We’re deep in the throes of planning our three-and-a-half weeks in Mediterranean Europe this summer, and per the norm, I am making wishlist after wishlist, bookmarking page after page, compiling spreadsheet after spreadsheet of places I’d like to stay. There are few things I love more in the travel planning process than scouting out killer lodging options and finding them at an affordable price. And funny enough, this will be my first time to ever stay in a villa in Europe, despite all the time I’ve spent over there.
When I was a student living in Scotland in 2003, I spent several months backpacking around the continent and trying to find any hostel dorm room for under $20 a night (a feat even back then). In 2005 living in Holland and 2006 living in Denmark, I traveled frequently with a group of friends (including my now-husband), and we often would book a private hostel room with six or so beds. Subsequent trips back to the continent have been with the ship or in hotel rooms. But this time, in honor of SVV’s upcoming 40th birthday and following our two-week cruise, we’ll be going the villa route for 10 luxurious days.
Looking at planning a similar trip? Here are some of my favorite destinations for European villas:
via Sim Dawdler’s Flickr
Sicily. The apex of our vacation will be a week in Sicily, where SVV lived for three years. Currently, we plan to stay in a villa near Catania, though I’m also contemplating breaking up our trip and spending a few days in the wine region with soaring views of Mount Etna at our fingertips.
Portugal. SVV’s and my 10-day trip around southern Portugal was one of our favorite vacations to date. Again, we were on a tight budget, having just lived in (and played our way around) Europe for a year when the dollar didn’t go far. Still, I long to go back to the Algarve and book a villa with a view like this.
via Rol100’s Flickr feed
Greece. My two-week trip to Kos in 2006 was on a student’s budget, so we stayed at the most economical hotel we could find. On this upcoming trip, we’ll be making a brief stop in Corfu for a day with the Royal Clipper, but I hope to eventually return to Greece for a lengthy period of time in true Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants style.
via Alexander Kagan’s Flickr feed
Slovenia. Of the nine stops on our 11-night cruise, I’m most excited to visit Slovenia, a country I’ve never visited before. While we won’t be staying overnight, I already have plans to return to Lake Bled at some point and sleep in a lakefront villa like the one above.
The Alps. It’s the height of ski season—we’re still trying to plan a snowy Colorado getaway before it’s over—and all of my European friends have been causing me turn an embarrassing shade of green with my envy for their Alpine ski retreats. But summer or winter, Switzerland is gorgeous—tied with Scotland and South Africa as my favorite countries in the world—and I can’t help but wanting to plan a future vacation to this lovely mountainside spot.
France. One of my greatest “local experiences” while traveling was Couchsurfing with an adorable elementary school teacher in the south of France just outside of Marseilles. My friend Helle and I were working on a project about gentrification, and Vincent let us stay in the villa of his olive farm for the better part of the week. One day, I’ll return with my husband in tow.
Lake Como, Italy. This was one of the first spots overseas that truly stole my heart—when I was but a 20-year-old solo backpacker and almost was eaten by rabid mountain goats—and I long to go back with more money in my pocket and have a truly luxe experience on the lake (next door to George Clooney, perhaps?).