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Best places to travel in May

May is Louisville’s most popular month, for good reason. The Kentucky Derby, held at the beginning of the month, lures spectators from all over the world to watch the races.

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This charming European town is just one hour from Paris, and its spring weather is ideal for strolling around on the cobblestoned streets. The public arts projects such as Lille3000, a group of indoor and outdoor art exhibitions, as well as a wonderful modern art museum are worth visiting.

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The Steel City has garnered plenty of attention lately, with the opening of the Ace Hotel in a former YMCA, exciting new restaurants, and, of course, its standout art scene.

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Monaco is at its most action-packed in May, when the Grand Prix zooms into town. Book early to get a room at one of the best hotels, including Hotel de Paris and the Hotel Hermitage. And for those who aren’t interested in spending all day at Monte Carlo’s famous casinos, there’s plenty to do, from renting luxury convertibles to a tour of all things Grace Kelly. 

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The small European island gained some major screen time recently as the setting for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s “By the Sea.” Stay at the Corinthia Palace, a fantastic home base for touring the medieval town, beaches, ancient temples and vineyards. The tourists really begin to descend in June, so beat the crowds in May to get the beaches to yourself. 

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The summer season has officially started in Barcelona, the Spanish city renowned for its beaches. Rooftop spaces with a view of the Mediterranean open this month, and the timing is perfect for drinking sangria alfresco. 

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Several new hotels are opening in Lake Como this year, including Il Sereno Lago di Como, designed by Patricia Urquiola, and Villa Lario, a family-friendly property with six suites.

 (Steven Brooke/Great Houses of Florida)

The Chinese city continues to grow rapidly, with acclaimed restaurants and bars, world-class shopping and five-star hotels. The weather is incredibly pleasant in May — the spring rains have passed, but the summer humidity has yet to set in. And come here before the crowds descend in June for the opening of the Shanghai Disney Resort, which is sure to be popular with families during the summer break.

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The Brazilian financial capital is enjoying the last of its fall weather in May, with temperatures ranging from the 60s to mid-70s. While the country is known for its beaches, Sao Paulo also has skyscrapers and an energetic cultural scene. Don’t miss the Museu de Arte, the great street art and the Oscar Niemeyer architecture around town. 


Head to this seaside retreat earlier in the month to take advantage of empty beaches and low Airbnb rates before the Memorial Day rush. There are activities for every interest, from whale-watching in Provincetown to the New England Fire & History Museum to a tour of the Cape Cod Potato Chip Co.’s factory in Hyannis.


Bali’s beaches attract all types of sun worshippers, but surfers know to head to Canggu, a town on the island’s southwestern coast. In May, Deus, a mixed-use space that includes a restaurant, music venue and art gallery, hosts a major surf competition, bringing together pros and amateurs for a fun-filled weekend.  


The canal town has lots of appeal for American tourists: It’s safe, uncrowded and has plenty of English speakers. It’s also become a destination for foodies: Michelin started rating Aarhus’  restaurants last year, and several, including Wassim Hallal’s Frederikshoj, have received stars.