12 Mid-Year Holiday Destinations for a Well-Needed Break

12 Mid-Year Holiday Destinations for the Ultimate Retreat

Time for some time off.

May is truly a magical time of the year. In many places, the warmth of summer begins to fill the air, beckoning a time of excitement. In others, the sweet beauty of spring lingers still. It’s the perfect time to leave real life behind for a few days (or weeks) and set off on a grand adventure. With that in mind, here are some of the best mid-year holiday destinations you can travel to for the ultimate relaxing break. 

Also read: 10 Small Countries Around the World You Can Explore in One Day 

Amazing mid-year destinations for your next holiday

1. Athens – Greece

mid-year holiday

Image credit: Anastasia Collection via Canva Pro

Visiting Athens in May is the perfect opportunity to explore a playground of legendary ruins and treat yourself to some delicious Greek cuisine. The true heat of summer will still be a ways off, so get your walking shoes on and visit Athens’ collection of majestic ancient Greek buildings like the Acropolis and the Temple of Poseidon

In addition to that, you can check out the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a Roman conservatory built in 2 AD and lovingly restored in the 1950s. It is still used as a venue for concerts and other performances today.

mid-year destinations

Monastiraki from above | Image credit: kostastsek via Canva Pro

Besides an odyssey through Ancient Greek architecture, take a walk around the Monastiraki neighbourhood for an authentic taste of Athens. Monastiraki is one of the busiest and oldest areas in the city, filled with flea markets, antique stores, and an enormous food market called the Varvakios Agora where you can find all kinds of yummy Greek deli food. 

Are you an art enthusiast? Then don’t forget to visit the National Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Cycladic Art. With all this in mind, Athens is definitely a wonderful destination for your next mid-year holiday trip.

Also read: Top 20 Airbnb and Vrbo Vacation Homes in Greece for Your Dream Getaway

2. Lisbon – Portugal

Image credit: Sean Pavone via Canva Pro

Lisbon is an incredible city that should be added to your list of destinations for an exciting mid-year holiday. If you visit in May, the surf town of Ericeira (located less than an hour from Lisbon), is a great place to grab a board and hop on to the waves. Surfing aside, Lisbon is a mecca of delicious eats, art, and music. 

Feira da Ladra is a local market that’s been around since 1903. It’s perfect for strolling around as you shop for vintage clothing or secondhand books. You can also visit Livraria Bertrand, Portugal’s oldest bookstore which opened in 1732.

mid-year holiday

Image credit: @tabernadasflores | Instagram

Lisbon also features plenty of interesting places to eat. Dine at a traditional Portuguese tasca, famous for serving large portions of local fare like stews, steaks, and fried fish. For something more specific, consider visiting Taberna da Rua das Flores. This tavern combines Portuguese cuisine with global influences and has a menu that changes daily.

Fans of art will enjoy a trip to the Underdogs Gallery; a massive warehouse in Braço de Prata that houses the works of some of Lisbon’s most prominent local artists. There’s also the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, one of Europe’s leading fine arts museums with exhibits ranging from 2,000 BC to the 20th century.

Also read: 14 Best Things to Do in Lisbon for First-Timers

3. Florence, Italy

mid-year destinations

Uffizi Gallery | Image credit: paologallophoto via Canva Pro

Take a mid-year holiday in Florence and get ready to explore one of the most beautiful, historical, and romantic cities in Italy. Get your fill of the art scene by visiting classic Renaissance paintings at the Uffizi Gallery — where the building itself is a work of art — and Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria dell’ Accademia. You can also visit Michelangelo’s grave and the resting places of other famous Florentine historical figures, like Galileo and Niccolo Machiavelli.

Image credit: paologallophoto via Canva Pro

Don’t miss out on seeing the Florence Cathedral (also known as the Duomo), located in the heart of the city. If you’re willing to climb all 463 steps to the top, the dome is the highest point in Florence and has been since the church’s completion in the 15th century. For an authentic taste of Florence, head to Mercato Centrale. This 19th-century marketplace consists of two floors where vendors ply their wares and sell wine, meat, fruits, cheese, and more. It’s foodie heaven!

Florence also holds some hidden gems, like the Bardini Garden. Once a private garden, this peaceful green lung offers excellent views of the city below. Besides that, you can also visit the Stibbert Museum. Once a private historical collection, this underrated museum holds many treasures including lavish armour sets, a reconstructed replica of an army on horseback, and a cloak that once belonged to Napoleon himself!

Also read: 15 Picturesque Airbnb Homes & Vacation Rentals Along the Amalfi Coast of Italy

4. Sydney, Australia

Image credit: Gagliardi Photography via Canva Pro

If you’re wondering where to travel to in May, add Sydney to the list! Australia sits on the cusp of winter in the middle of the year, but don’t let the season fool you. Days in Sydney are often mild and sunny during this time, and the high-season crowds will be long gone. There’s plenty to do in the capital of Australia, but you’ve got to start with a visit to the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. You can even climb the bridge if you’re feeling adventurous!

Image credit: Gagliardi Photography via Canva Pro

There are also plenty of beaches in Sydney that you can visit, from the glorious sunny stretch of Bondi Beach to hidden gems like Wattamolla Beach. Bondi Beach is also a great place to learn how to surf. While you’re here, don’t forget to check out the Bondi Icebergs Pool, one of the most Instagrammable places in Sydney. Besides that, the city is chock-full of cultural and artsy hotspots like the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Sydney has a great food and drink scene as well. Popular watering holes in the city include Cantina OK, the Abercrombie, and the popular cocktail bar: Maybe Sammy. If you’re looking for fresh seafood, check out the Saint Peter restaurant. You can also enjoy delicious artisanal gelato at The Cow and the Moon.

5. Malta

mid-year holiday

Valletta | Image credit: FooTToo via Canva Pro

Another mid-year holiday destination that you’ll certainly enjoy is Malta. Tucked away between Sicily and Tunisia, Malta is home to an eclectic mix of European and African cultures. In May, the tiny archipelago gradually warms up, making it perfect for travellers to spend their days basking on sandy beaches or swimming in turquoise lagoons.

mid-year destinations

Interior of St. John’s Co-Cathedral | Image credit: Kurjuz | Wikimedia Commons

Be sure to visit the walled city of Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with hundreds of historical monuments and sites. Must-see locations include St. John’s Co-Cathedral, the Grandmaster’s Palace, and the picturesque Upper Barrakka Gardens. If you’ve got a diving licence, you can venture into the sea and explore various shipwrecks including a sunken ferry, a World War II-era ship, or an oil tanker named Um El Faroud.

Munch on some traditional Malta seafood at the village of Marsaxlokk. The speciality here is known as lampuki, a popular seasonal fish that’s more popularly known as mahi mahi. Finally, if you’re in the mood for a walk, you can hike around Malta by following the Victoria Lines, a series of fortifications built by the British in the late 19th century.

6. Dublin – Ireland

Image credit: Media Production via Canva Pro

Contrary to popular belief, Dublin is about more than just jolly pub crowds and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Visit for a mid-year holiday, and the city comes to life in tribute to great artists and literary minds during the annual International Literary Festival. May brings moderate and comfortable weather to Dublin, making for a great time to wander around the city and visit destinations like the Grand Canal and Phoenix Park.

Ireland is widely considered the land of storytellers. With that in mind, visit the Museum of Literature for a deeper appreciation of Irish literary talents in the past and present. Fans of the legendary Guinness stout need to visit the Guinness Storehouse, founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759, marking the birth of a legendary brand.

Facade of George’s Street Arcade | Image credit: matthibcn via Canva Pro

Every city has a signature market. In Dublin, that place is George’s Street Arcade. This hodgepodge collection of shops and food outlets is a great place to find snacks, flowers, and knick-knacks. Lastly, don’t miss out on a trip to Dublin Castle, a grand stone structure that was built on the site of a Viking settlement in the 13th century.

7. Utrecht – Netherlands

mid-year holiday

Image credit: Olena_Z via Canva Pro

Think of Utrecht as a cosier, underrated version of Amsterdam. It’s the perfect place for a mid-year holiday because you’ll get to enjoy classic Netherlands attractions like picturesque canals and beautiful Dutch architecture at a much lower cost. A cool blend of modernity and medieval charm, there’s lots to see and do in Utrecht.

Image credit: Teka77 via Canva Pro

Start by climbing the Dom Tower, which is the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, and offers excellent views of the surrounding city. Within the same space, you can also visit St. Martin’s Cathedral, which used to be connected to Dom Tower. Besides that, remember to check out the Speelklok Museum. Set within the old Buurkerk Church, it’s a curious exhibition of self-playing musical instruments and clockwork that’s sure to delight any visitor.

Shopping opportunities abound at Utrecht’s Vredenburg Market, which takes place on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. If you’re a foodie visiting Utrecht, this market is the place to be. You’ll find plenty of fresh produce here, including Dutch delicacies like stroopwafels and delicious cheeses. Also, what’s a trip to the Netherlands without exploring a canal? You can explore the Oudegracht Canal by boat, which is arguably one of the best ways to take in the ambience of Utrecht.

8. Istanbul – Turkey

Image credit: Fyletto via Canva Pro

Before the blazing summer heat of Turkey sets in, why not add Istanbul to your list of mid-year holiday destinations? Known in ancient times as Constantinople, it is one of the oldest cities in the world, with plenty of must-see destinations to visit, like the Hagia Sophia Mosque. Constructed in 537 AD, it’s one of the most prominent historical buildings in the world, and the single greatest architectural achievement of the Byzantine Empire.

Basilica Cistern | Image credit: Goinyk Production via Canva Pro

Another destination in Istanbul you need to visit is the Grand Bazaar. This covered market is steeped in history and spans thousands of stalls, making it the perfect place for travellers in search of a true, no-holds-barred, bargaining fest. You can also head underground and explore the Basilica Cistern, a network of ancient reservoirs dating back to the Byzantine Empire.

Carry on your Istanbul adventure at the Galata Mevlevi Lodge, where you can join other visitors in watching a performance by whirling dervishes known as sema. Of course, you can’t forget to try some of the local cuisine. Be sure to grab a bite of some kofta, doner, and baklava as you make your way across the city.

Also read: 12 Hidden Gems in Istanbul to Visit for a Unique Experience

9. Memphis – USA

mid-year holiday

Image credit: Kruck20 via Canva Pro

The biggest reason to visit Memphis in May for a mid-year holiday? They’ve got an incredible festival going on that’s named the Memphis in May Festival. Expect an entire month of celebrations centred around the beloved local preoccupations of blues music and barbecue. Speaking of, Memphis is also the hometown of the legendary Elvis Presley. If you’re a fan of rock n’ roll and the blues, setting foot in this city is very much akin to a holy pilgrimage.

mid-year destinations

Beale Street | Image credit: benedek via Canva Pro

Take a tour of Graceland, the home of Elvis, and explore museums, restaurants, and gift shops dedicated to the King himself. For those of you who know the true roots of Memphis blues, make your way to the legendary Beale Street, which has seen the likes of Louis Armstrong, B.B. King, and other blues and jazz legends sing their hearts out on its hallowed grounds.

Musical landmarks aside, you can also embark on a historical journey in Memphis with a trip to the National Civil Rights Museum. Built on the site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968, it’s the perfect place to learn more about the African-American struggle to achieve civil rights amidst segregation and slavery.

10. Hokkaido – Japan

mid-year holiday

Matsumae park | Image credit: Kazu777 | Wikimedia Commons

Worried about missing out on cherry blossom season in Japan? Don’t worry! In Hokkaido, sakura trees only start to bloom in May, which makes Hokkaido a great place to visit for your mid-year holiday. One of the best places in Hokkaido to see cherry blossoms is Matsumae Park, which has more than 250 different varieties of sakura flowers and over 10,000 trees to admire. 

Of course, there’s more to do here besides the cherry blossoms. Make your way around the capital of Sapporo and check out attractions like Nijo Market and Shiroi Koibito Park. In May, Hokkaido also blooms with various other flowers like shibazakura (moss phlox) at Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park and tulips at the Upopoy National Ainu Museum and Park.

Image credit: Tatsuo115 via Canva Pro

Hokkaido is also home to beautiful natural gems like Shiretoko National Park, a destination that’s bound to be exciting for anyone who loves the outdoors. Besides gorgeous lakes and waterfalls, you’ll also have chances to spot Sika deer and brown bears. Furthermore, while in Hokkaido you can visit Lake Mashu, one of the clearest caldera lakes in the world.

Also read: The Ultimate 9D8N Hokkaido Itinerary in Autumn: Things to Do, See & Eat

11. Bali – Indonesia

mid-year destinations

Image credit: Andrey Khrobostov via Canva Pro

The best time to visit Bali is between April and October, making it a perfect mid-year holiday destination for your next vacation. When it comes to vacations, a trip to Bali is an excellent choice. Whether you’re into cultural journeys, admiring the beauty of nature, or just a night of endless partying, this popular island destination has something for everyone.

Image credit: Leonid Andronov via Canva Pro

You can hike up Mount Batur to catch a beautiful sunrise or immerse yourself in the cool waters of the Tegenungan Waterfalls in Ubud. If shopping and bargains are your poison, spend a day at the Ubud Art Market; just make sure to bring your best haggling skills.

Bali is also home to some incredible beaches. Head to Seminyak Beach or Kuta if you’re jonesing for a classic fun-in-the-sun experience; swimming, sunbathing, beachside dining, parties, and much more. There are also hidden beachfront gems to explore, like Pasir Puteh Beach in Karangasem and Balian Beach, which is popular among the surf crowd.

Also read: Bali Guide: Must-See Spots in Every Tourist Town

12. Da Nang – Vietnam

mid-year holiday

Golden Giant Hand Bridge, Ba Na Hills | Image credit: galitskaya via Canva Pro

Da Nang is another Southeast Asian gem if you’re wondering where to travel to in May. It’s the last month of springtime, and the weather is usually mild and comfortable. Da Nang has plenty to offer its visitors, ranging from fun beachside activities to stunning highland escapes. If you’re in the mood for soft sand and clear waters, visit My Khe Beach or Bai Nam Beach.

You can also explore Ba Na Hills by cable car and enjoy the cooling breeze that’s often a welcome change from the warmer coastal areas of Da Nang. Don’t miss a trip to the Golden Giant Hand Bridge while you’re there. It’s the perfect place to commemorate your Da Nang trip with some gorgeous photos for the ’Gram.

mid-year destinations

Image credit: Andrey Khrobostov via Canva Pro

Other spectacular destinations you shouldn’t miss in Da Nang include the Marble Mountains and the Da Nang Cathedral. Once the sun goes down, don’t forget to check out Da Nang’s Dragon Bridge. This bridge over the Han River is beautifully lit at night and even “breathes” out fire and water on weekends and Vietnamese public holidays, making for an epic sight.

Also read: 12 Hidden Gems in Vietnam for Your Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventure

There’s no shortage of amazing mid-year holiday destinations for you to choose from for your next trip. So take a step back from the stress, pack a bag, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure.

About Author

Jeremiah Patrick
Jeremiah Patrick

A journeyman wordsmith wandering the creative lexicon, looking to craft a masterpiece. The only thing on par with Jerry’s love for a good story is the time he spends playing dauntingly difficult video games, reading works of fiction, and listening to horror podcasts. His mood shifts between dark brooding and cheery quips, depending on how much caffeine swirls in his system.