Where is hot in May? Our top 10 destinations

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Three cheers for swimsuit season! At long, long last, Europe is on its way to beach-day-ready. Shame you’re not the only one hankering after your spot in the sun. The good news: there are a number of delicious destinations just the right side of up-and-coming right now, from a secret Aegean beauty to ‘the new Croatia’. Feeling more exotic? The temperature’s rising on Asia’s best island, and in Brazil’s answer to St Tropez. Or, if you’re more about urban cool, it’s a temperate time to explore some of the world’s most vibrant street life, and an unlikely creative scene in New Mexico’s high desert.

  • Where is hot in May? Our top 10 destinations

    1. ANTIPAROS, GREECE

    AVERAGE MAY TEMPERATURE: 20℃

    With every wannabe influencer and their mother draping themselves over Santorini and Mykonos this summer, it might be time to turn your attention to another Cyclades stunner. Antiparos’s quiet beauty has increasingly drawn seclusion-seeking celebs: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson bought a villa here 15 years ago, while Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and Matthew McConaughey have all been spotted enjoying an under-the-radar getaway (no, not with each other). The excellent selection of private villas with ridiculous Aegean views (Villa Melissa from White Key, Villa Emerald with Elite) probably helps. There’s also the many, many sandy beaches lapped by electric-blue shallows; the unpretentious fun of ’til-dawn cocktail bars (Boogaloo, Loco); and even a beach club/restaurant/boutique hotel, The Beach House, hidden in its own secret cove.

  • Where is hot in May? Our top 10 destinations

    2. TOKYO, JAPAN

    AVERAGE MAY TEMPERATURE: 21℃

    Every facet of Tokyo’s intoxicating otherness is best felt on the street: among crowds, under the gleam of neon, within a yakitori-smoke fog. Agog at the architecture-as-art fashion-house flagships along leafy Omotesando, and the Gothic Lolitas of Harajuku next door. Disbelieving as Shibuya crossing bursts into intermittent chaos, and stymying a slight headache amidst Akihabara’s candy-coloured anime anarchy. But the weather this time of year is fab for more peaceful pursuits, too: strolling the Meiji Shrine forest, say, or pedalling a swan-shaped boat across Ueno Park pond. Find more calm at Aman’s first-ever urban resort, one of our favourite hotels in the world.

    Tokyo hotels

    The best Tokyo hotels

  • Where is hot in May? Our top 10 destinations

    3. ALBANIAN RIVIERA

    AVERAGE MAY TEMPERATURE: 22℃

    It’s the new Croatia, they say, though they probably just mean the common allure of the Adriatic’s astonishing, crystalline hue. What the Albanian Riviera really offers is a dreamy European beach holiday that’s well into sunbathing temperatures by May. Do it right and you can even recreate the ‘hidden gem’ feel that first brought boho backpackers to this sensational strip of coast. Head to Ksamil, just opposite Corfu, for a bright-white beach on a brochure-beautiful bay. (There’s a trio of small islands a quick swim away if you need more room.) Or Dhërmi, famed for the colour of its water, but with such a long sweep of sand, you can always find a spot to call your own.

  • Where is hot in May? Our top 10 destinations

    4. SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO

    AVERAGE MAY TEMPERATURE: 22℃

    Breaking Bad might have made an unlikely star of Albuquerque, but it’s New Mexico’s state capital, Santa Fe, that belongs on screen. Surrounded by those same starkly beautiful vistas, the city’s signature adobe Pueblo-style architecture gives it a dreamy, old-timey quality. But in among all that folk art and New Age-iness, there beats a surprisingly contemporary pulse. The fantastical House of Eternal Return, a two-storey, explorable art installation by local collective Meow Wolf, is now one of its biggest attractions (built in an old bowling alley with the financial support of George RR Martin and a $2.7 million budget). Check out all the Georgia O’Keeffe stuff (the museum; her home and studio at Ghost Ranch, an hour outside the city), then follow up with cocktails at Santa Fe Spirits’ distillery and head to Anasazi for dinner, where modern cooking meets fiery Southwestern tradition (applewood-smoked duck breast with serrano-plum sauce). To stay: on our Hot List 2019, the El Rey Court is a retooled Route 66 motel with a killer mezcal bar and pool.

  • Where is hot in May? Our top 10 destinations

    5. FORMENTERA

    AVERAGE MAY TEMPERATURE: 23℃

    ‘At a time when Ibiza is in danger of becoming overrun with Hard Rock Cafés and Nikki Beaches,’ we once wrote, ‘Formentera’s funky little groove couldn’t be more enticing.’ It still holds true. A half-hour ferry ride from its big-sister Balearic, this 12-mile-long island has the whole barefoot-boho thing going for it – it’s where Dylan once lived in a lighthouse and Joni Mitchell wrote her Blue album – and there are fabulous beach clubs sans the bangin’ choons. See 10 Punto 7, with its white director’s chairs, bleached decking and sushi; or cushioned day beds and green tea-infused cocktails at ChezzGerdi. Etosoto, the work of two Parisian brothers, is a farmhouse-turned-ideas-lab (wellness weeks, music workshops, film-making retreats), offering nine delightful, whitewash-and-polished-cement rooms.

    Best hotels on Ibiza and Formentera

    The best hotels on Ibiza and Formentera

  • Where is hot in May? Our top 10 destinations

    6. UMBRIA, ITALY

    AVERAGE MAY TEMPERATURE: 23℃

    Umbria: all the Tuscan countryside’s rustic beauty, without all the tourists. Far less ‘discovered’ than the major Italian hotspots, scattered with gorgeous medieval hamlets and serving the most unbelievable slow food from its farms and forests (truffles, wild boar, sunchokes), this is Italy’s undisturbed, back-to-the-land paradise, found. Where country churches casually hang an original Beato Angelico and, in hill town Orvieto, the un-Instagrammed Duomo contains 500 years’ worth of sculptures and mosaics. Further along the River Tiber, hillside Todi is an excellent spot for Umbrian sangiovese, with antipasti so fresh and bright, you’ll understand why this was once hailed the most liveable town in the world.

  • Where is hot in May? Our top 10 destinations

    7. BUZIOS, BRAZIL

    AVERAGE MAY TEMPERATURE: 26℃

    When lured by the promise of Brazil’s ever-sexy beaches, it’s tempting to just stick to Rio. But that’d be a mistake – because, just three hours’ drive from ‘the marvellous city’, you’ll find the Brazilian answer to St Tropez. Thank Brigitte Bardot, who rocked up here with her Brazilian boyfriend in the 1960s, turning the heavenly Buzios peninsula into a sensation overnight. Today, it’s super-polished, more refined than its popular friend: clearer, cleaner water; sail-up restaurants; a plethora of posh boutique hotels. Locals don’t seem to mind the Bardot effect: there’s a sculpture of her on a gorgeous stretch of seafront, itself named ‘Orla Bardot’. Along with cobbled streets and caipirinhas, there are more than 20 beaches to choose between, ranging from jungle-clad stretches to lovely rock-hewn coves.

  • Where is hot in May? Our top 10 destinations

    8. SEYCHELLES

    AVERAGE MAY TEMPERATURE: 27℃

    If you’re going to splash out on perfection, you might as well go at the perfect time. The Seychelles’ underwater visibility hits its peak in May – up to 30 metres – and the temperature is a wonderful hot-but-not-too-hot. Make it even more memorable and plump for a stay at Six Senses Zil Pasyon, officially one of our favourite hotels in the world. Thirty glass-fronted villas sit on Felicité, the archetypal castaway island with its dramatic granite boulders, jungly hills and white sand so soft it squeaks. The beach bar strings giant hammocks over the ocean; an outrageous spa is hidden between boulders directly on the seafront; and night-time brings fire-cooked lobsters and French champagne.

    Best Seychelles hotels and resorts

    The most astonishing escapes in the Seychelles

  • Where is hot in May? Our top 10 destinations

    9. TURQUOISE COAST, TURKEY

    AVERAGE MAY TEMPERATURE: 27℃

    Increasingly billed as ‘Turkey’s Hamptons’, this south-western stretch of coastline – where the Aegean meets the Med – has remained glamorous and dignified, despite the ever-swelling gaggle of tourists pouring in. Hell, Assouline has even released a photo book documenting its aspirational good looks, from Kaş’s ancient ruins to that flirty water, glittering like the beckoning temptress it is. Of course, Bodrum Town will be heaving, but there’s always Alacati (simple and unspoiled), Kabak (beach yoga, hiking) or Patara (low-rise, low-key). And if you prefer the Bodrum buzz, there are many excellent hotels (Ian Schrager’s Edition, the Mandarin Oriental) and exclusive beach clubs (such as Maçakizi, where Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell have been seen sunbathing) for doing the Bodrum thing.

    Bodrum: the most glamorous hangout in the Mediterranean

    Bodrum: the most glamorous hangout in the Mediterranean

  • Where is hot in May? Our top 10 destinations

    10. BORACAY ISLAND, PHILIPPINES

    AVERAGE MAY TEMPERATURE: 29℃

    Boracay’s 2.5 mile-long, aptly named White Beach has been a victim of its own success: people went so crazy for this little piece of paradise over the past few years that in April 2018, the government abruptly shut the island down for ‘rehabilitation’. Six months later, Boracay reopened, with new rules. Limited flights and hotel rooms are being made available; smoking and booze are banned on White Beach; casinos and single-use plastics are out; and watersports are restricted to specific zones. That puts paid to Boracay’s standing as ‘the new Phuket’ – and that can only be a good thing. Condé Nast Traveller readers just named it Asia’s best island, after all.

    For where’s hot in other months, see our guides below:


    WHERE IS HOT IN JANUARY | WHERE IS HOT IN FEBRUARY | WHERE IS HOT IN MARCH | WHERE IS HOT IN APRIL | WHERE IS NOT TOO HOT IN AUGUST | WHERE IS HOT IN SEPTEMBER | WHERE IS HOT IN OCTOBER | WHERE IS HOT IN NOVEMBER | WHERE IS HOT IN DECEMBER

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