Why you should go: This is the beginning of the dry season in Fiji, which also means it’s the beginning of the high season – though crucially, there are no Australian school holidays in May, which means the bulk of the family groups have yet to arrive, so there’s still plenty of space, and prices have yet to reach their zenith. It’s almost winter, but high temperatures are still around 30 degrees, and it only rains an average of eight days in May.
Don’t miss: This is a great time to check out some of the more touristy areas of Fiji, at a time when visitor numbers will still be relatively low. Visit the beautiful Mamanuca Islands, a chain that includes Beachcomber and Vomo, or check out the resorts around Denarau and the Coral Coast on the main island.
Why you should go: There’s much to love about Morocco, from the ancient and seemingly untouched alleyways of Fes, to the markets of Marrakech, the beaches of Essaouira, and the golden expanse of the Sahara. These destinations, however, don’t particularly shine at the height of summer, when the temperature is uncomfortably hot, and the crowds are heavy. Go, instead, in May to beat the heat while still enjoying some sun.
Don’t miss: Each May, the desert town of Kelaat M’gouna hosts the Festival of the Roses, when these treasured blooms are harvested from the surrounding countryside and locals take to the streets to sing, dance and feast in celebration. It’s a colourful, joyous occasion.
Why you should go: Malta is one of Europe’s most underrated countries, a stunningly beautiful and historically fascinating Mediterranean island with everything that makes this continent great, only in miniature. Unfortunately, come June or July, that also includes the European holiday crowds. To get the most out of Malta, travel in May.
Don’t miss: Malta’s charming capital, Valletta, is UNESCO World Heritage listed, a beautifully preserved 16th-century port town that abuts the sparkling Med. Spend time here exploring the old streets, strolling atop the city walls, or eating down by the waterfront.
Why you should go: Two words: whale sharks. These are the world’s largest fish, gentle, majestic beasts that are longer than a double-decker bus, and at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia you can dive into the ocean and swim with these incredible creatures. May is bang in the middle of whale shark season in Ningaloo – if this experience is on your bucket list, now is the ideal time to visit.
Don’t miss: There’s more to Ningaloo, and Exmouth itself, than the whale sharks. Explore Cape Range National Park, go kayaking on the reef, take a glass-bottom boat ride, go fishing, or snorkel with manta rays at Coral Bay.
Why you should go: While the May nights are chilly in the ancient Andean town of Cusco, the days are sunny and temperate, and the large crowds who arrive in June and July have yet to descend. There are a few great festivals to check out too, including the “Festival of the Cross”, a Catholic celebration, and Qoyllur Rit’i, a traditional Quechua celebration held at the foot of a glacier.
Don’t miss: Now is the time to beat the crowds at Machu Picchu – or at least, to beat the bulk of them (particularly since the site only recently reopened after political unrest). You’ll still find the full complement of hikers on the Inca Trail, but May is just the beginning of the season for this world-renowned sight, and while the skies are clear and the grass is lush and green, the crowds at the main site are manageable.
Why you should go: You don’t want to be in Rome at the height of summer. For one, it’s really, really hot. It’s also really, really popular. That combination of high temperatures and huge crowds makes for one uncomfortable experience, which is why it’s best to arrive before everyone else does. May is still busy in Rome, don’t get us wrong, but it’s far more serene and pleasant than hitting the city in peak season.
Don’t miss: Though there’s so much about Rome that’s spectacular and beautiful and charming, there’s surely there’s nothing better than a perfectly cooked, authentic Roman carbonara. Get the best of the best at Da Enzo al 29 in the Trastevere district.
Why you should go: The UK feels like it’s coming alive in May, as the days get longer and warmer and the citizens shake themselves out of hibernation and prepare for the summer ahead. Coastal Brighton, in southern England, is a particularly good place to be: May in this laidback town is festival time, which means a whole month of partying.
Don’t miss: The Brighton Festival and the Brighton Fringe (England’s largest arts festival) turn the city into one giant stage throughout May. Catch artists and performers of all genres and calibres, and soak up the fun of a city in celebration mode.
RIO DE JANEIRO
Why you should go: Conventional wisdom might have it that the best time to visit Rio is during Carnival, in March. But conventional wisdom would also have you sharing your Rio experience with millions of other revellers, and paying the price on accommodation. In May it’s much calmer. The weather is also excellent – crisp and clear instead of stinking hot – the sea is warm, and the people are in their usual good spirits.
Don’t miss: May marks the beginning of Brazil’s domestic football competition, and to truly appreciate the mania that accompanies this sport, you have to get to a game. Rio is home to several major clubs – Botafogo, Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama – and seeing any play will be an experience you’ll never forget.