May half term breaks are an easy way to sneak in some early summer sun and warmth as a family; little ones will relish the excitement of exploring somewhere new during their time off school, while grown-ups relish a week of rest before the fast pace of summer starts.
Knowing where to travel during May half term can be tricky, especially as you want to make the most of your week off whilst ensuring your children will be ready to head back to school on the Monday. We also know that some schools have longer than a week for their May half term break, so have included a couple of far-flung destinations you can truly immerse yourselves in.
So, from languid days on the bountiful beaches of Barbados to culture-focused tours on May half term city breaks, rest easy in the knowledge that we have done all the research for you, and read on to discover our ultimate guide to planning your luxury holiday this May half term.
When you only have limited time for your getaway, it can sometimes be difficult to choose the right destination for a one-week holiday. For some, the lure of powdery white sand beaches and tropical temperatures is quickly forgotten when long haul flights and lengthy transfers mean a day of your precious time off is gone before you’ve had the chance to start enjoying your holiday.
However, a May half term break is the ideal time to discover some of the natural beauty that’s a little closer to home, the diverse countries of Europe and Africa mean you can design a holiday that is as culturally stimulating or laid back as you’d like.
To help you choose the right destination for your half term holiday, we have curated a list of our favourite chilled and adventurous destinations; so no matter how you and your family wish to spend your week away, you’ll know where to go and how to do it in luxury.
Flight time from London: Thessalonik 3 hours 25 minutes, Heraklion, Mykonos, Santorini & Kalamata 4 hours, Zakynthos & Athens 3 hours 35 minutes
Ever-popular due to its mix of iconic blue and white stone buildings, picturesque beaches and proximity to the UK, Greece is an ideal May getaway. The many family-friendly resorts dotted across Crete, its many other islands and mainland beaches are ideal for families who wish to spend a week relaxing before the big crowds and excessive heat in the summer.
Greece’s diverse history and unique culture seeps from every whitewashed stone and ancient monument with each island and area embracing its own way of laid-back living. And by the end of a week spent indulging on freshly cooked gyros while strolling through cobbled streets you’ll be reluctant to leave.
Lounge by the pool or on a stretch of private beach as a family or let the little ones get involved in Greek cooking classes. If you’d prefer a big family outing, take a boat ride to and tour the island of Spinalonga, parents and grandparents will love learning about its history while children will relish the opportunity to explore its Venetian castle.
Flight time from London: 2-3 hours depending on destination
Settle into la dolce vita during a week away in Italy this May half term. Summer crowds are yet to descend and you can experience home-from-home Italian living in village-like resorts that sit nestled in the renaissance countryside, just moments from some of Europe’s most striking coastlines. For the ultimate cultural immersion, begin your trip with a city break in Rome or Venice and soak up everything these ancient icons have to offer before escaping to rural Italy.
Spend days strolling around stone pathways relishing the scent of fresh rosemary and zesty lemon that floats through the air. Italy comes into its own in late spring, earthy olive trees sway lightly in the soft breeze and the ocean is warming up after the cold winter months.
The authentic design of these resorts means you’ll rarely feel the need to venture outside of their walls. Pass afternoons playing by the kid’s pool or let your little ones have a taste of Italian culture and cuisine at their own kids-only restaurant.
Flight time from London: 8 hours 35 minutes
For those children who have more than one week for half term, nothing makes kids and grown-ups want to switch off like the golden beaches of Barbados, spend your time off lounging in one of the island’s covetable resorts and quickly learn that every comfort is provided and any needs you have will be catered to by attentive staff.
The many interconnecting rooms and spacious suites available ensures there is ample room for all of the family on a multi-generational holiday. Parents and grandparents can spend a morning playing golf on one of the many world-class courses that pepper the island, while children practice sailing.
Rent your own boat and spend the day snorkelling as a family around the various beaches and coves on the island; take the chance to teach your little ones about the importance of conservation work when you encounter turtles roaming freely in their natural home. Finally, when all the excitement of the day is over, spend warm evenings snuggled as a family watching a movie under the stars.
For those families looking for some excitement and adventure during their May half term break, few things compare to the natural beauty and diverse wildlife of Africa. Forget back-to-basics tented accommodation and set up camp in a luxury lodge with high class service, a la carte dining and playgrounds that look out across the boma.
Nothing compares with the experience of watching the excitement on your little ones’ faces as a guide helps them spot one of the Big 5 on a safari through the vast wildlife reserves of Kenya and South Africa. As the truck cruises through the reserve, you won’t know which to look at first, the rare animals running wild in their natural habitat or your children’s reaction to them.
On the days you’re not out on a game drive around the reserve, let your private guide take you out on a marine walk to explore local caves and share the area’s customs and traditions before your little ones join a dance class with local children.
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