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Make It Simple To Find

Your Best Vacation Rentals in Europe


Are you ready for vacation rentals in Europe…even if only for one week?


The European Travel Planning Tutorial
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Close your eyes for a moment and picture yourself vacationing in…

  • A villa on the Algarve in Portugal

  • A cottage in the Cotswolds

  • A gite in the Provence

  • A chalet in the German or Austrian Alps

  • A historical home in Britain

  • A holiday home in Ireland

  • or even a houseboat on a canal in Amsterdam!

They can all be yours, and they’re easy to book if you know…

  • Where to find the correct information

  • What questions to ask

  • What you really want

  • With whom to book…

Google offers you a choice of millions of web sites and…that’s just for European villa rentals alone!

Of course you want to simplify finding vacation rentals in Europe…and make sure you get what you looked at on the web or brochure…

You're in the right place because in this section of the Tutorial you’ll find the essential information about vacation rentals in Europe. For general questions about what to ask and warnings on rentals, also see Apartments.


How do you rent a villa in Europe?

You’ve seen the pictures of your friends at “their” villa in Tuscany, the Cotswolds or Provence. Are you ready to follow in their footsteps?

A European villa rental has a certain cachet, but finding the right place can be fraught with frustrations.

Of course, you can do it yourself and save some money, but it’s better to start with a rental agency that specializes in the area where you plan to spend your holiday.

You would not be the first one to call an agency feeling utterly defeated after searching through villa listings for months.

If you have friends who stayed at a place the previous year and they tell you it’s what you would like, then book it directly and save the time.

However, no matter how you plan to book your villa – directly, via an agency in Europe or at home – here are a few points to consider for you and your family members…

  • Know yourself – it’s not for you if you expect a lot of service. Except for high-end rentals, there’s no concierge, daily housekeeping, a cook or on-site staff.
  • Villas can be remote, accessible only by unpaved roads. Ask yourself…do you want to do lots of sightseeing or just relax?
  • Make a wish list – how many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want, do you want a modern gourmet kitchen, an outdoor eating area, a pool?

    Do you need a child-friendly villa, or a house with few, if any, stairs for those in your party with mobility issues?

  • Work with a pro – the best agencies know the pros and cons of their listings.

    They have inspected every property, and re-inspect them regularly. They know if a property is right for you or not – they want you back...

  • Get the facts before you leave for Europe – ask lots of questions, get a floor plan, photos of each room and references from previous renters.

    Ask if there’s an English house information book with details about operating appliances, contacting emergency contacts and a listing of locations and hours of local shops.

  • And, don’t forget to ask about the extra charges for cleaning and utility use, which can increase your bill considerably.

  • Accept reality – It’s different from staying at your own home, so whatever comes up…enjoy your vacation and don’t let small things bother you.


Try to avoid some mistake about vacation rentals in Europe…as told to me by professional rental agents

  • Don’t over-schedule ambitious sightseeing.
  • Don’t turn down a lovely villa because of the beds – there aren’t many queen- and king-size beds in European vacation homes.
  • European cars are small – rent a van or two cars, then you can split up and go in different directions if you want. Everyone's happy! But read first "How to Make Driving in Europe Simpler & More Enjoyable!
  • Do you think you want to be near the beach? Remember, beach areas are noisy and busy. You may want to be more private – a short walk or drive away is better...
  • Make whatever amenity you want a priority – if it’s air-conditioning (you won’t find it always in Europe) make sure to tell the rental agency.
  • Most villas require a security deposit before you arrive – find out how you are going to get it back and when.
  • Will you be alone? Some properties contain three or four rental villas, all sharing one pool – great for socializing, but not if you want solitude.


Do you want a different kind of vacation rental in Europe…

Holiday home, self-catering cottage, gite or chalet, houseboat...

The information about renting villas (above) and apartments also applies to cottages, holiday homes and chalets.

Most of the time you are renting the owner’s primary home, a second home or you’re renting a place in a vacation development…several identical looking buildings near each other. They are usually located in the countryside rather than in or near a city.

Each has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Just check the details and look at the pictures to make sure you get what you want.

If you want a romantic thatched roof cottage, you don’t want a modern building…be careful with all those web sites...they are not always that clear…so ask!

Most properties are rented by the week or month, however, some vacation rentals in Europe are available for three or more days, depending on the time of the year and the popularity of the area.

Renting a holiday home, cottage or chalet is less expensive than most villas.

  • Holiday homes are all over Europe

    You find cottages in Ireland and Great Britain, chalets in Germany, Switzerland, Austria; and gites (see below) in France.

    They all are self-catering. You do the cooking, unless you want to have your meals “outside” in a pub, bistro, trattoria or beergarten!

  • Renting a Gite in France

    A gite is a self-catering cottage or house, popular for holidays in France.

    Your cost depends on the size of the gite, its location (in popular areas such as the Provence, Normandy) and how “rustic” the gite is.

    Your best advice comes from a “gite” specialist in the area you are planning to visit.

  • The Landmark Trust…something that’s really different

    Book one of the 190 Landmark Trust buildings in Britain and you’ll experience living in a historic building as if it were your own.

    The Landmark Trust is a preservation charity that rescues historic buildings at risk and gives them a new life as places to stay.

    Each building offers is own unique atmosphere.

  • Or a houseboat on a canal in the center of Amsterdam

    You’ve seen pictures of canals in Amsterdam full of houseboats. Yes, Dutch people live in them year-round. Many are also available for travelers like you.

    And they’re a lot of fun. Children like houseboats very much…but be careful if yours are very young. You don’t want them to fall in the canals!

Looking at the benefits of staying at your own European vacation home it's no surprise that vacation rentals in Europe are very popular.

Yes...book your next vacation rental as soon as you have decided on your dates and location!


So…what’s the best and simplest way for you to book vacation rentals in Europe?

  • Follow recommendations from your friends, if they have stayed at any.
  • Check the suggestions listed in this Tutorial.
  • Look at the “Accommodations by Country” section in the European Travel Resource Center.
  • And when you book vacation rentals in Europe, read the small print on the web sites and contracts very carefully…ask the right questions, no matter if you book rentals online or via an agency.


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