The Mediterranean’s warmest early summer destination will tempt you with over ten hours of sunshine a day and temperatures topping 25°C. Sea temperatures are a little cool, so best book a hotel with a heated swimming pool, but Cyprus’s sands are still as inviting as ever! Away from the beautiful beaches, May and early June are ideal time for hiking in the Troodos mountains or the wild Akamas Peninsula, which is home to Lara Beach, arguably the finest on the island. City slickers should make a beeline for the urban charms of Limassol – the main beach resorts are around Ayia Napa in the east and Paphos in the west. Be sure to try the seriously underrated local wines and enjoy a traditional mezze multi-course feast. For more on what to see and do in Cyprus, check out our picture gallery of the top 10 things to see on the island.
How to get to Cyprus
Where to stay in Cyprus
The Elysium is a striking, palatial resort hotel on the edge of Paphos. It boasts a flurry of swimming pools and direct access to the beach. For a splurge book one of the Royal Garden Villas, which have access to a separate pool.
For cheap holidays in early summer, get yourself over to Greece’s Aegean islands just off the Turkish coast, where early summer temperatures hit around 24-25°C. Samos has a plethora of low-key resorts and the vibrant capital city of Vathy, with hiking in the inland forests too. Further southeast, on Kos, Kos Town has plenty of history, plus stylish cafés and tavernas, while the best beaches are out in the west of the island around the wide expanse of Kefalos Bay. Still further southeast is Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese Islands. Rhodes is a real all-rounder, with buzzing nightlife, great beaches and historic architecture. The UNESCO World Heritage listed Rhodes Town makes for a great base, though the best beaches are on the east coast. Be inspired to explore the Greek Islands further, with our guide to the 20 most beautiful.
How to get to Greece
Travel operators like Jet2 organise all inclusive holidays with flights from London Stansted to Rhodes, or easyJet offer cheap flights to Kos from Glasgow and London. If you’re heading onwards to the smaller islands, travel by ferry or look for cheap domestic flights with airlines like Sky Express.
Where to stay in Greece
The Atrium Platinum Hotel is located just above Rhodes Town and makes a great base for exploring it and the rest of the island. The Hermes and Aphrodite Spa is on hand to add that extra chill factor and there are two bars and five restaurants on-site too.
Ok, so you may need a jumper on at night as you sip on a local Efes pilsner, but that’s a small price to pay for around 11 hours of glorious sunshine in this eastern Mediterranean getaway. The Bodrum Peninsula has the lot – the busy action of Bodrum itself, a slew of superb beaches, small villages where time seems to stand still and a flurry of day trip options including Ephesus, a beautifully preserved city with bags of Roman and Greek heritage. The best beaches are on the south of the peninsula west of Bodrum.
How to get to Turkey
You can find cheap flights to several major airports in Turkey from the UK, including Istanbul, Antalya and Ankara. If you’re heading straight for Bodrum, your best bet is London Gatwick; both easyJet and Thomas Cook Airlines serve the peninsula directly.
Where to stay in Turkey
If you’re really looking to relax, the Grand Yazici Boutique Hotel & Spa Bodrum is the place for you. It reclines on the hillside above the town centre and offers sweeping views. Laze by the pool in the big four-poster beds, before relaxing in their superb spa. Rousing yourself for a visit to Bodrum Castle may just be a step too far!
Think the Balearics won’t be warm enough in early summer? Put it this way – Majorca in May is warmer than Bournemouth in July with the mercury rising above 20°C daily. This deeply attractive isle is also alive with bright wildflowers in the spring. Extra layers are needed at night and the sea is on the cool side, but it’s an ideal of time for exploring the atmospheric streets of the capital, Palma, and hiking or cycling in the Tramuntana mountains. The notorious resort of Maguluf is much more chilled outside the main summer season, with nearby Santa Ponsa even better for families.
How to get to the Balearics
The Balearics popularity with Brits keeps flights cheap and plentiful; you can fly directly to Majorca from regional UK airports like Belfast, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow, as well as choosing from up to 16 flights a day from London.
Where to stay in the Balearics
There are few better places in Europe for early sun holidays than La Residencia. This chic retreat in the hip artists’ enclave of Deia is within walking distance of rocky coves, but you’ll probably want to just take it easy by the pool or relax in the sumptuous rooms. The award winning dining of El Olivo and their spa really make a stay here a must!
Mainland Italy may not strike you as the best place to visit for an early beach holiday, but in fact it can be the best time to visit Tuscany, before the crowds descend and the searing heat of summer kicks in – plus its famed rolling hills will be awash with greenery and wild flowers. The obvious attractions are the world-famous historic cities of Florence, Pisa and Siena, with Florence the stand-out as the city of the Uffizi Gallery and Michelangelo. Pottering around the picturesque hill towns in your own car is a joy, while the Tuscan coast offers plenty of Blue Flag beaches – the area of Grosseto is most popular with Italians, and the the Marina di Alberese has a long stretch of free, sandy beach. Find out more about Florence with our guide to the city.
How to get to Italy
Whether you’re heading for a city break in Rome or a beach holiday on the Amalfi coast, there are plenty of direct flights to Italy from UK airports. For Tuscany, fly to Florence from London, or find cheaper flights by flying to Pisa with Ryanair or easyJet and then travelling onwards by road or rail.
Where to stay in Italy
Staying at the Relais Santa Croce in Florence feels like you’re sleeping on a romantic movie set in this wonderfully romantic city. A plush retreat housed in the eighteenth century Ciofi Jacometti Palace, built by the Marquis Baldinucci, soak up Italian style and relax in the lavish public rooms and your own luxurious bedroom.
The Canaries have one of the best early summer climates of any short-haul destination from the UK, with around nine hours of sunshine a day, temperatures tipping 23°C and little chance of rain. The largest and most popular island is Tenerife, and the place to be is are the resorts in the sunny south. However, the beaches are better on nearby Gran Canaria around Maspalomas and on slightly windier Fuerteventura near Corralejo. Another great island for a shoulder-season sun holiday is Lanzarote, but don’t expect picture-postcard golden sands as many of the beaches here are made of black sand. All seven of the main islands have incredible hiking trails and April through to June is one of the best times of the year to tackle local routes, or take on the challenge of scaling Spain’s highest mountain on Tenerife, Mount Teide. Plan your trip to Tenerife with our guide to the top 15 things to do on the island.
How to get to the Canary Islands
There are cheap flights to Tenerife, Gran Canaria or Lanzarote from London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Nottingham, Newcastle and Belfast, so you can find a non-stop flight to the Canaries from pretty much anywhere in the UK, year-round.
Where to stay in the Canary Islands
The Ritz Carlton Abama in Tenerife has it all, including two Michelin star restaurants, its own private beach and seven swimming pools. It also boasts beautiful views across to the neighbouring isle of La Gomera and its room’s balconies have grandstand views of the island’s famed sunsets.
Blistering Marrakech is a more reasonable 21-27°C during May, and the summer holiday season has barely begun, meaning you can roam quiet streets lined with pretty riads (local houses arranged around a courtyard) and admire gorgeous Islamic architecture like the Palais de la Bahia at your leisure. Dining at Djemma el-Fna square and bartering at the souks will feel a little less intense, too. You could always swap a sunny city break for a breezy beach holiday and head to the coast; Essaouira hovers around 20°C in the spring and summer, perfect for learning to kite-board or surf among the Atlantic waves, before settling in front of another heavenly sunset with some fresh barbecued fish and a beer. We’ve got more tips on what to do in Marrakech and beyond in our full travel guide.
How to get to Morocco
London Gatwick and Stansted field most of the direct flights to Morocco from the UK, with easyJet and Ryanair offering cheap fares to Marrakech. Alternatively, fly direct to Essaouira from Luton Airport if you’re dying to hit the beach straight away.
Where to stay in Morocco
Get a taste of luxury without the 5-star price tag at the Palais El Miria & Spa
. It’s a little out of the way, in the suburb of Ouahat Sidi Brahim, north of Marrakech, but the richly decorated bedrooms will make you feel like a Sultan, and there’s an excellent restaurant and spa onsite, as well as golf courses. From as little £54 a night, it’ll be tempting to spend as much time at the resort as you do exploring the city.
Still unsure where to go? Search your flights here. 👇🏼
*Published May 2019. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.
Thanks to Weather2Travel.com for the weather data we used to create this feature.