Looking for the best places to visit in May in Europe? Well you have come to the right place! Europe in May is one of my favourite times to visit as it still hasn’t quite hit peak season, the beautiful flowers are out in bloom in many of Europes best cities, and the weather is becoming more temperate making an outdoor or a beach escape a great holiday choice. In this guide we round up the best European cities to visit in May as well some great off the beaten path, countryside and beach destinations to visit in May in Europe.
BEST EUROPEAN CITIES TO VISIT IN MAY
Amsterdam in May
While Amsterdam in April is perhaps more famous for the tulips, May should not be overlooked as a great time to visit the city. Tulips tend to look their best in April however depending on the weather that year, early May is also a great time to visit the city to see the city. The famed Keukenhof Gardens are still open to the public and the tulips will still be found around the city though if it is an early bloom the tulip fields around the city may not be looking at their best. But by visiting in May you will find the city slightly less busy than in the ever popular April.
May, outside of the school holidays (there is a May vacation in early May for Dutch children and Whisun in the UK) is also a great time to do some of the more touristy things in the city like visiting the museums and taking a canal tour.
Baku in May nominated by Backpack Adventures
Baku in Azerbaijan is at the crossroads of Europe and Asia and a great destination to visit in may. Spring is in full swing and temperatures are pleasant before the summer heat arrives. This makes it not only convenient to explore the city, but also to make day trips into the gobustan desert. Furthermore, Baku sees festivities at the end of May for Azerbaijans republic day.
Baku is both modern, futuristic and full of history. Walk in the old town and its a journey back in time. Here it feels like you could be anywhere in the middle east while the newer shopping streets are very european. Baku is a young and dynamic city that is changing quickly after it became the capital of independent Azerbaijan with the fall of the Soviet Union.
One of the best things to do to see modern Baku is to walk along the Caspian sea boulevard. From here you can see some of Baku’s new intriguing architecture projects such as a carpet museum in the form of a rolled up carpet, one of the largest flagpoles in the world and the flame towers that stand high above the city.
If you are more into history, Baku wont dissapoint as well. The old town is beautifully restored and besides the ancient mosques and caravanserais there are even zoroastrian buildings that predate islam. Its a reflection of Baku as a multicultural silk road city where Europeand Asia met.
More history waits for you around Baku with ancient petroglyphs, fire temples, castles and shrines. Azerbaijan is not for nothing the country of fire. The vast gas and oil reserves in the Gobustan desert made Baku wealthy, but also created interesting geological curiosities within reach of Baku such as mud volcanoes and burning mountains.
Berlin in May nominated by Craft Beer in Berlin
Berlin is a wonderful city, but it’s a tough place to love in the cold, gloomy months of winter. This is why I always recommend people visit Berlin in the warmer months, and May can be a great time to take your trip.
In May, the temperatures are finally starting to get warmer, and restaurants and cafes all around the city are putting out their outdoor seating. The sun is shining more than it did earlier in the year, so Berlin locals will grab a beer and hang out in a park even if it’s not quite summer weather yet. But it’s more consistently warm in May than in April, so everyone embraces the idea that the gloom has finally passed.
May is also when you can really start to notice the days are getting long. Even though it’s still a month ahead of the solstice, May starts out with 15 hours of daylight and ends with about 16 and a half hours of daylight. This gives you plenty of time to explore and enjoy the city before it gets dark.
Berlin really starts to come back to life in May. And yet it’s still a bit early in the tourist season, so the biggest crowds of visitors haven’t yet arrived. If you want to see Berlin with smaller crowds and still have some good weather, May is one of the best months of the year for planning your vacation.
Vilnius, Lithuania in May nominated by Helen on her holidays
Vilnius is one of the most interesting European capital cities to visit, and is particularly great in May, especially on Street Music Day.
May in Vilnius brings with it the first warm, sunny days of late Spring and early Summer. Everyone is happy to be out in the sun, and the city really shines. Hot air balloons float over the pretty old town, locals go for picnics in the many green spaces in the city centre, and outdoor cafes spring up.
If you can, try to time your visit to Vilnius to coincide with Street Music Day. Street Music Day takes place on a Saturday in mid-May, and sees street corners and parks throughout the city turned into concert venues. Rock bands, traditional musicians and solo artists of all ages and genres entertain people all over town. It’s such a fun and joyful day, that it isn’t surprising that Street Music Day has spread to towns and cities all over Lithuania and beyond.
While you’re enjoying the music on Street Music Day you can also enjoy all the other things to do in Vilnius. The cathedral square is particularly beautiful, with a white, Classical-style cathedral that’s separate to the bell tower. It’s watched over by the red brick keep of the 15th-century Gediminas Tower. Don’t miss visiting the Independent Republic of Užupis, an area of Vilnius which has its own constitution and distinctively cool, arty atmosphere.
Best Outdoor Places to Visit in Europe in May
Camino de Santiago pilgrimage nominated by Stingy Nomads
May is the best month to walk any route of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage network across Spain and Portugal. We’ve walked several Camino routes in different seasons and May is by far our favorite time. One of the main reasons is the weather. It’s nice and warm but not too hot – a very comfortable temperature for walking. It’s less crowded in May than in the summer months because most people walk the Camino during their summer holiday. It’s a very important advantage for walking one of the busy routes like the Camino Frances or the Camino Portuguese. Pilgrims don’t have to worry about accommodation, make bookings in advance and spend an hour in a queue waiting for check-in. Another reason in favor of walking the Camino in May is the scenery. Most of the routes go through the countryside in spring fields are covered in flowers. They look like a colorful yellow, red and green carpet with hundreds of daisies, poppies, in between green wheat fields, vineyards, and olive trees. The last but not the least advantage of walking in May is the overall cleanness of the albergues and hostels along the route. Most of them go through an annual cleaning in winter and open again between March and April in May everything is still clean and in good working conditions.
Canary Islands in May Nominated by Greedy Gourmet
The Canary Islands are one of the best places to visit if you are looking for a vacation destination in the month of May. More specifically, the island of Gran Canaria is one of my favourites as it has some of the most beautiful natural scenery there is to see.
The Canary Islands are located just off the northwestern coast of Africa. This means the weather is pleasant at any time of the year. Although it is warm all year round, it gets very hot in July and August. You won’t abide without a sun cream with a minimum of 30 SPF for UV protection. Even then, sometimes, the heat can become unbearable.
Plus, the summer holidays are extremely busy as well, as tourists start to pour in from all parts of the world. Therefore, May and half-term holidays are the sweet spots for visiting. The weather is perfect, and the streets and attractions are a lot less crowded. Plus, since it’s low season, you’ll be able to grab a sweet deal on the price of the flights.
When visiting in May, there are plenty of things for you to do. First, you can take a walk and a swim at one of the most popular sandy beaches, Playa des Ingles. The seawater temperature will be just right, Next, just a short walk away, there are the infamous Maspalomas sand dunes.
You should also grab the chance to visit the charming city of Las Palmas and explore the island’s cuisine. If you are traveling with children, you can visit the Poema del Mar aquarium which holds the record for having the largest fish tank in the world.
Crete nominated by Smudged Postcard
Crete is a brilliant holiday destination: it offers great weather, fascinating history, beautiful scenery and incredible cuisine. And if you visit this Greek island in May you’ll be able to enjoy all of these elements at the best time of year.
In May the weather is warm enough for days at the beach but is not yet too hot for cultural pursuits such as visiting Knossos or Phaistos. The scenery too is perfect in spring: meadows are still green and brimming with wild flowers. You might even see a little snow still on the peaks of the White Mountains. May also sees milder evenings so that legendary Cretan cuisine can be enjoyed al fresco.
There are some fabulous beaches in Crete. Visiting the famous east coast beaches such as Elafonisi is best done outside of the busy summer months: the infrastructure really suffers in July and August.
The best way to explore Crete is to hire a car and visit several destinations, it’s a big island with very varied landscapes. If you’re visiting Crete with kids be sure to take them into the mountainous interior, it’s like a natural playground for children. The pace in the mountain villages is slow and relaxed and the hospitality is warm and welcoming.
The Dordogne in May nominated by Travelynn Family
The Dordogne is arguably the prettiest region of France, and May is the perfect time to visit as the weather is nicely warming up, yet the summer droves of tourists have not quite yet arrived.
This is not the place to tick off sites, but rather spend your days wandering quaint medieval towns (like Domme and Sarlat) and enjoying outstanding haute cuisine al fresco. If you’re feeling energetic and need to work off those calories after a long lunch, then a kayak along the either the Dordogne or Vézère rivers in a must. There are numerous hire points along the rivers. It’s also worth visiting the ancient rock art sites in the region, some of which is thousands of years old; the caves at Lascaux are world famous and for good reason.
Allow at least a week to drink in the Dordogne vibes. Staying in a countryside gîte with self catering facilities is a great idea. But if you’re visiting the Dordogne with kids, you may want to look at one of the camping and holiday parks in the region as they will have a pool and playground.
May can bring cooler days, so do pack a jumper. But we’ve always had a few good days of May weather to jump into the pool or river!
Interlaken in May nominated by BudgetTravelBuff
Interlaken is a picture-perfect European destination which is located at the heart of the Bernese Alps and surrounded by Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains. If you want to come from Zurich, the best way to reach Interlaken is to take a train journey from Zurich International Airport to Interlaken OST Railway Station that takes around 2 hours. Interlaken is also accessible by bus and this little village town is well connected with other European cities like Rome, Munich, Paris.
Interlaken can be visited at any time around the year. However, if you want pleasant weather and avoid the rain and snow then May is the best month to visit Interlaken. During this month, the temperature remains within a healthy 15°C to 20°C. The main advantage of visiting Interlaken during May is that you can enjoy watching the white snow and the lush green valleys at the same time. You can see lush greenery, snow-capped mountaintops and a colorful bloom of flowers. During the summer, people can enjoy both, the winter sports activities in the Alps as well as hiking and other local sightseeing around the city.
Visiting Jungfraujoch in May is a must-do thing on your Interlaken trip. It is probably the most popular and expensive attraction in Interlaken. At the end of the 7 km train journey, you will reach the top of Jungfraujoch at an elevation of 11000 feet. From the top Jungfraujoch offers a stunning panoramic view of mountain Jungfrau and Eiger.
Grindelwald is another gem of Interlaken, especially for the hikers and adventure lovers. Take a gondola ride to reach the top of the Grindelwald-First. It offers a breathtaking view of the snow-capped peaks, pastures, lakes and a beautiful waterfall. Enjoy different types of adventure activities like flying fox, bag jump, cliff walk, first glider, mountain biking and many more.
I will recommend keeping 2 days reserved in your Interlaken travel itinerary. You can stay at the Alpenrose Hotel and Gardens, a well maintained family-friendly accommodation with an amazing view of the Jungfrau mountain range.
Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia Nominated by Packing Light Travel
The stunningly beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is one of the most unique natural phenomena in Europe. The easy walking trails and boardwalks weaving their way past cascades and waterfalls make for leisurely hikes. Environmentally friendly electric boats and trains help visitors navigate the park’s 4,856 hectares / 12,000 acres of natural splendour.
May is a perfect month to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park. Water levels are at their highest, and the landscape is bursting with spring colours. Temperatures are ideal for hiking, and visitor numbers are much lower than those of the busy months of July and August.
The UNESCO-listed park is a two- to three-hour drive from Zagreb or the coast. There’s a regular bus service so it’s not necessary to rent a car. A luggage storage service is available at park entrances. Hotel accommodation is located within the park, enabling visitors to take full advantage of the opening hours between 8:00 am and 7:00 pm.
The vast majority of visitors are day-trippers arriving on tour buses. So, it’s possible to get a taste of the park if you have time constraints. In my view, a two-day ticket is the preferred option. This allows you to get up early or hike into the early evening to enjoy the park in different shades of light. It means planning to hike the busier trails before the day-trippers arrive or after they leave. It enables you to hike as many trails as possible and seek out the spectacular views that have made Plitvice famous.
Ravello in May by Anchored Adventure Blog
Most travelers are familiar with southern Italy’s iconic Amalfi Coast, the nearly 50 kilometers of coastline protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In general, the Amalfi Coast is no longer a hidden gem. In fact, tourists flock to the most popular town, Positano, in the masses. In the warmer months, Positano is overwhelmingly crowded – even in May. But there are other towns on the Amalfi Coast that are just as picturesque with a fraction of the tourists, such as the charming town of Ravello. This little town is special because it sits 265 meters above the coastline. And because of that, it offers the most perfect panorama of the Amalfi Coast. Ravello hasn’t lost its authenticity, which makes it a fantastic destination to visit – especially in May. And while it’s smaller than some of its coastal neighbors, there are plenty of things to do in Ravello.
In May, Ravello is completely awake and active after its winter snooze. And with lots of sunshine and warm weather this time of year, being outdoors is one of the best activities. Lounge on a patio in the town’s square while sipping an espresso, eating a croissant, and watching the locals go about their days. Wander through the oasis and gardens of Villa Rufolo, and marvel at the mesmerizing coastal views from Villa Cimbrone. Head out for an afternoon of hiking among the scenic trails, which takes you through terraced vineyards and lemon groves along the coast. And when the sun sets for the evening, indulge in the delicious Italian cuisine at the many highly-rated trattorias and restaurants. May is the perfect time of year to dine outdoors on the terraces and gardens. And before you leave Ravello, be sure to visit Mimi Café for its mouthwatering, authentic Italian pizza. It’s so delicious, you may even go twice!