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Best places to travel in May with family

Looking for a holiday in May? Here’s a guide to the best holiday destinations to travel to in May with family, as recommended by parents.

By Dina Mahmoud | Last updated Oct 7, 2022

CN Tower and lit up skyscrappers overlooking harbour with yachts in an evening

April showers bring May flowers and this blooming month is the perfect time to travel and see nature in all of its bright and colourful glory. 

The spring blossoms and ample sunshine aren’t the only reasons that make May a perfect time to go away for a holiday. In fact, the balmy and refreshing month brings warm temperatures without the crowds that come in June and July, meaning flight and accommodation deals are more likely available for budget-friendly travel. 

Where to travel in May: Editor's Picks

With warmer weather conditions in the northern hemisphere finally on the way, it’s officially time to say goodbye to the cold and wet season and what better way to celebrate than with a family-friendly holiday in May?

Check out our guide for the best places to travel in May, as recommended by Mumsnetters.

Best May family holiday destinations: quick look

  1. Best for natural views: Canada
  2. Best for sightseeing: Lisbon, Portugal
  3. Best for history buffs: Turkey
  4. Best budget May destination: Egypt
  5. Best for whale watching: Iceland

1. Best for natural views: Canada

Cloudy skies with snow top ountains overlooking lush green pine trees and a large, bright blue lake

Find a holiday in Canada | Find flights to Canada

May is an ideal time to explore Canada’s beauty and attractions. Full of natural wonder, Canada is home to the Rocky Mountains, Niagara Falls, the Atlantic Coastline, Moraine Lake, and so much more. And while it can be a little chilly at times, May presents the best conditions for explorations.

The country is surrounded by three oceans. If you’re heading to the west, you can appreciate the Pacific Ocean coastline while strolling along a harbour or biking through the parks in the city of Vancouver or Victoria in British Columbia. Whale watching is also a favourite pastime for those in British Columbia. Home to a variety of different whale species including the iconic humpback whale, there are several places along the coast that offer whale watching excursions. 

If you’ve decided that you want to experience that authentic Canadian skiing experience, have no fear! Some of the slopes in Whistler, British Columbia are still packed with snow in early May for the final ski of the season. 

A six hour plane ride away from British Columbia, and you will arrive at Canada’s most populous city, Toronto. Being the largest city in Canada, there is much to see and do. Toronto offers plenty of national parks, restaurants, cafes and patio settings for the much anticipated outdoor season. 

There are also attractions for the little ones such as Ontario Science Place, Toronto Zoo, Wonderland and more. And let’s not forget Niagara Falls! The stunning spectacle is one that you must see to believe. Just a ninety minute drive from Toronto and you will bear witness to one of the largest waterfalls in the world.

The little ones will also get a kick out of the main street of Niagara Falls, which is designed just for children’s enjoyment. Lundy Lane offers restaurants, candy shops, haunted houses, wax museums, indoor playgrounds, mirror mazes and everything your child could ever imagine.

What Mumsnet users say

“You have somewhere to visit every day on this particular cruise. Yes, you are sailing but along the Inside Passage to see whales and getting close to a glacier is a brilliant experience. You would find it difficult to do via the land. Otherwise do British Columbia and carry on to Banff and Lake Louise.”  BubblesBuddy

“West coast Canada. Vancouver Island and the Rockies. Loads to see and do. You could probably manage it on your budget if you hired an RV.” BestIsWest

2. Best for outdoor activities: Cyprus

Short, stone buildings with a yellow canopy connecting the buildings together with a seating area underneath

Find a hotel in Cyprus | Find flights to Cyprus

A beach destination for a short-haul stay that has mountainous terrains, amazing food, and untouched natural landmarks are what you can find in Cyprus. With an abundance of sunshine and warmth during the month of May, relaxation, sun, sea and sand is what you can expect on your holiday here.

The beaches in Cyprus are plentiful and the resorts offer all-inclusive options and kids’ clubs that can keep your little ones entertained for hours on end. Water sports, sightseeing, cycling, mountain biking and hiking are all popular activities that can take place in the resorts as well as in the parks and mountain range.

Troodos Mountains for example is the largest mountain range in Cyprus and is an excellent place for hiking, cycling and mountain biking, along with some of Cyprus’ beautiful aerial views.

Aside from this, Cyprus is filled with vibrant culture and history. Paphos is a wonderful place to explore the seaside. With restaurants, cafes, local shops and hotels  the charming city gives the island atmosphere with a cultural feel. With friendly locals all around Paphos, the city is at the coastline and is just a stone's throw away from the old town, markets and the former Turkish quarters.

Cyprus weather in May is warm and dry in the daytime and comfortable and pleasant in the evenings. The temperatures range between 17°C to 27°C, which means the weather will bring ample opportunities for touring the country in complete comfort.

What Mumsnet users say

“I’ve been to Cyprus a couple of times at that time of year and it was nice. Warm enough to lie by the pool but not to roasting if you wanted to do some sightseeing.” emmathedilemma

“Another vote for Cyprus - we've been several times at the end of May and the weather has always been great. Have also been to southern Spain (specifically Marbella) and the lovely weather there too.” Twiglets1

3. Best budget May destination: Egypt

A camel sitting parallel to the three pyramids of Giza

Find a holiday in Egypt | Find flights to Egypt

Egypt is one of those countries that fascinates everyone. We’ve all learned of its history in school, but to see history in real life is a different story. As May is the last month before the mercury rises, many look to travel to see the Great Pyramids of Giza, and cruise down the Nile to visit the Valley of the Kings and Queens in the ancient cities of Luxor and Aswan

Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada are also great places to be for those seeking a beach holiday in Egypt. These two areas aren’t the only seaside locations in Egypt. In fact, the city of Alexandria is just as fascinating. With its rich history, homage to Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great can be seen all across the city. Royal palaces and the seaside charm is also something that is unique to Alexandria. 

If you seek a relaxing time away from the city, the northern coast of Egypt is located just a thirty minute drive away from Alexandria. The North Coast of Egypt presents gated communities that house chalets, where you can truly relish under the sun with swimming pools, the Mediterranean sea, and a bustling nightlife for both adults and children. The chalets are normally rented on Airbnb, and most compounds are family-friendly and cater to children. The gated communities come with a recreational centre, grocery store and restaurants and cafes, so leaving the compound isn’t necessary, unless of course you are checking out. 

Egypt is a one stop shop with everything included. Beaches, history and natural views can be found across the country and the rich culture and cuisine is the underdog that often goes unnoticed, but deserves all the hype.

What Mumsnet users say

“Egypt. V good value for money and some lovely hotels.” Sprig1

“I've just got back from Coral Sea. It's fab for kids. It's right on the beach, which has a covered playground. There is a family pool with slides etc. The kids club and entertainment is fantastic. There is a family section in the main restaurant with a children's buffet which opens early for evening meals. The staff are brilliant with kids. And when the kids are off with the kids clubs there are Adult Only pools/bars/restaurants so you can enjoy some peace and quiet.” SuperSlattern

4. Best for cultural experiences: Canary Islands, Spain

White stone buildings with green and blue railings in a tight road

Find a holiday in the Canary Islands | Find flights to the Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are a popular tourist destination that offer a little of everything. The landscape is diverse on the islands and dramatic deserts, snow-capped mountains and rugged cliffs are all part of the charm. The endless beaches of both black and white sand are also a sight to behold. And, of course, the active volcanoes are what give the islands their unique charm. 

Beach days, water sports, and hiking excursions are likely part of your holiday plans to the Canary Islands, but did you know that May in the Canaries brings the vibrant culture to life? The Day of Canary Islands is a bank holiday and is celebrated annually on May 30th. The day commemorates the anniversary of the first parliament session that was held in the islands. 

If you are lucky enough to be here on May 30th, you will get the opportunity to truly immerse in the Canary culture. With lively local music, crafts and dances filling the streets, you can discover the authentic culture and heritage. 

The celebrations take place on all the islands of the archipelago with Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria being the more artistic events, whereas the rural areas and towns offer more traditional, authentic celebrations. With lots of big, vibrant colours, traditional attire, food and music, you will want to make the most of the day as you party with local Canarians. 

What Mumsnet users say

“It would be the Canaries at that time of the year for me.” KangarooKenny

Where to stay in the Canary Islands

5. Best for sightseeing: Lisbon, Portugal

colourful caste of Pena in Sintra

Find a hotel in Lisbon | Find flights to Lisbon

If you’re looking for a place to explore without the hassle of planning in advance then Lisbon is for you. The beautiful, hilly city is walkable and has views in every direction. With ample patio settings, cafes and restaurants, Lisbon is a very charismatic city that brings the Portuguese charm to life. 

The city is known for its lively vibe and easy-going atmosphere, and is characterised by its hilly and cobblestone grounds and charming network of trams, which are the heart and the soul of the city. 

This popular Portuguese destination is made up of renaissance architecture, with balconies and terraces but also has a modern twist. Home to some of the best natural harbours in Europe, Lisbon has an abundance of fresh seafood coming straight from its ports. Portuguese cuisine - particularly seafood - is one that is raved about along with their cheeses, wines and pastries, including the famous pasteis de nata. When it comes to food, the Portuguese have a passion and it shows. Most dishes are hearty, zesty and garlicky and one bite will have you coming back for more. Soup, seafood, piri-piri chicken and tarts and desserts are all on the menu throughout the streets of Lisbon.

Walking through the vibrant city, you will find an array of museums, art galleries, local shops, shopping centres and souvenir shops. A short car ride away and you can find the colourful Sintra Palace. A world UNESCO Heritage Site, the palace was built in 1854 and is perched on top of a hill above the town of Sintra. 

What Mumsnet users say

“Lisbon! It’s a fab city, loads to see, friendly people, great food, very reasonably priced etc.” Lampan

6. Best for nature lovers: Cape Town, South Africa

A beach with mountains in the backdrop and penguin colonies on the coast

Find a hotel in Cape Town | Find flights to Cape Town

With the iconic Table Mountain as the city’s background, Cape Town is a cultural mosaic that is filled with a combination of different local and indigenous cultures. 

The picturesque city is a work of art and walking tours are a common way to introduce yourself to Cape Town. The iconic Table Mountain is hard to miss. Laying at over 3,500 feet above sea level, the views from the mountain are remarkable. However, this isn’t the only peak with stunning views. Southwest of Cape Town is Chapman’s Peak, where you can witness the collision of the Atlantic and Indian oceans.

The national parks in Cape Town also offer beautiful, long hikes overlooking the birdlife and floral fields. If you’re looking for a special attraction, visiting the former political prison on Robben Island is one of the on demand interests for tourists. As the famous and respected, late Nelson Mandela was imprisoned here for 18-years, the site was declared a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1999 and holds a victorious history. 

Finally, you can’t visit Cape Town without a trip to Boulders Beach Penguin Colony. The beach is a top attraction in the city and is home to over 3,000 penguins. Tourists have the opportunity to witness the birds from a raised boardwalk while still respecting the colony’s space.

What Mumsnet users say

“South Africa around Cape Town is really nice though need to take care re safety - penguins on the beach and big 5 safari at Aquila, Table Mountain etc.” Penguinsetpandas

7. Best for older children: Sweden

Colourful buildings in the city with benches and onlookers with a statue in the middle

Find a holiday in Sweden | Find flights to Sweden

This colourful Scandinavian beauty will enchant you in more ways than one. With its sparkling lakes, lush forests, prideful Viking heritage, rich history, rustic mountains and picturesque landscape, Sweden has plenty of adventures for your family. 

For a city break, head to the country’s capital, Stockholm - the city is undoubtedly a place that should be perched high on your list during your visit to Sweden. As an attractive waterfront city, Stockholm stretches over 14 islands, each with its own unique characteristics. Along the city you will find the cobbled streets that lay among cafes, restaurants, pastel and colourful buildings and one of Europe’s best preserved mediaeval city centres. 

When visiting Stockholm expect interactive and informative museums, theme parks, recreational parks and Drottningholm Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the private residence of the Swedish royal family that dates back to the 17th Century, which is nearby.  

For the eco-conscious folks, Gothenburg is the place to be. Located west of Sweden, Gothenburg is a sustainable urban city that welcomes cycling enthusiasts. With more than 16,000 plant species and the country’s largest botanical garden, the city allows cyclists to roam the streets, canals and all of the lush, green landscape. 

Finally, for those looking for a magical sight, Malmö it is! The coastal city offers historical attractions and museums and charming canals that can be manoeuvred by boats while admiring the view from the water. However, what is most fascinating about Malmö is the spectacular view of the northern lights. The colourful sky hues make for an indescribably, mysterious, nightly performance. With its rustic coastline, Malmö is a city that can’t be missed.

If you’re planning a trip to Sweden in May, you are in luck. The Nordic country sees bright, sunny weather with comfortable temperatures that range between 11°C to 16°C. 

What Mumsnet users say

“Scandinavia might work too - Copenhagen has Tivoli and is really pretty, Sweden we are staying at an alpaca farm where kids can walk alpacas and Wild Sweden does trips to see beavers, moose and bears and Norway has fjords over by Bergen.” Penguinsetpandas

8. Best for history buffs: Turkey

A large mosque with 5 minarets and 4 domes

Find a holiday in Turkey | Find flights to Turkey

With its influences from Asia, Europe and the Middle East, Turkey is a metropolitan of culture and is the perfect destination for those chasing history, adventure, culture and relaxation.

The weather in Turkey in May is delightful. With temperatures soaring to above 20°C and chances of rainfall being low, the climate makes for the most ideal time to explore comfortably. It is always recommended to travel to Turkey in the spring to truly appreciate the country in all its glory. 

While you will likely indulge in the delicious food that is popular for its kebabs, koftas and Turkish Delights, the country has a lot more to offer than just its decadent cuisine. 

When visiting Turkey, Istanbul should be first on your list. Filled with a vibrant culture and nightlife, Istanbul offers plenty of attractions and sights for tourism. The Istanbul Music and Jazz festival is one of these sights and is one of the most important attractions in Turkey in May. The festival is hosted by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts and highlights classical and jazz music. Featuring some of the world’s most renowned jazz performers and orchestras from around the globe, the event never disappoints and the talent is incomparable.

If you’re looking for peace and quiet and want to avoid the hustle and bustle of city life, then a trip to Butterfly Valley is the place to be. Located in Muğla Province, and on the Mediterranean coast, the lush, green valley is home to over 146 floras and more than 100 butterfly species. And yes, it is as peaceful and serene as it sounds. In fact, with its stunning natural views, it's hard not to lay back and relax and enjoy the day as it takes you, even if it's just for a few hours. As the valley is right on the coast of the Mediterranean, a relaxing dip in the sea or just lazing on the sand and getting some much needed R&R is definitely possible.

Just a short drive away from Butterfly Valley, and you will arrive at Kabak beach. With tranquillity on your mind, a trip to Kabak beach is the experience that you need to clear your mind.

What Mumsnet users say

“Turkey? Been a few times in May and had gorgeous weather.” stargazer2030

9. Best for young children: Oman

A boat ontop of the water with rugged mountains in the background

Find a holiday in Oman | Find flights to Oman

Surrounded by the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea, Oman has a number of attractions including iconic mosques, historic fortresses and palaces and the Royal Opera House. But one of the biggest tourist attractions in Oman is the rustic, rugged mountain terrain that overlooks the Musandam Peninsula and the Strait of Hormuz. 

The Governorate of Musandam offers dhow cruises on the peninsula with promises of pristine waters, snorkelling, scuba diving, swimming and stunning coral reefs. Wild dolphins inhabit the waters and dolphin watching is part of the tour. With delicious freshly caught seafood, your dinner is guaranteed to be fresh, delicious and plentiful. The wadis and Fjords are also part of the dhow cruise and the beauty alongside the rugged, untouched mountains calls for a relaxing and serene atmosphere. 

Finishing your excursion with overnight sleeping and camping under the starry skies is something out of a fairy-tale. You can end your trip by embracing the Omani culture and head to Muscat to explore the city and the souks.

What Mumsnet users say

“How about going mid haul and going to Oman? Just had a quick look and there are flight & (nice) hotel deals going for around £6-700 each and the average temp will be 26°C compared to say 20 in Morocco so good for relaxing by the pool bit. It has a beautiful coastline in Muscat backed by mountains and they’ve not knocked everything of any historical interest down (pretty much unlike Dubai!). There are also day trips out to wadi’s, the desert and old fortified towns you can do.” SJaneS48

10. Best for whale watching: Iceland

Stream of blue water between two grassy bank with steam and mountains in the background

Find a holiday in Iceland | Find flights to Iceland

Iceland in May is a sight to behold. As the flowers begin to bloom, nature comes to life in the late spring and early summer. While the mountains in Reykjavik are covered in snow, the weather is getting relatively warm, particularly in south Iceland. 

During this month, daybreak is early and evenings are bright. Throughout the month, May sees 17 to 20 hours of daylight. The country has ample daylight and is the perfect place for outdoor activities with temperatures dancing from 7°C to 10°C. 

As an off-season, travelling to Iceland in May comes with fewer tourists, good deals and accommodations at lower prices, allowing for travellers on a budget to truly enjoy Iceland at its fullest capacity. 

There is much to do in Iceland, including kayaking, picnicking and enjoying the gardens. Hiking is also a popular activity in Iceland which gives opportunities to see the stunning Icelandic countryside and gorgeous views of the meadows, valleys, streams and scenic landscape.

Iceland is a truly unique wonder, with volcanoes, glaciers, meadows and caves all across the country. One of the sought after tours are the lava caves. With a stunning display of red, orange and purple rock formations, lava caves also provide history behind Iceland’s geology. 

If you’re looking to wow the little ones, Iceland is home to a number of species close to the shorelines. Killer whales, harbour porpoises, short beaked dolphins, minke whales, sperm and humpback whales and blue whales can be seen in their natural habitat through whale watching tours that take tourists out to sea. Sightings of gulls, fulmars and gannets are also possible. 

But that’s not all! Iceland also houses the largest population of Atlantic puffin residents in Europe. Flocking to the coastline in the summer to nest, you can have the rare opportunity to see the puffins in action while on the whale watching tours. As puffins are a threatened species, it is recommended to take tours to ensure their safety and protection.

What Mumsnet users say

“Go to Husavik for whale watching and the amazing Geo Sea thermal baths!” Amelion

“I've been to the Blue Lagoon and it was honestly one of the best days I've ever had. Couldn't recommend it enough!” Buddyelf

Where is the nicest weather in May?

As the winter season makes its exit in the northern hemisphere, the spring and summer months come to light and the warmth and sunny days are near. But if you’re looking for holiday destinations that are guaranteed for heat and poolside weather, check these places out:

Where is warm and cheap in May?

With the cost of living increasing, finding low-budget holiday destinations is a priority for many. Many holiday destinations from across the globe present easy and affordable travel.

Where in Europe is it hot in May?

Europe in May comes to life as the warm season officially makes its debut. Ranging from 20 °C to 30°C, here are some of the hottest European destinations  in May.

How we chose our recommendations

Recommendations by real parents

Before choosing any destination for our roundups, we first consult the Mumsnet forums. With over 10 million users per month, there’s a lot of suggestions by real parents who have been there, done that when travelling in May with the family. 

Expert guidance and traveller reviews

After we’ve collated our hotel picks, we then turn to the experts and consult the likes of Hotels.com, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, and Expedia to see what their recommendations include for family holidays here.

Here we’ll also check what travellers are saying about the best places to visit in May on these sites, taking into consideration both the positive and negative points of their trip to bring you a well-rounded and honest guide. 

Celebrated destinations

Finally, we cross-referenced all of the above information to find the best family holiday destinations in May that had won the most awards and recommendations across the board. We feel there’s something here for everyone, to suit every budget.

Why should you trust us?

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.

 

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