Croatia summer holidays guide: villas

An interesting option, and a sensible one for families, is renting a villa. Some of Croatia’s most beautiful properties are up in inland Istria, where many old stone farmhouses have been carefully restored and tastefully furnished to make comfortable holiday homes set in gardens with swimming pools.
Overlooking the Kvarner Gulf, tiny Lovran, a neighbour to the fin-de-siècle seaside resort of Opatija, is known for its Vienna Secession villas set in lush gardens giving on to the seafront promenade.
Scroll down for our Croatia expert's favourite villa holidays
Down in Dalmatia, the villa rentals market is slightly less developed, but catching up fast. Here, villas are less likely to have swimming pools, the basic premise being that any normal person would rather swim in the sea. Nonetheless, in Dubrovnik and on the island of Hvar, you’ll find Croatia’s most expensive and sought-after villas.
Under Dubrovnik's red roofs are some of Croatia's most sought after villas.
AP
The further you get from the popular tourist destinations, the more authentic and less expensive villas tend to be. Holiday properties are normally rented on a weekly basis (Sat–Sat) and come with a fully-equipped kitchen, with bed linen and towels provided. Their owners are normally more than happy to offer recommendations for things to do and see in the area, as well as places to eat. The more upmarket villas provide extras such as a welcome hamper of basic provisions and a bottle of wine, and some can supply a maid, chef or babysitter, and arrange boat rental, massage and guided tours.

Our Croatia expert's favourite villa holidays

Croatia booking guide
The three stone villas at Villas Poli Svetega Antona have exposed stone walls and old terracotta floors - and modern amenities too.
Villas Poli Svetega Antona

1. Rustic stone villas

In the sleepy medieval hill-town of Gracisce, amid the undulating vineyards of inland Istria, Villas Poli Svetega Antona is an 18th-century walled complex of three stone villas, sleeping two to eight people. Restored in 2010, they’ve retained their rustic charm, with exposed stone walls and old terracotta floors, but you get modern amenities too, such as free Wi-Fi. There’s a shared courtyard garden with a pool and barbecue, and meals can be served in an old-fashioned konoba (wine cellar) with an open fireplace on request. They also have bicycles for rent, plus plans for a sauna.
Villas Poli Svetega Antona (00385 91 255 4400; istria-villas.info) are from 100€ (£83) per night in June for a villa sleeping two-four people.

2. Modern art by the sea

In total contrast to Dalmatia’s traditional stone cottages, Villa Meneghello Hvar is a slick, modern seaside residence filled with quirky contemporary artworks. Set in a rocky garden with a pool, it’s one of my favourite places to stay on Hvar. The owner, Dagmar Meneghello, is an avid art collector, and has filled the villa with over a hundred paintings and sculptures by Croatian artists, turning it into a live-in gallery. You also get wooden floors, coloured tiles and several outdoor eating spaces.
Villa Meneghello Hvar (00385 0 91 478 3111; villameneghello.com) can be rented as a whole for €960 (£799) per night, or as two separate apartments, each sleeping six, for €620 (£516) per night.

Tour operators and booking agents offering villas in Croatia


Croatia booking guide
Villas Poli Svetega Antona combine pretty, comfortable bedrooms in simple traditional style with a shared pool and vineyard setting.
AP

Croatianvillas.com (020 8888 6655; croatianvillas.com) offers a selection of villas and apartments in both Istria and Dalmatia.
Home Away (020 8827 1971; homeaway.co.uk) has a vast worldwide portfolio, including over 8000 villas and apartments throughout Croatia.
i-escape (i-escape.com) offers a select choice of private villas and small hotels, including several properties in Croatia.
Local companies offering luxury villas in Istria and Dalmatia include:
Exclusive Travel Croatia (00 385 91 567 1604; exclusivetravelcroatia.com)
Luxury Croatian Villas ( 00 38 91 567 1604; luxurycroatianvillas.com)
Villas of Croatia (00385 99 2673 115; villasofcroatia.com) - manages eight luxurious villas in Dalmatia.

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