When you hear the words “Costa del Sol” the mind instantly projects one single thing: Beach. But what if you can buy or rent a charming traditional Finca, with a generous plot of land, maybe even with an orchard of olive trees or avocados, at 45 minutes drive from the nearest beach and airport? More and more people decide this is a desirable alternative, as they can benefit of more house for their money, plus they get to leave in a truly Spanish community.

In the Malaga area, up in the mountains, a chain of beautiful historic villages, each with its own character, are welcoming new residents every year.

Like the famous Antequera – known as “the heart of Andalusia” (el corazón de Andalucía) because of its central location among Malaga, Granada, Cordoba and Seville. Antequera has two claims to fame, historically and from a tourist point of view. The first consists of three fine prehistoric dolmens barely outside the town itself. The second is the Torcal de Antequera, a mountain top covered with huge and wonderfully shaped limestone, formed millions of years ago when the whole area was underwater. Another usual choice is Pizarra, a tiny town lying 30 kilometres upriver in the Guadalhorce valley at the foot of the 350 metre high Sierra del Hacho. Still a largely farming community, it has so far managed to avoid the threat of absorption by the spreading metropolis of Málaga in spite of the recent appearance of the two commuter settlements of Zalea and Cerralba on its western face.

Once you jump in a car and take a joy-ride into the mountains, you soon discover village after village and get to know many communities to pick one from, as your heart desires.

Photo credit: Antonio Martinez https://www.flickr.com/photos/poper/