The Garden Guide

Spanish holiday property

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The Mediterranean coast of Spain has the most developed holiday property market in Europe. It is rich in hotels and in villas to buy. Many nations have large ex-patriate communities living on the Spanish costas. The country is famous for the outdoor life which Spaniards have long enjoyed. Spain also has a tradition of making outdoor space which dates from Roman times. It gained fresh impetus from the Islamic conquest, from Renaissance ideas and from the influx of tourists in the twentieth century.

The tourists introduced the northern idea of using outdoor space for exotic and ornamental introductions. Spain now has a fairly well developed nursery trade. With water and sun, it is easy to make a lush and shady outdoor space.

To cover buying costs such as legal fees, stamp duty, VAT, notary fees and land registry fees, it is important to budget an extra 10% above the purchase price of the property.


Spain's capital city is very hot in summer and very cold in winter, not a good combination for garden makers, but Madrid attracts second-homers and visitors by its vibrancy.


Hot and sultry in July and August, Barcelona has a mild and attractive climate for most of the year and is well-suited to garden making. The famous central area is however built at high density and few central-area properties have the necessary outdoor space.

The Costas

Spain's Mediterranean coast is justly popular with sun-seekers.b Unfortunately, its modern development was launched by General Franco. He lacked concern for the environment and allowed too many high-rise blocks with useless outdoor space at ground level. Since his death (1975) attention has shifted to villa complexes, often with space for good gardens.

'Costa Brava' translates as 'wild coast'. Craggy bays are characteristic of this section of the Spanish coast, however it is nevertheless diverse in its landscapes. Being further north, the Costa Brava is slightly cooler in both the winter and the summer than the more southerly Costas. Barcelona is an easy excursion.

The Costa del Sol has a profusion of golf courses (40 plus). Even in winter the temparature rarely drops below 15 degrees celcius. If you are keen to rent out the property for the majority of the year, easy access to golf courses will ensure year long demand. Much of the coast is highly developed for international tourism. Inland tourism has had little impact and there is much of the Moorish history in evidence. Surrounded by the mountains and fertile valleys of Los Alcornocales Natural Park, Jimena De La Frontera is full of traditional Andalusian architecture. Only 40 kms from the coast and half an hour from Gibraltar airport, Jimena is peaceful town already attracting interest from foreign home buyers.

The Costa Blanca is so named because of its white limestone cliffs and fine white sand beaches. The best selection of traditional villas is on the northern part of the Costa Blanca. There is more to this region of Spain than first rate beaches. The Jalon valley is very fertile. Numerous well marked walking trails allow rewarding exploration of the mountains. Flights to the Costa Blanca and car hire on arrival make the region a very inexpensive and convenient choice.

Inland towns

Agriculture was the mainstay of Spain's economy for centuries and there are a great many rural towns with small farm properties of the type loved by second home owners and garden builders. The problem, of course, is that they require maintenance - and irrigation - when you are not there.

Balearic Islands

Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza, in the Mediterranean, have become famous holiday towns with very well-developed property markets. They are lush rocky islands with fine beaches.

Away from the busy and somewhat boisterous resorts of Magaluf and Palma Nova, Mallorca still offers myriad opportunities to find holiday property in serene, peaceful locations.

Ibiza is infamous for its parties and nightclubs but in fact this is confined to San Antonio. The rest of the island is family orientated with some attractive holiday properties.

Menorca is quieter than Mallorca and Ibiza. The island is very safe and sedate with beautiful scenery. When considering whether to buy property on the coast or inland on Menorca, it is important to take into account that many coastal resorts virtually close down during the winter.

Canary Islands

Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and Tenerife are Atlantic islands with an 'eternal spring' climate, though winds can be strong. The inland volcanic landscape has a tropical flora and great potential for garden-making.

Basque Country

The north coast of the Iberian peninsula is lush and green. It does not have an ancient tradition of garden making - but it surely has great potential.

Barcelona beach

Shady cloister

Spanish Park