Not typically the first place that springs to mind when people think about living in Spain – in fact, most people moving to Spain have never even heard of Oliva – but this small town is increasingly becoming a popular place for foreigners to buy property.
My parents decided to buy a house in Oliva around 2016.
They wanted to find a place that was nothing like the typical gated community that retired Brits often flock to. They wanted to live in Spain, not just England with more sunshine.
They wanted to fully integrate into a Spanish community where they could eat Spanish food, drink Spanish wine and be friends with Spanish people.
That said, they also wanted a place with at least a small expat community to make the move as easy as possible and so that they would have some English-speaking friends there to help them with anything they might need.
On a short trip to Valencia, they fell in love with Oliva and immediately decided that this was the place for them, quickly snapping up a two-bedroom house in the heart of Oliva’s old town.
Once the sale had gone through, I decided to visit Oliva with them to see just what had made them fall in love with this little-known Spanish town.
Although my first trip was a short one, I actually ended up returning to Oliva to be with my family during the pandemic, and remained there for over 6 months!
Here’s everything you need to know about the pueblo of Oliva, Spain, if you’re considering moving to Spain as an expat.
Oliva, Spain – The Charming Town You’ve Never Heard Of
Where is Oliva in Spain?
First things first, where is Oliva in Spain and how do you get there?
Well, Oliva is part of the Costa Blanca, and is close to 10km of golden coastline. It is in the province of Valencia.
The closest airport to Oliva is Valencia Airport, which is actually 70km away! I like to use Jetradar to scour the web for the cheapest flight deals.
To reach Oliva you will have to take a metro from the airport to the centre of Valencia, before taking a train to Gandia and getting a bus or taxi from Gandia to Oliva – you can use Omio or Trainline to check timetables and book tickets.
Of course, this is quite a lot of messing around, and so the next best option is to hire a car, as taxis are super expensive (around 150 EUR from Valencia to Oliva).
The second closest airport to Oliva is Alicante which is 80km away.
If you’re planning a trip to Oliva, then I strongly recommend buying travel insurance. I NEVER travel without insurance, and I’ve seen too many others get landed with huge medical bills as a result of not having had insurance, that it’s something I’ll never neglect to buy. My recommendation for great travel insurance is World Nomads.
Quality of life in Oliva, Spain
If you’ve landed on this page because you are thinking of moving to Spain then I have good news for you – house prices in Oliva are cheap. My parents paid €40,000 for a 60m, two-bedroom house with a roof terrace right in the heart of the old town – muy bien!
Oliva is a small town, meaning that you can walk anywhere. It is a little uphill in parts, but it is definitely manageable for most people.
There are plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants in Oliva serving up traditional Valencian food, as well as Indian, Italian and English classics.
There is a market every Friday selling clothes and fresh groceries on the main promenade (paseo), a cinema that shows English movies every Thursday, as well as a couple of museums and an art gallery.
Eating out in Oliva is not too expensive, especially if you go out for lunch – most restaurants on the promenade have a menu del dia for less than 10 EUR, which includes 3 courses and a drink. A glass of wine will cost you around 1.70 EUR.
Oliva is home to lots of orange and tangerine plantations, as well as avocado, loquat, fig, banana, prickly pear and olive. Yum!
Oliva has a population of 25,000, with a large expat community (over 25%). Many bars in the old town are owned by or geared towards expats. The population in Oliva tends to be middle-aged and above, with lots of people moving to Oliva to retire.
Oliva has great weather, with more than 230 days of the year being above 20C and more than 300 days of sunshine!
Oliva is a safe town with very little crime. With that said, there are the same nuisances that you will find anywhere in the world, and you should always keep your doors and windows locked and your valuables close.
Visiting Oliva Spain
My first visit to Oliva was in April, when the weather was sunny but not too humid. My first day was a lazy one.
My Mum and Dad showed me around the old town, taking me to some pretty churches and quaint side streets, patiently waiting as I took a million pictures!
The old town gently slopes down, ending at the paseo, or promenade – this is the centre of life in Oliva, and is where you will find people drinking coffee and smoking, children playing, and elderly people sitting on benches and watching the world go by.
We stopped in a cute little bar for our first glasses of tinto de verano (wine of the summer), and then went home to enjoy the last few hours of sun with our books before heading out for dinner. My parents took me to a restaurant called El Pelut for stacks of sticky BBQ pork ribs and crusty bread with alioli followed by a bar called Honey Dukes for huge glasses of wine and interesting conversation.
(If you are wondering what the best restaurants in Oliva are then stick with me because I’m dedicating a whole section to them!)
It didn’t take long for me to realise that visiting Oliva is less about ticking sights off a to-do list and more about relaxing and enjoying the laid back Spanish way of life.
One of the main things to do in Oliva is to walk up to the ruined castle, Castillo de Santa Ana, and admire the gorgeous views over Oliva from the top of the hill. My mum and I walked up here several times, often taking up little treats and wine to enjoy picnics in the sun with chorizo, cheese, tortilla, aioli and mini tostadas.
The beauty of Castillo de Santa Ana is that aside from the odd dog walker, you probably won’t run into anyone, and so it’s the perfect place to go and sunbathe, read a book or just enjoy the peace and quiet.
Perhaps the second most popular thing to do in Oliva (and while visiting Spain in general!) is to walk to the beach. Oliva’s white sand coastline stretches for 10km, meaning that if you are prepared to walk far enough, you will be sure to find a quiet spot to sunbathe. When I visited in shoulder season, the beach was almost empty!
The beach is around a 40 minute walk through the orange groves from the paseo, but with the stunning views, cute little ducks and even a resident donkey, you’d be forgiven for taking longer! My mum and I used to take little snacks to feed the ducks (remember that bread is bad for them – they enjoy leafy greens and raisins!), and it made the walk fly by.
When you get to the beach, there are more houses and apartments, as well as a few local bars and restaurants. This means that even in the cooler months, when it’s warm outside but sunbathing isn’t an option, it’s worth walking down to the beach, stopping for a drink or a bite to eat, and ambling home again.
On the Friday we went to the market and had fun rummaging for bargains on the second-hand clothes stalls – I came away with an oversized leopard print t-shirt for just 1 EUR and a huge winter coat for 3 EUR! We made sure to sample many of the menu del dias at the local restaurants, and stopped for coffee (or wine!) whenever we felt like it!
One evening we sipped Cava on our balcony while my dad BBQ’d fish, mussels and ribs as the late afternoon sun kept us warm – heaven!
I also managed to travel to Valencia with local tour company Valtournative to explore the nearby hot springs and waterfalls – I highly recommend this as the nature in and around Valencia is truly breathtaking!
Sidenote: although Oliva is more geared towards rest and relaxation, there are tonnes of tours that you can do in and around Valencia if you’re keen on exploring the area.
Aside from that, we didn’t really “do” a whole lot while visiting Oliva. We relaxed in the sun, we read our books and we strolled around lazily, not worrying about having to cram in a million and one activities.
Oh, and we ate. We ate a lot.
Best restaurants in Oliva
We ate out every day while in Oliva and perhaps one of the best things about this trip for me was the abundance of great quality affordable restaurants in Oliva. I have been to almost every place on this list and highly recommend every single one of them. My parents have visited each place multiple times and also consider these to be the best restaurants in Oliva.
El Llok was our favourite restaurant in Oliva and it specialises in Mediterranean cuisine, with lots of seafood, pasta and paella. If you want to treat yourself then be sure to get the gigantic T-bone steak – it’s absolutely massive and so tasty.
Colors Bar is the place to go for a menu del dia. It is super popular with locals, with massive portions, a varied menu that changes all the time, and really tasty food. I’ve never been disappointed at Colors.
La Rustica is a great Italian trattoria that cooks its pizzas in a proper wood oven. It has an abundance of traditional Italian comfort food at very low prices, but the pizza is true Italian style and highly recommended.
Cafe-Bar Molino is the place to go if you’ve been in Spain for a while and are missing your home comforts. Molino is British/German-owned and has Fish & Chip nights every Friday, pie and mash, and German delights such as bratwurst, currywurst and goulash. You can enjoy your meal outside in the charming old town square.
El Pelut is a great family-run restaurant in Oliva’s old town and is the place for great meat (think steaks, ribs and burgers with grilled veggies) and lots of seafood.
Hamburgueseria Manb’ys is famous for having the best beer and burgers in Oliva, and with rock bottom prices, you can’t complain! I got a huge mixed plate when I was there, full of chicken nuggets, wings, loaded fries and breaded cheese, and it definitely hit the spot! I then returned and got a double chicken/beef burger with all the trimmings, and it was a steal at less than 5 EUR.
Asiatico Fortuna – there are a couple of Chinese restaurants in Oliva but the one I recommend is this one. Not only do they have a huge menu with great value dishes but they also do a buffet on weekends.
Kiko Port is another beach restaurant and is the most high end place on the list. Many say that this is the best restaurant in Oliva, and you will feel like you are the member of a fancy yacht club if you eat here. The food quality is second to none, and the presentation is stunning.
Where to stay in Oliva – Oliva Hotels & Guesthouses
If you are thinking about living in Oliva and coming to view property for sale in Oliva, you’ll need a place to stay while you look.
While the best hotels in Oliva are by the beach, and this is definitely a great place to be in the summer months, you might want to be closer to the old town if you’re viewing property, and so I’ve picked out a couple of beach hotels, and a couple in the centre of town.
Hotels near Oliva beach
Lebeig 2 is a modern and spacious 4 bedroom apartment right on the beach which can comfortable accommodate 8 people. With a large 250m communal garden, your own barbecue and absolutely stunning sea views on a quiet section of the beach, Lebeig 2 is a great apartment for a big family getaway by the sea. If you’re viewing property in Oliva then it’s wise to hire a car as this apartment is 8km away from Oliva town.
Oliva Nova Beach & Golf Hotel offers a lagoon-style swimming pool, spa and direct access to Oliva Nova Beach. It is part of the Oliva Nova Golf Course and as well as their Valencian restaurant, there is also a restaurant with a poolside terrace, an Irish pub and a beach bar.
Las Dunas is another beach hotel with tennis courts and a swimming pool and large, modern rooms with elegant décor.
Accommodation in Oliva Town
Pensión Oliva is a traditional Spanish guest house in the centre of the town of Oliva, Valencia. All air-conditioned rooms have private bathroom, plasma TV and balcony, along with antique-style furniture and traditional tiled floors. This guesthouse is situated smack in the middle of the old town and the new town, making it the perfect place to explore from.
This luxury apartment has a sleek and modern interior and all the facilities necessary for you to truly make yourself at home. With a balcony and stunning sea views, this apartment is at the back end of the new town, near the wonderful Colors restaurant and a few steps from the paeso.
Another beautifully furnished apartment at the back of the new town, a few steps from the centre and a 20 minute walk from the beach.
Oliva, Spain – Final thoughts
I definitely think that Oliva is a great place for anybody considering moving to Spain, especially if you are looking to retire.
While there is a decent size expat community, the town still feels decidedly Spanish, which is what the expats in Oliva love.
With a beach on one side, mountains on the other and a tonne of great bars and restaurants, I can’t fault Oliva as a destination for those with dreams of living in Spain.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Oliva to people my age, as most young people move away to Valencia to study and so the population tends to be a bit older, but if you have dreams of retiring to Spain then Oliva is the place to go.
Psst – if you’re planning a trip to Oliva and need an airport transfer from Valencia or Alicante, I recommend using i’way. Click here to book your transfer!
I hope this article has been helpful to you! if you have any questions about moving to spain or living in oliva then please don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments below and i shall be sure to get back to you!
Until next time,
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