May means different things for the two hemispheres. In the northern half, spring melts into summer, and in the southern, autumn, with all its virtues, gets into full swing. The Far East has its own climatic system, while in North America the weather becomes more clement. From the sun-baked streets of Santorini to vast expanses of untamed wilderness in Canada and the historic isles of the Inner Hebrides, here are some of our favourite locations for travellers wondering where to visit in May.
Home to the ancient civilization of the Incas, one of the highlights of travelling to Peru is visiting Machu Picchu. Located above the sacred valley, it was built in the mid 15th century, at the height of the Incan empire. Now A UNESCO world heritage site and widely regarded as one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’, it’s one among many essential sites in the country. Contemporary Peru has its own charms, too. From traditional markets to ‘new Andean’ cuisine, ancient amphitheatres to working tea plantations, here is a place where history elides effortlessly into the present.
Isle of Skye
Earlier in the year the Inner Hebrides attracts hikers in search of brisk and bracing walks. Those who prefer the land thawed, however, will find May the perfect time to visit the Isle of Skye. One of the archipelago’s largest islands, it is a land of verdant glens, peaceful lochs and sprawling, sandy beaches. An ideal location for one of history’s most famous escapes, is was here that Flora MacDonald aided the evacuation of Bonnie Prince Charlie after the collapse of the Jacobite cause at Culloden – and it’s kept a hold of that misty romance ever since.
To avoid the greatest extremes of the Greek summer, go a little earlier in the year and enjoy Santorini in May. The island’s beaches aren’t just white, but having once been a volcanic hotspot, black and red too. Those much-loved elements of the Aegean are distilled in Santorini, leaving whitewashed houses, cobbled streets, dried squid on racks, and Minoan ruins to be baked by the Mediterranean sun. Famous for its exquisite sunsets, Santorini is also home to plenty of rustic bars and restaurants where visitors can contemplate their day with a sundowner.
A country of unspoiled wilderness, Canada’s natural landscape is peerless in the fresh months of spring. Three of its national parks – Revelstoke, Glacier and Yoho – are particularly impressive in May, as is the natural bridge (a limestone rock formation) that spans Kicking Horse River. At Banff, visitors can take in the ‘Jewel of the Rockies’ on a gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain, before continuing their journey via Jasper national park and the spectacular Niagara Falls. Make sure to allow plenty of time to explore Toronto at the end of your journey, in spring this vibrant city is blanketed in delicate cherry blossom in High Park.
The most Western capital of Europe has had its fair share of history. The Belem Quarter, near the mouth of the River Tagus, features the magnificent Jeronimo’s Monastery as well as Belem Tower, the point from which Vasco da Gama set off on his explorations. At the gorgeous Terreiro do Paco square, named after an enormous earthquake that took place here in 1755, visitors can settle in at a cafe and sample that most famous of Portuguese treats, the pasteis de nata, or custard tart. And those with energy to spare should take the funicular, which puts much of the Old Town and its steep, sleepy streets at your disposal.