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With over 45 countries and 160 distinct cultural groups, Europe is easily one of the most varied places to travel to in the world. European vacation rentals reflect this diversity by offering a wide range of accommodations, from self-catering apartments to sprawling hillside villas. They’re often the go-to choice for seasoned European travellers, especially if you’ll be staying in one spot for more than a couple of days or travelling with a group of 4 or more.
The first step to choosing the right European villa rental, then, is to decide where you want to visit, and who you’ll be travelling with. Of course, this is easier said than done, since Europe is home to so many legendary destinations. Are you looking to relax by the coast, or take in the cultural sights? Stay in the city, or in the countryside? Are you interested in seeing famous landmarks, or do you want to explore somewhere more off-the-beaten path?
Depending on your answer, you may want to consider next what kind of culture, history, and climate you want to enjoy. Note that this doesn’t necessarily need to be confined to any one country. For example, if you want to experience the Mediterranean lifestyle, then a trip to the south of France can be combined with a visit to Spain’s Balearic Islands, while Croatia and northern Italy can be combined to experience the best of the Adriatic Sea.
That said, for a truly culturally immersive experience, and to get the most out of a European villa vacation, you’ll want to consider staying in one spot for longer. In fact, one of the biggest advantages of a European villa rental is the way that it allows you to really slow down and live life like a local. Plus, many European villas are also fully staffed, so you can relax and unwind away from the usual tourist crowds.
Our European villa rentals are also independently owned and operated, so every villa stay is going to be a little different. Many have been passed down across generations and lovingly maintained, making them cultural artifacts in and of themselves. This gives each villa a distinct personality of its own, often reflecting that renowned European sense of style in its distinct local expression.
Luxury villas give you a chance to experience Europe in a way that would not otherwise be possible if you were staying at a hotel. Whether it’s experiencing the idyllic Tuscan countryside in a restored farmhouse, staying in a 15th-century chateau, or relaxing on a private island 900 metres from the coast of Ibiza, European luxury villa rentals offer truly one-of-a-kind experiences.
As with so much else, what constitutes a luxury villa in Europe depends on the destination and the type of trip. The luxury could stem from the history of the property itself and the art and antiques contained within, the comforting modern amenities, the 5-star service, the attention to detail, or the location itself. Usually, it’s a mix of all of the above.
On the service end, many of our European luxury villas are also fully staffed, with chef, butler, and housekeeping services included. In other instances, your Rental Escapes concierge can provide as much or as little staff as you want. In either case, your concierge can also assist with all sorts of extras, including pre-stocking your villa with your favourite food and drinks, arranging rental cars or private drivers, scheduling excursions, making reservations, and any other special request you may have.
Most beaches in Europe are public, so while you won’t necessarily find too many European villas directly on the beach (though Rental Escapes does have a few of those), many beach villas in Europe are often just a short walk or drive away from the sea. Many are also often hillside and offer the kind of life-affirming views that you just can’t get anywhere else.
Top beach villas in Europe include:
Nubes Blancas: A true beachfront villa, Nubes Blancas sits directly on the shores of Puerto Banus Beach in beautiful Marbella. It combines modern amenities with that timeless Mediterranean style to create an immaculate experience for up to 12 guests. If you’re travelling as a group, this is one of the best ways to experience Spain’s Costa del Sol.
Lim Bay: With a walkway descending onto a private beach, Lim Bay offers guests the chance to have their own secluded piece of Croatia’s stunning Istrian coast. This modernist villa contrasts beautifully with its nature reserve surroundings, striking a delightful harmony between nature and luxury. A truly serene experience.
Villa St. Trop: Just a 5-minute walk from Parcs of St. Tropez Beach, this beautiful 6-bedroom villa is one of the most coveted on the Cote d’Azur. Every detail has been carefully considered, from the furniture to the art to the materials, to create a true luxury experience that reflects the charm and sophistication of St. Tropez.
While hotel rooms in Europe are often small, European villas can be as large as you like, making them the perfect way to accommodate larger groups. This includes family gatherings and reunions, destination weddings, corporate retreats, and more.
Some of the best large villas in Europe include:
Blue Jewel: A combination of three Mykonos luxury villas – Blue Emerald, Blue Sapphire, and Blue Pearl – the villas in the lovely Blue Jewel estate can be rented individually, in pairs, or as one 31-bedroom estate able to accommodate up to 62 guests. This makes it one of the biggest villas not just in Europe, but indeed in the world. It’s also one of the best, especially when you consider its immaculate design, appointment, and location.
Chateau de la Harpe: Located between Marseille and Lyon, Chateau de la Harpe is a restored 12th-century fortress, making it one of Europe’s most historical villas. The décor, furnishing, and artwork make you feel like you’re staying in a museum, but with enough modern amenities – including fun extras like a billiard room, swimming pool, and tennis court – to create a truly unique luxury experience.
Villa Feronia: Just outside Florence, the 19-bedroom Villa Feronia lets you experience the Tuscan countryside while still enjoying spectacular views of Florence and its famous Duomo. The villa itself dates back to the 14th century and is a perfect base from which to experience Chianti, Siena, and the rest of Tuscany as well. A dream location for a destination wedding.
While staying in restored chateaus and palazzos is quite the experience, they sometimes have age restrictions due to the number of antiques and pieces of art. That said, there are still a good number of luxury family villas in Europe that are perfect for families of all
Chalet Christina: Nestled in the Swiss Alps in the town of Crans-Montana, Chalet Christina is the ultimate alpine ski-in ski-out for families. Impeccably designed and furnished, Chalet Christina strikes a perfect balance between cozy intimacy and sophisticated luxury thanks to its rich materials, its stunning interior spa complex, its bar, cinema, and billiard rooms, and its two children’s dormitories than can sleep up to ten.
Crete Palace: Set along the northeastern coast on the edge of Crete, the aptly-named Crete Palace provides a welcome refuge for families. Its 8 bedrooms include a number of different configurations, including rooms with 2 single beds, allowing for maximum flexibility. It’s also fully staffed, letting every member of the family truly relax and enjoy the jaw-dropping views from the pool.
Gaia: Dating back to the 1400s, this historic Chianti villa has been an aristocratic family home for centuries. Today, it offers families the perfect balance between history and practicality, with period artwork and timeless design meeting a host of modern amenities, along with a full staff. It’s the perfect way for a family to live and experience the rich history of the Tuscan countryside.
A valid passport is required to enter Europe from the United States and Canada. If you’re travelling within the Schengen area, which includes most major destinations like Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany, and - starting January 1, 2023 - Croatia, then you’ll only need to show your passport once and can travel freely within the area.
Europe is serviced by many international airports, so finding a flight near your destination should not be a problem. Some of the biggest airports in Europe include the Leonardo di Vinci Airport in Rome, Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Heathrow Airport in London, Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, Frankfurt Airport, and Adolfo Suarez Airport in Madrid.
Once you’re in Europe, it’s easy to catch a flight to a more local airport, including through one of the many low-cost operators that fly throughout the continent. Travelling by rail is also an easy and safe alternative and gives you a great view of the countryside.
Once you’re near enough to your destination, a rental car or private driver can be arranged to take you to your villa, which your Rental Escapes concierge can assist you with.
Summer is high season in Europe and peaks in August when most Europeans are on vacation. This is the busiest time to travel to Europe, but also when you’ll find the most festivals and events.
For many, though, travelling to Europe during shoulder season makes the most sense. This includes the months of May and June in the springtime and the months of September and October in the autumn. These months still see great weather (and milder temperatures for those who are sensitive to the heat) and much fewer tourists. That means shorter lines and smaller crowds at many of Europe’s most famous sights, as well as better deals on European vacation rentals.
Winter is decidedly low season, and while some areas maintain a local charm, many villas close for the winter. The exceptions here, of course, are ski destinations, which see their peak season. If you want to avoid crowds at European ski destinations, then consider travelling the first week of January, or the middle of March.
Go Sightseeing: Europe is home to some of the most essential cultural landmarks in the world, and while they often live up to their legendary reputations, you’re also sure to find lesser-known pieces of art and history that will surprise and delight you. Take it all in but try not to worry about cramming in too many sights – rather, choose the ones that you think will be most personally meaningful and spend enough time there to really establish some great memories.
Eat and Drink: Europe is also home to some of the world’s most celebrated cuisines, and its food culture varies wildly between countries and regions. And while the food itself is often of the highest quality, slowing down and taking the time to enjoy the rich history and culture behind all the great food and drink you experience will give you a whole new appreciation for your destination – as well as provide you with a great way to meet locals.
Explore: Europe is dripping with history and culture, and it’s often tucked away and away from the main tourist drags. That’s why the best way to truly get a feel for a European destination is to go around and explore it yourself. Whether that means getting a little lost on foot, by car, or by boat, taking in the unique atmosphere and architecture of your destination in your own way will be sure to lend your trip a distinct flavour.
The food in Europe is easily among the best in the world. Whether it’s fine dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant or appreciating some of the peasant cookeries that have been passed down across generations, so much of the European joie de vie can be rooted in a deep passion and appreciation for food.
And while your Rental Escapes can provide restaurant recommendations and reservations, private chef service and villa pre-stocking can also be arranged, letting you enjoy the best of Europe right from your villa, with your chef preparing both local specialties and some of your favourites, depending on your preferences.
The climate of Europe varies significantly and includes everything from arid deserts to polar tundra. In general, though, Europe benefits from a temperate climate, with cool winters and warm summers.
For many, the Mediterranean climate represents the peak of European weather, especially in the summer. Temperatures in the Mediterranean range from 30°F to 100°F (-1°C – 37.8°C), with July being the driest month and seeing an average of 0.63 inches of precipitation, and average temperatures of 79.5°F (26.4°C).
Rental Escapes can elevate your European villa rental into a true luxury experience if you want to enjoy the best of this beautiful continent.
Our portfolio includes the finest villa rentals in Europe, including luxury properties in Italy, France, Spain, Greece, and more.
Your Rental Escapes reservation expert can find the best villa for your group, and your concierge personalizes your trip to create the ultimate European luxury villa experience.
Contact us today to book your next dream holiday!