Most people focus in on apartments and short-term flat rentals when it comes to picking accommodation for their jaunt to Barcelona. However, doing that overlooks some seriously sumptuous stays in the surrounding sierras, which herald plush homes with leafy gardens, seaside retreats and all sorts of family-friendly villas in Barcelona's periphery.

Where to find a villa near Barcelona city

Finding a Barcelona villa right in the heart of the city can be a tricky thing. For a real home away from home, loaded with a pool and big gardens, you're likely to need to venture outside. Thankfully, there are lots of Catalonian escapes in the nearby mountains and by the glowing beaches.

A Barcelona villa in the Serra de Collserola

The Serra de Collserola is the range that cuts Barcelona off from the hinterland of Catalonia. Filled with oak groves and Spanish pines, it might only be 50 minutes' drive from Las Ramblas but it can feel like a whole other world. The upshot is that Barcelona villas in these reaches have beautiful settings between woodland and farms, often coming with their own private pools and gardens.

Discover villas in El Prat de Llobregat

Right on the doorstep of large El Prat Airport, this is arguably one of the most accessible corners of the big city. You could step off the plane and be dropping the bags in your Barcelona villa just moments later. But that's not the only enticing draw of this area. The town of Castelldefels spreads its sandy wings nearby, touting a wide and vibrant beach that's more than 3 miles long.

A villa by Barcelona on the Costa Brava

The Costa Brava starts around 25 miles north from central Barcelona, which is a quick drive along the wiggling coast roads. It's the place to go if you're keen on pebbly coves and rugged cliffs, white-stone beaches and seas as clear as crystal. The villas of Blanes start things off with a high 13th-century castle, while buzzing Lloret de Mar offers hedonistic nights by the Med a little further along.

Look for villas in greater Barcelona Province

It's common to think of Barcelona as just a metropolis, but actually there's a whole Spanish province extending into the hills and countryside around it. That means you can find a real kaleidoscope of rentals and stays if you don't mind driving and hour or 2 from the airport.

Beautiful Berga

Wedged into the slopes of the Serra del Catllaras, Berga is just about as far north as it's possible to go from the city of Barcelona before crossing into the next province. It's a place that promises to take you far from the beaten track, with villa rentals that hide big pools before unfolding views of the Pyrenean foothills.

Get cultural in Montserrat

The jaw-dropping Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey is a favourite daytrip to make from the city. However, you could put it right next door to your Barcelona villa by choosing a rental up the Llobregat River valley. What await are glorious Gothic facades and Romanesque cloisters, the enthralling Museum of Montserrat with its portraits by Dali, and great frescoed altars to boot.

Head out to Manresa

Venture to the far side of the Montserrat range and you'll find the city of Manresa, one of the heartland towns of Catalonia. A down-to-earth, industrial place, it offers a slice of lived-in Spanish charm, not to mention access to some enchantingly remote valleys, where country estates and Barcelona villas exist in total seclusion.

The features of Barcelona villas

Below, we take a look at just a few of the things you can expect when booking Barcelona villas, whether that's good links to the bucket-list attractions or your own private splash pool.

Ease of access in Barcelona villas

Although you won't have the same walking access to La Sagrada Familia as you would when staying in a city flat, a Barcelona villa doesn't mean venturing too far away from the main sights of town. In fact, the closest homes of all might be less than 30 minutes by car from the centre, but also super-convenient for reaching from the airports at El Prat and Girona.

A pool in your Barcelona villa

Just like in the rest of Spain the villas around Catalonia's capital offer plenty in the way of private pools. It's worth noting that the closer you get to the city, the trickier it is to bag a house with a permanent, large-scale pool. Those are much more common in the country estates deeper into the province.

Family-sized Barcelona villas

One of the great bonuses of picking a Barcelona villa over a flat rental is that these stays will often be able to host the whole family if needed. If you're willing to venture up and down the coast or into the mountains, you might find homes with multiple bedrooms, big kitchens and outdoor eating spaces.