Southern Europe’s coastline is roughly 30,000 kilometres long, and not all of it is as expensive as Marbella or the French Riviera! So which are the more affordable bits? Here is our pick of the resorts and locations where your pounds go a bit further.
Started 2020 raring to kick start your property hunt but still need to fine tune where you look? To give you some ideas, we’ve highlighted corners of Europe where buying by the sea won’t cost the earth. If these affordable beach destinations weren’t previously on your radar, perhaps now is the time to consider them…
Calabria and Puglia
Protaras & Kapparis
Eastern Costa del Sol
Eastern Costa del Sol, Spain
Why & where to buy:
Away from the bright lights and international vibe of the main Costa del Sol coastline, the stretch east of Málaga is more traditional, less developed and offers less crowded beaches. The two main coastal resorts there, both family oriented, are Torre del Mar, with its magnificent seafront promenade, and Nerja, with its famous Balcón de Europa viewing area. While other smaller options include Rincón de la Victoria, Benajarafe, Chilches, Torrox Costa and Almayate.
For a more rustic environment with easy access to the beaches, head 15 minutes inland into the hills of the Axarquía province. There you’ll find an unspoilt villages where character homes can be bought for a song. Examples include Benamocarra, Algarrobo, Iznate, Benamargosa and the famous white town of Frigiliana.
Other highlights of this area easy access to natural scenery, including Lake Viñuela, and a choice of natural park areas, as well as skiing in the Sierra Nevada (90 minutes away), and a lovely balmy year-round climate.
One-bed apartments a short walk from the beach start at around €90,000-€100,000, but if you’re happy bring five minutes’ drive away, you can get a two-bed townhouse from around €60,000.
Málaga, one of Spain’s best-connected airports with the UK, is typically 30-40 minutes away, so you should never struggle for a flight, whatever time of the year.
Costa Cálida, Spain
Why & where to buy:
The Costa Cálida is the coastline in the south-eastern region of Murcia, a corner of Spain where average property prices rose 11 per cent in 2019 (TINSA), one of the highest growth rates in the country. This surge is down to the region playing catch-up with that expat favourite next-door, Orihuela Costa and the Costa Blanca.
The Costa Cálida’s coastal hot spots are in two geographic sections. The top half focuses around the Mar Menor lagoon, where the warm waters and gently sloping beaches are ideal for families. Resorts there with good value property near the beach include Lo Pagán in San Pedro del Pinatar, Santiago de la Ribera and Los Alcázares. Not forgetting the La Manga spit on the far side of the lagoon. If you don’t need to be within walking distance of the beach, consider one of the golf resorts, including the original Polaris World ones, located a few kilometres inland – prices next to the fairway there remain very attractive.
In the south, action centres around the traditional seaside town of Puerto de Mazarrón, with its long palm-fringed promenade that snakes along the main beach and bay, as far as the old harbour and marina. Just around Mazarrón’s bay are the smaller villages of Isla Plana and La Azohía, also popular for their tranquillity.
Resale apartments near the beach in a typical Mar Menor resort start from around €70,000, or €150,000 for a three-bed townhouse. New-build is especially good value in the Costa Cálida, with detached villas with a pool and just a kilometre from the beach from around €250,000.
The new Murcia International airport at Corvera opened in January 2019, replacing and offering more flights and a far larger capacity than the predominantly military airport at San Javier, where passenger flights have ceased. Otherwise there is Alicante airport further north.
Fuerteventura, Canary Isands
Why & where to buy:
Renown for its unspoilt golden beaches, deemed the best not only in Spain but all of Europe, Fuerteventura is the fourth most visited of the Canaries but also the least developed of all the main islands. It’s also the best preserved, thanks to having UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status and much of its barren volcanic landscape and unspoilt coastline designated as natural parks. Consistent wind and year-round warm waters have made it an internationally acclaimed destination for wind and kite surfing.
Being less built up and touristy have kept property prices lower than its winter-sun neighbours, although values are starting to creep up. All the action takes places on the east coast, where the airport is located. The main resort in the north is Corralejo, with its marina and famous protected sand dunes. Further down the coast is Puerto del Rosario, the island’s capital, where there is a deep sea port, and Caleta de Fuste, a tourist resort with golf courses and sports marina. Laid-back Costa Calma and Jandía in the south, with especially shallow waters and long beaches, are a hub for windsurfers. The island’s balmy year-round climate means there is long season for rentals and many homeowners prefer to visit during the UK’s cooler months.
Most properties are on small low-rise developments near the beach. Studios and one-beds start from around €65,000, and townhouses and small bungalows start as little as €110,000, depending on location.
The island’s only airport, located on the east coast, receives UK flights by most of the key operators, including TUI Airways, Jet 2, EasyJet, Norwegian and Ryanair. It is also well connected with the other main Canary Island.
Why & where to buy:
Longing for the endless hours of sunshine, warm Mediterranean waters and undulating vineyards of the south of France but without the jet set crowds and high prices of the French Riviera? Then check out the coastline around Narbonne, typically referred to as the Narbonnaise and boasting 50 kilometres of beaches, lagoons and protected vineyards.
Narbonne has a fantastic sweeping beach, Narbonne Plage, and pretty old centre, so could suit those who enjoy an urban buzz. Otherwise, for a quieter, more rustic existence take your pick from a choice of coastal villages. Two real gems are Gruissan, a fishing village 20 minutes from Narbonne, situated between two lagoons and with a marina and long beach, and Leucate, also with a large marina, old town and sweeping sandy beach. Other options include La Franqui and La Palme.
Off the coast, the towering Pyrenees with great skiing are little more than an hour away, as is the Spanish border. Meanwhile, historic towns, including Carcassonne, are also on your doorstep.
Modern apartments by the marina and a short walk from the beach start at around €150,000 and character houses from around €250,000. Cosy character homes are available from around €120,000 further inland.
Carcassonne, 40 minutes away, receives budget flights from the UK, as do Beziers and Perpignan. There’s more choice at Toulouse though, less than two hours away.
Why & where to buy:
Forming a 350-kilometre-long stretch of Brittany’s northern coastline, the Côtes-d’Armor is a rugged, verdant coast, dotted with ancient towns and glorious beaches. Rich in local history and culture, the Breton lifestyle is a refreshing alternative to the Mediterranean way of life in the south of France.
Popular coastal spots include the towns of Saint-Brieuc, the region’s administrative centre set around a bay of the same name, and Dinan, famous for its medieval buildings and cobbled streets, and the area known as the Côte de Granit Rose. This stunning 18-kilometre stretch of pink granite rocks runs from Louannec in the east to Plestin-les-Grèves in the west, and includes Perros-Guirec and Ploumanac’h, the latter regarded as the region’s most impressive beach. Other charming resorts to the north-west of Saint-Brieuc are Saint-Quay-Portrieux and Paimpol. Drive a few minutes off the coast and you enter a land of ancient forests, criss-crossed by rivers and streams and dotted with sleepy villages where life ticks along at a very civilised pace!
Detached stone cottages on the edge of a village or resort are the staple in Côtes-d’Armor. For somewhere within walking distance of a beach, budget from around €250,000. Or for a cosy apartment in the centre of historic Dinan, budget from around €100,000. As always, head inland a few kilometres and prices drop.
Given the proximity to the UK, driving will suit most people – the closest ports being St Malo and Roscoff. To fly, Dinard is the most convenient airport, while the train from London, with a few changes, could even be a possibility.
Calabria & Puglia, Italy
Why and where to buy:
The foot of Italy’s boot, Calabria doesn’t have quite the same cachet as the more polished, expensive resorts further north, and even parts of Puglia, but it offers an extremely affordable opportunity to own a cheerful holiday pad with access to the authentic Italian lifestyle.
Traditionally one of Italy’s poorest regions, it’s undeniably rich in dramatic scenery, which includes mountains towering over a coastline fringed with long stretches of white sandy beaches. And you get plenty of time to enjoy your surroundings, thanks to Calabria’s long summers, which last from mid-March to November.
The most popular buying areas are on the northwest coast and include the resorts of Scalea, Diamante and Belvedere Marittimo and further south the old town of Pizzo, as well as Tropea, Scilia and Palmi.
Puglia, known for its conical stone character homes, called ‘trulli’, rustic villas and ancient hilltop towns.
Across the Ionian Sea in Italy’s heel is Puglia, known for its conical stone character homes, called ‘trulli’, rustic villas and ancient hilltop towns. But it also boasts picturesque resorts and glorious beaches, the most notable being in the southern tip of the heel, an area known as Salento. There the beaches around Otranto, Nardò and Gallipoli are particularly special.
Prices in Calabria are about as low as they get for a holiday home near a Mediterranean beach. Studio or one-bedroom apartments are available from €30,000 but you’ll have plenty of choice between €50,000 and €90,000. Restored traditional village homes are another option, with prices from around €80,000.
In Puglia, apartments within a short walk of the beach will start from around €120,000, but head a kilometre or two inland and you should expect to pay from €60,000 for a one-bedroom apartment.
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Calabria has two airports that connect with the UK, namely Lamezia Terme in the north and Reggio Calabria in the south, otherwise Naples could be an option. Puglia’s airport options include Bari and Brindisi, although Naples could be an option if options are limited.
Fanad Peninsula, Ireland
Why and where to buy:
In the north-west corner of Donegal, which is one of Ireland’s most affordable counties for property, the Fanad Peninsula boasts take-your-breath-away coastal scenery and the chance to immerse yourself in authentic Irish culture. We could have picked the more cosmopolitan Cork coastline, but that’s pricier and already better known amongst British buyers.
The Fanad Peninsula boasts take-your-breath-away coastal scenery and the chance to immerse yourself in authentic Irish culture.
The eastern side of Fanad is where most activity takes place. Highlights there include Portsalon, home to an exhilarating golf course and gorgeous Ballymastocker Beach, once named the world’s second most beautiful beach by The Observer, and the picturesque ‘heritage’ coastal towns of Ramelton and Rathmullan, both overlooking the Drongawn Lough and ideal spot for a holiday home. Ramelton is often referred to as the ‘jewel in Donegal’s crown’. In short, the Fanad Peninsula suits those who value scenic walks along uncrowded coastal paths and beaches and a more tranquil, cultural lifestyle.
Resale properties, especially bungalows, are the staple there. But for €150,000-€200,000, you shouldn’t struggle to bag yourself a two/three-bedroom detached property near the beach and local amenities.
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For the shortest transfer, fly to Derry just over the border in Northern Ireland. Other options from the UK include flying to Knock (Ireland West) or Belfast. Or take the ferry and enjoy the scenic drive. Donegal has an airport but flights are limited.
Eastern Algarve, Portugal
Why and where to buy:
Stretching east from Olhão as far as the Spanish border, this area has historically attracted more Portuguese holidaymakers, helping to keep a lid on over-development and hefty price rises. Things are changing though, so don’t hang about.
Compared to the pricier, international resorts of the central and western Algarve, the holiday spots here, which focus around fishing villages or traditional towns, are less built up and while less pristine are more authentically Portuguese. Many are set on a lagoon, requiring a short ferry boat to reach the breath-taking beaches that face the Atlantic. You’ll find the Ria Formosa natural reserve there too, where a ban on high-rises has helped stop over-development.
The charming white town of Tavira offers year-round living Portuguese style, or to be closer to the sea try the two fishing villages of Cabanas and Santa Luzia. Fuseta, nearer Olhão, is one of few places where you can walk straight on to a beach. Closer to the border is the sweet resort of Manta Rota, which is part of the old town of Vila Nova de Cacela and has access to 22 kms of beaches.
Budget from €130,000-€200,000 for two-bedroom apartments and from anything from €250,000-€300,000 upwards for a townhouse or villa, depending on location and whether it comes with land or a pool.
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Faro Airport is just 25 minutes from Tavira and the main gateway to the area. You can be in Spain and the pretty white town of Ayamonte in less than an hour too, via the bridge over the Guadiana river.
Protaras & Kapparis, Cyprus
Why and where to buy:
Tucked into the eastern corner of the Republic of Cyprus, near the town of Paralimni, is an 8-kilometre stretch of beach that includes the lively resort of Protaras and newer, slightly smaller Kapparis. In-between the two is the up-and-coming area of Pernera. Resorts there are family-oriented and focus around the stunning beaches, which with crystal-clear waters and golden sand are deemed the best in the whole of Cyprus.
Geared towards the holiday market, homeowners there benefit from having Paralimni, the district’s main town, a few minutes’ drive inland, which has all types of amenities and large shops, including an M&S! Ayia Napa is just down the road.
Two-bed apartments in Kapparis start from around €70,000, but budget more in Protaras, typically from €90,000-€100,000 for a one-bedroom.
Overall, this area is not as developed and doesn’t have the same amount of cultural sites as Paphos, but with glorious beaches and a cheerful local feel, the lower prices make it good value and more affordable than hot spots in the west of the island.
Two-bed apartments in Kapparis start from around €70,000, but budget more in Protaras, typically from €90,000-€100,000 for a one-bedroom. These will be within walking distance of the beach, where similarly located townhouses start at around €150,000-€200,000. Some buyers prefer to be just inland around Paralimni town area, where your money goes much further and a semi-detached townhouse could be achievable from around €120,000.
Your free Cyprus Buying Guide is a comprehensive overview of everything to consider when buying a property here.
Larnaca Airport has lots of flights from the UK and is around 50 minutes’ transfer to the Protaras area, or longer in a bus.
Apokoronas, Crete (Greece)
Why and where to buy:
Unsurprisingly, being the largest Greek island means Crete attracts the highest level of interest from British buyers, and therefore has the largest choice of affordable properties.
No less than 250 kilometres long and an average 60 kilometres wide, Crete has a range of landscapes and interesting locations. Most resorts and towns are on the north coast – the south coast being more barren and windy – and an area that is especially popular with British buyers is Apokoronas, part of the Chania province.
Apokoronas is favoured for its selection of pretty villages that combine a peaceful authentic lifestyle, one that isn’t spoilt by tourism, with easy access to excellent beaches, not forgetting attractive property prices.
Located 20 minutes east of Chania town and the airport, Apokoronas is favoured for its selection of pretty villages that combine a peaceful authentic lifestyle, one that isn’t spoilt by tourism, with easy access to excellent beaches, not forgetting attractive property prices. Examples include Kalyves, Almyrida, Gavalohori, Plaka, Vamos and Kokkino Horio.
New villas or bungalows on small plots a few minutes from the beach are especially good value in Apokoronas with prices starting from around €120,000. Apartments next to the beach will be around the same price. For a more traditional feel, opt for a stone village house – prices for refurbed property can range from €130,000, depending on proximity to the beach. You’ll pay less for one in need of work.
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Crete’s two international airports, both on the more developed north coast, are at Heraklion near the centre and Chania at the western end.