Malaga province is best known for the beaches of the Costa del Sol, but many people aren’aren’t aware of the huge stretches of unspoilt countryside just inland from the coast. Due to the beautiful scenery and great climate, these are growing increasingly popular with serious hikers and lovers of the countryside.

Malaga has more than 2,000 kilometers of public footpaths which will be extended by more than 600 kilometers in 2014 when the circular route known as “Gran Sienda de Malaga” will be launched next year.

There are a few walking hot spots in the area, such as the many marked trails behind Marbella at the Refugio de Juanar area which is on the road behind La Cañada shopping centre and surprisingly close to Marbella. This is where the tricky ascent to the top of the iconic mountain La Concha starts which takes around 6 hours and has some seriously precipitous sections where our Director Tony Sidebottom took a nasty fall and had to be airlifted off the mountain. There are less challenging walks available too which are marked and timed, but take maps as well as relying on the trails as they aren’t foolproof. There are also lovely marked routes around the white villages of Istan, Ojen and Casares which will give you a very different view of the Costa del Sol. The village of Mijas Pueblo, near Fuengirola, has free guided walks twice a week which are arranged by the council and lots of lovely signed walks around the area.

There are many books and websites which have information about walking in the area such as Marbella Trails and Walking in Andalucia and there are extracts from the book to be found on Andalucia.com to give a flavour . As always, take care on these walks, take water and food and appropriate clothing, as there are always risks associated with going off the beaten track. Take part in a tour or guided walk to ensure you are in safe hands, there are many companies offering these services such as SUR-walks.