As spring begins to ebb into summer across Europe, you can expect longer days and warmer temperatures. Portugal promises pleasant conditions for sightseeing, from the sunny Douro wine region to the far-flung Azores. May in the Caucasian nations of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan comes before the crowded summer holidays and after the snowy ski season, affording comfortably warm weather for exploring. On the other side of the world, the southern states of South America are entering the dry season, and a multi-country adventure is on the cards. The unique wildlife of the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador can be enjoyed year-round, including in May, when the rainy season eases towards the dry season.
Best destinations to visit in May
May is an ideal month to visit all three states of the southern Caucasus: Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Travelling in May will mean you avoid local summer holidays when accommodation is crowded, as well as the bitter chill of winter when the majority of tourists arrive to ski. The culturally rich cities of Tiblisi, Baku and Yerevan are still cool enough to explore comfortably before the humidity of summer sets in, and while the mountains are lush it is an ideal time for alpine exploration.
Ecuador & Galapagos
Scattered over a thousand kilometres off mainland Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands are a year-round destination thanks to consistently warm weather. May is a transition month for the archipelago, offering a favourable combination of weather, water temperature and wildlife activity. Wildlife activities are abundant: the eggs of marine iguanas and sea turtles start hatching, and many birds begin their courtship rituals – including the unmistakable blue-footed boobies. Flowers are now in bloom and the warm water makes snorkelling a delight. Plus, as the peak season begins in June, you will be able to experience the Galápagos with fewer tourists.
Late spring in Portugal is pleasantly warm and before the peak summer months. This allows for less crowded sightseeing and comfortable excursions into both the city and the countryside. The Douro region is dry and sunny in May, so perfect for leisurely wine-tasting and boat trips; while the sun-kissed southern beaches are particularly tempting. For island hopping, consider the Azores archipelago – ideal at this time of year – or Madeira, which experiences warmth similar to early summer, and bursts into colour during its Flower Festival (held annually in May or April).
South America multi-centre tours
By May, several countries in South America see the rainclouds part and the dry season arrive, especially across the Andes. This provides some of the best conditions for a sweeping multi-country tour of the continent. Peru and its neighbours Ecuador and Bolivia make an excellent combination, with highlights including Machu Picchu, the Galápagos Islands and the shimmering Bolivian salt flat of Uyuni. For a grander adventure, add Brazil, Argentina and Chile into the mix – each less crowded at this time of year. Admire Patagonia during its autumn blush, Chile’s gorgeous Lake District, the thundering Iguazú Falls, the Pantanal’s technicoloured birdlife, and Argentina’s lauded winelands.