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Home Where to Go When Where to go in May

Where to go in May

Where to go in May

Leisurely self-drives through the Norwegian Fjords or around Iceland’s ring road are a perfect choice for May when the midnight sun returns. The first voyages of the season set sail into the High Arctic islands of Svalbard and bear watching season begins in Canada and Alaska. It’s also a fine time for rail journey through Europe in spring.

Long days for exploring in Iceland

It’s a beautiful month to visit Iceland – long days and plenty of sunshine (with around 20 hours of daylight by the end of the month), wildflowers and nesting puffins, vibrant green moss on the lava fields, exuberant waterfalls – perfect for a self drive before the busier summer period. Most tours and excursions are up and running, so you can embellish your touring holiday with activities ranging from whale watching and horse riding to glacier hiking and soaking in one of Iceland’s many outdoor geothermal pools.

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24hr daylight in the Norwegian Fjords

From mid-May until late July, the midnight sun can be seen from the North Cape (or Nordkapp) – the northernmost point in mainland Europe. Located on the island of Magerøya in Norway at 71 degrees north, the 307m-high headland faces directly across the Arctic Ocean. Thousands of puffins, gannets and other seabirds nest on the cliffs at this time of year. Further south, apple, plum and cherry orchards are in blossom along the shores of Hardangerfjord, while meadows are carpeted in wildflowers. Food lovers can enjoy tasty lamb, cod and herring dishes, accompanied by the year’s first potatoes, asparagus and wild garlic. Explore by coastal voyage or rail journey. With good roads and little traffic, a self-drive holiday also offers a free-spirited option, with opportunities for a boat trip or mini voyage using the local Hurtigruten ferries.

fjord norway hardanger ulvik village tb

The High Arctic comes to life

With warmer temperatures and 24hr daylight, snow quickly starts to disappear in May. As the land becomes exposed, flowers begin appearing along the coastlines of Svalbard, Greenland and the Canadian Arctic. Glaciers creak and groan as they calve icebergs into fjords, while breeding birds (from geese and swans to arctic terns and little auks) seize the moment, arriving to breed in their thousands. Arctic foxes are busy rearing their young, polar bears are hunting seals on ice floes and along the shore, while walruses can be seen hauled out in large numbers on pebbly beaches. The sea also undergoes a transformation. Fjords that were locked in ice during winter start to free themselves from its icy grip. Several species of whales, including bowhead, beluga, sperm, minke, orca, blue and humpback, are able to access the open areas of water to feed.

spitsbergen polar bear lying on sea ice istk

Prime wildlife watching season starts in Alaska

From mid-May to mid-September, the days are long in Alaska, wildlife viewing is at its peak and there’s a wide choice of things to do, from whale watching in the Kenai Fjords and grizzly bear viewing in Denali National Park to small-ship cruises along the Inside Passage and train journeys on the Alaska Railroad. Spring and summer are also great times to plan a self-drive in Alaska. Most tours operate during this period, so if you want the maximum choice of things to do, this is the best time to visit.

alaska sea otter kenai fjords national park astk

Late spring rail odyssey to Europe’s classic cities

May is an ideal month to plan a rail journey linking the classic cities of Europe before they become engulfed by the heat and crowds of summer. As well as iconic ‘Grand Tour’ destinations like Rome, Florence, Naples and Venice, our collection of slow-travel rail itineraries includes less well-known routes. You could, for example, travel from London to Paris the long way round, using train and ferry to connect the British and French capitals with the Channel Islands and St Malo. Or how about a rail odyssey linking Europe’s ‘tiny countries’ – Liechtenstein, San Marino, Vatican City and Monaco? We also offer an Alps to the Adriatic rail holiday, taking in Munich, Vienna, Ljubljana, Trieste and Venice.

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Bears and other spring highlights of Canada

During spring, the warmer temperatures and longer hours of daylight stir bears from hibernation. Females with cubs emerge this month, the males having appeared in March. Cherry trees are in full blossom in British Columbia, along with tulips in Ontario. During May, you can also spot humpbacks and other cetaceans as Canada’s summer whale watching season gets underway – and if you head to the northeast coast of Newfoundland, you might have the added bonus of sighting an iceberg, carried close offshore on the Labrador Current from Greenland and Arctic Canada.

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