Found to the north of Barcelona, alongside the Costa Brava, Baix Empordà is where wealthy Barcelona residents have their holiday homes.
Set in a landscape of rolling green hills interspersed with medieval villages, The Baix Empordà has intimate village homes up to large masias, historic Catalan farms converted into handsome and substantial homes.
The villages most in demand with Catalans lie east of Girona, a city that is itself also seeing a steep rise in interest from overseas property investors.
The Baix Empordà and Girona offer an authentic traditional culture, with lovely countryside and easy access to Barcelona, ski slopes and the coast. Locally there are over 40 wineries and 15 Michelin-star restaurants including El Cellar de Can Roca, twice voted best in the world.
For the more active, there are 17 marinas and 125 miles of coastline, 15 golf courses including PGA Catalunya whose Stadium Course was voted the best in Spain, while the region has a stellar reputation for road cycling. Girona is home to more professional cyclists than anywhere else worldwide and is also perfect for enthusiastic amateurs.
Countryside homes in the Baix Empordà include small townhouses in medieval villages west of Girona starting from £355,000 with masias requiring renovation from £450,000. Four- or five-bedroom renovated masias with separate accommodation to rent out are £1.35 million upwards.
A delightful three-bedroom townhouse in the village of Pals close to Begur and the beach is £625,000. The 2,561sq ft house dating to the 18th century has been well renovated and has a pool in the small private garden. It would rent for £1,530 to £1,800 a week in high season.
Closer to Girona and 30 minutes from the sea in charming Monells village, a 1,162sq ft two-bedroom townhouse with a small patio garden looks good value at £337,000. Monells is popular with cyclists, has year-round life and homes there rent well.
For those looking for a busier city life, property prices in Girona rose 11 per cent last year and it is easy to see why. This beautifully kept city is packed with charm, grand churches, an historic Jewish quarter and some of Europe’s most sensational restaurants.
An hour from the French border, Girona is 40 minutes by train from Barcelona and 20 minutes from Costa Brava’s beaches.
The city is a third of the size of Barcelona with none of the strict short-term rental restrictions and for overseas property investors who think the Barcelona market is overheated, or seafront homes are too seasonal, it makes a compelling option.
A top-floor two-bedroom, two-bathroom duplex flat of 1,140sq ft in central Placa de Sant Feliu is newly on the market priced £341,000. It has a lift and partial air conditioning and could rent for up to £180 a night in high season.
A 1,455sq ft two-bedroom flat overlooking a central square in the Old Town, artfully restored into a light and comfortable home, is £500,000.
The Baix Empordà and Girona could be the perfect choice for overseas property investors wanting the Catalunya experience, without the Barcelona price tag.