically before all venues switch to touristy productions for the summer season.
Vienna is a particularly well suited destination for a spring getaway. With an average temperature of about 16.5C (61.7F), the month of May is the best time to visit Vienna .
Most days are sunny and pleasant during this time but do bring warm clothes. Occasionally, there are windy, cold, and rainy streaks that last for a couple of days.
Vienna is easily reachable from around the world through its first-class international airport. There is excellent public transport that connects it to the city center (about 12.5 miles or 20 km)
Anca says, “If you are looking for amazing and atmospheric hotels close to the city center, we recommend Hotel Stefanie, Vienna’s oldest hotel. Alternatively, consider Hotel Beethoven Vienna, located close to the famous Naschmarkt, the city’s most celebrated market.
By Cristina from My Little World Of Travelling
Located in Southern Spain, Marbella is one of the most visited towns in the Costa del Sol and one of the best beach destinations to visit on a European trip in May. You will enjoy fewer crowds, as July and August are the busiest months, and the weather allows you to enjoy the beaches and explore.
There are many things to do in Marbella – from relaxing on the beautiful beaches to exploring its Old Town where you will find Plaza de Los Naranjos, a lovely square surrounded by restaurants and cafes.
From this square, there are narrow whitewashed streets that take you to beautiful little corners and Nerja’s church. Carmen street is a must-see where you will see blue plant pots with bright flowers hanging on the wall and an incredible view of the church.
Other great activities include going on tapas tours to try the local cuisine such as “pescaito frito” (fried fish) and walking along the lively beach promenade.
In May, the average highest temperature is 75ºF and the lowest is 57ºF. There are barely any rainy days.
The nearest airport to Marbella is Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport which is about a 45-minute drive by car or bus. Consider renting a car to not only explore Marbella, but also other beautiful beaches along the Costa del Sol.
Cristina says, “If you’re looking for where to stay in Marbella, there is a good variety of accommodation, so it really depends on your preferences. For a unique and cosy experience, stay at The Pearl Luxury B&B, located in the laid-back area of Las Chapas.”
St. Petersburg, Russia
By Anna from Travel Cultura
In the calendar, May holds the last days of spring. However, in St Petersburg, May is only the beginning of spring when warm weather finally arrives, trees turn green, and flowers start to bloom.
May is also the beginning of the “season of white nights”. It is the multi-month period ending in August when the sun almost never sets because of its proximity to the Arctic Circle. For these reasons and more, St. Petersburg is one of the best European cities to spend time in May.
One of the best things to do in St. Petersburg is to wander in the historic centre of the city and explore the landmarks of Saint Petersburg – the Winter Palace, Palace Square, Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, the Summer Garden, the Bronze Horseman, and others. You may also want to take a boat tour on rivers and channels and see the best of Saint Petersburg from the water.
Cultural life in Saint Petersburg is always vivid, but in May, many events take place outdoors. The Labour Day demonstrations are held on May 1. May 9 is another important date for all Russians as it is the Day of Victory in World War II. In addition, on May 27, Saint Petersburg celebrates its birthday.
Each of these holidays is joyful for locals of and visitors to the city. There are outdoor concerts, exhibitions, and fireworks in the evening. There is even a Victory Parade on Nevsky Prospect and Palace Square.
The weather in May evolves significantly. There is snow at the beginning then hits +68 o F (+20°C) by the end of the month. But whenever you plan to visit Saint Petersburg in May, bring layers, and a wind and waterproof jacket.
Anna says, “To fully enjoy your stay in Saint Petersburg, opt for a hotel in the centre of the city. One of the best options is Moika Kempinski which is situated in the heart of Saint Petersburg. You will be close to all the main sights of the city.
Altlernatively, check Akyan Hotel which is smaller and cosier (and has a great location too!)”
By Kat from Wandering Bird Motorhome Adventures
If you’re looking for somewhere spectacular to visit in May, head to Cannes and the French Riviera. It is one of the best beach destinations to visit in May in Europe.
This incredible stretch of coastline is one of the most famous in Europe and boasts beautiful beaches, wonderful weather and marinas with some of the biggest super yachts you’ve ever seen.
Most people come to the area to soak up the sunshine but, if you visit in May, you can spend most of your time looking for celebrities. May is when the Cannes Film Festival runs and it’s not uncommon to see actors, producers and other famous faces from the movie industry strolling down the streets.
The film festival is held at the Palais des Festivales and the red carpet is left out most of the year, so if you visit when the festival isn’t on, you can still get a fabulous photo of yourself on it!
The main place to go to star spot is La Croisette- a beach and promenade where everyone goes to ‘be seen’. You’ll pay top price for a hotel here (with private beach) but if you want to be in the action, this is the place to be.
Don’t miss a day trip to the Lerins Islands (particularly Île Sainte-Marguerite) just off the Azur Coast. There are a group of 4 pristine islands, each with their own character. In May, it’s not too busy so you can see them at their best.
And, for food lovers, the covered market of Marché Forville is unmissable; it’s full of delicious local produce and fresh seafood.
In May, the weather averages around 68 degrees Fahrenheit and you’re more likely to get sunshine than not.
The closest international airport for most tourists is Nice but if you have the money or private jet, you can fly into the small airstrip at Cannes itself.
If you’re motorhoming in France , remember that it’s illegal to park on the seafront- you’ll need to find a campsite.
Best Place to Stay
Kat says, “Finding nice and inexpensive accommodation in May might be a challenge. However, take a look at Hôtel des Orangers. It is close to the beach.”
By Missy from Travels With Missy
Antwerp, Belgium is one of those rare undiscovered gems of a city. Not many people know of it or bypass it for other more popular destinations in Belgium, such as Bruges or Brussels. But this city sparkles in comparison to its neighbouring touristy cities and will reward visitors with dazzling architecture, fantastic shopping and compactness.
May is one of the best months to travel to Antwerp. After a long grey winter, May is when the city begins to shine again. The beer gardens and terraces come alive, the flowers are blooming and the weather really warms up as the month draws to a close. The bus loads of tourists haven’t arrived and the city is at its most beautiful.
Antwerp makes a fantastic city break with excellent museums. The Red Star Line Museum focuses on the role Antwerp Port played with European emigration during the late 19th century. Its interactive displays and heartbreaking stories will leave you astounded at the lengths people went to make America their new home.
Located just off the shopping street, Meir, you will find the former home of Peter Paul Rubens. Rubens was Antwerps most famous resident in the 16th century and used his home as a studio as well as living quarters. The recent refurbishment of Rubens’ former gardens is an incredible way to spend an afternoon.
The end of May marks the beginning of the “summer bars” in Antwerp. Set up across the city, you will find ‘Zommerbars’ pop up along the river Scheldt or in nooks and crannies around the city. The locations change from year to year, but you can find staples such as Bar Chapel returning each year. The summer bars are fantastic places to grab a drink and indulge in artisanal beers and food.
You can expect warm weather, reaching the 80s as the month draws to a close.
Most visitors will arrive by train to Antwerp Centraal Station, voted one of Europe’s most beautiful train stations. With easy connections from Brussels and Amsterdam, you can connect via Brussel Zaventem Airport or Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and catch a direct train from both airports to Antwerp.
Missy says, “Hilton Antwerp is located in the heart of the old town and is a wonderful base for those who want proximity to great restaurants, bars and culture. Located underneath the spire of the Antwerp Cathedral, the Hilton Antwerp is a 4 star hotel and is a short tram ride from Antwerp Centraal Station.”
By Erin from Pina Travels
Being the most southern point in Italy, Sicily is known for being super hot throughout summer. This is why Palmero is one of the best cities to visit in Europe in May. You will enjoy beautiful weather and it is just the start of tourist season. In addition, there are less crowds in the city, making for a more relaxing trip.
May is also when the Settimana delle Cultura is held. It’s an annual week-long festival that highlights cultural activities, concerts, exhibitions and much more.
While visiting this historic city, be sure to visit Palermo’s famous architectural sites. Quattro Canti, a Baroque square that was built in the early 1600s, is in the centre of the city. This square is at the intersection of two streets, and on each corner is a facade that features an in-built fountain and statue of a patron saint.
From there, it’s a short walk to Fontana della Vergogna. This beautiful fountain was built in Florence, and then transferred to Palermo in 1574.
Another essential spot to visit is the Palermo Cathedral, which was built in 1184. For just a few euros, you can climb several steep flights of stairs to the roof of the cathedral, where you’ll take in gorgeous views of the city.
And of course, you can’t visit Palermo without trying some of the region’s local cuisine. Take food tour and head to one of Palermo’s many food markets, and be sure to try Sicilian dishes like Pasta con Le Sarde, arancini, cannoli, and granita.
Throughout May, the temperature is in the 70s, and the sun is shining with very little rain.
To reach Palermo, fly into Falcone Borsellino Airport (PMO), also known simply as “Palermo Airport.” Once you land, it’s an easy 45 minute drive by rental car or taxi from the airport to the city centre.
Erin says, “There are plenty of reasonably priced accommodations to choose from, like the Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa.”
If you wish to spend an extended time in Sicily, one of the most beautiful places in the world, take a look at our 12 day road trip in Sicily . We almost circumvented the whole island during our time there and loved every spot, including Palermo. We visited in October so our experiences would be similar to going in May in terms of temperature and crowds.
By Sophie and Adam from We Dream Of Travel
Located in the Andalusia region of southern Spain, Seville is easily one of the best cities in Spain and Europe in May. Expect warm weather, beautiful architecture, lavish gardens, and a festive atmosphere.
The balmy temperatures make it ideal for spending a few days in Seville , exploring the city, discovering more about its rich history and opulent palaces, meandering through its many exotic gardens, and indulging in tapas in open plazas.
One of the main highlights of Seville is Real Alcázar. Perhaps the most iconic site in Seville, Alcázar was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It is the oldest royal residence in Europe that is still in use and contains over a millennia of history. No trip to Seville is complete without taking a tour of the Royal Palace .
From there, take a stroll to Plaza de España. Tucked away at the edge of María Luisa park, this spectacular plaza and surrounding buildings date back to 1928. With its red brick facade and intricately decorated alcoves, it remains one of the most impressive plazas in Spain. The warm weather in May makes it the perfect place to enjoy an afternoon.
Additionally, the beginning of May sees Seville’s most anticipated fiesta of the year; the iconic Feria de Abril. Despite its name, which means “April Fair”, the festival often takes place in early May as it is always two weeks after Semana Santa. During this time, the city comes alive with flamenco dancing, horseback parades, finely dressed “Sevillanas” and an abundance of sherry!
It is worth planning a visit to Seville in May just for this event!
One of the best things about Seville in May is the perfect weather. At this time of year, Seville has average day time highs in the 70s Fahrenheit (20s Celsius) and only about six days of rain throughout the month.
For most, the best way to reach Seville will be via plane, although it is also well connected by bus and train. The airport, Aeropuerto de Sevilla-San Pablo, serves both domestic and international flights, and is just a 20-minute drive from the city.
Sophie and Adam say, “To avoid disappointment, ensure you book accommodation in Seville far in advance as May is one of the more popular times to visit. Melia Sevilla is an excellent option. It is ideally located next to María Luisa Park and Plaza de España, in the heart of the April Fair festivities . Plus, if you need a break from all the action, you can relax beside its rooftop pool.”
May is a fantastic time to visit Europe. Typically, there is beautiful weather for exploring and the summer crowds have not yet arrived. In addition, it is shoulder season for most destinations so you should be able to find excellent deals on flights and hotels. One of the biggest problems with traveling in Europe in May will be choosing where to go first. Good luck and safe travels!
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Your Guide To The Best Places to Visit in Europe in May 2023
Travel Your Guide To The Best Places to Visit in Europe in May 2023
Europe in May celebrates the onset of sunny months ahead. With flowers blossoming and outdoor activities picking up pace again, it is surely a wonderful time to be travelling within the continent. Safe to say, May is the calm before the storm - right before the crowds swarm in to enjoy their summer vacations, making it an even more viable destination for travellers looking for some tranquility and peace. Pleasant weather being just one of the brownie points - affordable accommodation, cheap flight tickets, open air festivals only scratch the surface of the merits in May.
10 Best Places to Go in Europe in May
Pack your bags for a holiday that you’ve been waiting to take, and take a look at ten of the best places to visit in Europe during May.
Average high: 19°c | average low: 8°c.
A much sought after destination at any given point through the year, Munich comes alive especially around summer as tourists from all over the world stop by for its Frühlings fest in May. Although smaller than the iconic Oktoberfest, Frühlingsfest (Springfest) brings with it all the perks of the Oktoberfest, minus the crowds! This mini Oktoberfest fills the entire city with energy and enthusiasm and obviously lots of beer and dancing. For a slightly quieter time, take a stroll amidst its expansive beer gardens and sample some beer from some of the local breweries. With the pleasant weather cooperating with your elaborate plans, Munich in May is quite the terrific decision.
Top Recommended Experiences in Munich
San Sebastian, Spain
Average high: 18°c | average low: 12°c.
What could be a better way of enjoying summer than to spend it on a beachfront? San Sebastian in Spain offers you all that, and more during the month of May. Take a relaxing vacation on one of the most beautiful bays of Europe, and enjoy the getaway you have always imagined of! What makes this destination perfect is the number of museums, breathtaking architecture and its one too many shopping hubs that dot its cityscape. Spain during the month of May also witnesses a bloom of wildflowers and lush greenery - the perfect time to hike with a view.
Average high: 15°c | average low: 7°c.
A lesser known holiday destination that is slowly gaining popularity within travel enthusiasts is Stavanger . Known for its panoramic landscapes and verdant greenery, Stavanger is ideal for those who wish for a little adventure on their itinerary. While there are a few beaches along its coastline, Stavanger is widely preferred for its flora and fauna. Often popular with the trekkers, this destination also provides great opportunities for shutterbugs interested in taking home picture-perfect social media posts from their holiday. Blessed with a pleasant climate and hardly any snow, Stavanger in May is perhaps the much-needed offbeat holiday destination that you should put on your list.
Average high: 15°c | average low: 6°c.
While Dublin is quite popular with tourists in summer, visiting in May will provide you some respite from the peak season crowds. With plenty of scope for fun activities around the city, you may find several cook-outs as well as food and music festivals taking place towards the end of the month. If you’re lucky, you may also have a chance to witness Phoenix Park (considered as one of the most beautiful parks of Europe) in its blooming phase during this time of the year. Catch a moment of silence at Dublin’s famous art district and stroll amidst its leafy suburbs — there’s something for everyone.
Average high: 20°c | average low: 12°c.
With its quintessential narrow, cobbled-stone lanes and charming houses, Porto in Portugal is considered as one of the most romantic destinations of Europe. Find yourselves making the most of the quaint by-lanes and the contemporary art at some of its famous museums. Hopping onboard a helicopter ride is also a sought after attraction in Porto, and explorers find themselves indulging in various adventure activities around the city. Visiting in May can spare you from the peak season crowds at Bolhao market, located in the heart of the city. In fact, you may find yourself being treated to a myriad of colours with the finest wine during this time of the year.
Average high: 19°c | average low: 9°c.
With sprawling, green meadows and fresh piney air, Montreux in Switzerland is quite popular with the tourists around the year. However, visiting it in May is the best time to watch these landscapes come alive with blooming trees and flowers. Take some time off to rejuvenate at the Lake, or simply catch a few pages of your favourite book at one of its quaint, road-side cafés — there will be no dearth of activities during this time of the year. With several other cities located in close distance, Montreux is also a great place to be if you’re looking for one-day trips around Switzerland.
Average high: 20°c | average low: 11°c.
If you’ve always wanted to put Paris on your list, but didn’t want to battle the peak-season crowds, May is your month to travel to your dream destination. With little to no crowd during the beginning of the month, Paris could be a great destination to travel with your family or friends. Catch a cabaret show at Moulin Rouge, or simply head over to Disneyland Paris to enjoy the park without any hassles. A boat ride down the Seine during this time of the year can also acquaint you to the city in a brand new light.
Paris Itineraries | Paris Travel Guide | Paris on a Budget | Seine Dinner Cruises | Paris Deals & Offers | Paris City Passes | Best Paris Cabarets
Read More About Paris In May
Top Recommended Experiences in Paris
Average high: 25°c | average low: 16°c.
Discover one of the greatest civilisations in the world in all its glory. Athens is a great destination to choose if you’re travelling in the month of May, as the city offers affordable accommodation closer to the heart of the city. Apart from being a hub for history and art enthusiasts, May is a great month to enjoy shopping in Athens without the exhausting crowd that haunts the city otherwise. You may take a guided tour at the Acropolis, or could choose to use the hop on hop off bus which is convenient for travellers who wish to explore at their own pace.
Average High: 18°C | Average Low: 10°C
A melting-pot of cultures, London is, perhaps, popular in every season. While it is almost impossible to avoid crowd, you can get lucky with off-season prices in the month of May. Whether you choose to hang around in one of its many boroughs, or decide to head over to Harrods for some afternoon-shopping — London has a lot to offer during the onset of summer. Look out for offers at the Warner Bros studio or the famous Tower Bridge that are easily available during this time of the year. Despite its unpredictable weather, London in May is a pleasant surprise waiting to be discovered.
London Itineraries | London Airport Transfers | River Thames Cruises | London Travel Guide | Hampton Court Palace | London Palace Pass | The Shard
Read More About London In May
Top Recommended Experiences in London
Average high: 18°c | average low: 5°c.
Tourists flock to Amsterdam every year in summer to catch it blooming after a hiatus of winter. However, Amsterdam in May is not only quieter, but is less expensive as compared to its peak season. Make the most of your holiday by walking by some of its famous canals or by opting for a guided tour at the iconic Van Gogh museum. The month of May is also a great time to bike around the city, and catch it welcoming the spring season in all its glory. This is also an ideal time to catch some of its famous outdoor festivals taking place at its various parks and plazas.
Amsterdam 7 Day Itineraries | Best Time To Visit Amsterdam | Heineken Experience | Amsterdam Travel Tips & Hacks | Anne Frank Walking Tour
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For more bucketlist travel experiences around the world, check out the Ultimate 2020 Bucket List Adventures
Europe Through The Year
Best Places To Visit In Europe In January
Best Places To Visit In Europe In February
Best Places To Visit In Europe In March
Best Places To Visit In Europe In April
Best Places To Visit In Europe In May
Best Places To Visit In Europe In June
Best Places To Visit In Europe In July
Best Places To Visit In Europe In August
Best Places To Visit In Europe In September
Best Places To Visit In Europe In October
Best Places To Visit In Europe In November
Best Places To Visit In Europe In December
Born to parents bit by the wander bug, Lakshmi calls her love for travel "hereditary and habitual". Perpetually ensconced with a book in her hand and a mug of coffee in the other, she has been to over 15 countries in her 23 years of existence and is currently saving miles and money for her solo trip to Iceland. Always hustling towards the least trodden path, she has encountered some wonderful people during her escapades and if you ever meet her, she won't stop gushing about them.
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Where is hot in May in Europe? Eight spring holiday destinations you wouldn’t expect
The hottest european temperatures in may are seen in greece, italy, spain and turkey, article bookmarked.
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Balearic Island Formentera offers nine hours of bright sunshine a day
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Spring has certainly sprung in the UK and we’ve seen a lot more sunshine appear in recent weeks. While the temperature is steadily rising, it’s safe to say British weather can be unpredictable – so we can’t guarantee any scorching hot days soon.
For wall-to-wall sunshine in May, your best bet is a trip abroad and many parts of Europe offer hot weather from this month onwards. Whether you fancy a city break or sun lounger escapism, there are plenty of places to peruse.
The hottest temperatures recorded on the Continent throughout May are typically seen in Mediterranean countries such as Greece , Italy , Spain and Turkey . With temperatures ranging from 23-27C and up to 11 hours of sunshine on offer a day, a spring getaway to some of these destinations is an appealing prospect.
From Gozo and Seville to Thessaloniki and Bodrum, we’ve rounded up the spring holiday destinations you wouldn’t expect. Keep scrolling for some hot weather travel inspiration for May.
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Soak up Mediterranean views and visit a medieval citadel
- Average temperature in May : 24C
- Hours of sunshine per day : 9
Malteze island Gozo offers a quieter holiday pace than the mainland – which is just a 45-minute ferry ride away – and you can expect average temperatures of 24C throughout May, as well as around nine hours of sunshine per day. Soak up beautiful Mediterranean views, tuck into local Gozitan cuisine and enjoy meandering along the island’s rural hiking paths. Gozo is just 67sqkm in size and there are 15 bus routes offering a travel network across the island. Visit the capital Rabat (or Victoria as it’s also known), where you’ll find a medieval citadel which is home to the Gran Castello Historic House, the Gozo Museum of Archaeology and Gozo Cathedral. There’s also an open-air market just below the citadel in Independence Square, selling food produce, clothing, and souvenirs. You can also travel by boat to the smaller nearby island Comino from Mġarr Harbour and take a dip in the tempting turquoise Blue Lagoon water.
Read more on Europe travel :
- Best budget European city break destinations
- Is Greece hot in May? When to travel for best weather
- Best hotels in Malaga for beachfront stays and trendy getaways
The Andalusian capital boasts 16th century architecure and modern buildings
- Average temperature in May: 26C
- Hours of sunshine per day: 8
Travel to Seville and soak up eight hours of sunshine a day in May, while also enjoying an average temperature of 26C. The Andalusian capital boasts an array of architecture ranging from modern buildings to historic monuments. Visit Unesco World Heritage Site Seville Cathedral, which is a gothic 16th-century building dating back to Moorish times. Meanwhile, the city’s Alcázar Palace is an 18th-century crowd-pleaser where guided tours are available. Tuck into cheap tapas and visit El Rinconcillo, the oldest bar in Seville, and swing by the Museum of Fine Arts, which hosts paintings from the 12th-18th centuries and also has a courtyard for catching some rays. Head to the Alameda neighbourhood if you fancy doing some shopping, while nearby Triana has a food market.
Lap up sea views and enjoy historic sights
- Average temperature in May : 25C
- Hours of sunshine per day : 8
Thessaloniki reaches a tempting 25C in May, and there are around eight hours of daily sunshine. If you’re seeking sea views and a cultural city break, this is the place to visit. The White Tower of Thessaloniki sits on the seafront and historic sights also include the 4th-century Arch of Galerius and the Rotunda, while the Walls of Thessaloniki surround the city and were built during the Middle Ages. Meanwhile, the Church of St Paul is a modern building, finished in 1987. Head to main street Egnatia for shops, restaurants and bars (and a vibrant nightlife scene). There are several beaches situated within reach of the city, so you can combine relaxation with seeing the sights.
Picturesque whitewashed houses make an ideal holiday backdrop
- Average temperature in May: 27C
- Hours of sunshine per day: 11
Turkey’s Bodrum reaches a whopping 27C in May, and offers up to 11 hours of sunshine a day. The peninsula is located on the southwest coast and looks out onto the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, making it an ideal destination for a May beach break. This pretty port city has picturesque, whitewashed houses and 15th-century Bodrum Castle, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Bodrum is known for its vibrant bars, restaurants and nightlife for those looking to party. There are smaller coastal villages, such as Yalikavak, Turgutreis and Gumusluk, nearby if you prefer staying somewhere a little quieter.
This is a less crowded Balearic option, compared to Ibiza
The smallest of the Balearic Islands, Formentera is situated to the southeast of Ibiza and is a quieter, less crowded holiday destination. Temperatures heat up to an amiable 24C in May, and you can also expect to see around 9 hours of Spanish sunshine per day. There are breath-taking beaches and turquoise waters, plus several towns and resorts to explore, including La Savina, Es Migjorn, Cala Saona, Es Pujols and El Pilar de la Mola. Formentera can be reached by ferry, and it’s worth knowing that vehicle numbers are restricted during the summer to help protect this picturesque isle.
Secret Balearic Islands: an insider’s guide to lesser-known Menorca and Formentera
Survey sweeping scenery and sunbathe on popular beaches
Sorrento is a historic Italian town situated on a peninsula, offering visitors a stunning view over to the Bay of Naples. With average temperatures reaching 26C in May, it’s an ideal time to see the blooming orange blossoms and lemon trees. Plus, there tend to be fewer visitors in May than during the peak summer months. Take in the sweeping scenery, comprising rocky coasts and beaches popular for bathing. Meanwhile, Piazza Tasso is Sorrento’s central square, featuring shops, bars, and restaurants. Just a five-minute walk away you’ll find Chiesa di San Francesco, a 14th-century Franciscan church.
Fig Tree Bay is the most well-known coastal spot, with bars, restaurants and nightlife
- Hours of sunshine per day: 10
This eastern Cyprus resort town has glorious beaches for lazing on a lounger or taking a scenic coastal walk. In May you can expect to lap up around 10 hours of sunshine a day, while temperatures reach 26C. Fig Tree Bay is the most well-known coastal spot, where bars, restaurants and nightlife are also found. You can visit Hellenistic tombs nearby, as well as the Church of Profitis Ilias which leads to a nature trail. Plus, famed party town Ayia Napa is only a 15-minute drive away.
Enjoy hiking trails, watersports and a round of golf
- Average temperature in May: 23C
- Hours of sunshine per day: 9
The Portugese city of Cascais is just 40 minutes from capital Lisbon, and it offers a pleasing 23C daily average temperature in May, as well as nine hours of sunshine. Cultural spots include 19th-century stately home Casa de Santa Maria and the Santa Maria Lighthouse Museum. Outdoor activities include hiking trails, kayaking, paddle boarding and paragliding, and Cascais is famous for its many golf courses too, if you’re looking for a sporty sunshine break. For foodie fans, Fortaleza do Guincho has a Michelin star, and there are plentiful seafood picks across the harbour.
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Europe in Spring: Where to Go in March, April, and May
In March, April, and especially May, some spots in Europe achieve the travel trifecta: pleasant weather, manageable crowds, and reasonable room rates. Other areas of the continent might have more tourists and higher prices this time of year, but often for good reasons—blooming flowers, arts and culture festivals, tasty seasonal cuisine, and memorable Easter celebrations. The collection of vernal vacation ideas that follows spans a range of worthy destinations, from those with mild temps and little jostling for attractions to those that exemplify the season’s spirit of rebirth. Here are the best places in Europe to spring forward. For more seasonal inspiration, check out our roundup of Europe's top summer vacations . Pictured: St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin
WHY GO IN SPRING? Las Fallas, an ephemeral street fest to welcome the season in mid-March To usher in spring with panache and paella , head to the Mediterranean city of Valencia . Every March, the Fallas festival turns the streets into an open-air art gallery displaying hundreds of enormous, wood-and-papier-mâché sculptures called ninots . The multiday event also has parades, fireworks, street food such as pumpkin fritters and Spanish horchata (a sweet drink made with tigernuts instead of rice, as in the Latin American version), elaborate traditional costumes, and a ceremonial offering of flowers to a towering monument of Valencia’s patron saint, Our Lady of the Forsaken. The blooms are then used to create a 15m-(49-ft.)-tall cloak and gown for the monument, making it look like the biggest Rose Parade float ever. At the end of the festival, the ninots are set ablaze—a poignant reminder that spring’s beauty is fleeting.
WHY GO IN SPRING? Tulip mania from April through early May Still the world’s top producer of its favorite flower, the Netherlands looks like it’s been done over each spring by a designer going through a color-blocking phase, with bold reds, pinks, blues, and yellows filling orderly fields and gardens. The largest tulip-growing area is the Noordoostpolder in the central Flevoland province, but there are also substantial bulb fields along the North Sea coast, from the Hague to Alkmaar . Pedal amid the petals on a bike ride, taking frequent stops to feast your eyes. Another extravagant visual binge can be had at the Keukenhof (pictured), a 32-hectare (79-acre) tulip showcase with over 7 million bulbs planted alongside trees, ponds, and windmills. The garden is in Lisse , located about 45km (28 miles) southwest of Amsterdam , where canal cruises of that scenic capital resume each March after a winter hiatus.
WHY GO IN SPRING? Holy Week events—and a chance to spot the pope Crowd sizes are of biblical proportions and you’ll inevitably have to spend long stretches standing around, but it’s impossible not to be awed by the pageantry and ritual of the days leading up to Easter in Rome , even if you’re not Catholic. The pope’s busy schedule includes church services at the Vatican (pictured), a Good Friday procession at the Colosseum during which he visits the Stations of the Cross, and, on Easter Sunday, a mass for 80,000 people in St. Peter’s Square , followed by a blessing delivered from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica . Tickets to all these events are free but must be reserved months in advance—and, needless to say, if you don’t book your hotel room way ahead, too, you’d better pray for a miracle.
WHY GO IN SPRING? Seasonal Lyonnaise cuisine and magnifique May weather Save this one for late spring. The wine region surrounding the Rhône river in southeastern France is still cold and dark in March, but in May the sun comes out and the weather warms up. It's pleasant enough to allow for exploring on foot the area’s medieval farming villages and vineyards, which produce Beaujolais in the north and Côtes du Rhône closer to the Mediterranean. The region’s biggest city, Lyon , is also highly walkable, with winding streets and hidden passageways threading through an elegant collage of ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and contemporary architecture. But it’s the food you’ll be raving about, especially after popping into a few bouchons , the cozy bistros (like the one pictured) serving pike quenelles, pork sausages, praline tarts, and other signature Lyonnaise dishes. Show up in spring to taste what wonders the city’s chefs can work with seasonal produce like apricots and sorrel.
WHY GO IN SPRING? A full slate of arts and culture events The weather is unreliable. After all, this is Scotland . No sooner will you note how well Glasgow ’s green spaces complement the red-sandstone Victorian architecture than a dark mist will move in and turn everything gray. Fortunately, the city stashes its impressive cultural offerings indoors, and in spring, art museums, orchestras, ballet companies, and theater troupes are in full swing. And those are just the permanent institutions. Starting in late February, Glasgow gets a jump on festival season (the focus of which will turn decidedly toward Edinburgh ’s annual performing arts extravaganza come summer) with the Glasgow Film Festival (through early March), followed by the Aye Write! book festival and the Glasgow International Comedy Festival (both held mid- to late March). Every other April, contemporary artists show off their work at the three-week Glasgow International —think Art Basel with a brogue.
Pictured: Since the early 1980s, Glaswegians have maintained a tradition of placing a traffic cone atop the 1844 equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington in front of the Gallery of Modern Art .
WHY GO IN SPRING? Coastal scenery and an Easter fireworks war Sure, it looks peaceful here, but this North Aegean island is the site of a fireworks war that has raged for centuries. On the night before Orthodox Easter (celebrated later than the Easter of Roman Catholics, Protestants, and giant bunnies), parishioners from rival hilltop churches in the town of Vrontados shoot homemade rockets at one another, sending screaming orange streaks into the night sky. The goal is to hit the bell tower of the opposing church. Direct hits are tallied the next morning, ostensibly to declare a victor, but, as often happens in war, the two sides usually come up with differing numbers. The surrounding hills offer the best views of the spectacle. During the daytime, visit an 11th-century Byzantine monastery and stroll on white- and black-sand beaches. The water is too cold for swimming until late May, but you can survey the region from the same spot, Daskalopetra , where alleged Chios native Homer is said to have taught his poems.
WHY GO IN SPRING? St. Patrick’s Day on St. Patrick’s turf In the United States, St. Patrick’s Day is often used as an excuse to chug green beer and don tacky “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” merch. But in Dublin , the holiday is a more restrained and family-friendly celebration of Ireland and its patron saint—except maybe in the crowded Temple Bar district, which temporarily resembles Bourbon Street in New Orleans. To mark March 17 like a Dubliner, pop into a traditional pub with live music or, if you’re really interested in Ireland’s contributions to the field of booze, tour the Guinness Storehouse or Old Jameson Distillery . Dublin's five-day St. Patrick’s Festival features all sorts of events on Irish history, art, music, and literature, culminating in a jolly parade on the big day that starts at Parnell Square and ends, naturally, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral .
WHY GO IN SPRING? White asparagus frenzy from April to June Despite a reputation for subsisting entirely on beer and bratwurst, Germans tend to be passionate about in-season produce—and nothing gets them going like white asparagus. More tender and less bitter than the green variety, the beloved alabaster stalks pop up in farmers’ markets and on restaurant menus across the country from April to June, otherwise known as Spargelzeit (asparagus season). The most common preparation of the vegetable: boiled and smothered in hollandaise and butter. In the northwestern state of Lower Saxony , you can bike or drive along the scenic, 750km (466-mile) Asparagus Road , stopping for 1,000-year-old farm towns such as Nienburg , home of timber-frame buildings and an asparagus museum that crowns an asparagus queen each year. While you’re in the area, swing by Hanover (about 45 minutes away by car) to see the elaborate, 17th-century Herrenhausen Gardens in their full spring splendor.
WHY GO IN SPRING? Easter markets and witchy fun As at Christmastime, Prague ’s Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square (pictured) fill up with dozens of brightly colored wooden huts this time of year. They’re all part of the city’s Easter markets, open every day during the four weeks leading up to the holiday. Handmade lace, blown glass, wooden toys, mulled wine, cold beer, and other Czech specialties are sold, as choirs and folk dancers perform. The only difference between this market and the Christmas one—apart from the warmer temperatures—is that the hot buys aren’t tree ornaments but exquisite painted eggs. A wilder tradition is Witches’ Night ( Pálení čarodějnic ) on April 30, when bonfires topped with rag effigies of witches are built all over the city. After costume parades, concerts, mock trials, and much beer guzzling, the pyres are set alight in a symbolic purge of evil spirits.
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Best Places to Visit in Europe in May 2023
With nature blossoming in a profusion of marvelous colors and fragrances, May is one of the loveliest months in Europe. Many popular European destinations are as stunning as in the summer without being overrun by crowds of tourists.
Besides the pleasant weather and the affordable accommodation prices, many European cities host unique events in May, which can provide visitors with a much more immersive experience than typical sightseeing. If this appeals to you, but you still don’t know where to go to Europe in May, this is a comprehensive list of our top choices.
Table of Contents
Best Places to Go to Europe in May 2023
London, england, for the rhs chelsea flower show.
22nd of May 2023 to 27th of May 2023
Every year in May, one of London’s most interesting neighborhoods becomes the host of a colorful, world-class event: the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The world’s best garden designers, plant specialists, horticultural experts, and florists combine their boldest and most innovative ideas to create stunning botanical displays on the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea.
This world-famous gardening event features original garden designs, exhibits of rare, exotic plants, and exuberant floral artworks, which attract around 150,000 visitors each year. Thankfully, you can be one of them.
Besides, a trip to London it’s impossible not to be outstanding, considering the range of sights, landmarks, and events available in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan and eclectic city. From museums and galleries to outdoor markets and hip neighborhoods, London packs all in.
You might want to check how to spend 7 days in London here .
Munich, Germany for the Springfest Frühlingsfest
21st of April 2023 – 7th of May 2023
If you missed Oktoberfest but you are looking for a similar experience, Munich hosts Frühlingsfest in May. This is a springtime beer festival as fun as Oktoberfest but not as busy or overly touristic. Established in 1965, Frühlingsfest happens on a much smaller scale, with only two large beer tents, whereas the Oktoberfest features fourteen tents.
This is the only major difference, since the spring festival takes place on the same site as Oktoberfest, with the same joyful atmosphere and abundance of fun activities. Needless to say, if you go to Munich in May, you’ll experience the best facet of the Bavarian capital and get the chance to bond with its fun-loving residents.
Outside the festival site, there are plenty of beer gardens to visit where you can sample beer from local breweries. The weather is also lovely so you can spend some time exploring Munich, one of Germany’s most interesting cities, where you can find loads of things to do.
You might be interested in my 3-day Munich itinerary.
Cannes, France, for the Cannes International Film Festival
16th of May 2023 – 27th of May 2023
Renowned for being a place of cultural sophistication and artistic refinement, France has no shortage of interesting events, but nothing tops Cannes International Film Festival, one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, taking place every year on the gorgeous city of Cannes, on the French Riviera.
Although most events are invitation-only, visiting Cannes in this period will bring you around the world’s most popular filmmakers, actors, and celebrities from the entertainment industry. Parties, receptions, and screenings will run continuously throughout the city, some accessible to the general public as well.
If you cannot get on the red carpet, don’t worry. There are plenty of things to do in Cannes. The city abounds in natural and cultural attractions, and you can take your pick, from exploring chic historic neighborhoods to relaxing on the stunning beaches.
Oslo, Norway, for Constitution Day
17th of May 2023
May is an excellent time to visit Norway, not just because the weather is lovely, but also because it is a great time to get a good glimpse into the Norwegian lifestyle by witnessing the National Holiday celebrations. On the 17th of May, Norwegians celebrate the Oslo Constitution Day.
On this date in 1814, Norway was officially declared an independent nation, but the National Holiday is less about nationalism and more about celebrating the country’s unique heritage and culture with an open-air party. The most important moment of this special day is the children’s parade when thousands of Norwegian children take over the streets dressed in traditional folk costumes, accompanied by marching bands.
The spectacular festivity includes people of all ages and the atmosphere is incredibly welcoming and joyful. If you visit Oslo in this period, don’t forget that there are some amazing cultural and architectural sights in the Norwegian capital, including The Viking Ship Museum, the Oslo Opera House, the National Gallery, and the 13th-century Akershus Fortress.
Gardens of England – stately homes with gardens in Full Bloom
Although England is known for its unpleasant weather, surprisingly, the country is one of the best places to visit in Europe in May. With their centuries-old preoccupation for mastering the art of gardening, the English have some of the finest gardens in Europe and there is no better time to take a tour of the most beautiful English gardens than May.
It’s safe to say that this is the month when flowers are in full bloom and can provide the most colorful backdrop to your photos. Moreover, hundreds of charming historic English gardens are open to the general public.
Designed in varying styles by top horticultural experts, the gardens combine lush landscapes with intoxicating fragrances and vibrant colors. Some of the most famous English gardens are Chelsea Physic Garden, Bodnant Gardens, Buscot Park, and Tresco Abbey Gardens.
Spain for the Camino de Santiago
Camino de Santiago has been a popular pilgrimage since the 9th century. Thousands of pilgrims make the journey on foot or by bicycle today, finding the experience one of the most fulfilling of their lives. Traveling the entirety of the Camino de Santiago from the Pyrenees Mountains to Santiago de Compostela takes around a month, but you are free to walk only the chunks that are most convenient to you.
During the summer months, Camino de Santiago is extremely crowded and scorching hot, so May is one of the best times to go on this popular pilgrimage. You will avoid the crowds yet still get plenty of company on the road.
Plus, wildflowers come out in this period, and the lush vegetation will offer you a respite from the distractions of city life. In May, the picturesque landscapes of Northern Spain are even lovelier than usual, and the weather is also very pleasant.
Bath, England, for the Bath Festival
12th of May 2023 until the 21st of May 2023
Due to its preserved Roman heritage, Bath is one of the most unique spots to visit in England, and if you want to explore this charming historic city, it’s best to go in May when the city really comes to life thanks to the Bath Festival.
In 2017, the Bath International Music Festival merged with the Bath Literature Festival, creating this new eclectic hybrid known as the Bath Festival. A wide celebration of music and literature with over 130 events, the festival brings to the stage classical virtuosos, world musicians, and folk and jazz singers, both local and international.
Besides numerous concerts, the program includes film screenings, exhibitions, talks, and dance performances, many of them free. On top of that, Bath in itself is an amazing place, where you can visit the Roman Baths, a historic spa spanning millennia, the medieval Bath Abbey, and other architectural gems.
Check out: Things to do in Bath.
Madeira, Portugal, for the Flower Parade
Apr 27, 2023 – May 21, 2023
Madeira Island, which is a small Portuguese island situated in the North Atlantic Ocean is a perfect destination for any season, but one of the best months to visit is May. This is the month when the island celebrates spring, and its famous, beautiful Flower Festival.
Madeira Island Flower Parade , or Festa da Flor, takes place each spring, and this year the exact dates are April 30th to May 24th. For a couple of weeks, every May, the island looks even more beautiful than ever.
Small towns, as well as the main city – Funchal – are beautifully decorated with flower arrangements. There are concerts, performances, and exhibitions and on one of the main streets of Funchal, you will find a local flower market selling flower bulbs, exotic fruit, and local food and drinks.
The highlight of the festival is, however, the main parade, called Cortejo Alegórico. Local residents, adults and children alike, parade in their carefully prepared flower costumes through the main avenue of Funchal.
They are dancing, singing and presenting their carefully prepared choreographies and amazing parade platforms and installations. The atmosphere is great, and both the spectators as participants are truly enjoying this special event. It is a beautiful and unique experience and it is worth to see it at least in a lifetime.
When considering May holiday destinations in Europe, Athens should be one of your top choices. Since in the summer Athens is unbelievably hot, spring is the best time to enjoy the Mediterranean sunshine without suffering due to extreme heat.
In May, Athens is sunny and warm, and there are no overwhelming crowds of tourists to navigate through. Also on the plus side, the accommodation and airfare are much cheaper. While there might be an occasionally chilly or rainy day, for the most part, the weather will be consistently good.
The long hours of daylight are a huge advantage since you will have plenty of time to explore the complex and rich heritage of Athens. Whether you prefer museums and archaeological sites, or bustling markets and scenic views, every experience is much more pleasant in May.
You might also be interested in: How to spend 3 days in Athens , what to do in Athens, where to stay in Athens.
Cruise the Norwegian Fjords
The Norwegian Fjords are a major attraction for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts and in general for people who love breathtaking scenery. Going on a cruise in May opens up amazing possibilities because the natural sights are more impressive in the spring when trees and flowers are in blossom and contrast with the snow-capped mountains, glaciers, and waterfalls.
Although it’s still cold in May, avoiding the high season is a major plus when cruising the fjords because Norway is known for being highly expensive. Some of the most picturesque places are Stavanger, Flåm, Hardangerfjord, Geirangerfjord , and Bergen , and there is a wide range of cruises to choose from, from luxury to budget-friendly, with various lengths. The cruises start running in May and since they’re incredibly popular, going at the beginning of the season will be less busy.
The Scottish Highlands
Rain is ubiquitous in Scotland, but April and May are the driest months, so if you plan your visit for May, you’re going to enjoy the best weather and the most daylight hours. Although some spring showers are inevitable, the landscapes in the Scottish Highlands are gorgeous in May, with roaring waterfalls, green grass fields, and colorful wildflowers.
The scenic nature combined with the amazing historical heritage of the place and the renowned friendliness and hospitality of the Scottish will make your journey memorable. Going in May is overall the wisest decision you can make if you want to explore the best hiking trails undisturbed by the crowds.
Check out my post on how to spend 3 days in Edinburgh here.
If you’re looking for places to travel in Europe in May, I hope you find this list inspiring. Whatever your final choice is going to be, a trip to any of these European destinations will prove a rewarding and refreshing experience. From nature to culture and history, Europe really has it all.
You might want to check out:
Where to go in Europe in June 2023.
Where to go in Europe in July 2023.
Where to go in Europe in August 2023.
Where to go in Europe in September 2023.
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11 Beautiful European Cities To Visit In May 2023
- Activities and Interests
- Seasonal Travel
- Spring Travel
May is probably the best month of the year, don’t you agree? Warm enough to sit outside on cafe terraces, cool enough to walk around exploring a city without breaking into a sweat. Trees decked in young, fresh green leaves, flowers still popping up everywhere, and people smiling at the sunshine. It’s quite simply a perfect month to travel to Europe and enjoy city life.
While probably every single European city is lovely to visit in May, some have a little something extra to offer. This is my selection of favorites for you to sample and plan for.
1. Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg , my hometown, is a great city to visit year-round. Hamburg has beautiful architecture; great river and lake walks; more bridges than Amsterdam, Venice, and Stockholm together, each with a photogenic view of the city and its many swans; a huge biannual fairground fest; the Dom; and plenty of good shopping, restaurants, and cafes. But, if you had to choose one reason and one time to visit, choose the first weekend in May. The world’s biggest harbor festival, the Hamburger Hafengeburtstag , the Hamburg Harbor’s birthday, is a spectacle not to be missed.
The river Elbe fills with historic tall ships, cruise ships, sailing and motorboats, fire-ships, tugboats, basically anything that floats. There is barely a drop of water visible between the boats. Ship parades, music events, the aforementioned funfair, fireworks, food stalls, and much more all get crammed into one weekend, and it couldn’t be more spectacular.
Pro Tip: Book early and get yourself a room with a view in the Hotel Hafen Hamburg , or at least a table on the terrace for a meal with the best view in town.
2. Bath, UK
After my hometown comes the city where I got married. Beautiful Bath is even more beautiful in May. The parks are alive and the pedestrianized streets filled with chairs and tables to sit out with a Jane Austen novel at the ready, enjoying the historic surroundings. While that would generally be enough to relish Bath to the fullest, the Bath Festival is the cherry on top. Ten days are crammed full of classical and other concerts, debates on culture and arts, and all sorts of events taking over many historic buildings and outdoor locations, making the most out of Bath’s architectural marvels.
Pro Tip: Book yourself lunch at The Hive Restaurant right by the fabulous Pulteney Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage site overlooking the Avon weir. The food is good, too.
3. Coopers Hill, Gloucester, UK
While you are in Bath in May, take the opportunity to visit one of the world’s weirdest festivals: the annual Cheese Rolling Festival in Gloucestershire, some 37 miles north of Bath. Seriously silly and dangerous to join, but fun to watch: Every year, a gigantic wheel of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled down a very steep, 1:2 gradient hill, and a bunch of contestants, taking this very seriously indeed, try to catch it. First across the line, wins. The festival, which is now made up of four races, is said to have started in the 15th century, I am guessing by someone who dropped their cheese, tried to catch it, and thought he’d bring some friends along to join in the fun, and attracts lots of people cheering on those chasing the cheese.
Pro Tip: Rent a car and take the country roads, not the motorway, between Bath and Gloucester, as this is part of the Cotswolds , and you stumble across one village (or pub) more inviting than the next as you go.
4. Florence, Italy
Italy, even northern Italy, is simply too hot to enjoy in summer, and yet the crowds get unsurmountable and take the fun out of la dolce vita. Florence especially gets very crowded, and the queues for the Uffizi simply mind-bogglingly long. Come early in May, though, and you can enjoy the gorgeous gardens in bloom, such as the Rose Garden with its panoramic views across Florence, and take in the historic flag-throwing event, the Trofeo Marzocco , that takes place each May 1 on the Piazza della Signoria. May 1 is also Labor Day, which means many businesses are closed and people are enjoying a day off work, but generally, the crowds are more local than touristy.
Pro Tip: On the first Sunday in May, in fact, every month, a lovely antique market takes place in the small town of Fiesole on Florence’s doorstep. Great for some unusual souvenirs.
12 Florence, Italy Vacation Rentals With Fantastic Views Of The Duomo
5. London, UK
London from late spring to early summer is perfect for strolling through the lanes, enjoying feeding the squirrels in the parks, and hanging around the Thames soaking up sun rays. But there is one event that makes a May visit even more interesting: The Chelsea Flower Show . Even if you are not normally keen on groomed parks and organized flowers, this is the best of the best, in England at least. Royals and international celebrities flock there, having flowers named after them, and the sheer size and selection of blooms are amazing regardless of if you have a green thumb.
Schedule in at least 2 or 3 hours if you are not extraordinarily fond of flowers. If you are, then plan to spend the day. You might even bump into the Queen.
Pro Tip: If, after all that nature, you could do with some contemporary art, the Saatchi Gallery is only steps away from the Royal Hospital Chelsea grounds.
11 Lovely London Vacation Rentals For A Proper British Getaway
6. Palma, Mallorca
Mallorca is one of the best-loved islands for Europeans. Especially the Germans and the English flock there. But don’t let that put you off, as the crowds tend to come in summer, and in May, you will have perfect balmy temperatures of 72.5-degree Fahrenheit highs and 59-degree lows with little rain. You can also enjoy the capital Palma on foot without breaking a sweat. Palma is a lovely old city full of history, a great marina where you can marvel at the royal family’s stunning yacht, and cobbled lanes full of boutiques selling sunny outfits and typically Spanish home decor items. It is also a great place to rent a car and enjoy the truly varied countryside of the largest Balearic island. Head for the mountains and enjoy the vistas.
Pro Tip: The Palma Vela sailing regatta sets off from Palma on April 28, racing around Palma Bay for 8 days, culminating in a grand finale on May 7. The regatta is accompanied by various events taking place around the Palma Marina.
7. Riga, Latvia
Riga is one of my favorite Baltic state capitals. It is perfectly walkable and historic and has superb restaurants and beer gardens, plus a daily fresh produce market located in a set of the most enormous hangars, designed to hold zeppelins, you have ever seen.
In May, the ancient city has emerged from its winter hibernation but its pubs, bars, and streets aren’t yet overrun with stag and hen (or bachelor and bachelorette) party revelers. In May, you can meander through the streets and explore without too much of a crowd and sit by the City Canal or take a boat ride, looking out for the ever-elusive beavers that reportedly live there.
Pro Tip: On May 4, Latvia celebrates the Day of the Restoration of Latvian Independence, with military parades held across the country. But this is a normal working day, and shops, museums, and restaurants remain open.
8. Bratislava, Slovakia
Bratislava is a delightful little capital city. It has a medieval part dotted with a selection of statues depicting weird and wonderful characters, from paparazzi to a man emerging from a manhole, and several other art trails. Outside the old town, there is an opera house , small but in grand style, a castle on a hill overlooking the town, plus a somewhat sci-fi and appropriately-named UFO viewing tower on the bridge across the Danube, with toilets offering spectacular views. In May, you don’t get the crowds, nor those stag parties that also have reached the area by now, and the temperatures are perfect even for climbing the castle hill.
Pro Tip: In late May, food stalls take over the streets of Bratislava, with the Slovakia Food Festival taking place. Do not forget to try the Lokse pancakes.
9. Girona, Spain
Girona , roughly halfway between Barcelona and the Pyrenees, is a superb but often overlooked city on the river Onya, a little reminiscent of Bilbao . In May, the temperatures are perfect for scaling and walking along the medieval city walls, as any later in the summer, it gets too hot. Equally, you can walk across the bridge, Pont de les Peixateries Velles , a Gustave Eiffel construction, and meander through the medieval streets spotting filming locations for Game of Thrones .
Pro Tip: In mid-May, the Girona Flower Festival takes place, showcasing art, kitsch, and many flowers across the city.
10. Madrid, Spain
Madrid doesn’t need many reasons to be on anybody’s travel itinerary, but in May, the city pulls out all the stops for the Fiesta de San Isidro , Madrid’s largest traditional festival. Celebrating the city’s patron saint San Isidro, the fiesta starts off with a procession of Giants and Bigheads, and continues during the week with countless music events, stalls, theater, and dance; basically, a great big, fun Spanish fiesta that ought not to be missed.
Pro Tip: In Spain, one fiesta rarely turns up alone, and on May 2, Dos de Mayo is celebrated in and around Plaza Dos de Mayo. Celebrating Madrid’s win against Napoleon’s armies in the early 1800s, there are military parades, concerts, sports events, and food and drink.
11. Venice, Italy
You might have missed Carnivale this year, but Venice is always a good idea, especially in spring. And in April, there is another reason to pop over to the canal city: The Venice Biennale . In 2023, its focus on architecture will be one of the world’s most important art festivals. Opening in late April and continuing until late November, more than 200 artists from around the globe showcase their work at the Biennale. There are often additional exhibitions throughout the city at stunning locations such as the Gallerie dell’Accademia .
Pro Tip: Even a watery city like Venice has its spring blossoms, and during early May, many walled gardens showcase wisteria blooms creeping over the walls. They are especially spectacular in the Royal Gardens .
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For the most incredible European destinations :
- 10 Amazing European Destinations That Feel Like Time Stood Still
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A travel writer and guidebook author for the last 20 years, Ulrike's work has been seen in National Geographic , BBC , The Independent , Australian Women's Weekly , The Telegraph , The Australian , Fodor's , France Today , CNN Travel , Lonely Planet , Travel + Leisure , CNTraveler , numerous inflight magazines, and many others.
She has written three books for Moon Travel Guides: 'Living Abroad in Australia' (3rd edition), 'Sydney & the Great Barrier Reef', and the shorter version 'Spotlight Sydney' and are all available in print and as e-books.
Having lived in seven countries (Germany, UK, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Australia, and France) to date and traveled to more than 100, she specializes in writing about travel, art and architecture, expat living, and life and style.
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