The United Kingdom in May: Travel Tips for First-Timers

The United Kingdom in May: Travel Tips for First-Timers

By Ruby Zhao | Updated Feb. 21, 2024

The spring month of May sees cool weather in the United Kingdom. You can expect a little bit of rainfall, but there are many chances of sun. In May we recommend visiting Belfast, the Cotswolds, the Lake District, and London. Keep reading for more about travel and weather, including temperatures, rainfall, humidity, and tips for May.

United Kingdom Weather in May: Overview

Averages:

  • Temperature range: 8–16°C (46–61°F)
  • Rainfall: 7 cm (3 inches)
  • Rainy days: 11
  • Sunshine hours/day: 7½
  • Humidity: 67–69% (ranging from comfortable to more humid)

The United Kingdom sees cool to mild weather in May, its final month of spring. The highest temperatures hover around the 16°C (61°F) mark on average, but the evenings can still be chilly throughout the country.

There is more sunshine in the month of May, averaging around 7½ hours a day. In terms of rain, there are around 11 rainy days in the month of May, and it can feel a little muggy as a result.

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May Climate Comparison (Averages) for the United Kingdom's Top Tourism Areas

City/Area High (ºC) Low (ºC) Rain (cm)
London (main city, museums, galleries, famous buildings) Mild Cool Low
Cardiff (Capital of Wales, culture, architecture) Mild Cool Moderate
Edinburgh (Capital of Scotland, castles, culture) Mild Cold Low
Lake District (Lake and fell scenery, hiking) Mild Cold Moderate
Belfast (N. Ireland capital, Irish scenery and culture) Mild Cool Low
City/Area High (ºC) Low (ºC) Rain (cm)
London (main city, museums, galleries, famous buildings) 18 9 5
Cardiff (Capital of Wales, culture, architecture) 17

9

8
Edinburgh (Capital of Scotland, castles, culture) 15 7 5
Lake District (Lake and fell scenery, hiking) 16 6 8
Belfast (N. Ireland capital, Irish scenery and culture) 15 7 7
City/Area High (ºF) Low (ºF) Rain (in)
London (main city, museums, galleries, famous buildings) 64 48 2
Cardiff (Capital of Wales, culture, architecture) 63 48 3
Edinburgh (Capital of Scotland, castles, culture) 59 45 2
Lake District (Lake and fell scenery, hiking) 60 44 3
Belfast (N. Ireland capital, Irish scenery and culture) 59 45 3

The Best Places to Visit in the United Kingdom in May

If you're hoping to explore a little more of the outdoors in the United Kingdom, May is one of the earliest months to do this with some warmth in the air. As the temperatures get a little bit higher, and the days become longer inching closer to summer, there are so many great spots to visit in May.

We recommend Belfast, the Cotswolds, the Lake District, and London for anybody visiting in May. These destinations combine sightseeing in the cities of the United Kingdom, as well as walks out in some of the country's most beautiful natural spots.

1. Learn in the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum

London is full of incredible sights to see, and museums to explore. We recommend spending some time checking out the British Museum, as well as the Victoria and Albert Museum. Both of these also frequently have temporary exhibitions on, which you can find information about on their websites. You will have to book ahead for these.

Apart from the museums, London is a great place to eat and drink. Check out our recommendations in our article about visiting the United Kingdom in April. For more suggestions on other museums and parks, we have our piece about visiting the United Kingdom in March.

May's weather is also great for a walking tour of the city. Reach out to Global Highlights, and we can arrange this for you so that you don't have to worry about planning getting around London.

2. Visit Shakespeare's Hometown in Stratford-upon-Avon in the Cotswolds

Stratford-upon-Avon, on the edge of the Cotswolds, is the birthplace of William Shakespeare (1564–1616), as well as a beautiful example of a traditional British market town. It is one of the most-visited places in the United Kingdom as a result.

As with most towns in the Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon was a hub for wool production and leather tanning. You will be able to see wool warehouses and lots of shops selling locally-produced items. Theatres there hold performances of Shakespeare's plays for anybody interested.

We recommend walking around and visiting the village of Shottery nearby too. There you will be able to see the early home of Shakespeare's wife, Anne Hathaway's cottage. It's a beautiful Elizabethan farmhouse with thatched roots, half-timbered walls, and latticed windows. Walking there will help you to imagine what the town was like back in Shakespeare's day.

3. Explore the British Countryside in the Lake District

The Lake District in the northwest of England is one of the country's most beautiful national parks. The network of lakes and hills make the perfect backdrop for an adventurous outdoor vacation, with ample opportunity for walks and exploration of the wild.

We recommend staying in Kirkby Lonsdale, and taking this as a base to explore the Lake District from. This Cumbrian town is also home to architectural sites to visit, including St Mary's Church and Sizergh, a beautiful heritage building owned by the National Trust.

As for walks, there is Devil's Bridge scenic point and the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail, which are just a starting point.

The area has been an inspiration for many, including Beatrix Potter, best known for the Tale of Peter Rabbit. The Lake District is also home to the World of Beatrix Potter, which is a fun afternoon out.

4. See Where in Belfast the Titanic Was Built

Belfast is a fascinating city to explore, and we highly recommend visiting to learn more about the Troubles, the most turbulent period of time in Northern Ireland between the 1960s and 1998. Sometimes referred to as the Northern Ireland conflict, there are lots of recommended walking tours that can take you to locations that were important in this conflict.

Belfast is also home to the Titanic, as this is where the Titanic was built. You can visit the Titanic Experience or go to the Titanic Quarter. There are also Titanic-themed tours for fans of the Titanic, and we suggest ending the day at an Irish pub!

Low Season (Except Bank Holidays): Less Expensive and Less Crowded

May falls just before the UK low season ends, with fewer tourists than in the summer months of June, July, and August. As a result, there will be fewer crowds and slightly lower pricing on accommodation. However, May is busier than February, March, and April.

There are some busier days in the month of May, however, which are May Day and the Late May Bank Holiday. These fall on May 6 and May 27 in 2024 respectively, and on May 5 and May 26 in 2025. On these days, more British people will be out and about in the United Kingdom, particularly around London and Belfast, but also making the most of the countryside if the weather is good.

What to Wear in May

Given that May is on the cool and mild side, we recommend wearing layers so that you can take them off or add them as necessary. Your thickest winter coat is not likely to be needed, but you definitely will want to bring a coat still as the temperatures are not yet summery on most days. A scarf and a hat might also be helpful still.

We also recommend bringing a waterproof layer or an umbrella in case you come across a little bit of rain, and comfortable shoes to make sure you can easily walk around and explore.

Monthly Weather in United Kingdom

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More Travel Ideas and Inspiration

United Kingdom Weather in January: Travel Tips for First-Timers The United Kingdom in February: Travel Tips for First-Timers The United Kingdom in March: Travel Tips for First-Timers The United Kingdom in May: Travel Tips for First-Timers The United Kingdom in June: Travel Tips for First-Timers The United Kingdom in July: Travel Tips for First-Timers The United Kingdom in August: Travel Tips for First-Timers
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