Finally, the Welsh weather is becoming more settled and mellow, with warm days and sunshine in store. But remember that things can always change at the drop of a hat: pack a waterproof jacket, warm layers, boots, and an umbrella for sudden breezes and spontaneous showers.
In May temperatures hit highs of 63°F (17°C) and lows of 45°F (7°C). Depending on which way the wind is blowing, it can feel cold enough for a coat or warm enough for a t-shirt. Cardiff gets some of the mildest weather, while you can expect things to be a tad chillier in the mountains (Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons).
Crowds & Costs
There's a whiff of summer in the air but the country is still pretty quiet. The vast majority of hotels, B&Bs, campsites, restaurants, and sights have been open since Easter, but May is still technically shoulder season. Now you get the benefits of summer with just a fraction of the crowds, making this hands-down one of the best months to visit.
With advance planning and flexibility, you can score good deals on flights and accommodation in May. The only exceptions are the May Bank Holiday weekend (the first weekend in the month) when things are a little busier, and the Hay Festival (late in the month), when hotels are booked months ahead (you’ll need to be organized).
Where to Go
May is the month when everyone who visits Wales is itching to get out and explore the country’s coast, countryside, moors, and mountains on a deeper level.
The sea temperature is still chilly at 51°F (10.5°C), but otherwise, this is a great time to hit the coast for a hike or road trip, whether it’s to be the dune- and cliff-backed beaches of the Gower Peninsula that ripple west of Swansea, Pembrokeshire’s string of beaches and hidden smugglers’ coves in the south, or the rugged, wind-whipped coastline of Ceredigion in the west. If you’re coming from the north, the Llŷn Peninsula is spectacular, with cliffs sheering into the Irish Sea and pristine beaches framed by the dark mountains of Snowdonia.
It’s worth checking the calendar as there are some excellent events in May, which could shape the course of your itinerary, such as classical music in the cathedral-topped town of St Davids and folk concerts in Fishguard toward the end of the month. The cultural big-hitter is the Hay Festival in late May, giving you all the more reason to visit the riverside book town of Hay-on-Wye on the northern cusp of the Brecon Beacons.
What to Do
Get outdoors as the weather perks up and brings more sunshine. Wales is the only country in the world with an unbroken coast path wrapping around its entire seaboard. The 870-mile (1,400-km) Wales Coast Path is too big for one bite, so choose your region and hike a leg or two. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path heading along gorse-clad cliffs to secluded bays, fishing hamlets, and coastal pubs, is particularly lovely. There’s action in and around the water now, too, with sea kayaking, coasteering, rock pooling, and foraging.
With drier weather, longer days, and few crowds, May is a great month to take to the trail in the high peaks of the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia, too, whether you go on foot or by mountain bike.
Events in May
FOCUS Wales, Wrexham. On a weekend in early May, Wrexham in North Wales celebrates the arts big time, with this festival bringing 300 bands to the stage and focusing on new arts and performances from the region and beyond.
Dylan Day, Swansea & Laugharne. Wales’ most famous poet and writer, Dylan Thomas, gets his moment to shine on May 14, with walking tours, performances, and events happening across Wales. Swansea (where he was born) and Laugharne (where he lived and had his boat shed) are great places to experience this.
Snowdonia Half Marathon. In mid-May, one of the toughest half marathons in the UK heads up Wales’ highest peak, Snowdon, involving a grueling 3,910 feet (1,192 m) of ascent and ending in the village of Llanrwst. It’s one for experienced trail runners but is impressive to watch even if you don’t compete.
Royal Welsh Smallholding and Countryside Festival, Builth Wells. Rural life is the focus of this open-air festival at the Royal Welsh Showground on the fourth weekend in May. Besides agriculture-based workshops and talks, wool handling competitions, and shearing demonstrations, there’s live music and street food in the mix.
Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye. This is the cultural biggie—one of the world’s foremost festivals of literature and the arts comes to Hay-on-Wye. The event takes place over 11 days in May and June and attracts a high-profile line-up of authors and poets (book tickets well in advance).
Urdd Eisteddfod, location changes yearly. Held from late May to early June, this youth festival of music, literature, and performing arts celebrates the beauty of the Welsh language in all its forms.
Fishguard Folk Festival. On the final weekend in May, this high-spirited festival sends the coastal town of Fishguard swinging into summer, with live folk acts. Some are ticketed, while others are free gigs in local pubs.
St Davids Cathedral Festival, Pembrokeshire. The birthplace of St David is the scenic backdrop for this 10-day festival bringing world-class classical music to the Pembrokeshire coast.
Traveling to Wales in May? Check out these great itineraries
Culinary Tour of Wales - 5 Days. Hike the mountain grasslands of Brecon Beacons and taste local whiskey, then visit sleepy harbor towns and ancient monasteries in Pembrokeshire. Drive along the spectacular Cambrian coast, then end your trip in the jagged mountains of Snowdonia, where mountain views and medieval castles await.
Self-Drive Wales: Culture, Castles & Coastlines - 12 Days. Get behind the wheel to drive up the wild Welsh coast, stopping to embark on a series of tours and excursions. Spot seals and dolphins on a boat trip along the Gower Peninsula, walk across the famous Devil's Bridge, ascend Mount Snowdon by train, and discover local lore and legends in the walled town of Conwy.