A guide to getting the top cheap villa holidays

That 2-week break in the sun is something to which everyone looks forward. From Spain to Italy, Bulgaria to Bali, you can now head all over to soak up the rays in more spicy and exotic destinations than ever before. A private rental pad has long been the go-to for families, couples and larger groups alike, but what to do if the travel budget is a tad tighter this year? Check this guide to bagging the top cheap villa holidays for some handy hints and pointers…

How to secure cheap villas in the sun

If you're watching the pennies but still pining for a classic escape, then be sure to read on for some top tips on how you can unearth the most wallet-friendly pads this year.

Make the most of last-minute villa deals

We know it's nice to have the rental all lined up and ready to go, if only to start counting down the days until the Spanish sun takes over. However, there's a lot to be said for last-minute deals in the villa world. You'll often find great prices on cheap villa holidays if you're willing to leave it a little later, though that can mean being more spontaneous in your choice of destination.

Consider villa complexes for added value

Villa complexes are clusters of several rentals that cling together and often share a communal pool. While they aren't the same secluded stays as rustic detached properties, they can often be a whole load easier on the wallet. What's more, you'll be holidaying with likeminded people, so there's also a chance you'll make new friendships under the sun.

Be flexible and adventurous

Being a little flexible when choosing where to go really works wonders when it comes to saving money. Yes, you might have your heart set on that rustic Italian escape in Tuscany, but the price may be better in less-celebrated villa destinations like Bulgaria or Slovenia, to name just a couple.

Handy tips for saving on villa holidays

The budget-bolstering efforts of finding a cheap villa shouldn't be the end of your money saving. You can carry on stacking the pennies by ensuring you stick to these top tips for keeping costs low while you're away, too.

Do your travel research

There's a lot to be said for coming to a destination prepared. Whether it's Bali or Bari, it can really pay to arrive with some knowledge of the cheapest eateries, the low-cost taxi companies and the most affordable local supermarkets.

Go local with the gastronomy

The money-saving powers of a self-catering kitchen are well documented. Thankfully, most cheap villas will come with their own cooking spaces, so you can hit the Tuscan farmers markets and French food fairs to help rustle up your very own meals in the evening. If you do fancy eating out, nothing says cheap like the local eateries. You'll usually find them brimming with coffee-sipping Italians or dumpling-devouring Croatians, away from the main monuments and sights.

Think about your transportation options

A car rental can actually be a great way to save money on the cost of getting to and from your rental, provided you book early and shop around to get the best deals. If you've managed to bag one of the cheap villas that sit close to a town, you might not even need to fork out for your own wheels. Check bus routes and the availability of trains to see if there are any affordable local transport links connecting the area.

Timing is key when seeking cheap villas

Getting your timing right when it comes to booking and visiting your rentals can make all the difference between a pricy fortnight away and a cheap villa holiday. Keep reading to see ways you can save by being ahead of the calendar.

Consider late or early summer trips

Destinations like Crete, Sicily and Croatia don't tend to get cool until very late in the autumn, while they also boast warm springs when the mercury regularly tops 25. That makes them prime hunting ground for travellers on the quest for cheap villas, because prices will tend to stay low either side of the main summer season.

Book the cheapest of cheap villas in the low season

Looking for a taste of winter sun? You could just be in luck on the cheap villa front. Destinations like the Canary Islands and Madeira can be balmy, even in January and February. With their sub-tropical climates, rugged mountains and clear blue seas, they are an enticing prospect for budget holidaymakers, come the cooler months.

Book early to bag the best cheap villas

While last-minute deals could save you plenty, it's booking early that will give you the best choice of cheap villas. That's especially true if you've got your heart set on a high-summer jaunt to a tried-and-tested destination like the Costa Blanca or the Umbrian hills. The trick is to get in before others bag the real bargains.