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The best places to travel in May

Times are tough for travellers. But with the world preparing to reopen in 2021, we're here to keep you dreaming and planning for your next adventure – whether that's a staycation or flying off to parts unknown. Until then, we’ve got the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates to keep you up to date and ready to go.

With the weather starting to warm up, flowers beginning to bloom, and birds singing songs of joy, spring is a wonderful time to get outside and do some much-needed exploring. This can have huge benefits to our mental health after the dreary post-holiday winter months, even if it’s just exploring somewhere new that’s close to home. If you’re looking for some inspiration on the best places to travel in the month of May, this guide has you covered!

Whether you want to see blooming flowers, get one last ski trip in for the season, or skip straight to the tropics, here are 9 ideas for destinations that are great to travel to in May in Canada and abroad.

Please note: Always check the latest official travel restrictions and guidelines before booking any type of travel.

Best places to travel in Canada in May

Ottawa 

tulips at the Ottawa Tulip Festival in May 2019
Best places to travel in Canada in May: Ottawa, Ontario

Ottawa is the perfect Canadian city for a spring getaway. May is one of the best times to visit our capital city, as the temperature start to rise and the city starts to bloom with tulips. And during the month of May you can participate in the Canada Tulip Festival, a beloved Ottawa event that’s been celebrated almost every year since 1945.

This year, the Canadian Tulip Festival is returning locally and online. Commissioner’s Park at Dow’s Lake will feature over 300,000 Tulips in bloom with a safe, strolling experience that locals are invited to join. At this time, visitors outside Ottawa are asked to experience the tulips through the virtual experience, but they will update here if restrictions ease.

As Canada’s capital, Ottawa is also home to some of the countries best national museums and historic sites. If you’re interested in learning more about Canadian history, you can take a tour of Parliament Hill. Set against the Rideau Canal, this is one of the most picturesque areas to walk around while visiting Ottawa.

Whistler

person skiing down a hill in Whistler, Canada, a great place to travel in May
Best places to travel in Canada in May: Whistler, BC

If you’re not ready to leave the Canadian winter behind, considering a spring trip to Whistler this May. Canada’s world-class skiing destination was the site for many ski events during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games!

But unlike most Canadian ski resorts, which are typically closed by May, Blackcomb Village in Whistler still has plenty of ski life left to discover. Plus, you can take advantage of fewer crowds, longer days, and spring discounts for the mountain. Blackcomb is currently open with a commitment to safety. They’ve redesigned their loading chairlifts and gondolas with physical distancing guidelines in mind. After a day on the slopes, grab an apres-ski in Whistler Village where you can find an extensive selection of lodges and dining options.

Travel advisory: While the Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort is currently closed temporarily, it is set to reopen on April 19, 2021.

Toronto 

skyline of Toronto
Best places to travel in Canada in May: Toronto, Ontario

If you want to experience the cherry blossoms this spring, head to Toronto! Many of the cities parks have cherry blossom trees which usually come into bloom during May. For 2021, the peak bloom is predicted to start at the end of April and go into early May. The cherry blossoms stay open for four to ten days, depending on the weather. The most popular spot for viewing the cherry blossoms in Toronto is High Park on the west side of the city, but it’s not the only place. The cherry blossoms can be seen blooming all over Toronto’s best parks during the spring months – Trinity Bellwoods and Centennial Park are two other amazing parks in the city to experience these ephemeral beauties.

Aside from the blossoms, spring is a wonderful time to visit Toronto as it’s when the city starts to come alive again after the winter season. May often brings warm weather, and the outdoor patios begin to fill with locals and tourists alike. As Canada’s cultural hub, there’s plenty of unique food experiences and fantastic museums on a trip to Toronto. And if you have the time, you can extend your trip to one of these great weekend getaways from Toronto.

Future travel inspiration: Discover some cherry blossoms festivals that you probably didn’t know existed

Last Mountain Regional Park, Saskatchewan 

a white and black feathered crane taking flight
Best places to travel in May: Saskatchewan

There’s nothing like Saskatchewan in spring! One of the best places to travel in May for nature lovers is Last Mountain Regional Park in Saskatchewan. This beautiful Canadian destination is actually North America’s oldest bird sanctuary, where thousands of birds migrate to every spring. You might see pelicans, herons, tundra swans, whooping cranes, yellow-rumped warblers, and Swainson’s hawks, just to name a few. The migration season is so important for sustainable development that May 11th was named World Migratory Bird Day by the United Nations.

Last Mountain Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary is currently open to the public for day-use only, and you can get the latest travel updates here. And if you’re looking to take an extended trip, there’s even an opportunity to volunteer at the observatory during the spring and fall migrations, where you’ll get the rare opportunity to see many bird species up close and to observe catching, handling, and banding techniques.

Vancouver Island 

Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC
Best places to travel in Canada in May: Victoria, BC

There’s no better place to celebrate Victoria Day weekend than British Columbia’s capital city, which was named for the Queen herself. Victoria, BC, is one of the best places to travel in May, as warm and dry temperatures have started to arrive without the summer rush of tourists. Flowers will be in full bloom, making it a great time to explore the stunning Butchart Gardens, a designated a National Historic Site of Canada which can be explored and enjoyed for days.

Vancouver Island is one of the best places in Canada to get in touch with the natural world just about any time of year, but the spring months are the perfect time for some unforgettable experiences. Go whale-watching for humpbacks and orcas, explore the many trails of Pacific Rim National Park, marvel at the giant trees in Cathedral grove, or even try surfing along the remarkable coastline of Tofino.

Further reading: Start planning your summer staycation with these top camping spots in Canada.

Canmore

a dog by a lake in Canmore, BC, one of the best places to travel to in May
Where to travel in May in Canada: Canmore, BC

The Rocky Mountains are one of the best places to travel in May for hikers, as many of the trails will have become accessible without the summer heat. Plus, spring is one of the best times to see the incredible natural wildlife in this part of Canada. Some animals you might spot on a trip here are bears, moose, elk, deer, and mountain sheep.

For an easy hike, check out Grassi Lakes which leads you to two emerald-green lakes in between Mount Lawrence Grassiand Mount Rundle. If you’re looking for something more intense, summit the backside of Ha Ling. An 800m climb will reward you with panoramic views of Canmore and Bow Valley. For an even bigger adventure, you can cycle the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail – a  26.8 km trail that links Canmore with Banff National Park. It takes 2-3 hours, with stunning mountain views the entire ride.

Best international destinations to visit in May

Uvita, Costa Rica 

sunset uvita costa rica
Best places to travel in May in the Caribbean: Uvita, Costa Rica – Photo Credit: Lora Pope

Famous for its diverse nature and wildlife, Costa Rica is the perfect place to go for an eco-friendly holiday. While there are ample beach towns in Costa Rica to choose from, one that stands out from the rest is Uvita. Located in the south of the country along the Pacific coast, Uvita is home to one of Costa Rica’s only protected marine parks where you can go whale-watching, snorkelling, and diving. Head to Cano Island to swim alongside white-tipped sharks, sea turtles, and stingrays. Remember your reef-friendly sunscreen before you jump in the water!

Uvita is also home to some of the most beautiful sunsets and beaches in Costa Rica, including one that happens to be shaped like a whale tail.

One of the best parts about Uvita is that many of the local businesses and tour operators around are incorporating sustainable practices into their business model. For a truly special experience, book a retreat at Bodhi surf and yoga. This b-corp company is so much more than just your average surf camp. They teach in a way that connects guests with themselves and the land – inspiring them to make positive environmental impact adjustments at home.

Barbados

boats by the beach in Barbados, a great Caribbean destination in May
Best places to travel to in May in the Caribbean: Barbados

If you’re dreaming of dipping your toes in soft, white sand or relaxing in a hammock with a warm tropical breeze, look no further than Barbados. This small 432 square kilometre island is one of the best places to travel in May for a beach holiday. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in charm. Spend your days swimming, sunbathing on beaches, drinking rum cocktails at sunset, and enjoying the slow-paced Caribbean way of life.

Barbados is also one of the best Caribbean islands for surfing, with waves for all levels. Beginners can practice at the small steady waves in Freights Bay alongside sea turtles, while pro surfers can try their luck at catching barrels at Soup Bowl – a world-renowned surf site on the east coast of the island.

May is one of the best times to visit Barbados as it’s out of peak season but not quite low season, so you can make the most of the quieter beaches and cheaper prices while still enjoying hot and dry weather most days. Before booking any travel, be sure to follow the latest travel protocols.

While major Canadian airlines have agreed to stop flying to the Caribbean and Mexico until April 30th, 2021, Air Canada has started selling flights to limited destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico for May.

La Paz, Mexico

sea lions in La Paz, Mexico
Best places to travel in May: La Paz, Mexico

Where the desert merges into the ocean, La Paz offers a spring getaway like no other. This lesser-known city in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula is a dream destination for travellers looking for a unique nature escape with lots of adventure opportunities along the way. Go paddle-boarding, snorkelling with sea lions, or take a small boat tour out to sea and try and spot some magnificent grey whales. Or if you’re a diver, book a scuba dive in the Sea of Cortez, where the water visibility is clearest between the months of May-October.

If you get bored of the water, the nearby peaks of the Sierra de la Laguna range offer even more outdoor fun. You can even go sandboarding down dunes in El Mogote, and avid hikers will love the Cerro de la Calavera, or the ‘hill of skulls’ hike, which features distinctive rock formations. The locals in La Paz care deeply about the environment, so the tour operators there tend to reflect that by incorporating conservation efforts into their businesses.

We hope this list of the best places to travel in May could inspire you with some outdoor adventure ideas for the upcoming spring. And as always before booking any travel, be sure to check local government regulations. Stay safe out there!

This page was last updated on March 31st, 2021. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication. For further up-to-date information, please visit https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/

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