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May in Wales is an interesting time. As the weather improves and outdoor pursuits become more viable and enjoyable, the country starts to come to life, so what’s it like to visit Wales at this time?
Wales is one of the best months to visit Wales with warm temperatures of 12℃ and dry weather but without the large numbers of tourists that descend on the country during summer. Expect the countryside to be dotted with wildflowers, the sea to be bearable for surfing and kayaking, and several food and cultural festivals taking place.
So, what exactly might you be doing on a trip to Wales in March? Let’s dive in and find out.
What Will the Weather Be Like in May?
For the first time in the year, the average temperatures for Wales in May are firmly in the double figures at approximately 12℃1 (source: Weather Spark). Of course, if you’re coastal, this might drop as the average wind speed is still quite high at 16.9 kph.
There are an average of 12 rainy days in May each year (when rainfall is 1mm+) making it one of the driest months2 (source: Statistica) so it’s fairly good weather for outdoor pursuits like hiking, cycling, or kayaking and is a good opportunity to get some adventuring done before summer hits with the hordes of tourists.
What Should I Expect?
Wales is one of my favourite times to visit Wales. It’s still shoulder season so the peak tourist season has not yet started, but most of the attractions are open so you can easily escape most of the crowds if you want to.
However, the end of May or the beginning of June brings the summer half-term school holidays. During this period, expect there to be increased crowds at tourist hotspots such as beaches and attractions, you can also expect accommodation to be more expensive so it’s best to avoid this two-week break if possible.
What to Pack for Wales in May?
With the warmer temperatures coming in, there is the possibility for more water-based exercises. This means that packing a bathing suit or waterproof activity clothes might be advisable depending on your itinerary.
Layers are always a good idea in Wales regardless of the time of year, especially if you’re going out in the evening. In a similar vein, waterproofs and umbrellas are essentials, the former being especially important if you’re hitting the trails, as are proper hiking boots or trainers.
Best Things To Do in Wales in May
May really mark the start of event season in Wales leading into the Summer months, so there are a lot of exciting things to do and see all across the country.
1. Celebrate Dylan Thomas in Swansea
Dylan Thomas, one of Wales’s favourite sons and renowned poet, has his own day in Wales with artistic and cultural celebrations happening all over the country, but especially in Swansea and Camarthenshire where he lived. This makes May a great time to visit the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea, a museum dedicated to his work, his life, and his legacy. After you’ve explored, wander down to the Dylan Thomas statue in the city’s Maritime Quarter.
2. Visit Hay-on-Wye
The end of May and the start of June sees the quiet and beautiful town of Hay-on-Wye in Powys transformed into a cultural, literary, and artistic hub of activity. The Hay Festival is huge and people travel from around the world to visit. However, if you want to appreciate the beauty of this quaint town, visit in early May before the hustle and bustle starts, and explore the cobbled streets and independent stores.
3. Climb Cnicht, the Welsh Matterhorn
May is a great time to hit the trails throughout Wales’s many national parks, but the major peaks are starting to get busy, especially around the half-term holidays. Instead, opt to visit South Snowdonia (Eryri) and get away from the crowds.
This region is full of beautiful mountains and large hills, but the crown jewel has to be the challenging Cnicht, otherwise known as the Welsh Matterhorn due to its point top. Starting in the nearby village of Beddgelert, it’s a 12km circular route that takes around four and a half hours to complete.
4. Wander the Wales Coastal Path on the Llyn Peninsula
If you prefer coastal views to mountain ones, the bright and brisk weather of May is a good time to visit the Wales Coastal Path. Although walking the whole thing is a giant undertaking, you can spend a pleasant day or two exploring odd sections. The Llyn Peninsula is a stunning part of the path and offers views across the Irish Sea, footpaths to gorgeous beaches, and small towns and villages with cosy pubs along the way.
5. Try sea kayaking off Anglesey
Want to explore Wales from the water itself? Beat the Summer crowds by trying out sea kayaking in May. The bright days mean that you can enjoy fantastic views as you paddle.
Anglesey is listed as one of the best places in the whole UK for sea kayaking, and there are plenty of companies that can take you out and show you the ropes in a safe and enjoyable way. It’s a fun half-day or full-day experience that the whole family can enjoy and a completely new way to see the stunning Welsh coastline.
6. Explore Pembrokeshire’s fishing villages
The quiet of early May is an ideal time to explore the quaint fishing communities of the Pembrokeshire coast. Spots like Tenby are massively popular with families and tourists for a reason, but by avoiding half-term or summer holidays, you can enjoy the towns and villages in the best way.
Pack a backpack complete with a picnic and wander from one port to the next, stop for a drink, warm yourself up with some deliciously fresh seafood, and then continue onwards. Fishing was and still is incredibly important to the fabric of this area, so it’s well worth taking the time to read the plaques along the coastal trails and learn as you go.
Events in May in 2023
The Hay Festival – 25th May to 4th June 2023
Snowdonia Half Marathon – 14th May 2023
FOCUS Wales (Wrexham) – 4th to 6th May 2023
Dylan Thomas Day – 14th May 2023
Urdd Eisteddfod – 30th May to 4th June 2023
Kieren is the founder and editor-in-chief of Wales Guidebook. Originally from rural Mid-Wales, he has lived all over the country from Cardiff to Wrexham. A true Welshman, Kieren created this site to share his passion for Wales and help others discover this beautiful country.