Gibraltar is located on the southern tip of Spain but has been a British Overseas Territory for over 300 years. As such, it’s one of Europe’s most fascinating geopolitical anomalies. On this basis, here are the best things to do in Gibraltar.
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Welcome to Gibraltar: a Remnant of the British Empire
Gibraltar is a weird place.
Its architecture is Spanish, and its geographical location is closer to Africa than the United Kingdom. And yet, it has been a British Overseas Territory since 1713.
During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701 – 1714), Britain joined forces with the winning sides and captured Gibraltar. One year before the end of the war, Spain formally ceded the 2.6 square miles (6.8 sqkm) of territory to the UK.
As such, Gibraltar is today part of the UK and benefits from special status.
The territory is full of anomalies, from its airport runway that doubles as a highway to its London-style phone boxes and wild monkeys.
Thanks to all of this quirkiness, visiting Gibraltar is a unique experience. Here are the top activities and things to do in Gibraltar.
The Best Things to do in Gibraltar
Gibraltar is tiny, but there are numerous attractions for all ages. Better still, most Gibraltar tourist attractions are reachable on foot, and the climate is generally favorable.
Ascend the Famous Rock of Gibraltar
The Rock of Gibraltar is the most iconic part of the territory and home to wild monkeys, the only ones in Europe. Apart from that, it has various hikes inside its nature reserve.
You can reach the top of the rock by cable car or on an organized van tour. If you are a large group, the van tour offers better value for money as it takes you to several places on a guided circuit.
Wander the Streets of the Old Town
The best things to do in Gibraltar undoubtedly include the charming streets of the Old Town. The main pedestrian street is fittingly called “Main Street” and is home to shops, restaurants, pubs, and guest houses.
Walking here gives you an impression of the weirdness of Gibraltar. The architecture is 100% Spanish, but all the signs are in English, and the street is full of British-style pubs.
Gibraltar has different tax rules to Spain and the UK. As such, products like tobacco, alcohol, and perfume are super cheap here.
Visit St. Michael’s Cave and the Siege Tunnels
Inside the Rock of Gibraltar, there are over 150 limestone caves. St. Michael’s Cave is the most-visited one and is accessible via the Nature Reserve.
Apart from St. Michael’s Cave, the Rock of Gibraltar is home to a series of 18th-century tunnels. They were used during the Great Siege of Gibraltar (1779-1783) when Spanish and French forces tried to capture Gibraltar.
In the Second World War, the tunnels could hold a garrison of up to 16,000 soldiers.
Explore the Moorish Castle
Until 2010, the Moorish Castle was partly used as a prison by the government of Gibraltar.
Today, the 8th-century fortification is one is a Gibraltar must-see and offers stunning views.
Top tip: you can get one ticket that includes the cable car, St. Michael’s Cave, the Moorish Castle, and the Siege Tunnels.
Take a Stroll in the Botanical Gardens (Alameda)
Among the best things to do in Gibraltar is also a stroll in the serene Botanical Gardens. They aren’t just home to exotic plants but also various wildlife species.
Eat Some Fish and Chips
Thanks to Gibraltar’s political status, you can find a lot of British cultural elements here, chief among which are pubs.
To get some excellent fish and chips, head to the Angry Friar on Main Street.
Head to the Beach
Being located almost on the southern tip of Spain, there are several pristine stretches of sand along the coast here.
One of the best beaches in Gibraltar is Catalan Bay, a former fishing area. Apart from Catalan Bay, Eastern Beach, Sandy Bay, and Camp Bay are also worth a visit.
Go For a Drink in the Ocean Village
Ocean Village is Gibraltar’s glittering marina. With a population of less than 35k permanent residents, you won’t find a massive nightlife scene in Gibraltar, but Ocean Village has many buzzing bars and pubs.
Where to Stay in Gibraltar
There aren’t too many options when it comes to accommodation in Gibraltar. I stayed at a place called Engineer Guest House right next to Main Street.
If you’re wondering where to stay in Gibraltar, look for a place in or around the pedestrian zone. The best hotels in Gibraltar cater to business travelers, so there aren’t many budget options.
Find more places to stay in Gibraltar here.
Alternatively, you can also stay in La Línea, the Spanish town that borders Gibraltar.
Things to do in Gibraltar: Know Before You Go
To complete our guide to the top places to see in Gibraltar, here are some FAQs.
How to Get to Gibraltar
You can get to Gibraltar by land or by air.
By plane, you can get to Gibraltar from London or Manchester. At the moment, there are no flights from Spain to Gibraltar.
The most popular option is to walk over the border in La Línea. The border crossing is swift and straightforward, usually taking no more than five minutes. However, the new Brexit rules haven’t come into force yet. It will take longer once they do.
You can get to La Línea by car or bus from the surrounding towns as well as larger cities like Seville and Malaga.
How to Get Around in Gibraltar
Most of Gibraltar is walkable, but there is also a network of public buses driving in a circle around the entire territory.
The Best Time to Visit Gibraltar
You can visit Gibraltar year-round. The climate is relatively mild in winter and hot in summer. The shoulder season (April-June and September-October) is arguably the best time to visit Gibraltar as you’ll have great weather but fewer tourists.
Is One Day Enough to Visit Gibraltar?
In short, yes. You can cover the best places to visit in Gibraltar in one day. Nevertheless, staying overnight will allow you to experience Gibraltar’s cultural and local life.