West Europe May, Best Cities

Bloemenmarkt in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Bloemenmarkt in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo by Zak MC.

West Europe May Weather

Suddenly it’s one of the three best months to travel around Europe (the others are June and September) but best to avoid far North Europe for a bit longer. The weather is likely to be excellent, though it could go totally wobbly of course, no guarantees in this business. The big tourist crowds are at still at work/school/college so Gather ye rosebuds while ye May!

Italy: Feast of San Nicola in Bari, the Feast of San Gennaro in Naples, the Festival of Snakes in Abruzzo.

France: Cannes Film Festival. Actually that’s a bad thing unless you’re a film freak as the place is packed and many areas are cordoned off for badge-holder/celebrities only.

Chaumont Garden Festival – thirty wonderful and sometimes wacky show gardens around a perfect chateau (castle), every year 15 May-19 October.

Italy, Florence, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino – Italy’s oldest music event focuses on opera, ballet and concerts.

England: Isle of Man TT (motorcycle) Races, May/June.

London, Chelsea Flower Show – 11 acres of the UK’s (and arguably Europe’s) best flowers and gardens event, with plenty of original, even wacky ideas.
Glyndbourne Festival Opera (in a Stately Home outside London), late May-early July.

Netherlands: Tulip season.

Czech Rep.: Prague Spring International Music Festival.

Austria: Vienna International Festival from mid-May to mid-June; a wide range of arts, especially music, naturally, but also dance and theatre, sometimes challenging pieces, all set in magnificent buildings.

Italy, Vogalonga in Venice – hundreds of small, manpower boats race 30km, finishing in the Grand Canal.

Greece, Athens Festival – drama, dance and music in the 2, 000 year old outdoor Odeion theatre at the base of Acropolis Hill. Location, location.

Also see European Festivals or Arts Festivals for suggestions, information and dates.

Best West European cities May, sightseeing in good weather

Spain: much of the country is at its best now, including the north so try the capital, Madrid and the North, grand cities like  Bilbao, San Sebastian-Donostia, Santiago de Compostela, Burgos.

Meanwhile the magical Moorish cities of Seville, Cordoba and Granada, are beginning to overheat so this is the last bearable month before the summer. The Andalusian cities of  Malaga and Cadiz offer decent beaches and fair amount of Spanish culture so they will be worth a visit.
Barcelona is a lively, fascinating city, spiced up by weird Gaudi architecture and perfect now.

Italy: Italy offers full-on tourism now, so add the north – Milan, Genoa, Lake Como, walking the Cinque Terre, and Venice, to Tuscany’s Pisa, Lucca, Siena, Florence and Rome though south Italy is starting to heat up. 

All of  the UK is in business now: England – nearly not Europe now! – should be looking and feeling good now. London always makes a great visit even if accommodation is pricey, the superb free museums and galleries make up for it. Stonehenge is not far, nor is CanterburyOxford or Cambridge. Down south English Beaches are beginning to buzz.

Out west in Wales mountains and beaches are getting ready for summer, as are England’s  central Cotswolds hills, and northern Lake District, York city and Yorkshire.

Scotland’s Edinburgh, walking/touring the Scottish Highlands, visiting the magnificent castles and islands should be pleasantly warm.

Portugal  is fully open for business in May, including Algarve beaches. Lisbon and spectacular attractions nearby, such as Sintra, Obidos and varied astonishing churches and monasteries are worth a trip.

France: May is the best time to visit Paris‘ fantastic attractions, as well as the Loire Valley, Carcassonne, the Dordogne, Avignon, Arles and Aix-en-Provence and masses more medieval French cities. Biarritz and other Atlantic beach resorts roll into action now.

The Côte d’Azur will start to get very warm in May with plenty of sunshine, though ironically it always seems to rain sometime during Cannes Film Festival. Visit Cannes, Nice, AntibesMenton, Monaco, St. Tropez  along with the delightful little villages such as Eze, St Paul de Vence, all attractive, interesting and still not too busy in May.

Greece: May is also fine in Athens and not too busy. Central Greece and the Peloponnese peninsula are loaded with sights, ruins and landscapes e. g. Meteora.

The Greek islands are gorgeous in May, tourist and ferry services spring into action, beaches are warm but the sea is still cool.

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