50 of Europe’s best summer holiday villas

people gathered around a table on terrace - Henry Woide
people gathered around a table on terrace - Henry Woide

A villa in the sun. It’s one of the great ways to relax on holiday – a chance to escape into a private world; a temporary home from home – with so much more space than you get in a hotel or apartment, and without the clutter of everyday life. Somewhere you can claim for yourself for a week or longer.

There are the little things – like the excitement of small children as they rush to explore the place as soon as you arrive, bagging their bedrooms, running out to see the pool, or the view, or see what's in the starter box of provisions which have been left out for you.

Then there are the more fundamental pleasures of having your own domain. You never have to worry about finding a space by the pool. You have your own garden. You can wander out into the morning sun while you are still in your pyjamas, leave all your stuff on the sunlounger, eat what you want – and at whatever time you want. In short, as well as space, a villa holiday also gives you the freedom to focus on yourself and on your family and friends.

pool in the middle of coutryside
pool in the middle of coutryside

But there are so many options out there, and everyone has different needs and expectations. Maybe you want somewhere quiet and romantic, isolated on a headland with fabulous views. Maybe you are planning a big family party, when all the generations can get together and celebrate an anniversary or a reunion. Perhaps you want not only somewhere big enough to accommodate all of you, but you’d like a helping hand too – some catered meals or someone to make the beds and keep things tidy.

Then again, maybe you’d prefer a simpler set-up. An unfussy bolthole where the kids can have fun. A base you can explore from, perhaps near a beach or a market or in a peaceful, rural backwater with spectacular walks from the door.

To try to help you find the best villa to suit your needs and expectations, we have trawled through a vast number of options from the best agents and operators in the business – and selected 50 of the best: whether your perfect home-from-home is a family gîte in the French countryside or a tiny fisherman’s cottage in the Greek Islands; a converted watchtower with fabulous views in Umbria or a traditional Majorcan finca with tennis court and private chef.

Whatever you need, we’ve found the inspirational option to help you on your way.

Prices are per property per week, based on the current starting price for stays in the peak season months of June, July and August unless stated otherwise and are subject to availability .

Best for budget stays

1. Rural retreat in Andalucia

Villa Arenosa, Andalucia - Gordon Simpson
Villa Arenosa, Andalucia - Gordon Simpson

With a breathtaking panorama of Zahara lake and the Sierra de Grazalema, Villa Arenosa, sleeping four, lies near the village of El Gastor, a 30-minute drive from Ronda. The living area of this stone-built house is hung with old farming implements and upper-floor bedrooms have french windows and balconies.

£990; 01954 261 431; book here

2. Stone-built cottage in Ithaka

Villa Eos, sleeping four, is a simple, two-bedroom villa with bold red shutters on the island’s east coast, within a ten-minute drive of Kaminia beach. Ground-floor bedrooms open out onto the stone terrace and an outdoor pizza oven is provided for guests’ use.

£1,209 per person, including flights and car hire; 020 8459 0777; book here

3. Family villas in Lefkada

Villa Valia LEFKADA
Villa Valia LEFKADA

Two-storey Villa Valia is one of a pair of neighbouring two-bedroom houses, newly renovated for 2023, and each with a pool and sea views. On a hilltop above the tavernas of Agios Nikitas, and a short boat ride to Mylos beach, they can be rented together or independently.

£1,306 per person, including flights and car hire; 020 8003 6557; book here

4. Hideaway villa in Crete

Although only a three-minute drive to Stilos village with shops and tavernas, and ten minutes to the beaches of Kalives, Villa Diktamo, sleeping six, stands in rural solitude among olive groves and vineyards in northwest Crete. Covered terraces, private pool and far-reaching views of the White Mountains add to its appeal.

£1,400; 01444 880 404; book here

5. Seaside gîte in Brittany

What this little wooden gîte (Ref. BN6054) lacks in sophistication, it makes up for in location and value for money. Sleeping four, with simple pine-clad interiors, it lies on a rough track near the north coast fishing port of Erquy, 29 miles from St Malo, 300m from the beach.

£1,849 for a family of four and car, with return Portsmouth-St Malo ferry crossing; 0330 1597000; book here

Best for couples

6. Trullo for two in Puglia

Trulli next to pool and pool table - FUMAROLA LUIGI/LIGHTS FOTO
Trulli next to pool and pool table - FUMAROLA LUIGI/LIGHTS FOTO

Villa Trullo Didi, sleeping two, near the lively town of Ceglie Messapica, has a typically characterful cone-shaped roof, small windows, slabbed stone floors, alcoved shelves and arched doorways and ceilings. Facilities include a private pool and shady outdoor dining area.

£963; 01727 836686; book here

7. Stylish suites in the Pelion

Best suited to sociable couples holidaying alone or with friends, the Spalathra Seaview Suites near the hamlet of Horto, on the Pelion Peninsula, comprise two studios, sleeping two, and two maisonettes, sleeping three with a sofa bed. The grounds have a choice of seating areas and a shared pool.

Studio from £1,228 per person, including flights and car hire; 020 8459 0777; book here

Pelion Peninsula near Horto
Pelion Peninsula near Horto

8. Romantic bolthole in Corsica

Casa Acciani is a spacious, modern villa for two, with a private pool in mature gardens, near Calvi town and a mile from Arinella beach. Terraced seating offers sea views and the contemporary living area has floor-to-ceiling picture windows.

£1,839 including flights and car hire; 01489 866931; book here

9. Barn conversion in Chianti

Montelodoli Capanna, Tuscany
Montelodoli Capanna, Tuscany

Surrounded by wooded, walking trails, Montelodoli Capanna, sleeping two, is a stone-built with pantiled roof, decorated in rustic chic style near the market town of Gaiole. Guests have use of a 16m infinity pool which has superb views over the Val d’Orcia.

£1,906; 03301 242148; book here

10. Hillside home in Lazio

Newly-renovated La Sabinetta, sleeping two, is a tiny stone-built cottage with beamed ceiling and tiled floors in northern Lazio. Spend days lounging in the leafy pool surrounds or on day trips to Rome by train or striding out on footpaths through the surrounding Sabine Hills.

£2,449; 020 7563 7999; book here

11. Villa suites in Sardinia

Villa Corbezzolo, sleeps three couples in separately-accessed suites, in the grounds of four-star Hotel Borgo Smeralda in the northern Costa Smeralda region. It has a private pool and garden, and guests have use of the hotel facilities including restaurant and bar.

£5,585; 01202 484858; book here

Best for the beach

12. Shoreside snug in Alonissos

Fishermans Cottage
Fishermans Cottage

Next to a pebble beach lapped by the Aegean Sea, Fisherman’s Cottage, sleeping three (including one on a sofa bed) is an idyllic hideaway on the island’s east coast near the small port of Kalamakia. Simple interiors come with nautical, blue-and-white striped fabrics.

£1,915 per person, including flights and car hire; 020 8232 9780; book here

13. Seaside cottage in Sicily

Blue Sea Cottage, sleeping four, offers indoor-outdoor living in a simple, low-rise beach house within a few paces of the long sandy beach at Menfi on the island’s southwest coast. The sheltered terrace has an outdoor jacuzzi and is surrounded by flowering shrubs.

€2,184; 0330 808 6728; book here

14. Beach house in Mallorca

Fronting a long stretch of protected sand fringing Alcúdia bay, south of Pollença (part of S’Albufera Natural Park), two-storey Muro Beach House sleeps six in modern rooms with large windows overlooking the sea. It has a sandy terrace, screened by thick shrub, with a shady pergola.

£2,403; 0203 642 4974; book here

15. Coastal eyrie in Meganissi

In a secluded spot, less than five-minute’s walk to two beaches on the island’s north coast, Villa Akonita sleeps six in airy, balconied bedrooms. A spacious living area opens onto the pool with far-flung sea views towards Skorpios and Lefkas and, to add to its character, there’s even a tiny chapel in the grounds.

£3,090; 01243 820928; book here

16. Harbour cottage in Corfu

The pool at Villa Haroula, which is also a three-minute walk to the beach - henry woide
The pool at Villa Haroula, which is also a three-minute walk to the beach - henry woide

It’s a three-minute walk along a rough track to the beach and restaurants in St Stephano’s from Haroula, a snug single storey cottage sleeping four on the island’s north-east coast. Expect simple open-plan living, two ensuite bedrooms and a pool area backed by cypresses and olive trees.

£3,985; 020 3993 7802; book here

17. Converted lighthouse in Croatia

Villa Asenia
Villa Asenia

Only accessible by boat, the tiny, car-free island of Otok Prisnjak is a magical, Robinson Crusoe-style retreat. A former lighthouse, Villa Asenia, sleeping six, sits on the pebbly shore with a shaded deck by the water, hot tub, high-spec bathrooms and smart bedrooms.

£7,949; 0800 074 0122; book here

18. Bayside villa in Galicia

Villa Beach Limens
Villa Beach Limens

The sandy curve of Liméns beach is reached by a private path from the peaceful, headland enclave of Villa Playa Liméns on Spain’s Atlantic coast. This modern, terraced villa sleeping 16 (12 in the main house, and four in a smaller annex) has a free-form pool and choice of lounging areas.

€9,747; 0121 318 3915; book here

19. Family villa on the Côte d’Azur

Le Rayol Canadel Villa COTE D'[AZUR South of France
Le Rayol Canadel Villa COTE D'[AZUR South of France

Behind an imposing, shuttered facade, Villa des Pins au Rayol in Canadel, near St Tropez, sleeps 12 in eight elegantly furnished ensuite rooms. Steep drops make it best suited to families with older children who can access the beach (and beach club) via a path leading from the infinity pool terrace.

€15,750; 020 7351 6384; book here

Best for small groups & families

20. Cave villa in Lefkada

Villa Beyond The Horizon, Lefkada
Villa Beyond The Horizon, Lefkada

Part of a small new development with views over Lefkas Town, Villa Beyond The Horizon is a modern “cave” house, sleeping four, on a single low level built into the hillside, entered via a lift from the higher parking area. Big picture windows overlook an elegant infinity pool fronting a long sun terrace.

£1,469 per person, including flights and car hire; 0800 408 5593; book here

21. Eco houses on the Costa de la Luz

The Little House, sleeping five, and The Larger Wallpaper House, sleeping six, are two hideaway eco-houses, on a grassy hillside overlooking the Atlantic Ocean near the town of Tarifa, on Spain’s southernmost tip. Simple, back-to-nature living includes open-plan bedrooms, solar panel heating and candle-lit evenings.

£1,518; 0117 946 7072; book here

22. Hillside retreat in Crete

Stone-built Villa Kronos, a contemporary hillside retreat sleeping six, near Plaka village and close to the island’s north coast beach of Almyrida, comes with a private pool and stylish interiors. Next door Villa Rhea, also for six, offers a good option for two families who want to holiday side-by-side.

€2,890; 01789 297705; book here

23. Converted windmill in the Gironde

Villa La Tour Des Vignes
Villa La Tour Des Vignes

Sleeping four, La Tour Des Vignes is a quirky converted windmill with pool, in rural countryside east of Bordeaux. Steep stone stairs and original trap doors accessing a circular twin bedroom make it best suited to families with older children, and there’s an additional double in a garden annex.

£2,957; 0333 888 0205; book here

24. Designer villa in Zakynthos

It’s all about the sea views at Villa Alkyonides I, sleeping eight, near the fishing village of Keri on the island’s southeast coast. Floor-to-ceiling windows maximise the spectacular panorama across the infinity pool to the Vasilikos peninsula across Laganas bay. Crisp, modern interiors come with impeccably stylish furniture.

£5,649; 0800 074 0122; book here

25. Rural enclave in Sicily

Villa Castiglione, SICILY
Villa Castiglione, SICILY

Striking red shutters and a spectacular view of the Alcantara Valley vineyards and Mount Etna from its grassy gardens and infinity pool make Villa Castiglione – sleeping eight and furnished in contemporary and traditional Sicilian style – a standout property for a family or small group.

£5,820; 0161 787 8587; book here

26. Restored farmhouse in Tuscany

Casa del Pastore, Tuscany, - Daniela Cesarei
Casa del Pastore, Tuscany, - Daniela Cesarei

With climbers over the door and cypress trees around the pool, Casa del Pastore, sleeping eight, is a comfortably furnished stone farmhouse with spectacular views of the Val d'Orcia valley. Accessed along a rough track, the villa is a good base from which to explore Cortona and Arezzo.

€6,750; 020 8444 9500; book here

27. Modern hideaway in Provence

On the outskirts of Eygalières, in the Les Alpilles region, La Maison Paradis is a smart, stone- and wood-built house with three ensuite rooms, sleeping six. An ideal base for exploring Avignon, its floor-to-ceiling windows overlook leafy grounds and the pool and walls are hung with striking artwork.

£7,154; 03301 731 336; book here

28. Panoramic perch in Umbria

Villa Cologna
Villa Cologna

From its lofty hilltop position, Villa Cologna, sleeping seven, commands superb views of Lake Trasimeno across olive groves and woodland. The solid stone walls of the main house accommodate three bedrooms and a large kitchen, while the master bedroom is in a detached, stylishly converted barn, a few paces away, by the pool.

£9,945; 0161 787 8587; book here

29. Fly-and-flop villa in Mykonos

Villa Simone Mykonos
Villa Simone Mykonos

Divided into a bedroom wing and an L-shaped open plan living space with big picture windows, Simone sleeps eight in four doubles, one of which is accessed externally for greater privacy. On the island’s southeast coast, near sandy Kalafati beach, the nearest shopping town is Ano Mera, a five-minute drive.

€16,300; 020 7377 8518; book here

Best for big groups

30. Palladian mansion in the Veneto

Villa Saraceno, Vicenzia
Villa Saraceno, Vicenzia

Restored in the 1990s, 16th-century Villa Saraceno is an elegant Palladian villa close to Vicenza and Padua, sleeping 16 in Renaissance style with beams, tiled floors, large fireplaces and cornices decorated with original frescos. The villa has an enclosed garden.

Four nights from £4,824; 01628 825925; book here

31. Seaside villa in Sicily

With wrap-around sun terraces and an ultra-modern vibe, Villa Blumarine, sleeping ten, sits on the seafront in Marina di Modica, a small seaside resort on the island’s southern tip. A good base for exploring local Baroque towns, or staying put to enjoy the pool, sauna and jacuzzi plunge pool.

£6,218; 01202 489040; book here

32. Renovated farmhouse in Croatia

Get back to basics in this charming spot in slow-paced Hvar - Rajan Milosevic
Get back to basics in this charming spot in slow-paced Hvar - Rajan Milosevic

On Hvar island, close to the seaside village of Zavala, where you’ll find a bakery, restaurants and market, Villa Zala, sleeping ten, is a sensitively-restored 19th-century farmhouse with exposed stone and white-washed walls, unfussy furnishing, modern bathrooms and sea views.

£6,968; 020 3993 7802; book here

33. Converted watchtower in Umbria

Villa Torre Stellata
Villa Torre Stellata

Dating from 1,000AD, the stone watchtower of Torre Stellata commands sweeping views of the countryside north of Orvieto, and has a gated garden planted with oaks and pomegranate trees. Sleeping 12 across the main house, tower and summer pavilion, an in-house chef prepares breakfasts and two dinners.

£7,585; 020 7684 8884; book here

34. Estate villa in Zakynthos

Hidden within a 250-acre estate, Artelia is a large, modern villa sleeping 10, with vast windows to maximise the panoramic views of sea and wooded hillsides on the island’s southwest coast. The spectacular pool is divided by a sunken sitting area and fire-pit, and the price includes preparation of breakfast and one meal daily.

£16,743; 0208 131 5199; book here

35. Catered house in Corfu

Plumbago House Villa CORFU
Plumbago House Villa CORFU

Plumbago, sleeping 12, is a stone-built house on a hillside near the small, north-eastern hamlet of Porta with large shuttered windows opening onto sweeping sea views towards Albania. Daily breakfast is prepared by the housekeeper and, from July 1 to September 2, a chef prepares lunch or supper on six days.

€20,000; 01749 812721; book here

36. Rural finca in Menorca

Finca Desideria, MENORCA
Finca Desideria, MENORCA

Sleeping 12 across three white-washed estate houses, Finca Desideria’s stylish rooms come with exposed stone walls, heavy beams and masses of rustic chic. Sun terraces, outdoor dining areas and pool surrounds are grown with roses, iris and lavender, and Cala Macarella beach is within a short drive.

€25,000; 020 7788 7815; book here

Best for multi-gen families

37. Hotel villa in Sardinia

Villa Le Pleiadi – which sleeps eight plus two children – is part of Torreruja Villas, a cluster of ten modern, self-catering properties adjacent to four-star Hotel Relax Torreruja on the northern headland of Isola Rossa. The villa has a private pool, relaxing cream interiors and shaded terrace, and guests can use the hotel’s facilities including the spa.

£4,321; 01202 484858; book here

38. Family riad in Morocco

Views of the Atlas Mountains, a large garden planted with olive groves and fruit orchards, pool, clay tennis court and nearby waterpark are among the many plus points of Villa Adilah, a low-rise retreat, sleeping 16, decorated in colourful Moroccan style, just outside Marrakech. Activities also include table tennis and pétanque.

£6,235; 0333 888 0205; book here

39. Hillside villa in Corsica

Chic Corsica: a bedroom at La Villa Calvi
Chic Corsica: a bedroom at La Villa Calvi

A collection of three modern villas in the grounds of five-star La Villa Calvi hotel includes Villa Serra, sleeping eight, with private pool and garden views. Villa guests can make use of the hotel facilities including five swimming pools, fitness and spa centre, tennis court, restaurant and bar.

£7,319; 0120 703500; book here

40. Resort villa in the Algarve

A modernist masterpiece in Praia da Luz
A modernist masterpiece in Praia da Luz

Part of a newly-built, modern development in Praia da Luz, Villa 2518 sleeps nine (including a comfortable single room for an older relative, teenager or nanny). As well as a spectacular infinity pool, facilities include a trampoline and table tennis, and the beach is just a 15 minutes away on foot.

£11,861; 0800 988 5586; book here

41. Traditional house in Paxos

Bougainvillea Villa, Paxos - Scott Williams Villas
Bougainvillea Villa, Paxos - Scott Williams Villas

Bougainvillea, a grand Paxiot house close to low-key nightlife hub Gaios (good for older teenagers), is newly renovated for summer 2023. It sleeps 14 (six in the main house plus four each in a guest house and garden house) and in the summer months, the price includes a cook to prepare five breakfasts and five main meals.

£15,000; 01749 812721; book here

42. Converted winery in Languedoc

Le Clos des Vignes, near Carcassonne - Henry Woide
Le Clos des Vignes, near Carcassonne - Henry Woide

Le Clos des Vignes, sleeping 14, is a large, stone-built retreat in 120 acres near Carcassonne, providing flexible accommodation across the main house, cottage and guest wing. There’s a big living area, cinema room and sheltered al fresco dining, and a large garden with pool and tennis court.

£15,446; 01242 787800; book here

43. Staffed villa in Mallorca

New for 2023, Villa Can Totxa, sleeping eight, is a traditional Majorcan finca sited between the old town of Pollença and nearby beaches in the north of the island. Facilities include a large pool, all-weather tennis court, table tennis and games room, with a chef to provide either one or two meals per day.

€18,153; 01885 488799; book here

44. Laid-back chic in Ibiza

IBIZIA Villa Aracar
IBIZIA Villa Aracar

Low-rise and luxurious, Villa Aracari, is a whitewashed villa, sleeping 12, with shady lounging areas and pool in the hills above Ibiza Town, and near Formentera’s beach clubs. It comes with optional private chef and nanny service, and stylish interiors spread across a main and guest house.

£20,500; 020 3811 4232; book here

45. Luxury pad in Kea

Villa Kea is in the north-east coast of this unspoilt Cycladean island
Villa Kea is in the north-east coast of this unspoilt Cycladean island

Surrounded by wild Mediterranean oak and with glorious sea views, Kea NM sleeps 10 (plus two on a sofa bed), on the north-east coast of this unspoilt Cycladean island. An independent guest house houses an ensuite double, and facilities include tennis court, home cinema, games room, gym and hammam. A chef prepares breakfast and one meal daily.

€23,100; 020 8422 4885; book here

46. Sporty villa in the Algarve

White-washed Villa Destiny, sleeping ten, stands in four hectares of garden near Carvoeiro, close to beaches and golf courses. It offers stylish, ground-floor rooms, with an additional overflow room for two, superb sea views, a gym, tennis court, and chef service for breakfast and dinners. Yoga, tennis and swimming lessons are also available.

£26,080; 03308 281 631; book here

Best for car-free escapes

47. Hotel retreat in Mallorca

Son Balagueret, sleeping eight, is the latest addition to a collection of three luxury villas in the private 680-acre estate of Son Bunyola on the island’s north-west coast. Laid out around a private courtyard with pool and dining pavilion, a private chef is available at extra cost and onsite facilities include tennis, hiking trails and spa treatments.

£1,715 per person, including flights and transfers; 01244 897581; book here

48. Harbourside base in Kefalonia

Villa Barbouni, PR -
Villa Barbouni, PR -

Overlooking the idyllic bay of Assos on the island’s west coast, and within an easy walk of the resort’s quiet tavernas and Myrtos beach, Villa Barbouni sleeps four, and – with its calming, muted interiors of blues and creams – makes a perfect car-free base for a laid-back holiday.

£2,600; 01243 820928; book here

49. Island villa in Croatia

Combining privacy with convenience, Villa Mir Vami, sleeping eight, is within walking distance of the sea and the port of Sumartin, with its shops, bars and restaurants. Furnished in traditional style, it makes a good base for walking, cycling and boat trips to neighbouring islands.

€3,578; 01789 297705; book here

50. Boutique bolthole on the Ile de Ré

New for 2023, Villa de l’Abbaye is a cosy hideaway, sleeping six. Once there, park up and spend a car-free week within walking distance of a beach, shops, restaurants and open market at Sainte-Marie-en-Ré on the French Atlantic coast. Two kitchens and separate outdoor spaces suit couples and families with older children.

£4,295; 0203 797 1938; book here

Are you tempted to book a villa for the upcoming summer holiday? Please let us know in the comments.