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May Getaway Guide: Discovering the Best Global Places to Travel in May

May 7, 2024

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May is the perfect time to start venturing out and uncovering new experiences around the world. The weather is suitable in many places, which is ideal for getting out and about. Plus, if you travel in May, you can beat the summer heat crowds and have a more relaxed, authentic experience. 

The big question is, “Where is the best place to visit in May?” If you dream of warm, sunny destinations for your May getaway, you’re in luck. We’ve researched and compiled a fantastic guide to the best places to travel in May

From the charming cobblestone streets of Europe to the lush jungles of Central America and the picture-perfect beaches of Southeast Asia, we’ve got recommendations for every type of traveler. You don’t have to worry about breaking the bank because we’ve included options for every budget.

1. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Best Global Places to Travel in May - Chiang Mai

If you’re looking for incredible places to visit in May, you should put Chiang Mai, Thailand, at the top of your list. This city is a haven for anyone who loves diving into new cultures and trying amazing food. You won’t have trouble finding cheap hotels in Thailand, as May is the off-shoulder season. 

In May, Chiang Mai really comes to life with the Inthakin Festival. This lively event features colorful parades and traditional ceremonies that offer a deeper understanding of the local culture. Aside from the festivities, Chang Mai is home to some of the most breathtaking temples in Thailand, like Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Singh. 

Speaking of exploring, you’ve got to make your way through the food stalls of Chang Mai. The street food scene here is legendary, with sizzling woks and mouthwatering aromas around every corner. One of the best parts of any trip is the food, so you’ve got to try the khao soi and the famous mango sticky rice.

2. Porto, Portugal

Best Global Places to Travel in May - Porto

One of the best holiday destinations in May has got to be Porto, Portugal. As the crowds haven’t arrived, you can spend hours wandering through the historic Ribeira district, getting lost in the winding alleyways, and taking photos of the beautiful tile-covered buildings. Whenever you need a break, head to one of the many cozy cafes to enjoy a delicious pastry and a strong Portuguese coffee.

 

However, people mainly come to Porto for the wine port. This city is famous for its world-class port and many amazing places to sample it. Take a Douro Valley Wine Tour, or simply grab a glass at a riverside bar and watch the sunset over the Douro River. 

 

You’ll feel satiated with all the wonderful food and drinks at Porto. From the sweet Port wine to the fresh seafood and everything in between, the cuisine here is simply delicious. Be sure to try the francesinha, a sandwich stuffed with meat and covered in melted cheese and a savory sauce.

 

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3. Mexico City, Mexico

Best Global Places to Travel in May - Mexico City

Those on a budget should consider traveling to Mexico City this May. The weather is pleasant this month, and you’ll also experience the city’s famous Cinco de Mayo celebrations. The lively city is a treat for the senses, with its rich history, amazing culinary scene, and exciting festivities. Stay at a cheap hotel in Mexico for even more savings during your trip.

 

Even beyond the festivities, Mexico City has so much to offer. Check out the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco. These ancient canals are like something straight out of a fairytale, with colorful boats called “trajineras” cruising through the water and mariachi bands serenading you at every turn. The gardens are even more enchanting as they are in full bloom, making this a magical place to visit in May.

 

Additionally, you can explore Teotihuacan’s ancient pyramids just outside Mexico City. History buffs can climb to the top for breathtaking views. In Coyoacán, discover modern culture at the Frida Kahlo Museum, explore her home, and visit the artisan market for unique souvenirs.

 

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4. Bucharest, Romania

Best Global Places to Travel in May - Bucharest

What makes Bucharest, Romania, one of the best places to visit in May? For starters, it’s the perfect time to visit this hidden gem of a city with plenty of sunshine to keep you in a good mood all day while strolling through the city’s historic center. 

Speaking of the historic center, this is where Bucharest really shines. The Palace of Parliament, the second-largest administrative building in the world, is a must-see due to its magnificent engineering. Another sight is the Cișmigiu Gardens, Bucharest’s oldest and most beautiful park. Amidst the city’s hustle and bustle, the park serves as an oasis with its lush greenery, tranquil lakes, and numerous shady spots to relax and bask in the sun.

For more relaxation, visit the enormous spa complex Therme București just outside the city. This location is like a little paradise with its indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, hot tubs, and a botanical garden. It’s the ideal spot to decompress and rest following an exhausting day of touring.

5. San Jose, Costa Rica

Best Global Places to Travel in May - San Jose, Costa Rica

Warm destinations in May are a must, and San Jose, Costa Rica, will serve you that more. This Central American city is the perfect getaway, with lush rainforests and stunning beaches encouraging you to live a “pura vida” lifestyle. During the “green season,” you’ll enjoy warm, sunny days with a hint of rain. 

San Jose isn’t just about nature — it’s also a city that knows how to have a good time. Several festivities, including the Día de San Isidro Labrador, occur in May. The festivities include parades, live music, and traditional cuisine, such as tamales, to express gratitude to San Isidro for a bountiful harvest. 

When the party is over, learn about “pura vida,” meaning “pure life” in Spanish. It’s a way of living that emphasizes joy, relaxation, and appreciation for the simple things in life. You can experience this laid-back lifestyle firsthand by strolling through the city’s vibrant markets, sampling delicious Costa Rican coffee, or just people-watching in Jaco Beach.

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6. Catalonia, Spain

Best Global Places to Travel in May - Catalonia, Spain

There’s so much more to Catalonia than just Barcelona. The region boasts several charming medieval towns, like Girona and Besalú, that will transport you back in time. Plus, nature lovers will delight in exploring the rugged Costa Brava coastline or the stunning Pyrenees mountains. This easily makes Catalonia one of the best places to go in May.

 

If you happen to be in Catalonia on May 1st, you’ll have the chance to celebrate the Dia dels Treballadors, also known as Labor Day. This holiday is marked by lively festivals, parades, and street dancing. Then, head to the Fira de Sant Ponç festival in Corbera de Llobregat the following week to continue the festive spirit.

 

May also presents the perfect time to visit the vineyards of the Penedès region, renowned for producing some of the world’s best cava (Spanish sparkling wine). Take a tour of a local winery, sample delicious bubbly, and soak up the stunning countryside views. 

7. Norwegian Fjords, Norway

Best Global Places to Travel in May - Norwegian Fjords, Norway

The Norwegian Fjords, with its dramatic cliffs and crystal-clear waters, is one of the best holiday destinations in May. From the towering Preikestolen cliff to the thundering Kjosfossen waterfall, there’s plenty to explore in the region. However, the real highlight of the trip would be a  Norwegian Fjords cruise through the stunning waterways. 

 

Imagine gliding silently through the narrow fjord passages, with nothing but the sound of the wind and the occasional seabirds accompanying. You’ll have the chance to spot local wildlife, like seals and eagles, and appreciate the immense size and grandeur of the fjords. 

 

When you’re not cruising, there are plenty of things to do on the shore. One of the most popular hikes is the Trolltunga, a stunning rock formation that extends over a lake. It’s a challenging hike, but the views are absolutely worth it. 

 

Alternatively, check out the Flåm Railway. This amazing train ride takes you from the charming village of Flåm up to the mountain station of Myrdal, passing through stunning scenery along the way, such as cascading waterfalls, deep gorges, and snow-capped peaks.

8. Bruges, Belgium

Best Global Places to Travel in May - Bruges, Belgium

Even if you aren’t religious, the Procession of the Holy Blood is a fascinating event you’ve got to witness in Bruges, Belgium. This centuries-old event is one of the most important festivals in the city, which makes this a wondrous place to visit in May.  The procession dates back to the 13th century and honors a relic believed to contain a drop of Jesus Christ’s blood.

 

During the festival, the streets of Bruges come alive with colorful parades, live music, and traditional costumes. The procession is the most important part of the event, during which a group of religious leaders and worshippers carry the relic through the city streets.

 

Apart from the Procession of the Holy Blood, Bruges is famous for its scrumptious cuisine, which includes crispy waffles, world-renowned Belgian chocolates, and hearty stews. Explore the city’s renowned canals on a boat tour and navigate through the narrow waterways to get a unique perspective of the city’s magnificent architecture and historic buildings.

9. Sydney, Australia

Best Global Places to Travel in May - Sydney, Australia

For three weeks, Sydney comes alive with the Vivid Sydney event. This globally renowned event turns the Australian city into a spectacular wonderland of light, music, and ideas. It’s one of the best places to visit in May, with some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge, serving as canvases for awe-inspiring light installations and projections. 

Beyond the pretty lights, it’s also a celebration of creativity and innovation. The event showcases an amazing range of live acts, from independent bands to internationally famous artists. 

A visit to Sydney is incomplete without experiencing its beautiful waters. You can take a ferry ride to Manly Beach, try kayaking in the harbor, or even attempt surfing at one of the famous beaches the city is known for. With so many options for aquatic adventures, there’s no shortage of amazing things to do in Sydney in May.

 

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10. Vancouver Island, Canada

Best Global Places to Travel in May - Vancouver, Canada

Start planning your trip to one of the best places to travel in May and visit Vancouver Island. The island’s forests are stunning, especially the old temperate rainforests of Pacific Rim National Park. You can hike through tall cedars and firs, spot unique wildlife, and swim in the clear waters of the Pacific Ocean.

 

However, the forests are not the only natural beauty on Vancouver Island. The island also has some of Canada’s most magnificent beaches, including miles of sandy beachfront and craggy cliffs. From the rocky coves of Tofino to the wide-open plains of Long Beach, there are plenty of beautiful places to soak up the sun and listen to the sound of waves.

 

If you are in town on May 24, celebrate Victoria Day with the Canadians. It’s a big celebration in other cities across Canada, but one of the biggest and best ones is in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. The parade is a festive event, with many marching bands, colorful floats, and people dressed in various costumes.

11. Kyoto, Japan

Best Global Places to Travel in May - Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, Japan, is undoubtedly one of the best holiday destinations in May, thanks to the iconic cherry blossom season. This time of year, the city transforms into a breathtaking pink-and-white wonderland as countless cherry trees bloom and its petals flutter in the breeze. Plus, with the mild spring weather and clear blue skies, it’s the perfect time to explore all the incredible sights Kyoto offers.

 

Speaking of sights, Kyoto is packed with them. There are numerous awe-inspiring landmarks in Kyoto, ranging from the iconic red torii gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine to the stunning golden pavilion of Kinkaku-ji. The cherry blossoms further enhance the city’s beauty, which adds an extra layer of magic to everything.

 

More than the cherry blossoms, Kyoto is renowned for its exceptional food culture, and spring is the best time to relish seasonal delicacies such as bamboo shoots and fresh green tea. Relish a bowl of piping hot matcha green tea and a platter of delicate wagashi sweets while admiring the pink cherry blossoms surrounding you, then unwind at these hotels in Kyoto.  

12. Dublin, Ireland

Best Global Places to Travel in May -Dublin, Ireland

Imagine experiencing two consecutive weeks of electrifying performances showcasing the finest contemporary dance styles from all over the world. We’re talking about world-renowned dance companies, cutting-edge choreography, and an atmosphere of creative energy. This is what the Dublin Dance Festival is all about, and it’s an event you simply can’t miss when you visit Ireland in May.

 

Apart from the incredible performances, it’s also a chance to immerse yourself in the city’s thriving art scene and feel inspired. Dublin is surely one of the best places to travel to in May, with mild temperatures perfect for strolling through the charming streets, sampling the soda bread and sticky toffee pudding, and maybe even popping into a cozy pub in the Temple Bar district for a pint of Guinness.  

 

Plus, with the Dublin Dance Festival drawing in visitors from all over the world, you’ll have the chance to meet fellow dance lovers and make new friends from far-flung places.

13. Tuscany, Italy

Best Global Places to Travel in May - Tuscany, Italy

Warm places in May that you should visit include the charming region of Tuscany, Italy. The rolling hills covered in lush green vineyards, medieval hilltop towns, and some of the most mouthwatering cuisine you’ll ever taste await you in this European destination. Expect plenty of sunshine and clear blue skies, which are ideal for exploring this region’s outdoor activities.

 

Rediscovering the Renaissance period with Duomo’s stunning architecture and the world-renowned Uffizi Gallery are just a few of the many things you can enjoy while you’re here. If you’re traveling with kids, catch Pinocchio’s Birthday celebration on May 25. The event takes place in Collodi, the birthplace of the famous puppet character.

 

In May, Tuscany’s countryside also hosts the Cantine Aperte event, where hundreds of wineries open their doors to visitors for tastings, tours, and special events. Take a scenic drive through Chianti’s winding roads, stopping at local wineries to sample some of the best wines in the world, or go on a hiking tour through the rolling hills and olive groves.

14. Havana, Cuba

Best Global Places to Travel in May - Havana, Cuba

Havana is always a fascinating destination, but in May, it really comes alive with the celebration of International Workers’ Day on May 1st. During this event, colorful parades filled with music, dancing, and floats showcase Cuban culture and ride. The warm, sunny days and the festive spirit make this one of the best places to travel to in May

 

Also known as May Day, this holiday celebrates the contributions of workers and laborers worldwide. Expect massive parades, rallies, and festivities throughout Havana, with a huge celebration in Plaza de la Revolución.

 

In mid-May, join the fun at Cubadisco, an annual festival celebrating the best of Cuban music. The event features live performances, award ceremonies, and music industry conferences.

 

Other than the festivities, the colonial architecture of Old Havana and the stunning beaches of Playa del Este offers endless activities for visitors. Stroll along the seaside promenade, Malecón, or hop in a classic American car and tour the city’s many historic sites, like the Castillo del Morro and Fábrica de Arte Cubano.

15. Cheung Chau, Hong Kong

Best Global Places to Travel in May - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong

Hop on a ferry and escape the hustle and bustle of central Hong Kong to the quaint little island of Cheung Chau. It’s the best place to visit in May, especially if you’re looking for something unusual. As you approach the shore, you can already feel the excitement in the air, as you’re just in time for the Heung Chau Bun Festival.

 

The festivities, typically held in early May, honor the intriguing history and culture of the island. While strolling through the streets, you’ll encounter lively processions featuring ornate floats and individuals dressed in traditional attire. 

 

However, the real highlight of this celebration is the bun-scrambling competition. Witness towering constructions adorned with numerous steamed buns and watch as daring participants scramble to collect as many buns as possible. It’s a sight that’s equal parts thrilling and hilarious, and you won’t see anywhere else in the world.

May is a fantastic month for travel, with numerous destinations across the world offering ideal weather, unique experiences, and unforgettable adventures. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun on a beautiful beach, discover intriguing cultures and histories, or indulge in delectable cuisine and vibrant festivals, there’s something for everyone. From the stunning beaches of San Jose in Costa Rica, the lively streets of Sydney in Australia, and the one-of-a-kind Cheung Chau Bun Festival in Hong Kong, the possibilities for the best places to visit in May are aplenty.

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