Exploring ancient ruins, ornate churches and lively piazzas is best done before the sweltering heat of summer arrives, so May is a great time to visit Rome, Florence and Milan. You could easily spend several days in each, but if you have the time to spare, why not see them all in one trip? On this 10-day adventure, you’ll visit the capital’s famed archaeological sites (including the Colosseum) on a bicycle tour, discover Florence’s renaissance architecture on a walking tour, and sample gastronomic delights on a food tour of Milan. Plus, you’ll have time to stop by Siena, Pisa and Lake Como, giving you a full flavour of Northern Italy.
Aside from the pristine beaches of the Algarve, the colourful metropolises of Lisbon and Porto are two of Portugal’s main draws. They share plenty of similarities – charming buildings, cobblestone streets, superb food and wine, easy access to nearby beaches – and some notable differences, with Porto the less busy and more walkable of the two. Both are excellent city break destinations in their own right, but on this nine-day Northern Portugal trip, you can explore both in the company of a local insider, including a culinary walking tour of Porto and a visit to Belem, in Lisbon, to try the renowned pastéis de nata (custard tarts). It can get hot in Portugal in May, but the weather tends to be comfortably warm rather than stifling, as it can be in summer.
The Croatian coastal cities of Split and Dubrovnik are often used as starting and ending points for island-hopping adventures, but it’s well worth taking the time to explore them both properly. It’s very easy to work your way between the two, with regular and scenic ferry services in both directions. This eight-day trip encompasses both, starting in Split, where the ancient, Dioclesian’s Palace dominates the old town. You’ll be able to fully appreciate the city’s beauty while sea kayaking around Marjan Hill, with a chance to swim in secluded coves. You’ll end up in Dubrovnik, after stops in Hvar and Korčula en route, capping off your trip with a walking tour of the Unesco-listed old town, characterised by winding, cobblestone streets, hidden courtyards, and honey-coloured buildings with terracotta roofs. Expect warm days, in the low-to-mid 20s, and pleasantly cool nights.
The cities of Naples, Matera and Lecce, in Southern Italy, have oodles of character that will leave you wondering why it took you so long to explore the region. For a start, Naples makes the best pizza in the world and its street food scene will leave you craving more. This 10-day adventure takes the scenic route inland to Matera, where you’ll be blown away by the ancient dwellings and winding streets of this hilltop town, featured in the latest James Bond movie ‘No Time To Die’. Take some time to relax on the dreamy, secluded beaches of Polignano a Mare before ending your tour in Lecce, nicknamed the Florence of the South due to its gorgeous, baroque architecture.
If you’re looking for a European city with ancient historical sites and lively drinking spots in equal measure, Athens is the place to go. It’ll be warm in May, but not so boiling you’ll want to stay in the shade all day. The Greek capital is home to some of the most impressive archaeological landmarks in the world – most significantly, the Acropolis, which contains the remnants of numerous Pentelic marble temples and monuments, including the Parthenon. Stroll along the labyrinthine streets of Plaka, explore the lively districts of Psirri and Monastiraki and venture off the beaten track to the trendy neighbourhood of Keramikos, where you’ll find plenty of atmospheric bars and restaurants. On this eight-day trip, you can do all of that, combined with an island-hopping adventure to Milos, Naxos and Santorini.