The mercury rocketed to 28C (82.4F) in Bournemouth, making Friday the hottest day of the year and putting Barcelona in the shade as the Spanish city could only manage 25.3C (77.5F).
Athens in Greece peaked at 24C (75.2F) while Casablanca in Morocco could only manage 22C (71.6).
And the summer sun was not just confined to the south with Bishopton near Glasgow enjoying highs of 27.3C (81.1F).
The warm weather is set to continue over the weekend, with temperatures only falling significantly in the middle of next week.
Train companies are gearing up for an increase in passengers of up to 25% in some parts of the country as sun-seekers head to seaside resorts and beauty spots.
However, coastal areas were cooler, especially in the east where it struggled to get above 18C (64.4F).
Average maximum temperatures for England in May are 14-17C, while Scotland would normally be 13-15C.
Sky weather presenter Nazaneen Ghaffar said the unseasonably warm weather will last a few more days.
"We will continue with the heat into this weekend with temperatures above the seasonal average.
"It will be mostly dry and sunny conditions across the UK, however, today we do have an easterly breeze bringing in dry but fresher air.
"This easterly breeze will make it feel cooler around eastern coasts this weekend but still pleasantly warm. The warmest areas will be in the west.
"On Sunday there will also be outbreaks of showery rain for southwestern parts of the UK and perhaps southern parts of Wales, otherwise mostly fine and dry elsewhere."
A Met Office spokesman warned people wanting to enjoy the sunshine to take precautions, saying: "The sun's UV levels are likely to be quite high and the public are encouraged to stay up to date with the Met Office's UV forecasts across the whole of the UK."
Meanwhile, even though the recent heavy rains have helped restore depleted water reserves, the Environment Agency reported that much of South East and eastern England is still affected by drought.
The sunny weather following the rain has prompted lots of plant growth, which has meant soils are drier than normal.
National drought coordinator Polly Chancellor said: "The recent spell of wet weather restored many river and reservoir levels to normal, reducing pressure on the environment and public water supply.
"But groundwater levels in some areas still remain exceptionally low - so it continues to be important that we all use water wisely, and try to reduce the amount that we use at home and in businesses."