While Gibraltar’s might not be on too many buckets lists, it sure is a place worth visiting. A short break to Gibraltar is just the thing you need if you want to skip famous destinations like Paris, London, Las Vegas, or Rome, and head to a place that will surprise you every step of the way.
Gibraltar is a tiny British enclave on the Mediterranean where red phone boots and Royal Mail letter boxes share a territory with Barbary macaques. The locals are British citizens and quite proud of it, especially when they’re shopping at Marks & Spencer, eating fish and chips, and enjoying their pint in a pub. A short break to Gibraltar is really special.
Gibraltar is full of surprises and impresses visitors with its unique Mediterranean vegetation and plethora of intriguing caves and tunnels. A monolithic peninsula, the little British territory offers glorious views of the sea and invites travelers to discover lovely walks that unveil the local plants and many migrating birds that have found Gibraltar to be exactly what they need to thrive.
Take it all in – sit atop The Rock
Gibraltar was a Moorish territory for more than 700 years. It owes its name to Gibel Tariq, an Arab general who conquered it in 711 from Spain. In 1462 Spain took back Gibraltar but lost it again in 1704 when the British navy captured The Rock. This forced many of the locals to leave the city and Spain to concede Gibraltar to the UK in 1713. Currently, Gibraltar is home to 34,000 people and has its own parliament. The only thing controlled by the UK is its defense and foreign policy.
Due to its rich past, Gibraltar boasts numerous sights and ruins. The peninsula’s skyline is dominated by the presence of “The Rock”, a massive piece of limestone that encapsulates Gibraltar’s most important attractions. Following a short cable car ride, you will get to the Top Station from where fabulous views unravel for as far as you can see. You will be able to admire Costa del Sol that awaits to the East, Southern Spain to the North, the Mediterranean, and even the neighboring continent of Africa.
The architecture reminds travelers of the territory’s Moorish past, especially at the sight of the 11th-century Moorish Castle. Another beautiful example of Moorish architecture is the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe, a former mosque converted into a Christian chapel in 1462. The Lighthouse and Mosque beautifully blend Islamic design with contemporary notes and modern facilities.
Don’t miss any of the must-see attractions
One of the most popular attractions in Gibraltar is the beautiful St Michael’s Cave situated inside the Rock, 300 m above sea level. Gibraltar is famous for its network of interlinked caves that also include Leonora’s Cave and Lower St Michael’s Cave, but this is the cave that has everyone in awe. St Michael’s Cave has impressed visitors since Roman times with its abundance of spectacular stalactites and stalagmites and is often the scene of various performances.
The Rock’s most famous residents have to be the Barbary macaques, tailless apes that might look pretty and fun but they can bite if they see you mocking them or eating. You’ll find numerous signs that ask tourists to avoid feeding the monkeys and keeping in mind they are wild animals and can act as such. For a close encounter with the monkeys, visit the Apes’ Den.
Following a 30-minute walk down the road from the Apes’ Den, you’ll get to the Great Siege Tunnels, a myriad of tunnels carved out to make way for guns. The Great Siege the tunnels are talking about is the one that took place from 1779 to 1783 when the Spanish and French wanted to take back Gibraltar from the British.
Walk the streets and relax on the beaches
Take to the streets and feel the pulse of the city. The site of the Casemates, once home to the barracks of the British Army, is now a lovely café scene framed by some of the old ammunition warehouses that have found new purposes today. When you’ll see it today, you’ll find it hard to believe that back in the 1860s, the square hosted public executions.
Nearby the Casemates, awaits the city’s Main Street lined with pub and stores, including the iconic Debenhams and Marks & Spencer. Since the colony is a tax-free paradise, your pounds are worth more here. Enjoy your shopping spree guilt-free while on a short break in Gibraltar!
At the end of the Main Street, awaits the Convent, the governor’s residence, and a former 16th-century Franciscan Monastic house. While you’re there, keep an eye for the “Lady in Grey”, the ghost of a nun who seems to enjoy spending her eternity on this site. The coastline of Gibraltar might be rugged but this doesn’t mean the peninsula doesn’t have its share of pretty beaches. The largest and most popular beach in Gibraltar is the Eastern Beach, a ribbon of sand that enjoys sunshine all day long. Sandy Bay is a great destination for a dip, paddleboarding, or surfing, while Little Bay is a pebble beach ideal for those who want to get away from it all.