May getaways: weather, food & festivals

There are a whole host of reasons for getting away before the summer officially starts: weather, food and festivals are just a few things which might tempt you into a spring/summer holiday.

With the help of some travel experts, we’re highlighting a few places you can go to escape the weather, enjoy some fine food and make the most of spring festivals.


Crete, Greece

Crete coast

 Average temp in May: 24°C

Crete offers the highest average temperature for May in Europe. So it’s a perfect place to retreat to before peak season without having to compromise on the weather. At this time of year you can expect the water temperature to reach a pleasant 19°C and to get a full 8 hours of sunshine every day.

Crete offers beaches for miles and a picturesque coastline studded with cliffs and coves. Ideal for lounging on the beach, cycling along the coast or meandering through villages before the tourists descend in June and July.

Expert recommendation:

Crete in May is at its best, with swimmable sea but not impossibly hot temperatures, a still-green countryside, long days and snow-streaked mountains on the horizon.’

Marc Dubin, Greek Island Travel Expert for The Telegraph


France, Lyon

Food in Lyon

Average temp in May: 21°C

As of the 1st May you will be able to reach Lyon, the culinary capital of France, by Eurostar. Lyon is one of the most influential industrial and economic cities in France. However, down the small streets and alleys away from the business centre there are over 2,000 restaurants. From the Michelin-starred to the casual brasserie there’s somewhere to sample both traditional and ‘nouvelle’ cuisine.

Being at the centre of the Rhone-Alpes region, the city is surrounded by areas that boast some of the finest fresh produce in the country. In May you’ll find Lyon’s food markets brimming with fresh meat, fish, herbs and spring vegetables - the key to many traditional Lyonnais dishes.

Expert recommendation:

Les Loges is the restaurant that grabs the headlines, with chef, Anthony Bonnet, ushering in award after award, and the first Michelin star. However, that was closed on the day I was in town (Monday) and so I had the pleasure of discovering that the Cafe Epicerie excels too. Expect Lyonnais staples such as andouillette and sliced rosettes followed by succulent dishes of roast beef, pork and lamb.


Abigail King, National Geographic Traveler and Lonely Planet writer,


Italy, the region of Liguria

Liguria festival

Average temp in May: 20°C

May through to June is festival season in Liguria, a northern region of Italy. Even the smallest towns come to life to celebrate the culture of the region making Liguria a vibrant place to explore as spring turns to summer.

Ligurian festivals worth a visit this May include:

Sagra Del Pesce, Fish and seafood festival

Camogli, 11th-12th May

The annual seafood festival, which takes place in fishing town Camogli, is a celebration of the patron saint of fishermen, San Fortunato. The proceedings begin when the world’s largest frying pan is brought out in front of the crowd to cook up over 3000kg of anchovies.

Infiorata, Flower Art Festival

Brugnato, 24th May 2015

Towns around Italy hold ‘Infiorata’, flower art festivals, during May and June where flower petals are used to decorate streets, houses and churches with carpets of flowers. The town of Brugnato holds its flower festival on the ninth Sunday after Easter - commonly known as Corpus Domini. Residents get up early to create masterpieces out of flowers and create a sight really worth seeing.

The Andersen Festival

Sestri Levante, Dates TBC

The Andersen Festival is a celebration of fairy tales, dedicated to the famous Danish writer and poet Hans Christian Andersen - who lived in the town of Sestri Levante. The small town comes alive with street performances, storytelling, puppetry, film and dance. Every possible public space is re-invented for the festival offering something to capture the imaginations of both adults and children.

Expert recommendation:

May is a great time to go to Liguria. The weather is warm and sunny but there are far less tourists. In summer it can get too hot to see the sights in Genoa and in August many of the city’s best restaurants are closed.

You must go to the fish festival in Camogli! I’d also recommend Bordighera for the Sant’ Ampelio celebrations on May 14th, it’s also lovely up in the mountains there as the wild flowers are in bloom and ideal for walking along the Alta Via.’

Rosie Whitehouse, Author of the Bradt Guide to Liguria, @rosiewhitehouse


Make the most of the bank holiday and half term by getting away in May. Immerse yourself in the local culture, enjoy the long days and explore tourist free cities before the crowds descend in peak season.

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