Travel to These Destinations From the UK in May
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With two bank holidays in May, it’s the ideal time for many people to travel. We’ve scoured the world to find the best destinations for you to visit this month, thanks to new airline routes, cool hotel openings, festivals and sunny, mild weather. Whether you’ve got kids in tow or are flying solo, itching to party with friends or relax with your significant other, head to one of these six spots for a holiday this May.
Tel Aviv, Israel
New airline routes are making it easier than ever to reach Israel. Some of the airlines launching new routes from destinations around Europe in 2019 include TAP Air Portugal, which began flying from Lisbon (LIS) to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) in April; and El Al, which will connect Manchester (MAN) and Tel Aviv (TLV) in May. Even low-cost carriers like Ryanair, EasyJet and Wizz Air have introduced a dizzying number of flights to Israel from cities across Europe, with more on the way.
TPG UK’s director of content, Nicky Kelvin, can’t wait to visit to the Israeli capital this May, along with The Points Guy himself, Brian Kelly, and other TPG staff members.
“With Israeli Independence Day (from sundown May 8 to 9) and the Eurovision Song Contest (May 14 to 18) falling within a week of each other, May is the month to go get your hummus on,” Kelvin told TPG late last year. “Alongside the vast history and beautiful beaches, the Tel Aviv of today is a hotbed of dining and partying experiences. The city claims a huge number of restaurants that will blow your taste buds away after a day of watermelon and matkot (a bat and ball game) on the beach.”
Four luxury hotels opened in 2018, too, so you have your choice of new digs. There’s Marriott’s Jaffa Hotel, a restored 19th-century hospital and monastery, and boutique spots like the 39-room Vera Hotel, the stylish Drisco Tel Aviv (a member of Leading Hotels of the World, which has an overhauled loyalty program) or the stylish Fabric Hotel, which occupies a former sewing factory.
It’s a quick hop to the picturesque island of Kos starting May 15, when British Airways launches its thrice-weekly service (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays) from London Gatwick (LGW) to Kos Island International Airport (KGS).
If you’re using Avios, Kos is a Zone 3 destination, meaning it will cost you just 8,500 in Euro Traveller and 17,000 in Club Europe for a one-way ticket from London on off-peak dates. According to British Airways’ calendar, off-peak dates will still be in effect through May 23, meaning you have a few opportunities to fly this route on an off-peak Avios award in May (off-peak pricing resumes in early June and runs through most of the month). Peak pricing for awards will be 10,000 in Euro Traveller one way and 20,000 in Club Europe one way. The service is only seasonal, though, and concludes on Oct. 26, 2019.
May is the perfect time to visit some of the smaller, lesser-known Greek Islands, which are delightfully void of holiday makers until July and August. While hot spots like Santorini or Mykonos see visitors nearly year-round, Kos is still hiding in the shadows, ensuring you’ll have a blissful beach escape and connect with the local Greek culture, too. Beyond its gorgeous beaches, Kos is known for its ancient ruins, white-washed hilltop villages, vineyards and thermal hot springs.
Although the temperatures might already be climbing, May is your last chance to visit Marrakech before the summer heat fully descends on the city. Perfect for an extended bank holiday weekend, you can arrive in about 3.5 hours nonstop from London on airlines including easyJet, Ryanair, Air Arabia Maroc and British Airways.
Expect the month of May to be quiet as Ramadan, a period of fasting and prayer, begins on May 4. This shouldn’t hinder your trip to Marrakech, but be respectful of the customs in place during your visit. In fact, visiting during Ramadan can end up being a special period of cultural observance for travellers. Just be aware that some businesses, attractions and restaurants can have modified hours, so check and plan ahead.
While there, plan to shop the souks carefully, making sure to bargain for your purchases (even better if you can do so in French). The Majorelle Garden is often crowded early in the morning but is a nice, shady spot to visit as the heat of the day subsides. If you really want to dive into Moroccan culture, stay in a boutique riad (a small, Moroccan hotel) and have a hammam spa treatment, where you’ll be exfoliated as you relax in hot steam. Hammam de la Rose and Heritage Spa both offer rejuvenating experiences.
Visit Vilnius now, as it emerges from a long winter, and while the Lithuanian government is encouraging travel by subsidising flights to bring visitors to the city. Since the country doesn’t have its own airline, they’ve chosen LOT Polish Air to operate 12 flights per week between London City (LCY) and Vilnius (VNO) starting May 1, 2019. LOT joins both Wizz Air and Ryanair, the two other carriers that operate flights between London and the Lithuanian capital.
If the weather is warm and dry, plan to explore the Bernardine Park and its carefully manicured gardens. The Vilnius River runs through the park, which was once used as a secret space for pagan rituals. Nowadays, the park has interesting medicinal herb gardens, a beautiful botanical garden and a fountain that puts on light shows in the evening.
From May 21 to 26, you can check out one of Europe’s remaining International Folklore Festivals, the Skamba Skamba Kankliai. With concerts, traditional dancing and children’s events, it’s perfect for the whole family.
Turn a bank holiday weekend into a week-long adventure by heading to Havana, Cuba, before hurricane season rolls in (officially starting on June 1). Arrive nonstop with Virgin Atlantic or fly with a stop in various European hubs on carriers such as Air France, KLM, Swiss, Air Europa or Iberia.
You can always experience Cuba’s vibrant culture by simply strolling back in time through Havana’s crumbing maze of streets. But this year, travellers who visit in May can experience the Biennial Visual Arts Festival, running through May 12. On top of art from more than 200 artists and creators from nearly 20 countries, this year’s edition goes beyond the capital city for the first time ever — in case you needed an excuse to venture out to other Cuban cities such as Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Sancti Spíritus, and Camagüey.
Of course, there’s more to Havana than the typical tourist attractions in the Old Havana center. Nearby Vedado is becoming a seriously hip cultural hub, with trendy restaurants, colorful homes in every hue and food markets where you can sample tropical fruit. High-end Miramar is only a few minutes away. Here, you can admire regal mansions along the seaside and visit Fusterlandia, where artist José Fuster created a quirky, mosaic-covered mini-neighborhood reminiscent of the Gaudí-designed Park Güell in Barcelona.
Walking along the malécon, Havana’s seaside strip, is best at dusk when the locals come out and the weather cools down. You’ll catch strains of soft Cuban salsa, vibrant laughter and rapid-fire Spanish as you admire the sun setting below the crashing waves.
Travellers wanting to dig into Japanese culture should head over during Golden Week (April 30 to May 6), one of the city’s busiest holiday seasons. The festivals include Children’s Day, Constitution Day and Greenery Day. If you’d prefer to snag better hotel and airfare prices and avoid crowds, plan to visit after this busy travel week.
Best of all, it’s easier than ever to get there now: On March 31, British Airways launched nonstop flights from London (LHR) to Osaka’s Kansai Airport (KIX) four days per week on the 787-8 Dreamliner. One-way flights in World Traveller start at 19,500 off-peak (30,000 peak) and in Club World, 75,000 off-peak (90,000 peak).
Visiting Japan’s largest city in May is also ideal for avoiding the summer’s notoriously wet, humid weather. Take advantage of the mild spring temperatures and visit Minoo National Park, just a short train ride outside the city center, to see the spring blooms. Although the cherry blossoms surrounding the Osaka Castle will no longer be in bloom, it’s still a beautiful monument.
If you do experience spring showers, there’s plenty to do indoors in Osaka, like the Kaiyukan Aquarium, Universal Studios Japan or — for something a little unconventional — The Cup Noodles Museum, complete with a tasting room. After all, Osaka is known as the Japanese city for foodies. Seek out takoyaki (a ball-shaped cake made with octopus); and okonomiyaki, a pork pancake along Dōtonbori, a street known for its restaurants and food stalls.
Featured photo of Marrakech, Morocco by Max Libertine / Unsplash.
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