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The best holidays to book for May 2024, from boating in France to Greek island relaxation

Get an Italian taste of spring on the volcanic island of Ischia (Getty Images)
Get an Italian taste of spring on the volcanic island of Ischia (Getty Images)

Two bank holidays and the half-term school break make May a busy month if you’re planning a springtime getaway. Half term falls during the last week of the month, leaving three other weeks when the prices won’t go through the roof. Enjoy the sandy beaches and wide open spaces of Pembrokeshire and the tranquillity of the Isle of Wight’s coastline and countryside if you want a holiday that’s closer to home.

Southern Europe will be warming up and getting summery. That’s your cue for a lazy boating holiday on the canals of southern France, or an island idyll in the Bay of Naples. Lose yourself in the rich culture and superb food of Istanbul, or hole up on a Greek island in a child-friendly resort that gives parents as much of a break as the children. Whatever type of holiday you want to book in May, you’ll find some incredible ideas here.

Greece

Travel to the land of tavernas before the half-term price hikes (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Travel to the land of tavernas before the half-term price hikes (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

If you’re travelling with preschool children and want to beat the half-term price hikes at the end of the month, book one of the villas at Mousses Crèche and Kids’ Clubs on the Ionian island of Lefkada. You’ll get the chance to relax in the pool surrounded by lush gardens while the kids join the children’s clubs and get free childcare (apart from half-term week). There’s a taverna, too, if you don’t fancy cooking. Simpson Travel has a week’s self-catering in a two-bedroom villa from £557pp, based on two adults and two children sharing, including flights, car hire and welcome pack; departs 5 May.

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Isle of Wight

Step into the Isle of Wight’s annual Walking Festival this May (Getty Images)
Step into the Isle of Wight’s annual Walking Festival this May (Getty Images)

Make the most of spring’s freshness in the Isle of Wight on a walking break with HF Holidays. You could time your visit for the 25th edition of the annual Isle of Wight Walking Festival, which runs from 11–19 May. But there are plenty of walking routes from your base at Freshwater Bay House, ranging from gentle strolls to more strenuous hikes. A four-night self-guided holiday any time from 1–18 May costs from £605pp, and from £580pp during the rest of the month. The price includes breakfast, packed lunches and evening meals. Wightlink has regular ferries to the island from Lymington and Portsmouth.

Istanbul

Istanbul buzzes with bars and restaurants without scorching summer temperatures (Getty Images)
Istanbul buzzes with bars and restaurants without scorching summer temperatures (Getty Images)

May is an ideal time to visit endlessly fascinating Istanbul, with pleasantly warm days instead of scorching summer temperatures. Stay at the Radisson Blu Istanbul Pera and you’ll have the buzzing bars and restaurants of Beyoglu and Karaköy to explore as well as wonderful views of the Golden Horn from the hotel’s restaurant. There’s also a spa where you can unwind in a hot tub and indoor pool. Away Holidays has a four-night room-only break departing 18 May from £502pp, including flights and a free room upgrade.

France

Self-drive boating holidays are a great way to discover southern France (Getty Images)
Self-drive boating holidays are a great way to discover southern France (Getty Images)

Slow down the pace with a laidback self-drive boating holiday in southern France, which even boating novices can do. Get to know the landscapes and wildlife of the Petite Camargue and Languedoc as you meander along the Canal du Rhône à Sète. Stop in Aigues-Mortes and Sète as you see how much distance you can travel in the course of a week, making most of the fabulous seafood along the way. Nicols has a week’s boat rental in a two-cabin cruiser departing 10 May from €1,038, including tuition; fuel and mooring fees are extra.

Italy

May is ideal for exploring Ischia’s rugged interior on foot (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
May is ideal for exploring Ischia’s rugged interior on foot (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Before the crowds descend on the Neapolitan Riviera and its islands, get a delicious taste of spring on the volcanic island of Ischia. At the Hotel Le Querce, east of Ischia harbour, you’ll have heavenly views of the Bay of Naples from the open-air thermal pool. May is an excellent time to explore the island’s rugged interior on foot. Citalia has a five-night holiday on a room-only basis from £844pp, including flights and transfers for a 12 May departure.

Wales

Pembrokeshire’s pastel town of Tenby sparkles in spring (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Pembrokeshire’s pastel town of Tenby sparkles in spring (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

You’ll have Tenby’s north beach and the pretty pastel-coloured houses of the harbour on your doorstep when you stay at Beachscape. This airy three-bedroom apartment in a 19th-century townhouse has beautiful views of the Pembrokeshire coast from almost every room as well as its balcony. It sleeps six comfortably over two floors, and also features two bathrooms. Classic Cottages has a five-night rental starting 4 May from £784.

Mary Novakovich is editor at large at 101holidays.co.uk