CULTURE CLUB • April 2019
Anyone looking to jet off this May knows there are plenty of options available for great weather and cultural highs. That's why we asked travel writer Alicia Miller to slim down the best of a great bunch in her top picks for the month of May
Cast out in the wild Atlantic Ocean, rugged, sun-licked Madeira feels like Europe meets the Caribbean. Warm year round – but especially pleasant in May, when sea breezes balance with ever-intensifying rays – vineyards cling to its steep slopes, and the historic, tiled-roof core of Funchal is dotted with alfresco cafes. Take a tour of centuries-old Blandy’s Wine Lodge, then retire to a seaside hotel to relax; grande dame Belmond Reid’s Palace is walking distance from the city core and has a dreamy tidal pool.
Dream flight: Take BA2780 from London Gatwick at 13:50 on Friday, and arrive into Funchal at 17:55.
Rome is a city for all seasons, but there’s something especially magical about it in May. The Italian capital is in full bloom, as pink petals hang from narrow street window-sills and landscaped gardens – including rose-filled Roseto Capitale – shimmer with an array of reds, purples and yellows. Because it’s neither too hot nor too cold (highs are 22°C), now’s the time to pack in a full day of outdoor sightseeing: skip from the Colosseum to fountain-filled Piazza Navona, from Villa Borghese’s prim grounds to the Ostia Antica archaeological park.
Dream flight: Take BA0558 from London Heathrow at 18:35 on Friday, and arrive into Rome at 22:10.
In high summer, when temperatures are roasting, thousands of visitors flock to Santorini to laze on its photogenic beaches, shimmering in unusual russet and slate-grey shades. It’s too hot to do much else. But many don’t realise that in May, you can get that perfect, ray-licked beach time and make the most of Santorini’s other, secret highlight: hiking. With monthly highs of 22°C, spend one day on the sands at serene Vlychada – and the next traversing the island from Fira to Oia, taking in bushy scrub, whitewashed villages and dramatic cliffs.
Dream flight: Take BA0652 from London Heathrow at 8:20 on Friday, and arrive into Santorini at 14:25.
Málaga is best-known as a gateway to the resorts of the Costa del Sol, which pack out each summer with sun-seeking holidaymakers. But there’s so much more to this pretty city – the perfect size for a long weekend – well before the fly-and-flop peak hits. It’s brimming with history: a Moorish Alcazaba palace-fortress and a Roman theatre both feature in the centre of the old town, for example, while Gibralfaro, another Moors-built castle, sits dramatically on a hilltop. But there’s modern history, too: as the birthplace of Picasso, you’ll find an entire museum dedicated to his life and work.
Dream flight: Take BA2718 from London Gatwick at 19:30 on Friday, and arrive into Malaga at 23:25.
The sun is out, the old-town restaurant terraces are open, and the veteran trees encircling the hilltop castle are flush with new green leaves – undoubtedly, May is one of the loveliest months to visit Czech Republic’s capital. And while it’s not quite quiet – it rarely is in this bucket-list European city – it’s far sleepier than July and August. You’ll still be able to savour crossing the romantic Charles Bridge at sunset, or amble freely through Wenceslas Square. Grab tickets for the long-running Spring International Music Festival – Prague’s answer to the Proms serves up star orchestral performances in a Neo-renaissance concert hall from May 12 until early June.
Dream flight: Take BA0858 from London Heathrow at 20:00 on Friday, and arrive into Prague at 23:00.
Many visitors come to Reykjavik in winter, to ogle the northern lights; and in summer, to soak up endless Nordic days – but they’re missing a trick. In the former, some of the most scenic chunks of the island can be inaccessible due to snowy weather, and during the latter, prices for accommodation and car hire have known to be eye-watering. But in May you can hit more of the sights – from the Golden Circle’s waterfalls, geysers and valleys to remote drives – under sunny blue skies, and at reasonable prices.
Dream flight: Take BA0800 from London Heathrow at 7:40 on Friday, and arrive into Reykjavik at 9:50.