Don't wait for summer, head off for an adventure this May

Summer’s just around the corner, but why wait until then for a sunny sojourn? From jazz festivals in St Lucia to religious pilgrimages in Indonesia, we round up our top picks for a May getaway.

For beach bums…

Short haul: Split, Croatia

The doorway to Dalmatia is wide open: from 1 May (until 20 September), British Airways will fly twice per week from Heathrow direct to the regional capital, Split. That’s just in time to celebrate the city’s patron Saint Domnius in a tradition that dates back hundreds of years and attracts thousands of visitors.

The annual Sudamja festival features a cross-town procession and a mass, before dispersing into a series of lively street parties. Experience an alternative a cappella tradition with some Dalmatian klapa music, try your luck in a tombola raffle, or buy a wood-carved souvenir from one of the many craftsmen peddling their wares (St Domnius is also the patron saint of woodwork).

If you’d rather repose than revel, Split affords a host of beaches, from popular Bačvice to the city’s numerous pebble shores. More sun and sand await on the nearby islands of Šolta, Brač, Hvar and Vis.

The door to Dalmatia will fling open in May with new flights to SplitThe door to Dalmatia will fling open in May with new flights to Split
anshar73 / Thinkstock

Long haul: St Lucia

Lush, majestic mountains, pristine beaches, clear blue waters and perfect weather – if unembellished paradise leaves you cold, then you’re in luck: this spring the St Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival (30 April - 10 May) will transform this eastern Caribbean island into a hub of music and culture.

The festival has earned a reputation as one of the best in the world for jazz, but it has also boasted big names across genres, from Ziggy Marley to this year’s headliner, Robin Thicke.

You don’t have to turn in when your eardrums give out. Parties continue in the streets and the festival puts on a number of non-musical events, including its popular “Hot Couture” fashion show.

Sunny St Lucia swings to the sound of jazz this MaySunny St Lucia swings to the sound of jazz this May

For city slickers…

Short haul: Prague, Czech Republic

Think Prague’s old hat? Then think again. May sees the city reinvigorated with a packed schedule of festivals that will quench your cravings for high and low culture alike.

For epicures there’s the Czech Beer Festival (7-23 May) and the Prague Food Festival (29-31 May), which are fantastic opportunities to quaff fine local produce. Visitors can also sate their culture cravings with the Prague Spring International Music Festival (12 May - 3 June), Prague Fringe Festival (22-30 May) and recently revived celebration of St John’s Navalis (15 May), which transports the city back to baroque times with music and fireworks.

That’s not all. Prague’s World Roma Festival (24-30 May) shines a rare light on an oft-overlooked culture, with performances and more by some of the best Roma artists internationally. Events this year will spill over into nearby Plzeň, European Capital of Culture 2015.

International artists will gather for Prague's World Roma FestivalInternational artists will gather for Prague's World Roma Festival

Long haul: Yogyakarta, Indonesia

We know what you’re thinking: it’s been far too long since your last pilgrimage. Happily, you won’t have to wait much longer. On Vesak Day (4 May), Buddhist devotees will flock to the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta to celebrate the birth, death and enlightenment of Buddha at the nearby Borobudur Temple.

Monks in saffron robes will arrive at the temple – one of the largest in the world – after an 8km (5-mile) procession. Here, you can find tranquillity in their rhythmic chanting and watch as lanterns, symbols of universal enlightenment, are released towards the full moon.

Back in the city, watch a spectacular performance of the Ramayana Ballet, take in a traditional Javanese shadow puppet show and visit the 18th-century ruins of a vast pleasure palace built by Sultan Hamengku Buwono I.

Celebrate Vesak Day this May with the monks of Borobudur TempleCelebrate Vesak Day with the monks of Borobudur Temple
Creative Commons / IMAM HARTOYO

For adrenaline junkies…

Short haul: Schafberg Mountain, Austria

Shout it from the mountain tops, literally. You’ve earned ultimate bragging rights if you can beat the famous cog railway up Schafberg Mountain in Austria’s Salzkammergut lake district.

Challenging the 122-year-old steam engine as it chugs up the slopes might seem a bit like racing your grandmother. But be warned: with an elevation change of 1,240m (0.8 miles) and gradients up to 26%, the 1.7km (1.1-mile) contest is no mean feat, and the record, broken in 2007, stands at an impressive 43 minutes (two minutes faster than the rail journey).

If you make it to the summit, prepare to be rewarded with spectacular views of the district’s famous Wolfgangsee, and get inspired to explore the 76 lakes and countless trails that picturesque Salzkammergut has on offer.

Race the Schafbergbahn this May – it’s been training since 1893Race the Schafbergbahn this May – it’s been training since 1893
Creative Commons / Alain GAVILLET

Long haul: Oahu, Hawaii, USA

Home to surfers, climbers, swimmers, scientists and even a US President, Oahu is an adventurer’s Eden. This month, the island will draw athletes from around the archipelago with the Honolulu Triathlon (17 May), held in the capital city.

If the 1.5km (0.9-mile) swim in the pellucid Pacific leaves you jonesing for further aquatic undertakings, by May the choppy waters of Waimea Bay have calmed enough for amateur surfers.

Prefer the road less travelled? Hike the three perilous peeks of Waianae ridge, tour the island by ATV or helicopter, shark dive, scuba dive, or skydive. The real challenge is finding a square metre that doesn’t pack a thrill.

Pulse-raising activities abound on Hawaii come MayIt looks calm, but pulse-raising activities abound on Hawaii in May
Creative Commons / Floyd Manzano


Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.