7 reasons to include Gibraltar in your itinerary in Spain
Gibraltar is a British territory on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula that has occupied a huge 400-meter cliff at the most prominent and strategically important point in the Strait of Gibraltar since the early 18th century. It has had many battles and wars in its history, so there are many fortifications, walls, casemates, bastions, military museums, tunnels, etc. Smaller than Gibraltar is 6.8 square kilometers only the states of Monaco and Vatican City and several islands.
There was a time when Gibraltar was virtually inaccessible to most tourists from the former Soviet Union, because a special Gibraltar visa was required to visit it. Now everything is different. Russians can get there with a regular multiple Schengen visa category C (minimum period of validity – not less than 7 days at the time of exit from Gibraltar), and Belarusians and Ukrainians – a multiple British visa valid for at least 6 months. Citizens of the European Union need only show their passport without any visa. All visa rules are here.
The easiest way to get there is by car or bus from Spanish Málaga. From the bus station to the border it is a 5 minute walk. First you get to the town of La Linea, which directly borders Gibraltar. A good landmark is the Rock of Gibraltar, it can be seen from afar.
Directly to the territory of Gibraltar itself you can get on foot or by car. Parking at the border is much easier to find, the cars are right along the road. But visiting Gibraltar by car is not recommended because of the huge problems with parking and very heavy traffic. Many parking lots are not only full, but also open only to residents of the city. A number of restrictions apply to the entry of your car in the national park. In addition, Spanish rental companies usually require separate insurance for Gibraltar.
But if you do go there by car, keep in mind that in Gibraltar, in contrast to the UK, the right-hand traffic, as well as in the whole of mainland Europe. Caution should be exercised when driving in the mountainous protected area, despite the presence of all the necessary road signs and signs plus fences. Mountain roads are narrow, and not everywhere there is a possibility to separate two oncoming cars. Remember also that the protected area is home to many monkeys, roaming freely on most of the peninsula, including the mountain roads and outskirts of the city.
There are not many sights in Gibraltar, but here are the most interesting ones.
1. The Rock of Gibraltar.
It is possible to explore Gibraltar not only in breadth, but also by climbing up the already mentioned Gibraltar Rock and descending into its caves. Monolithic limestone cliff height of 426 meters is known as one of the Hercules Pillars, as evidenced by the monument in the southern part of the rock.
The cliff was formed about 200 million years ago by the collision of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates. The eastern part of the cliff faces cliffs on the sandy slopes. On this part of the cliff in 1903 built a system of collecting water, which then through channels is fed to two plants. This was done to supply Gibraltar’s poor natural springs. On the more gentle western slope of the mountain is the reserve and the city itself.
There is a system of underground tunnels in the rock which are more than 50 km long. They appeared because the calcite minerals, of which limestone is composed, are slowly eroded by water, and over time caves are formed in them. There are more than a hundred such caves in the Rock of Gibraltar, the largest of which is St. Michael’s Cave, located on the western slope of the mountain. You can wander there on your own through the halls on different levels – the largest of them periodically hosts classical music concerts. Or, for an extra fee, take a three-hour guided tour that will take you through all of the caves, including the lower caves with the clear underground lake.
You can get to the park’s entrance on the cliff by cable car, bus, car, or walk. At the entrance you will be given a map of the park, which will mark all the points of interest: Moorish castle, World War II tunnels, memorials, caves, a thousand-ton cannon and monkey habitats. Admission to the reserve is paid.
In addition to the natural beauty, underground tunnels and fortress, you have a great chance to see the only colony of tailless mahogany monkeys living in the wild on the entire European continent.
There are about 250 Berberian macaques living in the reserve at the top of the cliff. Their population is about 1% of Gibraltar’s population, so they rightfully feel like masters of the reserve.
Since 1855 Gibraltar Magpies are under the official patronage of the British Navy. According to a local belief, Gibraltar will be British as long as at least one monkey is alive. Magot is even depicted on the local 5 pence coin.
The monkeys are not afraid of people and do not allow to be photographed, but you should not relax around them. One more thing – it is strictly forbidden to feed monkeys. There are signs telling you not to do this everywhere. There are even drawings that graphically illustrate what will happen if you feed the monkeys.
3. A View of Africa from Europe
Cape Europa Point is the southernmost point of Gibraltar and offers stunning views of the Strait of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean Sea and the African coastline.
On a clear day, from the observation deck you can see the mountains of Morocco and the Spanish city of Ceuta on the African continent. Also there is the Mosque of Ibrahim al-Ibrahim, which was presented to Gibraltar by the King of Saudi Arabia. You can get to this place from the old town along Europa Road.
4. Gibraltar Airport
You can get to Gibraltar not only by car but also by plane. Despite its small size it has its own airport (British Lines Road, Gibraltar). It is considered one of the most dangerous in the world, because it has a very short runway, which is limited on both sides by the sea.
A popular attraction for locals and tourists is to watch planes take off and land. During this time, the road linking Gibraltar with Spain is blocked. You can take up an observation post in the airport building or on the terrace of the cafe across the street. You can see the entire runway from the rock near the Moorish Castle Estate, Gibraltar.
Gibraltar travel guide
Tourists planning a trip to Gibraltar should consider that this cozy resort is simultaneously a state. This means that in Gibraltar there is its own currency – the Gibraltar pound. In circulation are bills of 5, 10, 20 and 50 pounds:
as well as coins in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 pence and 1 pound:
Where to stay in Gibraltar?
On our globe, contrary to popular belief, there are still many intriguing places. And sometimes it is not even the wild jungle or untrodden paths somewhere in Antarctica. These are quite habitable, densely populated areas. But the location, environment, status, natural conditions and other nuances make such corners of the world something special. Such is Gibraltar. Not a city, not a country, not a village, after all, but a territory. It would seem that what can be conspicuous and even more attractive in a rocky piece of land on a peninsula with a piece of sand forming an isthmus. And lo and behold – the flow of travelers from all over the world here does not weaken from year to year. Its population in Gibraltar is just over 30 thousand people, and in addition to the tourism industry, the region relies on ship repair, as well as the production of tobacco. The close proximity to Spain, Africa – Morocco, the position between the two “big waters” – the Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar – has made this territory, which belongs to Britain, what it is today: varied, rich in diverse traditions and languages, a resort, finally. The last circumstance is due to its exceptional climatic conditions. It is not for nothing that Princess Diana and Prince Charles spent their month-long post-wedding period here. After all this, it is clear: to find a place for a temporary stay for a foreign pilgrim in Gibraltar is not difficult.
The rockiness of the coast is not at all… read completely
Traveling around the city-state, which can be fully completed in just forty minutes by car, has several features. And they are associated primarily with the size of Gibraltar, its unusual flora and fauna, and, finally, with the mixture of cultures and traditions on the territory of the British overseas resort. So, knowing these are the things that will help make a vacation enjoyable and entertaining.
Gibraltar Intra-City Transport
Getting around Gibraltar can be done on foot, but it’s tedious and not always advisable . Few tourists will enjoy walking under the scorching sun from one end of the city to the other, even though the route is short. You don’t even want to see the sights, to say nothing of pleasant impressions and positive emotions. However, the exception is the main street of Gibraltar – Main Street. It can only be navigated on your own two feet. However, thanks to the abundance of scattered trees, creating shade, and cozy recreational areas with tables walking Main Street becomes a pleasant pastime.
As for the car, it’s a bit of a hassle to drive around Gibraltar. . Maneuvering through the narrow streets, driving on steep hills, problems with parking and traffic jams on the entrance and exit (dragging up to two hours) can only spoil the mood. Besides there are a lot of policemen in Gibraltar, as well as traffic lights. Nevertheless, if you do decide to travel to a British resort… read in full.
Food and Drink
Gibraltar’s cuisine is as unusual as it can ever be in a small and unconventional resort state. As for me, what else would you expect from a city in which the lush greenery of the Rock and the bluish waters of the Gibraltar Bay, medieval architectural structures of bedazzled hues and modern buildings of glass and iron are blended together.
Multinationality of the population and the special geographical location of the overseas resort have significantly affected the local cuisine, which has gone far beyond the British standards. Gibraltar cuisine has absorbed the culinary traditions of the English, Spanish, French and even Indian people. In many restaurants in the city visitors are offered to taste dishes native to Morocco or Israel. But along with all this in Gibraltar there are enough British pubs and coffee shops, treating tourists to traditional English dishes. However, among all the rainbow colors of culinary traditions, the local cuisine has hidden a few dishes that are considered to be national for Gibraltar.
What to try in Gibraltar
Calentita – A pastry very similar to bread. The main ingredients of calentita are pea flour, water, spices and olive oil. The name of this pastry itself means something buttery and warm, and is of Spanish origin. The calentita should be eaten straight from the oven. This national bread used to be sold by street vendors. And as the locals assured me, the calentita was… read completely
What to see in Gibraltar?
Gibraltar – a small city-state, which actually belongs to Britain, but has a life of its own. A spontaneous visit to this British overseas resort was the most unforeseen part of my trip to Spain. After learning that a passport and a Schengen multivisa were sufficient to visit Gibraltar, it was decided to visit this interesting town. Seeing the unique and fascinating parts of Gibraltar took one day and took the following route:
Casemates Square – the very center of the city. This is where all tourists get after crossing the border road through the airstrip from the Spanish town of La Linea de la Concepcion. According to local residents during the period of British colonization, the square was built up with barracks. Today, there is a granite monument in the shape of a soldier’s figure, and the square is filled with cafes, bars, and souvenir shops along its perimeter. The old soldiers’ barracks has been converted into an Arts and Crafts Center. I managed to find a tourist information center on the square, where I was free to take a map with the marks of the main attractions of the city. I would like to point out that the tourist center is open daily. From Monday to Friday the working day is from 9:00 to 17:30, and on weekends the center closes at 15:00.
The square itself is very noisy and crowded, but it offers a gorgeous panorama of the mountain ranges.
I did the rest of my tour of Gibraltar on foot, but tourists can take the city bus . Every. read completely.
How to have fun?
Surprising as it may sound, but in the city, one half of which is occupied by the Rock with the tailless inhabitants, and the other half serves as the main city street, tourists will find something to do. Of course, the first thing all visitors to Gibraltar rush to see the historical, architectural and natural monuments of the Mediterranean resort. Which, incidentally, was done by me. The sightseeing and cognitive walk through the remarkable places drags on for a whole day and gives tourists an aesthetic pleasure and a little physical fatigue.
But this is not the only thing travelers can do in Gibraltar. This city-state has its own highlight in the form of an extensive entertainment program, which can be experienced by outdoor enthusiasts who stay in Gibraltar for more than a day. Here every tourist will find a suitable activity or dare to try something new. Now for more details on Gibraltar’s attractions.
Beginners and advanced divers come to Gibraltar for a few days to discover the remains of historic shipwrecks off the coast. For the more casual outdoorsman, they venture off the coast to dive for fun while in town. And as a result they take great pleasure in seeing with their own eyes the rich underwater world of Gibraltar. By the way, there are three diving centers in the city itself. Two. read in full
What can I buy?
Gibraltar seemed to me a nice resort town with funny people and an interesting set of attractions. As for shopping, I wouldn’t call this British overseas resort a good place to shop . The low excise taxes and lack of VAT are only felt when buying alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. A bottle of good whiskey costs in the range of 10-20 pounds and it is cheaper than in some European countries. It is worth noting and the fact that the taste of this whiskey is quite high. At least that’s what my friends for whom the whiskey was brought as a souvenir, said about the liquor.
By the way, Gibraltar souvenirs in the form of magnets, postcards and other tourist trivia can be found in the craft shops on Casemata Square or the souvenir stores on pedestrian Main Street. Many tourists in memory of a trip to an unusual resort purchase flags, ballpoint pens with the symbols of the city-state and figurines of the main inhabitants of the island – monkeys. Cost Gibraltar bling from 1.5 to 15 pounds.
Some tourists in order to save money buy the same cups and magnets on the fridge with the inscription “Gibraltar” on the other side of the border in the Spanish town of La Linea de la Concepcion, where these souvenirs are cheaper.
It is believed that in Gibraltar are very low prices for jewelry, watches, cosmetics and perfumes. Stores selling these products are concentrated.