Best places to visit in May in Australia

Discover beautiful places with minimal crowds at these May hotspots.

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The month of May brings with it the end of autumn and the end of the school holiday break.

Want to take advantage of off-peak prices? Perhaps the idea of extending the sunshine just that little bit longer is speaking to you? Well, these Aussie hotspots can do all that and more, and all without breaking the bank.

PS: May is also the month of Mother's Day. If you're looking for the ultimate gift, a weekend away is a brilliant idea.

1. Best for food: Kakadu

Adventure, culture and food meet in the outback.

The annual Taste of Kakadu food festival is making a name for itself on the festival circuit. Originally a 10-day celebration, this year it's been packed into 3 days (28-31 May) of Indigenous food, culture and country.

Experiences that are often on the bill include foraging walks with bush tucker experts, ground oven feasts and cooking demonstrations using native ingredients.

Housed within Kakadu National Park it's the perfect excuse to double down, visit the outback and tuck into some good, well, tucker.

  • May weather: 18-32°C, dry season.
  • Top May events in the NT: Taste of Kakadu, BASSINTHEGRASS (Darwin), Mataranka Never Never Festival (Mataranka, south of Kakadu), Uluru Camel Cup (Yulara).
  • Best for: Adventure, culture, foodies.

2. Best for beaches: Cairns

Because Queensland is always a good idea.

If you're searching for warm beaches without the long commute, Queensland is the answer. You could choose the Whitsundays or the Gold Coast but for somewhere family-friendly that's just starting to wind down make your way to Cairns.

Its beaches stay warm throughout the year and May tip-toes on the dry season which starts in June so it's still quiet and for the most part, still dry.

  • May weather: 19-28°C, winter.
  • Top May events: Live music and beach sports throughout the city.
  • Best for: Beaches, watersports, families.

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Coastal scene (site of wrecks) Innes NP, Yorke Peninsula, SA

3. Best for surprise destination: York Peninsula

Get set to see another side of South Australia.

More than Adelaide and Kangaroo Island, head west from the capital and you'll discover the York Peninsula. It's a rich region of farming towns, beaches, national parks and food, food, food.

In May the weather is on the cooler side of things which, while not ideal to hit the beaches, is fabulous for festivals and hikes.

Speaking of festivals, this month the Kernewek Lowender Copper Coast Cornish Festival brings an English flair to the towns of Kadina, Moonta and Wallaroo. If you were considering heading to the UK this year but had to ditch your plans, this is a surefire winner of a replacement.

  • May weather: 9-19°C, autumn.
  • Top May events: Kernewek Lowender Copper Coast Cornish Festival.
  • Best for: Culture, hiking, food.

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Top May events

These are the events across Australia and the world that typically run in May. Due the outbreak of COVID-19, many of these events are set to go ahead later on in the year.

  • Mother’s Day: In Australia this is on the second Sunday of May. Mark it on your calendar now before you forget.
  • Stars of the White Nights: The heart of Saint Petersburg is host to a festival of the world's most famous artists including Beethoven, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and more. Russia hosts this event each year at the end of May, offering up its magnificent Mariinsky Opera as home for the 160 performances.
  • Waisak/Vesk: This is the holiest day in the Buddhist calendar and is observed in various countries worldwide including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia. The date changes depending on where you are but it generally falls in May. During the festival, Buddhists assemble at various temples for ceremonial flag raisings, singing, offertories and prayer. With travel restrictions at the moment, you may not be able to visit these countries to experience it, however there will likely be local celebrations happening.
  • Vivid Sydney: Each year Sydney brings an installation of international proportions. With a light display that stretches from the Rocks and Circular Quay to the Royal Botanic Garden, this is a must-see event for anyone who happens to find themselves in the city. This year Vivid will be on in August.

When is the best time in May to take a holiday?

As May falls after the Easter school break, it finds itself in a low-season lull. Because of this, we've seen quite a few last-minute flight deals across Australia throughout the month.

That being said, we wouldn't say the whole month is a good time to travel. The Mother's Day weekend is likely to raise the price of airfares due to mothers being gifted holidays and children visiting their parents.

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