Whether it's a weekend with the other half on the eucalyptus-scented beaches of Sicily or a fortnight-long family adventure to the volcanos of the Canary Islands, a home to call your own is a great way to give yourself the flexibility and freedom you're craving. Use this guide to villas in Europe to uncover some features and destinations of this sort of accommodation before you delve in and book.

The various types of villas in Europe

There's a whole kaleidoscope of different shapes, sizes and styles of holiday rental on offer across Europe today. The 3 listed below outline some of the most popular types you could choose to book.

Large family villas in Europe

With homes that can host between 5 and 25 people, there's certainly no reason why you can't treat the whole family to a stint on the Greek Aegean or between the rolling vineyards of Tuscany. A lot of the time, European villas are aimed specifically at families, packing in twin beds, bunkbeds and even children's swimming pools and games rooms.

Luxury villas in Europe

The sky is the limit when it comes to luxurious pads on the continent. Whether you seek a chic condo on the shores of the Costa del Sol or a mountaintop retreat next to celebrity mansions in Lake Como, there are homes that can take the meaning of opulence to all new and dizzying heights. A private pool is usually just the beginning of it, with designer interiors, curated art installations, deluxe sunning terraces and landscaped gardens also a possibility.

Beachside villas in Europe

Who needs a pool when the glimmering lagoons of Corsica are just over the fence? What better way to experience Crete than with a hidden cove just a few metres from your door? These are the pulls of a beachfront villa, which will ensure you go to bed and wake to the sound of the lapping waves.

Ways to score cheap villas in Europe

You can bulk up your spending money for those tours of the Bordeaux vineyards and tastes of Spanish tapas by following the 3 tips below, which should help reduce the cost of villas in Europe.

Go off the beaten track

Europe's laden with tried-and-tested villa destinations. From the French Dordogne to the undulating hills of Umbria in Italy, there are some homes that are real perennial favourites. They might not always be the easiest on the wallet though, with less-popular places sometimes coming in far cheaper. Consider straying across the Adriatic to Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro in search of better bargains.

Secure your booking early

It's not only important to get in there early if you're keen to have the pick of the best villa deals in Europe. It's also important to plan your travels long in advance if you want to get the cheaper flight tickets and car rentals. The upshot is that being prepared can considerably reduce the cost of a holiday.

Travel out of season

The main villa season in Europe lasts from June to August, when the hottest temperatures are baking the beaches of the Costa Brava and the Greek Aegean and everyhting in between. However, mercury levels tend to creep up as early as May and don't taper off again until the end of October in the south of the continent. Prices dip during spring and autumn, too, so you can look to bag sun for less at those times of year.

To stoke the wanderlust a little, use this introduction to some of the most loved countries for bagging villas in Europe.

Choose an escape to Spain

Spain has plenty of claim to being Europe's villa holidaying king. All along the country's Mediterranean coast are thousands of homes that cluster between beautiful sierras and rugged coves. From the Costa Brava around Barcelona to the sunbed-strewn beaches of the iconic Costa del Sol, they can cater to families and couples and big groups. Then come Spain's islands, which host even more holiday lettings, perfect for hedonistic nights in Ibiza Town or scrambling up volcanos in the depths of Lanzarote.

Head off to Italy

Sicily is an ancient land of crumbly Greek temples and cloud-shattering mountains. It comes fringed around its shores with Cefalu and Syracuse – just check the turquoise colour of the seas in those. Further north is Tuscany, where villas rub shoulders with vineyards and medieval hill towns. Then there are the Italian Lakes, shrouded by craggy Dolomites and peppered with stunning homes that really get the romance flowing.

Greece's islands beckon

A villa in Greece means a villa in one of the hottest corners of Europe. A 4-hour flight can transport you from gloomy London to the pebble coves of Crete, for example, where pink-tinted sands are washed by lagoons of such a perfect blue. Other isles, like Mykonos, prefer to party, with Little Venice there sizzling with mezze and sloshing with ouzo.