Holiday ideas for May

Our suggestions for May revolve around flowers, festivals and feathered creatures.

Let us inspire you...

  • If it’s puffin sightings you’re after, May and June are the best months to visit Northumberland, as this is the puffins’ breeding season, and they spend a lot more time on land tending their young. Although these cute, brightly-billed seabirds are the star attraction of the Farne Islands – which you have the chance to visit on the last day of our walking holiday in Northumberland – there are various other species to look out for: eider ducks, guillemots, razorbills and sandwich terns, plus grey seals too.
  • ‘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.
  • Think of Tess of the d’Urbervilles and images tend to spring to mind of Hardy’s heroine, basket in hand, walking down high-hedged lanes. At this time of year, the hedgerows are full of flowers: cow parsley, red campion, hawthorn blossom and more. But it’s not just the hedges which are at their best if you choose our Hardy Way walking holiday in May – the woodland is full of bluebells and wild garlic, the oilseed rape is vibrant yellow, and gambolling lambs are a common sight in the fields.

    Image © Roger Lane Photography
  • 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.
  • The South Downs were designated a national park in 2011 to protect the glorious rolling chalk hills, open heathland and ancient woodland. The plentiful sunshine – this is one of England’s sunniest corners – wasn’t one of the reasons behind its protected status, but it certainly adds to the allure, and, with luck, you’ll be blessed with clement weather in May. Part of the appeal of our walking holiday here is the sense of journey – it starts in the South Downs then descends to the sea, taking in panoramic Beacon Hill, as well as burial sites dating from the Iron and Bronze Ages, with the chance to visit the Roman city of Chichester, too.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Catalonia, the historic city of Girona is decorated with colourful blooms as part of its annual flower festival, while in the Dordogne, there is a cheese festival in Rocamadour on Whit Sunday).
  • D.H. Lawrence, who stayed in the town of Gargnano on Lake Garda's shores between 1912 and 1913, described it as being “as beautiful as paradise”. Over a century later, Gargnano remains an inspiring place to stay, with handsome churches and twisty medieval passageways that wind down to a pretty harbour. It is one of the lake’s most authentic destinations, and a great base for gentle walks and visits to elegant villas and formal gardens, all enhanced at this time of year by the wildflowers and butterflies.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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.

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