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 in 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 embrace Spanish culture.
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 living there for 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.
Living in Oliva, Spain
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!
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.
Living in Oliva, Spain
If you’ve landed on this page because you are thinking of moving to Oliva then I have good news for you – houses 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. If you have mobility issues, I recommend living in the new part of town, because Oliva Old Town has lots of hills and uneven streets.
There are many large supermarkets in Oliva, including Mercadona, Aldi, Consum, and Lidl.
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 morning selling clothes and fresh groceries on the main promenade (paseo).
The cost of living in Oliva is very low, and eating out is not 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 geared towards expats.
The population in Oliva tends to be middle-aged and above, with lots of people moving to Oliva to retire.
A great English-speaking hairdresser in Oliva is Mj Lloret. You can contact her on Facebook. I always come here when I am in Oliva.
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.
Things to Do in Oliva Spain
For such a small town, there is always something to do in Oliva, mainly because Spanish people love to celebrate and host parades and festivos every other weekend!
Oliva Old Town
One of the best things to do in Oliva is to wander around Oliva Old Town, which has many pretty churches and quiet streets waiting to be explored.
Head to Bar Amigos on the beautiful Plaça de Sant Roc for a coffee or glass of wine, before heading behind the church to some of Oliva’s prettiest residential streets.
Oliva 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.
Stop at one of the cafes for an ice cream (a very common pastime for Spaniards!), hunt for bargains in the Chinese bazaars, and take your pick from some of Oliva’s best restaurants.
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.
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 relax, read a book, or just enjoy the peace and quiet.
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.
Oliva’s beach is around a 30 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 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.
Every Friday morning, Oliva hosts a large market on the paseo, where you can buy all of your fruits and veggies, as well as clothes (new and second-hand), shoes, bags, kitchen equipment, tools, and anything else you might need.
I always have great fun rummaging for bargains on the second-hand clothes stalls!
Best restaurants in Oliva
In Oliva, you’ll find tonnes of great quality affordable restaurants. The best restaurants in Oliva include:
El Llok 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.
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.
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 my favourite is this one.
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.
Relocating to a new country can be daunting, but luckily, there are tonnes of online resources that can make settling into Oliva easy.
Facebook Groups are active and plentiful, and are the best place to seek advice and keep up to date with what’s going on in Oliva.
Here are some that I recommend:
The Oliva Tattler – The go-to place to ask for recommendations (I found my hairdresser on here!), buy and sell items, and find out about local celebrations and other goings-on. Whether you want the best English-speaking lawyer, you have questions about the local health centre, or the town hall has sent you an ominous-sounding letter, The Oliva Tattler is the place to go.
Oliva Turismo – The official Oliva Tourism Board page. Information about religious holidays, community events, festivals, council announcements, and more.
Oliva Women’s Network – Coffee mornings, Sunday lunch meet-ups, and a supportive community of expat women in Oliva.
The MOO Network (Men of Oliva) – A group for male expats in Oliva to connect with other men, exchange banter, and attend social events.
Refugi Gats d’Oliva – The local cat sanctuary. Not only can you adopt a cat here, but you can register as a volunteer, donate money or supplies, and keep up-to-date with fundraisers they host.
Sell Your Stuff – A buy-and-sell group for the pueblos of Oliva, Pego, and Gandia.
Oliva Vegan Food Group – For vegans and those interested in plant-based food to share local supermarket finds, recipes and restaurants.
Oliva Casas – A reputable estate agent for those looking to buy property in Oliva. Often featured on A Place in the Sun.
Living in 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.
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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