Gibraltar is a city break destination you may not have considered. One of the primary reasons, especially for us Brits, could be because direct flights from the UK are infrequent and often expensive. But that shouldn’t put you off, as you can fly into Malaga, Spain and hire a car or simply catch a bus (journey time approximately 2 1/2 hours). Another reason may be because it is often to referred to as ‘Britain in the sun’. Yes, Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, therefore there is a lot of British influence. However, there is so much more than Marks and Spencer and egg and chips. Here we look at some of the things that make Gibraltar a great city break destination option when planning your next getaway.
You will find Europa Point at the southernmost point of Gibraltar. From here, on a clear day, you can see across the Strait of Gibraltar to North Africa (Morocco) in one direction and Spanish coastal towns in the other. From the town centre (Market Place), you can catch the number 2 bus. The journey takes approximately 10 minutes and costs £2.50 (for a day pass) per person. If you opt to hire a car, there are plenty of free car parking spaces at Europa Point.
Food in Gibraltar is a unique mix of European and British. Spanish cuisine is particularly popular in Gibraltar due to its geographic location together with Maltese, Italian and Portuguese influences. There are a number of Gibraltar dishes worth trying. These include pasta-based meals including Rosto and Fideos al horno. Bread dishes including Calentita and Panissa which are widely available. And if you have a sweet tooth, don’t forget to try Bollo de hornasso.
Gibraltar Botanic Gardens
The Gibraltar Botanic Gardens, which spans 6 hectares (15 acres) were commissioned by the British Governor of Gibraltar General George Don in 1816. The Gardens were originally built for soldiers stationed in Gibraltar to spend their time off and relax. In the 1970s the Gardens fell into a poor state. However, in the early 1990s, the gardens were resurrected and the Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park (zoo) was added, making it once again a popular attraction.
The Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque (also known as the King Fahd bin Abdulaziz al-Saud Mosque/ the Mosque of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques) can be found at Europa Point. Constructed in 1997 and funded by late the King Fahad Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, it was built for the Muslim community (many originating from Morocco). It is one of the largest Mosques located in a non-Muslim country. You can visit for free 7 days a week between 11 am and 3 pm.
The Europa Point Lighthouse, as the name suggests, can be found at Europa Point. It’s also referred to as the Trinity Lighthouse at Europa Point and the Victoria Tower or La Farola in Llanito. It was built by Trinity House in 1841 at the extreme southern tip of the Gibraltar peninsula to assist sailors in navigating the Bay of Gibraltar. Once manually lit, it is now fully automated. You cannot go inside the lighthouse. However, when visiting Europa Point, it is a great structure to see.
The Mediterranean Steps is a path and nature trail. The path is located within the Upper Rock Nature Reserve mainly along the eastern side of the Rock. Built by the British military in the 18th century. It is now a pedestrian route linking Martin’s Path to Lord Airey’s Battery near the summit of Rock of Gibraltar. Allow yourself at least 1 – 2 hours (slightly less if you consider yourself to be über fit) to walk the path and take in the fantastic views of the area it offers.
The Moorish Castle is the name given to a medieval fortification complex that can be found at the northern end of the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. Various buildings, gates and fortified walls which were were first built in 1160, or earlier, make up the complex. The most dominant being the Tower of Homage which can be seen clearly by visitors because of its location. Together with the Gate House. The Moorish Castle is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Gibraltar.
Shrine of Our Lady of Europe
The Shrine of Our Lady of Europe is a small Roman Catholic parish church and
the national shrine of Gibraltar. It can be found at the southern end of The Rock at Europa Point. Originally a mosque it was converted in 1462 into a chapel. There are numerous claims that the shrine has been the scene of many miracles, making it popular for Christians to visit. Tourists can also visit. Opening times are Monday – Saturday 10 pm – 1 pm and Tuesday – Thursday 2.30 pm – 6 pm.
St Michael’s Cave
St. Michael’s Cave (Old St. Michael’s Cave) is a network of limestone caves that you can find within the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. The caves were created by rainwater running through the limestone. The cave is open to visitors and is often used as an entertainment space – concerts, gigs, performances etc. The cave is situated over 300 metres above sea level and welcomes over 1 million visitors each year. General opening times are Monday – Sunday 9.30 am to 7.15 pm.
Tunnels of Gibraltar
Gibraltar has around 34 miles (55 km) of tunnels which were constructed by the British Army. The first tunnels date back to the late 18th century with further tunnels constructed in the 19th century used to deliver water across Gibraltar. At the beginning of World War II, further tunnels were built to store food, equipment and ammunition should Gibraltar come under attack. Tours of the tunnels are available with licenced tour guides which last approximately 30 – 40 minutes.
Gibraltar is home to the only wild monkey population in Europe. The Gibraltar monkeys (Barbary Macaques) are some of Gibraltar’s most famous residents. The main pack live at Apes’ Den which you can find in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. However, there are also other packs that roam The Rock freely. It’s important to remember that they are wild animals with sharp teeth. Therefore do not approach them and certainly do not feed them, it is actually against the law.
Tickets for Gibraltar Nature Reserve
- Adults: £13:00
- Chidren ages 5-11: £8:00
- Children under 5 years: free
Tickets allow you access to the following attractions:
- 100 Ton Gun
- Apes’ Den
- City Under Siege
- Jew’s Gate and Jew’s Gate Cemetery
- Mediterranean Steps
- Military Heritage Centre
- Nature Reserve, Upper Rock
- Nature Trails
- O’Hara’s Battery
- St Michael’s Cave
- The Great Siege Tunnels
- The Lime Kiln
- The Moorish Castle
- Windsor Suspension Bridge
- WWII Tunnels
Here are just some of the things that make Gibraltar a great city break destination. Add into the mix the glorious weather and the tax-free shopping and it really should be somewhere you consider when planning your next getaway.