Here’s a guide to traveling to Gibraltar in a day. Make sure to include this surprising destination in your travel plans. This hidden gem at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula offers a unique balance between British history and Mediterranean charm. Its tourist attractions, such as the Rock of Gibraltar and its famous monkeys, the extensive tunnel network, and its incredible sea views, are more than enough reasons to add Gibraltar to your list of places to visit.
Despite its small size, Gibraltar impresses with a wide variety of accommodation and gastronomy options, and you won’t have trouble finding something that suits your tastes and budget.
It all began in the years when Philip V made numerous attempts to regain this territory, both diplomatically and militarily. At that time, the major European powers were vying for the Spanish throne. This struggle for the throne is known as the War of Succession. The main consequence was the establishment of the Bourbon dynasty in Spain, with King Philip V.
The conquest of Gibraltar took place by an Anglo-Dutch fleet in 1704, after intense and unequal battles between a few hundred defenders lacking artillery and the powerful allied squadron. The assault on the square took place on August 3rd, after a harsh bombardment from the sea.
The conquest of 1704, almost accidentally, ended up being one of the most lasting consequences of the War of Succession. It was in 1713 with the Treaty of Utrecht. (Copy preserved in the National Library of Madrid), where Philip V ceded to Great Britain “the full and entire ownership of the city and castles of Gibraltar […], to have and enjoy it with full right and forever”.
How to get to Gibraltar?
Access to Gibraltar is through a police checkpoint that separates it from La Línea de la Concepción, a town belonging to Cádiz whose inhabitants largely depend on this region. Due to the heavy traffic at the entrance to Gibraltar, we recommend leaving your car in the parking lot located just before the control point and walking across the airport runway with your ID or passport.
The unique Gibraltar airport is located right next to the control point, and visitors must cross the runway to enter. After crossing the access point, you can continue walking for a few minutes until you reach the center, or you can take a bus or taxi.
If you decide to enter Gibraltar by car, you will find it difficult to park. There are two parking lots; one in Catalan Bay and the other set up in the square where you can take the cable car to go up to The Rock.
Things to do in Gibraltar
The views from the Skywalk lookout (top)
The views from the Skywalk lookout (top) are nothing short of breathtaking. As the highest viewing point in Gibraltar, standing at an impressive 340 meters above sea level, the Skywalk offers 360-degree panoramic views of the region.
Seeing the monkeys of Gibraltar
Once you’ve seen The Rock from multiple vantage points (I’ll tell you about more mind-blowing ones later), another tourist attraction to see in Gibraltar are its famous macaques. These are the only primates that are free in all of Europe.
There are around 250 of them, and you’ll see them roaming freely in the Nature Reserve on The Rock. They see you and they don’t even flinch. I recommend that you behave in a civilized manner around them: don’t hassle or annoy them by taking photos too close, don’t feed them, don’t display any belongings you hold dear (like your phone, unless you’re looking for an excuse to replace it), and don’t make noise with plastic bottles (interestingly, they’re very intrigued by them).
Stroll through the center of Gibraltar
A shopping spree; on its main street, Main Street, you’ll find numerous shops selling perfume, liquor, jewelry, clothing, and technology; some typical British ones like Marks & Spencer. And all at a quite good price, because it’s like a Duty Free. However, you won’t be able to take whatever you want across the border.
Exploring St Michael’s Cave
We’ve already seen that you can climb to the top and enjoy its multiple viewpoints, but… did you know that you can also go inside? Inside is St Michael’s Cave, an ancient cave of stalactites and stalagmites that will transport you to another era. The visit to the cave is perfectly set up, even with music and lights inside. It has a small amphitheater inside that is used for concerts.
Enjoy the beaches of Gibraltar
Catalan Bay, La Caleta. The hotel-restaurant located right at the beginning of the beach is wonderful. And the colorful houses on the beachfront are very eye-catching. Levante Beach is the largest beach in Gibraltar. Camp Bay and Little Bay is a small swimming area, but without sand.
Europa Point Lighthouse
To cap off the visit, it’s advisable to visit the Europa Point Lighthouse, the southernmost point of Gibraltar, and one of the points on continental Europe closest to Africa, an old and beautiful lighthouse overlooking the coast of Morocco.
Windsor Suspension Bridge
The Rock of Gibraltar Park is full of hiking trails. One of the top places you can access by walking or leaving your car a few meters away is the Windsor Suspension Bridge. It is a 71-meter-long suspension bridge over a gorge 50 meters high.
Participate in a wild dolphin spotting activity
If you like chic plans, strolling around the Marina Bay area among modern buildings and luxurious boats will delight you. But what’s really cool in this area is taking a boat to responsibly spot wild dolphins in the Strait. It was one of the experiences I enjoyed the most in Gibraltar. You can book the ticket directly here. In this way, in addition to enjoying the dolphins, you will also see The Rock from the water.
If you’re brave, you can view Gibraltar from the air
We’ve already seen Gibraltar from land, from within, from the sea. Now, are you up for seeing it from the air? You can book a tour and ride a helicopter. Fly over The Rock and the Strait. Africa is 23 kilometers away and, as the day was completely clear, you could see it perfectly in the distance. Without a doubt, it’s an unforgettable experience.
What to eat in Gibraltar
Great service, very attentive staff. The ambiance is unbeatable. The food was excellent. So much meat on them and cooked to perfection. Tender, juicy, not too fatty, and falling off the bone. I couldn’t finish the fries, but I made sure to finish the ribs. The bill was also reasonable, no higher than anywhere else. Probably why you need to book!
Vinopolis Gastrobar is a popular spot in Gibraltar, renowned for its fantastic range of wines and gourmet tapas. It provides an ideal environment for those who wish to unwind and enjoy a lovely dining experience. Whether you’re looking for a full meal, or just a place to relax with a drink, Vinopolis Gastrobar offers an unforgettable experience with its sophisticated ambiance, attentive service, and superb culinary offerings.
Nunos at The Express:
A restaurant styled similarly to those in the Vips chain. You can enjoy the best pizzas and pastas in Gibraltar, made right there on the spot.
A great restaurant-cafe. You must try a good fish and chips. Accompany it with a tasty gazpacho, Sacarello coffee, and a delicious dessert to finish.
Located in the Chatham Counterguard bastion, this is one of the trendiest restaurants in Gibraltar. With over 300 wines from around the world, you can embark on a journey to the farthest corners of the planet to find wines to suit every taste.
What cheap things to buy in Gibraltar
One of the most purchased items by tourists visiting Gibraltar is tobacco. This is because, compared to other countries, its price is quite low. Tobacco is available in all small shops, and even at the airport. We recommend visiting Lewis Stagnetto for your tobacco needs.
Just like with tobacco, you can find a wide selection of wines, spirits, beers, and other types of beverages at great prices. Additionally, there are many well-known bars and pubs in Gibraltar where you can enjoy a good afternoon in the sun.
3. Gibraltarian themed souvenirs
If you love keeping beautiful memories when you travel and explore new places, we recommend that this is the best way to do it with Gibraltar. A coffee mug with the map and most recognizable landmarks of Gibraltar, or in your souvenir album, you can find postcards, stickers, or any other item that allows you to reminisce about your trip. Another item that people often buy when visiting Gibraltar are tailless monkey plush toys.
4. Gibraltarian themed souvenirs
If your luggage allows for it in terms of space, another great item to buy is a jug made in Gibraltar. You can’t imagine the variety of decanters you can find there, some of them so impressive that you can store whisky or wine in them.
5. Gibraltarian chocolate
At Hotel Chocolat, you will find top-quality chocolate bars that will become a must-buy. The Grand Slabs from Hotel Chocolat are premium chocolate bars that could be considered almost a mandatory purchase for chocolate lovers.
Algunas curiosidades de Gibraltar
- The time is the same as in Spain.
- They drive on the right-hand side.
- They use a mix of Spanish and English, known as “Spanglish.”
- The power outlets are like those in the United Kingdom.
- The Gibraltar airport runway intersects with the Gibraltar road, which means that when an airplane is taking off or landing, the road is closed as if it were a level crossing.
Gibraltar is a surprising destination that should not be overlooked in your travel plans. This hidden gem at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula offers a unique balance between British history and Mediterranean charm. Its tourist attractions, such as the Rock of Gibraltar and its famous monkeys, the extensive network of tunnels, and its incredible sea views, are reasons enough to include Gibraltar in your list of places to visit.
Traveling to Gibraltar is undoubtedly a unique and enriching experience that will provide you with unforgettable memories and adventures. Whatever your travel style may be, Gibraltar has something to offer. We are confident that this fascinating territory will captivate you, and like many travelers before you, you will want to return again and again.