Gibraltar holidays

Experience Gibraltar

Best Places to Visit

Gibraltar covers an area of only seven square kilometres, which means travellers will probably visit most of the areas in the region in a single trip. The beautiful Catalan Bay lies on the east coast of the Rock and is a quiet fishing village set away from the business of the city centre. As well as featuring one of the best small beaches in the territory, this stunning cove is home to colourful, rustic architecture and some good local cafés and restaurants.

From Catalan Bay, travellers can make their way to Sandy Bay, located just beneath Catalan Bay on the eastern Mediterranean coast. Filled with quaint cafés, small guest houses and deserted but gorgeous beaches, Sandy Bay is the perfect place for travellers looking to get away from everything.

Casemates Square at the end of the main street in Gibraltar city centre is a bustling public area that is steeped in history. What was once the site of public executions is now the place to be when looking for souvenirs, food or a good night out. The archaeological remains of a galley house’s foundations were also discovered in the 1990s, and can be seen on display in the square. With attractive sidewalk markets, lively cafés and trendy bars, Casemates Square is the largest square in the city centre and is fast becoming the heart of Gibraltar city.

On the Eastern face of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean Steps offer visitors a very scenic, if slightly steep, climb around and up the Rock. Expect to see lizards, seabirds, wildflowers and incredible views out to Spain and Africa as you ascend the Rock to reach the summit. This is not an activity for the physically unfit, and although the path is easy to follow, it is exposed in some areas, so visitors are advised to stick to the path and wear sensible footwear. The entire walk will take between one and a half to two and a half hours, making it the ideal day trip activity for any active types staying in Gibraltar.

Scale the Mediterranean Steps to reach the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, located atop the famous monolith which overshadows the city and is one of the most beautiful natural areas on the continent. Home to many animals and a wide variety of indigenous plant species, the reserve is worth a visit for anyone who is interested in experiencing nature on their trip.

Top Landmarks

Possibly the largest draw to Gibraltar is the Rock, the uppermost region of the territory's monolith. Covered mainly in a nature reserve and home to the well-recognised Barbary macaques, this area is the perfect place from which to catch a view of the Gibraltar Straits and Morocco's Atlas Mountains. Visitors can also take a short cable car trip halfway up to Ape's Den, where the Barbary macaques can be seen in their full glory.

Delve into the geological wonder that is St Michael's Cave. Lying 300m above sea level, St Michael's Cave forms part of an intricate complex of amazing caves, boasting some of the most interesting stalactites and stalagmites in the region. The caves also offer a beautifully haunting venue for concerts and ballet performances.

One of the most important historical sites in the country, the Siege Tunnels of Gibraltar are not to be missed. Carved by ancient merchant marines during the 1700s to defend the region from sieges, the tunnels provide great insight into the territory's turbulent history.

Anyone interested in learning more about this fascinating territory should make a stop at the Gibraltar Museum. The museum showcases exhibits of Gibraltar's main eras, including the Roman, Moorish, Phoenician, Spanish, Greek and British periods of occupation. To aid in telling the territory's story are several lithographs, prints and even models. The most famous model is a replica of the Gibraltar skull, which is said to be the first skull of a Neanderthal found on the European continent.

Entertainment

Gibraltar isn't exactly one of Europe's top party destinations but there are several activities which provide a great deal of fun and entertainment. From high society cocktail bars to high stakes at the local casinos, there is something for everyone.

Travellers looking for a chic night out will not be disappointed. Most of the top class hotels have amicable cocktail bars which offer great drinks in sophisticated environments. There are also several wine bars dotted around the city centre which make for a cultured evening, and plenty of nightclubs to deliver a good night out with European pop and earthy Spanish tunes.

A large draw for visitors to the country is the casino, which has proven to be a hit with foreigners. Located right near the stylish marina area, the casino is surrounded by top-notch restaurants and luxury yachts. Whether it's a high-stakes poker tournament you're after or simply a run on the slot machines, there's an activity for every budget here.

Gibraltar hosts many festivals throughout the year and visitors who are lucky enough to be in the region at the right time are bound to be entertained. One of the most popular events is the Gibraltar Song Festival, which happens in April every year. Songwriters from all over the world are invited to submit their work to the competition but the real treat for festival-goers is the live performances by up-and-coming musicians which take place.

Dining Out

Gibraltarian cuisine is a lovely amalgamation of both Mediterranean and British influences although other fares including Maltese, Italian and Chinese can be found. There are a variety of restaurants representing each cuisine and covering a spectrum of prices, from luxury dining to budget food stalls.

While Gibraltarian restaurants are not prolific, there are a few local dishes which just cannot be missed. These include fideos al horno (a pasta bake made with macaroni, egg and Bolognese sauce, and topped with a layer of béchamel) and calentita (a light quiche made with chickpea flour).

Sweet-toothed travellers can have their pick from the delightful range of desserts Gibraltarian cuisine has on offer. Japonesa (a fried doughnut with custard cream in the centre and coated in syrup or sugar) is a favourite with locals and tourists alike, while bollo de hornasso (dry bread made with aniseed and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands) is popular around holiday periods.

Gibraltar's drinking culture is as varied as its cultural influences. Many pubs line the marina serving beer, and Italian and French wines are aplenty in the many wine bars. Like most of its European neighbours, Gibraltar has ample cafés and bistros which know how to serve up a good, strong cup of coffee.

Beach

Gibraltar's vast coastline means that visitors will be spoilt for choice when it comes to the country's beaches. The east coast boasts the blue waters and soft sands of Catalan Bay and Eastern Beach. The west coast also has some notable options like pebble beach Little Bay. Regardless of the beach, one thing is for sure: sunbathing travellers will have spectacular views of the Rock from the sand.

Romance

Gibraltar is indeed a romantic destination. From its gorgeous beaches and amazing sea views to its quaint cafés and cute guesthouses, it is made for two. Those wanting to go the extra mile should consider embarking on a scenic flight of the entire area. Soar over the Strait of Gibraltar in a small plane and catch a glimpse of Morocco's mountains or Andalucía's stunning landscape.

Family

A trip to Gibraltar can be fun for the entire family as the territory has many activities which are fun for adults and children alike. One of the most popular family attractions is the Gibraltarian dolphin and whale tour. Families can embark on a boat tour of the Strait of Gibraltar, which is a popular sea highway for schools of both dolphins and whales. Many companies operate these amazing tours and most offer reasonable family rates.

Adventure

Gibraltar's waters are a place of great excitement and adventure, offering tourists a chance to get their blood pumping. There are excellent opportunities for scuba diving just off the coast. There are dive sites which cater for all levels of ability, whether a first-timer or a veteran. Another exciting activity is deep-sea fishing, for which the Gibraltarian waters are perfect. All sorts of fish are present in this region and many boat companies are happy to take tourists on excursions.

Need to know

Language

The primary language in Gibraltar is English, which is spoken widely across the territory. English is also prolifically used in the tourism and business industries as well, so phrase books and translation tools aren’t generally required. Secondary languages include Spanish and Llanito (a Spanish and English Creole). All three languages can be heard being spoken on all parts of the Rock.

Currency

Gibraltar's official currency is the Gibraltar pound (GIP). This is extremely handy as the British pound can be brought over and legally used in Gibraltar, but beware that the Gibraltar pound is not legal tender in the United Kingdom. It is thus advisable that visitors from the UK exchange all Gibraltar pounds before departing for home. ATMs can be found all over the territory and accept all major credit and debit cards. Currency can be exchanged at large banks, official exchange offices and large shops (which generally charge more expensive rates).

Visas

Visitors to the country are required to attain a visa unless they are citizens of countries which have been granted an exemption. Residents who fall under the exemption include those from the United Kingdom and the European Union, who are permitted entry for no longer than six months. A valid passport is required by all travellers except those from the European Union who only need to present a national identity card.

Climate

Gibraltar experiences a Mediterranean/subtropical climate, boasting mild winters and warm summers. The region doesn't usually display extremes in weather or seasons. Summer spans May to September and temperatures at this time can rise to highs of 30°C. Summers can also become quite humid, which makes the daily sea breezes rather welcome. The two prevailing winds are the ‘Levante’, which brings warm sea temperatures and humid conditions from the Sahara in Africa, and the westerly ‘Poniente’, which brings fresher air and colder sea temperatures. Winters bring only occasional rainfall as most days are sunny. The mercury during this period drops to no lower than 17ºC.

Main Airports

The main and only gateway in Gibraltar is Gibraltar Airport, which is located towards the north of the territory. The gateway receives several international flights but tourists who want to save on airfares can easily make their way to one of the neighbouring Spanish air gateways, including Malaga Airport and Jerez Airport. From here, overland transfers can be made to the region.

Flight Options

Most flights into the territory land at Gibraltar Airport, which is serviced by major carriers like British Airways and Iberia. There are also several low-cost airlines which make the trip between London and Gibraltar. Monarch Airlines has flights between London-Luton, Manchester and Gibraltar, while EasyJet has flights from London-Gatwick. The average time of a direct flight between London and Gibraltar is 2 hour, 30 minutes.

Travel Advice

The territory is popular with British tourists, which means that tourism numbers are generally high around the UK school holiday periods. Flights to nearby Spanish airports are typically cheaper than those direct to Gibraltar, making flying into Malaga and transferring by bus (3 hours) an attractive choice.

Other Transport Options

Travellers from the United Kingdom who are making their way to Gibraltar through Spain could catch a flight to Malaga Airport or Jerez Airport, which are close to Gibraltar. From these airports it is possible to take one of the many bus services to the territory. Unfortunately, there is no train service into Gibraltar, but Spanish trains run to nearby Algeciras.

Getting Around

The territory is rather small, which means that most of it can be navigated on foot. There are certain areas which are best navigated by taxi or hire car as roads can become too steep to traverse on foot. The local bus system is well-priced and convenient, with the network reaching most areas including the border with Spain.

Car

Most of the major international car rental companies are spoken for and local car hire companies also offer chauffeur-driven cars. The roads in Gibraltar are in a good condition but are often narrow and parking is scarce. Yet having a car can be useful when navigating the steep roads towards the Upper Rock area. Drivers should be aware that delays at the border with Spain are common.

Taxis are reliable, with each driver required by law to carry a copy of taxi fares. Even though the territory is quite small, the roads to Upper Rock are very steep, and taxi services might come in handy.

Bus

There is a reliable bus service in the country, which runs all the way from the border with Spain to the centre of town. At the border, travellers can make a three-minute walk to the Spanish bus station in La Linea, from where buses run to Malaga.

Taxi

There is an extensive network of well-organised taxis in the region. Taxis are reliable, with each driver required by law to carry a copy of taxi fares. Even though the territory is quite small, the roads to Upper Rock are very steep, and taxi services might come in handy. Most of the taxi drivers act as unofficial tour guides and provide not only an efficient but an informative trip.

GIBRALTAR`S WEATHER TODAY

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AVERAGE TEMPERATURE (°C)

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MONTHS

AVERAGE RAINFALL (mm)

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  • 69

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  • 56

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MONTHS

MAP

FACTS

  1. The Rock boasts the only wild population of Barbary macaques in Europe and is home to about 300 of the creatures. The monkeys are used to being near humans, but visitors are advised not to provoke the animals as they have been known to bite.
  2. Due to low taxes, around 12% of Gibraltar’s workforce are employed by the online gambling industry. William Hill, Ladbrokes and several other online gambling companies are based offshore in Gibraltar.
  3. Many people commute from Spain to work in Gibraltar, and a lot of the shop staff are actually Spanish. Property prices in Gibraltar are high, and most of the 30,000-strong population live in flats at the base of the Rock.

FACTS

  1. The Rock boasts the only wild population of Barbary macaques in Europe and is home to about 300 of the creatures. The monkeys are used to being near humans, but visitors are advised not to provoke the animals as they have been known to bite.
  2. Due to low taxes, around 12% of Gibraltar’s workforce are employed by the online gambling industry. William Hill, Ladbrokes and several other online gambling companies are based offshore in Gibraltar.
  3. Many people commute from Spain to work in Gibraltar, and a lot of the shop staff are actually Spanish. Property prices in Gibraltar are high, and most of the 30,000-strong population live in flats at the base of the Rock.

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