Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, with a small border leading to Spain. Despite its tiny size, this incredible landscape has a rich history and lots of nature. Gibraltar is so small that there are only 29 km (18 miles) of roads.
Travelling to Gibraltar by plane is part of the adventure and there are two options: flying into Gibraltar airport or Malaga airport in Spain. Many opt to fly to nearby Malaga airport and take a coach transfer, but you will need to clear two borders. Flying directly into Gibraltar airport offers a rather unusual landing. The planes have a short runway and dramatic surroundings to land. They also land over the main road, so whenever a plane is due to take off or land, the road is closed to allow full access to the runway.
Gibraltar is home to the only wild monkey population in Europe, with approximately 300 Barbary macaques living in the Apes Den and the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. Adding to the natural appeal of Gibraltar is its artificial reef, created in the 1980s with damaged ships and an existing cable-laying vessel that was already laying at 55ft (16.8m) under the water. Today the reef is teeming with colourful fish, silver bream, lobsters and even an octopus.
Gibraltar is a haven for birds, with more than 300 species stopping between Europe and Africa. Gibraltar is an incredibly welcoming place for all religions, with representatives from the synagogue, mosque and church working together to ensure a safe and pleasant environment. It’s home to the southernmost mosque in Europe. The Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque is one of the largest mosques in a non-Muslim country and was gifted to Gibraltar by the King of Saudi Arabia.
Despite being a British Overseas Territory, with English and Spanish widely spoken, Gibraltar also has its own language. Llanito is a mix of Andalusian Spanish and English, with words from Portugal and Malta thrown in. There are even some words from medieval dialects and some from Hebrew origins.
One of the unique things about Gibraltar is its British feel in a Mediterranean climate. The streets are lined with red phone boxes; there is a Marks and Spencer and even a Morrison’s grocery store. Pubs serve traditional British foods and there is an excellent fish and chip restaurant in Casemates Square. Mediterranean influences include Calentita, a baked pastry that serves as the national dish, and rosto, a penne pasta served with a rich beef and vegetable sauce topped with cheese. Despite its small size, there are easily 20 things to do in Gibraltar for a fantastic weekend away.
- 20 Things To Do In Gibraltar
- 1- Explore St Michael’s Cave
- 2- Step Back Into History At The Moorish Castle
- 3- Explore The Great Siege Tunnels
- 4- Admire Europa Point and Lighthouse
- 5- Relax In Gibraltar Botanic Gardens
- 6- Ride The Gibraltar Cable Car
- 7- Admire The Stunning View From The Rock of Gibraltar
- 8- Learn The Legends Of Catalan Bay
- 9- Walk Across Windsor Suspension Bridge
- 10- Gaze At The Scenery In Upper Rock Nature Reserve
- 11- Learn The History Of Forbes’ Quarry
- 12- See The Guns At O’Hara’s Battery
- 13- Climb The Mediterranean Steps
- 14- Go Dolphin Watching
- 15- Visit The Apes Den
- 16- Wander Around Casemates Square
- 17- Discover History At Gibraltar National Museum and Moorish Baths
- 18- See Wildlife At Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park
- 19- Soak Up The Vibe At The Rock Hotel
- 20- Walk to Spain
- 20 Things To Do In Gibraltar
20 Things To Do In Gibraltar
1- Explore St Michael’s Cave
Once believed to be bottomless, St Michael’s Cave is a truly magical location in Gibraltar.
Thanks to the legend that the cave was bottomless, it was long believed that there was an underground passage connecting the territory to Africa via the Strait of Gibraltar.
Adding to this legend, the Rock of Gibraltar’s population of Barbary macaques are believed to have travelled to the Rock through this passage.
Many stories are associated with the cave and the territory’s rich military history. Most notable is a tale from before 1840 about Colonel Mitchell and another officer who descended into the caves and were never seen again.
In WWII, the cave became an emergency hospital but thankfully, it was never used.
Today the cave is open for visitors to explore on guided tours and for unique events, including concerts, theatrical performances and ballets.
There is also an immersive light and sound installation called ‘The Awakening’ in the cave.
St Michaels Cave is at St Michael Road, Gibraltar, GX11 1AA.
2- Step Back Into History At The Moorish Castle
The Moorish Castle dates from 1160, when the first castle was built on this site.
The original castle was destroyed when Spain re-conquered the territory between 1309 and 1333.
The oldest part of the castle is the Tower of Homage, built in 1333 and still carries battle scars from numerous attacks and sieges over the centuries.
In 1540 hundreds of residents found sanctuary inside the tower as Turkish pirates ransacked the area.
The castle once stretched from the Rock down to the Casemates Square, Grand Battery and Old Mole.
Despite being a tourist attraction today, its courtyard served as a functioning prison until 2010.
The views over Gibraltar, the Mediterranean, and towards Spain are incredible from the battlements.
Moorish Castle is at 5 Moorish Castle Estate, GX11 1AA.
3- Explore The Great Siege Tunnels
The Great Siege Tunnels are an impressive labyrinth of tunnels created as a hidden defence system.
Following the War of Independence in America, France and Spain tried to recapture Gibraltar from the British.
This siege was the 14th attack on Gibraltar and was named the Great Siege, lasting from 1779 to 1783.
To protect the Rock and keep it in the hands of the British, Governor-General Eliott offered a reward to anyone who could tell him how to get guns onto a precarious part of the Rock known as the Notch.
Sergeant Major Ince, a Royal Engineer, suggested digging a tunnel.
The plan went ahead and the tunnel took five weeks to dig out by hand with the additional use of gunpowder to blast material.
You can thoroughly explore this impressive military feat on a guided tunnel tour.
Great Siege Tunnels is at 1b Leanse Place, Gibraltar, GX11 1AA.
4- Admire Europa Point and Lighthouse
Europa Point and its lighthouse are at the very tip of Gibraltar.
The Greeks and Phoenicians travelled to Gibraltar using the Rock as a guide during ancient times, landing here.
According to legend, Hercules passed through Europa Point to complete his tenth labour, opened up the strait, and created the pillars seen at Europa Point.
Gibraltar Trinity Lighthouse overlooks the Strait of Gibraltar.
The lighthouse was built in 1841 and is the only lighthouse regulated by the United Kingdom outside of its mainland.
The lighthouse is 49m (160ft) above sea level. On a clear day, you can see across to Morocco and Spain.
Surrounding the lighthouse is a pleasant small garden offering views out to the Strait of Gibraltar.
There are also reminders of the territory’s military history through a memorial and guns.
Europa Point is at GX11 1AA.
5- Relax In Gibraltar Botanic Gardens
Gibraltar’s Botanic Gardens opened to the public in 1816 and since then have provided a welcome place of tranquillity.
The gardens are filled with commemorative busts and plaques celebrating its creation, dating back to the 19th century.
The gardens offer several native and exotic plants to discover and individual small gardens are maintained and run by local groups.
A local school runs one garden to encourage wildlife.
Tours of the gardens with a horticulturist run once a month and last for one hour, offering detailed insights into the garden’s 200-year-old history and access to publicly restricted areas such as The Dell.
Gibraltar Botanic Gardens is at Red Sands Road, Gibraltar, GX11 1AA.
6- Ride The Gibraltar Cable Car
Next to the Botanic Gardens entrance is the cable car, which takes six minutes and is a picturesque way to reach the top of the Rock.
Once you reach the top, you will find three terraces featuring a café and gift shop, a restaurant with incredible views, and an interactive exhibition.
When disembarking the cable car, you will be greeted by the tailless monkeys that inhabit this area of the Rock.
Keep in mind that these are wild animals, and although the monkeys are cute, do not approach them.
From the top of the cable car, it is easy to access many of the Rock’s attractions, and there are helpful signs to guide your route.
Gibraltar Cable Car is at Red Sands Road, Gibraltar, GX11 1AA.
7- Admire The Stunning View From The Rock of Gibraltar
The Rock is synonymous with Gibraltar and has served as a military stronghold, icon, nature reserve and more during the territories history.
From the top of the Rock, there are incredible views across Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.
It is possible to access the Rock on foot from one of many footpaths leading up from the streets below, or for a more relaxing option, a cable car can do the work for you.
Today, the Rock is primarily a nature reserve, but its military history is still visible. From the Great Siege Tunnels to the Moorish Castle, there are also remnants of guns and anti-aircraft batteries that date back to WWII.
Rock of Gibraltar is at GX11 1AA.
8- Learn The Legends Of Catalan Bay
Catalan Bay is a small fishing village and bay on the eastern side of the Rock.
Nobody is sure how Catalan Bay came into existence, particularly with its unusual name, however, several theories exist.
One theory suggests that around 350 men from Catalonia in Spain settled in the area following the War of Spanish Succession in 1704.
Another is believed to be linked to the Spanish name for the bay, La Caleta. English settlers could not pronounce the word Caleta and instead began to call it Catalan.
Those residing in the colourful houses in the village are primarily the descendants of Genoese fishermen who settled in the area during the 19th century.
There is a small shop, several restaurants, and Our Lady of Sorrows church.
Catalan Bay is at Gibraltar, GX11 1AA.
9- Walk Across Windsor Suspension Bridge
Windsor Suspension Bridge is one of Gibraltar’s newest attractions spanning 71m (233ft) across a 50m (164ft) gorge.
One of the unusual things about the bridge is that the construction was done in Spain before being transported and raised into place.
Muntanya, a Spanish contractor, alongside local firm Bovis Koala, designed and built the bridge.
The bridge connects two batteries on the Rock and perfectly combines history with breathtaking natural views.
From the suspension bridge, you can see across the Strait of Gibraltar, Africa, Spain and, of course, into the bays and marinas below.
Windsor Suspension Bridge is at Upper Rock Nature Reserve, West Side, Gibraltar, GX11 1AA.
10- Gaze At The Scenery In Upper Rock Nature Reserve
Upper Rock Nature Reserve became a nature reserve in 1993 to protect Gibraltar’s biodiversity and natural habitats.
The boundary was extended in 2013 to include new areas that needed protection.
Across the nature reserve are numerous trails leading to sights of historical importance, incredible viewpoints and back down the Rock through stunning scenery.
Guided tours of the Upper Rock Nature reserve are available on foot, taxi, and bus.
If exploring on foot is your choice, there are four trails: Nature Lover, History Buff, Thrill Seeker and Monkey Trail.
Upper Rock Nature Reserve is at GX11 1AA.
11- Learn The History Of Forbes’ Quarry
Forbes’ Quarry is on the northern face of the Rock.
During the 19th century, the area was quarried for stones to reinforce the fortress and surrounding battlements.
Discoveries made include access to a limestone cave and the skull of an adult female Neanderthal.
When Captain Edmund Flint discovered the skull in 1848, it was a monumental discovery as it was the second Neanderthal fossil ever discovered.
Forbes’ Quarry is at Upper Rock Nature Reserve, Gibraltar, GX11 1AA.
12- See The Guns At O’Hara’s Battery
At the highest point of the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, O’Hara’s Battery was named after General Charles O’Hara, Governor of Gibraltar, between 1795 and 1802.
O’Hara aimed to construct a tower in this location to spy on the enemy port of Cadiz, 60 miles (100 km) away.
The battery was used during WWII and served as a training location for the military in 1976.
The battery’s points of interest include a 9.2-inch gun, magazine, engine room, and additional gun barrels.
O’Hara’s Battery is at O’Hara’s Road, Gibraltar, GX11 1AA.
13- Climb The Mediterranean Steps
For a challenging ascent to the top of the Rock, try a climb up the Mediterranean Steps.
This climb is a steep and, at times, arduous walk and is not for the faint-hearted.
Tackle the steps during the early morning to make the most of the sunrise and quieter surroundings. Spring offers a myriad of colourful wildflowers.
The steps take you from Jew’s Gate on the southern end of the nature reserve up to 419 m (1374 ft) at O’Hara’s Battery.
There are spectacular views across the Strait and over to North Africa from this walk.
Mediterranean Steps is at O’Hara’s Road, Gibraltar, GX11 1AA.
14- Go Dolphin Watching
Head out to sea on a dolphin-watching trip to interact with these incredible mammals up close and take in the beauty of Gibraltar from afar.
Three species of dolphins live in the waters surrounding Gibraltar. Bottlenose, Common and Striped Dolphins can all be seen on these tours.
In the waters of Gibraltar, the dolphins feed on squid, anchovies and herring and can dive to around 280m (918.6ft).
You can also see the caves along the eastern side of the Rock and views out to Morocco and Spain from the water.
There are three dolphin watching operators in Gibraltar – Dolphin Adventure, Dolphin Safari and Neptune Marine.
Most dolphin watching trips can be booked online, through your hotel, or direct from the marina.
Dolphin Watching is at Marina Bay Square, Gibraltar, GX11 1AA.
15- Visit The Apes Den
The Apes Den is a unique attraction in Gibraltar as it’s home to Europe’s only Barbary macaques, a normally found breed in North Africa.
It is believed that the macaques arrived during the early days of the British garrison and that they were imported.
Several legends surround the macaques, including that if the macaques should ever disappear, the British will leave Gibraltar forever.
The apes are wild, however as Gibraltar is so small, they sometimes venture off the Rock and down into the city below.
Visitors should not touch or feed the macaques and observe them from a safe distance.
Apes Den is at Upper Rock Nature Reserve, Gibraltar, GX11 1AA.
16- Wander Around Casemates Square
Casemates Square takes its name from the Grand Casemates, a British-built bombproof barracks dating back to 1817.
Today, only the walls of the Casemates remain.
Inside the square are numerous pubs, bars and restaurants, and small shops and a museum.
Casemates also serves as the entrance to the main shopping district.
Casemates Square is often used to host major cultural events, including military parades, National Day parades and New Year’s Eve parties.
It’s close to the bus station to allow easy public transport access to the rest of the territory.
Casemates Square is at Gibraltar, GX11 1AA.
17- Discover History At Gibraltar National Museum and Moorish Baths
In the heart of Gibraltar is the National Museum and Moorish Baths, which is a centre for culture, history and natural history.
General Sir Alexander Godley, Governor of Gibraltar, opened the museum in 1930.
Within the museum are numerous exhibits that portray the history of the Rock and its people.
The main attraction is the remains of a 14th-century Moorish bathhouse, which you can view from a protective walkway.
Explore the museum garden, an outdoor archaeological exhibition incorporating the 14th century well, the Gallery, which is filled with artefacts from the Great Siege, and the Medieval baths, where you will also find exhibits gathered from caves.
Gibraltar National Museum and Moorish Baths is at 18-20 Bomb House Lane, Gibraltar, GX11 1AA.
18- See Wildlife At Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park
Within the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens, Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park is home to native and exotic animals.
The wildlife park is significant as it cares for any animals confiscated by Gibraltar customs and is a refuge for unwanted exotic pets.
Within the park are cotton-topped tamarins, which are on loan from international zoos to raise awareness about the plight of endangered species.
Head to the lemur room, where a bridge takes you through the centre of their habitat, allowing an up-close experience with these beautiful animals.
Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park is at Gibraltar Botanic Gardens, Gibraltar, GX11 1AA.
19- Soak Up The Vibe At The Rock Hotel
One of the most iconic hotels in Gibraltar is The Rock Hotel.
John Chrichton-Stuart, the Marquis of Bute, built the hotel in 1932 in the art deco style.
The hotel has long been a hotspot for the rich and famous, including Sir Winston Churchill, Alec Guinness and Sean Connery.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono exchanged their wedding vows in one of the hotel’s private rooms.
The hotel encapsulates Gibraltar’s colonial heritage through its design and light whitewashed façade.
Many rooms have stunning views out over Gibraltar to the Strait.
The Rock Hotel has a bar, restaurant and swimming pool surrounded by lush green plants.
The Rock Hotel is at 3 Europa Point, Gibraltar, GX11 1AA.
20- Walk to Spain
For a more unusual thing to do in Gibraltar, why not cross the border into Spain?
Many locals in the Spanish town of La Linea work in Gibraltar and cross the border each day on foot.
Heading to the border can be done by walking across the runway or taking a taxi or bus.
After heading through Spanish passport control, explore the border town of La Linea where you will find bars, tapas restaurants and shops, as well as a golden sandy beach.
The town of La Linea is at the Spanish border with Gibraltar.
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