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Inspiration for May holidays


Our suggestions for May revolve around flowers and festivals.


Stroll beneath fruit blossom on Lake Constance’s shores
Mainau, Lake Constance, Germany
‘Blooming marvellous’ sums up springtime on Lake Constance’s shores – quite literally. The many apple orchards which fringe the lake are in blossom, and gardens are full of colour. Not to be missed are the botanical gardens of Mainau, which is often referred to as the Blumeninsel  (‘flower island’) and features on our easy-going walking holiday here. Tulips and rhododendrons are the headline acts in May, but are just two of the hundreds of species which thrive here.
Explore above and below ground in the Dordogne
Gouffre de Padirac, Dordogne
Just as the early bird catches the worm, so the early visitor to the Dordogne finds tranquillity, not to mention negligible queues at the main sights. Above  ground, there’s no shortage of graceful châteaux and immaculately laid out gardens to explore with the freedom of your hire car. Under  ground, there are just as many natural and man-made wonders, from the deep chasm of the Gouffre de Padirac with its lakes and stalactites, to the cave of Rouffignac with its prehistoric paintings of bison, mammoths and woolly rhinos.
Stay in historic manor houses in northern Portugal
Manor houses of the Minho, Portugal
The manor houses which are the key ingredient of our gentle walking holiday in Portugal’s Minho region are no different in May – they are unique, very special places to stay whatever the time of year – but their surroundings are. The Minho is considered by many Portuguese to be the most beautiful part of their country, and green is what it does best, especially at this time of year, when the trees and vines are in full leaf.
Walk to near-empty beaches on Ibiza
Cala Xarraca, Ibiza
You won’t find the party set in the corner of the island that our walking holiday explores. In fact, you won’t find many people at all, since May is still considered low season on Ibiza, despite usually being wonderfully warm. Other people’s loss is your gain, however – enjoy gentle walks along easy trails that lead you past glorious viewpoints and hidden coves where you can rest on the beach, watching the waves lapping at the shore, before continuing on your way.
Pedal beneath apple blossom in northern Italy
Apple blossom
Apple orchards are not usually the first thing that springs to mind when you think of the Alps, but in northern Italy, particularly the area explored by our gentle cycling holiday, they are one of the dominant features on the valley floors and lower slopes, where neat rows of fruit trees, interspersed with equally precise rows of vines, stretch as far as the eye can see. Where there are fruit trees, there is blossom, and the best time to see this is in May, particularly at the start of the month.
Appreciate the Loire Valley at its best
Villandry, Loire Valley
Whether you choose a walking or a cycling holiday, May offers the best of both worlds in the Loire. The weather is pleasantly warm – ideal for lazy picnics on the riverbank – and the immaculate gardens of the many châteaux are a riot of colour, yet it is still relatively quiet, meaning you can take your time to admire the romantic castles and palaces.
Freewheel past fields of poppies in Catalonia
Poppies in Catalonia
Our Catalan Coast & Villages cycling holiday is a delightful discovery of inland and coastal scenery. Before reaching the coast, you spend four days cycling across the Empordà Plain, characterised by sunflowers and paddy fields, among which are fortified villages of cobbled streets and honey-coloured houses. What’s special about May is that swathes of poppies light up the fields behind the coast and, except for the half-term holiday, the beaches are pleasantly quiet.
Enjoy Florence’s Maggio Musicale festival
Florence is renowned across the world for its Renaissance art but, throughout May, the focus shifts to music and dance for the Maggio Musicale festival, which features a range of concerts and ballet performances. Spending a couple of days in the city at the end of your holiday in Tuscany will provide a wonderful contrast to your week of walking or cycling. (Florence isn’t the only place to catch a festival in May: in Brittany, Tréguier holds its traditional pardon celebrations on the third Sunday, while in the Dordogne, there is a cheese festival in Rocamadour on Whit Sunday).
Watch butterflies flit about as you walk to Lake Garda
Tremosine on Lake Garda
Lake Ledro and Lake Garda could hardly be more different: the first is a tiny, unknown haven of tranquillity, the second stretches as far as the eye can see and has long been recognised for its majestic beauty. Walk between the two and you discover a dramatic fusion of lake and mountain on a satisfyingly demanding route that reveals lemon and olive groves, alpine meadows, woodland, gorges, grassy plateaux, high passes and constantly changing views, all enhanced at this time of year by the wildflowers and butterflies.
Get away from it all in Sicily’s Madonie Mountains
Flowers in Puglia, Italy
Come to these rugged mountains in northern Sicily at any time of year and you’ll feel wonderfully away from it all, but visit between mid-April and mid-May and you’ll also be rewarded as you walk by the masses of endemic flowers. As you can see from the picture, similar displays of colour greet the visitor in Puglia (Italy’s ‘heel’), home to almost 1,400 flowering plants. Here, you can choose to explore with a hire car or on two wheels.
Marvel at the colours in Cyprus’ mountains
Akamas Peninsula, Cyprus
Many surprises lie in store for the first-time visitor to Cyprus: the soaring, pine-clad mountains; the numerous tiny, frescoed churches; the wealth of archaeological sites; the warm hospitality extended by everyone you meet; the cult of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love; and, if you travel in spring, the wealth of wildflowers. Those in the Troodos Mountains are at their best from late April to early June; spring arrives earlier on the northern coast, so February and March are the best months to enjoy the carpets of flowers on the Akamas Peninsula.
Revel in late spring in south-west France
Plaisance, Tarn
Unlike our other suggestions, there’s no specific reason for including our walking holidays in the Aveyron and the Tarn here, other than May is a lovely time of year to visit. If you think that sounds lame in comparison, picture yourself walking through open, rolling countryside burgeoning with life, enjoying the sense of being away from it all deep in rural France, taking time out to stroll through ancient fortified villages steeped in history, and later sitting down to savour earthy south-western cuisine. Surely that’s very tempting, is it not?